|Mass Market Paperback (Reprint)||2018-12-24||$7.99||224|
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|Mass Market Paperback||1995|
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|Mass Market Paperback||1982-07|
|Mass Market Paperback (17th Printing)||1980||169|
|Paperback (Eleventh Printing)||1977||169|
|Paperback (New Impression)||1973-06||128|
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By Louis L’Amour
Published by Bantam on 2018-12-24
Mass Market Paperback: $7.99
FICTION / Historical, FICTION / Action and Adventure, FICTION / Romance
As part of the Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures series, this edition contains exclusive bonus materials!
He was a white man as cunning as any Indian, a brooding man who trusted in nothing but his weapon and his horse. Shalako was determined to cross the bleak Sonoran Desert—the Apaches’ killing ground—by himself. But then he came across a European hunting party, and a brave and beautiful woman, stranded and defenseless. Shalako knew that he had to stay and help them survive. For somewhere out there was a deadly Apache warrior . . . and he had the worst kind of death in mind for them all.
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, faithfully completed for this program, is a voyage into danger and violence on the high seas. These exciting publications will be 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Additionally, many beloved classics will be rereleased with an exclusive Lost Treasures postscript featuring previously unpublished material, including outlines, plot notes, and alternate drafts.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...
APACHE FURY Tpricked, he stallion's head came up alertly, ears and the man Shalako opened his eyes and lay still, listening. His guns were at hand, but he ignored them, reaching for his knife. No sound? .' .' . time went by, but he did not relax. Suddenly, the stallion drew back sharply and snorted. A shadow moved? .' .' . lunged. Shalako rolled to his knees. Unable to judge the position of the Indian in the darkness, he risked everything and slashed across in front of him, and felt the tip of the blade catch flesh. There was a muffled gasp and an iron grip seized his wrist. Using the powerful muscles of his bent legs, Shalako straightened sharply, jerking the arm up and tearing it free. Instantly, he smashed down with a closed fist and felt it thud against flesh. The Indian lunged, his knifepoint tearing Shalako's shirt. Shalako lunged in turn, missed, and the Indian seized his knife arm.' .' .' .
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
Shalako 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 rk
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. Shalako 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 ? 1962 by Louis & Katherine L'Amour Trust Postscript by Beau L'Amour ? 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-'48632-'9 Ebook ISBN 978-'0-'525-'48640-? 4 Cover art: Gordon Crabb Printed in the United States of America randomhousebooks.com 2? 4? 6? 8? 9? 7? 5? 3? 1 Bantam Books mass market edition: December 2018
CHAPTER 1 Fcalled or seven days in the spring of 1882 the man Shalako heard no sound but the wind? .' .' . No sound but the wind, the creak of his saddle, the hoofbeats of his horse. Seven days riding the ghost trails up out of Sonora, down from the Sierra Madre, through Apache country, keeping off the skylines, and watching the beckoning fingers of the talking smoke. Lean as a famine wolf but wide and thick in the shoulder, the man called Shalako was a brooding man, a wary man, a man who trusted to no fate, no predicted destiny, nor to any luck. He trusted to nothing but his weapons, his horse, and the caution with which he rode. His hard-'boned face was tanned to saddle leather under the beat-'up, black, flat-'crowned hat. He wore fringed shotgun chaps, a faded red shirt, a black handkerchief knotted about his throat, and a dozen scars of knife and bullet. It was a baked and brutal land, this Sonora, sun-? blistered and arid, yet as he sifted his way through the stands of organ-'pipe cactus, prickly pear and cat's claw, he knew the desert throbbed with its own strange life, and he knew those slim fingers of lifting smoke beckoned death. He was a lone-'riding man in a lonesome country, riding toward a destiny of which he knew nothing, a man
/ Louis L'Amour who for ten long years had known no other life than this, nor wished for any other. What else there was he had known before, but now he lived from day to day, watching the lonely sunsets flame and die, bleeding their crimson shadows against the long, serrated ridges. Watching the dawns come, seeing the mornings stir with their first life? .' .' . and the land he rode was a land where each living thing lived by the death of some other thing. The desert was a school, a school where each day, each hour, a final examination was offered, where failure meant death and the buzzards landed to correct the papers. For the desert holds no easy deaths? .' .' . hard, bitter, and ugly are the desert deaths? .' .' . and long drawn out. Merciless were the raw-'backed mountains, dreadfully desolate the canyons, the white-'faced ancient lakes were dust? .' .' . traps where a man might die, choking horribly upon alkali or the ashen powder of ancient rocks. For seven days Shalako heard no sound but that of his own passage, and then a gunshot bought space in the silence, a harsh whiplash of sound, followed after an instant by the shattering volley of at least four rifles. The rifles spoke again from the sounding board of the rocks, racketing away down the canyons to fade at the desert's rim. Motionless upon a sun-'baked slope, he waited while the sweat found thin furrows through the dust on his cheeks, but there was no further sound, no further shot, nor was there movement within the range of his vision? .' .' . merely the lazy circle of a buzzard against the heat-? blurred sky. If they had not seen him already they would not see
SHALAKO / 3 him if he remained still, and Shalako had learned his patience in a hard school. Movement attracts the eye, draws the attention, renders visible. A motionless object that blends with the surroundings can long remain invisible even when close by, and Shalako was not moving. About him lay vast, immeasurable distances, pastel shadings of salmon, pink, and lemon broken by the deeper reds of rock or the darkness of cliff shadow. Overhead the sun was lost in a copper sky above the heat-? waved reaches where all sharpness of outline melted in the shimmering movement of the air. The innocent distance that lay before him was broken by hollows, canyons, folded hills, but it seemed an even, unbroken expanse from where he sat. There were cholla forests out there, scatterings of lava? .' .' . a land where anything might be and something obviously was. The notch in the hills toward which he was pointing held a pass through the mountains, and within the pass lay a water hole. His canteen was half-'full and if necessity demanded it could be made to last another three days? .' .' . it had done so before. In the desert a man learns to use water sparingly and to make a little cover a lot of distance. The roan gelding was a mountain-'bred horse and could survive on cholla or prickly pear if the spines were burned away, but water and grass lay within that opening in the hills, and Shalako had no intention of skirting the mountain unless circumstances insisted. Yet the sound of shots had come from that direction. After a while he made, with sparing movements, a cigarette, his eyes holding on the far, blue mountains briefly, then surveying the country while he worked with the
