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Catlow

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Published by Bantam on 2018-05-29
Mass Market Paperback: $5.99
FICTION / Historical, FICTION / Action and Adventure


Louis L’Amour’s classic novels of the West make for perfect Father’s Day gifts!

As part of the Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures series, this edition contains exclusive bonus materials!

Ben Cowan and Bijah Catlow had been friends since they were boys. By the time they grew to manhood, Catlow had become an outlaw and Cowan a U.S. marshal. So when his old friend rode to Mexico to pull the biggest robbery of his career, it became Ben Cowan’s job to hunt him down.
 
While trailing Catlow south of the border, Ben meets Rosita Calderon. Intelligent and beautiful, her presence further complicates what is already a dangerous situation. While trying to protect his friend from Mexican soldiers and place him under arrest, Ben realizes that the price of getting Catlow back across the border might be more than he is willing to pay.

Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures is a project created to release some of the author’s more unconventional manuscripts from the family archives.
 
In Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures: Volumes 1, Beau L’Amour takes the reader on a guided tour through many of the finished and unfinished short stories, novels, and treatments that his father was never able to publish during his lifetime. L’Amour’s never-before-seen first novel, No Traveller Returns, will also be released as a Lost Treasures publication, followed by Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures: Volume 2.
 
Additionally, many beloved classics will be rereleased with an exclusive Lost Treasures postscript featuring previously unpublished material, including outlines, plot notes, and alternate drafts. These postscripts tell the story behind the stories that millions of readers have come to know and cherish.


(Mass Market Paperback (Reissue), 2018-05-29)
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ASIN: 0525486267
ISBN: 9780525486268
EAN: 9780525486268

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FRIENDLY WARNING Bis EN COWAN GOT to his feet. 'Bijah? .' .' . this government business if you cross the line into Mexico. It's up to me to stop you.' Catlow grinned at him. 'Stop me, then. But I'd still like to have you in with me.' Ben put on his hat. 'Sorry I can't talk you out of this, but I didn't much figure I could.' He put out his hand. 'We'll meet again.' 'You keep your ears pinned back when we do, or I'll notch 'em for you. This is the big one for me, Ben, an? all bets are off.' Ben Cowan stepped out into the night.' .' .' .

Bantam Books by Louis L'Amour novels Bendigo Shafter Borden Chantry Brionne The Broken Gun The Burning Hills The Californios Callaghen Catlow Chancy The Cherokee Trail Comstock Lode Conagher Crossfire Trail Dark Canyon Down the Long Hills The Empty Land Fair Blows the Wind Fallon The Ferguson Rifle The First Fast Draw Flint Guns of the Timberlands Hanging Woman Creek The Haunted Mesa Heller with a Gun The High Graders High Lonesome Hondo How the West Was Won The Iron Marshal The Key-Lock Man Kid Rodelo Kilkenny Killoe Kilrone Kiowa Trail Last of the Breed Last Stand at Papago Wells The Lonesome Gods The Man Called Noon The Man from Skibbereen The Man from the Broken Hills Matagorda Milo Talon The Mountain Valley War North to the Rails Over on the Dry Side Passin? Through The Proving Trail The Quick and the Dead Radigan Reilly's Luck The Rider of Lost Creek Rivers West The Shadow Riders Shalako Showdown at Yellow Butte Silver Canyon Sitka Son of a Wanted Man Taggart The Tall Stranger To Tame a Land Tucker Under the Sweetwater Rim Utah Blaine The Walking Drum Westward the Tide Where the Long Grass Blows short story ? collections Beyond the Great Snow Mountains Bowdrie Bowdrie's Law Buckskin Run The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour (vols. 1'7) Dutchman's Flat End of the Drive From the Listening Hills The Hills of Homicide Law of the Desert Born Long Ride Home Lonigan May There Be a Road Monument Rock Night over the Solomons Off the Mangrove Coast The Outlaws of Mesquite The Rider of the Ruby Hills Riding for the Brand The Strong Shall Live The Trail to Crazy Man Valley of the Sun War Party West from Singapore West of Dodge With These Hands Yondering sackett titles Sackett's Land To the Far Blue ? Mountains The Warrior's Path Jubal Sackett Ride the River The Daybreakers Sackett Lando Mojave Crossing Mustang Man The Lonely Men Galloway Treasure Mountain Lonely on the Mountain Ride the Dark Trail The Sackett Brand The Sky-Liners the hopalong cassidy novels The Riders of High Rock The Rustlers of West Fork The Trail to Seven Pines Trouble Shooter nonfiction Education of a Wandering Man Frontier The Sackett Companion: A Personal Guide to the Sackett Novels A Trail of Memories: The Quotations of Louis L'Amour, ? compiled by Angelique L'Amour poetry Smoke from This Altar lost treasures Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures: Volume 1

CATLOW A N O V E L Louis L'Amour Postscript by Beau L'Amour B A N T A M B O O K S n e w y o r k

Sale of this book without a front cover may be unauthorized. If this book is coverless, it may have been reported to the publisher as 'unsold or destroyed? and neither the author nor the publisher may have received payment for it. Catlow is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. 2018 Bantam Books Mass Market Edition Copyright ? 1963 by Louis & Katherine L'Amour Trust Postscript by Beau L'Amour copyright ? 2018 by Beau L'Amour All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Bantam and the House colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC. Originally published in the United States by Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, in 1963. ISBN 978-? 0- ? 525-'48626-? 8 ebook ISBN 978-? 0- ? 525-'48634-? 3 Cover art: Frank McCarthy Printed in the United States of America randomhousebooks.com 9? 8? 7? 6? 5? 4? 3? 2? 1 Bantam Books mass market edition: May 2018

