The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour: The Frontier Stories, Volume 5

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Overview

Louis L’Amour’s world is built on those dramatic moments when men and women cast their fears, doubts, and pasts behind them and plunge into the unknown–into split-second decisions with life-and-death consequences. Nowhere is that more evident than in this latest collection of stories set on the American frontier. Here L’Amour takes us across a bold, beautifully rendered landscape where strangers may come to trust–or kill–one another; where old scores haunt new lives and the wrong choice leaves unwitting victims. ...
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The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour, Volume 7: The Frontier Stories

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Overview

Louis L’Amour’s world is built on those dramatic moments when men and women cast their fears, doubts, and pasts behind them and plunge into the unknown–into split-second decisions with life-and-death consequences. Nowhere is that more evident than in this latest collection of stories set on the American frontier. Here L’Amour takes us across a bold, beautifully rendered landscape where strangers may come to trust–or kill–one another; where old scores haunt new lives and the wrong choice leaves unwitting victims. Even at the best of times, this is a world in which every man and woman must be responsible for their own survival.

This keepsake volume features unforgettable moments and timeless characters. From fugitives to visionaries, from fortune seekers and drifters seeking a new life to young women trying to build homes in an all too often lawless world, the characters in these pulse-pounding stories are vintage L’Amour. Together in this vivid, rollicking collection of stories, they bring to life the American spirit and confirm Louis L’Amour’s place at the very top of the pantheon of American writers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The fourth volume of the late L'Amour's short stories takes the author out of his familiar American frontier setting and into desolate and dangerous locales around the world, from "a narrow fjord at the end of the earth" on the southern coast of Chile to a "lonely isolated spot in the Coral Sea." While the characters are not traditional L'Amour, as "men of quick wit and valor" they share similar characteristics and values; freighter captain Ponga Jim Mayo, who plies the treacherous waters of the Indian Ocean during World War II (and is featured in nine of these 45 stories), succinctly sums up their worldview: "I'll make my own rules and abide by the consequences." The stories reflect the author's own youthful wanderings-as seaman, soldier and professional boxer-and, having been mostly written for pulp adventure magazines, are predictably formulaic. L'Amour's first publication, "Death Westbound," a Depression-era hobo story, crackles with his trademark prose: "Sometimes the shacks were pretty good guys, but a railroad dick is always a louie." No L'Amour fan will want to miss this collection. Afterword by L'Amour's son, Beau L'Amour. (Nov. 7) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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: 9780739327340
  • Publisher: Diversified Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/30/2007
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 800
  • Sales rank: 366,907
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Louis L’Amour is undoubtedly the bestselling frontier novelist of all time. He is the only American-born author in history to receive both the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of his life's work. He has published ninety novels; twenty-seven short-story collections; two works of nonfiction; a memoir, Education of a Wandering Man; and a volume of poetry, Smoke from This Altar. There are more than 300 million copies of his books in print worldwide.

Biography

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

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Louis Dearborn LaMoore (real name); Tex Burns and Jim Mayo
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 22, 1908
    2. Place of Birth:
      Jamestown, North Dakota
    1. Date of Death:
      June 10, 1988

Read an Excerpt

No Man's Man

CHAPTER I

He came to a dirty cantina on a fading afternoon. He stood, looking around with a curious eye. And he saw me there in the corner, my back to the wall and a gun on the table, and my left hand pouring tequila into a glass.

He crossed the room to my table, a man with a scholar’s face and a quiet eye, but with lines of slender strength.

“When I told them I wanted a man big enough and tough enough to tackle a grizzly,” he said, “they sent me to you.”

“How much?” I said. “And where’s the grizzly?”

“His name is Henry Wetterling, and he’s the boss of Battle Basin. And I’ll give you a thousand dollars.”

“What do I do?”

“There’s a girl up there, and her name is Nana Maduro. She owns a ranch on Cherry Creek. Wetterling wants the girl, and he wants the ranch. I don’t want him to have either.”

“You want him dead?”

“I want him out of there. Use your own judgment. When I hire a man for a job, I don’t tell him how to do it.” This man with the scholar’s face was more than a quiet man; he could be a hard man.

