The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour: The Frontier Stories, Volume Two

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With more than 120 titles still in print, Louis L'Amour is recognized the world over as one of the most prolific and popular American authors in history. Though he met with phenomenal success in every genre he tried, the form that put him on the map was the short story. Now this great writer – who The Wall Street Journal recently compared with Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson – will receive his due as a great storyteller. This volume kicks off a series that will, when complete, anthologize all of L'Amour’s ...

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Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour: The Frontier Stories, Volume Two

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With more than 120 titles still in print, Louis L'Amour is recognized the world over as one of the most prolific and popular American authors in history. Though he met with phenomenal success in every genre he tried, the form that put him on the map was the short story. Now this great writer – who The Wall Street Journal recently compared with Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson – will receive his due as a great storyteller. This volume kicks off a series that will, when complete, anthologize all of L'Amour’s short fiction, volume by handsome volume.

Here, in Volume Two, is a treasure-trove of 35 frontier tales for his millions of fans and for those who have yet to discover L'Amour’s thrilling prose – and his vital role in capturing the spirit of the Old West for generations to come.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"L'Amour never writes with less than a saddle creak in his sentences and more often with a desert heatwave boiling up from a sunbaked paragraph. A master storyteller.... for reading under the stars."—Kirkus Reviews
Library Journal
L'Amour is well known for Western novels about strong characters in hard situations. Names like Sackett, Hondo, and Bowdrie are synonymous with fast-drawing, straight-shooting Western heroes. This second collection of short stories falls into the same pattern: 19 of them deal with Texas Ranger Chick Bowdrie, a frontier lawman who combines fast thinking with fast shooting. The best story overall is "More Brains Than Bullets," in which Bowdrie has to solve a murder, a bank robbery, and a frame-up all at the same time. Other stories are pure Western romance, e.g., "Trail to Pie Town," in which a wandering cowboy rescues a woman in trouble. All of these stories have seen print more than once before, though here a few authorial notes and a brief biography of L'Amour add to the reader's enjoyment. Those who appreciate well-told tales with plenty of action, Western lore, and local color will enjoy.-Ken St. Andre, Phoenix P.L. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
For reading under the stars. The unimaginably prolific L'Amour-120 books still in print, 45 works filmed as movies or TV shows, over 270 million books sold worldwide-carries on from the grave. This second in a projected four-volume series (The Collected Stories of Louis L'Amour: The Frontier Stories, Volume One, 2003) reprints 30 more stories, this time featuring L'Amour's popular hero Texas Ranger Chick Bowdrie (Bowdrie; Bowdrie's Law).Though never a fancy stylist, L'Amour never writes with less than a saddle creak in his sentences and often enough with a desert heatwave boiling up from a sunbaked paragraph. A master storyteller only whets the appetite for the next two volumes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553803976
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/26/2004
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 446,057
  • Product dimensions: 6.29 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Meet the Author

Louis L'Amour

Louis L’Amour is undoubtedly the bestselling frontier novelist of all time. He is the only American-born author in history to receive both the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of his life's work. He has published ninety novels; twenty-seven short-story collections; two works of nonfiction; a memoir, Education of a Wandering Man; and a volume of poetry, Smoke from This Altar. There are more than 300 million copies of his books in print worldwide.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Louis Dearborn LaMoore (real name); Tex Burns and Jim Mayo
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 22, 1908
    2. Place of Birth:
      Jamestown, North Dakota
    1. Date of Death:
      June 10, 1988

Read an Excerpt

Law of the Desert Born

 Shad Marone crawled out of the water swearing and slid into the mesquite. Suddenly, for the first time since the chase began, he was mad. He was mad clear through. “The hell with it!” He got to his feet, his eyes blazing. “I’ve run far enough! If they cross Black River, they’re askin’ for it!”

For three days he had been on the dodge, using every stratagem known to men of the desert, but they clung to him like leeches. That was what came of killing a sheriff’s brother, and the fact that he killed in self-defense wasn’t going to help a bit. Especially when the killer was Shad Marone.

That was what you could expect when you were the last man of the losing side in a cattle war. All his friends were gone now but Madge.

The best people of Puerto de Luna hadn’t been the toughest in this scrap, and they had lost. And Shad Marone, who had been one of the toughest, had lost with them. His guns hadn’t been enough to outweigh those of the other faction.

Of course, he admitted to himself, those on his side hadn’t been angels. He’d branded a few head of calves himself from time to time, and when cash was short, he had often run a few steers over the border. But hadn’t they all?

Truman and Dykes had been good men, but Dykes had been killed at the start, and Truman had fought like a gentleman, and that wasn’t any way to win in the Black River country.

Since then, there had been few peaceful days for Shad Marone.

After they’d elected Clyde Bowman sheriff, he knew they were out to get him. Bowman hated him, and Bowman had been one of the worst of them in the cattle war.

The trouble was, Shad was a gunfighter, and they all knew it. Bowman was fast with a gun and in a fight could hold his own. Also, he was smart enough to leave Shad Marone strictly alone. So they just waited, watched, and planned.

Shad had taken their dislike as a matter of course. It took tough men to settle a tough country, and if they started shooting, somebody got hurt. Well, he wasn’t getting hurt. There had been too much shooting to suit him.

