The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour: The Crime Stories, Volume 6

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Overview

One of America’s most beloved storytellers, Louis L’Amour’s vibrant tales of adventure bring the American West to life. Now, in this sixth volume of collected short stories, L’Amour takes us beyond the frontier with thirty-three gripping stories of crime, sports, and the murky world where the two often meet. From suspenseful whodunits to rueful tales of fortunes gained and lost, this remarkable collection will enthrall and entertain L’Amour fans old and new.
Traversing a vivid ...

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Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour: The Crime Stories, Volume 6

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Overview

One of America’s most beloved storytellers, Louis L’Amour’s vibrant tales of adventure bring the American West to life. Now, in this sixth volume of collected short stories, L’Amour takes us beyond the frontier with thirty-three gripping stories of crime, sports, and the murky world where the two often meet. From suspenseful whodunits to rueful tales of fortunes gained and lost, this remarkable collection will enthrall and entertain L’Amour fans old and new.
Traversing a vivid landscape, from sunblasted hills and canyons to the nighttime streets of America’s greatest cities, some of Louis L’Amour’s most compelling fiction was set in his own time—whether in the naked electric glare of boxing rings where men go head-to-head with their dreams and demons in an underworld rife with corruption, or along freight docks where laborers toil to earn just enough to get by, or in the penthouses of the rich and arrogant who calculate the odds of how to get even more. Here are tales of innocents caught in the schemes of criminals, detectives hunting down truths that hide more lies, gamblers and beauties, wiseguys and cops. Here is a world populated by the kinds of people who risk their lives to right a wrong, make a buck, or save a friend.

A war veteran makes a journey to visit the man who saved his life in Korea. Instead he uncovers a killing and finds his own heroic cause…. Confronted with an easy chance to steal, an honest man gives in to temptation—and finds himself ensnared in a web of blackmail and violence…. An elderly Hawaiian seafarer is found dead with a hand-carved figure beside his body. Unraveling his murder will mean solving the mystery of a shipwreck—and of the forces that drive some to take fatal chances and others to kill.

Brimming with thought-provoking characters and situations—from a man who awakens from unconsciousness to find a fortune in a burning house to a man who meets a killer who is supposed to be dead in a seedy diner—these thrilling, atmospheric stories course with authenticity and bear the mark of a timeless master.

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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.
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: 9780553805314
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2008
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 210,163
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.90 (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

Unguarded Moment


Arthur Fordyce had never done a criminal thing in his life, nor had the idea of doing anything unlawful ever seriously occurred to him.

The wallet that lay beside his chair was not only full; it was literally stuffed. It lay on the floor near his feet where it had fallen.

His action was as purely automatic as an action can be. He let his Racing Form slip from his lap and cover the billfold. Then he sat very still, his heart pounding. The fat man who had dropped the wallet was talking to a friend on the far side of the box. As far as Fordyce could see, his own action had gone unobserved.

It had been a foolish thing to do. Fordyce did not need the money. He had been paid a week’s salary only a short time before and had won forty dollars on the last race.

With his heart pounding heavily, his mouth dry, he made every effort to be casual as he picked up his Form and the wallet beneath. Trying to appear as natural as possible, he opened the billfold under cover of the Form, extracted the money, and shifted the bills to his pocket.

The horses were rounding into the home stretch, and when the crowd sprang to its feet, he got up, too. As he straightened, he shied the wallet, with an underhand flip, under the feet of the crowd off to his left.

His heart was still pounding. Blindly he stared out at the track. He was a thief . . . he had stolen money . . . he had appropriated it . . . how much?

Panic touched him suddenly. Suppose he had been seen? If someone had seen him, the person might wait to see if he returned the wallet. If he did not, the person might come down and accuse him. What if, even now, there was an officer waiting for him? Perhaps he should leave, get away from there as quickly as possible.

