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Ranch War


Bloodlands . . .

It seems when a lady's called "Calamity," chaos follows wherever she goes — even to the mostly peaceful railroad town of Mulrooney, Kansas. Martha Jane Canary's always been free as the prairie wind, tied to no place or person, so she never expected to inherit a hardscrabble ranch that other folks have been working. She might have even ignored the legal summons to claim her property . . . if someone hadn't tried to kill her ...

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Ranch War

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Bloodlands . . .

It seems when a lady's called "Calamity," chaos follows wherever she goes — even to the mostly peaceful railroad town of Mulrooney, Kansas. Martha Jane Canary's always been free as the prairie wind, tied to no place or person, so she never expected to inherit a hardscrabble ranch that other folks have been working. She might have even ignored the legal summons to claim her property . . . if someone hadn't tried to kill her first.

Now, whether she wants the spread or not, Jane's going to fight for what's hers — taking on bushwackers, crooked lawyers . . . and a woman with a cold and greedy heart, and a plan to steal Jane's land with bullets and brutality. But Calamity's got an ally — a baby-faced Texas gun called the Ysabel Kid — not to mention stony courage, a strong and sure whip hand . . . and a mule-stubborn willingness to lay down her life for what's right.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060784249
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/30/2006
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 990,926
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

J.T. Edson brings to life the fierce and often bloody struggles of untamed West. His colorful characters are linked together by the binding power of the spirit of adventure — and hard work — that eventually won the West. With more than 25 million copies of his novels in print, J.T. Edson has proven to be one of the finest craftsmen of Western storytelling in our time.

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Read an Excerpt

Ranch War

By J. Edson

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 J. Edson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060784245

Chapter One

Ain't you Calamity Jane?

The night clerk of the select, expensive Railroad House Hotel stared with disapproval at the prospective client approaching his reception desk. Despite the law-abiding conditions which made Mulrooney almost unique among the Kansas railroad and trail-end towns,* unescorted females rarely made an appearance in search of a room. Still less when the time had gone ten o'clock. And the few who did come belonged to the best class of visitor. Herbert L. Philpotter studied the girl and decided that she had definitely come to the wrong establishment if she wanted accommodation for the night.

Five foot seven in height, the girl had a pretty, tanned, slightly freckled face that expressed a cheery zest for living and disregard for the conventions. Perched at a jaunty angle on her mop of shortish, curly red hair was a battered U.S. Cavalry kepi. That and her fringed buckskin jacket were not too far beyond the social pale, if not generally worn by ladies. What lay under the jacket, exposed by its open front, caused Philpotter serious misgivings. She had on a man's tartan shirt, open at the neck and down to one button lower than might be deemed decorous, especially when the garment in question appeared either to have been bought a size too small, orto have shrunk after washing. It emphasized the rich, full swell of her bosom and slender waist in a way that hinted she wore little beneath it. Inside the tightly stretched material of her Levi's pants, well-formed buttocks and hips curved down attractively to hint at the shapely quality of her legs. Her low-heeled, calf-high boots were sturdy, practical, but unfeminine.

Instead of the small grip with which most female guests arrived, the girl carried a fair-sized parfleche bag of buffalo hide in her left hand. The parasol much favored by ladies of fashion was replaced in her right fist by a Winchester Model 1866 carbine. Nor did her armament end there. Around her waist, slanting down to the right thigh, was a gunbelt. An ivory-handled Colt Navy revolver hung butt forward in a carefully designed holster at the right of the belt and the handle of a coiled, long-lashed bull whip was thrust into a loop at the left.

"Howdy," the girl greeted, setting down her bag and placing the carbine by the open register on the desk's top. "Do you have a room for me?"

"I -- Er -- That is ---- " Philpotter spluttered, wondering how to frame a refusal which would not provoke a rowdy protest from its recipient.

"Either you have, or you ain't," the girl stated cheerfully. "Only I was told to come here. The name's Canary. Martha Jane Canary."

"Can ---- " Philpotter started to repeat the name. "You are Miss Canary?"

"If I'm not, somebody sure played a dirty trick on my mammy," the girl replied, then went on, thinking of her last meeting with her mother,* "and on me, comes to that. Thing being, that fancy law-wrangler, Grosvenor, back to Topeka told me's there'd be a room waiting here for me."

"Oh yes, Miss -- Canary," Philpotter gulped. There had been a telegraph message from the prominent Topeka lawyer asking that she be accommodated. "We have a room reserved for you."

"Now that's a relief." Miss Canary smiled, guessing at the cause of the prissy, chubby clerk's perturbation. The Railroad House was not her usual kind of accommodation. "Happen I'd found out he was joshing me, I'd've headed back to the big city 'n' asked him real polite-like why he'd done it."

"There won't be any need for that, I'm sure," Philpotter replied hurriedly, turning the open book around and indicating a pen. "If you'll fill in the register, Miss Canary, I'll have you shown to your room." He raised his voice, "Boy!"

Usually the bell-hop would have required more than one shout before making an appearance. Not that night. He came scuttling from where he had been peering through the door leading to the rear section of the ground floor. Dressed in a brass-buttoned suit and pill-box hat no less jauntily angled than Miss Canary's kepi, he displayed none of the clerk's concern over her style of clothing. Ogling her from head to toe with frank interest and approbation, he skidded to a halt at the desk.

"Take Miss Canary's bag and -- firearm -- to Room Fourteen," Philpotter ordered, placing a key by the carbine. "You don't mind being at the rear, Miss Canary?"

"Front or back's all one to me, 's long's I get a bed," the girl answered.

Bending to pick up the girl's parfleche, the bell-hop lowered his eyes along the front of her shirt. His gaze halted at the gunbelt, taking in the bull-whip it supported. Jolting erect as if stung by a bee, he stared at her with increased admiration.

"Ain't you Calamity Jane?" the boy gasped.

"I'd have to say 'yes' to that," Miss Canary admitted.

Shock twisted at Philpotter's pompous features and he gobbled, "Bu-Bu-But you said ---- "

"That I'm Martha Jane Canary," grinned the girl. "I am. Hell, mister, you don't reckon that the preacher said, 'I christen this-here beautiful lil gal who's wetting all down the front of my best shirt Calamity Jane.' Now do you?"

"Er -- No!" Philpotter answered, popping out the word like the cork from a champagne bottle. "I suppose not."

"And 'Martha's' one helluva name to tie on to a sweet-looking, lovable lil gal like me, ain't it?"

"Er -- Yes, I suppose it is," the clerk croaked. Wanting time to think out the latest development, he continued, "But why do they call you Calamity Jane?"

"Now that's something I've never figured out myself," the girl replied, raising her eyes piously to the roof. "There's not a more loving-natured, better-tempered gal from here to there and back the long way. I sure don't know why folks call me 'Calamity.' "


Excerpted from Ranch War by J. Edson Copyright © 2006 by J. Edson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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