|Mass Market Paperback||2018-08-28||$5.99||240|
|Library Binding (Large Print)||2006-01-06||$29.95||205|
|Mass Market Paperback||1991-09|
|Mass Market Paperback||1984-06-01||$5.99||192|
|Mass Market Paperback (Worn)||1983-06|
|Mass Market Paperback||1983-01-12||$2.25|
|Mass Market Paperback||1982-03-12||$2.25|
|Paperback (New Ed)||1980||160|
|Hardcover (New edition)||1978-04-24||156|
|Mass Market Paperback||1977-05-12||$1.50|
|Mass Market Paperback||1976|
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|School & Library Binding||1745|
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As part of the Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures series, this edition contains exclusive bonus materials!
Kilkenny wasn’t looking for trouble when he entered the Clifton House stage station, but trouble found him when a reckless youngster named Tetlow challenged him, drew his gun, and paid for it with his life.
Looking to escape a reputation that he never wanted, Kilkenny settles in the lonely mountain country of Utah, planning to ranch a high, lush valley. But the past is on his trail. Jared Tetlow is a powerful rancher determined to run his vast herd on the limited grasslands there—whether he has to buy out the local ranchers, run them out, or kill them. He’ll cut down anyone who stands in his way, especially a man he already despises: the gunman named Kilkenny—the man who killed his son.
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Additionally, many beloved classics will be rereleased with an exclusive Lost Treasures postscript featuring previously unpublished material, including outlines, plot notes, and alternate drafts.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.
3D preview available at the top of this page...
Cold Fury Sthe TUNNED, RED STARED up, gasping for breath, at man who stood over him. 'I'm not hunting trouble,' Kilkenny said, 'but it's time somebody showed you where to head in. If you've picked me for the job, I'm the man who can do it.' Jared Tetlow shoved through the crowd, his face flushed and angry. 'Here! What goes on here'? Kilkenny turned sharply at the authority in the voice. His head dropped a little, his hands went wide. 'Tetlow!' His voice rang in the narrow street. 'You came into this country hunting trouble! These hands of yours jumped me!' A devil was driving him now and he was cold with fury. He stepped toward the older man, his hands ready to his guns. He could not have stopped had he faced the whole Forty outfit. 'Take 'em and get out of the country!' You've come looking for trouble and here it is!'
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 No Traveller Returns
Kilkenny A N O V E L Louis L'Amour Postscript by Beau L'Amour B anta m B ooks N e w Y ork
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. Kilkenny 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 ? 1954, 1982 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 1954. ISBN 978-? 0- ? 525-'48629-'9 Ebook ISBN 978-'0-'525-'48637-? 4 Cover art: Gregory Manchess Printed in the United States of America randomhousebooks.com 2? 4? 6? 8? 9? 7? 5? 3? 1 Bantam Books mass market edition: August 2018
CHAPTER 1 Tlone O CLIFTON HOUSE on the Canadian came a rider on a long-'legged buckskin. He was a green-'eyed man wearing a flat-'crowned, flat-'brimmed black hat, black shirt and chaps. The Barlow & Sanderson Stage had just pulled in when the rider came out of the lava country, skirting the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos. He was riding easy when they first saw him but his horse was dust-'coated and the sweat had dried on him. The man had a tear in his shirt sleeve and a bloody bandage on his side. He rode directly to the stable and dismounted, caring first for his horse. Only then did he turn and glance toward the House. He wore two tied-'down guns. Pulling his hat lower he crossed the hard-'packed earth and entered the house. 'I could use some grub,' he said, 'a meal now and supplies to go.' 'We got anything you need. We're feedin? the stage crowd now. Go on in.' He paused at the door and studied the room before going in. There were six passengers from the stage. Two women and four men, and there were a few riders from the valley roundup and three men from a trail herd crew. Face by face he studied them. Only then did he seat ? himself. The tall girl from the stage lifted her eyes and looked
/ Louis L'Amour across the table at him, her eyes alive with curiosity as she saw the bloody bandage. None of the men appeared to notice anything, and she filled her cup again and tried her coffee. It was hot, black, and strong. Her eyes went again to the man in black. He had removed his hat when he seated himself and she noticed that his hair was black and curly. He was a lean, powerfully built man, probably larger than he looked while seated. Her eyes trailed again to the bandage. 'You'.' .' . you've hurt yourself!' she exclaimed. 'Your shoulder!' Embarrassed and irritated, he glanced up. 'It's a scratch,' he said hastily. 'It's all right.' 'It looks like more than a scratch to me,' she persisted. 'You had better have it cared for.' 'Thanks,' he said, his voice a shade grim now, 'I shall.' There was silence for a few minutes, and then from down the table somebody said, 'Don't yuh wished yuh was scratched, Ike? Mebbe the lady would fix it for yuh.' The tall man flushed slightly but said nothing, but from down the table came a new voice. 'Whatever it was scratched him,' the voice said, 'it looks like it hit him runnin? away!' The dead silence that followed saw the tall man turn pale and cold. He lifted his head, his green eyes going down the table to the man who had spoken. He was a tough, handsome youngster with a look of eager recklessness about him. 'If you were jokin',' the tall man said, 'say so.' The man beside the tall man ducked suddenly and rolled off the bench, while others drew back from the blond young man. The youngster got slowly to his feet.
