The Trail Ends in Ouray - by James Stoness

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The real southwest comes alive beneath the creative hands of one of North America's newest writers. James Stoness brings you the romance and excitement as could only have existed in the 1800's.

Pursuing and catching the killer of your best friend is a noble gesture. But when it takes you away from your gold claim for months things will not likely be the same when you return. That’s what Tex Hallman was about to find out when he rode back to Ouray on the stage. Faced with the theft of his claim, and finding the town controlled by a judge whom Tex had always considered a friend, Tex didn’t know which way to turn.

It didn’t take long for him to discover that a vicious gang controlled Ouray and the surrounding countryside. Those who panned for gold lost their pokes and sometimes their lives when they tried to leave town.

Tex had met an attractive young lady and her family on the stage. His efforts to convince the father to take his family away from harm fell upon deafened ears. To make matters worse the father began to associate with the crooked judge and Tex’s concern for the young lady grew stronger.

When the outlaws smashed up the local printing press it was too much for Tex Hallman. It wasn’t long before Tex began to attract attention from the judge and his henchmen.

Tex’s life became more complicated after he met a friendly waitress who wanted to be his friend. It was further complicated when he was persuaded to run for sheriff and clean up the town. The little mining camp of Ouray looked peaceful if you stood on one of the high cliffs that surrounded the town on three sides. Down below it was seething with anger, a dangerous outpouring of rage that could only be controlled with the judicious use of lead and rope.

Follow Tex as he attempts to sort out his feelings for two girls, and clean up a gang of thieves whose greatest desires are to get Tex Hallman in their sights.

From The Book:

The stage rolled along the valley, a plume of dust behind it covering the road like some gargantuan caterpillar. High above it a large hawk soared on the gossamer tendrils of hidden air currents. A small herd of antelope, startled by the passing coach, bolted for the safety of the distant hills.

Reaching the edge of the valley the team of horses and its wooden conveyance surged up the first of the small hills leading to the mountains. The horses laid into their harness as if there was a devil flying over them. The laggards were urged on by the driver’s whip, a whip that was being flailed with a vengeance.

Behind them, partially hidden by the cloud of dust, came riders. The exact number was in doubt, but something that was not in question, was the fact that those riders who were visible through the dust were brandishing guns. Puffs of white smoke emerged, from time to time, testifying to the truth of it.

The driver of the stage occasionally looked back over his shoulder, only to return to using his whip more fiercely, if that were possible, over the horses. The crooked road was causing the vehicle to sway precariously as they skidded around the curves and jounced over the uneven terrain. The man with the reins showed his experience as he whipped and guided his six horses through the tortuous road.

Men leaned out of both sides of the stage, their deadly guns in their hands, shooting back toward the partially hidden riders. Inside, the passengers who were not fortunate enough to have a window to hang onto were being flung from side to side as the perilous journey continued. Of course, one, being objective about it all, might argue the point of those being near the window being fortunate, at all. From their point of view, the sound of the occasional blue whistler was not at all reassuring. It didn’t help either, to have to look down on the body of one of their fellow passengers, whose countenance stared with sightless eyes toward the ceiling. The passengers were a mixed lot, which was not at all unusual in this part of the Territory of Colorado. There had been four men, but one man was with them, only in body, but not in spirit. His spirit had moved away the moment that his heart had absorbed a bullet from an accurately aimed rifle gun.

One of the men sat in the forward facing seat, holding on to his wife, trying to keep them both from being tossed onto the floor at the feet of the other seated passengers. He was a fashionably dressed elderly man and running a little to the plump side of the scale. He was well shaven except for a longhorn moustache that was drawn to two needle like points, and heavily waxed to keep its shape. On top of his vest, visible through his partially open topcoat, was a looped gold chain, ornate in appearance, and obviously expensive. Underfoot lay a tall stovepipe hat, much the worse for being the recipient of many feet, and it now lay under the unmoving body on the floor. There could be no doubt, that this man was the owner of that fancy hat, for there was no one else on board, who would have worn such a thing.

Clinging to him was his wife. She was a slim, frail looking, middle-aged woman, who at this moment appeared to be somewhat distraught. Her head was buried against her husband’s chest, and from time to time she turned to look at the man on the floor, who had the unkindness of rolling, first against her legs, and then away, depending upon which way the coach had skidded. Whenever this happened she would stiffen and turn her head back so that her face was hidden in her husband’s coat. Occasionally, she would emit mewing sounds and her shoulders would tremble and shake.

Next to her sat her daughter. A bigger contrast could never have been purposely planned. Instead of a shrinking, quivering, pathetic woman, like her mother, she sat there proud and strong, a symbol of the courageous and determined pioneer woman. She had given up trying to comfort her mother and was now loading, alternately, one of the two revolvers that the man at her window was using.

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