The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour: The Frontier Stories, Volume 3

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Overview

This third volume of Louis L'Amour's collected stories gathers twenty-eight tales of the American West in a keepsake edition sure to delight fans old and new. This collection is a thrilling tribute to the unique spirit of our frontier heritage and proves again the enduring popularity of America's favorite storyteller.

The essence of Louis L'Amour's timeless appeal can be found in these unforgettable short stories. Filled with men and women who embody the values we cherish most, ...

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Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour: The Frontier Stories, Volume 3

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Overview

This third volume of Louis L'Amour's collected stories gathers twenty-eight tales of the American West in a keepsake edition sure to delight fans old and new. This collection is a thrilling tribute to the unique spirit of our frontier heritage and proves again the enduring popularity of America's favorite storyteller.

The essence of Louis L'Amour's timeless appeal can be found in these unforgettable short stories. Filled with men and women who embody the values we cherish most, L'Amour's frontier tales satisfy our longing for the inspiration provided by those who struggle against the odds with justice, honor, and courage.

Open this volume anywhere and you'll discover classic stories you'll never forget: like that of the man who finds a gruesome mystery at the site where a friend's ranch has vanished into thin air, or the one about the soft-spoken young suitor accused of cowardice who proves his courage when the guns are against him…without firing a shot. You'll read stories of ordinary people faced with extraordinary circumstances, from the drifter who poses as a murdered man to solve a mystery to the grizzled recluse who protects a runaway from a brutal "guardian" with the law on his side.

Whether following the exploits of a couple taking refuge in a cabin with a group of outlaws who don't intend to let them see sunrise or a man on horseback battling sleeplessness, Indians, and a cold-blooded killer in a life-and-death race through a harsh wilderness, these gripping tales all have one thing in common: you won't be able to put them down until the last page.

For lovers of great storytelling everywhere, this exciting collection features the unforgettable characters, heart-stopping drama, and careful attention to historical detail that have entertained readers for decades and earned Louis L'Amour a permanent place among our finest American writers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The fourth volume of the late L'Amour's short stories takes the author out of his familiar American frontier setting and into desolate and dangerous locales around the world, from "a narrow fjord at the end of the earth" on the southern coast of Chile to a "lonely isolated spot in the Coral Sea." While the characters are not traditional L'Amour, as "men of quick wit and valor" they share similar characteristics and values; freighter captain Ponga Jim Mayo, who plies the treacherous waters of the Indian Ocean during World War II (and is featured in nine of these 45 stories), succinctly sums up their worldview: "I'll make my own rules and abide by the consequences." The stories reflect the author's own youthful wanderings-as seaman, soldier and professional boxer-and, having been mostly written for pulp adventure magazines, are predictably formulaic. L'Amour's first publication, "Death Westbound," a Depression-era hobo story, crackles with his trademark prose: "Sometimes the shacks were pretty good guys, but a railroad dick is always a louie." No L'Amour fan will want to miss this collection. Afterword by L'Amour's son, Beau L'Amour. (Nov. 7) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Tell Sackett tries his hand as a doughnut maker; a white woman makes friends with Cochise, the Apache chieftain; Finn Mahone foils an insidious plot to take control of the Lazy K Ranch. These and 31 other tales of courage in the Old West fill this volume of western morality tales by the multi-award-winning L'Amour. These are stories of hard men in worse places, youths winning their way to manhood, and women standing firm for what they believe. The novella Rustler Roundup would have made a fine Gene Autry movie. Pure reading pleasure for anyone who enjoys the triumph of good over evil and courage over cowardice. Recommended for all libraries carrying western fiction.-Ken St. Andre, Phoenix P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Workmanlike action tales from prolific author L'Amour (1908-88; Beyond the Great Snow Mountains, 1999, etc.). From the 1920s to the '40s, L'Amour wrote great numbers of magazine stories, glad to find a serial that paid on acceptance, even when the publication was a little risque. (Of one magazine he writes, "It pays rather well but is somewhat sensational. The magazine...is generally illustrated by several pictures of partially undressed ladies, and they are usually rather heavily constructed ladies also.") This volume, part of an ongoing project to collect L'Amour's scattered serial publications, gathers pieces that likely otherwise would have been lost, published in long-extinct magazines such as 10 Story Book and Thrilling Adventures. As L'Amour's son Beau writes in the afterword, L'Amour worked under the influence of Jack London, Eugene O'Neill and John Steinbeck, and these tales are marked by a kind of bare-chested realism that is not without its poetry ("I'd had my share of the smell of coal smoke and cinders in the rain, the roar of a freight and the driving run-and-catch of a speeding train in the night, and then the sun coming up over the desert or going down over the sea, and the islands looming up and the taste of salt spray on my lips and the sound of bow wash about the hull"). The realism gets a touch less believable with a nicely plotted sequence of stories surrounding "pirates with wings" Steve Cowan and Turk Madden, soldiers of fortune loyal to nothing but the American way of life, with a talent for operating knife and machine gun, and with a definite dislike for the "sons of Nippon." Literary archaeologists will prize this sequence as an insight into the American mindsetat the time of World War II. L'Amour was not a consciously literary writer, not by any stretch, but with a little fine tuning, his story "The Man Who Stole Shakespeare" could pass for Borges. In all events, the stories are more than competently rendered, and fuel for a hundred old-timey Buster Crabbe serials. Potboilers, to be sure, but good fun, and just the thing for fans of L'Amour's better-known Westerns.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553804522
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/25/2005
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 601,919
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

