The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour: The Adventure Stories, Volume 4

Overview

The fourth volume of Louis L’Amour’s collected short stories features more than forty of the master’s greatest adventure tales in a keepsake edition to cherish for generations. This unique collection gathers stories guaranteed to thrill and delight readers again and again, establishing why Louis L’Amour is truly America’s favorite storyteller.

Louis L’Amour’s tales of adventure cannot be surpassed for sheer storytelling excitement, and they stand as a testament to his legendary ...

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Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour: The Adventure Stories, Volume 4

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Overview

The fourth volume of Louis L’Amour’s collected short stories features more than forty of the master’s greatest adventure tales in a keepsake edition to cherish for generations. This unique collection gathers stories guaranteed to thrill and delight readers again and again, establishing why Louis L’Amour is truly America’s favorite storyteller.

Louis L’Amour’s tales of adventure cannot be surpassed for sheer storytelling excitement, and they stand as a testament to his legendary appeal. Here are timeless stories of danger and daring, wanderlust and heroism, filled with ordinary men and women facing often insurmountable challenges with courage, dignity, honor–and heart.

Perhaps never before has a single volume contained so many breathtaking thrills: from the down-on-his-luck fortune hunter who risks everything to save a diamond-hunting couple walking straight into a jungle massacre to the mystery “hero” aboard a downed commercial plane dangling six hundred feet above certain doom. You’ll trek across the harsh steppes of East Asia with an American widow and her young son among a fierce nomadic warrior people, and you’ll relive a harrowing tale of survival at sea against thirst, madness, and the elements as a common seaman redefines extraordinary courage as simply “doing his job.”

Whether joining an American captain running a cargo ship through Japanese-controlled waters during World War II, only to find his vessel hijacked by traitorous pirates, or marveling at the resourcefulness of a young woman pushed to the limits of endurance as she flees a killer through a primeval forest, these adrenaline-laced tales of mystery, suspense, murder, and survival never let up and will keep your heart pounding long after the final page.

From those numbering a few intense pages to novella-length works, the tales in this action-packed anthology bear all the trademarks of the master’s touch–the historical accuracy, memorable characters, and timeless themes that have earned Louis L’Amour his unique place among American writers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The stories reflect the author's own youthful wanderings.... No L'Amour fan will want to miss this collection."—Publishers Weekly
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: 9780553804942
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/31/2006
  • Series: The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 313,162
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.73 (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

Beyond the Great Snow Mountains

When the burial was complete, she rode with her son into the hills. The Go-log tribesmen, sharing her sorrow for their lost leader, stood aside and allowed her to go. Lok-sha had been a great man and too young to die.

Only in the eyes of Norba and his followers did she detect the triumph born of realization that nothing now stood between him and tribal control. Nothing but a slender woman, alien to their land, and Kulan, her fourteen-year-old son.

There was no time to worry now, nor was there time for grief. If ever they were to escape, it must be at once, for it was unlikely such opportunity would again offer itself.

It had been fifteen years since the plane in which she was leaving China crashed in the mountains near Tosun Nor, killing all on board but herself. Now, as if decreed by fate, another had come, and this one landed intact.

Shambe had brought the news as Lok-sha lay dying, for long ago the far-ranging hunter had promised if ever another plane landed, he would first bring the news to her.

If the fierce Go-log tribesmen learned of the landing, they would kill the survivors and destroy the plane. To enter the land of the Go-log was to die.

It was a far land of high, grass plateaus, snowcapped mountains, and rushing streams. There among the peaks were born three of the greatest rivers of Asia–the Yellow, the Yangtze, and the Mekong–and there the Go-log lived as they had lived since the time of Genghis Khan.

Splendid horsemen and savage fighters, they lived upon their herds of yaks, fat-tailed sheep, horses, and the plunder reaped from caravans bound from China to Tibet.

Anna Doone, born on a ranch in Montana, had taken readily to the hard, nomadic life of the Go-log. She had come to China to join her father, a medical missionary, and her uncle, a noted anthropologist. Both were killed in Kansu by the renegade army that had once belonged to General Ma. Anna, with two friends, attempted an escape in an old plane.

Riding now toward this other aircraft, she recalled the morning when, standing beside her wrecked plane, she had first watched the Go-log approach. She was familiar with their reputation for killing interlopers, but she had a Winchester with a telescopic sight and a .45-caliber Colt revolver.

