Guns of the North Wind by Donald Bayne Hobart
Folks are being evicted. Those who stay are being killed. There’s a range war happening in the Big Hills Valley between the Cattlemen and the Sheepmen but nobody knows who started it or why. Only that there are massacres happening to both sides. Wayne Morgan, the Masked Rider and his pard, Blue Hawk ride into hell in the middle of a blizzard.
Guns Of The North Wind – Folks are being evicted. Those who stay are being killed. There’s a range war happening in the Big Hills Valley between the Cattlemen and the Sheepmen but nobody knows who started it or why. Only that there are massacres happening to both sides. Wayne Morgan, the Masked Rider and his pard, Blue Hawk ride into hell in the middle of a blizzard.
Guns Of The North Wind (1939)
Chapter I – Ordered to Go
Chapter II – Heading for the Box-Canyon
Chapter III – Massacre
Chapter IV – Sortie at the River Bank
Chapter V – The Student Trapper
Chapter VI – Attack at the Ranch
Chapter VII – Death in the Canyon
Chapter VIII – John Murdock
Chapter IX – Miss Jenny Considers
Chapter X – Disrupted Intrigue
Chapter XI – Ice Battle
Chapter XII – Clash in the Line Cabin
Chapter XIII – Shot Through the Window
Chapter XIV – Suspicion
Chapter XV – Blue Hawk Makes Discoveries
Chapter XVI – The Hideout
Chapter XVII – The Wounded Gunman
Chapter XVIII – Guns on the Ice
Chapter XIX – Rout of the Raiders
Chapter XX – Greed and Avarice
Donald Bayne Hobart (1898-1970) wrote a number of the Masked Rider stories. Those, and a series called the Whistling Waddy that he wrote for Argosy are what he is best known for.
Guns of the North Wind has 33 illustrations.
Excerpt: Guns of the North Wind
Ordered to Go
“DON’T look back, Annie!”
The gaunt man on the covered wagon seat stared straight in front of him, facing the bitter wind with squinting lids. The woman beside him, dry of eye, but with a bleak misery etching deeper the lines of her wrinkled face, paid no heed to the mumbled words.
She leaned far out to her left, trying to peer past the flapping canvas, the bunglesome overhang of odds and ends of old furniture lashed along the footboards of the wagon. The wind whipped her gray hair and sent stringy strands, wet with melting snowflakes, straggling across her tired face.
Overhead the sky was a vast, leaden arch with darker masses of clouds limping across its inner curve like weary ghosts who can know no rest. The gray land, blotched with icy white where the wind-driven snow had drifted, stretched on and on into the limitless north. The wagon was a crawling blot with that tired, endless northland unrolling before the creaking wheels.
“Don’t look back, Annie!”
“Sam, I got to. It was our home, where our babies were born and died, where the best years of our lives were spent, where we worked and strove and suffered for—nothing!”
The core of utter bitterness was contained in that last hopeless word— bitterness and dumb suffering that could never be articulate. The gaunt man felt it, and his gnarled hands tightened on the reins until the bony knuckles whitened under their tan. For an instant his steady gaze wavered, the dry eyes filmed. Then he spat over the near wheel, straightened his sagging shoulders and resolutely faced the north.
“Ain’t no use of lookin’ back,” he said in the same monotonous voice. “Nothin’ we can do. We got to look ahead now.”
But the woman was still staring into the past, which lived for her south of that shifting white curtain. Her eyes sought to pierce the thickly falling snow, her voice took on the soft croon of retrospect.
“Come spring and our flock’s been bigger’n stronger’n it was last year,” she said, speaking to herself rather than to the man on the seat beside her. “We had one of the nicest sheep ranches on t’other side of the river. Sam, you sure you read right what was writ on that paper the sheriff brought?”
The man spoke, in a weary sing-song voice, evidently repeating words burned on his very brain:
“Jest this, Annie. ‘Notice, to whom it may concern: All owners of both sheep and cattle ranches within two hundred miles of the Big Hills Valley are hereby ordered to abandon their property at once.’ “
The old woman voiced the hopeless groping of tired defeat for hope that cannot exist.
“You sure it said sheep ranches, too, Sam? Maybe it just said cattle ranches.”
“It said both, Annie,” the man replied with weary impatience. “There jest wasn’t nothin’ we could do but pack up our things as best we could and git.”
“Silence followed, broken only by the mournful creak of the wheels, the muffled jangle of harness iron, the dull chuck of shod hoofs. Overhead the sky darkened, the wind wailed a harsher note. The gray north grew more lowering. The snow curtain pressed closer. Tired, lonely, drably hopeless, the covered wagon lurched onward toward that forbidding land beyond the unseen horizon.
At length the old woman spoke again, like a child requesting the repeating of a many-times-told tale.
“That order telling us to abandon our property at once was signed by the United States Government, Sam? Why’d the Government do that? Why’d they make us get out before spring come? Why couldn’t they let us stay long ‘nough to shear our sheep?”
“Don’t rightly know.” The rancher shook his head. “Sheriff Alton said somethin’ about condemning property, and land grants and all such-like. I didn’t understand him any too good. Know he paid me five cents on the dollar for our ranch, and it was just robbery, that’s what it was—robbery! Had to throw in the sheep, too, ’cause there were no chance of them living if we drove them north in this kind of weather.”
The couple lapsed into silence as the wagon rolled slowly on through the snow. There was a bitter hopelessness in their muteness. They realized they were too old to start all over again.
“If there was only some way we could have kept the ranch,” sighed the woman finally. “Just some way!”
“Ain’t no good talkin’ about it, Annie.”
They had not traveled more than another mile when a horseman loomed out of the storm in front of them. The woman uttered a startled little cry as she saw the tall, black-clad figure on the big black stallion.
The horseman held up his hand in a signal for them to halt and as he rode closer they saw that a black mask hid the upper part of his face. There was snow on the brim of his big black sombrero and on the shoulders of the dark cloak that he wore.
“Holdup!” muttered the rancher. “Ain’t it enough that we had to give up our ranch without being robbed of what little money we still got!” Despair was in his voice.
“Where yuh headin’?” asked the masked man as he rode closer and halted his horse beside the wagon. “This ain’t no fit weather for old folks like you to be travelin’ in.”
“He don’t talk like he wants to rob us, Sam,” whispered the woman. “His voice is sort of kind-like.”
But the man in black heard her. His ears were quick.
“I shore ain’t aimin’ to rob you folks,” he said reassuringly. “Seen yore wagon, and wondered who would be out in a storm like this one. What’s wrong? Yuh both look like yuh’ve lost everythin’ in the world.”
“We have!” the old sheep rancher said mournfully. “Everythin’.”
“Won’t do no harm to tell him about it, Sam,” whimpered the woman. “He acts friendly, even if he is wearing that mask.”
“Shore,” urged the masked man. “Tell me—I’m a heap interested.”
Excerpt From: Donald Bayne Hobart. “Guns of the North Wind.”
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