Selected Short Works - Zane Grey - ebook

Selected Short Works ebook

Zane Grey



Amber’s Mirage (1929, For thirty years old, Jim has spent the search for the mythical „Amber’s Mirage” without finding him. Tsu is a sad story about how his young teammate left the house, loved a woman and went to look for a bright rock over a source that is full of gold. But perhaps this is a mirage...)Bernardo’s Revenge (An exciting story of love and the interaction of man with nature in the jungle, namely tigers.) (1912)California Red (1926, For years Ben Ide had chased and tried to capture the great stallion, California Red, probably the noblest of all the fifteen thousand horses who roamed the northern California plains. But he had always been unsuccessful. Now his chance had come--and he had to make the devil’s bargain with a band of cattle rustlers in order to realize his greatest ambition.)The Camp Robber (1928, An interesting cowboy story about the mysterious robber of the camp who kidnaps strange things.)Death Valley (1920, Of the five hundred and fifty-seven thousand square miles of desert land in the Southwest, Death Valley is the lowest below sea level, the most arid and desolate. It derives its felicitous name from the earliest days of the gold strike in California, when a caravan of Mormons, numbering about seventy, struck out from Salt Lake, to cross the Mojave Desert and make a short cut to the gold fields. All but two of these prospectors perished in the deep, iron-walled, ghastly sinkholes, which from that time became known as Death Valley.)Don: The Story of a Lion Dog (1925, This essay tells about the love of animals to Zane Gray and his understanding of how much a person can know the animal and how an animal can get closer to a person. Zane Gray met Don when she first went to the Grand Canyon. He met many people on this trip, which turned into the heroes of his novels.)The Great Slave (1920, Siena young leader of the disappearing tribe. White invaders take them into slavery, but give a gun, thanks to this miracle of the fiery stick Sienna becomes famous among the tribes and, according to the prophecy, must become a great leader.)Lightning (1910, Lee and Cuth Stewart were tall, lean Mormons, as bronzed as desert Navajos, cool, silent, gray-eyed, still-faced. Both wore crude homespun garments much the worse for wear; boots that long before had given the best in them; laced leather wristbands thin and shiny from contact with lassoes; and old gray slouch hats that would have disgraced cowboys.)Lure of the River (1923, Iquitos was a magnet for wanderers and a safe hiding place for men who must turn their faces from civilization. Rubber drew adventurers and criminals to this Peruvian frontier town as gold lured them to the Klondike. Monty Price’s Nightingale (1924, Monty Price had its secret. Several times each year he scored a nicotyled salary and disappeared for several months. Then, when returning, nobody knew where he was all this time and what he was doing. But when the forest fire happened, he discovered courage in his soul and this event changed his life forever.)Nonnezoshe, the Rainbow Bridge (1915, The book describes the journey to Nonnezoshe, the most beautiful and wonderful natural phenomenon in the world. This is the only such special place I’ve ever visited, but I’m not sure if I could find it myself without a guide again.)The Ranger (1929, In this book, the narrative is from the first person of the American Marshal Marshal, who helps the legendary Texas Ranger Texas Hold Wall to release Fairfield from the criminals.)

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1. Amber’s Mirage

2. Bernardo’s Revenge (aka “Tigre”)

3. California Red

4. The Camp Robber

5. Death Valley

6. Don: The Story Of A Lion Dog

7. The Great Slave

8. Lightning

9. Lure Of The River

10. A Missouri Schoolmarm (aka “From Missouri”

11. Monty Price’s Nightingale

12. Nonnezoshe—The Rainbow Bridge

13. The Ranger

14. Tappan’s Burro

15. The Wolf Tracker


NOW that it was spring again, old Jim Crawford slowly responded to the call of the desert. He marked this fact with something of melancholy. Every winter took a little more out of him. Presently he would forget it, when he was once more out on the lonely and peaceful wasteland, hunting for the gold he had never found and for which he had given the best years of his life.

Still, Jim seemed a little more loath to bring in his burros and pack for the long trail. He sat on the sunny side of the shack and pondered. The peaks were glistening snow-white, the lower slopes showed patches and streaks of snow under the black pines, but the foothills were clean and gray, just beginning to green and purple over. High time that he be up and doing, if he were ever to find that treasure at the foot of the rainbow.

“Reckon I’ve grown fond of this lad, Al Shade,” soliloquized the old prospector, as he refilled his pipe. “An’ I just don’t want to leave for the desert with things the way they are for him.”

