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Sackett

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Overview

In Sackett, Louis L’Amour introduces readers to a wandering man with a desire to settle down and build a good life.

Hard circumstances have made William Tell Sackett a drifter, but now he hungers for a place he can’t name yet knows he has to find. South of the Tetons he comes upon a ghost of a trail that leads him through a keyhole pass into a lonely, alien, yet beautiful valley—a valley that holds a fortune in gold.

Then he finds an even ...

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Sackett

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Overview

In Sackett, Louis L’Amour introduces readers to a wandering man with a desire to settle down and build a good life.

Hard circumstances have made William Tell Sackett a drifter, but now he hungers for a place he can’t name yet knows he has to find. South of the Tetons he comes upon a ghost of a trail that leads him through a keyhole pass into a lonely, alien, yet beautiful valley—a valley that holds a fortune in gold.

Then he finds an even greater treasure: beautiful Ange Kerry, a courageous and resourceful woman. Yet the harsh ways it takes to preserve his claim and his life could be the one thing that drives Ange away forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Tell Sackett is a drifter longing to settle down, but after shooting one of the infamous Bigelow brothers, he figures it's time to mosey on down the trail once more. As he wanders into the Sangre de Cristos, he goes through a keyhole pass that leads him into a cave that has not been entered in many years. In this lonely spot, with winter rapidly approaching, Tell Sackett discovers gold...and something else he does not expect. Unfortunately, the Bigelow brothers are not far behind him, so in the tradition of L'Amour, a humdinger of a showdown ensues. How Tell meets his destiny makes for a rousing tale, and David Strathairn's narration is perfect. He sounds so gravelly and Western that this reviewer is reminded of a line from Blazing Saddles that hails a speech at a town meeting as "authentic Western gibberish"! Sackett is like that, filled with "a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do" philosophy so intrinsic to Western adventure novels. L'Amour was a visual writer, and the bygone world of the Western frontier is painted so exquisitely that even listeners who normally turn up their noses at the genre will enjoy this one. Highly recommended. Barbara Perkins, Irving P.L., TX Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553276848
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1981
  • Series: Sackett Series , #8
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 151
  • Sales rank: 136,410
  • Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

L 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.

From the Paperback edition.

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

Chapter One


IT WASN'T AS if he hadn't been warned. He got it straight, with no beating around the mesquite.

"Mister," I said, "if you ain't any slicker with that pistol than you were with that bottom deal, you'd better not have at it."

Trouble was, he wouldn't be content with one mistake, he had to make two; so he had at it, and they buried him out west of town where men were buried who die by the gun.

And me, William Tell Sackett, who came to Uvalde a stranger and alone, I found myself a talked-about man.

We Sacketts had begun carrying rifles as soon as we stood tall enough to keep both ends off the ground. When I was shy of nine I fetched my first cougar . . . caught him getting at our pigs. At thirteen I nicked the scalp of a Higgins who was drawing a bead on Pa . . . we had us a fighting feud going with the Higginses.

Pa used to say a gun was a responsibility, not a toy, and if he ever caught any of us playing fancy with a gun he'd have our hide off with a bullwhip. None of us ever lost any hide.

A gun was to be used for hunting, or when a man had a difficulty, but only a tenderfoot fired a gun unless there was need. At hunting time Pa doled out the ca'tridges and of an evening he would check our game, and for every ca'tridge he'd given us we had to show game or a mighty good reason for missing. Pa wasn't one to waste a bullet. He had trapped the western lands with Kit Carson and Old Bill Williams, and knew the value of ammunition.

General Grant never counted ca'tridges on me, but he was a man who noticed. One time he stopped close by when I was keeping three Rebel guns out of action, picking off gunners like a 'possum picking hazelnuts, and he stood by, a-watching.

"Sackett," he said finally, "how does it happen that a boy from Tennessee is fighting for the Union?"

"Well, sir," I said, "my country is a thing to love, and I set store by being an American. My great-grandpa was one of Dearborn's riflemen at the second battle of Saratoga, and Grandpa sailed the seas with Decatur and Bainbridge.

"Grandpa was one of the boatmen who went in under the guns of the Barbary pirates to burn the Philadelphia. My folks built blood into the foundations of this country and I don't aim to see them torn down for no reason whatsoever."

