Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lonely on the Mountain, part 2

 Two years before, pa had set us to diggin' a well. "Pa?" I asked. "Why dig a well? We've got the creek yonder and three flowin' springs on the place. It's needless work."

He lifted his head, and he looked me right in the eye and said, "Dig a well."

We dug a well.

We grumbled, but when pa said dig, you just naturally dug. And lucky it was, too.

For there came a time when the bed of the creek was dust and the springs that had always flowed weren't flowin'. We had water, though. We had water from a deep, cold well. We watered our stock, we watered our kitchen garden, and we had what was needful for drinkin' because of that well.


Lonely on the Mountain
by Louis L'Amour

This is the second installment of the beginning of this novel. L'Amour has his first-person narrator, Tell Sackett, give us a short word-picture of an incident from his boyhood. It shows what kind of person Pa Sackett was, which explains a lot about how Tell and the other Sackett brothers turned out.

This mini-flashback is risky at the beginning of a novel. L'Amour was at that time a very experienced writer. His first novel was published about 1950. The first book in the Sackett series was published in 1960, so he also had fans eager to hear some Sackett backstory.

But I think even if this had been the first Sackett book, this mini-flashback would have worked. In the voice of the first-person narrator, this mini-flashback is in a way a short description of the character--- not of his looks, but of who he was as a person.

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