To TRUMAN DEARBORN Who rode the old trails through Dakota and Montana

HEREVER BUFFALO GRAZED, cattle ? were rounded up, or mustangs tossed their tails in flight, men talked of Bijah Catlow. He was a ? brush-'buster from the brazada country down along the Nueces, and he could ? ride anything that wore hair. He made his brag that he could outfight, outride, outtalk, and outlove any man in the world, and he was prepared to accept challenges, any time or place. Around ? chuck-'wagon fires or line camps from the Brazos to the Musselshell, men talked of Bijah Catlow. They talked of his riding, his shooting, or the wild brawls in which, no matter how angry others became, Bijah never lost his temper'or the fight. Abijah was his name, shortened in the manner of the frontier to Bijah. He was a broad-'shouldered,' ? deep-'chested, ? hell-'for-'leather Irishman who emerged from the War Between the States with three decor? ations for bravery, three ? courts-'martial, and a reputation for being a man to have on your side in any kind of a shindig, brannigan, or plain old alley fight. A ? shock-'headed man with a disposition as open as a Panhandle prairie, he was as ready to fight as an Irishman at a Dutchman's picnic; and where the wishes of Bijah Catlow ? were crossed he recognized the laws of neither God nor man. But the law had CHAPTER 1

/ Louis L'Amour occa'sion to recognize Bijah Catlow; and the law knew him best in the person of Marshal Ben Cowan. By the time Bijah and Ben ? were fifteen years old, each had saved the other's life no less than three times; and Bijah had whipped Ben four times and had himself been whipped four times. Ben was tough, ? good-'humored, and serious; Bijah was tough, ? good? humored, and wild as any unbroken mustang. At nineteen, Ben Cowan was a deputy sheriff, and at 'twenty-'three a Deputy United States Marshal. By the time Bijah had reached the age of 'twenty-'three he was a known cattle rustler, and an outlaw with three killings behind him. But it was no criminal instinct, inherited or acquired, that turned Bijah from the paths of righ'teousness to the shadowy trails of crime. It was a simple matter of frontier economics. Bijah Catlow was a ? top-'hand in any man's outfit, so when he signed on with the Tumbling SS's it was no reflection on his riding. He hired out at the going wage of thirty dollars per month and found, but the sudden demand for beef at the Kansas railheads turned Texas longhorns from unwanted, unsought wild creatures into a means to wealth and affluence. From occasional drives to Missouri, Louisiana, or even Illinois, or the casual slaughter of cattle for their hides, the demand for beef in the eastern cities lifted the price per head to ten or more times its former value. Immediately the big ranchers offered a bonus of two dollars per head for every maverick branded, and Bijah Catlow, who worked with all the ? wholehearted

CATLOW / 3 enthusiasm with which he played, plunged into the business of branding cattle to get rich. He was a ? brush-'popper and a good one, and he knew where the wild cattle lurked. He was a good hand with a rope and he owned some fast ? horses that knew cattle as well as he did, and nobody knew them better. The first month after the bonus was initiated, Bijah Catlow roped and slapped an iron on ? eighty? seven head of wild cattle. During the months that followed, Bijah was busier than a man with a dollar watch and the 'seven-'year itch (when he isn't winding, he's scratching) and he averaged two hundred to two hundred fifty dollars a month. In those days nobody made that kind of money on the range, or much of anywhere 'else. And then the bottom dropped out. The own'ers of the big brands got together and agreed that the bonus was foolish and unnecessary, for it was the hands? job to brand cattle anyhow. So the bonus came to an end. From comparative affluence, Bijah Catlow once again became a ? thirty-? a? month cowhand, and he led the contingent that quit abruptly. His argument was a good one. Why brand cattle for the ranchers? Why not for themselves? Why not make up their own herd and drive through to Kansas? After all, most of the mavericks running loose on the plains of Texas came from Lord knew where, for cattle had been breeding like jackrabbits on those plains ever since the days when the first Spanish came there. Nobody could claim or had claimed own'ership of those cattle until suddenly they became valuable. Moreover, throughout the War Between the States

/ Louis L'Amour most of the riders had been away at war and the cattle that might have been branded had gone maverick, and many of their own'ers had never returned from the War. The cattle 'were there for whoever claimed them? so Bijah Catlow banded together a group of riders like himself and they went to work, inspired by Bijah's ? whole'hearted zeal and unflagging energy. He threw himself into the work with the same enthusiasm with which he did everything 'else, and it was his zest that fired the ambition of the others. Morning, noon, and night they worked, and at the end of two months they had a herd of nearly three thousand head ready for the trail. Wild cattle ? were plentiful in those early years, and the smoke of their branding fires was forever in the air. The riders plunged into the deepest brush and rousted out old mossyhorns and branded them for the Kansas trail, but their work did not go untroubled. Twice they drove off raiding Comanches, and Nigger Jim was gored by an angry bull. They found his ruined body sprawled in the grass near a tiny seep, the earth around torn by the furious battle. A swarthy man, part Indian rather than Negro, he had been a ? top-'hand and a good companion. They buried him on the prairie where they found him. A few days later Johnny Caxton lost an arm. He was snubbing a rope to a tree, and how it happened he never knew. The plunging steer wheeled suddenly and Caxton's arm was caught in a loop of the rope. The steer lunged back on the rope and it snapped tight around Johnny Caxton's arm. Two days before he had lost his holster in the

CATLOW / 5 brush when it was torn from his belt, and although he had found his pistol, he had been carry'ing it in his saddlebag since then. His ? horse was some distance off, and he had been stalking the big steer afoot when he got his chance to make the throw. It was hours before they found him, the tough old mossyhorn still backed to the end of the rope, full of fight and glaring 'wild-'eyed, and Johnny sagging against the tree, his arm a black and ugly sight. There was no doctor within a hundred miles, so Bijah Catlow amputated the arm in camp, cauterizing the stump with a hot branding iron. It was a week later, with four of their number a quarter of a mile away riding herd on the cattle, that Bijah awakened to find their camp surrounded. The first man he saw was Sheriff Jack Mercer, formerly on the payroll of Parkman of the OP Bar, and now, as sheriff, reputed to be still on his payroll. Then he saw Parkman himself, Barney Staples of the Tumbling SS, and Osgood of the Three Links. With them ? were ? twenty-'odd tough cowhands who rode for their brands. Neither Sheriff Mercer or Parkman had ever liked Bijah Catlow. A year before, when Mercer was still a cowhand, Catlow had whipped him unmercifully in a brawl, and Parkman hated Catlow because the cowhand could get a girl that Parkman could not. Bijah, who was no fool, knew he was in trouble. Glancing around as he sat up and tugged on his boots, he saw no friendly faces. He had worked for Staples and always turned in a good job, but Staples was a cattleman and would stand with the rest. Mercer leaned his big hands on the pommel of his

