Free Western eBooks by B. M. Bower
Page Three

Not all of the West is tamed and trained to run smoothly on pneumatic tires and to talk more enthusiastically of the different “makes” of cars than of bits and saddles. There are still wide stretches unknown of tourists and movie men hunting locations for Western melodrama where men live in the full flavor of adventure and romance and never know it, because they have never known any other way to live.

THE BEGINNING OF IT If you would glimpse the savage which normally lies asleep, thank God, in most of us, you have only to do this thing of which I shall tell you, and from some safe sanctuary where leaden couriers may not bear prematurely the tidings of man's debasement, watch the world below. You may see civilization swing back with a snap to savagery and worse—because savagery enlightened by the civilization of centuries is a deadly thing to let loose among men.

Surviving in the sagebrush West has its tough moments, especially for a young woman set on keeping the family ranch alive and well.

Luck Lindsay had convoyed his thirty-five actor-Indians to their reservation at Pine Ridge, and had turned them over to the agent in good condition and a fine humor and nice new hair hatbands and other fixings; while their pockets were heavy with dollars that you may be sure would not he spent very wisely. He had shaken hands with the braves, and had promised to let them know when there was another job in sight, and to speak a good word for them to other motion-picture companies who might want to hire real Indians. He had smiled at the fat old squaws who had waddled docilely in and out of the scenes and teetered tirelessly round and round in their queer native dances in the hot sun at his behest, when Luck wanted several rehearsals of "atmosphere" scenes before turning the camera on them.

From the obscurity of vast, unquiet distance the surf came booming in with the heavy impetus of high tide, flinging long streamers of kelp and bits of driftwood over the narrowing stretch of sand where garishly costumed bathers had lately shrieked hilariously at their gambols. Before the chill wind that had risen with the turn of the tide the bathers retreated in dripping, shivering groups, to appear later in fluffs and furs and woolen sweaters; still inclined to hilarity, still undeniably loth to leave off their pleasuring at Venice, dedicated to cheap pleasures.

Rowdy Vaughn is a goodhearted but somewhat uncouth range rider whose attempts at wooing the local schoolteacher are hampered by a longstanding blood feud. Meanwhile, Rowdy's boss is struggling to keep his herd alive during a brutal drought. 

Excerpt: added their spectacular effect to a scene now and then. Jean, of course, was invariably the wild rider who fled in a blond wig and Muriel's clothes from pursuing villains, or dashed up to the sheriff's office to give the alarm. Frequently she fired the blank cartridges, until Lite warned her that blank cartridges would ruin her gun-barrel; after which she insisted upon using bullets, to the secret trepidation of the villains who must stand before her and who could never quite grasp the fact that Jean knew exactly where those bullets were going to land. 

A large cattle company proves to be no match for the little fish at the Quirt ranch.

Since Life is no more than a series of achievements and failures, this story is going to begin exactly where the teller of tales usually stops. It is going to begin with Johnny Jewel an accepted lover and with one of his dearest ambitions realized. It is going to begin there because Johnny himself was just beginning to climb, and the top of his desires was still a long way off, and the higher you go the harder is the climbing. Even love does not rest at peace with the slipping on of the engagement ring. I leave it to Life, the supreme judge, to bear me out in the statement that Love must straightway gird himself for a life struggle when he has passed the flowered gateway of a woman's tremulous yes.

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