Tag Archives: Augustus McCrae

Excerpt from “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry ~~Blue Duck~~

picture-LonesomeDove-McMurtryHe sat down on a big rock to let the heat dry him. Then, looking beyond her, he apparently saw something she couldn’t see.
“Lorie, would you mind handing me my gun belt?” he asked.
“Why?” she asked.
“I see an Indian coming and I can’t tell if he’s friendly,” Augustus said. “He’s riding a pacing horse and that ain’t a good sign.”
His old pistol was so heavy she had to use both hands to pass the gun belt to him.
“Jake rides a pacing horse,” she said.
“Yes, and he’s a scamp,” Augustus said.
Lorena looked west, but she could see no one. The rolling plain was empty.
“Where is he?” she asked.
“He’ll be a while yet,” Augustus said.
“How do you know he’s an Indian, if he’s that far?” she asked.
“Indians got their own way of riding, that’s why,” Augustus said. “This one might have killed a Mexican or at least stole one’s horse.”
“How do you know?” she asked.
“He’s got silver on his saddle, like Mexicans go in for,” Augustus said. “I seen the sun flashing on it.”
Lorena looked again and saw a tiny speck. “I don’t know how you can see that far, Gus,” she said.
“Call don’t neither,” Augustus said. “Makes him mad. He’s better trained than me but ain’t got the eyesight.”
Then he grinned at her, and put his hat on to shade his eyes. He was watching the west in a way that made her apprehensive.
“You want the rifle?” she asked.
“No, I’ve shot many a sassy bandit with this pistol,” he said. “I’m glad to have my hat, though. It don’t do to go into a scrape bareheaded.”
The rider was close enough by then that she too could see the occasional flash of sun on the saddle. A few minutes later he rode into camp. He was a big man, riding a bay stallion. Gus had been right: he was an Indian. He had long, tangled black hair and wore no hat—just a bandana tied around his head. His leather leggings were greasy and his boots old, though he wore a pair of silver spurs with big rowels. He had a large knife strapped to one leg and carried a rifle lightly across the pommel of his saddle.
He looked at them without expression—in fact, not so much at them as at their horses. Lorena wished Augustus would say something, but he sat quietly, watching the man from under the brim of his old hat. The man had a very large head, squarish and heavy.
“I’d like to water,” he said, finally. His voice was as heavy as his head.
“It’s free water,” Augustus said. “I hope you like it cold. We ain’t got time to warm it for you.”
“I like it wet,” the man said and trotted past them to the pool. He dismounted and squatted quickly, raising the water to his mouth in a cupped hand.
“Now that’s a graceful skill,” Augustus said. “Most men just drop on their bellies to drink out of a pond, or else dip water in their hats, which means the water tastes like hair.”
The bay stallion waded a few steps into the pool and drank deeply.
The man waited until the horse had finished drinking, then came walking back, his spurs jingling lightly as he walked.
Again he glanced at their horses, before looking at them.
“This is Miss Wood,” Augustus said, “and I’m Captain McCrae. I hope you’ve had breakfast because we’re low on grub.”
The man looked at Augustus calmly and a little insolently, it seemed to Lorena.
“I’m Blue Duck,” he said. “I’ve heard of you, McCrae. But I didn’t know you was so old.”
“Oh, I wasn’t till lately,” Augustus said. It seemed to Lorena that he too had a touch of insolence in his manner. Though Gus was sitting in his underwear, apparently relaxed, Lorena didn’t think there was anything relaxed about the situation.
The Indian called Blue Duck was frightening. Now that he stood close to them his head seemed bigger than ever, and his hands too. He held the rifle in the crook of his arm, handling it like a toy.
“Where’s Call if you’re McCrae?” Blue Duck asked.
“Captain Call went to town,” Augustus said. “He’s shopping for a cook.”
“I was told I best kill both of you if I killed one,” the Indian said. “It’s my bad luck he’s gone.”
“Well, he’ll be back,” Augustus said, the insolence more pronounced in his voice. “You can sit over there in the shade and wait if you’d enjoy a chance at us both.”
Blue Duck looked him in the eye for a moment, and with a light movement swung back on his horse.
“I can’t wait all day just for the chance to shoot two worn-out old Rangers.” he said. “There are plenty that need killing besides you two.”
“I guess Charlie Goodnight must have run you off,” Augustus said. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be off down here in respectable country riding some dead Mexican’s saddle.”
The man smiled a hard smile. “If you ever bring that goddamned old tongue of yours north of the Canadian I’ll cut it out and feed it to my wolf pups,” he said. “That and your nuts too.”
Without another look he rode past them and on out of the camp.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Literature