/ Louis L'Amour saddle. Deep within him the fire of triumph burned with a hard, evil flame. 'Bijah,' he said, 'I've got a bronc I say you can't ? ride. Not if you meet the conditions.' Bijah Catlow was not sure how much they wanted the others, but he knew they wanted him. 'What's the matter, boys'? he said. 'Why the visit'? 'You're a damned, 'no-'good cow rustler,' Parkman said. 'We hang rustlers.' 'Turn the rest of these boys loose,' Bijah said, 'and I'll 'ride your bronc'what'ever the conditions.' 'You ain't heard the conditions,' Mercer said. 'You 'ride him with your hands tied behind your back and your neck in a noose? .' .' . under that cottonwood over there.' Bijah Catlow got easily to his feet and stamped into his boots. He was wearing his gun? .' .' . it was always the first thing he put on after his hat? .' .' .' and he had already put both hat and gun on when he got up to stir the fire, half an hour before. Nobody had told him to drop his belt. After all, three of them had guns on them. On his own side, Rio Bray was there, and Bob Keleher'and Johnny Caxton, of course. Since his arm had been lost Johnny had taken over the job of camp roustabout, rustling firewood and water for whoever was cooking for the day. They 'were good men, but Caxton had lost his right arm and still hadn't won much use of his left, although he had been working on it every day. 'You let them go,' Bijah said, 'and I'll ? ride your damned ? horse.' Mercer's smile was one of contempt. 'You'll do

CATLOW / 7 what we tell you? .' .' .' and all of you will get a chance at that same bronc.' Bijah thought for a moment that Staples was going to object, but he did not. After all, it was Parkman who was top man ? here. Bijah knew that when he went for his gun. Nobody expected it, although they all should have, knowing Bijah Catlow. Rio Bray probably guessed it first, for as Bijah's gun came up shooting, Rio dove for the shotgun that lay across his saddle. Rio hit the ground, rolled over, and came up on his belly with the shotgun in his hands, and the first thing he saw was Parkman pulling leather on a plunging ? horse, blood on his shirt front, and Jack Mercer falling. Rio fired one barrel, then another, and two saddles emptied. The shooting and the plunging of Parkman's ? horse destroyed any chance they had at the small targets that faced them in the Catlow camp. And about that time Old Man Merridew, who had been out with the cattle, cut loose with a Sharps fifty. The cattlemen's posse stampeded and left Jack Mercer dead on the ground. Parkman managed to cling to his saddle and his ? horse fled with the others. They ? were not scared. They ? were a ? hard-'bitten lot of old Indian fighters, that posse. But they also knew that Old Man Merridew was behind that Sharps ? buffalo gun, and Merridew was a man who seldom missed what he shot at. It was ? wide-'open prairie where they ? were, and Merridew was in a tiny hollow of rocks and brush on top of a knoll.

/ Louis L'Amour Besides, Bijah Catlow had a gun in his hand, and nobody was buying that if there was a way out. There was a way, and they took it. After all, they could always get Bijah Catlow. He wasn't going any place. The law in that section of Texas was what'ever the big cattle outfits said it was, and the law said Bijah Catlow was a rustler and a killer. He had killed an officer in per'for'mance of his duty, and he became a wanted man. WHEN PARKMAN BECAME conscious in the big ? four-'poster in his own ranch 'house he issued the order: 'Get Bijah Catlow.' There was a good deal of sympathy in the room for Catlow, but nobody spoke up. To do so was to invite ruin. Ben Cowan was not present. He was not even in the state at the time. Had he been, he might have told them not to count their hangings until they had a neck in the noose. Somebody had said that Cat? low was not going any place? .' .' . Cowan would have looked his disgust at that. He would have known that Bijah Catlow was already gone. Within the hour the herd was moving over the river, three miles to the north. They drove on through the night and finally bedded the herd down two hours after daybreak on a small branch far west of the Kansas trail. By noon they ? were moving again, following the trail north that had been made by a herd of buffalo,

CATLOW / 9 losing their own tracks in the wider trail of the big herd. Bijah glanced to the south. 'Hope there's another herd coming along to wipe out what'ever sign we leave,' he commented, 'because Parkman will be along.' Old Man Merridew lifted a skinny arm and pointed it the way his ? hawk-'beak nose was already pointing. 'They's 'a-'comin',' he said. 'There's the dust!' 'Maybe that's the posse,' Bray suggested. Merridew spat. 'Them's buffler,' he said. 'Maybe eight, ten thousand of them? .' .' .' maybe more.' Nobody argued with Old Man. He had eyes better than any ea'gle, and a nose to smell buffalo as far as a man could see. The Old Man was older than anybody knew, and looked old enough in the face to have worn out three bodies? .' .' .' but he was wiry, strong, and tough as any old Cheyenne or Comanche. North they drove, with the Drinking Gourd hanging in the sky before them. North they rode, and Bijah Catlow, the flamboyant, ? good-'natured, ? hell-'for-'leather Bijah had become an outlaw. It would be another week before Ben Cowan heard the news.