KILKENNY / 3 'I wasn't jokin',' he said, with a faint sneer. 'It looks to me like you was runnin? away.' As he spoke he went for his gun, and what happened then was seen with utter, piercing clarity by all who watched. The tall man seemed deliberately to wait, to hesitate the split second it took for the blond young man's hand to strike the butt of his gun. Then he palmed his own gun and shot. The blond man staggered, his gun, half-'drawn when the shot struck him, slid back into the holster. The man backed up, sat down, and rolled over on his face, coughing blood and death. For an instant the room was still, broken by the young woman. She stared with horror at the tall man. 'You'.' .' . you murderer!' she cried, her lips twisting. The tall man drew back slightly, his gun still in his hand. From one man to the other, he looked. 'You saw it. He asked for it. I didn't want to kill him. I wasn't hunting for trouble when I came here. I was just tryin? to eat a quiet meal. What did he want to jump me for'? Nobody spoke for a few seconds and then an older man said quietly, 'Don't blame yourself, stranger. The boy has been huntin? for trouble ever since he killed a man in Texas.' 'That won't make no difference for yuh,' another man said. 'When Tetlow hears yuh've shot his boy, he'll never rest until he nails yore hide on the fence.' The tall man drew back and holstered his gun. 'I'm not looking for trouble,' he said. 'I'll take my supplies and leave. Just you remember that,' he added. 'I'm not lookin? for trouble.' He sat down at the table and using his left hand he made two sandwiches from meat and bread. Wrapping
/ Louis L'Amour them in a kerchief, he shoved them into his chaps pocket, backed away from the table, turned and walked into the other room. Tom Stockton was waiting for him. On the counter was a sack filled with supplies. 'There it is, son. I seen it, an? it was a fa'r shootin? if there ever was one. Take this stuff, an? welcome.' 'Thanks,' the tall man hesitated, 'but I want to pay.' 'I'll take it hard,' Stockton said grimly. 'Yuh take this an? go along. It's little enough I can do for Kilkenny!' Although he hissed the last name gently, the tall man looked quickly around. 'Don't say that name!' he said. 'Don't mention it!' 'I won't,' Stockton replied, 'but there's others in there may. Johnson,' he nodded toward the dining room, 'is from the Live Oak country. He may know yuh.' 'Thanks again.' Kilkenny turned, then he paused. 'This Tetlow''who is he'? Tom Stockton leaned his big hands on the counter and his face was grave. He had established Clifton House in 1867 to serve the round-'up crowds and it had become a stage station. Since then and before he had seen much of the West and he had known most of it before. He knew this young man both by reputation and by intuition, and he liked him, and knowing this man and knowing Tetlow'? 'It couldn't be worse. He's from Tennessee, Kilkenny, with all that means. He's the old bull o? the woods, a big, hard old man, but aristocratic, intelligent, smart, and a politician. Worse, he comes of a feuding family. He'll not rest until he gets you, or you him.' Kilkenny nodded. 'I see. What's he doing here'? 'He's not here, not yet. But he's comin'. South of here on the flat he's got six thousand head of cattle. That's
KILKENNY / 5 the second herd. The first one was four thousand head. He's got two more herds comin'.' 'He'll need a lot of land for that many cattle,' Kilkenny said. 'I hope he's got it spotted.' 'If he hasn't,' Stockton replied, 'he'll get it.' He jerked his head. 'That one, the one you shot. He was tall-'talkin? around here. Said if they didn't get the land any other way they knew how they could get it. And he slapped his gun when he spoke.' 'It's been done,' Kilkenny said. Stockton nodded gloomily. 'Which makes it mighty tough on the little man who can't hire gunmen. Knowin? somethin? about Tetlow, however, I'd say that he wouldn't fall back on guns until politics failed. He's a smooth one, an? like I said''he's a politician.' TO THE HIGH valleys then, came a lone rider, a man who rode with the caution born of riding long on strange trails in a land untamed and restless with danger. The Indian Wars were largely of the past, although there were still the Sioux, the Cheyenne, Nez Perc? and the Apache with fight left in them, but on the land from which the Indian had been driven or from which he was being driven the white man had not found peace''or at best an uneasy peace when men rode with guns at hand and eyes alert for danger. Cattle had come to replace the buffalo, and then bolder men had pushed their herds into the mountain valleys, valleys lush with grass that fattened cattle amazingly fast, and as these valleys began to be settled, some men drifted to the high meadows among the peaks. Lonely, largely overlooked, but excellent grazing in
/ Louis L'Amour spring, summer and early fall, the valleys were the last land to be taken. It was to one such valley that Kilkenny rode, and when he drew up and looked around him, he made his decision. This was the home he had been seeking, on this land would he stay. Riding on, he studied the valley. To right and left lay towering ridges that walled the valley in, and to the east other peaks lifted, and west the valley swung hard around and at one corner the wall was broken sharply off to fall sheer away for more than six hundred feet. Kilkenny paused long upon the lip, looking out over that immeasurable distance toward the faraway line of the purple hills. It was then that he first became conscious of the sound, a faint scarcely discernible whispering. Holding himself erect, he listened intently. It was the wind! The whispering wind! Wind among the tall pines, among the rocks and the erosion-'gnawed holes, a sound such as he had never heard, a sound like far-off music in which no notes could be detected, a sound so strange that he could not stop listening. He turned then in his saddle and looked back over the valley he had found. At least two thousand acres! Grassy and lush with growth, water aplenty, and that whispering! The valley of the whispering wind! It was a strange thing to find this place now, this place where he knew he could find happiness, the place from which he would not move again. He had told himself that before he realized what it might mean, and when he did know, he nodded his head as if at last he could be sure. Yes. Here he would stop. Here he would cease being the restless drifter that he had become, a man fleeing from a reputation, fleeing from the reputation of a killer.
KILKENNY / 7 But in this place he would stay, and he would find peace'? if they let him. There was always the chance that some stranger from the plains might drift into the country and recognize him as Kilkenny, yet he was fortunate in that few men knew him well, and most descriptions of him were mistaken. There was always the chance of such a killing as the affair at Clifton's. That man had not even known who he was, just a trouble-'hunting kid wanting to prove how tough he could be. But that was over, and it was miles away over some of the roughest land in the world. And here he would stay. His fire was a lonely gleam in the vast darkness of the valley, and in the morning he saw where the cougars had come down from the rocks to investigate, and once he found the tracks of a grizzly. Killing a deer for food, he started in then to work. Living on the ground under the'stars, he laid the foundations of his home, choosing flat stones from the talus of the ridges, carefully laying the foundation and the floor. When a space for three rooms was carefully laid, he crushed limestone, and with sand made a crude mortar and began building the walls from selected chunks of rock. It was slow, bitterly hard work, but he enjoyed it, and during that first month in the high meadow there was no sound or sight of anything man had done but what he did with his own hands. While he worked, he thought carefully of what he would do now. The house was nearing completion, and he had cleaned the waterholes and walled up the spring near the cabin. Soon he must go to a settlement for supplies and ammunition. He felt a curious hesitancy about that, for he had no desire to go. Always now he found himself re-
