Gus’s crew finds forty horses bearing Wilbarger’s brand. Call decides to ride on, seeking the hacienda, since they cannot charge Wilbarger for his own horses. Jake, Dish, and Deets take the horses back across the river; Gus goes to get the Irishmen; and Call, Pea, and Newt ride to the ranch. Newt is conflicted about their actions: In Texas, stealing horses is hanging crime; but in Mexico, they steal them with impunity. What if he should be caught and hanged in Mexico?
They find the herd and easily gather horses, but then shots are fired. The herd bolts toward Newt, who is swept along in the dust. He hears vaqueros yelling and realizes that two herds have collided—the horses Call is stealing, and stolen horses from Texas being driven into Mexico. Newt hears Call’s rifle firing; they ride for the river as dawn comes. Newt feels that he wants to cry, but then he sees Call on Hell Bitch and many horses—more than a hundred. In fact, the vaqueros, thinking they had encountered army troops, had abandoned their horses and fled. The Hat Creek outfit now has them all.
Wilbarger culls out his horses and offers to trade thirty-eight of them for Hell Bitch. Call refuses, to Dish’s surprise. Wilbarger offers Dish a job, but Call says that he, too, is taking a herd north and has already hired Dish. Wilbarger argues that Montana is too risky, but Call assures him that he will be careful.
This chapter also reveals that Call once paid Maggie, Newt’s mother, for sex; and it chronicles Pea Eye’s confused thoughts about marriage and his even more confused attraction to Mary Cole, a widow in town, which make him the butt of jokes.
After breakfast, Gus arrives with the O’Briens, who are not used to riding horses and don’t know how to dismount. Sean cries, overwhelmed by hardship and homesickness. Call has no patience for this behavior; he has a cattle drive to plan. But Gus sympathizes, knowing that it is the Texas desert that grieves Sean. Allen says they are willing to learn to be cowboys. Dish begins teaching Newt to rope, and Call rides out to recruit a crew.
Analysis, Chapters 9–12
These chapters provide readers with their first chance to see Call and Gus in action as they raid south of the border to steal—or retrieve, depending on the point of view—horses. The captains show themselves able to plan a raid and then to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. They also show their willingness to aid people in need, to act ethically, and to bargain closely.
These chapters also put the spotlight on Newt Dobbs, the young man whose coming of age shapes much of the novel. A young teen, he is by turns proud to be allowed to make the raid and terrified of being killed or, worse, shamed by his actions.
The story loops back to the day that Jake arrived in Lonesome Dove. At the Dry Bean, Jake immediately impresses Lorena. He is not nervous or awkward, like many men are; his easy-going manner elicits from her the story of her life that she claimed to have forgotten. He agrees to take her to San Francisco, if the law does not catch up with him. Lorena likes Jake’s melancholy ways and feels that she should somehow help him. She invites him up for free sex and is amazed that he insists on bathing first. For the first time, she enjoys love-making; and she no longer wants to be a “sporting woman.”
Back at Hat Creek, the crew naps in the late afternoon heat, and Gus drinks from his jug, as Jake rides in from town, wanting to borrow ten dollars. Jake has changed his mind about Montana because Lorie is so pretty. He would have to marry her to get her to go on the drive with him, and besides, she might really think that he intends to take her to San Francisco. He was just indulging in a pleasant dream and cannot understand why women take him seriously.
Gus gets up to go hide the horses, most of which are underfed and overworked, from the counter-raid they expect after nightfall. He has taught Sean and Allen a little about riding and shooting. Allen feels homesick and thinks of his wife Sary, who wept when he left. What would she think of him now, on a horse, with a gun? Jake and Newt take turns watching the horses that night.
Dish and Deets are also on guard, but Dish is restless with desire to get to town, so Deets tells him to go ahead. Deets watches the moon, which has always fascinated him, and believes that certain Indians have the power to bring it close to the earth. He ponders deeply and wishes that he understood the “big motions of nature.”
Dish arrives at the saloon to see Lorena at the card table with Jasper Fant, a skinny cowboy. Xavier is angry because Lorena has stopped sporting; the way he sees it, Jake has deprived him of a “vital asset.” Xavier, too, has often paid Lorena for sex. He loves her silence and her restfulness.
Lorena asks where Jake is, and when she wins at cards, she thinks how pleased he will be. Dish is so full of frustrated desire that he loses badly. Outside the saloon, Jasper tells Dish that he wants to hire on with the Hat Creek outfit. Both see the light on in Lorie’s window; both long for her and resent Jake’s monopoly on her body.
Analysis, Chapters 13–15
These chapters begin to reveal Jake’s shallow, manipulative nature. He charms Lorena with lies, then blames her attachment to him on her. Lorena’s attachment to Jake, and her belief that he can save her from the life she hates in Lonesome Dove, changes her relationship with the other men in the town, and they hate Jake for his careless use of Lorena. This antipathy will grow as the novel proceeds, yet Jake will always find someone else to blame for it.
Readers also begin to know the intelligent, sensitive Deets better in these chapters; and they meet one of the hands who will make the drive, the able cowboy Jasper Fant.
The first two hands Call hires are boys under eighteen: brothers Bill and Pete Spettle, the oldest of eight children of a widowed mother, who is eager to get them out of the house, especially when Call pays her a month of wages for each boy. Call then rides to the Raineys’ house and hires the oldest two boys of twelve children, Jimmy and Ben.