Despite her fear, she felt a burst of admiration for their superb horsemanship as they raced over the plain. Seeing the rifle ready in her hands, they drew up sharply, and her eyes for the first time looked upon Lok-sha.

Only a little older than her own twenty-one years, he was a tall man with a lean horseman’s build, and he laughed with pure enjoyment when she lifted the rifle. She was to remember that laugh for a long time, for the Go-log were normally a somber people.

Lok-sha had the commanding presence of the born leader of men, and she realized at once that if she were to survive, it would be because he wished it.

He spoke sharply in his own tongue, and she replied in the dialect of Kansu, which fortunately he understood.

“It is a fine weapon,” he said about the rifle.

“I do not wish to use it against the Go-log. I come as a friend.”

“The Go-log have no friends.”

A small herd of Tibetan antelope appeared on the crest of a low ridge some three hundred yards away, looking curiously toward the crashed plane.

She had used a rifle since she was a child, killing her first deer when only eleven. Indicating the antelope, she took careful aim and squeezed off her shot. The antelope bounded away, but one went to its knees, then rolled over on its side.

The Go-log shouted with amazement, for accurate shooting with their old rifles was impossible at that range. Two of the riders charged off to recover the game, and she looked into the eyes of the tall rider.

“I have another such rifle, and if we are friends, it is yours.”

“I could kill you and take them both.”

She returned his look. “They,” she said, indicating the others, “might take it from me. You would not, for you are a man of honor, and I would kill you even as they killed me.”

She had no doubt of her position, and her chance of ever leaving this place was remote. Whatever was done, she must do herself.

He gestured toward the wreck. “Get what you wish, and come with us.”

Her shooting had impressed them, and now her riding did also, for these were men who lived by riding and shooting. Lok-sha, a jyabo or king of the Go-log people, did not kill her. Escape being impossible, she married him in a Buddhist ceremony, and then to satisfy some Puritan strain within her, she persuaded Tsan-Po, the lama, to read over them in Kansu dialect the Christian ceremony.

Fortunately, the plane had not burned, and from it she brought ammunition for the rifles, field glasses, clothing, medicines, and her father’s instrument case. Best of all, she brought the books that had belonged to her father and uncle.

Having often assisted her father, she understood the emergency treatment of wounds and rough surgery. This knowledge became a valuable asset and solidified her position in the community.

As soon as Anna’s son was born, she realized the time would come when, if they were not rescued, he would become jyabo, so she began a careful record of migration dates, grass conditions, and rainfall. If it was in her power, she was going to give him the knowledge to be the best leader possible.

Lok-sha was sharply interested in all she knew about the Chinese to the east, and he possessed the imagination to translate the lessons of history into the practical business of command and statecraft. The end had come when his horse, caught on a severe, rocky slope, had fallen, crushing Lok-sha’s chest.

She had been happy in the years she’d spent as his wife, certainly she was better off than she would have been as a refugee in the civil war that gripped much of China or as a prisoner of the Japanese. But as happy as she had learned to be, as safe as she had finally found herself, Anna never forgot her home, nor ceased to long for the day when she might return.

Now, her thoughts were interrupted by Shambe’s appearance. “The plane is nearby,” he said, “and there are two men.”

Shambe was not only Lok-sha’s best friend, but leader of the Ku-ts’a, the bodyguard of the jyabo, a carefully selected band of fighting men.

They rode now, side by side, Kulan, Shambe, and herself. “You will leave with the flying men?” Shambe asked. “And you will take the jyabo also?”

Startled, Anna Doone glanced at her son, riding quietly beside her. Of course . . . what had she been thinking of? Her son, Kulan, was jyabo now . . . king of six thousand tents, commander of approximately two thousand of the most dangerous fighting men in Asia!

But it was ridiculous. He was only fourteen. He should be in school, thinking about football or baseball. Yet fourteen among the Go-log was not fourteen among her own people. Lok-sha, against her bitter protests, had carried Kulan into battle when he was but six years old, and during long rides over the grasslands had taught him what he could of the arts of war and leadership.

Her son jyabo? She wished to see him a doctor, a scientist, a teacher. It was preposterous to think of him as king of a savage people in a remote land. Yet deep within her something asked a question: How important would baseball be to a boy accustomed to riding a hundred miles from dawn to dusk, or hunting bighorn sheep among the highest peaks?

