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From the cover
WE SHAPED THE LAND WITH OUR GUNS
WE MOVED INTO the place on South Fork just before the snow went off. We had a hundred head of cattle gathered from the canyons along the Goodnight Trail, stray stuff from cattle outfits moving north. Most of these cattle had been back in the breaks for a couple of years and rounding them up was man-killing labor, but we slapped our iron on them and headed west.
Grass was showing green through the snow when we got there and the cattle made themselves right at home. Mountains to the east and north formed the base of a triangle of which the sides were shaped by creeks and the apex by the junction of those creeks. It was a good four miles from that apex to the spot we chose for our home place, so we had all natural boundaries with good grass and water. There were trees enough for fuel and shade.
The first two weeks we worked fourteen hours a day building a cabin, cleaning out springs and throwing up a stable, pole corrals, and a smokehouse. We had brought supplies with us and we pieced them out with what game we could shoot. By the time we had our building done, our stock had decided they were home and were fattening up in fine shape.
We had been riding together for more than six months, which isn't long to know a man you go partners with. Tap Henry was a shade over thirty while I had just turned twenty-two when we hit the South Fork. We had met working for the Gadsen outfit, which took me on just west of Mobeetie while Tap joined up a ways farther north. Both of us were a mite touchy but we hit it off right from the start.
TAP HENRY SHOWED me the kind of man he was before we had been together three days. Some no-account riders had braced us to cut the herd, and their papers didn't look good to me nor to Tap. We were riding point when these fellers came up, and Tap didn't wait for the boss. He just told them it was tough, but they weren't cutting this herd. That led to words and one of these guys reached. Tap downed him and that was that.
He was a pusher, Tap was. When trouble showed up he didn't sidestep or wait for it. He walked right into the middle and kept crowding until the trouble either backed down or came through. Tall and straight standing, he was a fine, upright sort of man except for maybe a mite of hardness around the eyes and mouth.
My home country was the Big Bend of Texas but most of my life had been lived south of the border. After I was sixteen the climate sort of agreed with me better. Tap drifted toward me one night when we were riding herd up in Wyoming.
"Rye," he said, that being a nickname for Ryan Tyler, "an hombre could go down in those breaks along the Goodnight Trail and sweep together a nice herd. Every outfit that ever come over this trail has lost stock, and lots of it is still back there."
"Uh-huh," I said, "and I know just the right spot for a ranch. Good grass, plenty of water and game." Then I told him about this place under the Pelado and he liked the sound of it. Whether he had any reason for liking an out-of-the-way place, I don't know. Me, I had plenty of reason, but I knew going back there might lead to trouble.
Two men can work together a long time without really knowing much about one another, and that was the way with me and Tap. We'd been in a couple of Comanche fights together and one with a Sioux war party. We worked together, both of us top hands and neither of us a shirker, and after a while we got a sort of mutual respect, although nobody could say we really liked each other.
Our first month was just ending when Jim Lucas showed up. We had been expecting him because we had seen a lot of Bar L...
About the Author-
- Louis L'Amour, truly America's favorite storyteller, was the first fiction writer ever to receive the Congressional Gold Medal from the United States Congress in honor of his life's work, and was also awarded the Medal of Freedom. There are more than 265 million copies of his books in print worldwide.
PublisherPenguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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