Adobe Gold and Other Stories – A lost treasure of gold, a hidden outlaw town, a gambler and his sister, and a framed man on the run. These are the elements of these four stories by Eli Colter.
Three Days of Law (1943) – Anxious as he was to find his long-lost brother, Horseface MacKoon didn’t cotton to finding him at the end of a hang rope.
Chapter I – The Gunman
Chapter II – The Windy
Chapter III – The Sheriff
Chapter IV – The Law
Chapter V – The Trial
Chapter VI – The Answer
Nine Against Los Lobos (1938) – High on its all but impregnable bluff stood the outlaw roost of Los Lobos, guarded by its crew of forty cutthroats. Could nine men take it?
Chapter I – Raided
Chapter II – Outlaw Trail
Chapter III – Brave-or Foolish
Chapter IV – Wolves’ Lair
Chapter V – Nine Against Forty
The Giant Of Lavender Hills (1937) – There’s a battle for a gambler’s soul and a man mountain steps in.
Adobe Gold (1944) – Only with blistering lead could Domingo Porras win the right to search for that hidden cache. A five chapter novelette.
Eli Colter was born May Eliza Frost in 1890 in Portland, Oregon. In the early 1920s she adopted the name Eli Colter and wrote hundreds of stories with that name. While her earlier writing was primarily in the genre of fantasy and horror, during the 1940s and 1950s Colter wrote nearly exclusively in the genres of mystery and Western. She died in Los Angeles in 1984 at the age of ninety-three.
Adobe Gold and Other Stories contains 9 illustrations.
IT was an ordinary night in Pawnee Bill’s emporium and saloon. There was nothing to warn any man in the room, nothing to indicate in the slightest manner that the little cow town of Mesa, Arizona, was about to be plunged into the grimmest and bloodiest days it had ever known. Right now, it was quiet enough to lull any bunch of cowhands and town loafers into a false sense of peace and security.
It wasn’t even Saturday night or the end of the month; then the click of chips on the poker table, the tinkle of glasses on the bar would have been more lively. It was Wednesday evening. Soapy Lee, the pint-size bartender with the handle-bar mustache, swiped an imaginary speck off the mahogany. Over at the poker table, Horseface MacKoon, who had dropped into town for supplies and stayed over to indulge in a little penny ante, leered mockingly at his foreman Hank Wolford, raised the pot a dime and raked in the pot. The tariff had proved too heavy for MacKoon’s top hand, Roy Wheeler, and for Skink LeFevre, the town gossip and good-for-nothing.
George Horace and a couple of cowboys from the G Bar H ranch stood at the far end of the bar, drinking a last beer preparatory to hitting for home.
There was no one else in the saloon. A few men, a hot night and an ordinary midweek pastime in a law-abiding cow town. Then the explosion.
Over at the poker table. Hank Wolford suddenly held a gun-filled fist above the checkered-oilcloth table and glared at Skink LeFevre. “There’s somethin’ sneaky goin’ on around here,” Wolford barked. “And it ain’t Roy, and it ain’t the boss. Your deal, as I remember, Skink. Blast you. I’ll gut-shoot you if you’re dealin’ from the bottom.”
George Horace and his two punchers didn’t pay any attention. It was nothing new for someone to accuse Skink of a sneak play. Most people had a hunch that Skink was a cheater though nobody had ever caught him at it. Somebody was always trying to pin him down.
Skink made his usual whining protest: “Now, Hank! You ain’t got no call to accuse me of tinkerin’ with the deal, just because I’m in debt to Mr. MacKoon and you think I want to git on the good side of him. That ain’t fair.”
MacKoon spoke up: “Well, if you are pulling something phoney, Skink, don’t ever let me catch you at it.”
Soapy Lee glanced across the bar toward MacKoon. Everybody in Mesa and for a radius of a hundred miles around knew Horseface MacKoon. That long narrow face of his, with the prominent jaw and big white teeth that flashed at the slightest word he spoke, was a familiar sight from one end of the range to the other. He had the big brown eyes of a horse, good-natured eyes with a shine in them. He was not only known for that long equine face of his and his big tremendously powerful body, not only for his habitual tolerance and decency toward his fellow ranchers; he was known best for his brother Ben.
BEN MacKOON was legend in the farthest reaches of Mesa Range for three reasons: one, he was Horse-face MacKoon’s kid brother; two, he was all the family Horseface had in the world; three, Horseface hadn’t ever seen his kid brother Ben. The explanation, was simple. The MacKoon family, every existing member of it, Horseface’s mother, his father, his grandparents on his father’s side (his mother’s parents were dead), his three uncles and two aunts and their families, had all come across the plains in a wagon train together. That is, they had come part, way across the plains before the Indians caught them. The only two people left alive out of that massacre were Horseface and his mother. You couldn’t yet count the brother that hadn’t been born.
But Horseface’s mother had hugged to the ground, both her arms around Horseface, taking the arrows that were meant for them both. The cavalry got there in time to keep her and Horseface alive. The soldiers got them both to the post and got Mrs. MacKoon to a doctor. Some friends of the MacKoons, coming along the next week in another wagon train, took little Horseface along with them out of sheer charity and agreed to bring him up. For his mother had died the day before of her wounds. Horseface didn’t know till over a year later that she had left behind her another boy, a boy named Ben. Nobody had said anything to the people in the wagon train about the baby Ben when the people took Horseface with them. No one had thought, little Ben would live.
But he did live. And another wagon train came along. And in it was a woman who had just lost her own child, so she took little Ben with a prayer of thankfulness. The doctor wrote these things to the people who took Horseface, when they wrote to ask whether the baby Ben had ever lived. The woman who took Ben hadn’t even given her name.
Horseface was eight years old then. So he grew up, knowing that all the family he had was a kid brother he had never seen, seven years younger than he was, named Ben.
And here he was, kingpin of the Mesa cattle range, up in his thirties and doing well by himself and everybody he knew, but he had never ceased hankering for the companionship of his kid brother, and he had never ceased trying to find the lost Ben. Neither had he ever got the slightest clue to the probable whereabouts of Ben MacKoon till within the last two years. The wagon train that had brought Ben out had landed in Wyoming. And a Ben MacKoon had come to light in Wyoming a couple of years ago, a Ben MacKoon who had been brought up partly by foster parents who had died. This Ben had since then brought himself up in a wild and lawless, frontier, his own parents having been killed in the massacre of a wagon train.
It wouldn’t seem there could be any doubt that here was the lost kid brother of Horseface MacKoon.
Everybody on Mesa range believed it, even Horseface himself. But for the last two years Horseface’s lifelong hunt had sort of hung fire, and nobody around Mesa wanted to locate Ben MacKoon very badly.
Because Ben MacKoon had come into the limelight for one lone reason: he was a “wanted” deadly killer with a price on his head.
Excerpt From: Eli Colter. “Adobe Gold and Other Stories”
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