Tag Archives: William Tell Sackett

Lonely on the Mountain by Louis L’Amour

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“One thing about a Sackett, he finishes what he starts if it is a good thing to start. All of us knew that whatever else was happening, we’d be pushing west. West was where I was going, and if I arrived there with no cows, I’d round up a buffalo herd and drive it in, or try.

If that failed, I’d have to get a rattlesnake for a whip and drive a flock of grizzlies. Right now I was mad enough to do it.” William Tell Sackett

Lonely on the Mountain is the last in the Sackett series of books. As you can imagine, I am sad to be finished with them. The characters have become like sweet friends with whom I love spending my time. I was happy to see that if I had to say goodbye to my friends, at least there were quite a few of them in the book to give my regards to.

This book follows Tyrel, Orrin, and Tell taking a herd of cattle west to Logan. They received a letter from him saying that he needed a herd of cattle, and that they should suspect trouble along the way. This was enough of a reason for them to drop everything and head out with a herd. ┬áThere was indeed trouble along the way, but it was handled in true Sackett form. Head on with courage. I love this exchange with a man named the Ox, who gets his name for his huge stature and brute strength. “When the right time comes, I’ll take pleasure in beating your head in.’ the Ox said.

Orrin smiled. ‘Don’t talk like a fool, man. You couldn’t whip one side of me, and away down inside you know it.’

The Ox was not amused. ‘Nobody ever whipped me,’ he said, ‘and nobody can.’

‘Keep that thought. I want you to have it when I prove you wrong.”

The Ox was big and used to people being afraid of him, so he didn’t need a lot of finesse in his fighting technique. If he didn’t scare them out of the fight, he overpowered them. Until he met a man who was also strong, but with brains and fighting skills. I love Orrin’s attitude toward the much larger Ox. Confidence like that can be disarming to one who has never lost.

I will miss following the Sackett family across country. I will miss the insights into humanity that are offered through the eyes of this family. I recommend that you read this book, but not until you have read all of the Sackett books that come before. You will not be disappointed.

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Treasure Mountain by Louis L’Amour

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In Treasure Mountain, some of the boys go in search of the final resting place of their Pa. He acted as guide for a group of treasure hunters when the boys were little. Now, however, their Ma is getting along in years and wants to know why he never made it back to her. So, Tell and Orrin set out to find and follow Pa’s final trail.

The Tinker shows up in the beginning of the book and decides to ride along with them. And a man named Judas Priest who tells them, “I look for a grave as well as you. I also look for the reason why there needs to be a grave.” His father Angus Priest had accompanied the group that Pa led.

Treasure Mountain is another book with a lot of familiar as well as semi-familiar characters. Tell, Orrin, Tyrell and the Tinker all feature in here, Logan and Nolan are mentioned in stories. We catch up with Nell, one of the Trelawney girls from back home, as well as a whole group of baddies who give chase to the Sacketts, up into the mountains where they feel most at home. Books with more than one Sackett are some of my favorites, and when they sit around a fire at night telling stories, well that’s just icing on the cake. One of my favorite stories comes from this book. I’ll share it with you here. If you like it, and I know you will, then come on back and read the book that is written all around it and I can tell you you’ll enjoy it too.

“Nolan was forted up down in the Panhandle country with some Comanches yonder a-shootin’ at him.. One of them got lead into him. He nailed that one right through the ears as he turned his head to speak to the other one, and then he wounded the last one. Nolan walked in on him, kicked the gun out of his hand, and stood there looking down at him, gun in his fist, and that Comanche glared right back at him, dared him to shoot, and tried to spit at him.

Nolan laughed, picked that Injun up by the hair and dragged him to his horse. He loaded that Indian on, tied him in place, then mounted his own horse and rode right to that Comanche village.

He walked his horse right in among the lodges and stopped.

The Comanches were fighters. No braver men ever lived, and they wanted Nolan’s hair, but they came out and gathered around to see what he had on his mind.

Nolan sat up there in the middle of his mustang, and he told them what a brave man this warrior was, how he had fought him until he was wounded, his gun empty, and then had cussed him and tried to fight him with his hands.

“I did not kill him. He is a brave man. You should be proud to have such a warrior. I brought him back to you to get well from his wounds. Maybe some day we can fight again.”

And then he dropped the lead rope and rode right out of that village, walking his horse and never looking back.

Any one of them could have shot him. He knew that. But Indians, of any persuasion, have always respected bravery, and he had given them back one of their on and had promised to fight him again when he had his strength.