/ Louis L'Amour membering the queer horror on that girl's face after he had shot Tetlow. True, she did not understand what it meant. She was new to the West. Still, it was not pleasant to have one looked at with such horror. Who was she? She was without doubt beautiful'? very beautiful. As beautiful as'.' .' .' ? He shook his head. No. There was no other like Nita, and there would be no other like'her. On the first day of the seventh week in the high meadow, Kilkenny saddled up and started for town. He knew nothing of the place. Horsehead, they called it, and while riding toward it he had heard it mentioned, but no more. He did not even know how to get there, but must find his way through the canyons. Horsehead sprawled in lazy comfort along both banks of a creek called Westwater, and the town's main street crossed the creek at right angles. The ancient stone stage station, a veteran of Indian fighting and earlier Mormon settlement, stood near the east bank of the creek. It was a low-'roofed, single-'storied building with an awning that projected eight feet from the roof and offered shelter to a couple of initial-'carved benches polished by the seats of many breeches. Above the doorway was a crude sign lettered Horse? head: Stage Station. Eat & Drink. Drinks were occasionally served over the tiny six-'foot bar, but no meals had been served for six years. East of the stage station was the two-'story Westwater Hotel & Saloon, and it was here the elite usually ate. East of the hotel in lazy comfort were the Harness Shop, Eli Putnam, Prop.; the ? Barber Shop, the office of Robt. Early, Lawyer, and a
KILKENNY / 9 scattering of other structures steadily declining in height until they reached the usual Last Chance Saloon. Opposite the stage station was the sheriff's office and jail. The town marshal had a desk in the same office but no love was lost between the two men. Alongside the sheriff's office and facing the hotel was the assayer's office, and beyond it in a row were the Pinenut Saloon, the Emporium, the real estate office and then the Diamond Palace Saloon & Gambling Hall and a trail of further buildings. West of the creek was a section of town all by itself, and one largely ignored by the businesses and citizens who lived on the east bank. A grove of trees, mostly cottonwoods but mixed with willows and a scattering of others, occupied the immediate bank and partly shaded the bridge. Beyond the trees were the corrals and wagon yards of the livery stable, and then the huge and sprawling stable itself. Beyond the stable was the bunkhouse, which was a place for casual sleeping, and possessing no rooms, but merely a dozen tiers of bunks, two high, and a few tables. Alongside the bunkhouse was Savory's Saloon, but it was not considered very savory. This was the 'tough? place of the town. A long, narrow building with a long bar and a good many tables, it had been ever since its construction a hangout for the town's tough element as well as for occasional drifting cowhands. Across the dusty street and beyond the usual line of hitching rails and opposite the corrals was the office of Doc Blaine, tall, undeniably handsome, forty, of mysterious background, but without doubt, gossip had it, the best surgeon west of the Rio Grande. Doc Blaine was usually drunk, but during his occasional periods of lu-
10 / Louis L'Amour cidity he removed bullets, patched knife-'wounds and bottle-'cuts, or otherwise administered to the well-'being of the town's wrong side. His office was, obviously, strategically located near the scene of most of the shootings, cuttings and beatings, their source being anywhere along the street in front of the bunkhouse or Savory's. West of the Doc's was Dolan's, a resort with one pool table, several card tables, too much cigar and cigarette smoke and drinks served from another tiny bar. Yet Dolan's was not a saloon. Those who frequented the place were an interesting cross-'section of the town. Dolan was an ex-'soldier, a former sergeant of cavalry and a veteran of the Mexican, Civil, and Indian Wars. Beyond Dolan's to the west were two deserted buildings and then the blacksmith shop, and beyond it, the canyon. This last was a deep slash in the rock of the mesa, deeper than the nearby creek, but waterless except for the brief rushes of water following heavy rains. This was also bridged. Lance Kilkenny rode down from the hills into the east side of town, riding on until he reached the stage station, where he dismounted and tied the buckskin at the hitch rail. Pausing there, he took out the makings and rolled a smoke, scanning the town with careful eyes, alert to any attention he might be getting and curious about the town itself. Ducking under the hitch rail he settled his hat back in place and glanced at the loafer standing in front of the stage station. 'Nice little town you've got here,' he suggested. The loafer glanced at him out of the corners of his eyes, then at the two low-'tied guns. 'I reckon,' he agreed,
KILKENNY / 11 wiping the back of his hand across his mouth, 'You seen Dolan'? 'Don't know him,' Kilkenny said. 'Who's he'? The loafer stretched, then jerked his head toward the west side of town. 'A good man to know if yuh figure to stick around.' Turning, the man sauntered away. His brow puckered slightly, Kilkenny watched him go, then turned east toward the hotel. He was a tall man, well over six feet, with wide shoulders, thick and powerfully shaped. His hips were lean and his waist small. When he walked, it was less the rider's walk than the woodsman's. Turning into the Westwater Hotel, he sought out the dining room and dropped to a seat at a table near the back of the room. He glanced curiously at the menu, then looked again, for here in this cow country hotel was a menu that would have favored any cafe in Paris. He turned the page, then turned it back again. One facing page listed the usual cow country meals, but on the other was a French menu listing at least fifty dishes! 'Surprised'? Kilkenny glanced up to see a square-'shouldered man of medium height standing above him. On the man's vest was a sheriff's badge. Kilkenny's eyes went from the badge to the rough-'hewn features. The mustache was white, trimmed, and clean. The eyes were a cool blue, now faintly quizzical and amused. 'Yes,' he responded, 'I sure am. Sit down, Sheriff.' 'Thanks.' The sheriff dropped into the chair across the table. 'My name's Leal Macy. Whenever a stranger wearing two guns comes into town I try to make his acquaintance.' Kilkenny looked at the menu again, and when the
12 / Louis L'Amour waitress approached he said, 'I'll have the Paupiettes de Veau Proven'al, an? tell your chef I'll have nothing but Madeira in the sauce.' Macy grinned, but his eyes were alert and curious. 'Ernleven will like that. The man's a marvel with food and takes it as a personal favor if anyone orders from the French side of the menu. An? yuh'd be surprised how many do. The West,' he added, 'is made up of a lot of odd characters. I went over the trail from Texas once with two university men in the crowd. One from the Sorbonne and one from Heidelberg.' 'Yeah.' Kilkenny was alert now. If the sheriff had been over the trail there was scarcely a chance he had not heard of Kilkenny''unless it had been among the earliest trips. 'The promise of a new country attracts men from everywhere.' 'Going to be around long'? The question was casual. 'Permanent.' Macy looked at him again, more carefully. 'We need good men. This is good country. Planning on ranching'? 'Uh huh. In a small way.' 'Located yet'? 'Yeah.' There was a moment of silence, then Macy asked, 'Might I ask where? I haven't seen you around before.' Kilkenny nodded with his head toward the north-? west. 'Over there.' He turned his green eyes toward the sheriff. 'An? I haven't seen you around before, either. However, Macy, let's get this straight. As sheriff you've seen these guns I pack an? you're probably wonderin? what all I want around here. I want to be let alone. I've picked the loneliest place I can find and I've holed up there. Unless something unusual happens, I'll be in town
KILKENNY / 13 no more than once a month after I get located. I don't hunt trouble, an? I've never been drunk in my life. Sometimes,' he added, 'it doesn't pay to get drunk an? forgetful. You'll have no trouble with me. I figure to run a few cattle and to mind my own affairs''but I want to be let alone.' 'Fair enough,' Macy nodded agreeably. 'Know anybody in town'? 'Not a soul. And I have spoken to only one man before you. He volunteered the information that I should see Dolan.' Leal Macy felt a little shock of excitement go through him and he looked again at this tall man, measuring him, wondering. Then he said, more carefully, 'If I were you, I'd not see him. Not now, anyway. Let it ride until your next trip. Dolan,' he added, 'is a tough case, and around that place of his you'll find most of the rag ends and bobtails of the country. Drifters, rustlers, gunmen, outlaws, and just no-'goods.' 'Is he on the rustle'? 'If he is, nobody ever caught him at it. Dolan's an ex-? army sergeant. A good fighting man, shrewd, and very able. He rode with Sheridan.' 'So did I,' Kilkenny replied quietly. He looked up suddenly, hearing the door close, and for a long moment he made no move. In the door stood the young woman of Clifton's and her eyes were on him, wide with recognition. He arose quickly. 'How do you do, ma'am? I hope you've been well'? Her eyes held his, filled with uncertainty. Then she nodded and crossed to a table not far away. Macy said nothing but he was obviously interested.
