A word from Louis L'Amour:
"Almost forty years ago, when my fiction was being published exclusively in 'pulp' western magazines, I wrote several novel-length stories, which my editors called 'magazine novels'. In creating them, I became so involved with my characters that their lives were still as much a part of me as I was of them long after the issues in which they appeared became collector's items. Pleased as I was about how I brought the characters and their adventures to life in the pages of the magazines, I still wanted the reader to know more about my people and why they did what they did.
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September 01, 2006
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Excerpt from The Trail to Crazy Man by Louis L'Amour
IN THE DANK, odorous forecastle, a big man with wide shoulders sat at a scarred mess table, his feet spread to brace himself against the roll of the ship. A brass hurricane lantern, its light turned low, swung from a beam overhead, and in the vague light the big man studied a worn and sweat-stained chart.
There was no sound in the forecastle but the distant rustle of the bow wash about the hull, the lazy creak of the square-rigger's timbers, a few snores from sleeping men, and the hoarse, rasping breath of a man who was dying in the lower bunk.
The big man who bent over the chart wore a slipover jersey with alternate red and white stripes, a broad leather belt and a brass buckle, and coarse jeans. On his feet were woven leather sandals of soft, much-oiled leather. His hair was shaggy and uncut, but he was clean-shaven except for a mustache and burnsides.
The chart he studied showed the coast of northern California. He marked a point on it with the tip of his knife and then checked the time with a heavy gold watch. After a swift calculation, he folded the chart and replaced it in an oilskin packet with other papers and tucked the packet under his jersey, above his belt.
Rising, he stood for an instant, canting to the roll of the ship, staring down at the white-haired man in the lower bunk. There was that about the big man to make him stand out in any crowd. He was a man born to command, not only because of his splendid physique and the strength of his character, but because of his personality.
He knelt beside the bunk and touched the dying man's wrist. The pulse was feeble. Rafe Caradec crouched there, waiting, watching, thinking.
In a few hours at most, possibly even in a few minutes, this man would die. In the long year at sea his health had broken down under forced labor and constant beatings, and this last one had broken him up internally. When Charles Rodney was dead he, Rafe Caradec, would do what he must.