He wanted to leave Puerto de Luna, but Madge was still living on the old place, and he didn’t want to leave her there alone. So he stayed on, knowing it couldn’t last.

Then Jud Bowman rode into town. Shad was thoughtful when he heard that. Jud was notoriously quarrelsome and was said to have twelve notches on his gun. Shad had a feeling that Jud hadn’t come to Puerto de Luna by accident.

Jud hadn’t been in town two days before the grapevine had the story that if Clyde and Lopez were afraid to run Marone out of town, he wasn’t.

Jud Bowman might have done it, too, if it hadn’t been for Tips. Tips Hogan had been tending bar in Puerto de Luna for a long time. He’d come over the trail as wagon boss for Shad’s old man, something everyone had forgotten but Shad and Tips himself.

Tips saw the gun in Bowman’s lap, and he gave Marone a warning. It was just a word, through unmoving lips, while he mopped the bar.

After a moment, Shad turned, his glass in his left hand, and he saw the way Bowman was sitting and how the tabletop would conceal a gun in his lap. Even then, when he knew they had set things up to kill him, he hadn’t wanted trouble. He decided to get out while the getting was good. Then he saw Slade near the door and Henderson across the room.

He was boxed. They weren’t gambling this time. Tips Hogan knew what was likely to happen, and he was working his way down the bar.

Marone took it easy. He knew it was coming, and it wasn’t a new thing. That was his biggest advantage, he thought. He had been in more fights than any of them. He didn’t want any more trouble, but if he got out of this, it would be right behind a six-gun. The back door was barred and the window closed.

Jud Bowman looked up suddenly. He had a great shock of blond, coarse hair, and under bushy brows his eyes glinted. “What’s this about you threatenin’ to kill me, Marone?”

So that was their excuse. He had not threatened Bowman, scarcely knew him, in fact, but this was the way to put him in the wrong, to give them the plea of self-defense.

He let his eyes turn to Bowman, saw the tensity in the man’s face. A denial, and there would be shooting. Jud’s right-hand fingertips rested on the table’s edge. He had only to drop a hand and fire.

“Huh?” Shad said stupidly, as though startled from a daydream. He took a step toward the table, his face puzzled. “Wha’d you say? I didn’t get it.”

They had planned it all very carefully. Marone would deny, Bowman would claim he’d been called a liar; there would be a killing. They were tense, all three of them set to draw.

“Huh?” Shad repeated blankly.

They were caught flat-footed. After all, you couldn’t shoot a man in cold blood. You couldn’t shoot a man who was half-asleep. Most of the men in the saloon were against Marone, but they would never stand for murder.

They were poised for action, and nothing happened. Shad blinked at them. “Sorry,” he said, “I must’ve been dreamin’. I didn’t hear you.”

Bowman glanced around uncertainly, wetting his lips with his tongue. “I said I heard you threatened to kill me,” he repeated. It sounded lame, and he knew it, but Shad’s response had been unexpected. What happened then was even more unexpected.

Marone’s left hand shot out, and before anyone could move, the table was spun from in front of Bowman. Everyone saw the naked gun lying in his lap.

Every man in the saloon knew that Jud Bowman, for all his reputation, had been afraid to shoot it out with an even break. It would have been murder.

Taken by surprise, Bowman blinked foolishly. Then his wits came back. Blood rushed to his face. He grabbed the gun. “Why, you . . . !”

Then Shad Marone shot him. Shad shot him through the belly, and before the other two could act, he wheeled, not toward the door, but to the closed window. He battered it with his shoulder and went right on through. Outside, he hit the ground on his hands but came up in a lunging run. Then he was in the saddle and on his way.

There were men in the saloon who would tell the truth—two at least, although neither had much use for him. But Marone knew that with Clyde Bowman as sheriff he would never be brought to trial. He would be killed “evading arrest.”

For three days he fled, and during that time, they were never more than an hour behind him. Then, at Forked Tree, they closed in. He got away, but they clipped his horse. The roan stayed on his feet, giving all he had, as horses always had given for Shad Marone, and then died on the riverbank, still trying with his last breath.

Marone took time to cache his saddle and bridle, then started on afoot. He made the river, and they thought that would stop him, for he couldn’t swim a stroke. But he found a drift log, and with his guns riding high, he shoved off. Using the current and his own kicking, he got to the other bank, considerably downstream.

The thing that bothered him was the way they clung to his trail. Bowman wasn’t the man to follow as little trail as he left. Yet the man hung to him like an Apache.


Why hadn’t he thought of that? It would be Lopez following that trail, not Bowman. Bowman was a bulldog, but Lopez was wily as a fox and bloodthirsty as a weasel.

Shad got to his feet and shook the water from him like a dog. He was a big, rawboned, sun-browned man. His shirt was half torn away, and a bandolier of cartridges was slung across his shoulder and chest. His six-gun was on his hip, his rifle in his hand.

He poured the water out of his boots. Well, he was through playing now. If they wanted a trail, he’d see that they got one.

Lopez was the one who worried him. He could shake the others, but Lopez was one of the men who had built this country. He was ugly, he killed freely and often, he was absolutely ruthless, but he had nerve. You had to hand it to him. The man wasn’t honest, and he was too quick to kill, but it had taken men like him to tame this wild, lonely land. It was a land that didn’t tame easy.