“We shall regret your going,” Shambe said sincerely, “you have been long among us.”

And she would regret losing him, too, for he had been a true friend. She said as much, said it quietly and with sincerity.

When she heard of the plane, her thoughts had leaped ahead, anticipating their homecoming. She had taken notes of her experiences and could write a book, and she could lecture. Kulan was tall and strong and could receive the education and opportunities that he had missed.

Yet she had sensed the reproof in Shambe’s tone; Shambe, who had been her husband’s supporter in his troubles with Norba, a chief of a minor division of the Khang-sar Go-log.

Over their heads the sky was fiercely blue, their horses’ hooves drummed upon the hard, close-cropped turf . . . there were few clouds. Yes . . . these rides would be remembered. Nowhere were there mountains like these, nowhere such skies.

When they came within sight of the plane, the two men sprang to their feet, gripping their rifles.

She drew up. “I am Anna Doone, and this is Kulan, my son.”

The older man strode toward her. “This is amazing! The State Department has been trying to locate you and your family for years! You are the niece of Dr. Ralph Doone, are you not?”

“I am.”

“My name is Schwarzkopf. Your uncle and I were associated during his work at the Merv Oasis.” He glanced at Shambe, and then at Kulan. “Your son, you said?”

She explained the crashed plane, her marriage to Lok-sha, his death, and her wish to escape. In turn, they told her of how they had seized the plane and escaped from the Communist soldiers. Their landing had been made with the last of their fuel.

“If there was fuel, would you take us with you?”

“Take you? But of course!” Schwarzkopf’s eyes danced with excitement that belied his sixty-odd years. “What an opportunity! Married to a Go-log chieftain! So little is known of them, you understand! Their customs, their beliefs . . . we must arrange a grant. I know just the people who–”

“If it’s all the same to you, Doc,” his companion interrupted, “I’d like to get out of here.” He looked up at Anna Doone. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but you mentioned fuel. Is there some gas around here somewhere?”

“Several months ago my husband took a convoy bound for an airfield in Tibet. He captured several trucks loaded with gasoline. They are hidden only a few miles away.” She paused. “I can drive a truck.”

Yet, first she must return to the Go-log encampment to meet with the elders and the fighting men of the Khang-sar. Kulan, as jyabo, must be present. It would be improper and even dangerous if she were not present also, for a decision was to be made on the move to new grazing grounds, and there might also be some question as to leadership.

The time had come for the Khang-sar to return to their home in the Yur-tse Mountains, and the thought brought a pang, for these were the loveliest of mountains, splendid forests and lakes in a limestone range near the head of the Yellow River.

“Whatever you do,” she warned, “you must not leave the vicinity of the plane. Start no fires, and let no metal flash in the sun. When our meeting is over, Shambe will remain near you until Kulan and I can come.”

She swung her horse around. “If you are found, neither Kulan nor I could protect you.”

“Kulan?” The younger man looked at the boy in surprise.

Kulan sat straight in the saddle. “I am now jyabo,” he replied sternly, “but our people think all outsiders are the enemy.”

When they had gone some distance, Kulan sighed and said, “The machine is small. There will be no room for Deba.”

She knew how much he loved the horse. “No, Kulan, there will be no room, but you would not wish to take him away. He was bred to this country, and loves it.”

“I love it, too,” Kulan replied simply.

She started to speak, but the horse herd was before them, and beyond were the felt yurts of the camp. Tsan-Po awaited them before their own tent. With Lok-sha gone, the Khang-sar Go-log would have need of the old man’s shrewd advice.

Kulan waved a hand at the encampment. “How would we live in your country?”

“Life is very different there, Kulan, and much easier. You might become a fine scholar and lead a good life.”

“If that is what you wish. I shall do my best, for both you and my father have taught me obedience. Only sometimes,” his voice tightened, “sometimes I shall think of Deba and these grasslands, and of Amne Machin, the God Mountain.”

For the first time she felt doubt, but quickly dismissed it. Of course she was doing the right thing. Once he was adjusted to life in civilization, he would be as happy there. True, he was mature for his years, as boys were apt to be among the Go-log. It was natural that he would miss Deba, and he would miss Shambe, as she would. Shambe had been a second father to him, even as Tsan-Po had been. The old lama had taught Kulan much that was beyond her.

