One of the last cowboys still riding through American fiction moseys through Texas, and gets into trouble.
Having detailed the latter-day escapades of Texas cowpuncher Hewey Calloway in previous novels (The Smiling Country, 1998, etc.), Kelton now heads back to 1889 for a look at Hewey and his brother Walter in their younger days. The two are wandering the vast West Texas landscape when they fall in with a couple of cowboys who turn out to be rustlers. Never that smart, Hewey informs on the rustlers, earning their enmity. But there’s little time to worry about that, as the Calloway brothers find themselves working hard for skinflint rancher C.C. Tarpley, earning just six bits a day (that’s 75 cents to city folk). This arrangement is just fine by Hewey, who wants nothing more than a good horse, some grub and nobody bossing him around. But Walter has fallen in love with a girl from the nearby town. The entanglement is more than a little irksome to Hewey, who barely hesitates before signing his brother and himself up for a long ride down to San Antonio to bring back a herd of cattle that C.C. just bought—anything to get out in the open country and keep Walter away from the girl. It’s a nice lengthy ride, with more than a few mishaps along the way, but nothing that Hewey and dumb luck can’t handle.
Easygoing days in the saddle, related in a drawl that’s sweet as pure honey. One has to appreciate a Western whose hero is so bad with a revolver that he couldn’t hit water if he was standing knee deep in a lake.