Well, what they’d get now would be death for them all. Even Lopez. This was something he’d been saving.

Grimly he turned up the steep, little-used path from the river. They thought they had him at the river. And they would think they had him again at the lava beds.

Waterless, treeless, and desolate, the lava beds were believed to harbor no life of any kind. Only sand and great, jagged rocks—rocks shaped like flame—grotesque, barren, awful. More than seventy miles long, never less than thirty miles wide, so rough a pair of shoes wouldn’t last five miles and footing next to impossible for horses.

On the edge of the lava, Shad Marone sat down and pulled off his boots. Tying their strings, he hung them to his belt. Then he pulled out a pair of moccasins he always carried and slipped them on. Pliable and easy on his feet, they would give to the rough rock and would last many times as long in this terrain as boots. He got up and walked into the lava beds.

The bare lava caught the fierce heat and threw it back in his face. A trickle of sweat started down his cheek. He knew the desert, knew how to live in the heat, and he did not try to hurry. That would be fatal. Far ahead of him was a massive tower of rock jutting up like a church steeple from a tiny village. He headed that way, walking steadily. He made no attempt to cover his trail, no attempt to lose his pursuers. He knew where he was going.

An hour passed, and then another. It was slow going. The rock tower had come abreast of him and then fallen behind. Once he saw the trail of some tiny creature, perhaps a horned frog.

Once, when he climbed a steep declivity, he glanced back. They were still coming. They hadn’t quit.

Lopez—that was like Lopez. He wouldn’t quit. Shad smiled then, but his eyes were without humor. All right, they wanted to kill him bad enough to try the lava beds. They would have to learn the hard way—learn when they could never profit from the lesson.

He kept working north, using the shade carefully. There was little of it, only here and there in the lee of a rock. But each time he stopped, he cooled off a little. So far he hadn’t taken a drink.

After the third hour, he washed his lips and rinsed his mouth. Twice, after that, he took only a spoonful of water and rinsed his mouth before swallowing.

Occasionally, he stopped and looked around to get his bearings. He smiled grimly when he thought of Bowman. The sheriff was a heavy man. Davis would be there, too. Lopez was lean and wiry. He would last. He would be hard to kill.

By his last count, there were eight left. Four had turned back at the lava beds. He gained a little.

At three in the afternoon, he finally stopped. It was a nice piece of shade and would grow better as the hours went on. The ground was low, and in one corner there was a pocket. He dug with his hands until the ground became damp. Then he lay back on the sand and went to sleep.

He wasn’t worried. Too many years he had been awakening at the hour he wished, his senses alert to danger. He was an hour ahead of them, at least. He would need this rest he was going to get. What lay ahead would take everything he had. He knew that.

Their feet would be punishing them cruelly now. Three of them still had their horses, leading them.

He rested his full hour, then got up. He had cut it very thin. Through a space in the rocks, he could see them, not three hundred yards away. Lopez, as he had suspected, was in the lead. How easy to pick them off now! But no, he would not kill again. Let their own anxiety to kill him kill them.

Within a hundred yards, he had put two jumbled piles of boulders between himself and his pursuers. A little farther then, and he stopped.

Before him was a steep slide of shale, near the edge of a great basin. Standing where he did, he could see, far away in the distance, a purple haze over the mountains. Between there was nothing but a great white expanse, shimmering with heat.

He slid down the shale and brought up at the bottom. He was now, he knew, seventy feet below sea level. He started away, and at every step, dry, powdery dust lifted in clouds. It caked in his nostrils, filmed his eyelashes, and covered his clothes with whitish, alkaline dust. Far across the Sink, and scarcely discernible from the crest behind him, was the Window in the Rock. He headed for it, walking steadily. It was ten miles if you walked straight across.

“So far that Navajo was right,” Shad told himself. “An’ he said to make it before dark . . . or else!”

Shad Marone’s lips were dry and cracked. After a mile, he stopped, tilting his canteen until he could get his finger into the water, then carefully moistened his lips. Just a drop then, inside his mouth.

All these men were desertwise. None of them, excepting perhaps Lopez, would know about the Sink. They would need water. They would have to know where to find it. By day they could follow his trail, but after darkness fell . . .?

And then, the Navajo had said, the wind would begin to blow. Shad looked at the dry, powdery stuff under him. He could imagine what a smothering, stifling horror this would be if the wind blew. Then, no man could live.

Heat waves danced a queer rigadoon across the lower sky, and heat lifted, beating against his face from the hot white dust beneath his feet. Always it was over a man’s shoe tops, sometimes almost knee-deep. Far away, the mountains were a purple line that seemed to waver vaguely in the afternoon sun. He walked on, heading by instinct rather than sight for the Window.

Dust arose in a slow, choking cloud. It came up from his feet in little puffs, like white smoke. He stumbled, then got his feet right, and kept on. Walking in this was like dragging yourself through heavy mud. The dust pulled at his feet. His pace was slow.

Thirst gathered in his throat, and his mouth seemed filled with something thick and clotted. His tongue was swollen, his lips cracked and swollen. He could not seem to swallow.

He could not make three miles an hour. Darkness would reach him before he made the other side. But he would be close. Close enough. Luckily, at this season, the light stayed long in the sky.