Yet, how long she had dreamed of going home! Of luxuriating in a warm tub, conversing in English for hours on end, and the good, fireside talk of people who were doing things in the larger world of art, science, and scholarship. She longed for a life where she did not have to live with the fear that her son might die from something as silly as a tooth infection or as serious as the bullet from the rifle of a Communist soldier.

She was thirty-six, soon to be thirty-seven, and if she ever wanted a relationship with another man, it could not be here, where she had once been the wife of a king. Nor could she wait for too many years after the rough life on the steppes, a life that had been good to her so far, but was bound to leave her a windburned and arthritic old woman.

What Dr. Schwarzkopf had said was true. Her experience was unique. A book might sell . . . she could make a contribution to anthropology, and even to geographical knowledge. As for Kulan, he would do well in America. He was tall and wide-shouldered, and would be a handsome man with his olive skin, his dark, curly hair and truly magnificent dark eyes. There was a touch of the exotic about him that was romantic, and at fourteen he was already stronger than most men.

As she entered the yurt, she sensed trouble in the air. Shambe was beside her, but when had he not been present when she needed him?

All of the Khang-sar Go-log chieftains were there. Tsemba was the chief of two hundred tents and an important man whose opinion counted for much. Beside him were old Kunza, Gelak, and of course, Norba.

Norba was a towering big man with one muscular shoulder bare, as was the custom, his broad-bladed sword slung in its scabbard between his shoulder blades. His coterie of followers was close around him, confident now that Lok-sha was dead.

Norba had both hated and feared Lok-sha, but had no heart for a fight with the jyabo. Yet had Lok-sha left no heir, Norba would have become chief.

The impending shift to new grazing grounds promised trouble. A faction of the Khang-sar led by Norba wished to go to Tosun Nor, but Lok-sha had decided, under the present circumstances, it was better to graze far from the caravan trails and let a season go by without raids. The new soldiers from the east were not the undisciplined rabble of old. Something was afoot in China proper, and Lok-sha had thought it best to gather more information before testing fate. Moreover, there had been rumors of serious drought around Tosun Nor, and drought meant losses from the herds.

She seated herself beside Kulan, with Tsan-Po beside her, and Shambe seated on the other side of her son. Norba had moved to take the seat of jyabo, but Kulan was before him. Norba’s face flushed angrily when he saw the boy take the seat where he wished to sit.

“Move, boy. Go play with the children.”

Kulan sat very straight. “Unless it is decided otherwise, I am jyabo,” he replied. “Until then, take your place.”

For an instant there was utter stillness, then a mutter from the followers of Norba, but Kulan ignored them. Glancing at her son, Anna Doone was astonished. Truly, he looked every inch the young king. There was strength in him, of that there would be no doubt, strength and courage.

Norba hesitated, then reluctantly took a seat. Anna could see his repressed fury and knew there was trouble to come. It was well that they were leaving. The thought of escape from all this sent a little tremor of excitement through her, excitement tinged with relief.

The yurt filled and the air was stifling. Anna studied the faces of the chieftains, but they were expressionless. Would they follow Kulan, or would they demand an older, more experienced leader?

Tsan-Po whispered to her that most of those within the tent were supporters of Norba, and Anna Doone felt inside her coat for the pistol she was never without.

Their very lives might depend on the selection of Kulan as jyabo, for if Norba were able to take power, he would at once seek to rid himself of his rival. It would not be without precedence if Norba attempted to kill Kulan here, now. Her hand on her pistol, Anna suddenly knew that if Norba even moved toward her son, she would kill him.

She accepted some tea, drinking from a bowl that had come to Tibet from India in the dower of a princess, more than a thousand years before. In those years, Tibet had controlled most of western China, as well as part of India and Kashmir.

Abruptly, without waiting for the others to assemble, Norba declared himself. “Tomorrow,” he said, “we will move to Tosun Nor to pasture upon the old lands.”

There was silence as he looked around the yurt. That silence held for a slow minute, and then Kulan said one word.

“No.”

The word was definite, the tone clear, the challenge accepted.

Norba’s face flushed with anger, but Kulan spoke before Norba could frame a word.

“There is drought at Tosun Nor. The grass lies yellow and dead, the air is filled with dust. The beds of streams are cracked earth. We must go to the mountains, to the Yur-tse.”

