“Paine is a fine storyteller, and he recreates the world of the Old West with a simple, straightforward style.” —Kirkus Reviews, praise for the author
Hugh Collier in “The Danger Lover” feels he is living an empty life as a little more than competent bank employee in the town of Stanton. He decides to leave behind a life that for him was a “caricature and savage cartoon of the beautiful truth that life may be,” and he heads into the mountains alone, carrying only the essentials on his horse. Even though his efforts at hunting and fishing prove to be failures in the early days, he keeps his spirits up by celebrating his small successes as he travels deeper in the wild. Two things change the course of his adventure: he sees a town from a hill, and a stranger, desperate to file on a claim, convinces Collier to trade horses. Once he walks the stranger’s horse into the town, he soon finds himself to be mistaken for the outlaw Bill Gadsden by both worshipers of the outlaw and the man after the outlaw, Lassiter.
In the title story, twenty-two-year-old Lewis Dikkon has led a sheltered life, working seven days a week as a shoemaker for his taskmaster uncle, Charles Bender. Being inside most of the time, he knows little of the town and its inhabitants and they have no interest in him, other than as a poorly dressed oddball. A stranger named Sam Prentiss begins showing up at 8 p.m. every Saturday night to sit in a chair in the shop’s doorway and look across the street for an hour. Their conversations, though limited, begin to set Dikkon’s mind to work and before long he decides he wants to buy a gun. When Dan Hodge, the gunman, is killed and his personal items go up for auction, Dikkon gets his Colt, which he believes is a magic gun.
A feud between the biggest and richest cattleman, Richard DeFore, and the local stage line couldn’t have come at a worse time to Winchester, Colorado. The town’s new sheriff, John Klinger, young, inexperienced, and hot-headed, hasn’t been in the job for a month yet, when DeFore, who has never sold or donated the right of way for the pass which is on his land, demands the stage line pay a toll for passage, which the company is refusing to do. Luckily, Sheriff Klinger is backed by Deputy Ethan MacCallister, his father-in-law as well as the former sheriff, when the first confrontation takes place on the pass when DeFore’s men stop the northbound stagecoach.
MacCallister understands the importance of the north-south roadway for the survival of Winchester, and he knows this smoldering feud could easily escalate into an all-out war between the two factions. So he keeps calm and defuses the situation, but when Ray Thorne, a notorious gunfighter, steps out of the stagecoach as a representative for the stage-line’s headquarters in Denver, he knows the stakes have been raised. With tensions running so high on both sides, can he keep the peace while helping his son-in-law learn what it takes to be an effective lawman.
After spending an unknown number of days caged, chained, and tortured in the darkness of a root cellar by men wearing hoods who insist he robbed a bank and killed several women, twenty-five-year-old Ben Hawthorne is rescued by four men. But who are these men and why were they looking for him—the son of Eli and Cora Hawthorne, born on a ranch outside of Nacogdoches, Texas, orphaned at ten when his parents were killed by Comanches, and then taken by the Comanches who gave him his Indian name, Newcomer.
When he learns that his “rescuers” are in fact bounty hunters who believe he is the son of a rancher named Locklin, he doesn’t understand. Matters become even more puzzling when he is taken to the home of Locklin and the big-time rancher recognizes him as his missing son of five years, Seth. Things continue to confuse Ben when he is shown a picture of Seth and it is like looking in a mirror. Hawthorne knows who he is, but everyone he meets believes he is Seth, including Seth’s sister and Caitlan Black, the spitfire who was Seth’s childhood friend, who is ready to go to war with Arch Locklin over access to water.
A young teenager named Red and the old prospector who raised him arrive in Baker’s Gap, anxious to start a new life, having struck a glory hole of gold. Much to Red’s horror, however, the prospector is gunned down in the street. Suddenly alone in a strange town, the boy is angry and distrustful, but fortunately Tom Harrison, the local sheriff, is willing to accept responsibility for his care if he can convince him to stay. A strong bond soon develops between the two, and in exchange for Red agreeing to attend school, the sheriff pledges to pass down all he knows about law enforcement.
The years pass, but nothing deters the boy from a stubborn conviction to spend his life tracking down outlaws like those who killed the man who raised him. When Harrison’s Ranger friend, Al Thornton, shows up, both see an opportunity for Red to reach his goal. Red leaves Baker’s Gap to become a Ranger under the tutelage of Thornton. At first somewhat skeptical of Red’s abilities because of his age, Thornton and others at the camp come to accept him as one of their own because of his frontier skills and knowledge.