14 / Louis L'Amour The waitress returned and served Kilkenny's meal and at his suggestion brought Macy a cup of coffee. The waitress hovered by the table and when Kilkenny glanced up, she said, 'The chef says the sauce is always with genuine Madeira.' Kilkenny grinned. 'Macy, I may be in town more than I planned. If the food is going to be this good, I can't stay away. A man gets tired of his own cookin'.' The door opened again and three dusty cowhands came in and dropped into chairs around a table. All three were unshaven and had obviously been riding hard and long for they had that lean, hungry, wild look of men off the trail. One of them was a lumbering big fellow with fat cheeks and a thick neck, another had a scar along his cheekbone and the small finger missing from his right hand. The third man was a man of sandy complexion, almost white eyes and he wore his gun thrust into his waistband. After seating themselves they let their eyes wander around the room, noting the sheriff and studying him carefully. If Macy was conscious of their attention he gave no evidence of it. Kilkenny came in for a share of their regard and the big man kept looking at him as if trying to recall where he had seen him before. The food was excellent and the coffee black and strong. It was like paradise after the long days riding west, eating half-'cooked meals in the lee of a cliff or near some wayside waterhole. From time to time he glanced up and twice he met the eyes of the girl from Clifton's. What, he wondered, was her name? Was she stopping here? He hesitated, then put the question to the sheriff. 'Thought you knew her,' Macy said. 'As a matter of
KILKENNY / 15 fact, she's just out here from the East. She's a niece of Bob Early, the town's best lawyer. Her name is Laurie Webster. 'New to the West,' he added, 'but a fine horsewoman. The best I've seen except for Nita Riordan.' Kilkenny felt the shock clear to his heels. He held himself a minute, afraid to speak, and then he said carefully, 'Who did you say'? 'Nita Riordan. She's got the KR spread, southwest of here. Runs the ranch herself, although she's got a foreman that knows his business. She rides astride like a Western woman. I hear she came from the Live Oak country, down near the Rio Grande.' 'That right? The name sounded familiar, but I guess I was mistaken.' Macy chuckled good-'humoredly. 'Friend,' he commented, 'if you ever saw this girl you'd never forget her. Spanish and Irish, and beautiful! All woman, too, but one who can take care of herself. She handles a pistol like a man, and a Winchester, too. But no nonsense about her, and nobody makes her any trouble. That foreman of hers is like her shadow. He's a big Mexican, and I've seen him shoot heads off quail with his six-'shooter.' 'Been here long'? 'Not very. About seven or eight months. She came in here and bought out old Dan Marable, but since she took over you'd never know the place. She's built a big new house, new stables and has brought some new stock into the country. I'm afraid she'll have trouble now, though, with this new outfit comin? in.' Macy drank his coffee. 'She's running cattle on that country south and west of town, clear back to Comb
16 / Louis L'Amour Ridge. It's good graze and she'll do all right if she doesn't have trouble with this new outfit.' When the sheriff had gone, Kilkenny's attention went to the girl at the nearby table. He hesitated, wanting to speak to her, wanting to explain. But the information Macy had given him crowded out all else. Nita Riordan was here! Her brand was the KR, but he refused to let himself believe what that K might mean. Kilkenny and Riordan'.' .' . but there were so many reasons why a particular brand might be used. Yet she would soon know he was here, and without doubt they would meet. The big man across the room was watching him and whispering to his companions. Unmindful of what it might mean, he arose and crossed to Laurie Webster's table. 'I beg your pardon, Miss Webster,' he said, 'but I would like to apologize for causing you any discomfort back down the trail. The fight was forced on me.' 'I know. And can you ever forgive me? To have it happen right before me'.' .' . it was awful. But I do understand that you had to do it.' 'Thanks.' He stepped back. 'Maybe we'll see each other again.' He walked out, conscious of the eyes of the three men. It was bright and sunny in the street and there was a fresh smell of hay, dust and warm lumber. It was time to get his supplies and go, yet he delayed, unwilling to leave so soon. Suppose Nita came into town this morning? Suppose even now, she was in one of the stores? Yet, if they did meet, what could he expect? He had to run away because he was afraid of what his guns might do to their love for
KILKENNY / 17 each other, how inevitably he would some day be killed. At the time it had seemed the thing to do. Through the plains country his name had become a legend, a mysterious rider whose gun skill compared with that of Hickok, Thompson and Earp. He was said to be faster than Hardin, colder than Doc Halliday. Yet few knew him well enough to describe him, for he moved often and used many names. Partly concealed by the awning post and the shade of a huge cottonwood, he saw the three men come from the hotel and mount their horses. All wore the 4T brand. He watched them ride out, then he crossed to the Emporium and bought the supplies he needed. He crossed the bridge to west town and drew up at the livery stable. 'Got a pack horse for sale'? 'See Dolan. He's the man with horses to sell.' Kilkenny hesitated. Dolan might know him. A lot of men had ridden with Sheridan, but the last thing he wanted was to be recognized in this town. Yet to pack the supplies he wanted he needed at least one more horse. The man indicated the corrals. 'He might sell that paint.' The fellow got up, taking his pipe from his mouth. He was a small man with work-'hardened hands. 'Seen the marshal yet'? 'Macy? Yes, I've seen him.' 'He's the sheriff. I mean the marshal, Harry Lott. If you ain't seen him, you will. He aims to get the jump on'strangers. Says the way to run a town is to keep it buffaloed.' 'How do he and Macy get along'? 'They don't. Macy's a solid citizen.'