Again Norba prepared to speak, but Kulan interrupted. “My father is dead, but I am my father’s son. We rode upon the high grass together and he taught me what I must do.”

For the first time, he looked at Norba. “You are deba of two hundred tents. You may ride with us or go to Tosun Nor. I would advise you to come with us.”

Norba looked around at his followers. “We are men, and not to be led by a boy. It is I who shall lead the Khang-sar. When you are of an age to lead,” he added slyly, “you may lead.”

Tsan-Po spoke. “The boy is his father’s son. Leadership falls upon him.”

Norba got to his feet. “Enough! I say that I shall lead. I say it, and my men say it.”

Kulan arose, and Shambe and Anna arose with him. Anna held her gun in her hand. “The Ku-ts’a stand without,” Shambe said, “and they follow Kulan . . . Unless all the chieftains say otherwise.”

Norba’s lips flattened against his big teeth, and for an instant Anna thought he would strike Kulan despite the fact that the bodyguards surrounded the tent. The Ku-ts’a numbered fifty-eight chosen men, the hereditary guard of the jyabo. Norba had not expected the Ku-ts’a. With the jyabo dead, he had believed they would accept the situation.

He slammed his sword back into its scabbard. “We will go to Tosun Nor,” he said. “You are fools.”

“Go, if you will,” Kulan replied, “and those who survive are welcome to return. Our herds will be fat upon the long grass of the limestone mountains.”

With a pang, Anna realized that Kulan was no longer a boy. The discipline had been strict and the training harsh, but he was every inch a king. Yet she was impatient, for their time was short, and if the plane were discovered, the fliers would be killed and they would be condemned to more fruitless, wasted years.

Alone at last, she said to him, “What was all that about the drought at Tosun Nor?”

“It had been rumored, so while you talked to the old man of your people, I asked the other. He spoke of dense clouds of dust high in the heavens, and of sheep and horses lying dead from starvation and thirst.”

He paused. “It is well that Norba goes, for when he returns, if he returns, his power will be broken.”

He glanced at her slyly, his face warming with a smile. “My mother taught me to listen, to question when in doubt, and to keep my thoughts until the time for speaking.”

After Kulan was asleep, she went outside the yurt and stood alone under the stars. There was moonlight upon the snows of the God Mountain, reflected moonlight that seemed born from some inner glory within the mountain itself.

She thought of home, of the quiet college town and the autumn leaves falling. It had been almost twenty years, but tomorrow they would fly over the mountains to India. To a fine hotel, a room of her own, a hot bath, and a real bed . . . it was impossible to imagine such things still existed.

For fifteen years she had been virtually a prisoner. True, Lok-sha had treated her well, and she had been respected among the Go-log, but their ways were strange, and her nights had been given up to dreaming of home.

The thought of Norba returned. If Kulan was gone, he would be in control, and would probably lead the Khang-sar Go-log to disaster. Lok-sha had always said he was a stubborn fool.

No matter. It was now or never. It was impossible that another opportunity would occur, for travel was restricted. No Europeans or Americans would be flying over this country. It was her last chance.

She looked around at the sleeping encampment. She would miss it. Lok-sha, despite their differences of background, had been a superior man. If he had been slow to appreciate her feelings, there had been no cruelty in him.

The icy peak was austere in its bath of moonlight; it was taller than Everest, some said, yet it gave an impression of bulk rather than height. It was no wonder the Go-log called it the God Mountain.

Tsan-Po was walking toward her. “Do you go tomorrow?”

She had ceased to be startled by his awareness of things. “Yes.”

“You have been long away . . . does someone await you there?”

“No.”

“We will miss you, and we will miss Kulan.”

“He goes to a great land. He will do well, I think.”

“Here he is a king. Ours is a small king, but even a small king is still a king.”

She felt the reproof of his tone, and together they watched the moonlight on Amne Machin. “He will make a strong man,” the lama said, “a stronger man and a better leader than Lok-sha.”

She was surprised. “Do you really believe that?”

“You have taught him much, and he has character. We Go-log face a trying time, for as the world changes, even we must change.

“Kulan has a sense of the world. You taught him of your land and of Europe, and I have told him of India, where I worked as a young man. He is schooled in the arts of war and statecraft, and I believe it is in him to be a great leader.”

He was silent, then added, “Your country could use a friend here.”

“Do you believe I am wrong to take him away?”