Biography

Our foremost storyteller of the authentic West, Louis L'Amour has thrilled a nation by chronicling the adventures of the brave men and women who settled the American frontier. There are more than 260 million copies of his books in print around the world.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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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

Riding for the Brand

He had been watching the covered wagon for more than an hour. There had been no movement, no sound. The bodies of the two animals that had drawn the wagon lay in the grass, plainly visible. Farther away, almost a mile away, stood a lone buffalo bull, black against the gray distance.

Nothing moved near the wagon, but Jed Asbury had lived too long in Indian country to risk his scalp on appearances, and he knew an Indian could lie ghost-still for hours on end. He had no intention of taking such a chance, stark naked and without weapons.

Two days before, he had been stripped to the hide by Indians and forced to run the gauntlet, but he had run better than they had expected and had escaped with only a few minor wounds.

Now, miles away, he had reached the limit of his endurance. Despite little water and less food he was still in traveling condition except for his feet. They were lacerated and swollen, caked with dried blood.

Warily, he started forward, taking advantage of every bit of cover and moving steadily toward the wagon. When he was within fifty feet he settled down in the grass to study the situation.

This was the scene of an attack. Evidently the wagon had been alone, and the bodies of two men and a woman lay stretched on the grass.

Clothing, papers, and cooking utensils were scattered, evidence of a hasty looting. Whatever had been the dreams of these people they were ended now, another sacrifice to the westward march of empire. And the dead would not begrudge him what he needed.

Rising from the grass he went cautiously to the wagon, a tall, powerfully muscled young man, unshaven and untrimmed.

He avoided the bodies. Oddly, they were not mutilated, which was unusual, and the men still wore their boots. As a last resort he would take a pair for himself. First, he must examine the wagon.

If Indians had looted the wagon they had done so hurriedly, for the interior of the wagon was in the wildest state of confusion. In the bottom of a trunk he found a fine black broadcloth suit as well as a new pair of hand-tooled leather boots, a woolen shirt, and several white shirts.

“Somebody’s Sunday-go-to-meetin’ outfit,” he muttered. “Hadn’t better try the boots on, the way my feet are swollen.”

