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Cover – Gunsmoke Years – Six Stories by Gunnison Steele

Gunsmoke Years by Gunnison Steele

A double-crossing partner that abandons a man to the wolves; gamblers playing poker with a woman and a ranch as the stakes; an outlaw and the sheriff that put him away thirty years before, band together to rid a town of corruption. These are some of the stories in Gunsmoke Years.

Book Details

Book Details

A double-crossing partner that abandons a man to the wolves; gamblers playing poker with a woman and a ranch as the stakes; an outlaw and the sheriff that put him away thirty years before, band together to rid a town of corruption. These are some of the stories in Gunsmoke Years.

The Blizzard Outcast (1945) – Tossed to the wolves in a bleak white wilderness, Wick O’Hara follows a grim trail to justice and vindication!
Chapter I – Blizzard Traitor
Chapter II – The Outcast
Chapter III – Clue to Treachery
Chapter IV – Blood on the Snow

Tinhorn’s Death-Mortgage (1937) – Like a fanged and deadly sidewinder, Buck Flame, gambler and killer, waited along the trailside to pay off Jim Tolley for ten years of prison purgatory. . . . But Buck Flame couldn’t resist a gamble before final pay-off — when the stake was a ranch-girl as lovely as old Jim’s daughter!

Pegleg Peters (1941) – An Old Prospector Makes the Desert His Ally!

The Gunsmoky Years (1944) – Two Old-Timers Bury the Hatchet When They Join Hands to Rid Ox-bow Town of a Range Hog and Tinhorn!

Step-Sons of Disaster (1948) – To Johnny Buck, Cruelty and Injustice Are a Call to Action — Despite Any and All Risk!
Chapter I Rawhide Death
Chapter II Wolfhead
Chapter III Gunsmoke Collectors
Chapter IV Renegade’s Requiem

Gunsmoke Sentence (1935) – Pete Calhoun disarmed the sheriff who’d sworn to lead him to the gallows, then left him behind in a den of the Border’s bloodiest renegades. Yet with him, like a ghost, rode the picture of a lawman being tortured to death — while he, an outlaw, rode to empty safety.

Gunnison Steele was the pseudonym of B.W. Gardner who actively wrote from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Gunsmoke Years has 14 illustrations.

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  1. Steele-GunsmokeYears.epub
Read Excerpt

Excerpt: The Blizzard Outcast

Chapter I

Blizzard Traitor

LANKY, red-haired Wick O’Hara grinned his rash grin.

“Here she comes, Bill!” he yelled. “Dig in yore teeth and dewclaws or yuh’ll get blowed clean off the mountain!”

For hours past the blizzard had been a dark, sullen thing skulking among the higher peaks. But now it swooped suddenly, like a hungry black panther, howling and snarling and squalling its fury. It bellowed out of canyons and across spiny ridges, driving sleet and snow before it. For a moment the mountains seemed to quail with stunned dismay, and then to scream out in sudden wild terror. The sun went out, leaving a gray, shroudlike pall over the highlands.

The storm hammered at Wick O’Hara and his partner. Bill Dante, with incredible savagery. It smashed the breath from them, flung their horses together, then drove them apart, and in the ugly twilight they could barely see each other across the twenty feet of space.

“Stay close — stay close!” Wick yelled, as he fought his horse.

Ice was already coating Bill Dante’s dark, hawklike face.

“Yuh reckon that wolf pack’s still hangin’ on our tails?”

“Shore! Blizzard’ll just make ’em hungrier!”

They fought their way along a shallow canyon. They had known where they were before the storm hit, but now all landmarks were lost in the swirling, howling maelstrom. They only knew that somewhere below lay the lowlands and the town of Caribou — Caribou, with its warmth and safety, and a laughing, yellow-haired girl named Rose whom they both loved.

Four months ago, Wick O’Hara and Bill Dante had headed into the Whitebears on a gold-hunting expedition. And, high among the gaunt peaks, they had found “ripples” of virgin gold interlaced in a rotten ledge that had been uncovered by a landslide. Caught up by their wild enthusiasm they had lost all track of time. Even so they had been supplied with ample provisions which were cached in a dugout near the one-room cabin. Enough to last through the winter if necessary.

But the same thing — a landslide, roaring down the mountainside while they were out scrabbling for gold, and burying the dugout under tons of rock, dirt and snow — had brought them to the brink of disaster. Almost without food, and in the teeth of a snarling blizzard, they had been forced to strike out quickly for the lowlands.

THEY had known that a big pack of wolves was prowling in the vicinity of their cabin, watching them. They had heard the hunger cries in the night as the great white beasts raced across the bleak ridges in search of the game that weeks before had fled to the lowlands. Occasionally they had glimpsed the wolves by day as the gaunt beasts, made bold by hunger, shadowed them. Then they had been reasonably safe in the daytime, and at night they had kept to shelter.