18 / Louis L'Amour The man still hesitated. 'My name's Hammett. Tell you what I'll do. I'll see if Dolan has a pack horse to sell.' 'It'll be a favor.' Kilkenny walked to the corral and studied the horses. They were not the kind to be found on any cattle spread, but chosen animals, the sort preferred by outlaws who needed speed and bottom. He had walked around the corner of the corral when a big, heavy-'shouldered man strode down to where he had been standing and looked around. He had a long, hard-'jawed face. He wore two guns tied down and he was roughly and carelessly dressed. On his vest was a badge. Lott looked across the street toward Dolan's, then settled down to wait. Kilkenny rolled a smoke. Hammett came out of Dolan's and stopped on the step. Lott called to him and Hammett crossed the street. Kilkenny could hear their voices. 'Where's the man who rode this horse'? 'He said something about getting a drink,' Hammett said. 'Stranger to me.' 'What's he look like'? 'Looks all right. But nobody to monkey with. Looks mighty salty.' 'He got to Savory's'? 'Didn't see. He ain't in Dolan's.' Lott walked past Hammett and headed for Savory's Saloon. Hammett watched him go, then caught up the buckskin's reins and brought him to Kilkenny. 'Dolan said you could have the paint for fifteen bucks, but you'd better ride out of town until Lott gets over his sweat. He's drinkin? and huntin? trouble.' 'Thanks.' Kilkenny handed fifteen dollars to Ham-
KILKENNY / 19 mett, then got into the corral and roped the paint. Putting on a halter and lead rope, he mounted his own horse and with a wave to Hammett, rode through the trees into the creek. He would avoid crossing the bridge in case the sound drew Lott back to the street. At the Emporium he bought a pack saddle and loaded up, keeping a watchful eye out for Harry Lott. Irritably he realized he was only avoiding an issue that must soon be faced. At a thunder of hoofs he turned to see a dozen riders charge into the street. A pistol bellowed, then another. They swung down in front of the Diamond Palace and the Pinenut and charged inside, yelling and laughing. The tall man in black who had led them remained in the street. With him was a wiry man, slender and gray-'faced. His eyes seemed to be almost white. The tall man bit the end from a cigar and Harry Lott came up the street. 'Who made that racket'? he demanded. 'Who was shootin''? The reply came, ice-'cold and domineering. 'Those were my men, Marshal, and the shooting was harmless. They will come to town often, and we will have no trouble. Understand'? Harry Lott's eyes glowed. This man, Kilkenny saw, was a killer. Yet he saw more than that. The gray-'faced man had moved to one side. The movement drew Kil? kenny's attention and for the first time he saw the man's face in the sunlight. It was Dee Havalik. In the Sonora cattle war his ruthless killings had won him the name of Butcher Havalik. Unassuming in appearance, he was deadly as a rattler and blurred lightning with a gun.
20 / Louis L'Amour Harry Lott had not even noticed him. Lott was watching the older man, and Lott was in a killing mood. Why he did it, Kilkenny would never know. Perhaps he wanted to see no man murdered. He spoke softly, just loud enough for Lott to hear. 'Careful, Lott! The other one's Havalik!' Lott stiffened at the name, and Kilkenny saw his eyes shift, then return to Tetlow. 'And who are you'? Lott demanded of the older man. 'You mark well the name.' The old man stood a little? straighter. 'I'm Jared Tetlow! And I've fifty riders, enough to sweep this town off the map!' Harry Lott was no fool. And at that moment he saw the third man. It was the big man Kilkenny had seen earlier in the Westwater dining room. He was fifty yards away, only his face was rifle muzzle showing over the back of a horse. That rifle was leveled at Harry Lott. It was a cold deck, and Lott knew it. 'Keep your men in line,' he said, 'and we'll have no trouble.' Turning on his heels he walked toward the Emporium, slanting his eyes toward Kilkenny. Tetlow and Havalik went inside. The man with the rifle loafed in front of the barber shop. Lott studied Kilkenny suspiciously. 'You saved my neck,' he said. 'They had me in a cross fire.' 'I don't like to see a man murdered.' 'I heard about Havalik.' Lott had buck teeth and a heavy body. 'Who are you'? 'I've been called Trent. Seems like a good name.' When he had packed his supplies he swung into the saddle and rode out of town, taking the route across the bridge, past Dolan's and turning right into the hills when he passed Savory's.
KILKENNY / 21 The tall old man with the autocratic manner was Jared Tetlow, father of the man he had killed at Clifton's! And such a man would be a desperate and implacable enemy. And this man commanded the guns of Dee Havalik!
CHAPTER 2 KValley ILKENNY RODE WEST from Horsehead. The of the Whispering Wind was almost due north but he had no intention of leaving a trail that could be easily followed. One sight of Tetlow had indicated the nature of the man who would be his enemy. Once the cattleman knew the man who had killed his son was nearby he would not rest until that man was dead. Nor was Kilkenny unaware of the danger that lay in Harry Lott. Several times he paused just over ridges to look back along his trail. As he suspected, he was followed. At dusk he turned into the head of Butts Canyon, riding down a switchback trail that was rarely used. He took his time entering and made sure there were visible tracks. Within the canyon it was black as a cavern, yet he trusted his horse, knowing the mountain-'bred gelding would take him through safely. It was cool, almost cold at the canyon bottom. At the first fork he rode into a narrow, cavernous passage that led back into the plateau to the northwest. He had no idea if there was any trail out, but it was a chance he must take. When they had gone some distance up the branch canyon the buckskin pulled to the right. With carefully shielded matches Kilkenny studied the ground and found the buckskin had started into a trail apparently used by
KILKENNY / 23 deer and wild horses. Swinging back into the saddle, he let the buckskin have his head. Nearly an hour later they emerged atop the mesa. A notch in the hills to the north promised a pass and he headed toward it. The night was cool and the stars seemed amazingly close. Several times he paused to rest his horses, and when traveling stuck to rocky ledges whenever possible. Toward daybreak he made dry camp in a clump of juniper, picketing his horses on a small patch of grass. He made breakfast over a fire of dry and smokeless wood at daybreak, but before he moved out he took his glasses and from a nearby rock devoted fifteen minutes to a careful survey of the country. He saw no sign of life, no trail of smoke. Mounting, he rode into wilder and even more lonely hills. It was a desolate land, a jumbled heap of uptilted, broken ledges, enormous basins, knife-'like, serrated ridges and toppling towers of sandstone. The sun climbed and grew hot, weirdly eroded sandstone danced like demons in the heat-'waved air. Dust devils moved mockingly before him, and the distant atmosphere gathered splendid blue lakes in distant bottoms. Sweat stained his shirt and got into his eyes. The buckskin turned dark with sweat and the red dust that shrouded the junipers began to cover him, but still he rode north, knowing nothing of the waterholes, into a trackless and forbidding land. For almost ten miles he rode across windswept rock where no trail could be followed, and then suddenly as though weary of the heights it had been following, the plateau ended in a series of vast, gigantic steps that descended for several miles, dropping little by little into a'basin. Coming upon a wild horse trail, Kilkenny fol-
