North to Yesterday

North to Yesterday

North to Yesterday

North to Yesterday


IT IS RARE, after a lapse of years, to return to a book once enjoyed and find it more enjoyable than at first reading.

I have just had that experience with Robert Flynn’s NORTH TO YESTERDAY , first published in 1967, and am tempted to indulge in superlatives.

The protagonist in the story is Lampassas, alias Marvin Darsey, a cowpuncher and handyman turned storekeeper, who has seen the great cattle drives start from Texas for the railroad towns of Kansas. He had dreamed for years of going along or, better yet, trailing his own herd. But one thing and another keep him from going or acquiring cattle.

Then at last he sells his store, though the money is not enough for 2,000 head of stock. A Texas rancher, on promise of a $500 payment on Lampassas’s return, lets him choose longhorns from the Texas brush, longhorns the rancher was going to shoot anyhow.

So Lampassas leads out his crew and cattle, not knowing that the Kansas yards have not operated for fifteen years and longhorns have been out of favor for ten.

Among his crew are his son, Jamie, called the Kid, who yearns to be a railroad engineer; the Preacher, who is trying his hand at cooking and expects to establish a great church at Trails End, his biblical Nineveh; Pretty Shadow, so-named years before by a prostitute, who has his promise to return and take her as his own; a man named only June, who looks tough but isn’t though he carries a revolver; and two or three others who decamp after a short time on the trail.

Adventures and misadventures follow. Those moss-horned cattle stampede at the chirp of a cricket. A town, overrun, threatens fines or jail for damages but forgets both on learning that the fines would have to be paid in cattle driven back to the . . .

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