When Call gets back to Hat Creek, Gus passes on the information that Pedro Flores is dead; that is why there has been no counter-raid. Call is taken aback and actually sits to drink from the jug. This death is like the passing of his youth; Pedro has always been his adversary. Gus jokes that Call ran out of Indians and has now run out of bandits, so of course he is restless.
Lorie decides that her only task now is to get Jake to take her to San Francisco. She has known him for ten days now, and he is living with her above the saloon. He flatters her, telling her she is too good for Lonesome Dove. Lorena becomes more realistic about Jake as she gets to know him. She sees that he is fonder of her than she is of him and that he is a man who wants and needs to be cared for. Jake is all play, a man-child. These facts give her leverage.
More hands arrive to join the crew—Needle Nelson and Bert Borum. The saloon’s business is brisk, but Xavier cannot enjoy it, knowing that the hands will soon be gone. Call makes successive raids across the river to gather and brand cattle, and Lorie knows that the moment of decision—will Jake go with the crew, or take her to California?—is coming. Jake himself stays aloof from the preparations, careful not to declare his intentions. One afternoon, Gus comes into the empty, hot saloon. Lorie is practicing cards, and Gus brings whiskey to the table and asks for sex. Lorie is surprised; everyone knows she has stopped sporting and is living with Jake. True, Gus says, but Call has Jake working for a few days, so why not sell him a poke?
Lorie counters that Jake takes care of her now, but Gus argues that Jake cannot take care of anyone and in fact needs someone to take care of him. Lorie is stunned that Gus knows what she has forced herself to admit about the man whom she expects to save her from Lonesome Dove. She then argues that Jake would shoot Gus if she sold him sex, but Gus is not threatened. He offers her the unheard-of sum of fifty dollars and then pays Lippy, who overhears the negotiations, ten dollars to keep his mouth shut. Lorie says that she fears Jake’s anger, so Gus makes her a deal. They will play cards. If she wins, she gets the cash. If he wins, she gets the cash and has sex with him.
Lorie decides that she will need new dresses when she gets to San Francisco, to please Jake, so she plays—and promptly loses. They go upstairs for sex. Afterwards, Gus warns Lorie that Jake might use the drive to get out of his promise to take her to San Francisco. In that case, she says, she will go to Montana with him. If Call allows it, Gus reminds her.
As the herd grows, the Irishmen get better at being cowboys, though Bol’s cooking is hard on them. Sean cries often from homesickness. Jasper meanwhile develops a reputation as finicky because he complains of snake meat in the stew, and Jake is getting lazier by the day, in Call’s opinion. One day, after branding cattle, Jake wants to go to town to escape the work and the pressure of deciding whether to join the crew. Call has announced that the drive will begin on Monday, after one more drag through Mexico for cattle. When Jake announces that he has decided to go to San Antonio, Call objects. He needs Jake’s knowledge of the route, and going to Montana was Jake’s idea anyway. Gus asks whether Jake intends to marry Lorie, and Jake emphatically says no. Gus played cards with Lorie earlier that day and knows that she is excited about San Francisco, but Jake says she will go with him to San Antonio if he tells her to.
Gus suggests that Jake bring Lorie on the drive and stop in Denver, from which point they can head west to California, an idea Jake had been entertaining. Jake heads to town, and Gus points out to Call that Jake will not hire on if Call forbids him from bringing Lorena. Call thinks Gus is joking.
Newt thinks about the drive north with some trepidation. He and the desperately homesick Sean are friends now; both feel sorrow about their deceased mothers. Deets, for his part, tries to come to grips with leaving Lonesome Dove, and the crew in general is out of sorts with Jake because Lorie has stopped sporting. Newt does not understand the hostility toward Jake or his reputation as a shirker and turns to Deets, more now than in the past, for explanation. As he works, he finds himself, with embarrassment, thinking of Jake’s girl.
Analysis, Chapters 16–19
As preparations for the drive continue, Call hires hands, and the crew raids south of the border, gathering and branding longhorns. Readers learn the thoughts of various characters about leaving Lonesome Dove, from Jake’s desire to avoid work and grasp easy living as long as he can and Lorena’s hope that she will escape in the direction of San Antonio to Call’s restless longing for unsettled country and Newt’s worries about the north. These and other expectations will be tested in the months that the cattle move toward Montana.
Jake’s diminishing reputation as a cowboy and his monopolizing of Lorena’s time build friction between him and the rest of crew, perplexing and shaming Newt, who has idolized the suave Jake. Newt’s longing to know who his father is sharpens as he considers the contrast in his idealized view of Jake and the crew’s disgust with him.
When Jake arrives at the saloon, sulking, and goes straight for the liquor, Lorena thinks he must know about Gus. They go upstairs for sex, but he is dirty and drunk. He complains about Gus and Call wanting him to join the drive and suggesting that he marry Lorie. When she brings up San Francisco, he says that Gus wants her to come on the drive. Her nervousness leads him to suspect that she sold a poke to Gus, and she tells him about the fifty dollars. He slaps her and says that if it had been anyone but Gus, he would have shot the man. He then asks to borrow twenty dollars. She objects, arguing that he did not earn it. She will use it to leave Lonesome Dove the day he leaves town. Jake feels trapped. He cannot outwit or control Lorie. He suggests that they go to Austin or Fort Worth to gamble—San Francisco is too far. As they bargain, Jake finally offers to take her to Denver, from which point she can get to San Francisco, and she accepts this compromise but becomes distant and refuses him sex.
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