Elmer Kelton Shadow of a Star

ISBN 13: 9780765342997

Shadow of a Star

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9780765342997: Shadow of a Star
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Deputy Sheriff Jim-Bob McClain isn't sure he's ready to follow in his father's footsteps as the law in Coolridge County. In fact, he has a hard enough time keeping the peace between the drunks in the local saloon. But with tough Sheriff Mont Naylor to back him up he figures he can handle whatever comes his way.

Jim-Bob's first real assignment is no piece of cake. He must escort a ruthless outlaw into the hands of justice. All seems well with the lawless killer firmly in Jim-Bob's custody. But nothing prepares him for an angry mob, determined to take the law into their own hands and provide their own brand justice: a hangman's noose.

Shadow of a Star is a gripping tale by Elmer Kelton, voted one of the best Western Writers of all time by Westerns Writers of America, Inc.

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About the Author:

Elmer Kelton (1926-2009) was the award-winning author of more than forty novels, including The Time It Never Rained, Other Men's Horses, Texas Standoff and Hard Trail to Follow. He grew up on a ranch near Crane, Texas, and earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas. His first novel, Hot Iron, was published in 1956. Among his awards have been seven Spurs from Western Writers of America and four Western Heritage awards from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. His novel The Good Old Boys was made into a television film starring Tommy Lee Jones. In addition to his novels, Kelton worked as an agricultural journalist for 42 years, and served in the infantry in World War II. He died in 2009.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER ONE
 
