Bud Miles was a boy when he crossed the Mississippi. But Bud buried his father after an Indian attack, and as the wagon train pushed on through Sioux country, the boy stood as tall as any man ... Tell Sackett killed cougars at fourteen and fought a war at fifteen. Now Tell was hauling dangerous freight--a soldier's wife and a fortune in gold--knowing that someone wanted him dead ... Laurie Bonnet was a mail-order bride who thought she was a failure on the frontier. But when the chips were down, she was the only one who could save her husband's life ... In these marvelous stories of the West, Louis L'Amour tells of travelers, gunfighters, homesteaders, and adventurers: men and women making hard and sudden choices and fighting battles that could cut a person's life short--or open up a bold new future on the American frontier.
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August 29, 2005
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Excerpt from War Party by Louis L'Amour
TRAP OF GOLD
WETHERTON HAD BEEN three months out of Horsehead before he found his first color. At first it was a few scattered grains taken from the base of an alluvial fan where millions of tons of sand and silt had washed down from a chain of rugged peaks; yet the gold was ragged under the magnifying glass.
Gold that has carried any distance becomes worn and polished by the abrasive action of the accompanying rocks and sand, so this could not have been carried far. With caution born of harsh experience he seated himself and lighted his pipe, yet excitement was strong within him.
A contemplative man by nature, experience had taught him how a man may be deluded by hope, yet all his instincts told him the source of the gold was somewhere on the mountain above. It could have come down the wash that skirted the base of the mountain, but the ragged condition of the gold made that improbable.
The base of the fan was a half-mile across and hundreds of feet thick, built of silt and sand washed down by centuries of erosion among the higher peaks. The point of the wide V of the fan lay between two towering upthrusts of granite, but from where Wetherton sat he could see that the actual source of the fan lay much higher.
Wetherton made camp near a tiny spring west of the fan, then picketed his burros and began his climb. When he was well over two thousand feet higher he stopped, resting again, and while resting he dry-panned some of the silt. Surprisingly, there were more than a few grains of gold even in that first pan, so he continued his climb, and passed at last between the towering portals of the granite columns.
Above this natural gate were three smaller alluvial fans that joined at the gate to pour into the greater fan below. Dry-panning two of these brought no results, but the third, even by the relatively poor method of dry-panning, showed a dozen colors, all of good size.
The head of this fan lay in a gigantic crack in a granitic upthrust that resembled a fantastic ruin. Pausing to catch his breath, his gaze wandered along the base of this upthrust, and right before him the crumbling granite was slashed with a vein of quartz that was literally laced with gold!
Struggling nearer through the loose sand, his heart pounding more from excitement than from altitude and exertion, he came to an abrupt stop. The band of quartz was six feet wide and that six feet was cobwebbed with gold.