Tiger Eye - B.M. Bower - ebook

Tiger Eye ebook

B.M. Bower

0,0

Opis

B.M Bower had a gift for writing Westerns, weaving tales of adventure, intrigue, mystery, and romance – often with surprise endings. Her gift for creating engaging, human characters is just as evident in „Tiger Eye”, a book with a much tougher, more serious plot than some of her early works. The main character, nicknamed Tiger Eye because of his one yellow eye, is a young Texan who has left home to escape being drawn into an old feud. Arriving in Montana, he literally wanders into the middle of a vicious range war between a big cattle outfit and a community of small ranchers and farmers, or „nesters.” He soon finds himself working for the cattle outfit, but without a very clear idea of what’s expected from him.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
czytnikach Kindle™
(dla wybranych pakietów)
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 293

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
Oceny
0,0
0
0
0
0
0



Contents

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

I. “DRAW, YOU COYOTE!”

THE kid was running away, but he was taking his time about it, and he was enjoying every foot of his flight. Sometimes when a curlew circled and gazed down curiously, with his yellow eyes peering, first one and then the other, the kid would stop dead still in the trail and with his own eyes turned upward to the bird, he would call “Kor-reck?” “Kor-reck?” in playful mimicry. Other times he would pull from his breast pocket a mouth organ worn through to the brass in places where his fingers clasped it, and would polish it gravely on his sleeve, set the tiny pigeonholed edge to his smooth young lips and ripple a few notes to match the meadow lark’s song. From that he would slide into “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,” and “The Spanish Cavalier.” But at this particular moment the mouth organ reposed in his pocket with his Bull Durham bag, and he was singing:

“A Spanish cavalier stood in his retreat And on his guitar played a tune, dear. The music so sweet he’d ofttimes repeat– ‘The blessing of my coun-try and you-oo, dear!’”

But for all his leisurely and tuneful progress, the kid was running away, and he had been running for more than a month now. He was running away from several things that had begun to harry him, even at twenty: his father’s enemies–such as had outlived straight-shooting old Killer Reeves; but he was not running from the enemies so much as from the impending necessity of shooting them. The kid had no ambition for carrying on the feud and getting the name of being a killer, like Pap. He did not want to kill; he had seen too much of that and it carried neither novelty nor the glamour of adventure. Then, too, he was running away from a girl who had called him Tiger Eye to his face. The kid felt a streak of fire shoot up his spine when he thought of the way she had pronounced the name men called him. Always before he had accepted it just as he would have accepted any other nickname suggested by something in his character or appearance, but she had made it a taunt.

He couldn’t change the yellow stare of his right eye, any more than he could remember not to squint his blue left eye nearly shut when he really meant something. His mother always told him he got that tiger eye at a circus she had visited before he was born. The kid didn’t know about that, but he knew he had it and that it was the eye that looked down a gun barrel when he practised shooting; the eye that stared back when somebody tried to give him some of their lip. They didn’t, very often; they seemed to expect him to ride with his right glove off and his gun loose in its holster, the way Pap always did.

The kid left off gloves altogether, except when he was working with a rope, but that was so he could play his mouth organ. His gun never had stuck in its holster and never would–Pap’s training had been too severe for such bungling. But the kid never wanted to shoot any one. That was the main reason why he had left home. He had expressed it all in one sentence to his mother when he told her good-by.

“I’ll be killing, same as Pap, if I stay around heah.” And his mother had nodded in somber agreement and let him go. His mother didn’t know about the girl.

That was nearly six weeks ago. The kid had pointed his pony’s nose to the north and never once had he spread his blankets twice in the same camp. He had followed the trail of the wild goose, winging high overhead to its nesting grounds. Rivers, deserts, mountains, plains,–he had crossed them all. He’d be in Canada if he didn’t stop pretty soon, he thought. He didn’t want anything of Canada; too cold up there. He’d stay down in Montana, where the chinook winds ate the snow right out from under your horse’s feet in winter, according to what he had heard. Lots of the boys went up into Montana with the big trail herds and didn’t come back; seemed to like the country fine.