 
They had shaken the last sign of pursuit two days ago. Now they had to stop riding, for Curly Jack was dying on their hands.
They eased him to the warm ground beneath the thin shade of a mesquite. Because the sun still came through, Dencil Fox unsaddled Curly Jack's horse and draped the wet saddle blanket across the branches to deepen the shade. Dencil poured water from a canteen into a handkerchief and gently touched it to Jack's fevered face.
"You just need to rest a spell, pardner," he said. "You'll be all right directly."
But he knew he was lying. There was the smell of gangrene about Curly Jack--the smell of death.
He wondered how Jack had managed to stay in the saddle as long as he had. It wasn't such a bad wound, they had thought. A bullet high in the shoulder, nothing fatal. But they hadn't dared hunt for a doctor. And the posse hadn't given them much chance to probe for the bullet the first couple of days. When at last they'd had time for Dencil to try, he hadn't been able to extract the slug. If anything, his efforts had made things worse.
Jack weakly motioned toward the canteen, and Dencil touched it to his lips, lifting Jack's head.
The other three men stood around uncomfortably, a deep weariness in their eyes, the droop of their shoulders. They were dusty and bearded. The oldest two were silent, but the youngest began to complain.
"We could have left him off someplace the first day. They'd have found him and took care of him."
Dencil Fox frowned quickly at his younger brother, then looked back at Curly Jack. "They'd have taken care of him, all right. Jack had rather go this way than at the end of a rope."
"If he was goin' to die anyhow, at least we wouldn't have been saddled down with him."
Sharply Dencil said, "Shut up, Buster!" He knew Curly Jack could still hear all that was said.
Buster kept talking. "If he'd shot that bank teller, he wouldn't have caught a slug himself."
Dencil said, "We didn't go in there to kill anybody."
"You didn't kill anybody. And you didn't get any money, either."
"We didn't figure on that gutty teller. And we never did know where he got that gun so fast."
Buster Fox said bitterly, "Leavin' me outside to hold the horses…If I'd been in there, things would've been a right smart different."
"That's why we left you outside."
"Well, you won't leave me outside next time!"
Curly Jack died without ever speaking a word. Because there was no shovel, they had to carry him to an arroyo, roll him in his saddle blanket, and cave a steep bank in on top of him. This way, at least, no one was likely to find him for a while. Later, if a rise came down the arroyo and washed the body out into the open, the four riders would be so far gone that the discovery would not put them in danger.
Dencil Fox stood with hat in hand, gravely looking down on the pile of fresh-caved earth at the bottom of the arroyo.
"Mighty poor way to leave you, Jack." His voice was sorrowful. "No marker, no preacher to read over you."
Buster spoke dryly, "Jack wasn't exactly the church-goin' kind."
Dencil said, "He was a good man, and don't you forget it."
"Too bad he wasn't a good shot."
They rode on then, leading Jack's horse for an extra, putting miles between them and the place where the fifth outlaw had died.
In time Dencil Fox said, "We got to find us a good spot to lay over. These horses will die under us if we don't rest them a few days."
A tall rider named Hackberry said, "We crossed the railroad tracks late yesterday. I figure we're about halfway between Grafton and Swallowfork. There's a big draw runs through a ways this side of Swallowfork. With the wet spring they had here, there ought to be good grass in it, and plenty of water. We could camp there as long as we wanted. Ain't anybody apt to see us except maybe a stray cowpuncher or two."
Dencil said, "You don't reckon they've heard about that bank job?"
"That was a long ways off. Last time I was in Swallowfork, it didn't have no telegraph or nothin'. Who'd be lookin' for us down here?"
"Nobody, I reckon. And I could sure use me a good rest."
The younger Fox pushed his horse up close to Hackberry's. "What kind of a town is this Swallowfork? Chance a man could find himself a little entertainment?"
Hackberry said, "The kind you're lookin' for?" He shook his head. "Last time I was there it was just a dull lookin' little cowtown. You could get yourself somethin' to drink and maybe a quiet game of cards, low limit. Nothin' fancy. And no wheeligo girls."
Buster was plainly disappointed. "Ain't that a shame!" Then, his face brightened again. "I wonder if they got a bank…"
* * *
A loud clatter was going on at the shack's old cast-iron cookstove.
"If you don't quit polishin' that tin star and go chop some firewood, there won't be any breakfast!"
Sitting on the edge of his cot, Jim-Bob McClain turned about with a youthfully sheepish grin and waved a hand at the young man who had spoken. "Hold your horses, Dan. I'll get to it directly." He pinned the deputy badge on his left shirt pocket, catching the Bull Durham sack with the pin the first time he tried. He reached down and pulled on his long-eared, high-heeled boots. He already had his hat on. It was the first thing he looked for when he got up of a morning: an old cowboy habit he had developed sleeping on the ground in wintertime, dressing from the head downward as he worked up out of the warm blankets.
Dan Singleton stood at the black stove, poking remnant woodchips in on top of the reluctant flame he coaxed out of dry kindling. Ashes filtered out around the sprung door and fell at his feet. "Thought this was your week to chop the wood," Dan prodded Jim-Bob good-naturedly. "Or do I have to call out the law?"
"I meant to do it last night, but with the dance down at Sothera's barn and all, I flat forgot."
"Then you better get at it, or it's goin' to be a long, hungry day."
Jim-Bob walked out of the little frame shack and paused to enjoy the clean freshness of the early morning. This was the summertime's best hour in the West Texas range country, just at sunup. The cool air of a brand new day braced a man and gave him vigor, made him imagine he could ride horseback a hundred miles without his shoulders ever sagging. It gave him all manner of grand ambition, notions the noonday heat would later bake out of him.
Along the wagon road just hollering distance away lay the beginnings of the town of Swallowfork. A scattering of frame and adobe houses first, thickening up and bunching closer together the nearer they lay to the rock courthouse and jail and the dozen or so business buildings that made up the core, it sprawled out haphazardly like a big remuda of horses loose-herded across half of a valley.
Jim-Bob listened. About all he could hear was a couple of roosters crowing the sun up, and a shut-in milkpen calf bawling for its mammy.
Quiet town, most of the time. Sleepy livestock town, drawing its livelihood from the good rolling rangeland that lay about it; from the tall bunch grasses that made the hillsides wave green in the gentle south breeze; from the valley's short, tough curly-mesquite buffalo grass; from the leggy, longhorned cattle that roamed and grazed there; and from the scattering bands of free-ranging sheep that were edging in on the cowman's domain, winning him over by pressure of economics if not from liking for the animal.
Quiet town it was, but one with ambitions, and one with a future. Jim-Bob's town. Like the town, he had ambitions. He could only hope he had a future, too.
He stood with hands shoved deep in his pockets, jingling the coins he carried there. Pay from his first month as a deputy sheriff of Coldridge County. He had hoped and worked and planned for a long time to pin that badge on his shirt. Now he had it.
"Jim-Bob," Dan Singleton's impatient voice insisted through the open door, "how about that wood?"
"Comin'."
A big red dog, ugly as a mud fence, sidled around the shack and came up wagging his tail. "Mornin', Ranger," Jim-Bob greeted him, patting his broad head. "Where'd you spend the night? Liable to be a scandal around here if you don't take to stayin' home."
Jim-Bob unwedged the ax from the big mesquite limb that served as a chopping block and pulled a smaller limb down from the woodpile. He and Dan Singleton had taken a couple of Sunday afternoons and a borrowed wagon to haul in this supply of dry wood from a brushy draw a ways out of town. His strong back and hard-muscled arms made short work of the wood. In a few minutes he walked into the shack with a good armload.
"Hope you didn't cut it too long this time," Dan said. He had once accused Jim-Bob of trying to do such a poor job of it that Dan would take over in disgust. He wasn't far wrong. Jim-Bob never did go much for wood-chopping and the like. He preferred something he could do a-horse-back. But a man who made up his mind to live in town and be a deputy sheriff also had to make up his mind to do some menial chores he didn't care for.
Outside for another armload of wood, Jim-Bob paused to squint down the south wagon road that led in from Dry Creek and from ranches like the C Bar. There, in the reddish glow of the sun just up, he saw two riders trotting their horses purposefully toward town. Recognizing them, he waved.
"You-all come on over and have breakfast with us," he called.
They only acknowledged his offer with a quick wave of their hands and rode on. By the rigid way they sat their saddles, Jim-Bob could tell they meant business. He frowned and looked down at rusty-hided old Ranger, who had moved out a little way to size up the pair. "Somethin' the matter, Ranger. They've had to ride half the night to get in from the C Bar. And they're both packin' guns."
The way the country had settled up and closed in, folks weren't wearing their guns much anymore. When they did, it was usually because they felt a genuine need for them.
"Now what would Walter Chapman and Tom Singleton be needin' with guns?" he mused.
Walter Chapman ow...