When Red and Thornton are sent on a routine mission to transport a prisoner, they find themselves embroiled in more conflict than they had counted on. Before the Rangers arrive, the outlaw breaks out of the fort jail with the help of his gang, and a seemingly routine job turns into a deadly manhunt. Eventually the outlaw and his gang head toward Baker’s Gap. If the two Rangers cannot arrive in time it will surely spell disaster for Sheriff Tom Harrison.
“The Wagon Warrior” opens this collection of six Les Savage Jr. stories. In it, David Brooke, a hunter for freight caravans, finds himself shackled in a wagon because he had been raised by the Cheyennes and they are being blamed for the attack on an earlier supply train.
In “The Man Who Tamed Tombstone,” singer Kaye Lawrence and Eddie Hammer, her manager, arrive in Tombstone for a series of concerts. They find themselves in danger as a power struggle between Sheriff Nevis, supported by Odds Argyle and the Allen Street bunch, and Marshal Graham plays out.
Blackie Barr in “Bullets and Bullwhips” was blackballed by the freighting companies when his caravan burned three years ago, killing five men. Barr is given a second chance by Pop Trevers whose future depends on making good on a government contract.
In “Owlhoot Maverick,” Johnny Peters is out to avenge the death of his father, the outlaw Concho Peters. Things become confusing for the young man when the very man he seeks saves his life and then offers him a job on a cattle drive.
In “Bullets Bar This Trail,” Hal Wells had joined Tracy Bannerman in his detective agency, believing they could make it big. The woman Wells loves, Carol Hastings, also has big dreams. As the three race to Butte with $40,000 in cash to exercise the option on the Golden Ace mine for their client, Bannerman becomes suspicious about the intentions of the two.
In “Dead Man’s Journey,” when Henry Jordan, the man who had grub-staked Ray Bandelier, a former actor, is shot in his Sacramento office, Bandelier is suspected. An admirer of his acting, Louis Calvert, provides him cover by sneaking him out of town with his acting troupe. The ruse works, but the troupe soon finds themselves the target of Reboe Ayers and his gang.
Every fall Tom Reynard, ramrod for the Bar L, had a hard time finding cowpunchers willing to work the winter range in the bleak badlands near the Sioux reservation. So when Jigger Bunts, an eighteen-year-old from New York who was familiar with riding and roping, happened along, he was hired even though his youth was a red flag to Reynard.
To pass the time in the bunkhouse, the other cowhands spin tall tales for Bunts, whom they call the kid, about the exploits of Reynard, and soon Reynard becomes Bunts’ hero and role model. Reynard quickly tires of the hero worship, so he concocts a new hero for the kid in Louis Dalfieri, based merely on a picture. Dalfieri replaces Reynard in the kid’s mind as his hero, especially when the yarns the punchers tell the kid about this two-gun Robin Hood become outrageous.
When a stranger is brought to the ranch by Bunts and he cheats the Bar L cowboys in a game of poker, the kid takes off to get their money back, to right the wrong as he believes Dalfieri would. This decision sends him down a path outside the law from which there appears to be no return, and for which Reynard can only blame himself. Reynard had all but given up hope to help Jigger Bunts when his mind is changed by a chance encounter with an old friend, Maybelle Crofter.
Recently discovered among his unpublished works, this untraditional story will delight fans of Max Brand Westerns.
When Happy Jack in “The Gift” learns that Sandy Crisp was behind the killing of his pal Jackson, a married man and the father of three, he hunts him down at his cabin. Feeling fear for the first time, as Happy Jack tries to taunt him into a fight, Crisp is struck by the physical similarity between Happy Jack and Johnny Neilan, the son of his nearest neighbors, who died twelve years ago in a log jam. Bitter and rich, Johnny’s parents still believe he is alive and will one day return. Crisp proposes Happy Jack pose as the Neilans’ son and rob their safe, giving his share of the money to Jackson’s widow. Reluctantly, Happy Jack agrees, but he is not prepared for what he encounters on this Christmas Eve.