“All right,” I said.

“One thing more”—he smiled a little, quietly, as though enjoying what he was about to say—“Wetterling is top dog and he walks a wide path, but he has two men to back him.” He smiled again. “Their names are Clevenger and Mack.”

The bartender brought a lemon and salt, and I drank my tequila.

“The answer is still the same,” I told him, then, “but the price is higher. I want five thousand dollars.”

His expression did not change, but he reached in his pocket and drew out a wallet and counted green bills on the dirty table. He counted two thousand dollars.

“I like a man who puts the proper estimate on a job,” he said. “The rest when you’re finished.”

He pushed back his chair and got up, and I looked at the green bills and thought of the long months of punching cows I’d have to put in to earn that much—if anybody, anywhere, would give me a job.

“Where do you fit in?” I asked. “Do you want the girl or the ranch or Wetterling’s hide?”

“You’re paid,” he said pointedly, “for a job. Not for questions. . . .”

THERE WAS SUNLIGHT on the trail, and cloud shadows on the hills, and there was a time of riding, and a time of resting, and an afternoon, hot and still like cyclone weather when I walked my big red horse down the dusty street of the town of Battle Basin.

They looked at me, the men along the street, and well they could look. I weighed two hundred and forty pounds, but looked twenty-five pounds lighter. I was three inches over six feet, with black hair curling around my ears under a black flat-brimmed, flat-crowned hat, and the brim was dusty and the crown was torn. The shirt I wore was dark red, under a black horsehide vest, and there was a scar on my left cheek where a knife blade had bit to the bone. The man who had owned that knife left his bones in a pack rat’s nest down Sonora way.

My boots were run-down at the heels and my jeans were worn under the chaps stained almost black. And when I swung down, men gathered around to look at my horse. Big Red is seventeen hands high and weighs thirteen hundred pounds—a blood bay with black mane, tail, and forelock.

“That’s a lot of horse,” a man in a white apron said. “It takes a man to ride a stallion.”

“I ride him,” I said, and walked past them into the bar. The man in the white apron followed me. “I drink tequila,” I said.

He brought out a bottle and opened it, then found lemon and salt. So I had a drink there, and another, and looked around the room, and it all looked familiar. For there had been a time—

“I’m looking for a ranch,” I said, “on Cherry Creek. It’s owned by Nana Maduro.”

The bartender’s face changed before my eyes and he mopped the bar. “See Wetterling,” he said. “He hires for them.”

“I’ll see the owner,” I said, and put down my glass.

A girl was coming up the street, walking fast. She had flame-red hair and brown eyes. When she saw Big Red she stopped dead still. And I stood under the awning and rolled a cigarette and watched her, and knew what she was feeling.

She looked around at the men. “I want to buy that horse,” she said. “Who owns him?”

A man jerked a thumb at me, and she looked at me and took a step closer. I saw her lips part a little and her eyes widen.

She was all woman, that one, and she had it where it showed. And she wore her sex like a badge, a flaunting and a challenge—the way I liked it.

“You own this horse?”

One step took me out of the shade and into the sun, a cigarette in my lips. I’m a swarthy man, and her skin was golden and smooth, despite the desert sun.

“Hello, Lou,” she said. “Hello, Lou Morgan.”

“This is a long way from Mazatlán,” I said. “You were lovely then, too.”

“You were on the island,” she said, “a prisoner. I thought you were still there.”

“I was remembering you, and no walls could hold me,” I said, smiling a little, “so I found a way out and away. The prison will recover in time.”

“How did you know I was here?”

“I didn’t,” I said. “Remember? I killed a man for you and you left me, with never a word or a line. You left me like dirt in the street.”

And when that was said I walked by her and stepped into the saddle. I looked down at her and said, “You haven’t changed. Under that fine-lady manner you’re still a tramp.”

A big young man who stood on the walk, filled with the pride of his youth, thought he should speak. So I jumped the stallion toward him, and when we swept abreast I grabbed him by his shirtfront.

I swung him from his feet and muscled him up, half strangling, and held him there at eye level, my arm bent to hold him, my knuckles under his chin.

