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Authors: Terry C. Johnston

Ride the Moon Down

BOOK: Ride the Moon Down
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PRAISE FOR
THE NOVELS OF
TERRY C. JOHNSTON

CRACK IN THE SKY

“Johnston offers memorable characters, a great deal of history and lore about the Indians and pioneers of the period, and a deep insight into himan nature, Indian or white.”


Booklist

“Mastery of the mountain man culture in all its ramifications, a sure grasp of the historical contect, and the imagination of a first-rate novelist combine to make Crack in the Sky a compelling, fast-paced story firmly anchored in sound history.”

—Robert M. Utley, former chief historian for the National Park Service and author of
A Life Wild and Perilous: Mountain Men and the Paths to the Pacific

BUFFALO PALACE

“Rich in historical lore and dramatic description, this is a first-rate addition to a solid series, a rousing tale of one man’s search for independence in the unspoiled beauty of the old West.”


Publishers Weekly

“Terry C. Johnston has redefined the concept of the Western hero…. The author’s attention to detail and authenticity, coupled with his ability to spin a darned good yarn, makes it easy to see why Johnston is today’s bestselling frontier novelist. He’s one of a handful that truly knows the territory.”


Chicago Tribune

DANCE ON THE WIND

“A good book … not only gives readers a wonderful story, but also provides vivid slices of history that surround the colorful characters.”

—Dee Brown, author of
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

“Packed with people, action, and emotion … makes you wish it would never end.”

—Clive Cussler

WINTER RAIN

“Terry Johnston is an authentic American treasure….
Winter Rain
[is] his strongest entry yet.”

—Loren D. Estleman

“Some of the finest depictions of Indian warfare I have ever read. Johnston’s romantic vision imbues the early West with an aching beauty that moderns can only dream of.”

—Richard S. Wheeler,
author of Two Medicine River

CRY OF THE HAWK

“This novel has the epic sweep of the frontier built into it.”


Publishers Weekly

“Will stain the reader with grease, blood, and smoke.”


Kirkus Reviews

THE SON OF THE PLAINS TRILOGY

“Terry Johnston is the genuine article…. His Custer trilogy is proving this significant point, just as his Indian wars and mountain man books prove it. I admire his power and invention as a writer, but I admire his love and faith in history just as much.”

—Will Henry, author of
From Where the Sun Now Stands

CARRY THE WIND, BORDERLORDS
, and
ONE-EYED DREAM

“Johnston’s books are action-packed … a remarkably fine blend of arduous historical research and proficient use of language … lively, lusty, fascinating.”


Gazette Telegraph
, Colorado Springs

“Rich and fascinating … There is a genuine flavor of the period and of the men who made it what it was.”

—The Washington Post Book World

OTHER BOOKS BY TERRY C. JOHNSTON

Dance on the Wind
Buffalo Palace
Crack in the Sky

Carry the Wind
Border Lords
One-Eyed Dream

Cry of the Hawk
Winter Rain
Dream Catcher

S
ON OF THE
P
LAINS
N
OVELS
Long Winter Gone
Seize the Sky
Whisper of the Wolf

T
HE
P
LAINSMEN
N
OVELS
Sioux Dawn
Red Cloud’s Revenge
The Stalkers
Black Sun
Devil’s Backbone
Shadow Riders
Dying Thunder
Blood Song
Reap the Whirlwind
Trumpet on the Land
A Cold Day in Hell
Wolf Mountain Moon
Ashes of Heaven

For more than a decade now he has opened doors and joined me across the miles, not just selling my books but showing me how much he believed in me. With admiration and respect, I dedicate this book to

HAL SCHLEGEL,

my friend in Washington.

Here is the hardy mountain veteran who has ranged these wilds for more than thirty years. Pecuniary emolument was perhaps his first inducement, but now he is as poor as at first. Reckless of all provision for the future, his great solicitude is to fill up his mental insanity by animal gratification. Here is the man, now past the meridian of his life, who has been in the country from his youth, whose connections and associations with the natives have identified his interests and habits with theirs.

—Philip Edwards,
    
missionary to Oregon in 1834

1

The baby stirred between them.

She eventually fussed enough to bring Bass fully awake, suddenly, sweating beneath the blankets.

Without opening her eyes, the child’s mother groggily drew the infant against her breast and suckled the babe back to sleep.

Titus kicked the heavy wool horse blanket off his legs, hearing one of the horses nicker. Not sure which one of the four it was, the trapper sat up quiet as coal cotton, letting the blanket slip from his bare arms as he dragged the rifle from between his knees.

Somewhere close, out there in the dark, he heard the low, warning rumble past the old dog’s throat. Bass hissed—immediately silencing Zeke.

Several moments slipped by before he heard another sound from the animals. But for the quiet breathing of mother and the ngg-ngg suckling of their daughter, the summer night lay all but silent around their camp at the base of a low ridge.

Straining to see the unseeable, Bass glanced overhead to search for the moon in that wide canopy stretching
across the treetops. Moonset already come and gone. Nothing left but some puny starshine. As he blinked a third time, his groggy brain finally remembered that his vision wasn’t what it had been. For weeks now that milky cloud covering his left eye was forcing his right to work all the harder.

Then his nose suddenly captured something new on the night wind. A smell musky and feral—an odor not all that familiar, just foreign enough that he strained his recollections to put a finger on it.

Then off to the side of camp his ears heard the padding of the dog’s big feet as Zeke moved stealthily through the stands of aspen that nearly surrounded this tiny pocket in the foothills he had found for them late yesterday afternoon.

And from farther in the darkness came another low, menacing growl—

Titus practically jumped out of his skin when she touched him, laying her fingers against his bare arm. He turned to peer back, swallowing hard, that lone eye finding Waits-by-the-Water in what, dim light seeped over them there beneath the big square of oiled Russian sheeting he had lashed between the trees should the summer sky decide to rain on them through the night.

He could hear Zeke moving again, not near so quietly this time, angling farther out from camp.

Bass laid a lone finger against her lips, hoping it would tell her enough. Waits nodded slightly and kissed the finger just before he pulled it away and rocked forward onto his knees, slowly standing. Smelling. Listening.

Sure enough, the old dog was in motion, growling off to his right—not where he had heard Zeke a moment before. Yonder, toward the horses at the edge of the gently sloping meadow.

Had someone, red or white, stumbled upon them camped here? he wondered as he took a first barefooted step, then listened some more. Snake country, this was—them Shoshone—though Crow were known to plunge this far south, Arapaho push in too. Had some hunting party
found their tracks and followed them here against the bluff?

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