The Louis L'Amour Lost Treasures Project

Story Information and Plot Devices
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BEAU L'AMOUR'S COMMENTS (in blue): Louis would read anything he could get his hands on, multiple newspapers, text books, local history pamphlets, on top of that he was an avid listener, few things made him happier than to get someone with experience talking; he would just sit back and absorb both what they said and the way they said it. From sources like those and his experiences in many areas come this cross section of notes, many of which were made on an unlined pad with a felt tip pen.

Plot devices to Hargis:[I’m guessing that Hargis was a movie or TV producer or movie company executive.]

South of Buckskin

#1...Dope or diamonds smuggled in small containers which cattle are forced to swallow. Later they are butchered and the containers removed. Miserable looking cattle are smuggled over the border.

#2...Outlaws are warned by flashing of mirror. (As in TOO TOUGH TO BRAND) Mirror in door, warning of sheriff's approach. Sug. [Suggest?] a officer disg. [disguised] as prosp. [prospector] to arrive early and block door.

#3...Sleepering of cattle. [a particularly sneaky method of rustling]

#4...Rancher morgages ranch, then rustles his own stock from the poor ranch to a better one far north changing brand from Double O to Spectacle.

Suggest cattle driven over canvas into water to eliminate tracks. Several wagon covers sewn together.

#5...Monitor lizard used to scale wall for murder of theft. [This gambit shows up in both the short story “The Hills of Homicide” and in the “Krak des Chevaliers” segment of Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures Volume Two]

Most nightherders try to hold the herd too close. Keeps them milling all night and doesn't give the herd time to feed or rest. Hang plenty of bells on the herd, then set your horse and listen. If one strays from the others, ride out and herd him back. One horse will rarely go off alone. If there are five or six restless ones there is apt to be a bell on one of them. Once in awhile a rider should circle them, easy like, singing a little.

A saddle horse can always see better than his rider, and if a horse is straying he will notice him and pull out that way.

Better to have your horse herd in open country. Shadows in the timber frighten them. The movement of the branches, too. Bugs and flies hang around timber. If your horses are in open country, and scattering, begin to sing and whistle and build a fire. There's something about a fire that holds horses. If the feed is good they will feed away from it, then feed back toward it. There's something about a fire they love to watch.

Horses are seldom restless before midnight. They feed before that, and then about midnight they lie around for a couple of hours and rest. After that they are easily frightened. That's generally the time cat animals howl and scream, but they don't usually attack then. They kill before midnight usually. From four o'clock or so, if nothing happens the herd will drowse and sleep until daylight. If frightened then they run wild and mad.

Pound cake is so-called because early recipes called for a pound of most ingredients: 1 lb. of sugar, 1 lb. of butter, 1 lb. of flour, ect..

Wedding rings were first used when men owned their wives and obtained them by capture. Men put rings and chains on them to keep them from running away. After a time they stopped putting chains around the waist, ankle, neck or body but began using a symbol that did not hold them physically but had the same meaning...the wedding ring.

To fatten a horse: 4 qts. bran to 1 qt. corn meal, teaspoonful of suphate of iron twice a day (powder) gets fat quicker than on oats. [Louis’ father was a veterinarian and an expert horse trader and knew every trick in the book about how to unload a lesser animal for a greater amount of money.]


(Above not to be used at same time as Fowler's solution)


File teeth to make horse look younger. On the lower jaw
(6 teeth) the corner teeth have to be smoothed down by a hot file.
Feed carrots, either whole or chopped, to make a horse
shine. But they mostly used Fowler’s Solution of arsenic, a tablespoonful in a bread ball (?)
To make a horse lame, thread needle with a horse hair
and draw it through the tendon of the fetlock (between knee and ankle, or ankle and foot) [I have a vague memory of Louis’s father using this trick to get some fast dealers to return a horse to a kid that they had taken advantage of.  Once the “lame” horse was returned Granddad took a pair of tweezers and, knowing right where the hair was he drew it out.  The next morning the horse was well and some sort of justice had been served.]