But now, ravenous and desperate, their savagery inflamed by the blizzard, anything that moved was food to the big white brutes. They were closing in for the kill!

The blizzard was a monster, screaming violently and wickedly in its many-toned voice. It shoved and wrestled them along the shallow canyon, and out of it, and momentarily jammed them solidly against a rock wall.

They huddled there, feeling like old men who had been flogged.

Wick O’Hara looked at his partner. Bill Dante’s big shoulders were humped against the wind. Dante was a handsome man who liked to swagger and wear fancy clothes. But he couldn’t swagger here. He was swiping at his eyes, his mouth wide, trying to breathe.

“We’ve got to find shelter!” he said wildly.

“Where?” O’Hara yelled. “If we could find a good, deep cave — but then the hosses would die.”

“Cuss the hosses! Let the wolves have ’em, get their bellies full, then mebbe they’ll let us alone!”

“We need the hosses.” O’Hara said sharply. “Besides, this storm may last for days. We’re down to our last bite of grub, and if we holed up we’d starve. No, we’ve got to go on.”

“What about the wolves?”

“Long as the hosses stay on their feet we’re safe.”

“But that won’t be long. One of the brutes nearly hamstrung my bronc a minute ago. When that happens, we’re done.”

Bill Dante grabbed out his gun and fired wildly at a gaunt, savage-eyed wolf that had appeared suddenly atop a boulder thirty feet away. But the beast leaped sideward and vanished into the shifting pall.

Dante swore with shrill, almost childlike disappointment.

Wick O’Hara looked at him curiously. He hadn’t known much about Bill Dante before they joined forces, share and share alike, to go into the Whitebears. Despite his swaggering and big talk, Dante had seemed like a good gent to tie to. He had seemed square, with more than his share of courage. But now—

“Let’s get on,” O’Hara said.

They fought the horses away from the partial shelter of the wall and slammed into the blizzard. Looking back, O’Hara saw half a dozen quick-moving white forms leave the boulders and run at them silently. One of the huge beasts leaped in a swift, lunging drive at the hind legs of O’Hara’s roan. He snaked out his six-shooter, jabbed it downward and fired.

The wolf made no sound, but its back seemed to break suddenly. It wriggled in a jerky circle on its front legs, hindquarters remaining still. Bill Dante was yelling, firing wildly.

“Get on — get on!” O’Hara bawled, and they spurred their rearing, frightened horses forward.

There was a wicked snarling behind them as the remaining wolves leaped upon their wounded comrade.

But the respite would be brief, they knew. The wind blared in spasmodic gusts now, like the breath of a giant in nightmarish sleep. The snow and sleet cut at them like knives. The first smothering blue twilight had lifted somewhat, and occasionally they caught glimpses of the encircling peaks. But the blizzard had lost none of its deadly savagery.

A series of short, snarling yelps sounded behind them. The horses reared, and screamed with terror. Bill Dante yelled out something in a shrill, ragged voice.

Looking back, O’Hara saw the huge wolves, jaws agape, running with their bellies against the snow.

He fired, again and again, at the shadowy, leaping figures, the sound of his gun flat in the turmoil about them.

They were crossing a bare, exposed ridge at the base of a wedge-shaped peak. Dante had forged on ahead, driving his big sorrel furiously, while O’Hara tried to check the headlong charge of the pack. The wind swept across the bare ridge, trumpeting its triumph and fury, slamming at them full force.

The oncoming wolves seemed part of the whirling, wind-swept snow.

Wick O’Hara, his gun empty, turned to look at Bill Dante. Dante had turned in his saddle and was looking back at his partner. In the grayish murk Dante’s face was dim and masklike. He had a gun in his hand, and now he half-turned his horse, twisting in the saddle so that he faced Wick. Dante was turning back to help check the pack’s determined charge, O’Hara thought.

HE SAW Dante raise the gun, saw a red blob of flame blossom from its muzzle. And in that instant, even before he felt a shudder go through the roan, he knew that Bill Dante was not shooting at the wolves.

He was shooting at Wick O’Hara’s horse!

The roan stumbled, slashing at the hard earth with its hoofs. Dante was firing again, deliberately, his face wickedly set in the half-gloom.

And suddenly the roan went down, falling forward, flinging O’Hara headlong to the ground.

He landed on his arm and shoulder, with a stunning impact, and rolled over and over, what was happening a confused blur in his mind. Bill Dante had shot his horse, literally feeding both the dead horse and Wick O’Hara to the wolves, hoping to save himself!

Excerpt From: Gunnison Steele. “Gunsmoke Years.”

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