DCowan EPUTY UNITED STATES Marshal Ben was having troubles of his own. He was deep into the Cross Timbers, trailing a bad Indian. The Tonkawa Kid was no blanket Indian, but an occasional cowhand, farm laborer, and 'horse trader who had turned renegade. Exactly a month before he had killed and robbed a farmer in the Cherokee Nation, attacked and murdered the farmer's wife, and killed a neighbor attracted by the shooting. Unfortu? nately for the Tonkawa Kid, the neighbor lived long enough to identify him. This was the fourth such crime in the vicinity within the year, and then somebody remembered that Tonkawa had been spending more money than he had earned. A sorrel mare he traded in Fort Smith had been stolen from the scene of one of the earlier murders. Ben Cowan's canteen was dry, and he was working his way toward the Cimarron, hoping to find some branch flowing into the river where he could get water. The river itself was a last resort, for at this season of the year, in this area it was too thick to drink, too thin to plow. The Cross Timbers country was hell's borderland. It was a stubby forest of blackjack and ? post-'oak mixed CHAPTER 2

CATLOW / 11 with occasional patches of prickly pear. Along the few small streams, most of them intermittent, ? were redbud, persimmon, and dogwood. ? Here and there ? were open meadows, varying in extent. In places the forest was practically impenetrable. Blackjack, a kind of scrub oak, had a way of sending roots out just under the surface, and at various distances new trees would spring up from these roots. The result was a series of dense thickets, the earth beneath them matted with roots, their stiff branches intermingled. There ? were trails made by wild ? horses and occasional small herds of buffalo or deer, and these usually led from meadow to meadow across the vast stretch of country covered by the Cross Timbers. It was the spring of the year and the blackjack still held many of the past season's leaves, brown and stiff. Only along the occasional streams was there beauty, this provided by the redbud which grew in thick clumps, its dark, beautiful branches covered with tiny 'magenta-'colored blossoms. Except in the meadows, grass was scarce. Under the blackjacks there ? were thick carpets of matted leaves that seemed to crackle at the slightest touch. It was hot and still. On a branch not far ahead a cardinal peered at something in the grass, and Ben Cowan drew up. The bright crimson of the bird was a brilliant touch of color in the drab surroundings, but Ben Cowan had reason to be wary. A man in the wilderness soon learns to pay strict attention to the information that birds and animals can give him, and this bird was watching something he did not like.

12 / Louis L'Amour The last officer out of Fort Smith who had trailed an Indian outlaw into the Cross Timbers had been found with a bullet through his skull, which for added effect had been bashed in after he had fallen. Ben Cowan snaked his Winchester from the scabbard, and waited uneasily. Bees droned nearby in the still air. Sweat trickled down his face, prickly with dust. He listened, squinting his eyes against the salt sting of the sweat. It was dreadfully hot where he sat his ? horse, and he desperately wished to move. The situation was not at all good, for there was only one direction in which he could go without turning back, and that was straight ahead. Off to the left beyond a thick patch of blackjack there seemed to be a clearing or meadow. A fly buzzed annoyingly around his face, and he inadvertently lifted a hand to brush it away. Instantly a bullet thudded into the trunk of a tree near his face, spattering him with a hail of tiny fragments. Momentarily blinded by them, he fell from the saddle. He did it without thinking. It was one of those instinctively right reactions that come to a fighting man who is constantly aware and alert. The position of his ? horse was such that quick escape was impossible, but there was space to fall in, so he fell. He hit the ground and rolled over, then lay still. Fortunately, he had retained his grip on his Winchester. Now he put it on the ground and pawed at his eyes, frightened by the thought of being blinded with an enemy so close by. That enemy had to be close. There was nowhere around where a man could see over thirty or forty yards at most, and even at that distance a shot was a

CATLOW / 13 chancy thing, with all the intermingled branches that might deflect the bullet. Still feeling a few tiny particles in his eyes, Ben Cowan took up his Winchester and turned his eyes this way and that to locate himself. He had fallen into a shallow depression, only inches below the level of the forest floor. Where he lay there was a small patch of dead brown grass. Right before his head 'rose the trunk of the tree, not over eight inches in diameter, from which he had received the shower of bark. To his left there was a 'dead'fall and the stark white skeleton of a ? lightning-'shattered tree. He lay very still. His head was in the shade, but the sun was hot upon his back. In a ? low-'growing blackjack close by, he saw a blacksnake writhing in sinuous coils among the branches. The snake stopped moving and was still. The Tonkawa Kid, he recalled, had several renegade cousins, and was reputed to travel with them on occasion. It might be there was more than one man lying in wait for a shot at him. Ben Cowan was a patient man. Tall, lean, and handsome in a rugged way, he was inclined to be methodical. He was a painstaking man, without making any great issue of it. Bijah Catlow had often said that nobody, anywhere, could track better than Ben Cowan, and he might well have added that he never had met anybody who could punch harder. There was a thickening in Bijah's left ear that had resulted from one of Cowan's blows; and the faintly discernible hump in Cowan's nose marked where Bijah had broken it.

14 / Louis L'Amour But Ben Cowan was not thinking of Bijah Catlow now. He was thinking of the Tonkawa Kid. That Indian, wily as any fox and slippery as any snake, was somewhere close by, and even now might be working his way into position to kill him, yet Cowan could do nothing. To move silently with those stiff, crackling blackjack leaves lying about was virtually impossible'or was it? Off to his right a blue jay started raising a fuss? .' .' . something was worrying it. The sounds the jay made ? were not unlike those it made when it saw a snake, but different, too. Ben Cowan slid his rifle forward a bit and, easing over on his left shoulder, he looked up into the tree above him. The tree was actually one of two twin trees of about equal size, and the limbs grew low. There was a ? fair-'sized branch, a relatively wide space, then another branch, and more above; the other twin leaned close up higher, the branches interwoven. It was a risk, but if he could pull himself up there? .' .' .' His clothing was ? non-'descript as to color and it might blend well with the tree and the scattered leaves that remained. He studied the branches. A grasp there, a quick ? pull-'up, a foot there, then another ? pull-'up, avoiding those leaves. Carefully, he lifted himself to his knees, cringing against the 'half-'expected impact of a bullet, then he straightened to his feet, grasped the branch and pulled himself up. He got his boot on a lower branch, and then moved up again. Not the brush of a leaf or the scrape of a boot, and he was there. His eyes searched the trees, the grass, the

