A rip-rousing western, not only authentic but stirringly effective." —Des Moines Tribune
The book that inspired the classic RKO Pictures western with Lucille Ball, Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Dean Jagger—based on a true story.
In the aftermath of the brutal Civil War, Gamaliel Ware, newly discharged from the Northern Army, who had been reared among the cramped farms and highly-structured society of New England, rode into the blazing inferno of deserts and mountains that was the mining country of Arizona's Salt Valley. Gamaliel was consumed by an unquenchable hunger for land of his own, and the freedom land represented. Wandering the valley's vastness he discovered tens of thousands of acres of parched, desolate land that, to his trained eye, needed but water to become fertile and abundant. Then, inscribed in the valley's floor he discovered a tracery of ancient canals or acequias, dug with what tools he did not know, by a great people who had flourished and vanished centuries ago. It required only that he and others who shared his dream dig new canals to produce a future where a prosperous and happy civilization arose from the ashes of a civilization long dead—like a Phoenix!
Folks said of Gamaliel that he loved land the way other men loved women. Then he met Christine, the strong, resolute daughter of a local farmer, and bargained for her. Gamaliel told Christine he would give her everything he owned if she would become his wife. But a cold, reserved New Englander like Gamaliel couldn't tell her the one thing she wanted to hear—those three words were locked in his heart. It was only when he lost her forever that the words pent deep inside broke loose and flooded his being—for of what use are words to a dead woman?
And in loving Christine he made his bitterest enemy, Aaron Cottrell, a man who chose to obtain everything he wanted by murder instead of work—and preferred to shoot a man in the back rather than meet him face to face. Cottrell was determined to loot Arizona, not to help build it—and committed the most sinister deeds in its history. And at the end was determined to murder Gamaliel Ware—even at the price of his own life!
"Against a background of the old Southwest, Kelland has written a tender and powerful love story of a struggle between a young man and a young woman—a tender and powerful love story whose continuing drive has seldom been equaled. But in addition, Kelland has given is a new and vivid chapter in the great story of young America." —Abilene Reporter-News