Jim Orchard, the hero of “Jerico’s Garrison Finish,” suffers from “reckless generosity,” which keeps getting in the way of his ability to save the $5,000 he needs so he can marry Sue Hampton, who fears that he is an easy mark and that he will never put the needs of a family first. When he hears that Garry Munn has been visiting Sue, he becomes worried and desperate as he has lost most of his money again. Munn is the favorite in the upcoming race in the rodeo, and Orchard sees his only chance of getting his $5,000 stake is to ride Jerico, a killer horse, racing against Munn.
In “Sunset Wins,” Gordon MacDonald is a throwback to his ancestors, big and brutal, a man who “looked like a lion” and “thought like a fox” and “fought like ten devils, shoulder to shoulder.” No prison in the world could hold him, though they had tried. Eventually he returns to the States, making his way to Texas, where he wanders for ten years, until his heart settles on something he must have—a horse named Sunset.
Expert investigator Mel Davitt is brought in when the new State Bank of Milton is robbed. Just outside of town, Davitt joins up with Buck Granger, a young cowpuncher who helps him catch the bank robber known as the Crow. This is the beginning of a partnership that will apprehend rustlers and thieves.
In “Death for Double-O Neighbors,” Tom Lucas owes plenty to Old Bob Hurley who raised him and helped him start up his own ranch, the Wagon Wheel. Lucas is also in love with his granddaughter, Marcia, who has just returned from the East. Hurley calls a meeting of all the small ranchers, for which Tom is a leader, to warn them a range war is headed their way if the skimming off of his yearlings doesn’t stop. Lucas is torn by his loyalty to both Hurley and his Double-O Ranch on one side and to the small ranchers on the other. That loyalty is tested when his ranch is burned out and he and his partner are branded cattle thieves by Hurley himself.
When Stanley Blanton, an engineer charting the mineral resources of the Northland, in the “Out Trail,” crashes through a snow bridge with his sled and dogs, he injures his ankle. Two hundred and fifty miles from food and shelter for both himself and his dogs in the midst of a blizzard, all hope seems gone until a sled team appears in the distance. Knowing the code of the North—that one must to help another in distress—Blanton calls out, but the man and his team pass him by.
Court martialed and losing the woman he loved seven years earlier, Cass Morgan, in “Powder for Santa Anna,” has been living recklessly, shipping freight between the African coast and the Mexican gulf with his partner, O’Malley. As the war with Mexico, which Morgan is against, ramps up and the services of brigs are needed to move supplies and men to Taylor at the mouth of the Río Grande, a web of deceit encircles Morgan as rumors of blockade running and smuggling contraband, including slaves, into Mexico tighten around him.
When Tom Buckner, in “Hunted Wolf,” quit Hal Stafford’s Cross-T Ranch he didn’t expect to be pursued and left to die in the desert, his horse wounded and a single cartridge in his gun. The appearance of a scrawny wolf at the dry basin provides a chance for survival—and revenge—if only Buckner can outwolf the wolf.
The grandson of a US senator has been brazenly kidnapped out of a hotel room in St. Louis. His life has been threatened if the senator cannot raise the ransom money, an exorbitant amount that even he can’t scrape together. Ultimately, the boy’s fate falls into the hands of a select group of undercover agents known for their discretion, cleverness, and bravery—the Pinkertons.
When Allan Pinkerton realizes the confidential nature of the kidnapping, he calls in his best field agents, a group of five professionals with specialized skills and unconventional backgrounds. The team is headed up by ex-Marine Captain John McKenzie. He is to be joined by beautiful and alluring actress and former spy during the Civil War, Alicia Faye; a clever magician and con artist, Harry Howser; a young but brilliant scientist, Jimmy Piper; and McKenzie’s Marine friend and expert hand-to-hand combat fighter, Patrick Nelson.
With no clue as to whether or not the boy is still in Missouri or who the perpetrators might be, the detective team must comb the city of St. Louis in their quest for answers, including through the extensive dockyards of the shipping industry along the Mississippi River.
After hitting a rich vein of gold on the back of Champion Mountain, Blondy Kitchin heads to the big city to have a good time, but there his luck runs out and he ends up spending two years in prison. The prison’s chaplain helps educate him, tries to smooth out his rough edges, and convinces him that the range is the place for Kitchin to make use of his brute strength and free spirit.