“We need him,” Tsan-Po replied simply, “and he needs you. For several years yet, he will need you.”

The lama turned away. “It is late.” He took a step, then paused. “Beware of Norba. You have not finished with him.”

When morning dawned, they rode swiftly to the hidden trucks. What Lok-sha planned to do with the trucks, she did not know, but presumably he intended to use them as a trap for Chinese soldiers.

She started the truck with difficulty for the motor was cold. There was no road, but the turf was solid, and she had driven on the prairie during her childhood in Montana. The old Army six-by-six was no problem.

Kulan followed, holding off to one side and leading her horse.

Keeping to low ground and circling to avoid gullies or patches of rock, she needed all of an hour to reach the plane.

The pilot and Dr. Schwarzkopf rushed to the tailgate and started to unload the cans. As soon as the truck was empty, Anna drove back for a second truck, and by the time she had returned, the cans of the first had been emptied into the tanks of the plane.

Yet they had scarcely begun on the second load when Shambe came down off the ridge where he had been on watch. Kulan, also watching from a quarter of a mile away, wheeled his mount and raced back at a dead run, drawing his rifle from its scabbard.

“Norba comes,” Shambe said, “with many men.”

Schwarzkopf dropped his jerry can and started for his rifle, but Anna’s gesture stopped him. “Finish refueling,” she said, and when he hesitated, “Doctor, put that gun down and get busy!”

Kulan swung his pony alongside her as she mounted, and Shambe drew upon the other side. They sat together, awaiting the oncoming riders.

Norba’s horse reared as he drew up, a hard pleasure in his eyes. “So . . . you are traitors. I shall kill you.”

Anna Doone’s heart pounded heavily, yet she kept all emotion from her face. Her son’s life, as well as her own, was at stake.

“These men are our friends. We help them on their way,” she said.

“And I shall decide who is and is not a traitor,” Kulan added.

From behind them the pilot said, “One more can does it.”

Anna’s heart lifted. Behind her was the plane that could take her home, the rescue of which she had dreamed for fifteen years. The time was here, the time was now.

The sky beckoned, and beyond the mountains lay India, the threshold to home.

“Go with them, Mother.” Kulan’s eyes did not turn from Norba. “I cannot, for these are my people.”

Her protest found no words. How often had she taught him that kingship was an obligation rather than a glory?

Her eyes swung around the semicircle of savage faces, and then for one brief instant the dream remained, shimmering before her eyes: a warm quiet house, a hot bath, meals prepared from food from a market, life without fear of disease or crippling disfigurement, life without war.

“Dr. Schwarzkopf,” she said, “you will leave your rifles and ammunition, they are in short supply here.”

“If you are going,” Kulan said, “you must go now.”

“If these are your people, Kulan, then they are my people also.”

The winding caravan of Norba’s people appeared, heading north toward Tosun Nor. She should have remembered they would come this way.

Dr. Schwarzkopf brought the weapons and the ammunition. “You will not come with us, then?”

“I can’t. This is my son.”

“You will die,” Norba said. His eyes flickered over the three he hated–the wife of Lok-sha, the leader of the Ku-ts’a, and the boy who stood between him and the kingship.

Norba’s rifle started to lift, and Shambe’s started up with it, but Kulan put out a hand to stop the movement, then stepped his horse toward Norba and looked into his eyes.

“I am jyabo,” he said. “I am your king.”

For an instant Norba’s rifle held still, then slowly it lowered. With an oath, Norba whirled his horse and dashed away, followed by his men.

Behind them the motors broke into a roar, and throwing up a vast cloud of dust, the plane rolled off, gathered speed, then soared up and away, toward India, toward home.

“You should have let me kill him,” Shambe said.

“No, Shambe,” Kulan replied, “many go to die, but those who remain will remember that I spoke truth.”

Three abreast, they rode to the crest of the ridge and halted. The caravan of Norba’s followers moved north toward the great lake known as Tosun Nor, moved toward drought and death.

Anna Doone, born in Montana, looked beyond them to a bright fleck that hung in the sky. Sunlight gleamed for an instant on a wingtip . . . then it winked out and was gone, leaving only a distant mutter of engines that echoed against the mountains.

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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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    An excellent, and extensive, collection of stories drawn from Louis's early seafaring experiences. A must read for true Louis L'Amour devotees!

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