He found clean underwear and dressed, putting on some rougher clothes that he found in the same chest. When he was dressed enough to protect him from the sun he took water from a half-empty barrel on the side of the wagon and bathed his feet; then he bandaged them with strips of white cloth torn from a dress.

His feet felt much better, and as the boots were a size larger than he usually wore, he tried them. There was some discomfort, but he could wear them.

With a shovel tied to the wagon’s side he dug a grave and buried the three side by side, covered them with quilts from the wagon, filled in the earth, and piled stones over the grave. Then, hat in hand, he recited the Twenty-third Psalm.

The savages or whoever had killed them had made only a hasty search, so now he went to the wagon to find whatever might be useful to him or might inform him as to the identity of the dead.

There were some legal papers, a will, and a handful of letters. Putting these to one side with a poncho he found, he spotted a sewing basket. Remembering his grandmother’s habits he emptied out the needles and thread, and under the padded bottom of the basket he found a large sealed envelope.

Ripping it open he grunted with satisfaction. Wrapped in carefully folded tissue paper were twenty twenty-dollar gold pieces. Pocketing them, he delved deeper into the trunk. He found more carefully folded clothes. Several times he broke off his searching of the wagon to survey the country about, but saw nothing. The wagon was in a concealed situation where a rider might have passed within a few yards and not seen it. He seemed to have approached from the only angle from which it was visible.

In the very bottom of the trunk he struck paydirt. He found a steel box. With a pick he forced it open. Inside, on folded velvet, lay a magnificent set of pistols, silver plated and beautifully engraved, with pearl handles. Wrapped in a towel nearby he found a pair of black leather cartridge belts and twin holsters. With them was a sack of .44 cartridges. Promptly, he loaded the guns and then stuffed the loops of both cartridge belts. After that he tried the balance of the guns. The rest of the cartridges he dropped into his pockets.

In another fold of the cloth he found a pearl-handled knife of beautifully tempered steel, a Spanish fighting knife and a beautiful piece of work. He slung the scabbard around his neck with the haft just below his collar.

Getting his new possessions together he made a pack of the clothing inside the poncho and used string to make a backpack of it. In the inside pocket of the coat he stowed the legal papers and the letters. In his hip pocket he stuffed a small leather-bound book he found among the scattered contents of the wagon. He read little, but knew the value of a good book.

He had had three years of intermittent schooling, learning to read, write, and cipher a little.

There was a canteen and he filled it. Rummaging in the wagon he found the grub box almost empty, a little coffee, some moldy bread, and nothing else useful. He took the coffee, a small pot, and a tin cup. Then he glanced at the sun and started away.

Jed Asbury was accustomed to fending for himself. That there could be anything wrong in appropriating what he had found never entered his head, nor would it have entered the head of any other man at the time. Life was hard, and one lived as best one might. If the dead had any heirs, there would be a clue in the letters or the will. He would pay them when he could. No man would begrudge him taking what was needed to survive, but to repay the debt incurred was a foregone conclusion.

Jed had been born on an Ohio farm, his parents dying when he was ten years old. He had been sent to a crabbed uncle living in a Maine fishing village. For three years his uncle worked him like a slave, sending him out on the Banks with a fishing boat. Finally, Jed had abandoned the boat, deep-sea fishing, and his uncle.

He walked to Boston and by devious methods reached Philadelphia. He had run errands, worked in a mill, and then gotten a job as a printer’s devil. He had grown to like a man who came often to the shop, a quiet man with dark hair and large gray eyes, his head curiously wide across the temples. The man wrote stories and literary criticism and occasionally loaned Jed books to read. His name was Edgar Poe and he was reported to be the foster son of John Allan, said to be the richest man in Virginia.

When Jed left the print shop it was to ship on a windjammer for a voyage around the Horn. From San Francisco he had gone to Australia for a year in the goldfields, and then to South Africa and back to New York. He was twenty then and a big, well-made young man hardened by the life he had lived. He had gone west on a riverboat and then down the Mississippi to Natchez and New Orleans.