It was nice country, all right, and the kid decided that he had about reached the end of his journey. From where the trail approached the edge of a high, wide plateau, which the kid called a mesa, after the fashion of the southern ranges, he had a splendid view of the country spread out below him. Evidently the trail was seeking easy descent to the valley. There were little rolling ridges down there, with grassy flats between and the shine of small streams glimpsed now and then in the open spaces among twisting threads of darker green which the kid knew would be trees and bushes. He did not see any houses, except within the wide arms of a coulee toward which the road seemed to lead. The kid could look right down into the wide mouth of that coulee and see corrals, the squatty stable and the small house backed up against the red sandstone wall. It looked kind of snug and friendly down there. Maybe he could get a job and stop right there, without looking any farther.

The kid swung his slim body around in the saddle to see if his pack horse was coming right along as he should, and as he did so his buckskin horse squatted and shied violently away from something white fluttering in the top of a soapweed alongside the road. The kid stopped singing, pulled the horse up with a lift of the reins and wheeled him about to make him ride at the thing. Nothing but a piece of white paper–nothing to stampede a horse as trailwise as old Pecos. Make him go right up and stick his nose against it and smell it; teach him not to be afraid of a little paper.

The kid spurred Pecos toward the white flutter, talking to him softly. Twice the horse whirled away. The third time the kid leaned and plucked the paper off the bush and examined the thing as he rode. It seemed to be a crude yet fairly accurate map of the country lying down below him, between the bench and the river. All the creeks were marked, and at certain points there were little penciled squares, plainly indicating the ranches. Beside each square was a man’s name and a brand. And before nearly every name there was an X, made black and distinct with pencil.

The kid spread the paper flat on his saddle horn and got it lined up with the country. Yes, here was the place he was coming to. According to the paper, the ranch was owned by a man named Nate Wheeler and his brand was the Cross O. The kid grinned a little as he folded the paper and put it in his pocket. He was in luck. He could ride right up and call the man by name, just as if he’d heard all about him. It would make a difference, all right. Nate Wheeler wouldn’t think he was just some fly-by-night stranger riding through. He’d probably give him work; he would, if he had any.

“‘Oh-h, it’s off to the war, to the war I must go– To fight for my coun-try and you-oo, dear–‘“

The kid had a nice voice, soft with that liquid softness which the South gives to its sons. He did not sing very loudly, having no desire to advertise himself to the country, for he was bashful and would blush if you spoke to him suddenly–that is, in a friendly tone. The other kind brought no flush; only that steady, disconcerting stare of his yellow right eye.

A man was riding toward him, coming out of the wide-armed coulee to the left–the one which the map had identified as Nate Wheeler’s place. He could not have heard the kid singing and he did not see the kid at once. The man was riding at a jog trot, his body jerking sidewise at each step the horse took. The kid saw him the minute he came around the bold rock ledge that marked that end of the coulee and he wondered if this might not be Nate Wheeler himself. He’d ask him, anyway, as soon as they met. He’d rather do that than ride up to the house and bone the fellow for a job in front of his wife; there was one, he knew by the skirts and aprons ballooning on the clothesline alongside the cabin. A baby too, if the little pink dresses didn’t lie.

Pecos picked his way daintily down into a narrow wrinkle of the hill that swallowed the kid from sight for a good hundred yards, the gravelly road slanting steeply down to the valley. Barney, the pack horse, was a little tender-footed behind and came lagging along, favoring his feet where he could; and the kid, glancing back, let him take his time. Barney would catch up anyway, when the kid stopped to talk with this man Wheeler, or whoever he was.

So it was that the two solitary horsemen rode up into sight of each other quite suddenly, fifty yards apart and the slope dropping away on either side. The rancher jerked his horse up as if about to wheel and ride back whence he came. The kid kept straight on. Then the rancher did a most amazing thing. He yanked his gun from its holster, drove the spurs against his horse and came lunging straight at the kid.

“Draw, you coyote! I’m comin’ a-shootin’!” he yelled as he rode.

