In a sixty-one-chapter-long book, I am currently in chapter twenty. I was genuinely excited to read this, because I remember seeing my mother reading Louis L'Amour books constantly when I was young. In fact, the copy I am reading, I got from her. I didn't really know what to expect, except that it would probably be a cowboy/westerny book; which it is. I'm just getting into the meat of the story, and I am really enjoying it. There are a lot of little pearls here and there, and L'Amour writes beautifully. It is very obvious that he did his research. He knew this western country.
This is the story of a boy who has lost his mother to death, and his father is heading that way too. The two of them head west, to try their luck with a grandfather who hates the boy's father because he eloped with the grandfather's daughter... I really hope that makes sense. See, Zachary Verne (the father) was a sailor, of a different social class than the Don (grandfather). But Zach fell in love with the Don's daughter, Consuelo, and they eloped. They fled into the desert and went east. The Don sent men after them, but they rarely came back, because Zachary had the help of the local Indians and outlaws to keep him and Consuelo safe. They had a son. This boy, whose name is Johannes Verne, narrates the story. He is only six years old when we meet him.
There is one event that I'd like to discuss here, though it will take a bit to explain. When Johannes and his father get near Los Angeles where the grandfather lives, they are told that he is waiting for them, and wants to kill them both. So they stop and take lodging in a deserted house in the middle of the desert dunes. After a few months, the grandfather learns they are there and comes for them.
They are ambushed. Zachary pushes Johannes out of the way instead of drawing his pistol, and gets shot because of the delay. He is killed instantly, plus some of the men come over and shoot his dead body even after the deed is done - which is horrendous to me. But the thing that happened next is what interested me. The group of ten men take the boy deep into the desert. The following comes straight from the book:
"Here," the old man [grandfather] said. "Leave him. He is of my own blood, after all. If he dies --"
"Kill him now," the younger man said. "Leave him dead."
"I will not," the old man said stubbornly. "Leave him. Let the desert do it. I will not destroy my own blood even if it is mingled with that of scum. Leave him."
The man with the scarred nose pulled me free of the saddle and dropped me, then sharply turned his horse so that it would trample me, but I rolled away, then ran and hid among some stones.
"Leave him!" the old man said impatiently.
They started off, and filled with anger, I stood up among the rocks. "Goodbye Grandpa!" I shouted.
He winced as if struck, and his shoulders hunched as from a blow. He started to turn, but the young one said, "It is an insolent whelp! Like the father!"
They rode away, and I was alone.
Okay. Two things here.
First, I want to try to understand the grandfather's logic in leaving the boy deep in the desert. He obviously has some sense of family loyalty, considering he says that he will not destroy his own blood. But isn't he guilty of that anyway? I mean, leaving someone in the desert to die IS murder! did he think he was being merciful by not doing it himself, or having one of his men do it? It doesn't make sense to me. I mean, obviously, I wasn't brought up the way this man was, so I have no idea what thoughts he had as he was taking his own grandson to his death. Just because you didn't pull the trigger, doesn't mean you weren't responsible for his death. If I were in the grandfather's shoes, the thought of this poor boy wandering the desert until he starved to death would haunt my every step. Especially knowing that he was my grandson, and that I was responsible; that I could have prevented it, and I didn't.
Which leads me to the second point. We see the intense reaction that the grandfather had to being called "Grandfather" by Johannes. I think this is a good indication that he (the grandfather) actually does feel some small amount of remorse for this act. He feels justified logically, but his heart is telling him that what he's doing is wrong. The younger man (who we don't know any more about than this) seems more bitter against Johannes and his father even than the Don. Which makes me wonder who he is. Up to this point, we don't know of any other children that the Don had, but I suppose he may be a brother to Consuelo, or perhaps the man that Consuelo was supposed to marry before she eloped with Zachary. Either way, you can tell that he has more baggage than the Don in this situation, and he uses that to his advantage as much as he can. The Don has some feeling for the boy, whether he admits it or not. We can tell by his physical reaction that it is there.
Luckily, Johannes was taught a great deal about the desert on the trip west from his father and others, so he is able to survive for a day or two before running into some outlaws who respected his father. They give him water and take him back to the deserted home in the dunes, and the story moves on.
I truly feel for this poor boy. He's nearly seven-years-old, and he is now orphaned, has very little money, and few friends of his own, though many who knew his father, which is what I think will save him.
All in all, I am enjoying this very much. Though there are a lot of chapters, the story moves fairly quickly. I haven't hit a boring spot yet.
As you may have noticed, I have taken off the dates from the book list. I wanted to read quickly through the first few books, but now I feel like taking my time, and really getting into the story a little deeper. I will still only really delve into one or two little parts of story in each post, as I did here, so my posts won't be too long :-)
Congrats if you read this whole thing. I'm proud of you.
Cowboys and Indians,
The Page Traveler
Design by The Blog Decorator