After a long time, he stopped and looked back. Yes, they were coming. But there was not one dust cloud. There were several. Through red-rimmed, sun-squinted eyes, he watched. They were straggling. Every straggler would die. He knew that. Well, they had asked for it.

Dust covered his clothing, and only his gun he kept clean. Every half hour he stopped and wiped it as clean as he could. Twice he pulled a knotted string through the barrel.

Finally, he used the last of his water. Every half hour he had been wetting his lips. He did not throw the canteen away, but slung it back upon his hip. He would need it later, when he got to the Nest. His feet felt very heavy, his legs seemed to belong to an automaton. Head down, he slogged wearily on. In an hour he made two miles.

There is a time when human nature seems able to stand no more. There is a time when every iota of strength seems burned away. This was the fourth day of the chase. Four days without a hot meal, four days of riding, walking, running. Now this. He had only to stop, they would come up with him, and it would be over.

The thought of how easy it would be to quit came to him. He considered the thought. But he did not consider quitting. He could no more have stopped than a bee could stop making honey. Life was ahead, and he had to live. It was a matter only of survival now. The man with the greatest urge to live would be the one to survive.

Those men behind him were going to die. They were going to die for three reasons. First, he alone knew where there was water, and at the right time he would lose them.

Second, he was in the lead, and after dark they would have no trail, and if they lived through the night, there would be no trail left in the morning.

Third, at night, at this season, the wind always blew, and their eyes and mouths and ears would fill with soft, white filmy dust, and if they lay down, they would be buried by the sifting, swirling dust.

They would die then, every man jack of them.

They had it coming. Bowman deserved it; so did Davis and Gardner. Lopez most of all. They were all there; he had seen them. Lopez was a killer. The man’s father had been Spanish and Irish, his mother an Apache.

Without Lopez, he would have shaken them off long before. Shad Marone tried to laugh, but the sound was only a choking grunt. Well, they had followed Lopez to their death, all of them. Aside from Lopez, they were weak sisters.

He looked back again. He was gaining on them now. The first dust cloud was farther behind, and the distance between the others was growing wider. It was a shame Lopez had to die, at that. The man was tough and had plenty of trail savvy.

Shad Marone moved on. From somewhere within him he called forth a new burst of strength. His eyes watched the sun. While there was light, they had a chance. What would they think in Puerto de Luna when eight men did not come back?

Marone looked at the sun, and it was low, scarcely above the purple mountains. They seemed close now. He lengthened his stride again. The Navajo had told him how his people once had been pursued by Apaches, and had led the whole Apache war party into the Sink. There they had been caught by darkness, and none were ever seen again according to the Indian’s story.

Shad stumbled then and fell. Dust lifted thickly about him, clogging his nostrils. Slowly, like a groggy fighter, he got his knees under him, and using his rifle for a staff, pushed himself to his feet.

He started on, driven by some blind, brute desire for life. When he fell again, he could feel rocks under his hands. He pulled himself up.

He climbed the steep, winding path toward the Window in the Rock. Below the far corner of the Window was the Nest. And in the Nest, there was water. Or so the Navajo had told him.

When he was halfway up the trail, he turned and looked back over the Sink. Far away, he could see the dust clouds. Four of them. One larger than the others. Probably there were two men together.

“Still coming,” he muttered grimly, “and Lopez leading them!”

Lopez, damn his soul!

The little devil had guts, though; you had to give him that. Suddenly, Marone found himself almost wishing Lopez would win through. The man was like a wolf. A killer wolf. But he had guts. And it wasn’t just the honest men who had built up this country to what it was today.

Maybe, without the killers and rustlers and badmen, the West would never have been won so soon. Shad Marone remembered some of them: wild, dangerous men, who went into country where nobody else dared venture. They killed and robbed to live, but they stayed there.

It took iron men for that: men like Lopez, who was a mongrel of the Santa Fe Trail. Lopez had drunk water from a buffalo track many a time. Well, so have I, Shad told himself.

Shad Marone took out his six-shooter and wiped it free of dust. Only then did he start up the trail.

He found the Nest, a hollow among the rocks, sheltered from the wind. The Window loomed above him now, immense, gigantic. Shad stumbled, running, into the Nest. He dropped his rifle and lunged for the water hole, throwing himself on the ground to drink. Then he stared, unbelieving.


The earth was dry and parched where the water had been, but only cracked earth remained.

He couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t be! It couldn’t . . ! Marone came to his feet, glaring wildly about. His eyes were red-rimmed, his face heat-flushed above the black whiskers, now filmed with gray dust.

He tried to laugh. Lopez dying down below there, he dying up here! The hard men of the West, the tough men! He sneered at himself. Both of them now would die, he at the water hole, Lopez down there in the cloying, clogging dust!

He shook his head. Through the flame-sheathed torment of his brain, there came a cool ray of sanity.

There had been water here. The Indian had been right. The cracked earth showed that. But where?

Perhaps a dry season. . . . But no; it had not been a dry season. Certainly no dryer than any other year at this time.

He stared across the place where the pool had been. Rocks and a few rock cedar and some heaped-up rocks from a small slide. He stumbled across and began clawing at the rocks, pulling, tearing. Suddenly, a trickle of water burst through! He got hold of one big rock and in a mad frenzy, tore it from its place. The water shot through then, so suddenly he was knocked to his knees.