Cool sanity pervaded him. No, that would never do. He must remain where he was, go through the motions of watching the races. If he were accused, he could say he had won the money on the races. He had won money—forty dollars. The man at the window might remember his face but not the amount he had given him.

Fordyce was in the box that belonged to his boss, Ed Charlton, and no friend of Charlton’s would ever be thought a thief. He sat still, watching the races, relaxing as much as he could. Surprisingly, the fat man who had dropped the wallet did not miss it. He did not even put a hand to his pocket.

After the sixth race, several people got up to leave, and Fordyce followed suit. It was not until he was unlocking his car that he realized there was a man at his elbow.

He was a tall, dark-eyed handsome young man, too smoothly dressed, too—slick. And there was something sharply feral about his eyes. He was smiling unpleasantly.

“Nice work!” he said. “Very nice! Now, how about a split?”

Arthur Fordyce kept his head. Inside, he seemed to feel all his bodily organs contract as if with chill. “I am afraid I don’t understand you. What was it you wanted?”

The brightly feral eyes hardened just a little, and although the smile remained, it was a little forced. “A split, that’s what I want. I saw you get that billfold. Now let’s bust it open and see what we’ve got.”

“Billfold?” Fordyce stared at him coldly, although he was quivering inside with fear. He had been seen! What if he should be arrested? What if Alice heard? Or Ed Charlton? Why, that fat man might be a friend of Ed’s!

“Don’t give me that,” the tall young man was saying. “I saw the whole thing. You dropped that Racing Form over the billfold and picked it up. I’m getting a split or I’ll holler bull. I’ll go to the cops. You aren’t out of the grounds yet, and even if you were, I could soon find out who used Ed Charlton’s box today.”

Fordyce stood stock-still. This could not be happening to him. It—it was preposterous! What ever had possessed him? Yet, what explanation could he give now? He had thrown away the wallet itself, a sure indication that he intended to keep the money.

“Come on, Bud”—the smile was sneering now—“you might as well hand it over. There was plenty there. I’d had my eye on Linton all afternoon, just watching for a chance. He always carries plenty of dough.”

Linton—George Linton. How many times had Ed Charlton spoken of him. They were golfing companions. They hunted and fished together. They had been friends at college. Even if the money were returned, Fordyce was sure he would lose his job, his friends—Alice. He would be finished, completely finished.

“I never intended to do it,” he protested. “It—it was an accident.”

“Yeah”—the eyes were contemptuous—“I could see that. I couldn’t have done it more accidentally myself. Now, hand it over.”

There was fourteen hundred dollars in fifties and twenties. With fumbling fingers, Fordyce divided it. The young man took his bills and folded them with the hands of a lover. He grinned suddenly.

“Nice work! With my brains and your in we’d make a team!” He pocketed the bills, anxious to be gone. “Be seeing you!”

Arthur Fordyce did not reply. Cold and shaken, he stared after the fellow.

Days fled swiftly past. Fordyce avoided the track, worked harder than ever. Once he took Alice to the theater and twice to dinner. Then at a party the Charltons gave, he came face to face with George Linton.

The fat man was jovial. “How are you, Fordyce? Ed tells me you’re his right hand at the office. Good to know you.”

“Thanks.” He spoke without volition. “Didn’t I see you at the track a couple of weeks ago? I was in Charlton’s box.”

“Oh, yes! I remember you now. I thought your face seemed familiar.” He shook his head wryly. “I’ll not soon forget that day. My pocket was picked for nearly two thousand dollars.”

Seeing that Alice was waiting, Fordyce excused himself and joined her. Together they walked to the terrace and stood there in the moonlight. How lovely she was! And, to think he had risked all this, risked it on the impulse of a moment, and for what? She was looking up at him, and he spoke suddenly, filled with the sudden panic born of the thought of losing her.

“Alice!” He gripped her arms, “Alice! Will you marry me?”