If a man and a woman go to a hotel desk for a room and she inquires about the price it is safe bet they are married.

If both are wearing new shoes when they enter they are probably just married. Too much of a coincidence to expect a long married couple to have new shoes at the same time.

An illicit liquor still can best be located in the
spring when the foliage on the trees is young and green. The fumes of the alcohol turn the foliage to brown. Easily located in this way from the air.

Jar containing two lumps of some waxy, translucent
substance immersed in a colorless liquid. A second bottle nearby. Opened, a strong odor of rotten eggs permeated the atmosphere. Phosphorus and carbon disulfide. One dissolved in the other. When the carbon disulfide evaporated, the phosphorus burst into flame. The arsonist could be far away. [Please don’t try this at home! Or anywhere else!]

For Mysteries:

Thief smuggled into house in packing case. Then truckman
calls for case, saying it was left by mistake. The thief could kill someone. Case delivered to house hour or so earlier, thief comes out, steals, and returns to case.

“Sounding the drum” British expression for thief who
rings doorbells, at no answer decides house is empty, enters and robs. Caught by checking other houses for strange visitors. At one a man said he was “the man from the Warwick Garage” deciding the name Warwick was first to come to his mind because of some association, tec (?) examines files on such thieves, finds one with relatives on Warwick Road.
Endless variation on this quick substitute of word or
offered explanation.

Woman found in bombed ruins. Her larynx broken. Could
only mean she was strangled.
Husband had begun paying separation allowance regularly
on week she vanished.

Search for murder car. Car found in dead end street,
backed in. Tec [Detective?] decides not abandoned, merely left for use in get away. Spot light fixed to be trained on car, murder suspect caught.

Victim has rare AB blood type. Murder weapon found,
finally, tucked behind cushion on bus seat, a razor blade fitted into metal holder. Blood on it type AB, also rabbit hairs. Was victim wearing rabbit fur? No. Killer had fur lined gloves on at time of murder.

False fingerprints: use pad soaked with ink, too much
ink, touch fingers, then wipe off. Prints will be of sunken parts rather then ridges. Enough difference. [Writing pulp crime stories kept Dad on the look out for details like these.  In the heyday of the pulps he tried to write fifty stories a year.]

Swiss trader and beekeeper wished to smuggle some honey
over the border. He got an Italian honey merchant to bring his pots of honey to a nearby forest and leave them uncovered. The trader then moved his bees down within 1,000 yards and across the border. In 3 days the bees smuggled over 200 lbs. of honey. The bees naturally concentrated on the ready made supply of honey. [Louis used this gimmick in his novel The Walking Drum.]

Monitor lizard (varanus monitor) often two yards in
length of a great strength, often used in crime. Rope is tied around the lizard and he scrambles up the wall, then gets into a crevice and holds strongly enough to support the weight of the burglar. An otherwise inaccessible Mohammedan fort was once taken this way, by Mahrattas.

Several countries have places where carbon dioxide seeps
from the ground and being half again as heavy as air forms a three to four foot layer that asphyxiates all small animals that wander into it. Among these death traps are Poison Valley in Java, The Grotto of the Dog near Naples, and Death Gulch in Yellowstone Park. [Dad used something like this, except a bit more immediately lethal in the novel Mustang Man]

It was discovered that the type of lock used on the
front doors of many buildings had a slight defect in design which permitted the entire key cylinder to be withdrawn after a small screw was given a slight turn with the screw driver and slip out the cylinder, replacing it with one for which they had a key.

An examined document bore various consular stamps and
was endorsed on the back with violet ink that showed through the paper. As seen from the face the color of the endorsement was not violet but green, and since it is a well known fact that certain acids turn aniline violet a green color, acid was tested for and found to be present to an extent impossible in a paper that had not been specially subjected to acid treatment. On further examination it was found part of original writing had been effaced and a forged name and details substituted. Gum had been used to reglaze the paper, and gum is not used for this purpose by manufacturers.


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