“I’m ready for whatever happens,” he told himself.
The intruder had now taken up such a position in the tent as to command a view of the entrance, shielded from sight himself. Chester saw something glisten in the man’s hand.
“Gun,” said the boy to himself. “Guess I can beat him to it.”
Came footsteps without. They stopped just outside the tent. Chester saw the nocturnal visitor in the tent raise his revolver arm. Chester did likewise.
“I’ll just shoot that gun out of your hand, my friend,” he said quietly.
He took deliberate aim.
AN UNKNOWN ENEMY
The footsteps outside came nearer the entrance. Chester’s finger tightened on the trigger of his revolver, as he saw the stranger in the tent draw himself taut.
At that moment Hal’s figure appeared in the entrance.
There were two sharp cracks, so close that they seemed as one, and two spurts of flame in the darkness. Came a cry of pain from the stranger in the tent and Hal dashed forward.
“Quick, Hal! Grab him!” shouted Chester.
But quick as he was, Hal was not quick enough. With a snarl the man jumped toward Hal even as Hal leaped himself. The stranger was of much greater bulk than Hal and the lad was hurled to the ground. When he regained his feet the stranger had disappeared.
Chester, unmindful of his wound, had leaped from his cot and now ran outside. Some distance away he saw a figure disappear in the darkness. The lad did not fire a second shot, for at that distance he could not be sure of a hit and he did not wish further to alarm the camp.
Hal struck a light and the two chums looked at each other.
“Did you get a look at him, Hal?” asked Chester.
“No, did you?”
“No. He was in the tent for some time, but I waited until I was sure what he was going to do before I fired, though I had him covered all the time.”
“You must be losing your eye. At that distance you should you should have potted him without trouble.”
“I guess I could have done it this time had I tried,” returned Chester. “I shot at his revolver.”
“Well, I guess you hit it,” said Hal. “There it is, right where he dropped it. But his bullet whistled pretty close to my ear.”
“I suppose I shouldn’t have taken a chance,” said Chester. “Next time I’ll shoot to hit something better than a pistol.”
“Well, it doesn’t make any difference now,” said Hal. “He didn’t get me. I wonder who he is and what he wanted to shoot me for?”
“You’ve got me, look at the gun and see if there is any mark of identification on it.”
Hal stooped over and picked up the revolver. He examined it carefully and then passed it to Chester.
“Can’t find anything,” he said.
Chester examined the weapon with no better success.