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The Lost Wagon   By: (1910-1959)

The Lost Wagon by Jim Kjelgaard

First Page:



Jacket by Al Orbaan

Endpapers by Gerald McCann

Lithographed in U.S.A.

[Transcriber Note: Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

Dodd, Mead & Company, New York

Copyright, 1955 by Jim Kjelgaard

All rights reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 55 7136

Printed in the United States of America

For Alma and Rob Zaun

The characters, incidents and situations in this book are imaginary and have no relation to any person or actual happening


I Pondering

II The Discussion

III The Destroyers

IV Mountain Man

V The Start

VI The Party

VII Independence

VIII The River

IX Storm

X Snedeker's

XI Winter

XII Barbara and Ellis

XIII Spring

XIV The Mule

XV The Meadows

XVI The Farm

XVII Besieged

The Lost Wagon



When he had guided his plow halfway down the furrow, a bar winged fly alighted just above Joe Tower's right ear. He felt it crawling, its presence irritating through the sweat that beaded his forehead and dampened his temples, and he knew that he should swat it away. When it was ready to do so the fly would bite him, and bar winged flies drew blood when they bit.

He did not raise his hand because once again the devils which, at sporadic intervals, tormented him, were having a field day. The fly was a counter irritant. He wanted it to bite. It was a time to be hurt because, after the fly bit him, there would be that much more satisfaction in smashing it.

At the same time he kept a wary eye on the mules. Though he was sometimes confused by the facts and affairs of his personal world, at the moment he had no doubt whatever about one thing. He hated all mules in general and these two in particular. They were big, sleek roan brutes with an air of innocence that was somehow imparted by their wagging ears and doleful expressions, but was entirely belied by the devil in their eyes. Twice within the past fifteen minutes they had balked, stepped over their traces, snarled their harnesses and kicked at him when he sought to untangle them. He had escaped injury because he knew mules. All his life he had handled animals, and most of the time he knew what they were going to do before they did it.

He felt the fly crawling around, and gloated silently as he awaited its bite. He mustn't harm the mules because a man simply never hurt his animals. But he could swat the fly, and so doing he could relieve all his pent up anger at the mules and, this afternoon, at the world in general.

Not for a second did he take his eyes from the mules, and they seemed to know that he was watching them. Muscles rippled beneath taut hides as they strained into their collars and pulled as though they had never had any thought except getting the plowing done. Joe Tower's already tense nerves began to scream. The fly didn't bite and the mules didn't balk, and unless something happened very soon, he felt that he would be reduced to babbling idiocy.

Nothing happened except that the already hot sun seemed to become a little hotter on his sweat drenched shirt and his perspiring head and arms. But he had been scorched by so much sun and had sweated so many gallons that he never thought about it any more. Sun and sweat were a part of things, like snow and ice. Nobody escaped them and nobody could do anything about them, and Joe wasn't sure that anybody should want to. If the sun didn't shine the crops wouldn't grow. Or if the sun did shine, and there was no snow to melt and fill subterranean reservoirs, the crops wouldn't grow anyhow. This basic reasoning should be obvious to anyone at all.

The rich brown earth turned cleanly as the plow wounded it, and the scorching sun burned a healing scab over the wound... Continue reading book >>

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