Another Rebel was fixing to load that cannon, so I drew a bead on him, and the man who followed him in the chow line could move up one place.

"Come fighting time, General," I said, "there'll always be a Sackett ready to bear arms for his country, although we are peaceful folks, unless riled."

And that was still true, but when they buried that gambling man out west of Uvalde it marked me as a bad man.

In those days what they called a "bad man" was one who was a bad man to have trouble with, and a lot of mighty good men were known as bad men. The name was one I hadn't hankered for, but Wes Bigelow left me no choice.

Fact of the matter was, if it hadn't been me it would have been somebody else, because Bigelow's bottom deal was nothing like so good as I'd seen on the riverboats.

Nevertheless, I had got a reputation in Uvalde, and this seemed a good time to become a wandering man. Only I was fed up with drifting ever since the war, and wanted a place to light.

Outside of town I fell in with a cow outfit. North from Texas we rode, driving a herd to Montana grass, with never a thought of anything but grief while riding the Bozeman Trail.

North of the Crazy Woman three men rode into camp hunting beef to buy. The boss was not selling but they stayed on, and when my name was mentioned one of them looked at me.

"Are you the Sackett who killed Bigelow?"

"He wasn't much good with a bottom deal."

"Nor with a gun, I guess."

"He was advised."

"Unless you're fit to handle his two brothers, you'd best not ride into Montana. They come up by steamboat and they're waiting for you."

"I wasn't planning on staying around," I said, "but if they find me before I leave, they're welcome."
"Somebody was wondering if you were kin to Tyrel Sackett, the Mora gunfighter."

"Tyrel Sackett is my brother, but this is the first I've heard of him gunfighting. Only, if he was put to it, he could."

"He cleaned up Mora. He's talked about in the same breath with Hickok and Hardin."

"He's a hand with any kind of shooting iron. Back to home he used to outshoot me sometimes."

"Sometimes?"

"Sometimes I outshot Tyrel . . . but I was older than him, and had done more shooting."

We drove our cattle to Gallatin Valley and scattered them on Montana grass, and Nelson Storey, whose cattle they were, rode out to camp with the mail. There was a letter for me, the first one I ever got.

All through wartime I watched folks getting letters and writing them, and it was a hard thing, a-yearning to have mail and receiving none. Got so when mail call came around that I used to walk away and talk with the cook. He had lost his family to a war party of Kiowas, out Texas way.

This letter that Storey brought me from town looked mighty fine, and I turned it in my hands several times, sizing it up and wishing it could speak out. Printing I could read, but writing was all which-ways and I could make nothing of it.

Mr. Storey, he stopped by, and noticed. "Maybe I can help you," he suggested.

Shame was upon me. Here I was a grown man and couldn't read enough to get the sense out of a letter. My eyes could make sense of a Cheyenne or Comanche war trail, but reading was something I couldn't handle.

Mr. Storey, he read that letter to me. Orrin and Tyrel each had them a ranch, and Ma was living at Mora in New Mexico. Tyrel was married to the daughter of a Don, one of those rich Spanish men, and Orrin was in politics and walking a wide path.

All I had was a wore-out saddle, four pistols, a Winchester carbine, and the clothes I stood up in. Yes, and I had me a knife, an Arkansas toothpick, good for hand-fighting or butchering meat.

"Your brothers seem to have done well," Mr. Storey said. "I would learn to read, if I were you, Tell. You're a good man, and you could go far."

So I went horse-hunting and wound up making a dicker with an Indian. He had two appaloosa horses and he dearly wanted a .36-calibre pistol I had, so we settled down to outwait each other. Every boy in Tennessee grows up horse-trading or watching horse trades, and no Red Indian was going to outswap me.

He was a long, tall Indian with a long, sad face and he had eyes like an old wore-out houn' dog, and I could only talk swap with him when I didn't look him in the eye. Something about that Indian made me want to give him everything I had. However, he had a thirst on and I had me a jug of fighting whiskey.

So I stalled and fixed grub and talked horse and talked hunting and avoided the subject. Upshot of it was, I swapped the .36 pistol, twenty ca'tridges, an old blanket, and that jug of whiskey for those two horses.

Only when I took another look at the packhorse I wasn't sure who had the better of the swap.