/ Louis L'Amour small, essential movements. He considered the possibilities, knowing that a desert offers less freedom of movement than at first seems likely. All travel in the desert, of man or animal, is governed by the need for water. Some animals learned to survive for days without water, but man was not one of these. Four rifles? .' .' . at least four rifles had fired that volley, and four rifles are not fired simultaneously unless fired at another man or men. Sunset was scarcely an hour away, and the water hole was at least that far distant. It was unlikely that whoever fired those shots would, at this hour, ride farther than the nearest water. Therefore the chances were that the water toward which he was riding would be occupied by whoever had done that shooting. On the slope where he had drawn up neither the roan gelding nor himself would be visible at any distance, so he waited a little longer, inhaling deeply of the sharp, strong tobacco. Four men do not fire in unison unless from ambush, and Shalako had no illusions about the sort of men who attack from concealment, nor what their attitude would be toward a drifting stranger who might have seen too much. Whatever of gentleness lay within the man called Shalako was hidden behind the cold green eyes. There was no visible softness, no discernible shadow left by illusion. He was a man who looked upon life with a dispassionate, wry realism. He knew he lived by care and by chance, knowing the next man he met might be the man who would kill him, or the next mile might see his horse down with a broken
SHALAKO / 5 leg? .' .' . and a man without a horse in this country was two-'thirds a dead man. To his thinking those men who thought their hour was predestined were fools. Whatever else nature was, it was impersonal, inexorable. He had seen too much of death to believe it was important, too much of life to believe that the destiny of any creature was important to any but itself or those dependent upon it. There was always life. Humans and animals and plants were born and died, they lived their brief hour and went their way, their places filled so quickly they were scarcely missed. Only the mountains lasted, and even they changed. Their lasting was only an idea in the minds of men because they lasted a little longer than men. Shalako knew he would live as long as he moved with care, considered the possibilities, and kept out of line of any stray bullet. Yet he was without illusions; for all his care, death could come and suddenly. The margin for error was slight. A dry water hole, a chance fall, a stray bullet? .' .' . or an Apache he missed seeing first. Those who talked of a bullet with their name on it were fools? .' .' . to a bullet all targets were anonymous. Behind him to the east lay Mexico, but what trail he left back there only an Apache or a wolf might follow. Deliberately, he had avoided all known water holes, keeping to the roughest country, seeking out the rarely used seeps or tinajas, and avoiding the places an Apache might go in search of food. He had seen nobody in those seven days, and nobody had seen him. He was quite sure of that for, had he been seen, he would be dead. Yet he knew that the Apaches
/ Louis L'Amour had come down out of the Sierra Madre and were riding north. He read the story in those weird hieroglyphics of the desert, the trails of unshod ponies, deserted rancherias, faint dust trails hanging above the desert, and always of course, the talking smoke. Holding to the seeps and the natural tanks as he had, he had been fairly safe. Such places were rarely used except when the year was far along or it was a dry season. Early in the spring the desert water holes were full and there was no need to stray from them. Removing his hat, he wiped the sweatband. No further sounds had reached him, nor was there any dust. Around him the desert lay still as on the day the earth was born. Yet he did not move. Big Hatchet Peak towered more than eight thousand feet just to the south and west. He had crossed the border from Mexico into the States at a point in the foothills of the Sierra Rica, knowing the approximate location of the water hole toward which he was riding. It lay about two miles up a canyon and two trails led from it. One started south and east, then swung westward toward Whitewater Wells, every inch of it Apache country. The second trail was dim, scarcely used even by Indians, an ancient trail that dated back to the Mimbres people, long vanished from their old haunts, if not from the face of the earth. This trail led almost due west from the water hole, was much shorter and less likely to be watched. The mind of the man called Shalako, as of most Western men, was a storehouse of such information. Where guidebooks and maps are not available, every campfire, chuck wagon,
SHALAKO / 7 and saloon bar becomes a clearinghouse for informa? tion. It was hot, and the roan was streaked with sweat and dust. The border country can be cool in April. It can also be an oven, the way it was now. He started his horse, walking it to keep the dust down. From the shade of a nearby boulder an irritable rattler buzzed unpleasantly, and then for a time a chaparral cock raced ahead of him, enjoying the company. He paused again by a clump of ironwood, enjoying the fragrance from the yellow blossoms of some nearby cat's claw. Sometimes called 'wait-'a-minute,' it was a low, spreading shrub with peculiar hooklike thorns that had crippled many a horse or other animal. His eyes studied the desert. The tracks of a small lizard were visible in the sand? .' .' . bees hummed around the cat's-claw blossoms. Shadows were beginning to thicken in some of the far-'off canyons, although the sun was still high. Shalako continued to walk his horse forward, and each time he mounted a slope, he came up easily at the crest until only his head showed above the hill, and there, holding very still to simulate a rock, he allowed only his eyes to move until he had scanned the area within view. After almost an hour of slow progress, he rode down a draw toward a small playa, or dry lake. It was unlikely the killers had remained in the area but Shalako was not a trusting man. Within the mouth of the draw he drew rein again. With his first glance he recognized the body for what it was, but only when he was quite sure that he was alone did he approach it. He circled it as warily as a wolf, studying it from all angles, and when finally he stopped
/ Louis L'Amour within a dozen feet of the dead man he knew much of what had happened at this place. The dead man had ridden a freshly shod horse into the playa from the north, and when shot he had tumbled from the saddle and the horse had galloped away. Several riders on unshod ponies had then approached the body and one had dismounted to collect the weapons. The clothing had not been stripped off, nor was the body mutilated. Only when he could learn no more by observation did he dismount and turn the body over. He was already sure of the dead man's identity. Pete Wells? .' .' . An occasional scout for the Army, a sometime driver of freight wagons, a former buffalo hunter and lately a hanger-'on around Fort Bowie, Fort Grant, or Tucson. A man of no particular quality, honest enough, and not a man likely to make enemies. Yet now he was dead, shot from ambush. Circling, Shalako discovered where the ambushers had lain in wait. Four men? .' .' . four Apaches. He studied the droppings of the horses, kicking them apart with a boot toe. He recognized in those droppings seeds from a plant found in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, but not farther north. These were not reservation Indians from San Carlos then, they were some of Chato's outfit, just up from below the border. Their trail when they left Wells's body lay in the direction he himself was taking, and that meant the water hole was off-limits for Shalako unless he wished to fight them for it, and no man in his right mind started a fight with Apaches.
