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rummaging through the various rooms of the place with systematic
When he finished the search, it was noon. He knew a lot about the cabin,
but damned little about himself. The cramped, dismal attic contained
what was left of pictures, odd bits of furniture and clothes after the
local field mice and porcupines had their annual convention up there.
The three bedrooms revealed nothing except the usual gear to be found in
any bedroom, and of the downstairs section of the place, only the art
studio and the combination den-library was of interest. And even these
places shed no light upon the ghost of the man that haunted him. The
studio contained all of the trappings of an artist, even though it was
in rather battered up shape, and the den was a wall to wall replica of
what a woodsman might have owned. There were the books, the stuffed
heads and, of course, the guns.
The rack, on the far side of the room, contained a table with bullet
loading equipment scattered around it, with cans of DuPont powder on the
floor. Above it, in the gun rack were the weapons - enough to hold off a
small revolution. There were two handguns and three rifles and a
shotgun. He looked them over.
A Smith and Wesson .38, model 36 and a Ruger Blackhawk .44 Magnum that
looked like the old peacemaker model. One of the rifles was a Marlin
saddle carbine, model 336 and the other was a Winchester African rifle
with a .458 bore. The last gun on the rack was a Stevens .410 single
barrel shotgun. Nick grinned at the arsenal and took the .44 magnum down
from the rack to clean it. It wasn't in too bad of shape, even for as
long as it had remained idle; even the western style holster and gunbelt
contained enough oil to make them pliable.
He slipped the magnum into the holster and buckled the gunbelt about his
waist, letting it hang a little on the right side. To hell with it, he
thought. If those two characters show up now, at least I'll have an
edge. He pulled five .44 Special slugs from the belt and loaded the
weapon, being careful to see that the hammer hung on the empty chamber.
Then he decided to see how good he was.
Where the hill rose sharply for a small distance behind the house, Nick
found a good area where he could test his marksmanship. He lined up five
cans, a few feet apart, at the base of the rise and snapped off five
fast shots at them as quick as the single action would operate. Either
amnesia had nothing to do with a man's gun knowledge, or he was a
natural. All five cans were blown to hell and sent skittering against
the side of the hill. Stunned, but satisfied, he reloaded the revolver
and dropped it back into the holster.
He prowled the grounds about the cabin with the aimlessness of a man
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