Thundering Herds and Other Stories – Three novelettes by Walt Coburn about gamblers, cattle rustlers and debts long owed and finally repaid.
Death’s Saddlemates (1935) – Cow folks said that Bob Badger had gone bronc and that his girl’s father, following his sign, would bring him swiftly to the grim range justice meted out to all bushwhack killers.
Chapter Two – Jail for a Rustler
Chapter Three – Outlaw’s Friends
Chapter Four – Battle at Night
Law of The Thundering Herds (1937) – Old-timers still tell of that strange and famous gun-duel between Lige Brandon and his friend, Jim Turley, in the dusty street of Chinook. . . . For the echoes of their crashing six-shooters awoke from his boothill sleep a long-dead cowman—who must ride and fight again for a ghost trail-herd!
Chapter Two – Heir to Hell-On-the-Hoof
Chapter Three – A Ramrod Squares a Blood-Bargain
Chapter Four – Guns of the Skillet Iron
Tinhorns Can’t Cheat Death! (1937) – Deuce High Fox, tinhorn card-slick and killer, came back from years of unearned prison hell, sustained to life by his own bitter hatred against those who had condemned him. Yet all his slim-fingered magic and steel-cold nerve availed him little against the knowledge that he must play his last grim hand against Eternity, and play it straight!
Chapter Two – Snakes Die Hard!
Chapter Three – Tinhorn’s Backtrail
Chapter Four – Deuce High—or Death!
Walt Coburn (1889–1971) was one of the premier writers of Western pulp fiction. Coburn was born in White Sulphur Springs, Montana Territory before it was admitted as the 41st state of the Union later that year.
Thundering Herds and Other Stories contains 7 illustrations.
TWO men stood in the middle of the street at Chinook, Montana. They faced each other fifty feet apart, and each had a six-shooter holstered on his thigh. It was just before dusk and the windows of the saloons threw yellow light on them. One was tall, rawboned, red complexioned, with greenish bloodshot eyes and a nose that had been broken and badly set. The man standing facing him was short, heavy shouldered, with graying black hair and drooping mustache. His legs were incredibly bowed. His eyes, steel gray and hard, stared at the bigger man from under shaggy black brows.
Crowds of men, mostly cowpunchers, bartenders, tin horn gamblers, with a scattering of citizens, lined the plank walks on either side of the wide street. Midway between the two, yet a little out of the line of fire, stood a tall man in a stovepipe hat, with a heavy gold cased watch in his hand. Long jawed, solemn-visaged, he was dressed in black frock coat and pants. He might have been mistaken for a preacher, save for the fact that he wore a sagging cartridge belt around his middle and a white-handled six-shooter low along his thigh. His high-topped hat, too, was tilted at a rakish angle and there was a huge diamond ring on the left hand that waved a long black cigar.
“Get ready, gentlemen!” His voice rolled out from behind shining white teeth in sonorous tones. “Go!”
The two men in the middle of the street drew their guns with lightning rapidity. Both guns blazed at precisely the same split second. The roaring of the two guns blended, as the crowd on either side of the street watched breathlessly.
Then both smoking guns were mute, the six-chambered cylinders empty of loads. Yet both duelists remained on their feet. Neither showed a blood mark anywhere. They straightened from their half crouching postures, and began calmly reloading their guns.
“Of all the rotten shootin’!”
A man wearing a bartender’s apron turned to eye the young cowpuncher who had made the remark. “What’s that you said, young feller?”
“I just saw those two empty their guns at each other. They’re both still standin’. Neither of ’em hurt, unless he’s bleedin’ inside.”
“A stranger, ain’t yuh?”
“Just now got in. Sighted the crowd, and—”
“Then shut up and watch.”
The man in the stovepipe hat motioned the two combatants towards him. When they came up, he reached out with both hands and removed their hats. He examined the two high crowned hats carefully as the crowd gathered around.
“Four holes in Lige Brandon’s hat,” he said, handing the hat to the big, redfaced man.
“I tally five in your Stetson, Jay.” He handed the other hat to the stocky bow-legged man. “Looks like Lige wins.”
“Hold on, Deacon,” said the short-statured man, bending his head and pointing a stubby forefinger at the top of his heavy iron gray hair. “Just feel there.” The silk hatted man felt of the short man’s head. His long white fingers came away stained red.
“Gentlemen,” he lifted his voice, “at first it looked like Lige Brandon had won this shootin’ match. He put five holes through Jay Turley’s hat, against four that I tallied in Lige’s sky-piece. But one of Lige’s bullets nicked Jay’s scalp. Which gives Jay Turley the game, and Lige Brandon pays off as loser. Loser’s penalty, as usual, is to buy the two new beaver hats, and drinks for the thirsty. As an extra penalty, because he drew blood, Lige Brandon owes Jay Turley one hundred head of steers. Gentlemen, the show is over. We will now adjourn to the White Elephant and wash the powdersmoke from our lungs with likker.”
THE white-aproned saloon man turned to the young cowpuncher who stood there, wonderment stamped on his dust-powdered, tanned face.
“You was saying something, young feller, about rotten shootin’?”
Excerpt From: Walt Coburn. “Thundering Herds and Other Stories.”
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