This collection of six exciting Western stories from early in Louis L’Amour’s career begins with “Fork Your Own Broncs,” in which Mac Marcy, who had saved for seven years to run his own small cattle ranch, sees his dream come true, only to have it threatened by Jingle Bob Kenyon.
In “Keep Travelin’, Rider,” Tack Gentry returns to Sunbonnet and his uncle’s G Bar Ranch only to find that his uncle, a Quaker, has been killed in a gunfight. A faction has moved in and run roughshod over the town and the ranches, including the G Bar.
In “McQueen of the Tumbling K,” ranch foreman Ward McQueen looks out for his boss, Ruth Kermitt. When Jim Yount shows up at the Tumbling K looking to buy cattle to stock worthless land he won in a poker game, McQueen can’t help but question his true intentions.
In “Four Card Draw,” Allen Ring wins the Red Rock Ranch in a poker game, but he soon finds that he has stepped into a hotbed of fear and danger; several years back, Sam Hazlitt was killed on the Red Rock, and his record book—which could discredit many of the ranchers—went missing.
In “Mistakes Can Kill You,” Johnny O’Day had accounted for six dead men by the time he turned seventeen. Close to death from pneumonia, he’s taken in by the Redlins. O’Day pays the family back by staying on and working, but now he must decide whether to leave or risk his life to save their biological son, Sam.
In “Showdown on the Tumbling T,” after two years in Mexico, Wat Bell runs into his cousin, whom he considers his best friend, only to learn he’s been blamed for the death of their uncle. Although his cousin offers to help, a series of events makes Bell suspect something much more sinister is going on.
In the title story, Murdo Morgan left Paradise Valley sixteen years ago, after his brothers had been killed at the hand of the Turkey Track outfit. One year later, his father died a broken and defeated man. Broad Clancy, owner of the Turkey Track, has remained the controlling force in this area of high desert in Oregon, considering all the land to be open range, including the six-mile strip on both sides of the old wagon road which belongs to Cascade and Paradise Land Company. He fears that Morgan will return to exact his revenge for the death of his brothers. But Morgan is not driven by revenge but by a desire to carry out the dream of his father—to settle a thousand farming families in Paradise Valley. To that end, as the owner of the Cascade and Paradise Land Company, Morgan arrives with a plan for the sale of the land already under way and he is willing to risk his life and every cent of money he has to do it, despite the backlash he will receive from the Clancy dynasty.
In “The Fence,” an Oregon sheriff must race against time to capture the men responsible for brutally murdering the father and grandfather of his former fiancée—before she becomes the next victim.
On the day before his twenty-first wedding anniversary, David Sullinger buried an ax in his wife’s skull. Now, eight jurors must retire to the deliberation room and decide whether David committed premeditated murder—or whether he was a battered spouse who killed his wife in self-defense.
Told from the perspective of over a dozen participants in a murder trial, We, the Jury examines how public perception can mask the ghastliest nightmares. As the jurors stagger toward a verdict, they must sift through contradictory testimony from the Sullingers’ children, who disagree on which parent was Satan; sort out conflicting allegations of severe physical abuse, adultery, and incest; and overcome personal animosities and biases that threaten a fair and just verdict. Ultimately, the central figures in We, the Jury must navigate the blurred boundaries between bias and objectivity, fiction and truth.
It was spring on the Llano Estacado, the Staked Plains of Texas, the time for the cattle drives to push north to the rail heads in Kansas. The “Lost Cause” of the South was still fresh in the mind of Southerners, including fifty-five-year-old Ben Albright, a pioneer of the Texas cattle drives, who was well familiar with the trail and its dangers—he had successfully made five cattle drives from Texas to Kansas, but this spring will be his most difficult.
With the death of Ewell Lansing, Northerners have taken over his trading post and ferry and refused provisions or passage to Texas cattle drives. When Albright finds a way around this, tensions reach the breaking point, and a Northerner and his horse are found dead. Will the Texans be able to prove their innocence before the Northerners catch up to them?
- The Business of Dying
Release Date: 2017-10-01
Collected here are ten Western short stories by Richard S. Wheeler, the award-winning author who makes storytelling look easy.
