Author Biography: Louis L'Amour was born on March 22, 1908 in Jamestown, ND. He grew up here and left home at the age of 15. He was a jack of all trades. He did everything from being a lumberjack to an elephant handler to an officer in the transportation corps during WWII. In his 30's he began to write the western novels he is so famous for today. As an author he wrote over 120 novels and various other pieces of work. L'Amour passed away on June 10, 1988.
Setting: The story is set in Wyoming and the general western United States in the fall and winter of a mid 1800's year.
Plot summary: A 7 year- old boy and 3 year- old boy are abandoned after escaping an Indian invasion of their wagon train on their way out west. They have to fight the weather, wilderness, outlaws, and Comanche and Cheyenne Indians as they try to find the boy's father, who is searching for them as well.
Characters: Hardy Collins (7 year old boy)- He is brave and wise well beyond his years. He is very witty and often knows exactly what to do. Not much is said of his physical appearance.
Betty Sue Powell (3 year old girl)- A very tough, and obedient young lady. She is loyal and trusting in Hardy and does whatever he asks of her. Not much is said of her physical appearance either.
Big Red (Hardy's trusty steed)- Even though he is a horse, he plays a major role in their survival. He, also, is very loyal to Hardy. He is said to be a large, chestnut colored stallion
Scott Collins (Hardy's father)- Scott is trusting of his son as well. He is constantly reassuring those in the search party of Hardy's abilities and knowledge. He is persistent and optimistic.
Billy Squires (Scott's friend)- Billy was a little older than Scott and the others in the search party. He always spoke wisely and supported Scott.
Ashawakie- An alpha male Cheyenne Indian who trails the kids. He is described as a very large man, and a great warrior. He is proud and strong. He is fierce, but not bloodthirsty as some Indians were depicted. He is one of the antagonists.
Jud- Jud is an outlaw. He is described as shorter and barrel- chested. He is the "villain", he makes all the decisions. He is pretty smart and quite greedy. He just wants Big Red and would leave the kids for dead
Cal- Cal is Jud's sidekick. He is described as taller and stooped. He had a hard, angular face, and small, cruel eyes. He takes all the orders from Jud as to what to do.
Mr. Andy (Hardy's mentor and Betty Sue's father)- Mr. Andy was spoken of, but never spoke. He was spoken of as a wise, and helpful man. He taught Hardy many things about survival. He was killed in the Indian attack.
Theme: This story had one main theme that spoke to me. That was to always take in the words of the wise; to listen and pay attention to anything said or done by those who know what they are doing. If Hardy had not taken in what he was told, he wouldn't have made it half an hour in the environment he was in. He was merely 7 years old, but had the knowledge of a grown man. This, to me, was the theme of the story. Observe.
Conflict- The main problem in the book is the fact that the children's guardians were murdered and they must overcome all of the obstacles to get to safety. They use their wits, resources, and a lot of luck to get by. Finally, they are found by Scott, and taken to safety.
- stallion- a male horse that has not yet been gelded.
- pommel- the front part of the saddle that projects upward
- rivulets- a small creek or spring
- irresolute- to show or feel hesitation
- piebald- (usually talking of a horse) means having patches of 2 colors
Quotes: The first quote that got my attention was about midway through the book that said a lot about the time and the characters. ""We got to find him," Squires said. "That there's a good man... and, come to think of it, that's quite a youngster, too.""(pg 74-75) First of all, this speaks of the time they are in. Squires, even though he's just a pretty good friend of Scott, he is persistent and determined to find Hardy. All of the characters are so resilient and tough. Also, even though he completely understates Hardy's abilities, you can see how he thinks of Hardy and his father. Hardy is an extraordinary kid, and if the son is any reflection of the father, his dad is quite a man as well.
The second quote comes near the end. In the final chapter, Hardy is trapped by Cal, and his thoughts during this time speak to the tremendous character he possesses. It says, "Hardy was sure that Cal meant to do just what he said, but there was no panic in him now. The hunger and the cold, the constant fear, the nights of worry and the days of struggle had given him something strong, even when they had been making grow tired and weak." Hardy is amazing! His mindset is so tough, with adversity he gets stronger. I admire him for that.
This was a fantastic novel. The outcome was never in question, but it was intriguing and suspenseful with each obstacle that he faced. There were lots of action and suspenseful scenes. I also like how L'Amour uses different viewpoints, from Hardy to Scott to Ashawakie. He was very creative in the things he opposed Hardy and Betty Sue with. Overall, it was a good book and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.