Learning the Ways of the West

The Cherokee Trail

Nobody asked questions out here. That was one of the first things she had to learn. Every man was taken at face value until he proved himself to be otherwise. What you had been before was unimportant.

The West, she had come to understand, was a place where you started over. When you came West, you wiped off the slate, and whatever you were began here and now. If you had courage, did your job, and were a man of your word, nobody cared whatever you might have been. It was a good thing, she decided. There should always be a place for people to begin again.

Some, like herself, had lost loved ones. Some had gone bankrupt, some had gotten themselves into trouble with the law, into debts that were a burden, some were simply men and women who did not fit into any pattern. They were not the kind to become tellers in the corner bank, grocery clerks, ministers, or lawyers. They were born with a restlessness in them, an urge to move, to get on with it. If you proved yourself a responsible person, nobody cared where you came from.

She was learning, she realized, and ridding herself of preconceived ideas. She had heard the West was lawless, but that had been a mistake. Organized law was, for the most part, remote and far away. However, there were unwritten laws that all obeyed, and if there were a few who did not, the response was apt to be abrupt and very, very final.

The west was tolerant, to a point. When tolerance reached its limit, there was usually a rope or a bullet waiting. – The Cherokee Trail by Louis L’Amour


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