Authors: Louis L'amour
West Of Dodge
Louis L'amour, America's Favorite Storyteller, Has Created A Portrait Of Our Heritage That Will
Live Forever. His Canvas Is As Vast And Magnificent As The Western Frontier, And The Colors Of Iiis Palette Are The Stuff Of Legend--From Purple Sage To Gambler's gold, from the flash of a senorita's smile in a saloon to a splash of blood in the dust. West of Dodge presents fourteen newly discovered tales unavailable in any other form--a sweeping saga of the Old West as only Louis L'Amour can tell it.
West of Dodge captures the fierce passion, the bold dreams, the brutal realities of the men and women who sought their destinies across a uniquely American landscape. Here a young cowpuncher stakes a claim to his own piece of the West... A deal that can only be sealed with fists and a .44 Colt. A gunfighter, tired of violence, seeks a haven of peace and honest work... Only to be pushed down a trail of bloody revenge. A reckless cow-country bank robber and a leather-tough Texas Ranger square off in a battle of wits and wills that can only end when one man lies in his grave.
Here, too, in stories with a distinctive L'Amour twist, a quiet, unassuming farmer defends his honor in a blinding moment of pure panic and luck... Only to find true courage on the run from the dead man's vengeful brothers. A misunderstood young drifter defends the honor of a lady... And finds himself the quarry of a relentless posse that wants to hang him high. An aging marshal who always used his head--and his reputation as a crack shot-- to avoid trouble fears he may have to draw his gun for real when a stranger who knows his secret comes to town.
These are stories of unremitting suspense and unforgettable drama, tales of the West told with unflinching honesty and absolute historical authenticity--a truth that goes straight to the heart of our illustrious past. Louis L'Amour is a master storyteller and in West of Dodge he evokes the simple virtues and rugged individualism, the struggles of the law-abiding against the lawless, that have always been the essence of the indomitable American spirit.
Contents Introduction Beyond the Chaparral A Husband For Janey West of Dodge The Passing of Rope Nose To Make A Stand That Man from the Bitter Sands Let the Cards Decide Riches Beyond Dream West of Dry Creek Marshal of Canyon Gap Home Is the Hunter Rain on the Half moon Stage to Willowspring To Hang Me High
or the past couple of years I have been working on a w--' biography of my father. It is a long and complicated process; he left behind no single document that explains the where or when of his life, let alone the reasons why he did many of the amazing things that he did. What little correspondence he was able to save over the years-paints one picture. His personal journals, many of which were lost or not kept up on a regular basis, fill in some other areas. The writing he did in Yondering and Education of a Wandering Man I have found to be very useful but slightly slanted in the direction of whatever message he was trying to deliver at the moment.
I have tried to get as close to the story that I will be telling as is feasible. I have also tried to remain objective: Dad was fifty-three when I was born; when he was in his twenties he was a different--sometimes almost unrecognizable--character. The world that he lived in, the world that formed him, was a different--almost unrecognizable--world.
So far, I have traveled the trail that he followed when he was forced to walk out of the Mojave Desert. I've searched out the houses, hotel rooms, boardinghouses, auto courts, lumber piles, and hobo jungles where Louis slept as a youth. I've talked my way through the security gates that now seal the waterfronts and rail yards. I've turned off the interstate and driven miles on the forgotten dirt roads that our nation had instead of highways seventy years ago. I have followed the winding route that my grandparents, my father, and his adopted brother traveled between 1923 and 1931, when they packed their last possessions in an old touring car and set out across the American West on a fruitless search for a better life.
One of the first steps in getting a handle on this project was going through every single thing my father left behind and examining each one carefully for clues. After he died I had spent quite a few weeks sorting out all of the stuff he left behind. That process had simply amounted to packing everything away in boxes labeled with one of five or six different categories, like "Fan Mail," "Pieces of Manuscripts," "Film and TV Treatments." Now I had to go back to those boxes and sort through everything page by page. It was sort of like being an archeologist digging a hole in the ground with a spoon and a toothbrush.
I found a tiny yellowed date book from 1924 that briefly documented the period when he became separated from his parents and walked and hitchhiked across New Mexico and Arizona trying to find them. Stuffed in the back of one of his 1960s-vintage journals were six pages that covered a different time period, about two weeks in June and July of 1936 when he was working as a mercenary fighting bandits and the Japanese in Shansi Province, China.
To find treasures such as these and many others, I have gone through Louis's papers carefully, examining everything I have in my possession. I've made it a point to read through every manuscript, notebook, letter, and file that he left behind, no matter how far afield the subject seemed to be. That is how I happened to find this collection of stories.
