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Heedless of the risk he was taking, Josiah's breath came in quick gulps and his face flushed with the thrill of the chase! In the heat of the moment, he saw neither danger nor common sense. His entire being was trained on his gun and the cow before him. With another crack of his rifle, the animal went down!

By now, the herd was running wildly to escape the hunter still in pursuit! A nearby bull lunged at Josiah's horse, but the experienced pony leaped aside, and its rider remained unscathed. Loading his rifle on the back of the horse, Josiah was unrelenting in his determination.

Another bull dropped its head and charged Josiah, its tongue hanging out in exhaustion. They were becoming desperate, and so were their attempts to rid themselves of this man.

Dust billowed around Josiah, and he gritted his teeth in wild delight. Another cow presented herself before his rifle, and he fired without hesitation.

After Josiah reloaded his Hawken for the fifth time, he reined in his tired horse. He had enough meat. The mountain man let the herd run on until they disappeared from sight, leaving torn ground, moist dung, and their fallen comrades behind them.

Wiping his face of muddy perspiration, Josiah trotted his horse back to the buffalo he had just shot. He counted five dead cows, and grinned with satisfaction.

Going to the first cow, Josiah carved her open to harvest the best portions suited for food. He tied the meat to his saddle, and then went to the next cow. On and on he went, until his horse was laden with fresh buffalo meat.

By the time Josiah returned to Emma, it was the center of the day.

"The difficult part comes next," he told her with a hardy grin.

Emma followed behind Josiah on foot, as he led the horse back to camp. She had seen men hunt buffalo before, but there was a calculated recklessness about Josiah that made her wonder at him.

After turning his tired horse into the field with the other ponies, Josiah strung sinew ropes between several trees and secured the ends around the trunks. Then he hunched over the piles of fresh buffalo meat and slowly cut them into thin strips. While he worked, Emma took the strips and then hung them over the sinew to dry. It was a long and tedious process, and the sunlight gave out just as Josiah came to the very last of the meat.

"If you want to give your back a rest," Emma offered after they had finished, "I can prepare the last of the elk meat for supper."

Giving her an assenting nod, Josiah went to the buffalo robe to stretch his stiff limbs. It was hard work cutting meat so thinly, but the thinner he could make the jerky, the quicker it would dry. The rope strung about their camp was crowded with drying strips of buffalo meat, and Josiah surveyed the scene with a degree of accomplishment.

Then he leaned back to watch Emma as she tended the fire. Josiah blinked hard to keep his eyes open, but sleep was beckoning and he found it hard to resist. Telling himself that he had enough time for a short nap before supper, the tired man went to sleep.

The camp was dark by the time Josiah stirred from his nap. He was dimly aware of something sharp jabbing at his chest, arms, and legs, and he couldn't tell why. Rolling onto his back to escape the discomfort, Josiah sleepily touched his chest and felt the spines of the prickly pear cactus still embedded in the front of his buckskins. Groaning wearily, he closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

Light spilled across Josiah's face, and he awakened to find Emma bent over his chest. She was intently picking the cactus spines from his buckskins, and by the way she squinted, Josiah guessed she was having difficulty.
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