That letter from home stirred me to moving that way. There's folks who don't hold with womenfolks smoking, but I was honing to see Ma, to smell her old pipe a-going, and to hear the creak of that old rocker that always spelled home to me. When we boys were growing up that creak was the sound of comfort to us. It meant home, and it meant Ma, and it meant understanding . . . and time to time it meant a belt with a strap.

Somehow, Ma always contrived to put a bait of grub on the table, despite drouth that often lay upon the hills, or the poor soil of our side-hill farm. And if we came home bear-scratched or with a bullet under our skins, it was Ma who touched up the scratches or probed for the bullet.

So I lit a shuck for New Mexico, and the folks.

That's an expression common down Texas way, for when a man left his camp to walk to a neighbor's, he would dip a corn shuck into the flames to light his path, and he would do the same when he started back. Folks came to speak of anybody who was leaving for somewhere as "lighting a shuck."

Well, most of my life I'd been lighting a shuck. First, it was hungering for strange country, so I took off down the Natchez Trace for New Orleans. An_other time I rode a flatboat down river to the same place.

Had me a time aboard those flatboats. Flatboat men had the name of being tough to handle. Lean and gangling like I was, they taken me for a greener, but away back of yonder in the hills boys take to fighting the way they take to coon dogs or making 'shine, so I clobbered them good.

I'm named for William Tell, whom Pa held in admiration for his arrow-shooting and his standing on principle. Speaking of standing, I stand six feet and three inches in my sock feet, when I have socks, and weigh one hundred and eighty pounds, most of it crowded into chest and shoulders, muscled arms, and big hands. Back to home I stood butt of all the funning because of my big hands and feet.

No Sackett was ever much on the brag. We want folks to leave us alone and we leave them alone, but when fighting time comes, we stand ready.

Back in the mountains, and in the army, too, I threw every man I tackled at wrestling. Pa raised us on Cornish-style wrestling and a good bit of fist work he'd learned from an Englishman prizefighter.

"Boys," Pa used to say, "avoid conflict and trouble, for enough of it fetches to a man without his asking, but if you are attacked, smite them hip and thigh."

Pa was a great man for Bible speaking, but I never could see a mite of sense in striking them hip and thigh. When I had to smite them I did it on the chin or in the belly.

It is a far piece from Montana to New Mexico astride of a horse, but I put together a skimpy outfit and headed west for Virginia City and Alder Gulch. A day or two I worked there, and then pulled out for Jackson's Hole and the Teton Mountains.

It came over me I wanted to hear Orrin singing the old songs, the songs our people brought from Wales, or the songs we had from others like us traveling from Ireland, Scotland and England. Many happy thoughts of my boyhood time were memories of singing around the fire at home. Orrin was always the leader in that, a handsome, singing man, the best liked of us all. We held no envy, being proud to call him brother.

When I started for New Mexico the last thing I was hunting was gold or trouble, and usually they come as a pair. Gold is a hard-found thing, and when a man finds it he's bound to fetch trouble a-keeping it.

Seems like a man finds gold only when he ain't hunting it. He picks up a rock to throw at something and that rock turns out to be mostly gold, or he trips over a ledge and finds himself sitting astride the Mother Lode.

This whole shooting match of a thing started because I was a curious man. There I was, dusting my tail down a south-going trail with no troubles. A time or two I cut Indian sign, but I fought shy of them.

Back in my army days I heard folks tell of what a bad time the Indians were getting, and some of them, like the Cherokee, who settled down to farming and business, did get a raw deal; but most Indians would ride a hundred miles any time to find a good fight, or a chance to steal horses or take a scalp.

When the war ended I joined up to fight the Sioux and Cheyenne in Dakota after the Little Crow massacre in Minnesota. The Sioux had moved off to the west so we chased them, and a couple of times we caught them . . . or they caught us. Down Texas way I'd had trouble with the Kiowa, Comanche, Arapahoe, and even the Apache, so I had respect for Indians.

It was a slow-riding time. Of a morning the air was brisk and chill with a hint of frost in the higher altitudes, but the days were warm and lazy, and by night the stars were brighter than a body would believe.