SHALAKO / 9 When the time came for fighting, the man Shalako fought with a cold fury that had an utterly impersonal quality about it. He fought to win, fought with deadly efficiency, with no nonsense about him, yet he did not fight needlessly. Despite his weariness and that of his horse he began backtracking the dead man. Pete Wells was not likely to be alone, so his presence indicated a camp nearby, and a camp meant water. Yet Shalako puzzled over his presence here at such a time. The Hatchet Mountains were in a corner of New Mexico that projected somewhat south of the rest of the state line. It was a desert and mountain region, off the main trails and offering no inducements to travel except several routes into Mexico. These were routes used by the Apaches in making their raids, but by no one else.' Unless Wells had been with the Army. Within a few minutes Shalako knew that was highly unlikely, for Wells had been following another rider or looking for someone whom he did not fear. Wells had mounted every ridge and knoll to survey the surrounding country, and Wells knew better than to take such risks. Obviously, he knew nothing of the movement of the Apaches, and that implied that nobody 'else knew as yet. Wells was close to the Army and would be among the first to hear. Shalako had backtrailed Wells for less than two miles when he came upon the trail Wells had lost. Pausing briefly, Shalako tried to form a picture of the situation, for to follow a trail successfully it is first necessary to know something of the motives of the person followed.
10 / Louis L'Amour Both horses were freshly shod, and both moved with an eagerness that implied they had come but a short distance. Wells was no such tracker as Shalako, a fact Wells would have been the first to admit and, swinging a wide circle, Shalako picked up the lost trail in a matter of minutes. What he found was merely a white scratch? .' .' . the scar of an iron shoe upon a rock. Farther along a bit of ? stepped-'on sage, then a partial hoof track almost hidden by a creosote bush. The trail led toward the Hatchet Mountains and, judging by the crushed sage, it was no more than two hours old. By the time, some thirty minutes later, that he was riding up the slope that led to the base of the Hatchets, he knew a good deal more about the person he was following. He also knew why Wells had been following and that there was a fairly large camp in the vicinity. In the first place, the rider was in no hurry, and was unfamiliar with the country. As there were no inhabited ranches or mines in the area, this implied a camp close enough for the rider to return before dark. Here and there the rider had paused to look more closely at things, interesting enough in themselves, but too familiar for a Western man to notice. At one point the rider had attempted to pick the blossom from a prickly pear. The blossom lay where it had been hastily dropped. Shalako's face broke into a sudden grin that brought a surprising warmth to his bleak features. Whoever plucked that blossom had a bunch of stickers in her fingers. Her'
SHALAKO / 11 Yes, he was sure the rider was a girl or woman. The tracks of the horse, for example? .' .' . it was a horse of medium build with a good stride? .' .' . the tracks were but lightly pressed upon the sand, which implied a rider of no great weight. Moreover, Pete Wells had been extremely anxious to find the rider, which also implied a woman about whom he was worried. He might have followed any tenderfoot, but a man like Wells, almost any Western man in fact, would have the feeling that what'ever a man did was his own problem. If a man was big enough to make his own tracks and carry a gun, he was a responsible person, responsible for himself and his actions, and not to be pampered. A man in the Western lands was as big as he wanted to be, and as good or as bad as he wished. What law existed was local law and it felt no responsibility for the actions of any man when they took place out of its immediate jurisdiction. There were very few borderline cases. Men were good and bad? .' .' . simply that? .' .' . the restrictions were few, the chances of concealment almost non'ex'is'tent. A man who was bad was boldly bad, and nobody sheltered or protected any man. But this rider was a woman, of that Shalako was now sure. The horse the woman rode was a mare? .' .' . back there a short way the rider had drawn up to look over the country and the mare took the occasion to respond to a call of nature? .' .' . from the position of her feet it was obvious she was a mare. Men in the West rarely rode mares or stallions. There might be exceptions, but they were so scarce as to attract
12 / Louis L'Amour a good deal of attention. They rode geldings because they were less trouble among other horses. Suddenly, almost in the shadow of the mountains, he saw where a trail of unshod ponies had crossed ahead of him. The rider he followed had noticed them also. 'One up for her,' he said aloud. 'At least she has her eyes open.' The rider had drawn up, the mare dancing ner'vous'ly, eager to be moving. Now he scored another mark for the rider? .' .' . a tender'foot and a woman, but no damned fool? .' .' . she had turned abruptly north and, skirting a nest of boulders, had entered a canyon. That last was not a good move but, obviously alarmed, she was seeking the quickest route back to camp. The roan stumbled often now and Shalako drew rein beside the boulders and got down. Pouring a little water into his bandanna, he squeezed the last drop into the roan's mouth. He did this several times, and was about to step back into the saddle when he heard a horse's hoof click on stone. He swung his leg over the saddle, then stood in the stirrups to look over the top of the boulder. Evidently the canyon had proved impassable or a dead end, for the rider was returning. And the rider was a woman. Not only a woman, but a young woman, and a beautiful woman. How long since he had seen a girl like that? Shalako watched her ? ride toward him, noting the ease with which she rode, the grace of manner, the immaculate clothing. A lady, this one. She was from a world that he had almost forgotten? .' .' . bit by bit his memories had faded
SHALAKO / 13 behind the blazing suns, the hot, still valleys, the rawbacked hills. She rode a sorrel, and she rode sidesaddle, her gray riding skirt draped gracefully over the side of the mare, and she rode with the ease of long practice. Yet he was grimly pleased to see the businesslike way her rifle came up when he appeared from around the rock. He had no doubt that she would shoot if need be. Moreover, he suspected she would be a very good shot. She drew up a dozen yards away, but if she was frightened there was no visible evidence of it. 'None of my business, but this here is Apache country.' 'So'? 'You know a man named Pete Wells'? 'Yes. He's our 'wagon master.' 'Pete never did have much sense.' He gathered his reins. 'Lady, you'd better get back to your camp wherever it is and tell them to pack up and ? high'tail it out of here.' 'Why should I do a thing like that'? 'I think you've guessed,' he said, 'I think you had an idea when you saw those tracks back yonder.' He gestured to indicate the mountains far behind him. Their near flank was shadowed now, but the crest carried a crown of gold from the sun's bright setting. 'Over there in the Sierra Rica there's an Apache named Chato. He just rode up out of Mexico with a handful of warriors, and here and there some others are riding to meet him. He will soon be meeting with some more who have jumped their reservation, and within ? forty-'eight hours there won't be a man or woman alive in this corner of New Mexico.'
