Chip Traps a Sheriff - Max Brand - ebook

Chip Traps a Sheriff ebook

Max Brand

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Max Brand’s action-filled stories of adventure and heroism in the American West continue to entertain readers throughout the world. „"Chip Traps a Sheriff"” is one of his work. Neatly plotted and briskly told, it illustrates Brand’s remarkable gift for storytelling. One of the greatest western authors of all time. Max Brand leads the reader on a very authentic tale of the old west the way it was. Brand penned over 200 full-length Westerns in his career, including „"Destry Rides Again"” and „"Montana Rides"”. Experience the West as only Max Brand could write it!

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Liczba stron: 146

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Contents

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER I

EVERY man has a special country that is fitted into his heart so snugly that it fills every corner. I know fellows who talk pretty nearly with tears in their eyes of the seashore, and the white curving of the surf, and the boom and the step of it; but they never can outtalk the lads from the high mountains, where the head and shoulders of things is lifted up so high that it almost breaks loose.

Then I’ve heard the real Kentuckian mention blue grass and big hills that never stop rolling from one edge of the sky to the other; yes, I’ve heard ’em mention blue grass, and horses, too.

Up there in New England things are smaller and put together more closely, but summer mugginess and flies and winter chilblains and wind can’t stop the New Englander from talking. He’ll tell you about a second growth forest, and the smell of the moldering stumps in it, and the autumn colors slashed through it like paint flung off a brush; and he’ll talk of the brook where it runs, and the brook where it stands still and lets a couple of silver birches look down into it to see how much sky is there.

Then you’ll hear people even rave a lot about sagebrush, and the smell of the wind that comes off from it when it’s wet, but for me there’s only one land that I feel God made when He was working in real earnest. The other parts of the world–well, He just made ’em for practice, but finally He got really interested, and then He made Nevada.

Yes, I mean that. Maybe I’m not talking about the part you know, because a lot of people are loaded right down to the water line with wrong information about that State. There’s a sort of a general impression that there’s some silver mining and sage hens in it, but they’ve got to scratch their heads to remember anything else.

Well, there’s too much Nevada for the people who live there to talk about. There’s about a couple of square miles of space for every hombre in that country–yes, man, woman, and child. And when you realize that mostly everybody is raked together in a few towns and mining camps, you’ll see that it’s possible to bump right into a lot of open space out in that direction.

I’ve bumped into it, boys. I’ve ridden it from the Opal Mountains to Massacre Lakes, and from Goose Greek Range to Lake Tahoe, and wondered how there could be that much real, fresh, sweet cold water in the world. And I know the ranges that sink their claws into the hide of Nevada, like the Monitor and Pancake and Hot Creek and Toiyabe and Shoshone and Augusta. I know that whole State. I know the dry feel of it on the skin, and the red hurt of it in the eyes. And I love it. There’s salt in my throat when I think of Nevada, but I love it, and I hope that I’ll live there and die there, God bless it!

But now I’ve got to particularize a little. You may have sage flats in your mind, but that’s not the part of Nevada that I mean. No, sir; I mean the place where God really turned Himself loose and did His best. He didn’t waste any time picking and choosing. He just reached out with both hands, and He piled up all kinds of slates and limestones and quartzites and granites, and for color He piled in some volcanic rocks that are some of them as blue as the sky, and some of them as red as fire.

He worked with this stuff and threw it up into great ridges and He chopped out the valley with the edge of His palm. He made things ragged, and He made things grand. He didn’t want to dull the outlines He had drawn with forests and such things. He wanted no beard on the face that He’d made; He preferred it clean-shaven, so He reached over to the westward, and He ridged up the Sierra Nevadas. There’s quite a lot of people in the State of Oranges and Hot Air–California, I mean–that think that the Sierra Nevadas were built up for their own special satisfaction, a kind of a wall and a turning of the back on the rest of the world; but really the only reason that the Sierras are up so high is to catch all the rain winds out of the westerly and pick out the mists and the clouds so that only a pure, dry air can blow over Nevada. God didn’t want those Nevada mountains and valleys to rust in the rain.

