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ing back his hat. „You’re worse than snow that way. I ought to know this country pretty well, but when I get down into one of your pesky slashings,’m lost for a way out!“
Bob laughed, and exchanged a few commonplace remarks.
„If you can get off, you better come over our way,“ said California John, as he gathered up his reins. „We’re holding ranger examinations–something new. You got to tell what you know these days before you can work for Uncle Sam.“
„What do you have to know?“ asked Bob.
„Come over and find out.“
Bob reflected.
„I believe I will,“ he decided. „There’s nothing to keep me here.“
Accordingly, early next morning he rode over to the Upper Camp. Outside, near the creek, he came upon the deserted evidences of a gathering of men. Bed rolls lay scattered under the trees, saddles had been thrown over fal cheap nike air max 90 len trunks, bags of provisions hung from saplings, cooking utensils flanked the smouldering remains of a fire which was, however, surrounded by a scraped circle of earth after the careful fashion of the mountains. Bob’s eye, by now practised in the refinements of such matters, ran over the various accoutrements thus spread abroad. He estimated the number of their owners at about a score. The bedroll of the cowman, the „turkey“ of the lumber jack, the quilts of the mountaineer, were all in evidence; as well as bedding plainly makeshift in character, belonging to those who must have come from a distance. A half-dozen horses dozed in an improvised fence-corner corral. As many more were tied to trees. Saddles, buckboards, two-wheeled carts, and even one top buggy represented the means of transportation.
Bob rode on through the nike air max 1 gate to headquarters.. This he found deserted, except for Amy Thorne. She was engaged in wiping the breakfast dishes, and she excitedly waved a towel at the young man as he rode up.
„A gods nike air max 90 sale end!“ she cried. „I’m just dancing with impatience! They’ve been gone five minutes! Come help me finish!“
Bob fastened his horse, rolled back his sleeves, and took hold with a will.
„Where’s your examining board, and your candidates?“ he inquired. „I thought I was going to see an examination.“
„Up the Meadow Trail,“ panted the girl. „Don’t stop to talk. Hurry!“
They hurried, to such good purpose , that shortly they were clambering, rather breathless, up the steeps of the Meadow Trail. This led to a flat, upper shelf or bench in which, as the name implied, was situated a small meadow. At the upper end were grouped twenty-five men, closely gathered about some object.
Amy and Bob plunged into the dew-heavy grasses. The men proved to be watching Thorne, who was engaged in tacking a small target on the stub of a dead sugar pine. This accomplished, he led the way back some seventy-five or eighty paces.
„Three shots each,“ said he, consulting his note-book. „Off-hand. Hicks!“
The man so named stepped forward to the designated mark, sighted his piece carefully, and fired.
„Do I get each shot called?“ he inquired; but Thorne shook his head.
„You ought to know where your guns shoot,“ sa nike air max id he.
After the third shot, the whole group went forward to examine the target. Thorne marked the results in his note-book, and called upon the next contestant.
While the shooting went on, Bob had leisure to examine the men. They numbered, as he had guessed, about twenty. Three were plainly from the towns, for they wore thin shoes, white shirts, and clothes of a sort ill adapted to out-of-door work in the mountains. Two others, while more appropriately dressed in khakis and high boots, were as evidently foreign to the hills. Bob guessed them recent college graduates, perhaps even of some one of the forestry schools. In this he was correct. The rest were professional out-of-door men. Bob recognized two of his own woods-crew–good men they were, t nike air max classic oo. He nodded to them. A half-dozen lithe, slender youths, handsome and browned, drew apart by themselves. He remembered having noticed one of them as a particularly daring rider after Pollock’s cattle the fall before; and guessed his companions to be of the same breed. Among the remainder, two picturesque, lean, slow and quizzical prospectors attracted his particular attention.
Most of these men were well practised in the use of the rifle, but evidently not to exhibiting their skill in company. What seemed to Bob a rather _exaggerated_ earnestness oppressed them. The shooting, with two exceptions, was not good. Several, whom Bob strongly suspected had many a time broug air max 90 sale ht down their deer on the run, even missed the target entirely! It was to be remarked that each contestant, though he might turn red beneath his tan, took the announcement of the result in silence.