14 / Louis L'Amour 'We have been looking forward to meeting some Indians,' she replied coolly. 'Frederick has been hoping for a little brush with them.' 'Your Frederick is a damned fool.' 'I should advise you not to say that to him.' Shalako handed her his field glass. 'Over east there. See that smoke? Over by the peak'? 'I see nothing.' 'Keep looking.' She moved the glass, searching against the ? far-'off, purpling mountains. Suddenly, the glass ceased to move. 'Oh? You mean that thin column of smoke'? 'It's a talking smoke? .' .' . the telegraph of the Apache. You and your outfit better light out fast. You already got one man killed.' 'I? .' .' . what'? 'Pete was always a damn fool, but even he should have known better than to bring a party of greenhorns into this country at a time like this.' Her cheeks paled. 'Are you telling me that Pete Wells is dead'? 'We've sat here too long. Let's get out of here.' 'Why should I be responsible? I mean, if he is dead'? 'He's dead, all right. If he hadn't been ? sky'lining himself on every hill while hunting for you he might not have been seen.' He led off along the base of the Hatchets, heading north. The gaunt land was softening with shadows, but was somehow increasingly lonely. The girl turned in her saddle to look toward the distant finger of smoke, and suddenly she shivered. 'We're at a ranch north of the range,' she told him. 'Mr.'Wells took us there. The place is deserted.'
SHALAKO / 15 'How'd you get in here past the troops'? 'Frederick did not want an official escort. He wished to see the Apache in battle.' 'Any man who hunts Apache trouble is a child.' Her tone was cool. 'You do not understand. Frederick is a soldier. He was a general in the Franco-'Prus'sian? War when he was ? twenty-'five. He was a national hero.' 'We had one of those up north a few years back. His name was Custer.' Irritated by his amused contempt, she made no reply for several minutes yet, despite her anger with him, she was observant enough to note that he rode with caution, never ceased to listen, and his eyes were always busy. She had hunted before this, and her father had hunted, and she had seen the Masai hunt in Africa? .' .' . they were like this man now. 'It is silly to think that naked savages could oppose modern weapons. Frederick is amused by all the trouble your Army seems to have.' He looked uneasily into the eve'ning. There was a warning in the stillness. Like a wild thing he felt strange premonitions, haunting feelings of danger. He felt it now. Unknowingly he looked eastward toward the mountains, unknowingly because upon a ridge of those mountains an Apache looked westward? .' .' . miles lay between them. Tats-'ah-'das-'ay-'go, the Quick-'Killer, Apache warrior feared even by his own people? .' .' . master of all the wiles, the deceits, the skills. He looked westward now, wondering. At the no longer deserted ranch where the hunting party of Baron Frederick von Hallstatt built its cooking fires, a man beside one of the fires suddenly stood up and looked away from the fire.
16 / Louis L'Amour He was a lean and savage man with a boy's soft beard along his jaws, high cheekbones, and a lantern jaw. His thin neck lifted from a greasy shirt collar, and he looked into the distance as if he had heard a sound out there. The .44 Colt on his thigh was a deadly thing. Bosky Fulton was a gunman who had never heard of either Tats-'ah-'das-'ay-'go or Shalako Carlin. He did not know that his life was already bound inextricably to those two and to the girl Irina, whom he did know. Yet the night made him restless. Back upon the desert, Shalako had drawn up in a cluster of ocotillo clumps and under their slight cover he studied the country around, choosing a way. 'Every Apache,' he said conversationally, 'knows all your Frederick knows about tactics before he is twelve, and they learn it the hard way. The desert is their field of operations and they know its every phase and condition. Every operation your Frederick learned in a book or on a blackboard they learned in battle. And they have no base to protect, no supply line to worry about.' 'How do they eat'? He swept a gesture at the surrounding desert. 'You ? can't see them but there are a dozen food plants within sight, and a half dozen that are good for medicine.' The sun brushed the sky with reflected ? rose and with arrows of brightest gold. The serrated ridges caught belated glory? .' .' . out upon the desert a quail called inquiringly. She felt obliged to defend their attitude. 'There are eight of us, and we are accompanied by four scouts or hunters, eight teamsters, two cooks, and two skinners. We have eight wagons.'
SHALAKO / 17 'That explains something that's been bothering me. The Apaches started eating their horses two days ago.' 'Eating them'? 'Only thing an Apache likes better than horse meat is mule meat. He will ? ride a horse until it's half dead and, when they find a place where they can get more horses, they will eat those they have.' 'You are implying they expect to have our horses'? The desert was too still, and it worried him. He got down from the saddle and rinsed his bandanna once more in the roan's mouth. As she watched him the girl's anger went out of her. She looked at him again, surprised at the softness in his eyes and the gentleness with which he handled the horse. 'You love your horse.' 'Horse is like a woman. Keep a strong hand on the bridle and pet 'em a mite and they'll stand up to most anything. Just let 'em get the bit in their teeth and they'll make themselves miserable and a man, too.' 'Women are not animals.' 'Matter of viewpoint.' 'Some women don't want a master.' 'Those are the miserable ones. Carry their heads high and talk about in'de'pen'dence. Seems to me an in'de'pen? dent woman is a lonely woman.' 'You are in'de'pen'dent, are you not'? 'Different sort of thing. The sooner women realize that men are different, the better off they'll be. The more in'de'pen'dent a woman becomes the less of a woman she is, and the less of a woman she is the less she is of anything worthwhile.' 'I don't agree.'
