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Trail Fever: The Life of a Texas Cowboy
D.J. Lightfoot; illus. by John Bobbish
Paperback
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BOOK SUMMARY
A prize-winning biography of George Saunders, a cowboy who endured cattle drives, stampedes, and skirmishes with Indians on the Texas frontier during and after the Civil War.

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BOOK EXCERPTS
Stampede!

George rode to and fro in the night. He was edgy. He and about a dozen other cowboys were holding a herd of two hundred steers at a ranch near his home. At daybreak, the steers were to be driven to Mexico and traded for food and supplies. But this bunch of half-wild longhorns had the jitters. They milled around the pasture, restless and skittish. Such a spooky herd meant trouble.

Suddenly it happened. No one could say what started it. A rabbit popping out of its hole, under the feet of a jumpy longhorn? An owl flying low overhead? A twig snapping with a loud crack under the hooves of a nervous steer?

Whatever the cause, it happened all at once. Instantly the still air of the Texas night was filled with a fury of sound. It rumbled. It thundered. George had never heard anything like the noise those cattle made. But he knew what it was. The frightened herd was running off in a panic. A stampede was on!

Two hundred steers bolted at a dead run, heading in six directions at once. They crashed through brush and dodged mesquite trees. George jabbed spurs to his horse. He raced after them, following the great noise they made.

Barely able to see in the gloom, George watched for low-hanging tree limbs and tangles of brush. They might knock him from his saddle. His sure-footed cow pony covered the rough, rolling ground at a gallop, staying close to the herd.

For hours, it seemed, the wild night ride went on. At first George could hear a few of the other cowboys nearby. "Whoop!" "Yah!" they yelled as they tried to turn the herd. Many of the riders were George's age--ten--or not much older. In 1864, the grown men were still far from home, fighting in the Civil War.

Twenty big Saunders steers were in the bunch that had just stampeded. The others belonged to the neighbors. His family and friends were counting on George to help deliver the herd. He had to stay with the runaways.

Racing through the darkness, George soon lost track of the other cowboys. He could hear nothing except the thud of his horse's hooves and the crash and rumble of the steers up ahead. He leaned forward and pressed close to his horse's neck so the tree limbs wouldn't hit him. But here and there, the branches slapped him hard and left deep scratches.

At last, tired from their run, the cattle began to slow. George reined his horse in and slowly rode up to the herd, careful not to spook them again.

In the faint moonlight, he could see only the steers and a few live oaks and mesquite trees. The tree limbs stood out like strange, spiky arms. Brush and prickly pear cactus threw weird shadows on the grassland. There was no way to know how far or how long he had ridden, or even in which direction. For all George knew, he might be halfway to the San Antonio River...

SUGGESTED LINKS
Deborah J. Lightfoot

BOOK REVIEWS
"Gr 4-6-- The life of early Texas trail driver George Saunders is sketched in a simple style, with an emphasis on his cowboy years. Working from the subject's own writings, Lightfoot includes interesting details, dialogue, and lore from the man's childhood on a ranch during the Civil War to his teenage experience on his first real cattle drive north on the newly established Chisholm Trail. The hard life of riding and herding comes through, as does a love for challenges. An easy biography that Texas libraries especially will welcome, as will cowboy fans everywhere." --Ruth M. McConnell, San Antonio Public Library, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL


MORE BOOK INFO
ISBN: 0972876804
ISBN(13-digit): 9780972876803
Copyright: 2003
Dewey Decimal: j92
Library of Congress: 2003103061
Book Publisher: Seven Rivers Publishing
No. of Pages: 88
Paper Weight (lb): 50#
Illustrations (B&W): 22
Illustrations (Color): 1
Acid Free Paper: Yes
Coated Paper: Yes





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