In this exciting collection of short stories, Louis L’Amour, the legendary voice of the American West, celebrates the unique breed of men who worked the great cattle ranches. Men like Dan Regan, who refused to surrender when trouble came . . .
Con Fargo, who would fight for what was his—despite the odds . . .
Rowdy Horn, a small-time rancher with big-time dreams . . .
Tandy Thayer, too loyal to forget a friend . . .
Bill Carey, who might have fallen low, but not low enough to let the likes of Tabat Ryerson ride off with a woman like Jane Conway . . . and in the classic title story, Danny Lonigan, a hard rider who faced a group of rustlers without fear—or mercy.
About the Author
Our foremost storyteller of the American West, Louis L’Amour has thrilled a nation by chronicling the adventures of the brave men and woman who settled the frontier. There are more than three hundred million copies of his books in print around the world.
Date of Birth:March 22, 1908
Date of Death:June 10, 1988
Place of Birth:Jamestown, North Dakota
Read an Excerpt
HEAT LAY LIKE the devil’s curse upon the slow-moving herd, and dust clouded above and around them. The eyes of the cattle were glazed, and the grass beneath their feet was brown and without vigor or life-giving nourishment.
The sun was lost in a brassy sky, and when Calkins knelt and put his palm to the ground the earth was almost too hot to touch. He got slowly to his feet, his face unnaturally old with the gray film of dust and the stubble of beard on his jaws.
“You ask for the truth.” His voice was harsher than normal, and Ruth Gurney recognized it at once, and looked at him quickly, for as a child, she had known this man and had loved him like an uncle. “All right, you’ll get the truth. There’s no chance of you making money on this herd. Half your cows will die this side of Dodge. They’ll die of thirst and heat, and the rest won’t be worth the drive. You’re broke, ma’am.”
Her lips tightened and as the truth penetrated she was filled with desperation coupled with a feminine desire for tears. All along she had guessed as much, but one-and-all the hands had avoided telling her.
“But what’s the matter, Lon? The Circle G always made its drives before, and always made money. We’ve the same men, and the trail’s the same.”
“No.” He spoke flatly. “Nothin’s the same. The trail’s bad. It’s been a strikin’ dry year, and we got a late start. The other herds got the good grass, and trampled the rest into the dust. She’s hotter’n usual, too. And,” he added grimly, “we ain’t got the same men.”
“But we have, Lon!” Ruth protested.
“No.” He was old and stubborn. “We ain’t. We got one new one too many, and the one we should have ain’t here.”
Her lips tightened and her chin lifted. “You mean Hoey Ives. You don’t like him.”
“You should spit in the river, I don’t! Nor do the others. He’s plumb bad, ma’am, whether you believe it or not. He’s no-account. I’ll allow, he’s educated and slick talkin’, but he’s still an Ives, and a bigger pack of coyotes never drew breath.”
“And you think this—this Lonigan would make a difference? What can one man do against heat and dust and distance? What could he do to prevent storms and rustler raids?”
“I ain’t for knowing. If’n I did, mebbe this herd would get through in shape. But Lonigan would know, and Lonigan would take her through. Nor would he take any guff from Hoey Ives. I’ll tell you, ma’am, Hoey ain’t along for fun. He comes of a pack of outlaws, and education ain’t changed his breed none.”
“We won’t talk about Mr. Ives any further, Lon. Not one word. I have utmost confidence in him. When the drive is over I…I may marry him.”
Lon Calkins stared at her. “I’ll kill him first, or die shooting. Your pappy was a friend of mine. I’ll not see a daughter of his marry into that outfit.” Then he added, more calmly. “If’n that’s what you figure, Ruth, you better plan on hirin’ new hands when you get back to Texas.”
“Very well, then, that’s what I’ll do, Lon.” Her voice was even, but inside her words frightened her. “That’s just what I’ll do. I own the Circle G, and I’ll run it my way.”
