The Outlaws of Mesquite: Stories

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9780553287141: The Outlaws of Mesquite: Stories
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Meet the frontier bad men—like Leo Carver—a man so hated that everyone in the town of Canyon Gap planned to turn up for his hanging. Then meet those who dared to challenge them—like Marshal Lou Morgan, who tried to save his citizens from a goldmine swindler, only to learn that his own code of honesty made him the biggest sucker in town. There's champion rodeo rider Marty Mahan, called a coward because he was afraid of the bronc Ghost Maker—until he showed them the true color of his courage. Here are classic tales of the West from the storyteller who brings to vivid life the brave men of women who settled the North American frontier.

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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.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

THE OUTLAWS OF MESQUITE
 
MILT COGAR WAS at the corral catching the paint when Thacker walked down from the store. “You’d better get out of this town, boy. They are fixin’ to make trouble for you.”
 
Milt turned around and looked at the big, clumsy man, his shirt stuffed into his trousers and held there by a rope belt. Thacker never seemed to have a full beard and always seemed to need a shave. His watery blue eyes looked vague. He rolled his quid in his jaws and spat.
 
“It’s what I’m tellin’ you, son. You done me a favor or two.”
 
“Why should they be after me?” Cogar demanded. He was a lean young man with a dark, leatherlike face. His eyes were almost black, and keen.
 
“Spencer wants your horses. You know that. He sets a sight of store by good horseflesh, and he’s had a thorn in his side ever since you rode into the valley. Anyway, you’re a stranger, and this country don’t cotton to strangers.”
 
Milt Cogar hitched his gun belts and stared at Thacker. “Thanks. I’ll not forget it. But betwixt the two of us, this country has reason to be afraid of strangers.”
 
Thacker’s eyes shifted uneasily. “Don’t you be sayin’ that aloud. Not around here. And don’t you tell nobody what I said.”
 
Thacker drifted off down toward his shack, and Milt Cogar stood there, uncertainly. He was not ready to drift, nor did he like being pushed, but he had sensed the undercurrent of feeling against him.
 
Mesquite was a rustler town. It was a holdup man’s town, and he was a wild horse wrangler and a drifter. He threw the saddle on the paint and cinched it down. All the while he was thinking of Jennie Lewis, for she was the reason he had stayed on at Mesquite.
 
Milt Cogar was no trouble-hunting man. He knew that of himself and he told that to himself once more. In nearly thirty years of drifting, he had kept clear of most of the trouble that came his way. Not that he hadn’t had his share, for times came when a man couldn’t dodge fights. This could be that kind of time.
 
Dan Spencer was ramrodding the town. He was the big wheel. Milt had seen the big man’s eyes trailing him down the dusty corner of road that did duty as Mesquite’s main street. There were only four buildings on that street, and a dozen houses. Jennie lived in the house back under the cottonwoods with Joe and Mom Peters.
 
Spencer wasn’t only big and rough. He was slick. He was slicker than blue mud on a side hill, only he didn’t look it. Milt was a top hand at reading sign, and he could read the tracks years left across a man’s face. He knew what manner of a man Dan Spencer was, and what to expect from the others, from Record and Martinez.
 
It was a mean little place, this valley. The scattering of ugly, unpainted frame buildings, the hillsides covered with scrub pine and juniper, the trail a dusty pathway through the pine and huge, flat-faced boulders. There was a waterhole, and it was that which had started the town. And somewhere back in the cliff and brush country there was a canyon where Spencer and his boys backed up their stolen cattle.
 
Thacker was right. He should throw a leg over his horse right now and light a shuck out of here. If he stayed, there would be trouble, and he was no gunfighter like Spencer or Record, nor a knife-in-the-belly killer like Martinez. He should light out of here right now, but there was Jennie Lewis.
 
Jennie was eighteen now, a slim, lovely girl with soft gray eyes and ash-blond hair. She looked like the wind could blow her away but there was quick, bubbling laughter in her, and sometimes a look in her eyes that touched something away down inside of a man.
 
She was a casualty of the trail. Cholera had wiped out her family, and Joe Peters had found her, ten years old and frightened, and carried her home. Only now she was big enough and old enough for Spencer to see, and what Dan Spencer wanted, he took.
 
Nobody in town would stop Spencer. There were twenty-seven people in Mesquite, but those who weren’t outlaws were shy, frightened people who made themselves obscure and came and went as silently as possible, fearful of speaking lest Dan Spencer lay eyes upon them.
 
THAT WAS HOW it had been until Milt Cogar rode into town with his catch of wild horses, sixteen head of them, and all fine stock, and most of them broke to ride. Milt was going on through, but he stopped by the waterhole with his horses, and while they drank he talked with Jennie.
 
“You’ve beautiful horses,” she said wistfully. “I never saw anything so beautiful, not even the horses that Spencer has.”
 