24 / Louis L'Amour lowed until he came to a small, blue and beautiful lake where grew a few willows and cottonwoods. Here he ? watered his horses and rested, smoking a cigarette and relaxing. It was dusk before he moved again, and now he turned east, for the Blues were abreast of him, and he found a wild horse trail that led across a great natural causeway into the Blues. He made camp at dark and only reached his valley in the early light of the following morning. There was no evidence that anyone had been here in his absence. With coffee on, he went out and removed the saddles from the horses and rubbed both of them down. The buckskin was accustomed to this and stood patiently, but the paint was restive, uncertain of what this new master intended. But the scraping of the dry handful of grass was pleasing, and finally he grew still and waited, enjoying the ministrations. After breakfast he sat on the step of the house and cleaned his guns, then went out and set several snares and deadfalls to trap small game. He had the hunted man's hesitancy to shoot unless absolutely essential and the knowledge that much game could be captured without it. Donning moccasins, he walked off down the valley until he was a mile away from the house, well knowing a time might come when he would want game close around him. Long accustomed to the wild, lonely life, Kilkenny moved like an Indian, and he could live like one. Few men knew the wilderness better, and although he appreciated the towns and the comforts they offered, he had grown accustomed to living in the wilds and could do it. He knew the plants for their nutritional or medicinal value, knew how to make many kinds of shelters and
KILKENNY / 25 utensils for camp use, and given a hunting knife, or even without one, he could survive anywhere. He had chosen a quiet life now, away from the centers of action, but even here trouble was building. A less experienced man could see what was about to happen. Despite the ranches and permanent homes, Horsehead was in no sense a settled community. Many were drifters who had come to get away, often capable men, and fiercely independent. Yet most were poor men, running a few cattle, and starting from scratch. Into this country Tetlow had come with his great herds and dozens of hard-? bitten riders. Good range was scarce, insufficient to support his huge herds and the cattle they now carried. Tetlow was arrogant, sure that his success gave him the right to demand and control. The ranchers were stubborn men, resentful of this outsider. The situation could scarcely have been more explosive. From his own ranch in the Valley of the Whispering Wind, Kilkenny found nothing in the situation to ensure hope. Tetlow's manner to Lott showed the sort of man he was and that he would ride roughshod over all who got in his way. Aside from the presence of Nita Riordan and the fact that he had killed Tetlow's son, Kilkenny's sympathies were with the small ranchers, the men who were building homes rather than empires. For one man to grow so large as Tetlow meant many men must remain small or have nothing. The proper level lay between the two extremes, and this was the American way. Three years before Lance Kilkenny had taken the trail to the Live Oak country to help a friend. He had met Nita Riordan there, keeping a saloon inherited from her father. On the border and in outlaw country, she had
26 / Louis L'Amour elected to run the saloon herself when she found it impossible to sell. Jaime Brigo, the half-'breed Yaqui who had been her father's friend, had been her strong right hand. From the moment their eyes met there had been no doubt in either her mind or that of Kilkenny. And then Kilkenny had drawn back. There was no place in his established life pattern for a woman. No day could pass when he felt free from danger, and any woman who loved him would go through a thousand private hells, never knowing when he might be killed by some reputation-'hunting gunman. Despite her acceptance of this, Kilkenny had gone away. The following year they met again in the cedar breaks of New Mexico where Kilkenny had been trying to establish a home. Trouble had come again, and Nita in the midst of it. Now she was here, ranching in this wild country. Had she believed that because of its loneliness it would draw him? Or had she given him up and started her own life? Or was there, the thought brought a chill, another man? For three days he worked, thinking of this, with increasing restlessness. He used his adze to shape a plow for the share he had picked up in Horsehead, and when it was completed he broke ground for a small corn and vegetable garden. In the evenings he rode and studied the country, becoming more and more familiar with all the canyons and mesas. There was no such cattle country anywhere around Horsehead. On the fourth day he saddled the buckskin at day-? break and took the trail down Mule Canyon. By the ? direct route he was nearing Horsehead by noon and he circled to enter town from the west.
KILKENNY / 27 A spring wagon was tied in front of the Emporium with a four-'horse team hitched to it. The brands were 4T, the Tetlow brand. Down the street he saw three horses wearing the same brand. Beside them was a sorrel horse with three white stockings, branded KR. He turned quickly to get off the street and went into the dining room of the Westwater Hotel. As he entered, a man with a square-'cut face, iron gray hair and cool blue eyes looked up from his meal. His eyes quickened with interest and Kilkenny turned sharply away and seated himself at a table across the room. The effort was useless, for the man with the gray hair crossed the room and sat down opposite him. Kilkenny liked the cool, self-'possessed manner of the man, and the neatness of his clothing. 'My name is Dolan.' 'I'm Trent.' 'I've good cause to remember you, Major''Trent.' Kilkenny's expression did not change. He had ended the War Between the States as Major Kilkenny. 'I heard you were with Sheridan.' 'You'd not remember me, but I've cause to remember you. There was a bit of a skirmish in a little Mississippi village and you came in with ten soldiers to drive out some guerrillas who were looting. You were outnumbered five to one and had to pull out.' 'It was a rough go.' 'There was a Union soldier lying wounded in a barn. He had been trying to fight them off for more than an hour before you rode into town. You heard about him after you had pulled out.' 'I remember. Some village girl told me.' 'Through heavy fire you rode back, fought off an at-
28 / Louis L'Amour tack with six guns, and when they broke in, killed three men with a Bowie knife before they broke and ran.' 'Makes me sound a desperate character. Actually, it was mostly luck. They came into the darkness from the glare of the sun.' He studied Dolan. 'You seem well informed.' 'I was the soldier you carried out of there. But for you I'd be dead.' 'You owe me nothing. It was the chance of war.' 'Naturally, you'd feel that way.' Dolan bit the end from a cigar. 'This is a new country. We have two large cattle outfits, the KR and the 4T, and they will soon be'fighting. The situation could become prosperous for us all.' 'The 4T will spend money,' Kilkenny said quietly. 'That should increase prosperity. It won't make matters easier for the local rustlers. The 4T can take care of itself.' 'Possibly.' 'Dee Havalik is foreman for Tetlow.' Dolan stiffened and glanced sharply at Kilkenny. 'Havalik? Here'? 'Better look at your hole card, Dolan. And'''some change in his voice made Kilkenny meet his eyes'''don't bother the KR.' Dolan studied Kilkenny with careful eyes. 'That means you want it left alone? I suppose you wouldn't answer a question about it'? 'None.' 'And Tetlow'? 'If he interferes with the KR, I'll see him.' Dolan waved his cigar irritably. 'You don't leave me much.'