In New Orleans Jem Mace had taught him to box. Until then all he had known about fighting had been acquired by applying it that way. From New Orleans he had gone to Havana, to Brazil, and then back to the States. In Natchez he had caught a cardsharp cheating. Jed Asbury had proved a bit quicker, and the gambler died, a victim of six-shooter justice. Jed left town just ahead of several of the gambler’s irate companions.

On a Missouri River steamboat he had gone up to Fort Benton and then overland to Bannock. He had traveled with wagon freighters to Laramie and then to Dodge.

In Tascosa he had encountered a brother of the dead Natchez gambler accompanied by two of the irate companions. He had killed two of his enemies and wounded the other, coming out of the fracas with a bullet in his leg. He traveled on to Santa Fe.

At twenty-four he was footloose and looking for a destination. Working as a bullwhacker he made a round-trip to Council Bluffs and then joined a wagon train for Cheyenne. The Comanches, raiding north, had interfered, and he had been the sole survivor.

He knew about where he was now, somewhere south and west of Dodge, but probably closer to Santa Fe than to the trail town. He should not be far from the cattle trail leading past Tascosa, so he headed that way. Along the river bottoms there should be strays lost from previous herds, so he could eat until a trail herd came along.

Walking a dusty trail in the heat, he shifted his small pack constantly and kept turning to scan the country over which he had come. He was in the heart of Indian country.

On the morning of the third day he sighted a trail herd, headed for Kansas. As he walked toward the herd, two of the three horsemen riding point turned toward him.

One was a lean, red-faced man with a yellowed mustache and a gleam of quizzical humor around his eyes. The other was a stocky, friendly rider on a paint horse.

“Howdy!” The older man’s voice was amused. “Out for a mornin’ stroll?”

“By courtesy of a bunch of Comanches. I was bullwhackin’ with a wagon train out of Santa Fe for Cheyenne an’ we had a little Winchester arbitration. They held the high cards.” Briefly, he explained.

“You’ll want a hoss. Ever work cattle?”

“Here and there. D’you need a hand?”

“Forty a month and all you can eat.”

“The coffee’s a fright,” the other rider said. “That dough wrangler never learned to make coffee that didn’t taste like strong lye!”

That night in camp Jed Asbury got out the papers he had found in the wagon. He read the first letter he opened.

Dear Michael,

When you get this you will know George is dead. He was thrown from a horse near Willow Springs, dying the following day. The home ranch comprises 60,000 acres and the other ranches twice that. This is to be yours or your heirs’ if you have married since we last heard from you, if you or the heirs reach the place within one year of George’s death. If you do not claim your estate within that time the property will be inherited by next of kin. You may remember what Walt is like, from the letters.

Naturally, we hope you will come at once for we all know what it would be like if Walt took over. You should be around twenty-six now and able to handle Walt, but be careful. He is dangerous and has killed several men.

Things are in good shape now but trouble is impending with Besovi, a neighbor of ours. If Walt takes over that will certainly happen. Also, those of us who have worked and lived here so long will be thrown out.

Tony Costa

The letter had been addressed to Michael Latch, St. Louis, Missouri. Thoughtfully, Jed folded the letter and then glanced through the others. He learned much, yet not enough.

Michael Latch had been the nephew of George Baca, a half-American, half-Spanish rancher who owned a huge hacienda in California. Neither Baca nor Tony Costa had ever seen Michael. Nor had the man named Walt, who apparently was the son of George’s half brother.

The will was that of Michael’s father, Thomas Latch, and conveyed to Michael the deed to a small California ranch.

From other papers and an unmailed letter, Jed discovered that the younger of the two men he had buried had been Michael Latch. The other dead man and the woman had been Randy and May Kenner. There was mention in a letter of a girl named Arden who had accompanied them.

“The Indians must have taken her with them,” Jed muttered.