He scrambled out of the depression, splashing in the water. Then, lying on his face, he drank, long and greedily.

Finally, he rolled away and lay still, panting. Dimly, he was conscious of the wind blowing. He crawled to the water again and bathed his face, washing away the dirt and grime. Then, careful as always, he filled his canteen from the fresh water bubbling up from the spring.

If he only had some coffee. . . . But he’d left his food in his saddlebags.

Well, Madge would be all right now. He could go back to her. After this, they wouldn’t bother him. He would take her away. They would go to the Blue Mountains in Oregon. He had always liked that country.

The wind was blowing more heavily now, and he could smell the dust. That Navajo hadn’t lied. It would be hell down in the Sink. He was above it now and almost a mile away.

He stared down into the darkness, wondering how far Lopez had been able to get. The others didn’t matter; they were weak sisters who lived on the strength of better men. If they didn’t die there, they would die elsewhere, and the West could spare them. He got to his feet.

Lopez would hate to die. The ranch he had built so carefully in a piece of the wildest, roughest country was going good. It took a man with guts to settle where he had and make it pay. Shad Marone rubbed the stubble on his jaw. “That last thirty head of his cows I rustled for him brought the best price I ever got!” he remembered thoughtfully. “Too bad there ain’t more like him!”

Well, after this night, there would be one less. There wouldn’t be anything to guide Lopez down there now. A man caught in a thick whirlpool of dust would have no landmarks; there would be nothing to get him out except blind instinct. The Navajos had been clever, leading the Apaches into a trap like that. Odd, that Lopez’s mother had been an Apache, too.

Just the same, Marone thought, he had nerve. He’d shot his way up from the bottom until he had one of the best ranches.

Shad Marone began to pick up some dead cedar. He gathered some needles for kindling and in a few minutes had a fire going.

Marone took another drink. Somehow, he felt restless. He got up and walked to the edge of the Nest. How far had Lopez come? Suppose . . . Marone gripped his pistol.

Suddenly, he started down the mountain. “The hell with it!” he muttered.

A stone rattled.

Shad Marone froze, gun in hand.

Lopez, a gray shadow, weaving in the vague light from the cliff, had a gun in his hand. For a full minute, they stared at each other.

Marone spoke first. “Looks like a dead heat,” he said.

Lopez said, “How’d you know about that water hole?”

“Navajo told me,” Shad replied, watching Lopez like a cat. “You don’t look so bad,” he added. “Have a full canteen?”

“No. I’d have been a goner. But my mother was an Apache. A bunch of them got caught in the Sink once. That never happened twice to no Apache. They found this water hole then, and one down below. I made the one below, an’ then I was finished. She was a dry hole. But then water began to run in from a crack in the rock.”

“Yeah?” Marone looked at him again. “You got any coffee?”


“Well,” Shad said as he holstered his gun, “I’ve got a fire.”

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First Chapter

The Gift of Cochise

Tense, and white to the lips, Angie Lowe stood in the door of her cabin with a double-barreled shotgun in her hands. Beside the door was a Winchester '73, and on the table inside the house were two Walker Colts.

Facing the cabin were twelve Apaches on ragged calico ponies, and one of the Indians had lifted his hand, palm outward. The Apache sitting the white-splashed bay pony was Cochise.

Beside Angie were her seven-year-old son Jimmy and her five-year-old daughter Jane.

Cochise sat his pony in silence; his black, unreadable eyes studied the woman, the children, the cabin, and the small garden. He looked at the two ponies in the corral and the three cows. His eyes strayed to the small stack of hay cut from the meadow, and to the few steers farther up the canyon.

Three times the warriors of Cochise had attacked this solitary cabin and three times they had been turned back. In all, they had lost seven men, and three had been wounded. Four ponies had been killed. His braves reported that there was no man in the house, only a woman and two children, so Cochise had come to see for himself this woman who was so certain a shot with a rifle and who killed his fighting men.

These were some of the same fighting men who had outfought, outguessed and outrun the finest American army on record, an army outnumbering the Apaches by a hundred to one. Yet a lone woman with two small children had fought them off, and the woman was scarcely more than a girl. And she was prepared to fight now. There was a glint of admiration in the old eyes that appraised her. The Apache was a fighting man, and he respected fighting blood.

"Where is yourman?"

"He has gone to El Paso." Angie's voice was steady, but she was frightened as she had never been before. She recognized Cochise from descriptions, and she knew that if he decided to kill or capture her it would be done. Until now, the sporadic attacks she had fought off had been those of casual bands of warriors who raided her in passing.

"He has been gone a long time. How long?"

Angie hesitated, but it was not in her to lie. "He has been gone four months."

Cochise considered that. No one but a fool would leave such a woman, or such fine children. Only one thing could have prevented his return. "Your man is dead," he said.

Angie waited, her heart pounding with heavy, measured beats. She had guessed long ago that Ed had been killed but the way Cochise spoke did not imply that Apaches had killed him, only that he must be dead or he would have returned.

"You fight well," Cochise said. "You have killed my young men."

"Your young men attacked me." She hesitated, then added, "They stole my horses."