KILKENNY / 29 Kilkenny smiled. 'You look prosperous. If you're pushed you could always turn honest.' Dolan chuckled. 'It's a desperate resort, but it may come to that.' He got up. 'Nevertheless, I'm your friend.' The 4T, or as it was called by its own people, the Forty, had established headquarters east of town. Tetlow sat by the wagon with his three sons, Phineas, Andy and Ben. Jared had been talking of his dead son. 'I'll find that man!' he promised. 'I'll see him die!' 'Dad,' Ben said quietly, 'why hunt trouble? You know how the kid was. He was always on the prod. I don't blame anybody but the kid himself.' Tetlow's eyes flamed. 'He was your brother, wasn't he'? Dee Havalik squatted across from Tetlow. The older man wasted no time. With a stick he traced a crude map in the dust. 'Carson runs cattle in Brushy Basin and east. He's got a small lake that holds through the dry spell. We'll go see him about sellin? out.' He looked up. 'Dee, you're to come. Andy will stay with the cattle. We'll take Phin, Ben and two hands. Bring Cruz an? Stilwell. We'll go see this Carson.' Reluctantly, although he knew better than to object, Ben mounted his sorrel and followed the others. They rode swiftly until they drew up before the door of the small adobe house. A man of fifty came from the house wiping his hands on a handkerchief. 'Light an? set, folks!' he invited. 'Just got grub on, but there's some extry an? I can make more!' 'How much you want for this place'? Tetlow said abruptly. Carson blinked. 'This here'? He shook his head,
30 / Louis L'Amour smiling. 'Why, I like it here. I don't aim to sell. This here's the first home I ever had. I got me a few head of cattle an'''? 'How much'? Tetlow repeated brusquely. 'Speak up, man! I've no time to waste!' Carson's face stiffened, then his eyes grew wary as he looked from one to the other. 'So that's the way of it? I wondered what yuh figured on doin? with that big herd. Well, I ain't sellin'. That's all there is to it.' 'I'll give you a thousand dollars,' Tetlow replied shortly. 'Take it an? a horse an? git!' 'You're crazy!' Carson was angry now. 'Why, I'm runnin? four hundred head o? fat stock! I got seven thousand acres o? land under my own use an? more to come! A thousand dollars? You're crazy!' The men said nothing and there was absolute silence for the space of two minutes. Then Carson drew a step back, then another. He was afraid now, seeing the stern faces of these men. 'One more chance,' Tetlow said, 'you get a thousand dollars an? a horse. Then you get clear out of the country.' 'Go to hell!' Carson shouted. He wheeled and sprang for the door. A gun bellowed and he sprawled across the doorstep, his fingers grasping at the floor as if trying to drag himself inside. 'You seen it,' Havalik's voice was casual, 'he reached for a gun.' Ben's face was pale. He looked from his father to his brothers but their faces were blank, approving. 'Phin,' Tetlow suggested, 'you ride to town. Look up that Macy feller an? tell him what happened. Get on with it, now. We'll ride on over to Carpenter's place.' Phin swung his horse around and went off at a fast
KILKENNY / 31 trot. With Jared Tetlow and Havalik in the lead, the rest of them took off for the Carpenter place. It was all of an hour's ride, and when they rode up to the door, Carpenter was walking up to the house with a bucket of milk. Tetlow drew up, waving a hand around him. 'What you want for this place? I'm buyin? land today.' Carpenter looked carefully at the riders and something in their eyes warned him. 'Why, I don't know,' he said cautiously, 'I haven't thought about sellin'.' 'Think about it, then,' Tetlow replied, 'I need range and lots of it.' Carpenter hesitated. These riders had come from Carson's place and only a few hours ago he had been talking to Carson. The older man had been telling him of what he planned to do with his place, and both men had discussed the big herd of cattle and the rumor that more cattle were coming. 'What did Carson do'? Carpenter asked curiously. 'Have you been over there'? 'Just came from there,' Havalik offered. 'We'll have that place, all right.' 'Carson won't sell.' Carpenter was positive. 'We talked some last night.' 'No,' Tetlow agreed, 'he won't sell. He won't have to. His place has been let go.' 'Let go'? Carpenter was stunned. His eyes went from one to the other. Behind him he heard a sound inside the house, and he knew that sound. His wife was taking the scatter gun off the nails on the wall. 'Yeah, Carson won't be around any more. Cantankerous ol? cuss got right mean when we offered to buy him out. He grabbed for a gun. Well, what could we do'? Carpenter looked at them, from one cold face to the
32 / Louis L'Amour other. 'I see,' he said slowly. 'And if I don't sell? What happens then'? Tetlow's horse stepped forward. 'You'll sell,' he said coldly. 'What have you got here'? he sneered. 'A little one-'horse spread! Why, I've got thousands of cattle! I need all this range! You'll just putter along an? waste it! I'll put it to good use. I'll give you a thousand dollars an? you can keep your buckboard an? a team to fetch you an? your wife away from here.' 'Free,' the woman's voice spoke from the window of the cabin, 'don't bother to talk to 'em any more. We got to strain that milk. Come on inside.' 'You stay where you are!' Tetlow shouted, growing angry. 'I ain't through with you!' 'You're through here,' the woman's voice was cold, 'this here's a Colt revolvin? scatter gun. She will fire four times. I reckon that's enough for all of you. Now ride off! You lift a hand to my man an? I'll start shootin!' Jared Tetlow stiffened, his face flooding with angry blood. 'Easy, Dad!' It was Ben who spoke. 'She means'it.' 'That's right,' Havalik added, 'she ain't foolin? an? at this range she could kill us all.' Tetlow cooled. That was right, of course. Anyway, they had done enough killing for one day. 'All right!' he said crisply. 'We're ridin'! But you make up your minds! We want this place!' Wheeling, they rode away from the Carpenter place and back toward their own camp. 'Dad,' Ben interposed, 'we'd better sit quiet until we see how the sheriff takes this Carson affair.' Tetlow snorted. 'You saw him in the street! The man's
KILKENNY / 33 gun-'handy, all right, but we can talk to him! I know how to handle that sort!' 'That wasn't the sheriff, though,' Ben persisted. 'Wasn't the sheriff'? Tetlow was growing angrier by the minute. Why did this son of his have to'''What do you mean? He wasn't the sheriff? You saw his badge, didn't you'? 'He was the town marshal, Dad. Not the sheriff. I hear the sheriff is a different sort, a very different sort.' Jared Tetlow scowled, but suddenly he was worried. Lott not the sheriff! He had taken for granted once he had seen the man that there was no need to worry. If the man couldn't be frightened he could be bought. Or enlisted. 'Why didn't you tell me'? he demanded. 'You talk enough!' 'I started to tell you once, an? you wouldn't listen,' Ben replied. 'You never listen to me, an? it's time you did.' His father stared at him in amazement. 'Since when did I take orders from a milk sop'? he demanded. 'You keep a still tongue in your head! I can make up my own mind!' 'All right,' Ben replied shortly, 'see if you can make up the sheriff's!' Wheeling his horse he rode rapidly off through the junipers. Jared Tetlow stared after him, scowling, his face black with the anger that always mounted quickly at any suggestion of resistance among his own people. Nobody said anything, and the hands did not look at each other. They pushed on, riding swiftly toward the headquarters wagons. Ben drew up when he was safely away from the caval-
34 / Louis L'Amour cade and watched them go. Where was all this going to lead? Did his father think everybody would cringe before him? That he could rule everyone with whom he came in contact? And that Dee Havalik! The man gave Ben the creeps. Turning his sorrel, he rode on into town and left his horse at the hitch rail. He saw no sign of Phin anywhere. Either he had not yet found the sheriff or they had both started for the ranch. Suddenly recalling that the hotel was reported to have an excellent chef, he went up the steps and entered. There were only two people in the cafe. A slender, attractive girl in a gray suit, and a man. The man sat alone at a table facing the door. He wore a gray flannel shirt with a black silk neckerchief, black jeans, and he wore two guns tied low down on his thighs. His black, flat-'crowned hat was on a hook nearby. As Ben entered, the man looked up, measuring him with careful eyes. Ben Tetlow never forgot that glance. It had in it something wary and unfathomable. It was the expression of a man who knew what it meant to command. His eyes went again to the tall girl. She was more than attractive, she was really lovely. Suddenly, more than anything else in the world, he wanted to know her. The man in black got to his feet and picked up his hat. He laid some coins on the table and glanced again at Ben. His glance now was friendly. 'Good grub,' he said, 'you'll never find anything like that in a cow camp!' Ben's smile was quick. 'That's what I hear.' The tall man stopped by the girl's table. 'Are you enjoying your stay, Miss Webster? I'm afraid there isn't much to do unless you like to ride.'
