cover image Six Bits a Day

Six Bits a Day

Elmer Kelton, . . Forge, $23.95 (252pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0956-3

Hewey Calloway is a fun-loving cowboy who can't shoot straight; his younger brother, Walter, is a serious cowboy who, much to Hewey's horror, wants to marry a pretty girl and become a farmer. Both are looking for a job and a meal in 1889 West Texas. After being mistaken for rustlers and rescued from hanging by a friendly Texas Ranger (a terrific character from another Kelton series), the boys hire on with Mr. C.C. Tarpley's cattle ranch, working for six bits—75 cents—a day. Hewey volunteers them both to drive cattle from San Antonio back to Tarpley's ranch on the Pecos, hoping Walter will forget his fanciful notions. The trip has its share of excitement, but when their Texas Ranger friend asks for help in capturing a hard-boiled case, Hewey gets real nervous. Add some clever cattle stealing back on the Pecos, a range feud between two stubborn cattle barons, rival gangs of cowboys who would rather get drunk together and let their bosses fist-fight, and some of Hewey's pranks, and Kelton, who has more than 40 westerns to his credit, is riding high again. Not much six-gun action, but Hewey's smart mouth more than makes up for the lack of gunsmoke. (Nov.)