Title: When You Carry the Star
Author: Ernest Haycox
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Westerns
Dates read: 16th July 2020
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: The leagues rolled away to the distance, southwesterly into a horizon unbroken, northwesterly to a lien of hills even now beginning to fade behind an autumn haze.
When Linza’s friend begins to go off the beaten track it’s up to him, as the Sheriff, to hunt him down. But that’s what you do when you carry the Star.
This is a short story that features a friend hunting a friend. A man who is forced to do the distasteful in the name of justice and honour. It’s a little sad to be honest. I can’t imagine having to man hunt a friend, but it’s also got that quintessential feeling of a western – one that focuses on good guys and bad guys and where things are just plain right and wrong. Black and white.
I like the descriptions of Denton going “mad”. How he suddenly flipped his lid and went against everything and every code that he honoured. It was a little bit tragic and harsh. But I did like how the description of something that could have been heat stroke was described.
This story really focuses on the honour and power of a lawman. It highlights how the men of the law were focused upon protecting and upholding the law. Even if it means hunting down and killing ones friend. Which, admittedly was a little bit of a tragic ending…