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The Riders of High Rock

Cover of The Riders of High Rock

The Riders of High Rock

Hopalong rode into cattle country just east of the California line looking for his old friend Red Connors. He found Red holed up in a mountain cave with a bullet in his side and a story to tell. The ranchers around Tascotal had been losing their stock, and when Red caught the rustlers in the act, they hunted him down, shot him, and left him for dead. Jack Bolt, a savage, ruthless killer, has brought in a tough band of hardcases to run his operation. And now he's sent them out to take care of the one man who stands in his way: Hopalong Cassidy. But Bolt's about to learn the hard way that if you shoot down a man like Cassidy, you better make sure he never gets up again.

Hopalong rode into cattle country just east of the California line looking for his old friend Red Connors. He found Red holed up in a mountain cave with a bullet in his side and a story to tell. The ranchers around Tascotal had been losing their stock, and when Red caught the rustlers in the act, they hunted him down, shot him, and left him for dead. Jack Bolt, a savage, ruthless killer, has brought in a tough band of hardcases to run his operation. And now he's sent them out to take care of the one man who stands in his way: Hopalong Cassidy. But Bolt's about to learn the hard way that if you shoot down a man like Cassidy, you better make sure he never gets up again.

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    Chapter 1



    CHASE IN THE MOUNTAINS



    As Red Connors put the sorrel up the slope he felt the big horse break stride and knew that it was all in. From the top of the hill Red could see the cloud of dust marking pursuit, but realized that he was out of sight, for the time being at least. Grimly he stared at the rifle in the saddle scabbard. If he just had some more cartridges!

    This Winchester in the hands of Red Connors had done phenomenal shooting, but now he had no more ammunition and even his six-shooter was empty. There was a bloody wound in his side and unless he quickly found somewhere to hide he was a gone gosling.

    More than once in these past few days he had thought of his old friend Hopalong Cassidy. There was no one like him for planning a way out or around, and no one like him with a six-gun either. Right then Red Connors would have given almost anything if he could have seen Hopalong come over the rise ahead of him.

    He turned the sorrel along the ridge, keeping to the broken country and putting as many pines between himself and the direction of the pursuit as possible. He knew this was a race with death, and the men behind him had every intention of leaving him for the buzzards.

    Yet it was not his own life alone that hung in the balance, but the lives and hopes of his friends on the 3TL. With what he now knew, there was every chance they might finally end the systematic cattle stealing that he suspected had been going on in the High Rock country for the last several months. However, that was the very reason the rustlers could not let him live.

    Before him the mountain broke off sharply, offering a magnificent view of the sunken gorges and the distant Sawtooth Range far to the north. The path he had followed was an ancient game trail; now he turned off it, holding to a rocky shelf to leave no prints, and headed down-slope into a grove of aspen and mountain laurel. Far below he could see the brilliant blue of a small lake, set like a jewel among the towering peaks and the ranges about it.

    The sorrel plodded wearily, and Red knew that behind him his enemies would be gaining. Their own animals were fresh. Sooner or later they would corner him.

    Sweat trickled down Red's face and he removed his hat, wiping his hand over his sparse red hair. Suddenly he saw a steep footpath, turning down the face of the cliff to the right of the trail, and instantly he decided to gamble. Swinging down, he hastily stripped his saddle and bridle from the exhausted horse and, hitting it a thump on the shoulder, swung toward the trail.

    He staggered now, almost dropping the heavy saddle. Fifty feet down the steep path he found a tiny ledge, a place that offered a little shelter from above, and into which no man could gain entry as long as Red remained conscious and able to resist, for the narrowness of the path was such that it would be very easy to overbalance an attacker and send him crashing down the face of the cliff.

    Above him he heard horses, then voices. The riders reined in and he heard them talking. "Aw! Don't tell me that! I hit the redheaded billy goat, and you know it! No use to chase him! He's done for!"

    "Here's his trail," a new voice said. "His horse broke stride here, but kept on goin'. He won't get far now, and it's a long ways until dark. We got him wherever he is."

    "Mount up, then," a third voice said. "Hoyt, you and Mex stay here until we send up a smoke or signal you. He might try to double back over the mountain."

    "No chance. That redhead's done for!" The speaker cleared his throat. "And I'm just as glad! He could shoot!"

    There was a sound of horses moving...

About the Author-
  • LOUIS L'AMOUR, truly America's favorite storyteller, was the first fiction writer ever to receive the Congressional Gold Medal from the United States Congress in honor of his life's work, and was also awarded the Medal of Freedom. There are more than 265 million copies of his books in print worldwide.

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