“They are nice.” Cogar was a man unused to the sound of his voice, for he lived much alone. “That’s one of the reasons why I catch them. I like working with horses.”
 
She was standing near one of them, and the black put out a friendly nose, and she touched it. The horse did not shy.
 
“You would never guess they had ever been wild,” she said wonderingly. “They are so gentle.”
 
“Most horses are nice folks, ma’am,” he said. “They like people. You teach one he doesn’t have to be afraid, and right away he gets mighty curious and friendly. For the first few days you just keep them around, no sudden movements, no violence. Just keep a firm hand on them, and feed them well.
 
“Horses when frightened can’t think, not even so much as people, but once they know a man, they’ll trust him to take them anywhere at all.”
 
She looked at him thoughtfully. “You must be a kind man,” she said gently. “Most men around here break their horses rough.”
 
He flushed and looked away, feeling the slow red on his face and neck and hating himself for being self-conscious. “I don’t know about that, ma’am.”
 
Hurriedly, he tried to change the subject. “Your folks live here?”
 
A shadow touched her face. “No, they are dead, long ago. I live with Joe Peters over on the sidehill. He and Mom took me in when I was a child.” Her eyes went to his. “You aren’t staying here?”
 
“I was figuring on drifting through,” he said, “down toward the canyon country. I got me a little place down there, and I figured to rest up for a while.”
 
“It must be nice to go wherever you want,” she said slowly, shifting the heavy wooden bucket in her hands. “This is an awful place!”
 
The sudden feeling in her voice shocked him. “Why don’t you leave?”
 
“I can’t. Dan Spencer wouldn’t let me, not even if I found a way to get out.”
 
“Spencer? What’s he to you?” Milt Cogar pushed his black hat back on his head and looked at her, seeing the softness in her eyes, and the worry, too. Yet it was more than worry: it was fear.
 
“He runs Mesquite and everybody in it. He...wants me.”
 
“Do you want him? You aim to marry him?”
 
She flushed anew. “I’ve not much to say about it here. If he wants me, there’s nobody to stop him. As for the rest of it, he hasn’t said anything about marrying.”
 
Milt Cogar felt chill anger rising within him. “Who does this Spencer think he is?” he demanded. “Nobody can take a girl unless she wants to go! This country’s free!”
 
“Not in Mesquite, it isn’t! This is Dan Spencer’s town, and nothing happens in it he don’t like. You’d better keep him from seeing your horses, too. He’ll want them.”
 
“He’ll trip himself up gettin’ them!” Cogar said decisively. His eyes went to Jennie’s face. “Ma’am, why don’t you mount up and ride out of here? If you want to go, I’ll see you get safe to the Ferry. Once across the river, you can head down toward Prescott or somewhere you’d be safe.”
 
“Oh, if I only could—” Her voice died, and Milt looked up.
 
A burly, heavy-shouldered man with two guns was standing across the waterhole.
 
“If you could what?” the burly man asked. Then his eyes shifted to Milt, and from him to his horses, which he studied with a slow, appraising look, then back to Cogar. “Who are you?”
 
Milt looked at him with careful eyes. There was danger in this man, but he had faced danger before.
 
“I’m a man ridin’ through,” Milt said. “Who are you?”
 
Spencer stiffened. “Dan Spencer’s the name, and I run this town.”
 
Milt lifted his eyes insultingly toward the collection of miserable shacks. “Must keep you busy,” he said.
 
“Not too busy but what I could teach you some manners!” Spencer’s voice rang harshly. He walked around the waterhole, hands swinging at his sides. “Jennie, you go on home!”
 
Only an instant did the girl hesitate, apprehension for Cogar in her eyes. Then she began backing away.
 
Spencer stopped, a dozen feet from Milt, and dropped his hand to his gun butt—then the hand froze where it was, and Dan Spencer’s eyes bulged. He was looking into the muzzle of a .44 Winchester carbine. “Unbuckle your belt, and be careful!” Milt warned.
 
Dan Spencer’s face was gray. Very slowly he moved his fingers to the belt and unbuckled it, letting the Colts fall. “Now take a step toward me,” Cogar commanded.
 
The big man complied. Color was coming back into his face and with it the realization that Milt Cogar had shown him up in front of the girl. Yet there was little he could do. His guns were on the ground behind him now.
 

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780553057911: The Outlaws of Mesquite: A New Collection of Frontier Stories

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  055305791X ISBN 13:  9780553057911
Publisher: Bantam Books, 1990
Hardcover

9780385415422: Outlaws of Mesquite (Bantam/Doubleday/delacorte Press Large Print Collection)

Bantam, 1990
Hardcover

9781581650198: The Outlaws of Mesquite

Bantam..., 1998
Hardcover

9780816157952: The Outlaws of Mesquite

G K Ha..., 1993
Softcover

9781856953078: The Outlaws of Mesquite (ISIS Large Print)

ISIS L..., 1994
Hardcover

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