Filled with exciting tales of the frontier, the chronicle of the Sackett family is perhaps the crowning achievement of one of our greatest storytellers.In Ride the River Louis L'Amour spins the tale of a young woman who has to protect her family fortune from a murderous thief - and teaches him what it means to be a Sackett....Sixteen-year-old Echo Sackett had never been far from her Tennessee home - until she made the long trek to Philadelphia to collect an inheritance. Echo could take care of herself as well as any Sackett man, but James White, a sharp city lawyer, figured that cheating the money from the young country girl would be like taking candy from a baby.
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December 31, 1965
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Excerpt from Ride the River by Louis L'Amour
WHEN DAYLIGHT CRESTED Siler's Bald, I taken up my carpetbag and rifle and followed the Middle Prong toward Tuckalucky Cove. "Echo," Ma said, "if you be goin' to the Settlements you better lay down that rifle-gun an' set up a few nights with a needle.
"You take them Godey's Lady's Books the pack-peddler left with us and give them study. City folks dress a sight different than we-uns and you don't want to shame yourself."
There was money coming to us and I was to go fetch it home. Pa had wore hisself out scratchin' a livin' from a side-hill farm, and a few months back he give up the fight and "went west," as the sayin' was. We buried him yonder where the big oak stands and marked his place with letterin' on a stone.
The boys were trappin' beaver in the Shining Mountains far to the westward and there was nobody t' home but Regal an' me, and Regal was laid up. He'd had a mite of a set-to with a cross bear who didn't recognize him for a Sackett. There'd been a sight of jawin' an' clawin' before Regal stretched him out, Regal usin' what he had to hand, a knife and a double-bit ax. Trouble was Regal got himself chawed and clawed in the doin' of it and was in no shape for travel.
Me, I'd been huntin' meat for the table since I was shorter than the rifle I carried and the last few years I'd killed so much I was sellin' meat to the butcher. No sooner did I get a mite of money more'n what was needed than I began dreamin' over the fancy fixin's in Godey's fashion magazine.
When a girl gets to be sixteen, it's time she set her cap for a man but I'd yet to see one for whom I'd fetch an' carry. Like any girl, I'd done a sight of dreamin', but not about the boys along Fightin' Creek or the Middle Prong. My dreams were of somethin' far off an' fancy. Part of that was due to Regal.
Regal was my uncle, a brother to Pa, and when he was a boy he'd gone off a-yonderin' along the mountains to the Settlements. We had kinfolk down to Charleston and he visited there before continuing on his way. He told me of folks he met there, of their clothes, the homes they lived in, the theayters they went to an' the fancy food.
Regal had been out among 'em in his time an' I suspect he'd cut some fancy didoes wherever he went. Regal was tall, stronger than three bulls, and quick with a smile that made a girl tingle to her toes. Many of them told me that very thing, and although many a girl set her cap for Regal, he was sly to all their ways and wary of traps. Oh, he had a way with him, Regal did!
"Don't you be in no hurry," he advised me. "You're cute as a button and you've got a nice shape. You're enough to start any man a-wonderin' where his summer wages went.
"You hold your horses. No need to marry up with somebody just because the other girls are doin' it. I've been yonder where folks live different and there's a better way than to spend your years churnin' milk an' hoeing corn. But one word of caution: don't you be lettin' the boys know how good you can shoot. Not many men would like to be bested by a spit of a girl not five feet tall!"
"I'm five-feet-two!" I protested.
"You mind what I say. When you get down to the Settlements, you mind your P's an' Q's. When a man talks to a girl, he's not as honest as he might be, although at the time he half-believes it all himself. There's times a man will promise a girl anything an' forget his promises before the hour's up.