18 / Louis L'Amour 'Didn't figure on it. A woman shouldn't try to be like a man. Best she can be is a poor imitation and nobody wants anything but the genuine article. 'Nature intended woman to keep a home and a hearth. Man is a hunter, a rover? .' .' . sometimes he has to go far afield to make a living, so it becomes his nature.' He kept his voice low and without thinking of it she had done the same. 'And where is your woman'? 'Don't have one.' The sun was gone when they reached the last rocky point of the Hatchets. About a mile away a tall peak thrust up from the desert and beyond were a couple of lesser peaks, and still farther the distant bulk of the Little Hatchets. West of the nearest peak was a dark blotch of ranch buildings, and among them some spots of white that could be wagon covers. And in their midst blazed a fire, too large a fire. Smelling water, the roan tugged at the bit, but there was a feeling in the air that Shalako did not like. They sat still, while he listened into the night, feeling its uneasiness. It was not quite dark, although the stars were out. The desert was visible, the dark spots of brush and cacti plainly seen. Into the silence she said, 'I am Irina Carnarvon.' She said it as one says a name that should be known, but he did not for the time place the name, for he was a man to whom names had ceased to matter. 'My name is Carlin? .' .' . they call me Shalako.' He started the roan down the gentle slope. The roan was too good a horse to lose and in no shape to run, but the ranch was safety and the ranch was two miles off. He slid his rifle from its scabbard.
SHALAKO / 19 'Get ready to run. We'll walk our horses as far as we can, but once we start running, pay me no mind. You just 'ride the hell out of here.' 'Your horse is in no shape to run.' 'My problem.' The roan quickened his pace. There was a lot of stuff in that roan, a lot of stuff. 'You actually believe we are in danger'? 'You people are a pack of idiots. Right now you and that ? tin-'braided general of yours are in more trouble than you ever saw before.' 'You are not polite.' 'I've no time for fools.' Anger kept her silent, yet she sensed the uneasiness of her horse and it made her wary. A fine horse'woman, she knew the feeling at once and it frightened her far more than the warnings of the stranger. Silence, and the distant fire? .' .' . the hoof falls of the horses? .' .' . the stars against the soft darkness of the sky, the loom of mountains? .' .' . a coolness in the air, balm after the day's fierce heat. The quickening pace of the horses, the faint gleam along the rifle barrel. A slight breeze touched her cheek. 'Shalako? .' .' . it is a strange name.' 'Name of the Zuni rain god. Seemed like every time I showed up in their country it rained, so they called me that for a joke.' 'I did not realize Indians had a sense of humor.' 'The greatest. Nobody has more humor than an Indian, and I know. I've lived among them.' 'I heard they were so stoical.' 'Indians act that way around white men they don't
20 / Louis L'Amour know because they don't want to answer a lot of fool questions.' They were out of the flat now, at least a quarter of a mile gained. The Apache, in distinction from many other Indians, preferred not to fight at night, believing the soul of a warrior killed at such a time must wander forever in darkness. That did not mean that on occasion an Apache would not take a chance. When the camp was less than a mile away and they could hear faint sounds, an Apache suddenly raised up from behind a greasewood bush with a bowstring drawn back? .' .' . but he had stood up directly in front of the muzzle of Shalako's rifle and less than thirty feet off. He heard the thud of the bullet into flesh in the instant the arrow whizzed past his ear. Startled by the explosion of the gunshot, both horses leaped into a run. Behind them there was another shot and Shalako felt the bullet when it struck the cantle of his saddle and caromed off into the night. The roan ran proudly, desperately, determined not to lose the race to the fresher horse. A wave of fierce pride swept over Shalako and he realized again the unconquerable spirit of the roan mustang. Neck and neck they raced for the ranch, and Shalako let go with a wild Texas yell to warn those ahead that he was not a charging Indian. On a dead run they swept into the ranch yard and drew up in a cloud of swirling dust. Several people started toward them, and Shalako glanced sharply around, taking in the camp and those who peopled it with that one sweeping glance. The man who walked up to them first was tall. He
SHALAKO / 21 was lean and strong, with blond hair and handsome, if somewhat cold, features. His eyes were ? white gray, his boots polished and immaculate, his white shirt crisp and clean. 'What happened? Did you see a coyote'? His eyes went from Irina to Shalako, taking in his dusty, travel-? worn clothing, his battered hat, and unshaved face. 'Better circle your wagons into the gaps between the buildings,' Shalako suggested. 'Get your stock inside the circle. That was an Apache, not a coyote.' The gray eyes turned again to Shalako, cool, attentive. 'There are no Indians off the reservations,' the blond man said. 'Our man Wells told us'? 'Your man Wells is dead. If you want him you'll find him all spraddled out in a dry lake southeast of here, as full of holes as a prairie dog town? .' .' . and it ? wasn't any reservation Indian who shot him.' 'Who is this man, Irina'? 'Mr.'Carlin, the Baron Frederick von Hallstatt.' 'If you want to live,' Shalako said, 'forget the formalities.' Von Hallstatt ignored the remark. 'Thank you for bringing Lady Carnarvon back to camp, Carlin. Now if you want something to eat, just go to the cook and tell him I sent you.' 'Thanks, but I'm not staying that long. This outfit ? doesn't have a prayer and I'm not going down the chute with it. I'm riding out.' 'Your plea'sure,' von Hallstatt replied coolly, and lifted a hand to help Irina from the saddle. Two of the men who had come forward were standing by, and one of them said, 'Forget it, General. This fellow was scared by a shadow.'