“That was a private conversation,” I said. “The lady and I understand each other.”

Then I slapped him, booming slaps that left his face white and the mark of my hand there, and I let him drop. My horse walked away and took a trail out of town.

But those slaps had been good for my soul, venting some of the fury I was feeling for her! Not the fury of anger, although there was that, too, but the fury of man-feeling rising within me, the great physical need I had for that woman that stirred me and gripped me and made my jaws clench and my teeth grind.

Nana Maduro! And that thin-faced man in the cantina hiring me to come and get you away from this—what was his name?—Wetterling!

Nana Maduro, who was Irish and Spanish and whom I had loved and wanted when I was seventeen, and for whom I had killed a man and been sentenced to hang. Only the man I killed had been a dangerous man, a powerful man in Mexico, and feared, and not all were sorry that he had died. These had helped me, had got my sentence commuted to life imprisonment, and after two years I broke out and fled to the hills, and after two more years word had come that the records had been lost and that I was a free man.

At fifteen Nana Maduro had been a woman in body and feeling, but untried yet and restless because of it.

And at seventeen I had been raw and powerful, a seasoned Indian fighter knowing mining, hunting, and riding, but a boy in emotion and temper.

It was different now that seven years had passed. Nana now was full-flowered and gorgeous. But they had been seven hard, lean years for me, a man who rode with a gun and rode alone, a man who fought for pay, with a gun for hire.

Three days I rode the hills and saw no man, but looked upon the country through eyes and field glasses. And I saw much, and understood much.

Cherry Creek range was dream range, knee-deep to a tall steer with waving grass and flowers of the prairie. Even on the more barren stretches there were miles of antelope bush and sheep fat, the dry-looking desert plants rich in food for cattle. There was water there, so the cattle need walk but little and could keep their flesh, and there was shade from the midday sun.

And this belonged to Nana Maduro, to Nana, whom I’d loved as a boy, and desired as a man. And did I love as a man? Who could say?

She had cattle by the thousand on her rolling hills, and a ranch house like none I had ever seen, low and lovely and shaded, a place for a man to live. And a brand, N M, and a neighbor named Wetterling.

The Wetterling ranch was north and west of hers, but fenced by a range of hills, high-ridged and not to be crossed by cattle, and beyond the ridge the grass was sparse and there were few trees. A good ranch as such ranches go, but not the rolling, grass-waving beauty of Cherry Creek.

Then I saw them together. He was a huge man, bigger than I was, blond and mighty. At least two inches taller than I, and heavier, but solid. He moved light on his feet and quickly, and he could handle a horse.

Other things I saw. Nana was without friends. She was hemmed in by this man, surrounded by him. People avoided her through fear of him, until she was trapped, isolated. It could be a plan to win her finally, or to take her ranch if the winning failed.

But they laughed together and raced together, and they rode upon the hills together. And on the night of the dance in Battle Basin, they came to it together.

For that night I was shaved clean and dusted, my boots were polished, and though I went to the dance and looked at the girls, there was only one woman in that room for me.

She stood there with her big man, and I started toward her across the floor, my big California spurs jingling. I saw her face go white to the lips and saw her start to speak, and then I walked by her and asked the daughter of a rancher named Greenway for a dance.

As the Greenway girl and I turned away in the waltz I saw Nana’s face again, flaming red, then white, her fine eyes blazing. So I danced with Ann Greenway, and I danced with Rosa McQueen, and I danced with the girls of the village and from the ranches, but I did not dance with Nana Maduro.

CHAPTER II

Nana watched me. That I saw. She was angry, too, and that I had expected, for when does the hunter like for the deer to escape? Especially the wounded deer?

Two men came in when the evening was half gone, one of them a thin man with a sickly face and a head from which half the hair was gone, and in its place a scar. This was Clevenger. His partner Mack was stocky and bowlegged and red of face.

Both wore their guns tied down, and both were dangerous. They were known along the border for the men they had killed. They were feared men who had not acquired their reputations without reason.