In “Mugs Birdsong’s Crime Academy,” celebrated criminal Mugs Birdsong decides to found an academy that will instruct lawmen on the ways and means of lawlessness. “The Last Days of Dominic Prince” is the tragic tale of a cattle baron and his final conflict with the forces of political correctness. “Dead Weight” introduces us to a coffin maker who constructs a work of art. And in the title story, two young men in the gold fields of California spend one last night together as one of them confronts his own imminent death.
This collection also includes “The Square Reporter,” “A Commercial Proposition,” “The Great Filibuster of 1975,” “The Tinhorn’s Lady,” “Hearts,” and “Looking for Love at a Romance Writers Convention.”
Seventeen-year-old Silver King dreams of becoming a working cowboy. His mother, however, has pushed him to be a baseball player—and King certainly has the arm to be a star pitcher. When the National League forms a team in Kansas City in 1886, both mother and son get their wishes.
“Town of Twenty Triggers” opens this new trio of short novels by Les Savage Jr., marking their first appearance in book form. He was known only as the Joker, a portly, chuckling man with a bland smile, a poker face, and an amazing ability to make a deck of cards perform any trick he desired. His traveling companion is Emmet Pierce, a Texan fast with his gun. When this duo arrives in the small ranching town of Benton, the Joker is ready to take it over and claim it for his own. He begins by winning ownership of the Palace, the largest gambling hall in town. The twenty guns of the title describe the gunslingers the Joker hires to enforce his hold on the town. The only thing the Joker overlooks in his fiendish plans is that Emmet Pierce is a man with a moral conscience.
The Pacific Railroad in “Where Hell’s Coyotes Howl” wants to build their spur line from Santa Fe to Tucson and they want the right of way through Apache Gap, the only passage through the Tanques Verdes. Otherwise they will have to lay about two hundred extra miles of track around the northwest corner of the Verdes. The strong man in Tucson is Face Card Farrow who has enough secret evidence against the wealthy and powerful to get his own way. When Face Card is murdered, it is discovered that most of his papers have gone missing. Amid all of this turmoil, matters are brought to the point of crisis when Laramie Drake, owner of the Double Deuces Ranch, saves teenage Midge Lawrence from a whipping by her court-appointed guardian, Eben Hazard. Although Laramie has no legal right to keep Midge with him, Midge wants to stay, a situation complicated by the fact that Midge becomes the focus of all the factions because she is believed to own the deed to Apache Gap.
In “The Teton Bunch” it is all a matter of following the money—630 gold double eagles stolen in 1882. The daring robbery was perpetrated by the Teton Bunch, but afterward the gang was forced to break up and scatter. Gordie Hammer carried the money, but he didn’t have it any more when he was captured, tried, convicted, and sentenced. Now Hammer is a small rancher, but everyone, including Sheriff Victor Bondurant, believes Hammer has hidden the money and knows its whereabouts. Matters get worse when a number of gang members show up, hoping to force Hammer to give them their share.
The trouble began for Sheriff Claude Rainey when the Hightower Ranch cowboys discovered a mummified man and his horse in a desert canyon near Springville, Arizona—both shot in the head. Ordinarily that should have been the end of it. Few men riding the outlaw trail up out of Mexico make it through that godforsaken country. What troubled Rainey and the townsmen, however, was what Hightower foreman Al Trail had brought into town and given to the sheriff.
Near the body, the cowboys had dug up a box that contained five bloodstained packets of hundred-dollar bills, amounting to $10,000. This only deepened the mystery. After all, who kills a man and leaves behind $10,000? The only clue to the identity of the dead man is the shriveled-up brand on the horse, which he sketches and sends to the registrar. The money is stowed in the only steel safe in Apache County while the sheriff and the townsmen wait to see who will ride in to Springville to claim it. It is Sheriff Rainey’s hope that the town can keep the money and build a proper schoolhouse.
Then two men arrive within weeks of each other. The first, Fernando Bríon, informs Rainey that US Marshal Jonas Gantt and his horse have been found shot in the head on his land across the border in Mexico. He gives him Gantt’s personal effects. The circumstances are similar to those of the dead man and his horse found in the canyon. The second man is Deputy US Marshal Arch Clayton, who informs Rainey that the dead man was his partner back in Raton, New Mexico. Both men arouse Rainey’s suspicion and add to the mounting questions about the identity of the bushwhacking killer—foremost, whether he will show up in Springville, and what it is he’s really after.