"Your man is gone. Why do you not leave?"

Angie looked at him with surprise. "Leave? Why, this is my home. This land is mine. This spring is mine. I shall not leave."

"This was an Apache spring," Cochise reminded her reasonably.

"The Apache lives in the mountains," Angie replied. "He does not need this spring. I have two children, and I do need it."

"But when the Apache comes this way, where shall he drink? His throat is dry and you keep him from water."

The very fact that Cochise was willing to talk raised her hopes. There had been a time when the Apache made no war on the white man. "Cochise speaks with a forked tongue," she said. "There is water yonder." She gestured toward the hills, where Ed had told her there were springs. "But if the people of Cochise come in peace they may drink at this spring."

The Apache leader smiled faintly. Such a woman would rear a nation of warriors. He nodded at Jimmy. "The small one—does he also shoot?"

"He does," Angie said proudly, "and well, too!" She pointed to an upthrust leaf of prickly pear. "Show them, Jimmy."

The prickly pear was an easy two hundred yards away, and the Winchester was long and heavy, but he lifted it eagerly and steadied it against the doorjamb as his father had taught him, held his sight an instant, then fired. The bud on top of the prickly pear disintegrated.

There were grunts of appreciation from the dark-faced warriors. Cochise chuckled. "The little warrior shoots well. It is well you have no man. You might raise an army of little warriors to fight my people."

"I have no wish to fight your people," Angie said quietly. "Your people have your ways, and I have mine. I live in peace when I am left in peace. I did not think," she added with dignity, "that the great Cochise made war on women!"

The Apache looked at her, then turned his pony away. "My people will trouble you no longer," he said. "You are the mother of a strong son."

"What about my two ponies?" she called after him. "Your young men took them from me."

Cochise did not turn or look back, and the little cavalcade of riders followed him away. Angie stepped back into the cabin and closed the door. Then she sat down abruptly, her face white, the muscles in her legs trembling.

When morning came, she went cautiously to the spring for water. Her ponies were back in the corral. They had been returned during the night.

Slowly, the days drew on. Angie broke a small piece of the meadow and planted it. Alone, she cut hay in the meadow and built another stack. She saw Indians several times, but they did not bother her. One morning, when she opened her door, a quarter of antelope lay on the step, but no Indian was in sight. Several times, during the weeks that followed, she saw moccasin tracks near the spring.

Once, going out at daybreak, she saw an Indian girl dipping water from the spring. Angie called to her, and the girl turned quickly, facing her. Angie walked toward her, offering a bright red silk ribbon. Pleased, the Apache girl left.

And the following morning there was another quarter of antelope on her step—but she saw no Indian.

Ed Lowe had built the cabin in West Dog Canyon in the spring of 1871, but it was Angie who chose the spot, not Ed. In Santa Fe they would have told you that Ed Lowe was good-looking, shiftless, and agreeable. He was, also, unfortunately handy with a pistol.

Angie's father had come from County Mayo to New York and from New York to the Mississippi, where he became a tough, brawling river boatman. In New Orleans, he met a beautiful Cajun girl and married her. Together, they started west for Santa Fe, and Angie was born en route. Both parents died of cholera when Angie was fourteen. She lived with an Irish family for the following three years, then married Ed Lowe when she was seventeen.

Santa Fe was not good for Ed, and Angie kept after him until they started south. It was Apache country, but they kept on until they reached the old Spanish ruin in West Dog. Here there were grass, water, and shelter from the wind.

There was fuel, and there were piñons and game. And Angie, with an Irish eye for the land, saw that it would grow crops.

The house itself was built on the ruins of the old Spanish building, using the thick walls and the floor.

The location had been admirably chosen for defense. The house was built in a corner of the cliff, under the sheltering overhang, so that approach was possible from only two directions, both covered by an easy field of fire from the door and windows.

For seven months, Ed worked hard and steadily. He put in the first crop, he built the house, and proved himself a handy man with tools. He repaired the old plow they had bought, cleaned out the spring, and paved and walled it with slabs of stone. If he was lonely for the carefree companions of Santa Fe, he gave no indication of it. Provisions were low, and when he finally started off to the south, Angie watched him go with an ache in her heart.

She did not know whether she loved Ed. The first flush of enthusiasm had passed, and Ed Lowe had proved something less than she had believed. But he had tried, she admitted. And it had not been easy for him. He was an amiable soul, given to whittling and idle talk, all of which he missed in the loneliness of the Apache country. And when he rode away, she had no idea whether she would ever see him again. She never did.

Santa Fe was far and away to the north, but the growing village of El Paso was less than a hundred miles to the west, and it was there Ed Lowe rode for supplies and seed.

He had several drinks—his first in months—in one of the saloons. As the liquor warmed his stomach, Ed Lowe looked around agreeably. For a moment, his eyes clouded with worry as he thought of his wife and children back in Apache country, but it was not in Ed Lowe to worry for long. He had another drink and leaned on the bar, talking to the bartender. All Ed had ever asked of life was enough to eat, a horse to ride, an occasional drink, and companions to talk with. Not that he had anything important to say. He just liked to talk.

Suddenly a chair grated on the floor, and Ed turned. A lean, powerful man with a shock of uncut black hair and a torn, weather-faded shirt stood at bay. Facing him across the table were three hard-faced young men, obviously brothers.