CALKINS SAID NOTHING for a long minute, and then he mused. “I wonder sometimes if’n anybody does own a brand. The Circle G, ma’am, ain’t just a brand on some cows. It ain’t just some range in Texas. It’s more…much, much more.
“I ain’t much hand to talkin’ of things like that, but you remember when your pappy and us come west? The Comanches killed O’Brien and Kid Leslie on the Brazos. I reckon both of them were part of the Circle G, ma’am. And Tony, that lousy Italian grub hustler, the one who rolled under a chuck wagon down on the cowhouse. He was part of the Circle G, too.
“A brand ain’t just a sign on a critter, it’s the lives, and guts, and blood of all the men that went to build it, ma’am. You can’t get away from that, no way. The Circle G is your pappy standin’ over your mother when she died givin’ birth to you. The Circle G is all of that.
“Nobody owns a brand, ma’am, like I say; nobody. It’s a thing that hangs in the air over a ranch, over its cows, and over its men. You know why that kid Wilkeson got killed in Uvalde? An hombre there said this was a lousy outfit, and the kid reached for his gun. He died for the brand, ma’am, like a hundred good and bad men done afore this. And you want to wipe it out, destroy it, just because you got your mind set on a no-account coyote. I wish Lonigan was back.”
“Lonigan!” She burst out furiously. “All you talk about is Lonigan! Who is he? What is he? What difference can one man make?”
“Well,” Calkins said grimly, “your pappy made a sight of difference! If’n he was with this drive now, your fancy Hoey Ives would pack out of here so fast his dust would be big “ger’n that raised by the herd! Or if Lonigan was. Fact is,” he added grimly, “there ain’t nary a cowhand down there wouldn’t draw on Hoey tomorrow if’n he figured he had a chance. Hoey’s killed ten men, all better’n him except with a gun.”
“And yet you think Lonigan could beat him?” she asked wryly.
“Mebbe. I ain’t sure, but I am sure of one thing. If Lonigan died you can bet your boots Hoey Ives would die with him! You say,” he continued, “what difference can one man make? Well, he can make a sight of difference. Lonigan doesn’t talk so much; he’s a good worker, but he’s got something in him, something more’n most men. He ain’t so big, rightly he’s not, but he seems big, and he rode for the brand, Lonigan did. He loved the Circle G. Loved it like it was his own.”
“Then where is he now when we need him?” Ruth demanded bitterly. “This…this superman of yours. Where is he now? You say he never missed a trail drive, that he would drift off, but somehow like he knew the day and hour, he would show up and take his place with the herd. Where is he now?”
“Mebbe he’s dead.” Calkins was grim. “Wherever he is, he’s with the Circle G, and we’re with him.”
They looked up at the sound of hoofs, and Lon Calkins’s face tightened grimly. Abruptly, he reined his horse around. “I’ll be ridin’,” he said.
“You meant what you said about quitting?” she asked.
“If he stays,” Calkins insisted, “I go.”
“I’ll be sorry to lose you, Lon. The Circle G won’t be the same without you.”
His old eyes met hers and he stared at her. “Believe me, it won’t. Your father should have had a son.”
He rode away then, and she stared after him, her body feeling empty as an old sack. The approaching hoofs drew nearer and slowed, and her eyes turned with relief toward those of Hoey Ives.
He was a big young man with hard black eyes in which she had never seen the cruelty or calculation that lay in their depths. He rode magnificently and was a top hand. On this trip he had been her mainstay, ramrodding it through, talking to lift her spirits, advising her and helping her in countless ways. It was he who had selected the trail they took, he who had ridden out alone to meet the rustlers that would have stopped them, and who talked them out of trouble.
“What’s the matter with the old man?” he asked. “What’s he growling about now?”
“Oh, he was talking about the old days on the Circle G,” she said, “and about Lonigan.”
“Lonigan?” Hoey’s gaze sharpened, and for an instant she seemed to read apprehension in his eyes. “He hasn’t heard from him?”
“Nobody has. Yet he always made the drive.”
“He’s dead,” Ives replied. “He must be. I knew he always made the drive, and that was why I waited before offering my services. We never got along, you see.”