Rock Bannon, wounded in an Indian attack, is rescued by a wagon train heading to Oregon. He has fully recovered when the train pulls into a fort to stock up on supplies. It is there that the leaders of the train meet Morton Harper, a smooth-talking man who persuades them to take an easier trail that will allow them to escape an attack by Indians. Bannon knows that there will be no escape from attack on that route and that it will lead the train directly onto Hardy Bishop’s vast ranching domain. Either way, and probably both, it will mean war—a war the pioneers will undoubtedly lose.
Bannon first appeared in Giant Western (Winter 1948) under the title Showdown Trail. L’Amour subsequently reworked and expanded this story into The Tall Stranger, published as an original paperback in 1957. The expanded story was filmed as The Tall Stranger (Allied Artists, 1957), directed by Thomas Carr and starring Joel McCrea and Virginia Mayo.
In 1913, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Lawrence, Kansas, Massacre, former bushwhacker Cole Younger stands before a preacher at a tent revival.
“I was, I remain, and I will always be a wicked man,” Younger states, taking a step toward salvation. And for a man like Cole Younger, there is much to confess.
On a cold, gusty night in Circle City, Alaska, Sammy Day walks into Nagle’s Bar. He is only twenty-two, but he has been on his own for ten years. He has worked cattle from Montana to Chihuahua, but a little “accident” at a poker table in Montana sent him on a forced march to Alaska to avoid a posse. He is down to his last fifty cents.
Gladstone Brass found out how to make his livelihood during the thirty years he prospected the arid wastes of the Nevada desert. He pried ore out of the few small deposits he discovered, then went to town—which he hated—only long enough to trade his bits of gold for the supplies he needed. Otherwise, he was devoted to keeping these arid, secret wastes all to himself, and that meant driving out rivals, invaders, interlopers, and adventurers. His only friend and companion was Tía María, a burro he’d caught in a desert canyon after his mule died from a snake bite. His great enemy was Bitter Bowler, a younger man, but run-down and dishonest.
One day, Brass spotted buzzards circling, and curiosity led him to investigate. He found a dead burro and an injured Bitter Bowler with his revolver trained on Brass. Bowler claimed he had broken his leg and couldn’t move. He wanted Brass’ water. When Brass refused, Bowler shot Tía María, then told him the next shot would be for him if he didn’t leave his water and supplies and get more water and something he could use for a crutch. Brass agreed and headed for Angel Cliff seep, the nearest water supply. He was debating whether he should go back to rescue Bitter Bowler when he arrived at the seep to find a stranger camped there who immediately turned, his gun pointed right at Brass.
A veteran of the Battle of Chancellorsville must come to terms with torments, both past and present, in this story by Western author Mackey Murdock.
“Bones” Malone earned his moniker collecting buffalo bones on the plains. Even in 1881 Bones is still haunted by his role in the war eighteen years earlier. Now his cousin, Wade, has started a big ranch in the area. Bones cannot escape the past, or the idea that he is the designated protector of the Malone family. He will have to reconcile his past and the conflicts of the present, including his relationships with Wade and his wife, Sassy—the woman Bones had once loved.
William Lee Braden was no secessionist, no slave owner. In fact, when the polls opened in Jacksboro, Texas, on February 23, 1861, Braden rode twelve miles up Lost Creek from his small ranch not only to vote against secession, but on his ballot, right next to his signature, he wrote For the Union forever. But come the fall of 1861, William Lee Braden rode off to join his brother Jacob in Harrisburg to fight, not for the Confederacy, but rather to defend the state of Texas from invasion and occupation.
Braden left behind him his wife, Martha Jane Pierce Braden, and his six-year-old son, Pierce Jonathan Braden. Certainly, one of the things Wil Braden, as well as the others from Jack County who had joined the army, had overlooked was that the warlike Kiowas and Comanches would seize the opportunity to wage a series of raids against the undefended ranches and farms they had left behind.
Unlike many of the men who went off to war, Wil would return to Texas four years later with scars he tried to keep hidden and no desire to talk about his war experience.
Lorrimer Weldon has spent his life being a tumbleweed and rolling where the wind blows him. Up to Canada, down to Mexico, through deserts, forests, and mountains; anywhere fortune could be found. Those travels helped earn him a reputation as a gambler and a gunfighter—a reputation that frequently preceded him.