CATLOW / 15 brush. What he saw was brown grass springing back into position only a few yards away. He looked into the brush? .' .' .' a faint stir of movement and he glimpsed the Tonkawa. Instantly, he fired. And in the same instant he knew he had been suckered into a trap. Another bullet spattered bark in his face and something struck his leg a wicked blow and knocked it from its perch. He fell, with the sound of other bullets echoing in his ears. A branch broke as his body hit it, and then he struck the ground with a thud. His ? horse leaped away, blowing with fear, and Ben Cowan heard the rush of feet in the grass. He had lost his grip on his rifle and he clawed wildly for his ? six-'shooter, coming up with it just as an Indian broke through the brush, gun in hand, eyes distended with excitement. Ben Cowan triggered the .45? .' .' .' he fired upward, firing quickly and aiming, he thought, for the Indian's broad chest. The bullet was high, striking the man's chin and smashing upward, driving a bloody furrow along his chin, tearing his nose away, and entering the skull at the top of the eye socket. Cowan whirled, felt a bullet burn his cheek, and fired blindly at a leaping shadow. The shadow broke stride and fell, the Indian dead before he hit the ground. Two down? .' .' .' how many 'were there? Neither of them was the Tonkawa Kid. Ben Cowan twisted around, found his rifle, and pulled himself to it. His leg felt numb, and when he put his hand up to his cheek it came away bloody? .' .' . a bullet had grazed the cheekbone.

16 / Louis L'Amour He eased himself back into a better defensive position and, reaching out with his rifle, tried to draw the rifle of one of the Tonks a bit closer. The forest was silent again. He gripped the other rifle, put it close at hand, and then with care ejected the empty shells from his pistol and reloaded. Nothing happened. The slow minutes passed and Ben Cowan suddenly felt sick and weak. His leg was throbbing. Gingerly, he reached down and felt of the leg. The bullet had cut through the muscle of the calf, and his pants leg and sock ? were soaked with blood. He must get that boot off and get his leg ban'daged? .' .' . but somewhere around was the Tonkawa? .' .' . perhaps more than one. Delicately, he began to work at the boot to get it off, trying to make no sound. After a few minutes he did get it off, and removed the ? blood-'soaked sock. His ? horse, frightened by the shooting, had disappeared, and with it what'ever he had, which was little enough, to treat his wound. So he packed grass around it and tied it with his handkerchief, then struggled into his boot. At intervals, he paused to listen. By this time the Kid undoubtedly knew his friends had run into trouble, if he had not actually seen what happened. Hence, he was either going to run or wait and try again; and if Ben Cowan was any judge, the Kid would wait and take his chance. His eyes seemed to mist over, and when he tried to move he felt a sudden weakness. Suppose he passed out? It was possible, for he had lost a lot of blood. If he did pass out, he would be killed.

CATLOW / 17 He must hide. Somehow, in some way, he must hide. Carefully, he looked about him, but there was nowhere to hide. Only the clumped blackjack, the black trunks of the trees. But he had to move. He could no longer remain ? here'if he passed out where he was he would get his throat cut while unconscious. Far better to take his chances in trying to do something. The nearest Indian had been carry'ing a Winchester also, so he stripped the man's cartridge belt from him, and his knife. Then he eased from behind the tree and began inching his way through the grass. He succeeded in moving without making any noise but the slightest dragging sound? .' .' .' that was inevitable. But, it was less than he had expected, and at times he even made no noise at all. His eyes continually searched the ground, the trees, the shrubs. He had gone at least thirty yards when he heard a chuckle. It was the faintest of sounds, but he froze in place, listening. After a minute, he started on. 'Go ahead,' a voice said, 'you ain't goin? no place.' The voice was harsh and ugly. It was the Tonkawa Kid. Ben Cowan could not see him, but he knew the Kid must be where he could watch Cowan. Where was that? He pulled himself a little farther along, sorting the places in his mind. When the Kid spoke again, Cowan threw his rifle around and fired at the sound. From a few feet away, the Kid laughed again, and fired. A bullet tore a furrow in the grass just ahead of Ben Cowan, almost burning his finger. And then he

18 / Louis L'Amour saw the gully that lay only a few feet ahead and to his right. That gully was only inches deep, but it was enough to offer shelter. Moreover, it deepened farther along. Using his rifle, Ben Cowan suddenly pushed himself up and dove forward. A rifle bellowed behind him even as he fell into the gully. Instantly, despite the tearing pain in his leg, he threw himself farther along and began to scramble to get farther away. He heard a rush of feet in the grass and wheeled around, throwing his gun up. As the Indian sprang into sight, swinging the gun muzzle down on him, Cowan fired. At the same instant, from off to the left, there was another ? gun'shot. The Tonkawa's body was caught in 'mid'air by the bullets; it was smashed back and around. Still he tried to bring his gun down on Cowan, but two more bullets ripped into him from the left and he fell into the bottom of the gully, landing only inches from Ben Cowan. Cowan heard 'horses walking in the grass, and then a voice singing: 'As I walked out in the streets of Laredo, as I walked out in Laredo one day? .' .' .' A ? horse appeared on the edge of the gully, and a grinning face looked down at him. It was Bijah Catlow.