The kid was caught completely off his guard, but he had been trained in a hard school that accepted no excuse for fumbling. The pow-w of his forty-five was not a split second slower than the other. He felt a vicious jerk at his hat as his finger tightened around the trigger of his gun. Then he was riding forward to where the man had toppled from his horse. The little pinto shied away and would have started running, but the kid caught it with one sweep of his long arm that gathered in the trailing reins.

He was sitting there on his horse, staring incredulously down at the dead man, when another horseman came galloping down a grassy ridge, no more than a stone’s throw away. The kid turned and looked at him hardly along the barrel of his gun.

“Yo’all stop where yo’re at,” he commanded in his soft drawling voice, and the stranger stopped, throwing up both hands laughingly as he did so. The kid surveyed him critically with his peculiar, tigerish eye, the other squinted half-shut. It gave him a deadly look in spite of his boyishness, but he did not know that.

“That’s all right–I’m a friend. Think I’d rode out in sight if I wasn’t?” the stranger remarked easily. “I’m riding for the Poole.”

II. THE KID FINDS A FRIEND

WITHOUT moving his gaze, the kid tilted his head slightly toward the twisted figure on the ground.

“Yo’all heahd what he said?”

“Yeah, I heard ‘im. He had it comin’, Kid.”

“I aimed to shoot his gun ahm down. I didn’t aim to kill him.”

“You’d been outa luck, Kid, if you hadn’t. He’d’a’ got you.”

“Plumb crazy,” said the kid. “Comin’ at me that-a-way.”

“Sure was. You from the South?”

“Brazos,” the kid answered succinctly.

“Yeah. Well, it’s lucky I happened along. My name’s Garner. Babe Garner. How come you’re ridin’ to Wheeler’s?”

The kid gave one further look at Garner, decided that he was all right and holstered his gun. He pulled the folded paper from his breast pocket, opened it and tilted it so that the other, riding closer, could see.

“This place over heah was the closest,” he explained, pointing a finger at the name and the X. “This Wheelah?”

“Yeah.” Babe Garner looked from the paper up into the kid’s face. His own steely eyes were questioning, impressed. “You sure as hell don’t waste any time. Mind tellin’ me your name?”

“Bob Reeves.” The kid looked full at Garner, a defiant expression around his mouth. “Folks call me Tiger Eye back home. They gotta be friends to do it, though.”

Babe Garner glanced obliquely at the heap on the ground, nodded and looked away, up the road and down.

“Say, you better fog along to my camp with me,” he said uneasily. “These damn nesters is shore mean. Let the pinto go. Anybody come along and catch you here, it’s fare ye well. What kinda gun you got?”

“Colt forty-five.”

“Good. That won’t tell nothin’ if the nesters get snoopy. Come on, Tiger Eye. I’ll see yuh through this.”

He wheeled his horse, and led the way back up the hill, and the kid followed without a word. Talking was never his habit and he certainly was not in the mood now for conversation. The damned, dirty luck of it! Having to shoot the first man he saw in the country, the one he was going to strike for a job! Of course, having Babe Garner show up as a friend was sure lucky, but it couldn’t offset that other catastrophe. Another thing bothered him; how had he happened to miss, like that? He had aimed at Wheeler’s gun arm. How had he shot so far wide that the bullet went through Wheeler’s head? Killer Reeves’ son shooting wide of the mark!

“Pap shoah would peel me foh that, if he knowed about it,” the kid thought glumly, again and again. It never occurred to him that his father or any one else would disapprove of the shooting. That would be called a case of “have to.” And as he meditated gravely on the necessity of defending himself, he remembered the jerk of his big hat and took it off to see just what had happened.

There it was–a smudged hole right in the middle of the crown. The kid passed one hand over his head and brought it away with a lock of hair the size of his forefinger; a curl, to be exact. Locks of hair were quite likely to stand out from the kid’s scalp in half-moons and circles. He was regarding the reddish-yellow curl soberly, his lips pursed a little, when Babe Garner glanced his way.

“Damn close,” Babe commented. “You want to keep your eye peeled hereafter. These nesters’ll shoot a man on sight.”

“What foh?”

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.