No one brings to life the Old West like Louis L'Amour. Collected here for the first time, these vintage frontier stories introduce you to lawmen and loners, ranchers and renegades, gunslingers, cardsharps, bank robbers, etc. In these pages L'Amour brings to life such classic characters as the Cactus Kid, Tensleep Mooney, One-Eared Tim, and the gunfighter Kim Sartain. These are frontier tales as only L'Amour can tell them--stories that surprise like the sharp crack of a Winchester and move like the lonely howl of the wind across an empty plain on the long ride home.
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February 28, 2005
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Excerpt from Long Ride Home by Louis L'Amour
FOUR PEOPLE, TWO women and two men, boarded the San Francisco boat in company with the Cactus Kid. Knight's Landing was a freight landing rather than a passenger stop, and the five had been drawn together while waiting on the dock.
Mr. Harper, pompous in black broadcloth, wore muttonchop whiskers and prominent mustache. Ronald Starrett, younger and immaculate in dark suit and hat, looked with disdain at the Kid's wide white hat, neat gray suit and high-heeled boots.
The Kid carried a carpetbag that never left his hands, a fact duly noted by both men and one of the women. The Kid, more at home aboard the hurricane deck of a bronc than on a river steamer, had good reason for care. He was taking fifteen thousand dollars, the final payment on the Walking YY, from his boss, Jim. Wise, to old MacIntosh.
"What time does this boat get in " the Kid asked of Harper.
"Around midnight," Harper said. "If you haven't a hotel in mind, I'd suggest the Palace."
"If you go there," Starrett added, "stay out of the Cinch Room or you'll lose everything you have."
"Thanks," the Cactus Kid responded dryly.
Five feet seven inches in his sock feet, and a compact one hundred and fifty-five, the Kid, with his shock of curly hair and a smile women thought charming, was usually taken to be younger and softer than he was.
On the Walking YY and in its vicinity the Kid was a living legend, and the only person in his home country who did not tremble at the Kid's step was Jenny Simms or if she did, it was in another sense.
"It's a positive shame!" the older woman burst out. "A young man like you, so nice looking and all, going to that awful town! You be careful of your company, young man!"
Nesselrode Clay, otherwise the Cactus Kid, flushed deeply. "I reckon I will, ma'am. I'll be in town only a few hours on business. I want to get back to the ranch."
Harper glanced thoughtfully at the carpetbag and Starrett's eyes followed. The younger woman, obviously, a proud young lady, indulged in no idle conversation. Miss Lily Carfather was going to San Francisco with her aunt, somebody had said.
"It looks like a dull trip," Starrett's voice was casual. "Would anybody care for a quiet game of cards "
Mr. Harper glanced up abruptly, taking in the young man with a suspicious, measuring eye. "Never play with strangers," he replied brusquely.
"I think," Lily Carfather said icily, "gambling is abominable!"
"On the contrary," Starrett defended, "it is a perfectly honorable pastime when played by gentlemen, and we are gentlemen here."
He drew out a deck of cards, broke the seal and shuffled the cards without skill. The Cactus Kid considered Ronald Starrett more carefully.
Harper glanced at his watch. "Well," he mumbled, "there is a good bit of time. A little poker, you said " He glanced at the Kid who shrugged and moved to the table.
"If," Starrett glanced at the women, "you'd care to join us Please don't think me bold but a friendly game For small stakes "
Lily Carfather dropped her eyes. "Well " she hesitated.