Bup EN COWAN OPENED his eyes and looked into an eve'ning sky where a few scattered clouds ? were touched with a faint brushing of ? rose, and along the horizon a dark fringe of trees shouldered against the coming night. Something stirred near him, and he turned his head to see Old Man Merridew standing by the fire holding a coffee cup. 'Come out of it, did you? You lost a sight of blood, boy.' 'I guess I did.' 'You done all right,' Merridew acknowledged. 'You nailed two of them, and your bullet would have killed the Kid even without ours? .' .' .' only maybe not soon enough.' 'Where'd you come from'? 'Pushin? a herd to Dodge. Bijah seen your 'horse, so four, five of us, we left the herd and 'back-'trailed the ? horse. Figured you to be in some kind of trouble, losin? your mount that way, and your rifle gone. 'Then we heard the shootin', so we closed in kind of 'careful-'like. We found them Tonks you salted down, and one of our boys who used to hang out up in the Nation, he figured it was the Kid you 'were after. He knowed those Tonks for his kin.' 'You came along at the right time.' CHAPTER 3

20 / Louis L'Amour Merridew shrugged, and filled another cup, then added a dollop of whiskey. He brought it to Cowan. 'I dunno? .' .' .' you might have made it.' Cowan drank the whiskey and coffee and felt better. 'Who are you driving for'? Merridew glanced up; his hard old eyes 'were level. 'Ourselves? .' .' .' who ? else? When the big outfits dropped the bonus we struck off for ourselves.' He looked suspiciously at Cowan. 'You mean you ain't heard'? 'That Bijah's wanted for rustling? I heard, but I never believe all I hear. Before I'd believe a thing like that I'd have to hear it from Bijah.' He finished the bit of coffee in the bottom of the cup. 'As far as I'm concerned, Bijah has as much right to brand mavericks for himself as for the big outfits.' Johnny Caxton rode up to the fire and stepped down from the saddle. Ben Cowan noted the sleeve folded over the stub of the arm, but he offered no comment. When he had last seen Johnny he'd had two good arms, but as far as he was concerned Johnny would be a 'top-'hand under any circumstances. Johnny glanced his way. 'Hi, Ben. Anybody feed you'? 'Just woke up. The Old Man 'here gave me some special coffee.' Ben Cowan eased his wounded leg out from under the blankets. A thought struck him and he looked quickly around the camp. 'You boys missed a day on account of me, didn't you'? All the signs ? were there, the question needless. He knew what a camp looked like after a day, and after two days. He also knew how important it was to all

CATLOW / 21 of them to get this drive through on time'before Parkman or the law could interfere. Johnny brought the pot over and refilled his cup. Ben stared bitterly at the coffee. Bijah was a wild one, but he was no thief? .' .' .' at least, he never had been. Yet it was a time when many a man was being called an outlaw for slapping brands on cattle. To get away with that, you had to have a big outfit and breeding stock. 'We missed two days,' Johnny commented, 'one findin? you, one while you're restin? up.' Bijah came in when the guards changed. 'Hiya, Shorthorn!' he said. 'Surprised somebody hasn't shot that badge off you by now.' He squatted on his heels and studied Ben Cowan with a hard grin. 'You packin? a warrant for me'? 'No. If I was, I'd serve it.' Bijah chuckled, and rolled a cigarette. 'You ain't changed none.' He touched his tongue to the paper. 'We goin? to have trouble in Kansas'? 'You know Parkman.' Bijah lighted the cigarette with a stick from the fire. 'Nine of us teamed to make this drive, and we rounded up the stock and did the branding. Johnny there, he lost his arm on the job, an? Nigger Jim was killed. Well, Jim left no kin that anybody knows of, but he thought a sight of that girl he was seeing down on the Leon River. Seemed to me we would take his share to her.' Ben Cowan accepted the plate he was handed, and then he said, 'Bijah, you drive on to Abilene. When you're a few miles out, I'll ? ride in and see how things stand.'

22 / Louis L'Amour 'I know Bear River Tom Smith,' Merridew commented. 'He's a reasonable man.' Cowan glanced at him. 'Smith's dead. They've brought Wild Bill Hickok in as marshal.' Catlow looked up quickly. 'The gunfighter? I've heard of him.' 'He's the real thing, and don't forget it,' Ben said. 'A lot of the boys from down our way underrate him, but don't you make that mistake.' 'I'm in too much trouble now,' Bijah said. 'I'm not riding into Kansas for anything but a chance to sell this herd.' NIGHT THREW A shadow on the world, and the night guard looked up from their 'horses to the circling stars and followed the pointers to the North Star, which was their guide to Kansas. Ben Cowan turned restlessly in his blankets easing his wounded leg against the throbbing pain. He stared up at the stars, reflecting again upon the strange destiny that seemed to tie his life to that of Bijah Catlow. The thought worried him, for Catlow was a reckless man in many ways'never reckless of his life, although to the casual observer he might seem so, but reckless of the law. But in this case Ben Cowan, like many another Texan, believed Catlow was right, and the branding of mavericks was an old custom. At dawn they 'were moving north, Ben Cowan riding his own 'horse, and easing his leg against the pain. Bijah dropped back beside him. 'Ben, I'm holdin'

CATLOW / 23 them west of the trail, figurin? we ain't so likely to run up against any trouble, that way.' 'You duckin? trouble'? 'The boys have got too much at stake. We worked our tails off to get these steers together. Me, I don't care. Neither does the Old Man or Rio Bray; but Johnny, he's got to get him a stake out of this, now that he's left with only one arm.' They rode along a low hill upwind from the herd to stay free of the dust. 'He figures to start him a restaurant,' Bijah went on. 'How about you'? Catlow shot him a quick look. 'You goin? to preach at me again? Damn it, Ben, you know I'm pointed for a hangin? or prison, so don't try to head me off.' 'You're too good a man, Bijah. Too good to go that way.' 'Maybe? .' .' .' but I'm a born rebel, Ben. You're the smart one. You'll 'ride it quiet and come out of it with a sight more than me. I only hope that when the chips are down and they send somebody after me that it won't be you. You wouldn't back up from what you figure is your duty, and I sure wouldn't want you to? .' .' . and I'd never back up, either.' 'I know it. I've asked for a transfer to another district, anyway. We may never see each other again.' Bijah slapped him on the shoulder. 'That's gloomy talk. I figure to whip your socks off four or five times yet.' Bijah threw him a quick glance. 'Ben, what you