When Weldon rode into San Trinidad, he found he immediately had two job offers: the outlaw Roger Cunningham wants Weldon to join his smuggling operation as a hired gun, and Dr. Henry Watts wants to hire Weldon’s gun as well, but as muscle to protect a patient dying of consumption, the beautiful Helen O’Mallock.
Weldon finds Watts’ proposition far more attractive, so he accepts the offer, knowing that Cunningham will resent the decision.
After ten years of wandering, during which he has lived the life of a gambler and learned the ways of devious men, Tom Keene returns home, only to find his father alone and dying.
Old John Keene’s sole legacy to his son is a Bible, so with his father’s passing, Tom Keene renounces his selfish, worthless past and sets out to preach to others that the greatest happiness is born of trust in one another.
Tom gets a chance to demonstrate his new way of life when he rescues a little girl who has fallen into a well. He learns that the little girl comes from the country’s wealthiest family, now in financial straits. The family’s head, John Carver, is an improvident man who is at times cruel to his dependents, and Tom Keene’s good intentions are about to cost him more than he knows.
Tom is jailed for a crime he did not commit, beaten and bullied until he changes again, this time into a cunning, calculating man whose sole purpose now is to be avenged for the wrongs done to him. Once released, he chases the trail of the desperado that double-crossed him.
Johnny D. Boggs turns the battlefield itself into a character in this historical retelling of Custer’s Last Stand, when George Custer led most of his command to annihilation at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in southern Montana in 1876.
More than forty first-person narratives are used—Indian and white, military and civilian, men and women—to paint a panorama of the battle itself.
Boggs brings the events and personalities of the Battle of the Little Bighorn to life in a series of first-hand accounts.
J. T. Latham is rotting in prison in the Yuma Territory penitentiary. But then Sheriff Del Buchman offers to commute his sentence if Latham helps execute a prisoner exchange with some dangerous banditos. The only catch is that he must guide the sheriff through the deadly Sonoran Desert.
The story was adapted from surviving transcripts of the American Legends Collection, which were written in 1936 as part of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration.
“Sergeant Forson’s Dirty-Shirt Army” is set in eastern Oregon, at a forgotten outpost left behind by the regular Army during the War between the States. Fort Haney is now home to a troop of fifty-seven men, raw recruits in the Oregon Volunteer Cavalry, who care little about fighting except among themselves, in spite of the fact that they are surrounded by hostile Snake and Cayuse Indians, just waiting for opportune moments to strike at farmers, ranchers, and stagecoaches. Their commanding officer plots strategy by retiring to his quarters, building model ships, and drinking whiskey. What alone can make a difference perhaps is Sergeant Ward Forson, previously trained in the regular Army. When word comes that the daughter of the commanding officer is on her way by stagecoach, coming to Fort Haney, both Major King and Sergeant Forson know that an Indian attack is likely. It is up to Forson to insure that these undisciplined recruits, who have been living almost like animals, will now pull together and meet their adversaries like true soldiers.
“Furnace Flat” is set in Death Valley. For twelve years now, Grady Ryan has worked in Borax mines, always with the idea to get a stake and strike off on his own to find a rich lode. He has done this several times in the past, but this time he has reason to expect to find a true bonanza. He is partnered with the elderly Mysterious Smith. Ryan is certain that Smith knows the location of a fabulous lode. And Ryan is right. But Smith knows they will be followed into the desert by ruthless claim-jumpers. His reason for wanting Ryan along is to fight off the claim-jumpers, not to share in a fortune with him. Maggie Conway, who operates a successful hash house in Furnace Flat, from which Grady and Smith are set to depart, is highly intuitive, and she tells Ryan that she is as sure as she has ever been that this time he will make his strike and find success at last. Intuitive she may be, but no fortune-teller.
Wil Chama was interviewed in 1938 as a contributor to the American Legends Collection, a part of the Federal Writers’ Project. Speaking into an Edison Dictaphone he narrated the events of his life. His personal narrative included his involvement as a strike breaker in what became known as the Gunnison Affair.
It was as a result of this shameful episode that he gained his reputation as a gunman and sought to bury himself as a driver of a salt wagon in Río Tinto, Texas. What Wil never suspected is that he was engaged to work for the Red Devil Salt Works in Río Tinto not because of his skill as a muleskinner, but precisely because of his reputation as a gunman.