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9780783889467: Shadow of a Star (G K Hall Large Print Book Series)

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ISBN 10:  0783889461 ISBN 13:  9780783889467
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Book Description St Martin's Press, United States, 2004. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint, Reissue. Language: English. Brand new Book. Deputy Sheriff Jim-Bob McClain isn't sure he's ready to follow in his father's footsteps as the law in Coolridge County. In fact, he has a hard enough time keeping the peace between the drunks in the local saloon. But with tough Sheriff Mont Naylor to back him up he figures he can handle whatever comes his way. Jim-Bob's first real assignment is no piece of cake. He must escort a ruthless outlaw into the hands of justice. All seems well with the lawless killer firmly in Jim-Bob's custody. But nothing prepares him for an angry mob, determined to take the law into their own hands and provide their own brand of justice: a hangman's noose. Seller Inventory # BTE9780765342997

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Book Description St Martin's Press, United States, 2004. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint, Reissue. Language: English. Brand new Book. Deputy Sheriff Jim-Bob McClain isn't sure he's ready to follow in his father's footsteps as the law in Coolridge County. In fact, he has a hard enough time keeping the peace between the drunks in the local saloon. But with tough Sheriff Mont Naylor to back him up he figures he can handle whatever comes his way. Jim-Bob's first real assignment is no piece of cake. He must escort a ruthless outlaw into the hands of justice. All seems well with the lawless killer firmly in Jim-Bob's custody. But nothing prepares him for an angry mob, determined to take the law into their own hands and provide their own brand of justice: a hangman's noose. Seller Inventory # AAS9780765342997

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