He considered trying to find her, but dismissed the idea as impractical. Looking for a needle in a haystack would at least be a local job, but trying to find one of many roving bands of Comanches would be well-nigh impossible. Nevertheless, he would inform the army and the trading posts. Often, negotiations could be started, and for an appropriate trade in goods she might be recovered, if still living.

Then he had another idea.

Michael Latch was dead. A vast estate awaited him, a fine, comfortable, constructive life, which young Latch would have loved. Now the estate would fall to Walt, whoever he was, unless he, Jed Asbury, took the name of Michael Latch and claimed the estate.

The man who was his new boss rode in from a ride around the herd. He glanced at Jed, who was putting the letters away. “What did you say your name was?”

Only for an instant did Jed hesitate. “Latch,” he replied, “Michael Latch.”

Warm sunlight lay upon the hacienda called Casa Grande. The hounds sprawling in drowsy peace under the smoke trees scarcely opened their eyes when the tall stranger turned his horse through the gate. Many strangers came to Casa Grande, and the uncertainty that hung over the vast ranch had not reached the dogs.

Tony Costa straightened his lean frame from the doorway and studied the stranger from under an eye-shielding hand.

“Señorita, someone comes!”

“Is it Walt?” Sharp, quick heels sounded on the flat-stoned floor. “What will we do? Oh, if Michael were only here!”

“Today is the last day,” Costa said gloomily.

“Look!” The girl touched his arm. “Right behind him! That’s Walt Seever!”

“Two men with him. We will have trouble if we try to stop him, señorita. He would not lose the ranch to a woman.”

The stranger on the black horse swung down at the steps. He wore a flat-crowned black hat and a black broadcloth suit. His boots were almost new and hand tooled, but when her eyes dropped to the guns, she gasped.

“Tony! The guns!”

The young man came up the steps, swept off his hat, and bowed. “You are Tony Costa? The foreman of Casa Grande?”

The other riders clattered into the court, and their leader, a big man with bold, hard eyes, swung down. He brushed past the stranger and confronted the foreman.

“Well, Costa, today this ranch becomes mine, and you’re fired!”

“I think not.”

All eyes turned to the stranger. The girl’s eyes were startled, suddenly cautious. This man was strong, she thought suddenly, and he was not afraid. He had a clean-cut face, pleasant gray eyes, and a certain assurance born of experience.

“If you are Walt,” the stranger said, “you can ride back where you came from. This ranch is mine. I am Michael Latch.”

Fury struggled with shocked disbelief in the expression on Walt Seever’s face. “You? Michael Latch? You couldn’t be!”

“Why not?” Jed was calm. Eyes on Seever, he could not see the effect of his words on Costa or the girl. “George sent for me. Here I am.”

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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?"

"No."

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
( 35 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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

    1 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 questions...by the end of the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2014

    All star

    Not bad . Not bad at all

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

    Posted June 9, 2013

    Raechel

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

    0 out of 2 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 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2013

    Brooke

    I found him

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2013

    Annabeth

    She places a hand on each of theit shoulders. "Angel. She no like you like that no more. Got it?"

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2013

    Amour

    And when you get back, brookeh wants to talk to you at rw

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    Treat yourself

    Great book---I highly recommend it!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2013

    BROOK Angel

    Brooke!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    Amour to brooke

    Dont tell austin about this spot. I saw his post at teens. And go to our book.

    0 out of 1 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 20, 2012

    Great reads!

    My goal is to read all of the LaMour books. His skill at telling accurate historic detailed adventures surpasses all other authors I have come across. These short story collections are perfect for short trips to the doctor's office or anyplace where you will have an hour to wait. This is probably the only writer I have read that does not leaving me saying, "If I had written that story this is the way I would have ended it and made it better."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2011

    Highly Recommrnded

    I totaly loved this book! I will definatley get the book #2

    0 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.

    0 out of 1 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!

    0 out of 1 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

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews

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