The two notable exceptions referred to were strangely contrasted. The elder was one of the prospectors. He was armed with an ancient 45-70 Winchester, worn smooth and shiny by long carrying in a saddle holster. This arm was fitted with buckhorn sights of the old mountain type. When it exploded, its black powder blew forth nike air max 95 a stunning detonation and volume of smoke. Nevertheless, of the three bullets, two were within the tiny black Thorne had seen fit to mark as bullseye, and the other clipped close to its edge. A murmur of admiration went up from the bystanders. Even eliminating the unaccountable nervousness that had thrown so many shots wild, it seemed improbable that any of the other contestants felt themselves qualified to equal this score.
„Good shooting,“ whispered Bob to Amy. „I doubt if I could make out that bullseye through sights.“
The other exception, whose turn came somewhat later, was one of the Easterners mentioned as a graduate of the forestry school. This young man, not over twenty-two years of age, was an attractive youngster, with refined features, and engaging dark-blue eyes. His arm was the then latest model, a 33-calibre high power, fitted with aperture sights. This he manipulated with great care, adjusting it again and again; and fired with such deliberation that some of the spectators moved impatiently. Nevertheless, the targ cheap nike air max trainers et, on examination, showed that he had duplicated the prospector’s score. To be sure, the worst shot had not cut quite as close to the bull as had that of the older man, but on the other hand, those in the black were slightly nearer the centre. It was generally adjudged a good tie.
„Well, youngster!“ cried the prospector, heartily, „we’re the cocks of the walk! If you can handle the other weep’n as well, I’ll give air max 90 you my hand for a good shot.“
The young man smiled shyly, but said nothing.
The distance was now shortened to something under twenty paces, and a new target substituted for the old. The black in this was fully six inches in diameter.
„Five shots with six-shooter,“ announced Thorne briefly.
„A man should hit a dollar twice in five at that distance,“ muttered the prospector. Thorne caught the remark.
„You hit that five out of five, and I’ll forgive you,“ said he curtly. „Hicks, you begin.“
The contest went forward with varying success. Not over half of the men were practised with the smaller arm. Some very wild work was done. On the other hand, eight or ten performed very creditably, placing their bullets in or near the black. Indeed, two succeeded in hitting the bullseye four times out of five. Every man took the utmost pai nike air max sale ns with every shot.
„Now, Ware,“ said Thorne, at last, „step up. You’ve got to make good that five out of five to win.“
The prospector stood forward, at the same time producing from an open holster blackened by time one of the long-barrelled single-action Colt’s 45’s, so universally in use on the frontier. He glanced carelessly toward the mark, grinned back at the crowd, turned, and instantly began firing. He shot the five shots without appreciable sighting before each, as fast as his thumb could pull back the long-shanked hammer. The muzzle of the weapon rose and fell with a regularity positively mechanical, and the five shots had been delivered in half that number of seconds.
„There’s your five,“ said he, carelessly dropping his gun back into its holster.
The five bullets were found to be scattered within the six-inch bla nike air max 90 ck.
The concourse withdrew to give space for the next contestant. Silence fell as the man was taking his aim. Amy touched Bob’s arm. He looked down. Her eyes were shining, and her cheeks red with excitement.
„Doesn’t it remind you of anything?“ she whispered eagerly.
„What?“ he asked, not guessing her meaning.
„This: all of it!“ she waved her hand abroad at the fair oval meadow with its fringe of tall trees and the blue sky above it; at the close-gathered knot of spectators, and the single contestant advanced before them. He shook his head. „Wait,“ she breathed, laying her fingers across her lips.
The contest wore along until it again came the turn of the younger man. He stepped to the front, unbuckled a covered holster of the sort never carried in the West, and produced one of those beautifully balanced, beautifully finish cheap nike air max ed revolvers known as the Officer’s Model. Taking the firm yet easy position of the practised target shot, he sighted with great deliberation, firing only when he considered his aim assured. Indeed, once he lowered his weapon until a puff of wind had passed. The five shots were found to be not only within the black, but grouped inside a three-inch diameter.
„‚_A Hubert! A Hubert_!'“ breathed the girl in Bob’s ear. „_In the clout_!“
„I thought his name was Elliott,“ said Bob. „Is it Hubert?“
The girl eyed him reproachfully, but said nothing.
„You’re a _good_ shot, youngster!“ cried Ware, in the heartiest congratulation; „but if Mr. Thorne don’t mind, I’d like to shoot off this tie. Down in our country we don’t shoot quite that way, or at that kind of a mark. Will you take a try my way?“
Amy leaned again toward Bob, her face cheap nike air max aflame.

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