22 / Louis L'Amour The roan gelding swung as of its own volition and faced the speaker. Shalako's face was 'half-'hidden by the ? pulled-'down brim of his hat, but what the man could see he did not like. 'Mister''Shalako's voice was utterly ? cold''I saw Apaches out there. What I shot was an Apache. Do you want to call me a liar'? The man backed off a step. Desperately, he wanted to call the name and draw his gun, but something about the man on the roan horse made him hesitate. 'None of that!' Von Hallstatt's voice rang with the harshness of command. 'Carlin, we thank you for escorting Lady Carnarvon back to camp. Eat if you wish. Sleep here if you wish, but I suggest you be gone by daybreak.' 'By daybreak you'll be fighting for your lives. I'll be gone within the hour.' Turning away from them he rode the roan to the water tank. An ambitious settler had built this tank before the Apaches canceled out his faith in humanity by putting a ? half-'dozen arrows in his belly. He had been a sincere man, a good man. He believed that he who planted a tree or dug a well was closest to God, and would be blessed by all who needed water, or needed shade. He also believed, good trusting man, that if he was himself peaceful others would be peaceful toward him. He did not realize that others operate by a different philosophy and to those peace is unrealistic. Nor did he know that to an Apache all who are not of his tribe are enemies, that kindness was to them a sign of weakness. He was, nevertheless, a man of stamina as well as faith, and he lasted for three days, the arrows in his belly, tied head down to a wagon wheel, close to water but un-
SHALAKO / 23 able to reach it? .' .' . and all this under a blazing summer sun. He left no record of his philosophy at the end of that time. Shalako allowed the roan to drink sparingly, then drew him back from the water and, stripping off the saddle, rubbed the horse down with a handful of dry grass, and as he worked his eyes took in the disposition of the camp. He had never seen anything like it. The wagons were scattered haphazardly about, the teamsters loafing around a smaller fire, von Hallstatt's companions dressed as if for a hunt in En'gland or Virginia, served by a chef in a white apron and chef's hat. No effort had been made to prepare for attack, all was elaborately casual, with much conversation and laughter. The stable was the ? sturdiest-'looking building, close to the water tank, and with a lower story of adobe, an upper story of hewn logs. There were several narrow ports for firing. The stable was built much like an old-? fashioned block'house. The ? house had been built at a much later date and by the ? peace-'loving settler, and offered no practical defenses. Nor did the sheds and outbuildings. Yet they did form a rough rectangle with the 'house at the east end and the stable on the south. By drawing wagons into the gaps between the buildings the area could be made a fortress against any ordinary attack, with a final retreat to the stable in a last emergency. Suddenly a sound of approaching steps made him look up. 'Shalako! I'll be damned! Where'd you blow in from'? Shalako straightened wearily, dropping the grass. 'Buf-
24 / Louis L'Amour falo? This is a long way from Fort Griffin.' He dusted fragments of dry grass from his fingers. 'Me? From the Sierra Madre, riding neck and neck with Chato and about forty Apaches. At least, there'll be forty of them by now.' 'You ain't foolin''? 'I'm riding out to'night.' Buffalo Harris swore bitterly. 'An? the Army 'doesn't even know 'we're in the Territory! Was that you who shot out there awhile back'? Shalako indicated the cantle of his saddle. 'Feel of that? .' .' . fired from off at the side or it might have taken me right out of the saddle.' Buffalo laid a finger in the groove and whistled softly. 'They don't come much closer.' 'How'd you ever tie up with a haywire outfit like this'? 'Haywire? Are you crazy? This here is the most 'fixed-'up outfit I ever seen! They got champagne, crab, oysters? .' .' . everything. She's a mighty plush setup, Shalako, an? don't you forget it? .' .' . and the best grub I ever eat.' 'So you lose your hair. Saddle up and come with me.' 'Can't do it. I told them I stay the route.' Von Hallstatt strode up and, seeing Buffalo, stopped. 'Harris, do you know this man'? Buffalo spat. 'I know him. He was scoutin? for the Army when he was sixteen. Knows more about this country than the Apaches do.' 'Then you should go to work for me, Carlin. I can use a good man.' 'If you don't pull those wagons into position you won't be in shape to hire anybody. Chato started eating his spare horses two, three days ago, which means they planned to steal yours before they crossed the border.'
SHALAKO / 25 'That's impossible. They could not have known we were here.' 'They knew? .' .' . they knew you have four women with you, how many horses and mules you have, and how many men. No, I'm riding out of here.' Yet, even as he said it, he knew the roan was in no shape for an ? all-'night ? ride? .' .' . or a ? ride anywhere, for that matter. The mustang needed rest, food, and water. Nevertheless, he was getting out. These people had come there under their own power, they could get out the same way. Von Hallstatt mea'sured Shalako with cool eyes. He disliked the man, this he admitted. On the other hand, someone who knew the country as well as Buffalo said he did might be useful. Especially with Wells dead, if, of course, he was dead. 'If you would name your price, Carlin, we would like to have you with us.' He took his pipe from between his teeth. 'You might at least stay and see the fun.' 'You're not going to be having any fun.' Shalako was brusque. 'Unless you're shot with luck every ? man jack of you will be dead within ? forty-'eight hours.' Von Hallstatt laughed. 'Oh, come now! Naked savages against modern weapons'? On a ? beat-'up horse his chances of survival were slight, but this camp had the mark of death upon it, and realization that he had no choice but to make a run for it made Shalako increasingly irritable. 'Mister, let me tell you a little story about a West Pointer we had named Fetterman. He used to make his brag that given eighty men he could 'ride through the ? whole Sioux nation. Fetterman was well trained, he was
26 / Louis L'Amour efficient, and he was bulging at the seams with all those fancy Eu'ro'pe'an tactics, and he was confident. 'One day they sent him out with eighty men to rescue some wagons that were under attack, and they warned him if the Indians ran, not to chase them. 'He had his eighty men and his chance, and he chased them. His eighty men lasted less than twenty minutes, less time than you'd take to drink a cup of hot coffee, actually.' Shalako began to build a smoke. 'Do you know how they did it? Like Hannibal at the Battle of Cannae? .' .' . the center fell back and, when Fetterman followed them in, the flanks closed around him and wiped him out.' 'You would have me believe these savages understand tactics'? 'Unless I miss the breed, you'll be from one of the old Junker families of Prus'sia. War has been a way of life to you for centuries, yet I doubt if you have seen more than ten battles, or that your oldest general has seen more than thirty.' Shalako folded the paper over his cigarette. 'Mister, out there in the dark there are forty or fifty Apaches and the chances are there isn't one of them who isn't a veteran of fifty to a hundred battles. They fight Americans, Mexicans, other Indians. War is a way of life for the Apache, too, and every child learns his tactics by listening to the warriors talk of their battles. 'There isn't a thing in Vegetius, Saxe, or Jomini an Indian ? doesn't know, and more besides. He is the greatest guerrilla fighter the world has ever known. 'He ? doesn't know a thing about all that military balder? dash of ? close-'order drill, military courtesy, or parade-? ground soldiering. Everything he learns is by applying it