“Why, Arthur!” she protested, laughing in her astonishment. “How rough you are! Do you always grab a girl so desperately when you ask her to marry you?”

He released her arms, embarrassed. “I—I guess I was violent,” he said, “but I just—well, I couldn’t stand to lose you, Alice.”

Her eyes were wide and wonderfully soft. “You aren’t going to, Arthur,” she said quietly. “I’m going to stay with you.”

“Then—you mean—”

“Yes, Arthur.”

Driving home that night his heart was bounding. She would marry him! How lovely she was! How beautiful her eyes had been as she looked up at him!

He drove into the garage, snapped out the lights and got his keys. It was not until he came out to close the doors that he saw the glow of a suddenly inhaled cigarette in the shadow cast by the shrubbery almost beside him.

“Hello, Fordyce. How’s tricks?” It was the man from the track. “My name’s Chafey, Bill Chafey.”

“What are you doing here? What do you want?”

“That’s a beautiful babe you’ve got. I’ve seen her picture on the society pages.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t intend to discuss my fiancée with you. It’s very late and I must be getting to bed. Good night.”

“Abrupt, aren’t you?” Chafey was adopting a George Raft manner. “Not going to invite an old friend inside for a drink? An old friend from out of town—who wants to meet your friends?”

Arthur Fordyce saw it clearly, then, saw it as clearly as he would ever see anything. He knew what this slick young man was thinking—that he would use his hold over Fordyce for introductions and for better chances to steal. Probably he had other ideas, too. Girls—and their money.

“Look, Chafey,” he said harshly, “whatever was between us is finished. Now beat it! And don’t come back!”

Chafey had seen a lot of movies. He knew what came next. He snapped his cigarette into the grass and took a quick step forward.

“Why, you cheap thief! You think you can brush me off like that? Listen, I’ve got you where I want you, and before I’m through, I’ll have everything you’ve got!” Chafey’s voice was rising with some inner emotion of triumph or hatred. “You think you’re so much! Figure you can brush me off, do you?”

He stepped close. “What if I got to that fancy babe of yours and told her what I know? What if I go to Linton and tell him? Why, you’re a thief, Fordyce! A damned thief! You and that fancy babe of yours! Why—”

Fordyce hit him. The action was automatic and it was unexpected. In the movies it was always the tough guy who handed out the beatings. His fist flew up and caught Chafey on the jaw. Chafey’s feet flew up, and he went down, the back of his neck hitting the bumper with a sickening crack. Then his body slipped slowly to the ground.

Arthur Fordyce stood very still, staring down at the crumpled form. His breath was coming in great gasps, and his fist was still clenched hard. Some instinct told him the man was dead.

“Mr. Fordyce?” It was his neighbor, Joe Neal, calling. “Is something wrong?”

Fordyce dropped to one knee and touched the man’s head. It lolled loosely, too loosely. He felt for the heart. Nothing. He bent over the man’s face, but felt no breath, nothing.

Neal was coming out on the lawn, pulling his belt tight. “Fordyce? Is anything wrong?”

He got to his feet slowly. “Yes, Joe. I wish you’d come down here. I’ve been held up and I think—I think I’ve killed him.”

Joe Neal hurried up, flashlight in hand. He threw the light on the fallen man. “Good heavens!” he gasped. “What did you hit him with? What happened?”

“He was waiting there by the tree. He stepped out with his hand in his pocket—you know, like he had a gun. I hit him before I realized.”

That was the story, and he made it stick. For several days it was the talk of all his friends. Fordyce had killed a holdup man. That took nerve. And a punch, too. Didn’t know he had it in him. Of course, it was the bumper that actually broke his neck. Still—had there been any doubts—and there were none—a check of Chafey’s record would have removed them.

He had done time and was on parole at the moment. He had gone up for armed robbery and had been arrested a score of times for in- vestigation. He was suspected of rolling drunks and of various acts of petty pilfering and slugging. A week passed, and a second week. Arthur Fordyce threw himself into his work, never talking about what had happened.