They were there when I stopped not far away from where Wetterling was talking to Nana. I saw Wetterling move toward her as if to take her for a dance, and I moved quickly, saying, “Will you dance?” and wheeled her away as I spoke.

Wetterling’s face was dark and ugly, and I saw the eyes of his two killers upon me, but I held Nana close, and good she felt in my arms. And she looked up at me, her lips red and soft and wet, and her eyes blazing.

“Let me go, you fool! They’ll kill you for this!”

“Will they now?” I smiled at her, but my heart was pounding and my lips were dry, and my being was filled with the need of her. “You’ll remember that was tried once, long ago.”

Then I held her closer, her breasts tight against me, my arm about her slim waist, our bodies moving in the dance.

“To die for this,” I said, “would not be to die in vain.”

It was my mother’s family that spoke, I think, for poetic as the Welsh may be, and my father was Welsh, it is the Spanish who speak of dying for love, though they are never so impractical. My mother’s name was Ibañez.

When the dance was finished, Nana pulled away from me. “Leave me here,” she said, and then when I took her arm to return her to Wetterling, she begged, “Please, Lou!”

My ears were deaf. So I took her to him and stopped before him, and, with his two trained dogs close by, I said, “She dances beautifully, my friend, and better with me than with you—and what are you trying to do with that fresh-cut trail through the woods? Get your cattle onto her grass?”

Then I turned my back and walked away and the devil within me feeling the glory of having stirred the man to fury, wanting that, yet desolate to be leaving her. For now I knew I loved Nana Maduro. Not prison nor time nor years nor her coldness had killed it. I still loved her.

At the door as I left, a red-faced man with bowed legs who stood there said, “You’ve a fine horse and it’s a nice night to ride. Cross the Territory line before you stop.”

“See you tomorrow,” I said.

“Have a gun in your hand, if you do,” he said to me, and went back inside. Mack, a brave man.

In the morning I rode the hills again, doing a sight of thinking. Wetterling wanted both the ranch and the girl, and no doubt one as much as the other. Another man wanted the place, too, and maybe the girl. But why that particular ranch?

Lovely, yes. Rich with grass, yes. But considering the obstacles and the expense—why? Hatred? It could be. A man can hate enough. But my employer was not a hating man, to my thinking. He just knew what he wanted, and how to get it.

Small ranchers and riders with whom I talked could give me no clue. I did not ask outright if they knew my employer, but I could tell they must know the man.

The trail I had found through the woods was guarded now. Two men loafed near the N M side of it, both with rifles across their knees. Through my glasses I studied that trail. It was wide, and it was well cut. When I got into my saddle I saw something else—a gleam of sunlight reflecting on a distant mountainside. Distant, but still on Maduro range.

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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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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 17, 2010

    Escape to the reality of our past.

    I have all seven volumes of the collected short stories of Louis L'Amour. I hope there will be more coming. I don't have much down time, but I can escape to another time with these short sagas. I had mainly read non-fiction over the years but I became hooked after a friend suggested my reading "Education of a Wandering Man." Excellent read. I would have loved to have met Louis L'Amour. His autobiography was astounding. I hope his family/publishers keeps the short stories coming. I have always loved western movies so I imagine that's why I was drawn to his western stories. His writing style is so vivid that I feel that I am right in the story watching all the characters in-person! I am so surprised that I found much interest in the private eye and asian stories that center around the early 1900's, but I did.
    I am an employed 55 year old housewife and mother, and I thank you for "taking me away from time to time!"

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2010

    More Lamoure

    Great adventurous western writings! By my favorite author of wesrern verse!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 8, 2012

    Louis L'Amour

    At one point I had all of the Louis L'Amour books in paperback. Once I got my Nook, I donated the paperback books to the local library. I am in the process of redoing my personal library on my Nook.

    All of his books are what I call "easy / light reading". They are enjoyable and give insight into how once we were able to do business with just a word or a handshake.

    While his more modern books don't appeal to me a great deal, all of his westerns have great appeal and are well documented.

    I would recommend any of his westerns, the full books as well as the short stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012

    Louis L'Amour book

    My husband really enjoys these books

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2013

    Amour

    Bedroom

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