So they let Nolan ride away, and to this day in Comanche villages they tell the story. And the Indian he brought back tells it best.”

The Lonely Men by Louis L’Amour

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“We were hard and lonely men who rode a hard and lonely way. We had known nothing of each other until this ride began in Yuma, and even now we knew scarcely more. But we had sweated and thirsted together, we had hungered and fought, and eaten trail dust together; so now we rode as brothers ride.” -Tell Sackett

The Lonely Men from this book are William Tell Sackett, Tampico Rocca, John J Battles, and Spanish Murphy. The book starts with these men under attack by Apaches. It’s the kind of thing that brings men together. That makes them realize they will fight together as long as one of them needs the others. Even if one of them is sent on a wild goose chase by his estranged sister in law.

Years ago, when Orrin Sackett realized the truth about his wife Laura, he left her with her father, the only man she was capable of loving. After her father dies, her hatred for Orrin turns to a hatred of all by the name of Sackett, so when she meets up with Tell, she decides that if she can’t see Orrin dead, then any old Sackett will do. Tell, on the other hand, hears the name Sackett and runs to her rescue. She sends him off in search of a son that doesn’t exist, telling him that her boy was kidnapped by Apaches and taken south of the border. So these men head straight into Apache territory. Of course there are no Sackett boys down there, but there are 4 other children who were kidnapped and taken to be raised as Apache, who are happy to be rescued.

The story goes from there to a long trail back to Tucson. They make new friends, and new enemies. They ride together as well as alone when the need arises. All the while, you’re hoping they’re going to make it back home, but this being the West in the late 1800’s, you are not guaranteed the outcome you’d like. But, they make the best of it, as everybody does in these books. At one point, they are sitting with a man who would have liked to be a scholar had he been born to another time or place who says, “I have seen my crops grow and my herds increase, and if I have not written words upon paper as I should like to have done, I have written large upon the page of life that was left open for me.” I know these are fictional novels, not self help books, but let’s do this. Let’s write large upon the page of life that is left open for us. Let’s not worry about the things that we don’t get to do, lets simply live this life that we’ve been given the best way we can. Let’s be Sacketts for a while.

The Sackett Brand by Louis L’Amour

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“For a hundred years my family had told stories of Sacketts

who came running to help Sacketts, often men they had never known.

It was the way of our kind, the way of the hills in which we were bred.”

-William Tell Sackett.

This book has the largest gathering of Sacketts ever seen. Unfortunately, it is because one of their own is in trouble. In the beginning of the book, Tell is out scouting the land when he is shot. He falls down a cliff into a river and is able to escape the men hunting him. Then he returns to his camp to find his wife Ange, their wagon and all of their gear missing. He knows he is in the right place, but there is no sign that the wagon was ever there. This leads him to the conclusion that an evil act is being covered by the guilty conscience of a man. Sadly, he is right.

Then, he searches for his wife, for the truth, and for the man responsible. When he finds his wife, the truth is revealed, and the man responsible receives the full weight of his anger. There are obstacles, however, as 40 hired guns are brought in to kill Tell thereby silencing him. But, these men have never been in a fight with a Sackett and very badly underestimate him. As all the Sacketts are coming into town, one of them comments, “‘He couldn’t be so ornery. Not even a Sackett could be so down-right ornery. He don’t dare let us be late.’ ‘Ornery?’ ‘He couldn’t be so ornery as to kill all forty of ’em before we get there.'” Only a group of Sacketts would worry about one guy finishing off 40 others before they could get in there to help. As Tell said, “None of us Sacketts were ever much on missing out on a fight. It was just in us to step in and let fly.”

This book has such a sad story. The beginning just breaks your heart, but the fighting and the “all-in relational aspect” that is the trademark of the Sackett line makes you forget about the sadness and really enjoy the story. As I look back over the book, I am realizing that it is so sad, and I am trying to figure out why I thought the book was so good and fun. Before you judge me for so thoroughly enjoying a book with such a tragic beginning, read it for yourself, you’ll see what I mean. My best explanation is this. That in the end what you’re left with is what we are all really longing for. A large family that loves you so much they will drop everything, risk what is most important, and run, not walk to join you when you most need them. Someone who loves you so much that they will search every dangerous path to find you. Who will then stand strong against your enemies until they are defeated. Unconditional love. These are the things you will remember from this book. And I can tell you that you will enjoy it. A lot.

