Chantry came home to a murdered brother and a couple of squatters. Then the Mowatt gang moved in. They were looking for his brother's buried treasure. Chantry was going to lead them to it. Or else.
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May 29, 1985
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Excerpt from Over on the Dry Side by Louis L'Amour
ALL THAT SPRING, I was scared. Why Pa ever took a notion to stop on that old Chantry place I never did know. Maybe it was because he was just tired and wishful of stopping someplace ' anyplace.
There'd been a dead man on the steps by the door when we drove up. He'd been a long time dead, and nobody around to bury him, and I was scared.
The cabin was strong. It was built mighty solid like whoever had shaped it up and put it together had planned to stay. That was before the Indians come.
There was nobody inside and the place was all tore up ' of course. It had been vacant for weeks, prob'ly. Maybe even months. That man had been dead a long time.
There wasn't much left but torn skin, dried out like old leather, and bones. His clothes was some tore up and all bloody.
Pa, he stood there looking down at him a long time. "Don't seem logical," he said, at last.
"What's that, Pa "
"Indians most usually take a body's clothes. They ain't taken nothin' from him."
"His pockets is inside out."
"I was seein' that, boy. It do make a body think." He turned. "Boy, you run out to the wagon an' git my shovel. We got a buryin' to see to."
He stepped around the body and pushed wide the cabin door. That door had been half-open, and Pa looked in like he feared what he might see, but like I said, there wasn't nothin' to fear.
When I come in later I saw just what he saw. A bed with two sides nailed to the outside wall, a table, two chairs ' all mighty well made by a man with lovin' hands for wood.
Pa always said you could tell a man who loved wood by the way things were fitted and dressed, nothing halfway, but smooth and nicely done. Pa couldn't do that sort of work himself, but he had admiration for it, and it made me feel like working at it until I was good. If fine work impressed Pa so much there must be something to it.
"I never had no craft, boy. I worked hard all my life but never had no craft. Just a few slights I picked up handling heavy things and the like. I do admire a man who does fine work. It is a pleasure to look upon."
We taken that dead man out to the hill back of the house and we dug us a grave. When we'd dug it down, we laid that body in a blanket, covered it around him sweet an' neat, and then we lowered him easy into the ground and Pa said a few words from the Book.
I never did know how Pa come to so much knowing of the Book, because I never did see him reading much in it.
We filled in the grave an' Pa said, "Come tomorrow we'll make him a marker."
"How'll you know what to say We ain't sure who he is."
"No, we ain't. But they do call this the Chantry place, so I reckon his name must be that." Pa stopped there, leaning on his shovel, like.
"What'll we do now, Pa It's late to be startin' on."
"This here's it, son. This place here. We ain't goin' no further. You know, son, I ain't been much of a success in my time. Fire burned me out back to home, and we lost everything. In Missouri the grasshoppers et it all up, and in Kansas it was hail. But you know, I never was much hand at pickin' land.