Jim Crawford’s shack stood at the edge of the pinewoods on the slope opposite the lumber mill and was the last habitation on the outskirts of Pine, a small town devoted to lumbering and cattle raising. The next house toward town was a picturesque log cabin, just up in the pines and within plain view, as Jim had found to his sorrow. Jim’s neighbor, Seth Low, was a millhand, a genial and likable fellow with only one fault–an over-fondness for drink, which had kept him poor. He had a complaining wife and five children, the eldest of whom, Ruby Low, seventeen years old, red- haired and red-lipped, with eyes of dark wicked fire, had been the cause of no little contention in the community.

Jim had seen Ruby carrying on with cowboys and lumberjacks in a way that amused him, even thrilled him a little for his pulses were not yet dead to the charm of beauty and youth. But when Ruby attached Al Shade to her list of admirers, the circumstances had grown serious for Jim. And he was thinking of that now, while he listened to the melodious hum of the great saw, and watched the yellow smoke arise from the mill stack, and felt the old call of the desert in the spring, something he had not resisted for thirty years.

Long ago, in a past slowly growing clear again in memory, he had been father to a little boy who might have grown into such a fine lad as Alvin Shade. That was one reason why he had taken such a liking to Al. But there were other reasons, which were always vivid in mind when Al appeared.

A cowboy galloped by, bright face shining, with scarf flying in the wind. Jim did not need to be told he would stop at the Low cabin. His whistle, just audible to Jim, brought the little slim Ruby out, her hair matching the boy’s scarf. He was a bold fellow, unfamiliar to Jim, and without a glance at the open cabin door or the children playing under the trees, he snatched Ruby off the ground, her heels kicking up, and, bending, he gave her a great hug. Jim watched with the grim thought that this spectacle would not have been a happy one for Al Shade to see.

The cowboy let the girl down, and, sliding out of his saddle, they found a seat on a fallen pine, and then presently slipped down to sit against the tree, on the side hidden from the cabin. They did not seem to care that Jim’s shack was in sight, not so very far away. Most cowboys were lover-like and masterful, not to say bold, but this fellow either embodied more of these qualities than any others Jim had seen with Ruby, or else he had received more encouragement. After a few moments of keen observation Jim established that both possibilities were facts. He saw enough not to want to see more, and he went into his shack sorrowing for the dream of his young friend Alvin.

Straightway Jim grew thoughtful. He had more on his hands than the problem of getting ready for his annual prospecting trip. If a decision had not been wrung from him, it certainly was in the making. Dragging his packsaddles and camp equipment out on the porch, he set morosely to going over them. He wasted no more glances in the direction of the Low cabin.

Eventually the mill whistle blew. The day was Saturday, and the millhands got off at an early hour. Not many minutes afterward the old prospector heard a familiar quick step, and he looked up gladly.

“Howdy, old-timer,” came a gay voice. “What you-all doin’ with this camp truck?”

“Al, I’m gettin’ ready to hit the trail,” replied the prospector.

“Aw, no, Jim. Not so early! Why, it’s only May, an’ the snow isn’t off yet,” protested the young man, in surprise and regret.

“Set down a while. Then I’ll walk to town with you. I’m goin’ to buy supplies.”

Al threw down his dinner pail and then his old black hat, and stood a moment looking at Crawford. He was a tall, rangy young man, about twenty-one, dressed in overalls redolent of fresh sawdust. He had a frank, handsome face, keen blue eyes just now shaded with regret, and a square chin covered by a faint silky down as fair as his hair. Then he plumped down on the porch.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“It’s good of you, Al, if you mean you’ll miss me,” replied the prospector.

“I sure mean that. But there’s somethin’ else. Jim, you’re not growin’ any younger, an’ you… well, these eight-month trips on the desert must be tough, even for an old desert rat like you. Forgive me, old-timer. But I’ve seen you come back… four, five times now, an’ each time you seemed more done up. Jim, you might die out there.”

“‘Course, I might. It’s what I want when my time comes.”

“Aw! But that should be a long while yet, if you’ve got any sense. Jim, you’ve taken the place of my dad.”

“Glad to hear it, son,” replied Crawford warmly.

“Suppose you come live with mother an’ me,” suggested Al eagerly.

“An’ let you take care of me?”

“No, I don’t mean that. Jim, you can work. We’ve got a little land, even if it is mortgaged. But if we cultivate it… if we had a couple of horses … the two of us…”

“Al, it’s not a bad idea. I’ve thought of that before. There’s plenty of work left in me yet. But I’d only want to tackle that after I’d made a strike. Then we could pay off your debts, stock the place, an’ farm right.”

“Jim, you’ve thought of that?” asked Al.

“Lots of times.”

“I didn’t know you thought so much of me. Gosh, wouldn’t it be grand!” Then his face fell, and he added ruefully: “But you old prospectors never make a strike.”

“Sometimes we do,” replied Jim, vehemently nodding.

“Aw, your hopes are like the mirages you tell about.”