SHALAKO / 27 that way. He's taught, sure, but he's taught to fight and to win and he wastes time on none of the fixings. 'You boys say 'close-'order drill is good for discipline. That's nonsense. The only kind of discipline that counts is the discipline of training to function in battle. How to keep in touch with the men on either side of you, how to advance and retreat under fire, how to give covering fire and supporting fire, how to select routes of travel under risk of attack. You don't learn any of that training for a lot of 'parade-'ground nonsense. 'There isn't a thing to learn about fighting in this ? country'and this is the worst country in the world to fight ? in'that every Apache out there 'doesn't know.' 'I am surprised,' von Hallstatt said contemptuously, 'that your Army is able to defeat these supermen of yours. These ? super-'Indians.' 'I'll tell you why. Only one out of three or four has a rifle, and he may not have a dozen rounds of ammunition. Unless they can find a crooked trader to supply them they have to kill to get weapons, so they are always in short supply. 'And the Army outnumbers them 'fifty-'to-'one. And that Army is the best bunch of fighting men the sun ever shone on. They use Indian tactics part of the time themselves, and General Crook, who knew more about fighting Indians than any of them, he used Indians to fight them.' Shalako turned toward the fire. 'And let me tell you something ? else: Any 'rattle-'headed fool who would bring a bunch of women into a country like this at a time like this deserves to be shot.' Deliberately, he turned his back and walked away toward the fire where he glanced at the coffeepot, then
28 / Louis L'Amour walked on to the stable where he filled a feed bag and carried it back to the roan. The feed bag was alien but the oats were not. After a little hesitation and backing away the roan decided to accept the situation. Von Hallstatt had walked away, but Harris was still there. 'That was medicine talk, but the general was sure sore.' Harris watched while Shalako picked up his rifle. 'What happened to Pete'? Shalako explained, then jerked his head toward von Hallstatt. 'Is he carry'ing money'? 'You ain't just a-woofin'! And diamonds? These women are wearin? diamonds like they were candy! And you should see their rifles and shotguns! Inlaid with gold, ivory and mother-of-pearl. I d'clare, Shalako, these folks must have a fortune in guns.' 'Then I know why Rio Hockett is here.' 'Where'd you know him'? 'The Rangers chased him out of the brush down on the Nueces a few years ago. He's been a horse thief, a cow rustler, and a scalp hunter. If you folks get out of here alive, you talk von Hallstatt into getting rid of him. He's trouble.' Buffalo was silent for several minutes, and then he said, 'You don't think ? we've got a chance, do you'? 'With Chato and forty Apaches out there? What do you think'? Irina Carnarvon came suddenly from the darkness with a plate of food and a cup of coffee. 'You must be starved, Mr.'Carlin.' Buffalo Harris faded discreetly into the shadows and Shalako reached for the food gratefully. The very smell of it made him faint, he was that hungry. He had run out
SHALAKO / 29 of jerked 'meat'the last food he ? had'the day before yesterday and had not dared chance a shot, although he had seen a couple of deer. Irina stood beside him, and the faint smell of her perfume stirred old memories. He glanced at her over his coffee cup. She was tall for a woman, slender but rounded? .' .' . quite a woman. His eyes went beyond her to the tables that were being spread with white linen and set with silver and sparkling glassware. He shook his head in amazement to see such a thing in New Mexico, with Apaches around the camp. There was a low murmur of conversation from a group of people who sat in camp chairs near the fire. It was the polite conversation of 'well-'bred people everywhere, idle, interesting talk, but strangely incongruous here. 'What are you doing with this outfit'? he asked bluntly. 'You're real.' She turned to look at him. 'They are real, too, Mr. Carlin. It is merely another sort of life.' 'But unreal here, and unrealistic. That sort of thing is fine in En'gland, or New En'gland. Out here, at a time like this it reminds me of Nero's fiddle.' 'You asked me what I was doing here. These are my friends, Mr.'Carlin? .' .' . and I may marry Frederick.' It irritated her that she hesitated before saying it, almost as if she were ashamed, which she certainly was not. In the East and in Eu'rope, almost everywhere in fact, Frederick von Hallstatt was considered quite a catch. His was an ancient family, he had won many honors in the Prus'sian Army, he had a title, position, and wealth.
30 / Louis L'Amour He put down the plate. 'Men must be mighty scarce where you come from.' 'Most people believe that I am fortunate.' He glanced at her. 'You are warm, friendly, and I think sentimental,' Shalako said. 'He is cold, calculating, and ruthless. Furthermore,' he added, 'he's a fool, or he would never have brought you here.' 'You make up your mind very quickly,' she spoke stiffly. 'I am not sure you are qualified to render an opinion.' 'Out here we don't have time to consider folks. We have to make up our minds fast, and we judge a man by his looks and his actions. We pay no attention to titles or honors or what'ever because we have found they don't mea'sure a man. Yes, I made a fast judgment on him, and I may be wrong.' 'I think you are very wrong.' 'I don't believe you,' he said. 'You're too smart a girl to make a mistake like that.' This man was a total stranger, a big, unshaved, and rugged man out of the desert. Very likely he had not bathed in a week? .' .' . where he would get the water she could not imagine? .' .' . and she was discussing her friends with him. It was preposterous. His thoughts had moved into the darkness, thinking beyond this place, thinking of the trail westward. The roan was in no shape, but if he could get over into the Animas Mountains he might hole up and rest for a while, then move out and keep to low ground. 'Come with me,' he said suddenly, 'and I'll get you out of this.' 'And leave my friends? You must be mad.' She paused. 'I scarcely know you, Mr.'Carlin, and I could never
SHALAKO / 31 leave my friends if they are in as much danger as you assume.' He was scarcely listening, his mind was out upon the desert, thinking of the way that lay before him. He owed these people nothing, and this was a country where a man saddled his own broncs and fought his own battles. They had come into the country recklessly, foolishly, hoping for a 'brush with the Apaches'? .' .' . well, they would get it. 'You must take one of my horses, Mr.'Carlin. I have three, very fine horses, and your horse is 'half-'dead.' 'You'd swap'? 'Certainly not. But I will loan him to you, and when you can, return him and pick up your own horse. If you are correct and we do not get out of here, you may keep him.' 'You needn't do this, you know. You owe me nothing.' She looked up at him. 'I ? wasn't thinking of you, Mr. Carlin. I was remembering what you said about them eating their horses. I ? couldn't bear them eating Mohammet.' He chuckled suddenly. 'Now I like that. You're honest, anyway. All right, I'll take care of your horse.' She turned abruptly and walked away, and he stared after her, aware of a feeling of guilt. In a few minutes Harris returned, leading a stallion. Black as midnight, he knew at once that he had never seen a horse to compare with it. ? Clean-'limbed and strong, it was built both for speed and staying power. When he reached for the stallion it thrust a velvety nose into his palm.