Ches Lane did not notice Ed Lowe watching from the bar. He had eyes only for the men facing him. "You done that deliberate!" The statement was a challenge.

The broad-chested man on the left grinned through broken teeth. "That's right, Ches. I done it deliberate. You killed Dan Tolliver on the Brazos."

"He made the quarrel." Comprehension came to Ches. He was boxed, and by three of the fighting, blood-hungry Tollivers.

"Don't make no difference," the broad-chested Tolliver said. " ‘Who sheds a Tolliver's blood, by a Tolliver's hand must die!' "

Ed Lowe moved suddenly from the bar. "Three to one is long odds," he said, his voice low and friendly. "If the gent in the corner is willin', I'll side him."

Two Tollivers turned toward him. Ed Lowe was smiling easily, his hand hovering near his gun. "You stay out of this!" one of the brothers said harshly.

"I'm in," Ed replied. "Why don't you boys light a shuck?"

"No, by—!" The man's hand dropped for his gun, and the room thundered with sound.

Ed was smiling easily, unworried as always. His gun flashed up. He felt it leap in his hand, saw the nearest Tolliver smashed back, and he shot him again as he dropped. He had only time to see Ches Lane with two guns out and another Tolliver down when something struck him through the stomach and he stepped back against the bar, suddenly sick.

The sound stopped, and the room was quiet, and there was the acrid smell of powder smoke. Three Tollivers were down and dead, and Ed Lowe was dying. Ches Lane crossed to him.

"We got 'em," Ed said, "we sure did. But they got me."

Suddenly his face changed. "Oh, Lord in heaven, what'll Angie do?" And then he crumpled over on the floor and lay still, the blood staining his shirt and mingling with the sawdust.

Stiff-faced, Ches looked up. "Who was Angie?" he asked.

"His wife," the bartender told him. "She's up northeast somewhere, in Apache country. He was tellin' me about her. Two kids, too."

Ches Lane stared down at the crumpled, used-up body of Ed Lowe. The man had saved his life.

One he could have beaten, two he might have beaten; three would have killed him. Ed Lowe, stepping in when he did, had saved the life of Ches Lane.

"He didn't say where?"


Ches Lane shoved his hat back on his head. "What's northeast of here?"

The bartender rested his hands on the bar. "Cochise," he said. . . .

For more than three months, whenever he could rustle the grub, Ches Lane quartered the country over and back. The trouble was, he had no lead to the location of Ed Lowe's homestead. An examination of Ed's horse revealed nothing. Lowe had bought seed and ammunition, and the seed indicated a good water supply, and the ammunition implied trouble. But in that country there was always trouble.

A man had died to save his life, and Ches Lane had a deep sense of obligation. Somewhere that wife waited, if she was still alive, and it was up to him to find her and look out for her. He rode northeast, cutting for sign, but found none. Sandstorms had wiped out any hope of back-trailing Lowe. Actually, West Dog Canyon was more east than north, but this he had no way of knowing.

North he went, skirting the rugged San Andreas Mountains. Heat baked him hot, dry winds parched his skin. His hair grew dry and stiff and alkali-whitened. He rode north, and soon the Apaches knew of him. He fought them at a lonely water hole, and he fought them on the run. They killed his horse, and he switched his saddle to the spare and rode on. They cornered him in the rocks, and he killed two of them and escaped by night.

They trailed him through the White Sands, and he left two more for dead. He fought fiercely and bitterly, and would not be turned from his quest. He turned east through the lava beds and still more east to the Pecos. He saw only two white men, and neither knew of a white woman.

The bearded man laughed harshly. "A woman alone? She wouldn't last a month! By now the Apaches got her, or she's dead. Don't be a fool! Leave this country before you die here."

Lean, wind-whipped, and savage, Ches Lane pushed on. The Mescaleros cornered him in Rawhide Draw and he fought them to a standstill. Grimly, the Apaches clung to his trail.

The sheer determination of the man fascinated them. Bred and born in a rugged and lonely land, the Apaches knew the difficulties of survival; they knew how a man could live, how he must live. Even as they tried to kill this man, they loved him, for he was one of their own.

Lane's jeans grew ragged. Two bullet holes were added to the old black hat. The slicker was torn; the saddle, so carefully kept until now, was scratched by gravel and brush. At night he cleaned his guns and by day he scouted the trails. Three times he found lonely ranch houses burned to the ground, the buzzard- and coyote-stripped bones of their owners lying nearby.

Once he found a covered wagon, its canvas flopping in the wind, a man lying sprawled on the seat with a pistol near his hand. He was dead and his wife was dead, and their canteens rattled like empty skulls.

Leaner every day, Ches Lane pushed on. He camped one night in a canyon near some white oaks. He heard a hoof click on stone and he backed away from his tiny fire, gun in hand.

The riders were white men, and there were two of them. Joe Tompkins and Wiley Lynn were headed west, and Ches Lane could have guessed why. They were men he had known before, and he told them what he was doing.

Lynn chuckled. He was a thin-faced man with lank yellow hair and dirty fingers. "Seems a mighty strange way to get a woman. There's some as comes easier."