“Al, I’ve never told you about Amber’s mirage.”

“Nope. That’s a new one. Come on, old-timer… if it isn’t too long.”

“Not today, son. Tomorrow, if you come over.”

“Well, I’ll come. Ruby has flagged me again for that Raston cowpuncher,” rejoined Shade with a touch of pathos.

“Raston. Who’s he?” queried Jim, looking up.

“Oh, he’s a new one. A flash cowboy, good-lookin’ an’ the son of a rich cattleman who has taken over the Babcock ranches.”

“Uhn-huh. Reckon I remember hearin’ about Raston. But he hasn’t paid for those big range interests yet. Al, is young Raston sweet on Ruby?”

“Sure. Same as all those other galoots. Only he’s the latest. An’ Ruby is powerful set up about him.”

“Humph. Does she encourage him?” asked Jim, bending to pick up a saddle cinch.

“She sure does,” burst out Al in disgust. “We’ve had rows over that often enough.”

“Al, you’re deep in love with Ruby?” asked Crawford suddenly.

“Head over heels. I’m drownin’,” replied the lad, with his frank laugh.

“Are you engaged to her?”

“Well, I am to her, but I guess she isn’t to me… at least, not all the time. Jim, it’s this way… I just know Ruby likes me better than any of them. I don’t know why. She’s sure been thicker with other fellows than with me. But that’s not so much. Ruby likes conquest. She loves to ride an’ dance an’ eat. She’s full of the devil. There’s been more than one fellow like Raston come along to take her away from me. But she always comes back. She just can’t help herself.”

“Uhn-huh. What does your mother think of Ruby?”

The boy hesitated, then replied: “Ruby often comes over to our house. Mother doesn’t exactly approve of her. She says Ruby is half good an’ half bad. But she believes if I could give Ruby what she craves… why, she’d marry me, an’ turn out all right. Jim, it’s my only hope.”

“But you can’t afford that on your wages,” protested Jim.

“I sure can’t. But I save all the money possible, Jim. I haven’t even a horse. Me… who was born on a horse! But I’ll get ahead somehow… unless somethin’ awful happens. Jim, now an’ then I’m blue.”

“I shouldn’t wonder. Al, do you think Ruby is worth this… this love an’ constancy of yours?”

“Sure she is. But what’s that got to do with it? You don’t love somebody because she or he is so an’ so. You do it because you can’t help yourself.”

“Reckon you’re right at that,” replied Jim slowly. “But suppose a… a girl is just plain no good?”

“Jim, you’re not insinuatin’… ?” ejaculated Al, aghast at the thought.

“No, I’m just askin’ on general principles, since you make a general statement.”

Al’s face seemed to take on an older and yet gentler expression than Jim had ever observed there.

“Jim,” he said, “it oughtn’t to make no difference.”

“Humph. Mebbe it oughtn’t, but it sure does with most men. Son, there’s only one way for you to fulfill your dream… if it’s at all possible.”

“An’ how’s that?” queried Al sharply.

“You’ve got to get money quick.”

“Lord! Don’t I know that? Haven’t I lain awake at nights thinkin’ about it. But, Jim, I can’t rustle cattle or hold up the mill on pay day.”

“Reckon you can’t. But, Al Shade, I’ll tell you what… you can go with me!”

“Jim Crawford! On your next prospectin’ trip?”

“You bet. The idee just came to me. Al, I swear I never thought of it before.”

“Gosh almighty!” stammered Al.

“Isn’t it a stunnin’ idee?” queried Jim, elated.

“I should smile… if I only dared!”

“Wal, you can dare. Between us, we can leave enough money with your mother to take care of her while we’re gone. An’ what else is there?”

“Jim… you ask that!” burst out Al violently. “There’s Ruby Low, you dreamin’ old rainbow chaser! Leave her for eight months? It can’t be did!”

“Better that than forever,” retorted Crawford ruthlessly. He was being impelled by a motive he had not yet defined.

“Jim!” cried the young man.

“Al, it’s you who’s the rainbow chaser. You’ve only one chance in a million to get Ruby. Be a good gambler an’ take it. Ruby’s a kid yet. She’ll think more of fun than marriage yet a while. You’ve just about got time. What do you say, son?”

“Say! Man, you take my breath.”

“You don’t need any breath to think,” responded the old prospector, strangely thrilled by a subtle conviction that he would be successful. “Come, I’ll walk to town with you.”

On the way the sober young man scarcely opened his lips, and Jim was content to let the magnitude of his suggestion sink deeply.

“Gosh. I wonder what Ruby would say,” murmured Al to himself.

“Wal, here’s where I stop,” said Jim heartily, as they reached the store. “Al, shall I buy grub an’ outfit for two?”

“Aw… give me time,” implored Al.

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