Others forgot it, too, except Joe Neal. Once, commenting on it to his wife, he looked puzzled and said, “You know, I’d have sworn I heard voices that night. I’d have sworn it.”

“You might have. They might have argued. I imagine that a man might say a lot when excited and not remember it.” That was what his wife said, and it was reasonable enough. Nevertheless, Joe Neal was faintly disturbed by it all. He avoided Fordyce. Not that they had ever been friends.

Arthur Fordyce had been lucky. No getting away from that. He had been very lucky, and sometimes when he thought about it, he felt a cold chill come over him. But it was finished now.

Only it wasn’t.

It was Monday night, two weeks after the inquest, the first night he had been home since it had happened. He was sitting in his armchair listening to the radio when the telephone rang. Idly, he lifted it from the cradle.

“Mr. Fordyce?” The voice was feminine and strange. “Is this Arthur Fordyce?”

“Speaking.”

There was an instant of silence. Then, “This is Bill Chafey’s girl-friend, Mr. Fordyce. I thought I would call and congratulate you. You seem to be very, very lucky!”

The cold was there again in the pit of his stomach. “I—I beg your pardon? I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean.”

“He told me all about it, Mr. Fordyce. All about that day at the track. All about what he was going to do. Bill had big ideas, Mr. Fordyce, and he thought you were his big chance. Only he thought you were scared. He got too close to you, didn’t he, Mr. Fordyce?”

“I’m sure,” he kept his voice composed, “that you are seriously in error. I—”

She interrupted with a soft laugh, a laugh that did not cover an underlying cruelty. “I’m not going to be as dumb as Bill was, Mr. Fordyce. I’m not going to come anywhere within your reach. Two murders are no worse than one, so I’ll stay away. But you’re going to pay off, Mr. Fordyce. You’re going to pay off like a slot machine. You’re going to pay off with a thousand dollars now and five hundred a month from now on.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but you are probably insane,” he said quietly. “What you assume is ridiculous. If you are a friend of Chafey’s, then you know he was a criminal. I am sorry for you, but there is nothing I can do.”

“One thousand dollars by Friday, Mr. Fordyce, and five hundred a month from now on. I don’t think you were scared when Bill went to you, but how about the gas chamber, Mr. Fordyce? How about that?”

“What you assume is impossible.” He fought to keep his voice controlled. “And you are absurd to think I have that kind of money.”

She laughed again. “But you can get it, Buster! You can get it when it means the difference between life as you live it and the gas chamber.”

Her voice grew brusque. “Small bills, understand? Nothing bigger than a twenty. And send it to Gertrude Ellis, Box X78, here in town. Send me that thousand dollars by Friday and send the five hundred on the fifth of every month. If you miss by as much as ten days, the whole story goes to your girlfriend, to your boss, and to the police.” The phone clicked, the line buzzed emptily. Slowly, Fordyce replaced the phone.

So there it was. Now he had not only disgrace and prison before him, but the gas chamber.

A single mistake—an instant when his reason was in abeyance—and here he was—trapped.

He could call her bluff. He could refuse. The woman was obviously unprincipled and she had sounded vindictive. She would certainly follow through as she had threatened.

For hours, he paced the floor, racking his brain for some way out, some avenue of escape. He could go to Charlton, confess everything, and ask for help. Charlton would give it to him, for he was that kind of man, but when it was over, he would drop Fordyce quickly and quietly.

Alice—his future—everything depended on finding some other way. Some alternative.

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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
( 49 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(28)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(5)

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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 questions...by 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.

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

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

    Posted April 10, 2015

    Great western stories!

    Louis L'Amour is the best!

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

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

    Posted October 20, 2014

    Good Stories

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

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

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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

    ANONYMOUS STORY REVIEWS AT RES TWO PLEASE

    "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

    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 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

    Brooke

    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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