I'd finished months of checking old documents page by page and was starting to go through his other belongings, long disused briefcases, camping gear, anything that might give me a clue--like the name of a bookstore in Portland, Oregon, stamped on the inside cover of a book along with, miracle of miracles, the date. In one closet in Dad's office I found a treasure trove of artifacts that I myself had stashed there years earlier when cleaning up the office after he died. A ceremonial shield from New Guinea, a marvelous machete in a sheath of carved wood that Louis had taken from an Indonesian pirate, and several boxes of old carbon paper. The writing on the boxes was in German, and I now know through examining his journals from the World War II period that he "liberated" this carbon paper from an office in a German aluminum factory where he was quartered near the end of the war. I was methodically going through everything, so I opened the first box to find it still half full of disintegrating fifty-year-old carbons. The second box, how-. ever, seemed to contain blank typing paper. I was about to put it down when I saw the rusty outline of a paperclip on the top sheet. It wasn't old unused paper. . . . The box was full of short stories that had been dropped in facedown. And as I looked through them I realized that they weren't like the stories in most of the other L'Amour collections, old stories that had been published in the pulp magazines at one time or another--these were stories I didn't recognize, they were stories that had never been published before!
As I read them over carefully I began to put together the mystery of how they had come to be there. I'm guessing, but the story makes the most sense if it unfolds thus: In the 1950s the fiction magazine business was dying out, replaced by paperback books and television. Luckily for Louis, he was able to break into writing paperback originals in the mid-fifties, but there was a period of transition, a time when, although he was beginning to have some luck with the novels, he was still trying to sell short stories in a dying market. The majority of these newly discovered stories are a little less violent (several make it a point to avoid the typical kill-all-the-bad-guys-in-a-final-shootout ending), more character oriented, and have less lurid titles. This suggests to me that he was aiming more toward the slick-magazine market (like The Saturday Evening Post) than the rapidly failing pulps. He'd had some success in this area ("The Burning Hills" was first seen as a Post serial), but the slick market was becoming more and more crowded with ex-pulp authors and was publishing a good deal less fiction itself, and so my theory is these stories were never sold.
What all this means to you is that what we have here is a collection of Louis L'Amour's western short stories that have never before been published. They are stories of higher quality than we have been able to release in quite a few years both because they were aimed at the more literary slicks and because they were written at the end of Louis's career in short stories and so were created by a writer at the top of his form.
I found enough new stories for two or three collections. Following West of Dodge, the next book or books (due out in spring 1997) will contain a group of fine western short stories and novellas that were the genesis of some of Dad's novels, like Tucker and Kiowa Trail. These are not stories like the ones that we published in the previous collections, The Rider of the Ruby Hills and Trail to Crazy Man, where the novel version was an almost identical story, only longer. These new stories are obviously experiments with the plots and themes that later became novels, but the story lines are quite different--in some cases better than the later novels.
The other group of stories that I found in that dusty box was the most exciting group for me. It was several adventure stories, but not in the comic book style of "Night over the Solomons" or "West of Singapore." Some of these stories are more or less dramatized accounts of adventures from Louis's life, like the stories in Yondering, or they are pure fiction but are drawn from places he'd been or people he'd known. Not only did I find these to be interesting reading, but occasionally they contained clues to Louis's life and the people he knew.
That leads me to the last subject for this foreword. I have been traveling around interviewing various people for Louis's biography. I have been fortunate enough to have talked to several members of his family, people he knew in Oregon in the 1920s, Oklahoma in the 1930s, and Paris, France, and outlying areas in the 1940s. All have been most warm and gracious, very helpful and generous with their time. All have also been blessed with extraordinary memories, a true miracle, as I am asking them to remember back fifty, sixty, sometimes seventy years. Finding these people has been difficult, and now as I have been slowly working, through all the easy ones, I am having to get more and more inventive about seeking these people out.
I am hoping that you, Louis's faithful readers, can help me out. In the back of this book I am going to place a list of names. These are people who were an important part of Louis's life at one time or another, but now all I know are their names and where and when he knew them. If you know any of these people, please ask them if they would write to me at the address in back.
Many of the people on this list may be deceased, but if there is a family member or acquaintance who knew the person well I would also like to hear from them. I would be very grateful for any help anyone could give me. If you are one of these people on the list, please don't be shy or feel like you don't really know enough about Louis. I am very good at asking questions and I am only interested in the time period in which you knew him, nothing more.
So check out the names in back if you want to help and drop me a card at the address at the end of the list. I'll enjoy hearing from you. I hope you all enjoy this collection of stories--it surely was a find and we are proud to present it to you.
Until we meet again . . .
Beyond the Chaparral
Iim Rossiter looked up as the boy came into the room. He smiled, a half-nostalgic smile, for this boy reminded him of himself . . . fifteen, no ... twenty years ago.
"What is it, Mike?"
The boy's eyes were worried. He hesitated, not wanting to tell what he had to tell, yet knowing with his boyish wisdom that it was better for Rossiter to hear it from him, now.
"Lonnie Parker's back from prison."
Jim Rossiter did not move for a long, long minute. "I see," he said. "Thanks, Mike."
When the boy had gone he got to his feet and walked to the window, watching Mike cross the street. It was not easy to grow up in a western town when one wanted the things Mike Hamlin wanted.
Mike Hamlin did not want to punch cows, to drive a freight wagon or a stage. He did not want to own a ranch or even be the town marshal. Mike was a dreamer, a thinker, a reader. He might be a young Shelley, a potential Calhoun. He was a boy born to thought, and that in a community where all the premiums were paid to action.