A TROUBLED TOWN, A DEADLY SECRET
“You’re not wanted in Hattan’s Point,” Matt Brennan was told moments after arriving in town. “There’s trouble here and men are picking sides.” But Matt decided he wasn’t going anywhere. Not until he found out what the dispute was about, and not before he got to know Moira Maclaren. She considered him nothing more than a drifting ranch hand, but Matt was determined to prove her wrong. To do so, he’d have to solve a mystery that was at the center of the growing violence in Hattan’s Point–a secret that could make a man rich . . . or dead. Probably dead.
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December 31, 1955
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Excerpt from Silver Canyon by Louis L'Amour
I RODE DOWN from the high blue hills and across the brush flats into Hattan's Point, a raw bit of spawning hell scattered hit or miss along the rocky slope of a rust-topped mesa.
This was the country for a man, a big country to grow in, a country where every man stood on his own feet and the wealth of a new land was his for the taking.
Ah, it's a grand feeling to be young and tough, with a heart full of hell, strong muscles, and quick hands! And the feeling that somewhere in the town ahead there's a man who would like to cut you down to size with hands or gun.
It was like that, Hattan's Point was, when I swung down from my buckskin. A new town, a new challenge; and if there were those who wished to try my hand, let them come and be damned.
I knew the raw whiskey of this town would be the raw whiskey of the last. But I shoved open the batwing doors and walked to the bar and took my glass of rye and downed it, then looked around to measure the men at the bar and the tables.
None of them were men whom I knew, yet I had seen their likes in a dozen towns back along the dusty trails I'd been riding since boyhood.
The big, hard-eyed rancher with the iron-gray hair, who thought he was the cock of the walk, and the lean, keen-faced man at his side with the careful eyes, who would be gun-slick and fast as a striking snake.
And there were the others there, men of the western melting pot, all of them looking for the pot of gold, and each of them probably a man to be reckoned with, and no one of them ready to admit himself second best to any. And me among them.
I remembered then what my old dad told me, back in the hills where I ate my first corn pone. "See it, lad. Live it. There'll never be its like again, not in our time nor any other."
He'd been west, he'd seen it growing out of the days of Bridges and Carson, seen the days of fur change to the day of buffalo, and finally to the day of beef cattle. He sent me west in my 'teens and told me I'd have to walk tall and cut a wide swath.
The big man with the iron-gray hair turned to me as a great brown bear turns to look at a squirrel.
"Who sent for you "
There was harsh challenge in the words. The cold demand of a conqueror, and I laughed inside me. His voice lifted me to recklessness, for it was here, the old pattern I'd seen before, in other towns, far back down the trail.