Milo Talon knew the land, and the good men from the bad. He had ridden the Outlaw Trail and could find out things others couldn't, and that's why a rich man named Jefferson Henry hired Milo to hunt down a missing girl. But from the moment Milo began his search he knew something wasn't right. Three people had already died, an innocent woman was on the run, and a once sleepy town was getting crowded with killers and hired guns. Suddenly Milo Talon realized that there were still things he had to learn--to beat out a breed who kept secrets, told lies, and forced an honest man to learn the truth behind the barrel of a gun.
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December 31, 1980
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Excerpt from Milo Talon by Louis L'Amour
THE PRIVATE CAR stood alone on a railroad siding bathed in the hot red blood of a desert sunset. Stepping down from the saddle, I tied my horse to the hitching rail, glanced again at the obvious opulence of the car, and took off my chaps and spurs, hanging them from the saddle-horn.
"Don't fret," I told my horse. "I'll not be long."
With a whip or two of my hat to brush the worst of the dust from my clothes, I crossed to the car and swung aboard. I paused an instant, then opened the door and stepped into the observation room. All was satinwood and vermilion.
A table, a carafe of wine, and glasses. A black man wearing a white coat stepped from the passage along the side. "Yes, sir?"
"I am Milo Talon."
"A moment, sir."
He vanished and I stood alone. There was a distant murmur of voices and the black man returned. "This way, sir? If you please?"
The passage led past the doors of two staterooms to the salon which doubled as a dining room. The room was comfortable but ornate with heavily tassled and fringed draperies, velvet portieres, and thick wall-to-wall carpets.
Hat in hand I waited, catching a glimpse of myself in the narrow mirrors between the windows. For a moment I was seeing what others might see: a lean, dark young man in a wine-colored shirt, black tie, black coat, and gray pinstriped trousers. Under the coat a gun-belt and a Colt.
The office compartment into which I was shown was small but beautifully appointed, and the man behind the desk fitted the picture. He was square-shouldered and square-jawed, a man accustomed to command. He might have been sixty or more but seemed younger. His mustache and hair were black with scarcely a hint of gray. He wore a black, beautifully tailored suit. His manners, I felt, were as neatly tailored as his clothing. He gestured to a chair, then opened a box of expensive cigars and offered it to me.
"No, sir. Thank you, sir."
"Sit down, won't you?"
"I'll stand, sir."
The jaws tightened a little; a short-tempered man, I thought, who does not like to be thwarted in even the smallest thing.
"I am Jefferson Henry," he said.
"And I am Milo Talon. You wished to see me?"
"I wish to employ you."
"If I like the job."
"I will pay well. Very well."
"If I like the job."
The skin around his eyes seemed to tighten. "You're damned independent!"
"Yes, sir. Shall we get on with it, sir? What led you to me?"