KILKENNY / 35 'Oh, but I do! I love to ride!' Then she said quickly, 'You have forgiven me, haven't you'? He nodded, smiling. Then he excused himself and started for the door. Ben Tetlow looked after the tall rider. 'Forgive her for what'? he wondered. He swallowed, then cleared his throat. 'Seems like a nice fellow,' he ventured. She looked at him gravely with the expression of a little girl who has been taught not to talk to strangers. 'Yes, he is nice, and I'm so ashamed! I said some simply awful things to him! But you see, I had just come out west, and I saw him shoot a man.' 'I know what you mean. It is never nice to see a man shot. Not even when he deserves it.' 'This one did,' Laurie said seriously. 'I'm sure of it.'
CHAPTER 3 L ANCE KILKENNY HAD seen Ben Tetlow and surmised who he was and, walking outside to the boardwalk that ran along before the buildings, he frowned as he considered the situation. There would be no avoiding the Tetlows or their ? riders. In the first place there were too many of them, and in the second the town was too small. What he wanted now was to find out what had been done, if anything. He was standing on the street when he saw Sheriff Macy come from his office in company with a tall, rather stooped young man. That this was Phin Tetlow he did not know, but he did see the 4T brand. Why were the Tetlows calling on the sheriff? And ? Macy's face was stern. Kilkenny watched them pass, then turned and crossed the street to the sheriff's office and jail. An oldster with a handlebar mustache sat with his feet on the desk. He nodded at Kilkenny. 'Howdy! What can I do fer yuh'? Kilkenny shrugged and smiled deprecatingly. 'Nothing, really. Sort of loafin'.' He jerked his head to the east. 'Macy looked some upset.' The old jailer spat at the spittoon and scored dead center. 'Ain't missed in ten year,' he said, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth. 'He should be upset. Carson had him an argyment an? tried to drag iron on Dee Havalik. The man must have been crazy!'
KILKENNY / 37 'Carson'? Kilkenny shook his head. 'Don't know him.' 'He's been batchin? out east o? here, got him a little two by four spread, few cows, good water. That young Tetlow said they went there to try to buy the place off him an? he ordered 'em off. When they tried to argy with him, he dragged iron an? Havalik shot him.' So it had started already! Kilkenny sat down and pushed his hat back on his head, stretching out his long legs. Wryly, he shook his head. 'That Havalik,' he said quietly, 'I hear he's pretty slick with a gun.' 'One o? the best,' the jailer shook his head. 'Carson must've been crazy.' 'Anybody else see it'? Kilkenny asked innocently. 'I mean anybody but the Tetlow outfit'? 'Now that you mention it, I don't reckon there was, but it sure don't make much diff'rence. Hombre like Tetlow wouldn't be startin? trouble with small fry like Carson. What would he want from him? Other way around, I wouldn't be s'prised.' Kilkenny shrugged, then he said ironically, 'Yes, Carson might have tried to take Tetlow's herd away from him. He might have figured that fifty to one was about the right odds. Tetlow,' Kilkenny added, 'wouldn't think o? tryin? to steal Carson's land, or force him off it.' He got to his feet, noticing out of the corners of his eyes that the jailer was scowling thoughtfully. 'Reckon I'll look around a mite. See you.' The sun lay lazily upon the town. A red hen pecked at some refuse lying in the dust, and a black and white shepherd dog flicked a casual tail at flies. Kilkenny strolled up to the Pinenut Saloon and rolled a smoke, leaning against the awning stanchion.
38 / Louis L'Amour It was coming now and there would be no getting away from it. What would Leal Macy do? How much support would he get from this town? The jailer had seemed disposed to accept Tetlow's story without question, although Kilkenny's remarks might have planted doubt in his mind. Yet so many were willing to accept without question the word of any man who seemed to have money and power. Macy was not such a man, but could he get the local support necessary? Jared Tetlow had overnight altered the entire economic situation at Horsehead, becoming the largest single buyer to be found, and buying more than any three outfits in the area. Some of the local tradesmen would be afraid of running him out. He heard the rattle of a buckboard and glanced up to see Doc Blaine come rolling down the street. He recognized the man from the black medical bag he carried and his manner. It could have been nobody but the town doctor. He pulled up in front of the Pinenut and got down, tying his team. 'This isn't really necessary,' he commented, faintly humorous, 'these horses will stand in front of any saloon in the country. They know their ? master.' Kilkenny grinned, shifting his feet. 'Have you been out to Carson's place'? Blaine shook his head and looked curious. 'What's the matter with him? That hard-'bitten old coot isn't sick, is he'? 'He's dead. Dee Havalik shot him.' Casually, Kilkenny repeated the story, watching Blaine's reaction. The doctor's eyes sharpened with attention and he ? nodded as though it followed some secret thought of his'own.