24 / Louis L'Amour figure to do when we hit Abilene? You said you might help.' 'First, I'll clear it with Hickok. He's all right. He doesn't give a damn what happened in Texas or anywhere ? else. All he wants is peace in Abilene.' 'You still have to stack your guns when you come into town'? 'That was under Smith. Wild Bill doesn't care whether you wear them or not, as long as you don't do any shooting. If you decided to do any, you'd better start with him, because if you shoot he'll come after you.' 'Smith was a good man. I met up with him that time I rode up to Colorado with that Indian beef.' Bijah moved downslope to turn a ranging steer back into the drive. 'Why are you so willing to front for me with Wild Bill'? 'He'll listen to me. I'm an officer, too. And you might just be cocky enough to try to throw a gun on him and get killed.' 'The way I remember it, you fancy yourself with that hogleg you're carryin'. Why, there was a time you claimed you ? were faster than me!' Ben chuckled. 'Only said it to you, Bijah, and you know it, you Irish lunkhead. If anybody shoots you, let's keep it in the family.' Catlow laughed 'good-'humoredly. 'When the time comes it'll simply bust my heart to kill you. For a sheriff, you're a pretty good sort.' Ben eased his foot in the stirrup, keeping his face straight against the pain. He had no right to complain, with only a bullet through his calf. Johnny Caxton was riding back there with a stump for an

CATLOW / 25 arm; but with one arm or two, Johnny Caxton was a good man, and he drove that team of broncs as though he sat the saddle of a bad horse.' Turning in the saddle, Ben Cowan glanced along the herd. Three thousand head of cattle string out for quite a distance when they are not bunched up, and handling this herd was a good big job for the available men. They had about six 'horses per man, it wasn't really enough, 'short-'handed as they 'and were. Ordinarily a herd of three thousand head would have eleven or twelve riders, and the cost was figured at about a 'dollar-'per-'head for the drive from Texas to Kansas. In this case, with the herd owned by the drivers, there would be no outlay for wages, and the men owned their own remuda, so there had been no cost for the purchase of ? horses. Dawn to dusk they drove, usually trying to water somewhere late in the afternoon, then pushing on a few miles before bedding down. Cattle watered late had a way of starting off better and traveling better than those allowed to water in the morning. ABILENE IN 1871 was a booming town, but the boom was almost over, although few as yet realized it. There 'were many in town who detested the cattle? men with their vast herds'600,000 head 'were driven to Abilene that year'and the men who drove them. Texas Town was wild and woolly, and it was loud. The more staid citizens looked upon it with extreme

26 / Louis L'Amour distaste, and wanted to be rid of the yelling, whooping cowboys, the dusty, ? trail-'seasoned men who ? were making the town what it was. Only a few months later they ? were to issue a bulletin saying they wanted no more of it, and to their discomfiture the cattlemen took them at their word and went west to Newton, to Ellsworth, to Dodge. By 1872 the citizens of Abilene ? were crying for them to come back, but it was too late. But in 1871 the town was still booming, and Marshal Hickok walked the center of the street, a tall, splendidly built man with auburn hair hanging to his shoulders, his clothing immaculate, his gun always ready for action. He was the first man Ben Cowan saw when he rode into town. Hickok had paused on a street corner, glancing each way from the Merchants Hotel. He wore a black frock coat, a ? low-'brimmed black hat, and two ? ivory? butted and ? silver-'mounted pistols thrust behind a red silk sash. 'Mr. Hickok? I'm Ben Cowan.' Hickok's eyes went from Cowan's eyes to the badge he wore. Hickok held out his hand. 'How do you do? What can I do for you'? Briefly, Cowan explained about Bijah Catlow and the herd. 'I know the country down there,' Cowan said at the end, 'and these cattle 'were mavericks, open to branding by anyone. I have no share in the business, but Bijah pulled me out of a hole down in the Cross Timbers, and he's a good man.' 'We've a letter on the cattle,' Hickok replied, 'but I am not interested in what happened in Texas.

CATLOW / 27 You tell Catlow to drive his cattle to the stock pens. He won't be bothered unless he or his men make trouble 'here.' Hickok thrust out his hand again. 'Glad to know you, Marshal. We've heard of you.' Ben Cowan limped back to his 'horse and rode to the Drover's Cottage, where he took a room, and then sat down to write out his report on the case of the Tonkawa Kid. When he had completed it and left it with the mail at the stage station, he went to the telegraph office and wired Fort Smith. Back at his room he arranged for a bath, and after he had taken it he changed into new clothing bought at Herman Meyer's Clothing Store alongside of the Merchants Hotel. Bijah Catlow joined him at supper in the dining room at the Drover's Cottage. 'Twenty-'five dollars a head,' Bijah said with a broad smile on his face, 'and we split it ten ways, two shares for Johnny Caxton.' He reached into his shirt pocket. 'Here's the tally sheet, stamped by the buyer. We picked up a few head of Tumblin? SS's and 'Ninety-'Fours drivin? through, so 'here's their money. Will you see they get it'? Ben accepted the money without comment, but offered a receipt. 'You're rawhidin? me,' Bijah said. 'Money in trust to you is safer than any bank.' He looked at Ben, and slowly he began to grin. As he did so he reached for another bit of paper and pushed it across the table. 'Stopped by the telegraph office. This is for you.'

28 / Louis L'Amour Ben Cowan opened the folded paper and glanced at it, then he looked up at Bijah. 'Did you see this'? 'Sure! I always was too damn? nosey.' Ben glanced down again. office of the u.s. marshal fort smith, arkansas. consider this a warrant for the arrest of 'abijah catlow, rio bray, and old man 'merridew, wanted for murder and cattle theft. logan s. roots u.s. marshal

OwhoopedIN UTSIDE THE street, a drunken cowhand as he raced his 'horse past the Drover's Cottage. In the dining room, with its tables covered with linen cloths, it was very still. 'It's my duty to take you in.' 'I know it is.' 'The hell with it!' Ben said. 'If you 'were guilty, I'd take you in, but they'll send you to Texas for trial, with Parkman telling the judge what to do. I'll resign first.' Bijah Catlow leaned back in his chair and glanced around the room. Only a few of the tables ? were occupied by cattlemen, cattle buyers, or land speculators. 'Ben, you're buying me the best supper this place can offer, with the best wine? .' .' .' and they tell me these cattle buyers have fancy tastes. After that,' he leaned his forearms on the table, 'you're going to arrest me and take me to Fort Smith.' 'The de'vil I will!' 'Look, you're the law. You couldn't be anything ? else if you tried. If you resign now you've lost all you've gained. You go ahead and take me in. It'll be all right.' Ben Cowan started to protest, but he knew it was just what might be expected from a ? hot'headed, temperamental, impulsive cowhand like Bijah Catlow. CHAPTER 4

