In The Sky-Liners, Louis L'Amour introduces Flagan and Galloway Sackett, heading west from Tennessee to seek their fortunes. That's when they came across an old Irish trader who offered them two fine horses if they would agree to escort his granddaughter, Judith, to her father in Colorado.Read more...
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: June 2003
From the cover
EVERYBODY IN OUR part of the country knew of Black Fetchen, so folks just naturally stood aside when he rode into town with his kinfolk.
The Fetchen land lay up on Sinking Creek, and it wasn't often a Sackett got over that way, so we had no truck with one another. We heard talk of him and his doings-how he'd killed a stranger over on Caney's Fork, and about a fair string of shootings and cuttings running back six or seven years.
He wasn't the only Fetchen who'd worked up to trouble in that country, or down in the flat land, for that matter. It was a story told and retold how Black Fetchen rode down to Tazewell and taken some kin of his away from the law.
James Black Fetchen his name was, but all knew him as Black, because the name suited. He was a dark, handsome man with a bold, hard-shouldered way about him, as quick with his fists as with a gun. Those who rode with him, like Tory Fetchen and Colby Rafin, were the same sort.
Me and Galloway had business over in Tazewell or we'd never have been around those parts, not that we feared Black Fetchen, or any man, but we were newly home from the western lands and when we went to Tazewell we went to pay off the last of Pa's debts. Pa had bad luck several years running and owed honor debts we were bound to pay, so Galloway and me rode back from the buffalo plains to settle up.
We had taken off to the western lands two years before, me twenty-two then and him twenty-one. We worked the Santa Fe Trail with a freight outfit, and laid track for a railroad mountain spur, and finally went over the trail from Texas with a herd of steers. It wasn't until we went buffalo hunting that we made our stake.
About that time we heard some kinfolk of ours, name of William Tell Sackett, was herding up trouble down in the Mogollon, so we saddled up and lit out, because when a Sackett has trouble his kin is just bound to share it with him. So we rode down to help him clean things up.*
This debt in Tazewell now was the last, and our last cent as well. After two years we were right back where we started, except that we had our rifles and hand guns, and a blanket or two. We'd sold our horses when we came back to Tennessee from the hunting grounds.
We walked across the mountain, and when we got to town we headed for the town pump. Once we'd had a drink we started back across the street to settle our debt at the store that had given Pa credit when times were bad.
We were fairly out in the middle of the street when hoofs began to pound and a passel of folks a-horseback came charging up, all armed and loaded for feudin' or bear-fightin'.
Folks went high-tailing it for shelter when they saw those riders coming, but we were right out in the middle of the street and of no mind to run. They came a-tearing down upon us and one of them taken a cut at me with a quirt, yelling, "Get outen the street!"
Well, I just naturally reached up and grabbed a hold on that quirt, and most things I lay a hand to will move. He had a loop around his wrist and couldn't let go if he was a mind to, so I just jerked and he left that saddle a-flying and landed in the dust. The rest of them, they reined around, of a mind to see some fun.
That one who sat in the dust roosted there a speck, trying to figure what happened to him, and then he came off the ground with a whoop and laid at me with a fist.
Now, we Sacketts had always been handy at knuckle-and-skull fighting, but Galloway and me had put in a spell with Irish track-layers and freighting teamsters who did most of their fighting like that. When this stranger looped a swing at my face, I just naturally...