Outlaw Brand and Other Stories by Harry F. Olmsted
Three Western stories about vengeance, kidnapping, ambush and the greed for gold by Harry F. Olmsted.
Outlaw Brand and Other Stories – Three Western stories about vengeance, kidnapping, ambush and the greed for gold by Harry F. Olmsted.
Death Wears Six-Shooters (1943) – A vengeance-driven man’s hymn of hate turned young Johnny Britt into a lightning-triggered gunster, but his smoke poles were taking orders from no one when the day of powder-smoke reckoning came
Chapter I Heritage of Hate
Chapter II School For Gunman
Chapter III Time For Payoff
Chapter IV Three Rivers Post
Chapter V Harvest Of Hate
Chapter VI Trained To Kill
Wells-Fargo Messenger (1941) – For fifteen months the Gold Ghost had borne bullion safely over outlaw-haunted trails. But there came a night when the buzzard-breed readied a flaming gun-gauntlet for Wells-Fargo!
Outlaw Brand (1934) – The Sheriff’s Guns Were Silent Since Stained by the Blood of His Friend. When That Dead Gunman’s Ghost Appeared, Old Hates Awakened to Breed New Loyalties in Powder Smoke.
Chapter II “Bust An’ Be Damned!”
Chapter III At The 29 Bar
Chapter IV Manhunt
Chapter V On The Dodge
Chapter VI Out Of The Dark
Harry Francis Olmsted was born in 1889 in Los Angeles, California and worked as a civil engineer before turning to fiction.
Olmsted was one of the most popular of the Pulp Western writers and claimed to have sold 1200 stories ranging from short stories to novellas. His stories were rarely set in typical Western settings. Olmsted preferred to set his stories in logging camps, or on river boats, or with fur trappers in the North West.
As with many California based Pulp Fiction writers, Olmsted worked as a screenwriter on a number of Hollywood projects.
Olmsted died in 1970 in Riverside, California.
Outlaw Brand and Other Stories has 8 illustrations.
Excerpt: Death Wears Six-Shooters
Heritage of Hate
THROUGH a silver thaw, heralding the first weakening of King Winter, Carcajou Britt whooped his six snarling wolf dogs toward Pak-oghee Ridge. Behind him were ten lost years on the Skynomish, where the rivers Stiloguamish, Stehekin and Tyee are born. Behind him, too, were five hundred blizzard miles, with cold running in his lungs like flowing ice. But now—now the end was almost in sight.
It had been a grueling trip, with little food and a physical drain that had sapped his dogs, leaving them ribby, rough-coated and mean. Carcajou’s normally sharp profile was gaunter still, his eyes deeper sunken, his skin speckled black with frostbite. But there was weakening neither in his spring-steel body nor in his hate. He was tough as cured babiche, and his soul a welter of bitterness. Hate sustained him, tempered his muscles, armored him against loneliness and punishment. It etched his face into a devil’s mask and fired his cruel, sunken eyes.
For ten years Britt had fed that hate by staring at the stump of his right wrist and trying vainly to train his left hand to serve him on the trap lines as his right once had. Always he had planned to loose this hate against his one enemy, once that left hand was ready. Convinced now that it never would be—and that had taken ten years to prove— Carcajou lit out for the east, fighting his dogs into the teeth of a blizzard.
Now, with a heave of his shoulder, he helped the sled to the ridge back, where the wind was knife-edged. But he didn’t feel it. His dark eyes were lowered into Pak-oghee Valley, half seen through drifting fog. It hadn’t changed. Yonder was the frozen lake, hemmed by flat summer grasslands that seemed to push back the encroaching spruces. There was the shale slide, trickling down from hoary Manitou’s Finger. And there —yes, there were the thinly wisping tepee smokes. Carcajou sighed. A lot of things can happen in ten years.
For minutes he studied those plumes, half doubtfully. Then, shaking himself: “Why shouldn’t he be there?” he growled. “An’ growed, too. Big an’ strong an’ ready fer some schoolin’.” Bleakness crept into his eyes. “He better be, or I’ll kill them damned Nitchies. Come on, boys.”