"This ain't for fun," Ches replied shortly. "I got to find her."
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 49 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 49 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2005

    Love of the West

    I've held off from reading L'Amour for decades, thinking that his writings were not going to measure up to McMurtry and the Holy Grail 'Lonesome Dove'. While perusing the bookstore I came upon the two new collections of short stories and felt a drawing towards the covers. I saw that it was a collection of short stories and thought that it might be a good way to introduce myself to Mr. L'Amour. I opened the book and read the first page of the first story and I was IMMIDEATELY hooked. L'Amour is a fantastic writer and the stories have all the qualities of Lonesome Dove and more. What amazed me most was that there are over 30 stories and even though all dealt with the west and their occupants, each was unique and different. And much like the Hawaiians who have 100 different words for the ocean, L'Amour has a multitude of ways to describe the cowboy. A must read for all who enjoy the old west.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2013

    See below.

    I have been a fan of Mr. L'Amour for many years. However, many of his collected short stories that are being published now, are being repeated in other of his short story collections. This is a dis-service to the purchaser, as he is paying for something that he has already purchased. Plus in the nook version, there are words spelled wrong, and edited to the point in a few cases that does not make sense. I also find this in other of your nook books, the editing is very poor in places.-- B.Sawyer

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2012

    Highly Recommended!

    I bought the first two of four as a present for my dad. I have not read these yet but I have read a few books of Louis L'Amour. He is one of the classic authors that gives exacting information of the geography of the old west. Louis writes with a flowing manner that keeps you interested and wanting to not put his books down. One of the greater points of his books are his penchant for detail. If Louis tells you of a particular landmark, or even say, a certain bend in an old wagon road, you can bet that it is there, or was during the time when the story took place in the past. He is one of the best classic writers of the American West. I would recommend his writings to anyone that has a thirst for information of how the west was settled.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2010

    The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'amour

    Extremely well written and is a well versed book of his life and times! I have enjoyed many of his western books and was delightfuly surprized with the multitude of short stories he has written and his way of telling a story that doesn't have to be a long story to tell the tale! It draws you into it, from the first sentence and answers all the end of the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Louis L'Amour Books

    These books were purchased for my 91 year old father. He reads these books within days, keeps his interest and is always ready for the next book when one is completed.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great gift idea!

    I did not read through this personally--I gave it as a gift to my 90-year-old Grandpa. He loves L'Amour's work, but his memory is going. Grandma has told me that he sometimes reads the same book over and over. As sad as that is, I tried to remedy this a little by giving him shorter stories to read. He loves this book so much!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    One of the few stories of Western I would actually Recommend

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2015

    Great western stories!

    Louis L'Amour is the best!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2015

    Football, detective stories, boxing!

    What a great collection of short and fun writings from the master who is called Louis L'amour!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2014

    Good Stories

    Interesting characters in well described settings. Easy reading yet he draws you into the story.

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  • Posted October 13, 2014

    Perfect Nook Book for waiting for something - like in the doctors office

    I have never read anything by Louis L'amour that didn't rate 5 stars. And I've read a lot of his books. There are times when I have anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to wait - like in the doctors office or for my wife to get ready. A Louis L'amour short story on my Nook fills the bill beautifully.

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  • Posted October 10, 2014

    Love Louis L'Amour

    Very good collection of short stories. A lot of them could be expanded upon and wish they had been. Read the whole thing before I could put it down. Great.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2014


    "Jesus Christ it's cold out here," I muttered to myself. I refused to ask for a ride, many men had stoppd and offered but I declined. A few miles wasn't too far to walk, at this point, the cold didn't bother me. All of a sudden I heard a screeching noise coming from behind me. I stopped and turned around. Great, another 40 year old man wanting to give me a ride home. I huffed and continued walking until I heard a scruffing voice yelling, "Hey princess, you need a ride?" I continued walking, this time at a faster pace. The man jumped from his truck and followed me for a bit. I stopped and turned to him, "I don't need a ride!" I screamed. He stood there staring at me, his eyes mainly focused on my chest. "Well, sweetie, it's awfully cold out here." He began walking towards me. I took a step back and tripped, "No. Really. I'm fine." The man grabbed my arms and dragged me to his car. He buckled me in and drove away. I was crying. "How did nobody see what just happened?" I thought to myself. Without a noise, I flicked up the door lock and slowly unbuckled myself. "Hey!" The man screeched as reached for me. I opened the car door and rolled out onto the snow. Ignoring my wounds, I ran for my life. I noticed that he had gotten out of his car and was now chasing me. I wasn't sure where I was running to. Until I saw the light of a nearby gas station TO BE CONTINUED

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2014

    This is a great collection of a great writer. To the reviewer w

    This is a great collection of a great writer. To the reviewer who says he/she has not read his books because his name sounds like a romance writer. It is his real name, not some made up name. What a wierd reason for not trying a book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2014

    I never read any of his westerns because of his last name

    Looks more like a romance genre writer silly but there it is

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2014

    guess you should judge a book by it's cover! Or not!

    guess you should judge a book by it's cover! Or not!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2014

    All star

    Not bad . Not bad at all

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2013


    Nu. Not lately. He would've told you something.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2013

    Love Westerns you will love these

    Just have a short time these arr for you there is no one like L'Amour you wont put them down

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2013


    I found him

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 49 Customer Reviews

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