Dal and Mac Traven fought on opposite sides of the Civil War but rode home together to start rebuilding the family ranch. Instead, they discovered the chilling aftermath of a guerrilla rampage of terror. It was said no force in Texas could stop these raiders one their bloody path to Mexico. But now the raiders had the Travens' sister and Dal's girlfriend, Kate Connery, held captive. Now they had the Travens on their trail and even though it would be just Mac and Dal and their brother Jesse and Uncle Jack against thirty killers, the Travens would keep on coming. For as Kate Connery kept telling the other women hostages, "The Travens will never stop until we are free or they are dead." From the Paperback edition.
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September 01, 1982
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Excerpt from The Shadow Riders by Louis L'Amour
Hunching his shoulders against the cold, pelting rain, Major Mac Traven slipped a hand under his caped coat to assure himself his spare pistol remained in position. A sudden gust of wind rattled rain upon his campaign hat and spattered his face and hands.
Desperately tired and carrying the gnawing hunger from three missed meals, he glanced back along the road at the scattered travellers.
They were an army no longer; like himself they were just tired men returning to homes left long ago. Once they had marched with the proud steps of men with a mission to be accomplished; now they plodded wearily, heads down against the rain, thinking only of home.
Under the bare black trees water gathered in pools like mirrors of steel as the rain fell from the sullen sky. Somewhere ahead was a town, if such it could be called, a dismal place by all accounts, but it held the promise of a hot meal and grain for his horse. More he could not expect, yet there might be a letter.
"Watch yourself," he had been warned. "All but the Swede are a pack of thieves. They will steal anything they can put their hands on and murder you if need be."
It was late afternoon when Mac rode into the town's one street, a muddy, rutted alleyway between two rows of nondescript shacks, sodden with rain. Dimly, at the end of the street and through a veil of rain, he glimpsed the river and a steamboat landing.
Here and there a horse was tied to hitching-rails or awning posts. Some of the horses he recognized as those of other soldiers returning from the War.
He turned aside at the log barn that had been described to him and rode around it to the wide open door and the pole corral. He was stepping down from the saddle when a big man with yellow hair appeared in the barn door.
"Come." The big man motioned him into the barn. "Who told you of me "
"A steamboat pilot at Helena, on the Mississippi. He said you were the only honest man in town."
The big Swede did not smile. "There is one other," he spoke with only a slight accent. "How long you stay "
"Two-bits, then. You can sleep in the hay."
"Isn't there somewhere I can find a bed "
"A bed with bugs, yes. A bed where you will be robbed. It is no good, those beds."
"I was told there might be mail "
Mac Traven was as tall as the Swede, although not as heavy. He led his horse to a stall and forked some hay into the manger.