Well, when He’d finished off the main outlines, He says to Himself that He might give a few finishing touches, so He paved the valleys with fine white sand, and He polished up the mountains so that they’d shine, night and day. And then He says to Himself that this is the finest spot on earth, and what will He put into it?

Well, He finally picked out the jack rabbit that was biggest and fastest, and it could clear a mountain in its stride; and then He hunted up some coyotes that could run the rabbits down; and after that He got the wisest beast in the world, a big frame and a loose hide, and an eye like a man’s eye, and He put the gray wolf into the picture and yellowed and grayed it a good deal to make it fit in with the landscape better. Here and there He let a four-footed streak of greased lightning step through those valleys on tiptoe, and those antelope are the fastest and the wisest of their silly, beautiful kind. On the ground He laid rattlesnakes to catch fools, such as you and I, and in the air He put the sage thrasher and the Texas nighthawk, and the mourning dove, and in every sky He hung one buzzard.

Now He wanted to get some people in there to see all this picture, but He didn’t want many. So He just sifted into the rocks of His mountains some gold and silver, here and there. It wasn’t much. It was a trace. Just enough to make your mouth water, and not hardly enough to swallow. But the prospectors got the wind of it, and they came ten thousand miles across the world to have a look. Mostly they turned back on the rim of the picture–it was too black and white for them, and all the white was fire. The thermometer was ranging a hundred and fifty degrees in the year, and some had their hearts burned out, and some had their feet frozen. But a few went on in.

They climbed up onto the shoulders of those mountains and thanked God for a piñon, now and then; even the greasewood, and the creosote bushes and the sage seemed like company out there. They found their leads, and they sank their shafts into hard ground and banged and hammered all day long. They got mighty little, and they knew, mostly, that there wasn’t much hope. But still they felt mighty contented.

Why?

Well, it might have been because of the mornings, before they started to work and let their eyes go sinking over the white valleys, or the mountains beginning to tremble and blush in the early light. Or it might have been because of the evenings, when they sat dead tired and smoked their pipes, and looked at the evening rising just like a blue smoke out of the bottom of the rifts.

That was what I was doing.

I was just sitting there in front of my claim and figuring out that I had used up my last can of tomatoes, and sort of cussing a little, quietly and comfortably, all to myself; but my brain didn’t hear what my lips were muttering, do you see, because I was too really busy taking gun shots down one ravine filled with that blue smoke, and then down another choked with fire. And the white of the valley floor was still pure and very little clouded, and away off on the vanishing edge of things I could see a slowly moving cloud.

It was a dust cloud. It was raised by wild horses. I had seen them that morning, looking through that glass-clear air. During the night they would pass me, but on the following morning I would be able to see them again, traveling on at their unfailing lope in a two-day run to the water holes of the Shoe Horn Valley, away beyond.

I remember thinking of the wild horses, that I’d like to be out on the back of one of them, the wildest stallion of the lot, and go flowing on with the dusty stream of their march, and stay with them forever, contented. I mean to say, I felt that I was only sitting still on the bank of the river, looking; but those horses were in the river, they were in the picture, they were a part of it.

While I was thinking these things over, a voice says behind me:

“Why, hello, old Joe!”

I just pulled myself a little closer together. I looked up, but I was afraid to look behind.

“I’ve got them!” I said to myself.

I mean, when you’re out all alone for too long a stretch, sometimes the brain wabbles a little, and you’ll find a prospector turn as batty as a sheep-herder. For surely that voice I heard could not have come from any human lips. That boy Chip was likely to be anywhere, but he simply couldn’t have materialized there at my back.

I laughed a little, with a quiver in my voice. “I’ve certainly got ’em!” said I aloud.

“Look around, Joe,” said the voice again.

So I turned around and looked, and by thunder, there was the freckled face and the fire-red hair of Chip, sure enough! My heart jumped at the sight of him.

Also, my heart fell!

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