Riding the runners, Carcajou sent the team down slope, the dogs barking as they sensed meat. With the animals running hard to keep the sled off their tails, Carcajou hit the flat, dipped into the creek bottom and up the far bank. It put him squarely into the village. A woman, bent under a load of firewood, squealed shrilly and dropped her burden. Indian dogs came snarling, swerving wide of the wolfish fangs of the sled dogs. The tepees seemed to disgorge their bronzed inmates. Carcajou halted his dogs, brushed frost from his whiskers and spoke a name.”
Silence was his answer, and he knew the old war chief of the Seth-withni-wuk was dead. He gestured his regret and asked: “Who is chief?”
A tall Indian stood forth, lean and fit and straight-gazing. “I am Swift Running. What do you want?”
In badly spoken Cree, Carcajou said: “I am the Wolverine. Many moons ago I left my son with Calling Crow. I return for him.”
AN old woman protested shrilly and talk ran around the closing circle. There was danger here, and Carcajou’s eyes narrowed as he laid his left hand, poor as it was, on his belted pistol. Swift Running scowled, silenced the grumbling.
“You have not kept your agreement with Calling Crow,” he told Carcajou. “What of payment every twelve—”
“Every twelve moons,” Carcajou finished. “I could not get here. I bring payment on the sled, and Manitou help you if anything has happened to the boy. Bring food.” They brought fish for the dogs and a stew for Carcajou, who smiled crookedly as he gorged himself, amused as the Crees chattered over prime beaver pelts, the pick of ten years’ catch, carefully dressed and kept in an ice cave on the Skyno-mish. Carcajou chuckled as they enthused over ten black beaver skins—one for each year of exile. Now the chief came over.
“Payment good,” he grunted. “Half for me, half for Falling Star.” Carcajou said nothing, raiding the chief’s tobacco pouch as he waited. When he had lit his pipe, he nodded and Swift Running led him into a tepee where a woman sat with a blanket thrown over her head, rocking from side to side, wailing softly.
“White man bring many good skins, Falling Star,” the chief said. “He come for boy.” Then he went outside.
Carcajou sat down by the fire. “Enough dog howling,” he said roughly. “Where’s the boy?”
The mourning ceased. The blanket was flipped off and an old crone glared at Carcajou, her face tear-streaked. “I am old,” she croaked. “I saw the first white man come here with fire stick more than seventy flights of the geese ago. Three times since Calling Crow bring me to his lodge, I bear him child. All die. Then you bring Hawk Boy. Calling Crow teach him to ride, to hunt, to fight. Now Hawk Boy big, strong, swift and wise. If you take him, Falling Star’s heart is dead.”
“Then bury it,” said Carcajou dourly. “Bring the boy.”
“Falling Star has many horses,” the crone pleaded. “Money from big fur company and guns, powder and bullet. You take all; leave Hawk Boy here.”
“I’ve come for the boy, you hear me? Where’s he at?”
Finding no rent in this white man’s armor, Falling Star’s faded eyes suddenly blazed. Her chin jutted forward and her lips curled. Speaking swiftly, harshly, she told of her dealings with white men, of their trickery and of curses she had put upon them. Curses that had defeated them in their houses, on the trail, in the hunt and in war.
“You come to take the son from my lodge,” she charged. “I offer you all I have to leave him here, and you refuse. Take him then, but so sure as you take him, I shall lay the deadly curse upon you.” Carcajou’s face contorted. He spat upon the ground and got up. “Curse and be damned!” he swore. “But fetch that boy here and make it sudden.”
The old woman got up also, her face an angry mask, her gnarled forefinger waggling at him. “In whatever direction you want to go. One Hand,” she crooned, “may Kee-chee Manitou bar the way. May there be no trust of you from man, no love from woman. May your fire go out, leaving you ever cold as your heart is cold. And in the end may the one you depend upon desert you and may darkness close in about you, crushing you in its black embrace. Death to you, One Hand, and worse than death.”
She drew back from the sweep of his left hand, pulled her blanket close about her and ducked outside. Carcajou knew better than to follow her. In speaking the curse, Falling Star had admitted defeat. She would deliver the boy. He laughed at the curse as he sat down again, but the laugh was strained. He hadn’t long to wait. The flap rustled and Hawk Boy stood looking down at him. Tall, straight and lean as the Crees themselves, the boy looked older than his sixteen years in his furs.
Excerpt From: Harry F. Olmsted. “Outlaw Brand and Other Stories.”
More by Harry F. Olmsted