“What’s he like?” she asked curiously.
“Lonigan?” Ives hesitated, while his bay stamped its foot restlessly. “He’s a killer. Utterly vicious.”
“But the boys liked him,” Ruth protested.
“Sure. He was their pride and joy,” Ives said bitterly. “He led the Circle G parade. No man, not even your father, had as much influence with the hands. He was loudmouthed and a braggart, but he appealed to them, and they found excuses for his killings.”
“Yet he must have something…?”
“Yes,” Hoey Ives nodded reluctantly. “He had that. There was something about him, something that frightened men who didn’t even know him.”…
Ives rejoined the herd, and Ruth Gurney rode on, lingering along the hillcrests away from the dust, watching the herd that meant everything to her. The sale of that herd could mean the ranch was out of debt, that it was hers, all hers. Yet she knew that what Calkins had said was true, bitterly true. Not half the herd would live to see Dodge, and she would be broke then, broke and finished.
She turned her horse and put him on up the slope to the very top of the long, low hill that ran beside the trail. On top there might be more breeze. And there was, although but little more. Yet she sat her horse there, looking over the brown, trampled-down grass that stretched on beyond it. There, too, the herds had been. The earlier herds that had started sooner.
The failure of Lonigan to appear had caused most of that delay. All along she had realized why Calkins was waiting, why the hands kept looking toward the trail, why they found excuses to ride into town, why they intercepted every drifting horseman to ask about him, but for the first time he had not appeared.
She pushed on across the ridge, riding due west. The sun was already far down toward the horizon but it was still unbearably hot. Heat waves danced and rippled against the sky along the ridges, and she slowed her horse to a walk and pushed on alone, lost now from the herd, with only the rising dust to mark its presence.
Half asleep, lulled by the heat and the even rhythm of the walking horse, she dozed in the saddle, and then the horse stopped and coolness touched her face. She was atop another ridge, and far toward the west she seemed to see a thin edge of green, and then her eyes dropped and she saw the tracks of a horse. The horse was shod and the tracks were fresh.
Without doubt the tracks were no more than an hour old, two hours at most. In that time the herd had moved less than three miles, so its dust cloud would have been within sight. Why had the strange rider avoided them?
His horse had stopped here on this ridge, and from the tracks he must have watched the dust cloud. It was unusual for a rider to be so close and not to approach the herd. Unless—she frowned and bit her lip—unless he was an outlaw.
She realized instantly that she should ride to the herd and let Calkins know. Rather, let Hoey Ives know. It might be another raid, and rustlers had already hit them for over three hundred head of stock. Nevertheless, her curiosity aroused, she turned her horse and started backtracking the man.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Another awesome book by Louis Lamour, and one of my favorites
At the beginning of ¿Lonigan¿ the Circle G ranch is without the main member of the crew, Lonigan. The Circle G ranch is moving their cattle to ¿This side of Dodge City.¿ The grass is getting scarce as the cattle drive nears the middle of its journey, when the owner of the Circle G, Ruth Gurney, runs on to a set of mysterious tracks. She starts following them, and she finds a man is in front of the tracks. It now is too dark to go back to the herd again, so the stranger persuades her to go to a cabin down the canyon. At the cabin they find four people who are acting like cattle rustlers. The next day Ruth and the stranger go back to the herd to find that more cattle have been stolen. All of the other cattle hands recognize the stranger when he and Ruth show up at camp. It is the long lost Danny Lonigan. Lonigan then helps Ruth get the cattle safely to market. Louis L¿Amour really does an outstanding job when writing ¿Lonigan.¿ He has a way of making a few select characters stay in readers¿ minds even after they¿ve read the book. He accomplishes this by describing the charters in such detail that the reader can actually vividly visualize the character. He also does a great job of putting readers in the mood by adding great detail to every scene. He also describes the soundings so that readers feel like they are in the country themselves. If someone like western books he/she is sure to enjoy this book.
As always, very good. L'Amour is one of the best!