Mojave Crossing by Louis L’Amour

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“Every man is born with death in him,” I said. “It’s only a matter of time.” -William Tell Sackett

Mojave Crossing is another William Tell Sackett book. This book finds him escorting a beautiful woman across the Mojave desert. She is running from some sort of trouble, and he can never quite shake his first image of her when he describes her as a black eyed witch. Not that he’s being especially unkind, he just sees some sort of ulterior motive in a beautiful woman who sets her sights on a “big raw-boned mountain boy, rougher than a cob and standing six feet three inches in my socks, with hands and shoulders fit to wrassle mustang broncs or ornery steers, but no hand with womenfolks.” As with all Sackett books, this one is filled with a host of colorful characters. Good guys and bad guys alike fill the pages nicely.

At one point, Tell stumbles into an outlaw camp. He is invited to come in and have a bite. One of the guys around the fire is teasing him, and he replies, “You just stack your duds and grease your skids and I’ll whup you down to a frazzle… After I’ve been fed.” I love a character who is sure enough of himself to jump into a teasing conversation in any crowd. Tell is an honest man who has the look of one who can, and will take care of business. As such, he is accepted into almost any crowd without having to change his character. Only those who directly cross him don’t enjoy being with him.

When he does get mad, you don’t want to be the one to have caused it. He says, “Until then I hadn’t been mad, for we Sacketts, man and boy, are slow to anger, but when we come to it we are a fierce and awful people. Another thing Pa had taught us boys was that anger is a killing thing: it kills the man who angers, for each rage leaves him less than he had been before- it takes something from him.” Oh that Pa was a wise man. I bet when you heard that anger is a killing thing you immediately thought of the person who had angered Tell, possibly with pity. But, he is talking about himself. He is warning us of the dangers to our own hearts if we walk around getting angry all the time.

There is enough mystery in this book that I don’t want to tell you too much about the actual story because it will possibly reveal things that are more fun discovered as L’Amour intended you to learn them. Just know that I really liked this book and I think you will too.

We meet Nolan Sackett here and I’m hoping he has his own book somewhere down the line. He could be fun.

Sackett by Louis L’Amour

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Sackett tells the story of William Tell Sackett. He showed up just briefly in The Daybreakers and I was excited to meet him because I had heard that he was some people’s favorite Sackett. But, we didn’t really get to know him until this book. And let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

On his way home one day, Tell comes upon a string of old markers that lead him to a gold mine. An actual gold mine, not the figure of speech we use today. It is hidden in a hard to reach valley and requires skill and daring to bring the gold out. Lucky for him, he was born a Sackett and skill and daring are something they have plenty of. While he’s in the valley, he gets a deer and hangs it in a tree overnight. When he comes out in the morning, most of the meat is gone. His response is this, “Hanging the meat up again, I went out and killed and dressed another buck. I hung it in a tree also, and rode away. I wanted nobody going hungry where I could lend a hand. Whoever or whatever it was would have meat as long as that buck lasted.” If only we as people could actually live this way. Instead of getting angry when we are wronged, understanding that the person on the other end may actually need more help that he is able to ask for. And then, giving that help where we are able. In this case, the person needing help ended up to be a beautiful young woman, who, in the end agrees to marry Tell.

I always enjoy L’Amour’s depictions of parents. They come to us through the lens of childhood memories, and they are loving and respectful. Here Tell speaks of his father, “At hunting time Pa doled out the ca’tridges and of an evening he would check our game, and for every ca’tridge he’d given us we had to show game or a mighty good reason for missing. Pa wasn’t one to waste a bullet.” In this one memory, we see a father who teaches responsibility as well as independence. He teaches boys to respect the resources around them as well as how to provide for themselves and their families.

And of his mother, “There’s folks who don’t hold with womenfolks smoking, but I was honing to see Ma, to smell her old pipe-a-going, and to hear the creak of that old rocker that always spelled home to me. When we boys were growing up that creak was the sound of comfort to us. It meant home, and it meant Ma, and it meant understanding… and time to time it meant a belt with a strap.” What a better world we would be in if more of us could recall a spanking in the same thought as understanding and home and Ma. I love this passage that says that the Sacketts understand discipline as a part of love. No wonder they grow into such great men.

In and among the great thoughts and fancy shooting was the humor that I’ve come to enjoy so much in L’Amour’s books. This was a great book and I had such a fun time reading it.