There's no grander thing than to ride wild country with time on your hands, so I walked my horses down the backbone of the Rockies, through the Tetons and south to South Pass and on to Brown's Hole. Following long grass slopes among the aspen groves, camping in flowered meadows beside chuckling streams, killing only when I needed grub, and listening then to the long echo of my rifle shot—believe me, I was having me a time.

Nothing warned me of trouble to come.

Thinking of Orrin's mellow Welsh voice a-singing, I came fresh to hear my own voice, so I took a swallow from my canteen and tipping my head back, I gave out with song.

It was "Brennan on the Moor," about an Irish highwayman, a song I dearly loved to hear Orrin sing.
I didn't get far. A man who plans to sing while he's riding had better reach an understanding with his horse. He should have him a good voice, or a horse with no ear for music.

When my voice lifted in song I felt that cayuse bunch his muscles, so I broke off short.

That appaloosa and me had investigated the capabilities of each other the first couple of times I got up in the saddle, and I proved to him that I could ride. That horse knew a thing or two about bucking and pitching, and I had no notion of proving myself again on a rocky mountainside.

From the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 49 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2011

    Best Western Author I've ever read!

    If you like westerns (or, maybe, if you don't really care for them) you won't want to put these stories down. If you're like me, you will want them all. I really enjoy the Sackett series, but they are all great. L'Amour has lived most of these stories himself, and does a fantastic job of researching his locals and people of the time. I've been to several of the places he writes about and know what he is describing in his books. I've read most of his work years ago, but it is worth a second or third time around. Hope you will give one a try even if you don't care for the western genre just to see if you won't take time to read through his entire collection.

    Jim Cowan

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2012

    Excellent Story!

    William Tell Sackett has become one of my all time favorite fictional characters. A man of great strength and integrity, struggling through life yet never compromising the virtues he believes in. Very inspiring.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2011

    Reommend highly

    A great read, you need to read before the Sackett Brand to better understand the history of Tell Sackett and his wife.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 5, 2011

    ONE OF THE BEST

    You will love the Sackett series.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2008

    If you like western, you will like this book

    The title of the book is called, 'Sackett.' The author of this book is Louis L'amour, and the publisher is Bantam Books, and the date of publication is May 1961, and the place of publication was in the United States and Canada. My thesis of the book is that the book was really well-writen, and was an interesting story. It had very good detail, and imagery. Some of the stories character were very interesting to read about. For instance, the main character, William Tell Sackett. He was a very intelligent person, and he was a well-built man. He always had something going wrong for him, and he was always part of the action parts of the story. For instance, the gun fights, and fist-fights. Also, another important character was Ben Hobbs. He was a young man that would seem like he was harmless, but really, he was a man to be watched.A few times people would underestimate him, and messed with him. They would soon end up hurt, or even dead.For example, in the story, Ben was getting messed with by a man and what the man didn't know was that Ben was a cook in the bar the man was about to eat in. Ben was a really good cook, and he ended up poisoning the man in his food. Also, another main character was Cap. He was an elderly man, and he kind of kept to himself, unless he knew the person. He basically stayed around Tell Sackett and Ben Hobbs the whole time. The setting of the story was a mix of different places. It started out in the mountains, then it went to Texas, then it went to the desert, and then it went to the beaches of California. The plot of the story is about a young man who is trying to find himself and his true calling. Some of the things that I like about the story was the good descriptions of the characters and the setting was well described also. Some of the things that i disliked about the story was that it kind of got boring when there wasn't enough fight scene's in the chapter. I had also liked the gun fight's. The writing style overall was just right for a western. It wasn't funny at all, it was a more enjoyable, serious kind of story. The book did give me a sense of place that was set. The narrarators voice was a serious tone. Some of the good points of the book was when the author had use good description of imagery in the story. For example 'The sudden crack of ice...the breaking of a tree branch laden with snow?' This example shows how good of a job the author did in writing good imagery. If you love reading western's, then you will really love reading this book. I really enjoyed reading this book because of the good use of imagery and description used in the book. I would recommend this story to anyone who likes reading westerns.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Very good

    Probobly the best family saga iv'e ever read. Do yourself a favor and start at the begining with to the far blue mountains. I reread this series every 5 years or so, never gets old.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2006

    A Great Book

    This is a must read novel for any Western reader.

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