30 / Louis L'Amour 'What about Rio and the Old Man'? Catlow gave him a saturnine grin. 'Now, Ben, you know me better than that. I picked up that tele'gram about an hour ago, so naturally I stopped by camp first. After all, I had money for them. 'Somehow or other those boys just naturally saw this ? here tele'gram and by this time they're far down the trail to somewhere. You can look for 'em if you want to waste time, but you won't find 'em in a coon's age.' 'Bijah, don't be a damned fool. You leave out of 'here now and I'll give you an hour's start. If I know you, you won't need any more than that. You know Parkman has the courts in his pocket. He'll see you hang.' Catlow picked up the chilled wine bottle and filled their glasses. 'That waiter's too durned slow.' He looked up, his eyes dancing with de'viltry. 'Sure, you're right as rain. Parkman will sure enough try to string me up, but remember this, Ben, it's a long way from ? here to Texas!' TWO WEEKS LATER Ben Cowan looked up from his desk where he was making out his final report. Roots stopped by the desk. 'Your transfer came through, Ben. You go to New Mexico.' He turned away, then stopped again. 'Oh, by the way, that prisoner you brought in? .' .' .' Catlow, was it? He escaped.' 'Escaped'? 'Uh-'huh? .' .' .' four or five riders held up the stage and took him off.' 'Anybody hurt''

CATLOW / 31 'Hell, no. From what I hear Catlow had made friends with everybody on the coach, including the driver, and they 'were glad to see him get away. We did get an identification of one of the men in the bunch that took him, though. The officer escorting Catlow recognized one of the men as Rio Bray.' Bijah Catlow had been right? .' .' .' it was a long way to Texas. THE LEGEND OF Bijah Catlow had begun before this, but from this point on, it grew rapidly. The Houston & Texas Central was held up, and Catlow received the credit, whether he was guilty or not. Of one thing men 'were certain: Bijah Catlow had not forgotten Parkman. Parkman sent three herds to Kansas the following year, and lost the first one before it was fairly into the Nation. Somebody stampeded the herd, and it vanished. Nobody could offer more than a guess at what happened to it. Herds of three thousand head are not swallowed by the earth, yet vanish they did. Meanwhile, it suddenly appeared that Bijah Catlow had registered a brand, the Eight ? eighty-'eight Bar, and around the chuck wagons and in the saloons throughout Texas, men began to chuckle. For three eights and a bar could very neatly swallow Parkman's OP Bar? .' .' .' and apparently they had done just that. Catlow was never at home, but a very tough, very seasoned cowman, Houston Sharkey, was? .' .' .' he was not only at home, he was at home with a Winchester and a crew of 'hard-'bitten cowhands who kept strays

32 / Louis L'Amour out of the Eight ? eighty-'eight Bar grazing lands, and allowed no casual visitors. Several times the law came looking for Catlow, and they ? were welcomed to look around all they wished. Parkman came, too, and he came with a couple of tough hands, threatening to butcher a steer and read the hide from the wrong side, where the alteration of the brand would be plain to anyone. Sharkey levered a shell into the chamber of his Winchester. 'You go right ahead, Col'o'nel Parkman,' he said, 'and you better hope that it's an altered brand, because if it isn't I'm going to lay you dead right where the steer lies.' Parkman looked at Houston Sharkey and the Winchester. He looked at the roped steer. He was sure that it was an altered brand? .' .' .' but suppose it wasn't? If it was not, he had called this man a thief, an insult anywhere, and no court in the country would convict Sharkey of murder. Not with the viewpoint of Texans what it was at the time. Parkman looked, hesitated, and backed down. But he went away boiling mad, determined to catch both Catlow and Sharkey. Two weeks later a tall, ? cold-'eyed rider headed into the rough country south of the Nueces'a tall man with a Winchester and a ? tied-'down gun. Bijah Catlow spoke Spanish as well as any Mexican in the country. He spoke it smoothly and easily to the se'oritas, and he was a pop? u ? lar man about Piedras Negras, across the river from Ea'gle Pass. He laughed easily, was friendly, and swapped ? horses and bought drinks. He was so pop? u ? lar that when the tall,

CATLOW / 33 ? cold-'eyed man rode into town and asked questions, Catlow was informed within half an hour. There had been rumors that Parkman had sent a hired killer after him, and the rumors had reached Catlow as well as most of the population of the Mexican village. Matt Giles was a methodical man. He had begun his killing as a mere boy in the Moderators and Regulators wars of northeast Texas, and had graduated to a ? sharp'shooter in the Confederate Army. Discharged when the war ended, he drifted back to Texas and the word got around that he was a safe, reliable man for the kind of job he did. Parkman had retained him twice before this. Matt Giles had never seen Bijah Catlow, but he had listened to all the stories, knew what he looked like, and privately decided that Catlow was a bag of wind. Arrived in Piedras Negras, he had no trouble locating Catlow'he was the talk of the town. The local law approached Bijah? .' .' .' in fact, they had been drinking and ? poker-'playing companions for some weeks now. 'Our jail,' the person of the law suggested, 'will hold another prisoner? .' .' .' for years, if necessary. This man'this Se'or Giles'I could arrest him.' 'Leave him alone,' Bijah said. 'If he wants me, I'll make it easy for him.' Bijah Catlow, whose entire life had been predicated on the impulsive and the unregulated, suddenly became the most regulated of men. He took to rising at a certain hour, going to the cantina at a certain hour, taking a siesta according to Mexican custom,

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