This becomes suddenly clear to Wil when Randall Kellums, the owner of the Red Devil, tells him he wants Wil to give up his job as a wagoner and instead serve notice on Amos Montoya that his company and his people will no longer have access to the salt deposits at Tinto Flats.
The day Jingo rode into Tower Creek, the town was busy celebrating its twentieth anniversary. The big event of the festival was a high-stakes poker game in Joe Slade’s saloon with Wally Rankin holding most of the chips. But it didn’t take long for Jingo to figure out why: Rankin was cheating. And it would only take a couple of well-placed bullets to reveal it to the others in the room.
Sam Cassidy comes home to find himself in a series of tense confrontations. His father expects Sam to work for him at the local bank, and Sheriff Ben Faraday, for whom Sam worked the previous summer as deputy, is suffering from a terminal disease and wants Sam to become a deputy again. "Black Mike" Nickels wants to expand his use of public land and bring in more sheep, backed by guns. The Cattlemen's Association has vowed to stop Black Mike, but Sam's decision to become a deputy could make enemies of them both.
Gun in His Hand
Dane Coe is returning to Ogallala in Nebraska Territory at his father's request. He is met at the train depot by Ed Lanning, ramrod for Sam Drew's ranch, and Frank Ashton, a young gunfighter. Sam Drew will do whatever it takes to get the railroad to end its track on his own land rather than the land owned by Dane's father.
- The Strong Land
Edited by Jon Tuska
Release Date: 2017-02-01
Louis L’Amour was the most decorated author in the history of American letters and a recipient of the Medal of Freedom.
Now collected here in a single book are several of Louis L’Amour’s finest Western stories the way Mr. L’Amour wrote them. At the time Louis L’Amour was writing, it was common practice for editors to rewrite the manuscript to fit certain publishing criteria. The text of The Strong Land has been restored, and the stories within it appear as Mr. L’Amour intended for them to be read.
Whether you’re new to the thrilling frontier fiction of Louis L’Amour or one of his legions of fans, these six short stories will assure you that you are in the hands of a master storyteller.
Included here are:
- “The One for the Mohave Kid,”
- “His Brother’s Debt,”
- “A Strong Land Growing,”
- “Lit a Shuck for Texas,”
- “The Nester and the Paiute,” and
- “Barney Takes a Hand.”
Recalling his early life as a young cowboy, sixty-two-year-old Madison Carter remembers his first love: her name was Estrella O’Sullivan, and he met her the summer he turned sixteen back in 1873.
The summer of 1873 marked Madison’s last drive up what is now called the Chisholm Trail. It was the first time he tasted oysters and the only time he pinned on a badge. It was the summer of longhorns, miserable heat, friendship and betrayal, and murder. In the end it was the summer the whole world came crumbling down on the United States, and Madison’s world crashed too.
The summer of 1873 was the year Madison watched a bunch of men die. One of them was a man he killed, an encounter one never forgets.
From beloved author Zane Grey come four thrilling tales of the West. The very essence of the American West can be found in the stories of Zane Grey, an author whose popularity has not flagged since his first novel was published.
"Silvermane" is concerned with the efforts of two Mormon mustangers, brothers Lee and Cuth Stewart, to capture a wild stallion in the Sevier range country.
"Tappan's Burro," with the text restored from the author's handwritten manuscript, tells of the life of a desert prospector and his burro, Jenet. Tappan dreams of finding gold—and does. When he is pursued by claim jumpers, it is Jenet who guides him across the floor of Death Valley when it is beset by suffocating gales of nocturnal heat and gas.
"Ca├▒on Walls," also restored according to the author's holographic manuscript, is the story of outlaw Smoke Bellew, who enters a remote Mormon settlement only a jump ahead of a posse. Finding employment as a ranch hand working for a dowager Mormon, Smoke is able to make her ranch a financial success while simultaneously falling in love with her wanton daughter, Rebecca. But it is too good to last.
"From Missouri," its text restored as well, is a story about a schoolteacher from the East who is discouraged from coming to Arizona Territory by letters forged by three cowhands. But the mysterious Frank Owens' love letters convince her she must come anyway. When Jane Stacey does arrive, to the amazement of the three cowhands, she is not the middle-aged matron they had expected but a young and very attractive woman. However, the lecherous Beady Jones has his own idea of how the new schoolmarm should be introduced to the West.