32 / Louis L'Amour He talked to the horse, rubbing its neck and making friends. 'You must have put the sign on that girl, Shalako. This is her best horse, and she treats it like a child. Pure Arab, right out of the desert.' He threw his saddle on the stallion and cinched it up, and the stallion took the bit eagerly, as if he was eager to go. Shalako had known such horses, as excited about a trail as a man would be. Buffalo Harris left, and when he returned he had a small packet of food. Shalako took his time, reluctant to leave now that a way was open. Von Hallstatt had given the order and the wagons had been pulled into the spaces between the buildings, making a fairly tight circle. It was too large to defend well, yet it could be defended, and there were quite a few men, all ? well-'armed. As Shalako put his blanket roll behind the saddle, someone behind him spoke. 'What you all figure to do with that horse'? Shalako turned slowly. The man facing him was lean and 'narrow-'shouldered, a sparse beard on his jaws. Bosky Fulton was a trouble-? hunting man, and Shalako read him at a glance, nor was he inclined to sidestep it. Shalako knew all too well that any sign of hesitation would be accepted as a sign of fear. 'None of your damned business,' he said coldly, and as he spoke he stepped closer to Fulton. Few gunmen could stand up to a close fight. Most of them fancied their shooting ability, but at close range there was too much chance of both men being killed? .' .' . and no man wants to die.
SHALAKO / 33 Fulton backed off a step, to keep the distance between them, but Shalako followed. 'None of your business,' Shalako said coldly. Fulton stared hard at Shalako, thinking to intimidate him, but the eyes that looked back into his showed only contempt, and something 'else that Fulton liked even less. Before Fulton could speak, Harris interrupted. 'Lady Carnarvon loaned him the horse, Bosky. It's all right.' 'Loaned him'? Fulton was incredulous. 'She won't even let anybody touch him.' Frederick von Hallstatt walked up; he ignored Fulton, but glanced from the horse to Shalako. 'Lady Carnarvon loaned you that horse'? he asked doubtfully. 'I 'can't believe it.' Laura Davis and Irina had also come up. 'Yes, I loaned Mohammet to him, Frederick. I believe if we are attacked he will be safer with Mr.'Carlin than with us.' 'Attacked? You believe that story, then'? 'You forget, Frederick. I was out there with him. Those shots were very real.' 'If you can get out of here,' Shalako suggested, 'make a run for it to Fort Cummings. Lieutenant Col? o ? nel Forsyth is in command there.' He lingered, reluctant to leave. 'You get your grub and ammunition inside the stable. They'll be all around you, come daylight, and you won't see any of them. 'The way I read the smokes, Indians have left the reservation to join Chato, and that means the Army will have been notified and Forsyth will be out. If you burn your wagons the Army will be likely to see the smoke.' 'I doubt if it will come to that,' von Hallstatt replied.
34 / Louis L'Amour 'We have a ? good-'sized force and we are well-armed. And several of us have had military experience.' 'No matter what experience you've had, in this kind of war you're a tenderfoot.' Shalako gathered the reins. 'Thanks, ? ma'am, and good luck. You're quite a woman.' He walked the Arab into the darkness near the stable and drew up to listen, shutting out the sounds of the camp to hear only the desert. There was an eagerness in the stallion. The Arab liked the feel of the night and the desert, and no doubt some forgotten or atavistic memory stirred his Arab blood on such desert nights as this. Ears pricked, dainty as a dancer, the black Arab moved down into the wash, holding close to the near bank and the deepest shadow. His hoofs made no sound in the soft sand, and for several minutes they went cautiously forward, but soon Shalako sensed that something lay to the north that the Arab did not like. Shalako let the horse pull away to the south a little, trusting the horse had caught the scent of an Apache. Westward, eight or nine miles away, lay the Animas Mountains, an area he knew better than the Hatchets, and a place where he knew of a hideout where with luck he might hole up. Yet the farther he rode the more irritable he became. The wind was in his face? .' .' . he smelled dust. Quickly he drew the Arab into the deepest shadow, whispering to him to quiet his excitement. And then he heard a sound? .' .' . the soft scuffle of hoofs in the sand. A party of riders coming from the northwest, and they
SHALAKO / 35 would be coming down into the wash somewhere close to him. Shalako drew his Colt and rested the barrel on the saddle horn. The night was still and cool, the sound of hoofs was closer now, like surf upon a sandy shore. His mouth was dry, and he kept his thumb on the gun hammer, ready to fire.
CHAPTER 2 Wous hen he had gone she stood listening, obliviof the camp sounds and conversation, but she heard nothing. There was no shot, no shout? .' .' . nothing. He had ridden into the shadow beside the stable and paused there, but when he moved from that shadow into the outer darkness she had no idea. He was gone. Irina Carnarvon felt a curious sense of loss? .' .' . a ridiculous thought, for the man was not her sort, anyway. Yet the feeling remained, and she asked herself, What was her sort? What sort of man did she want? What sort of life? It was an odd question, for she had believed that was settled in her mind. She had thought to marry Frederick, and it was unreasonable that a 'ride of a few miles with a strange, unshaved, unwashed man of the desert could change that. Nor had it been changed. Only there was a subtle sort of difference in her feelings now. What had moved her to let him ? ride Mohammet? She had never allowed Frederick to ? ride the horse, and actually, aside from one groom on their estate in Wales, nobody had ridden him but her father and herself. What was her sort? What kind of man did she want? And what sort of man was this man called Shalako? Certainly, she did not want him. She did not know