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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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Jake and Gus do a little reminiscing at the beginning of this chapter, remembering a scrape they found themselves in near Fort Phantom Hill. Jake claims that he doesn’t have time to sit around and talk about old times, because he has a living to make. But in his mind, he remembers just how frightened he’d been every time the Rangers would cross the Brazos. There was always the threat of the Comanche or the Kiowa, and to Jake, if he could have found a way to quit without looking bad, these Indian tribes would have been the perfect excuse. In the end, though, he could find a way out and still save face, so he came through twelve Indian fights and many scrapes with bandits. Ironically, it was in a safe little town like the one in Arkansas where he found real trouble.

Jake is also struck by the realization that Maggie, who had threatened that she would die if he ever left her, actually did. It is a sobering thought for a man who thought she was just talking girlish talk and would eventually move on to the next town.

Gus wants to know if Jake has seen Clara Allen, and the man answers that he only saw her for a minute outside a store in Ogallala. She had been with her husband, Bob, and they live on the North Platte of Nebraska, where Bob is the biggest horse trader in the territory. They have two young girls, and Jake says that she’s not as pretty as she once was. Gus still has pangs over Clara and believes he would have won her in 1856, if he hadn’t already been married to his second wife! He still wants to be the first man to offer her assistance if Bob should ever die.

Then, Gus and Jake head for the springhouse where Gus keeps his jug of whiskey. It amuses Gus to think of how Call will react when he finds them drunk in the middle of the day. Jake is also interested in whether there are any “sporting women” in Lonesome Dove. Gus doesn’t bother to tell him about Lorena, because he figures he’ll find her on his own soon enough. He knows that Jake is just the man who can make a woman like Lorena fall in love with him, and he smiles when he thinks how this will put a wrench in the works for Dish Boggett. Eventually, Jake falls asleep, and Gus decides to pay a visit to Lorie, given that Jake will soon have her under his spell. He ambles first by the men working on the well and sees how bitter Dish is at having agreed to do the undignified work. Gus also watches Call trying to tame the filly that had bit him the day before. They discuss the filly and how intelligent Call believes she is, and they also discuss Jake and the unknown factor of the sheriff in pursuit of him. Call also mentions that they ought to go north like Jake proposed. This surprises Gus a little, because to his way of thinking, Call had looked at life as if it were essentially over for years. When the Civil War began, the Governor of Texas had called them in and had asked them not to volunteer, because he needed men to keep the peace on the border with Mexico. That assignment brought them to Lonesome Dove with hopes that they would be able to purchase land cheaply and make money from it. Gus thinks they have just wandered too long in Lonesome Dove. They have been there for ten years, and Gus and Call both had expected they would saddle up and ride off from the town long before this. However, Gus hadn’t expected that Call would just suddenly decide to strike out for Montana either. The two of them muse over how far it would be to ride there, and how an Indian named Black Beaver would know. He had wandered from the Columbia River to the Rio Grande in his day, whereas Call and Gus had never been north of the Arkansas River. Call thinks they should go to Montana and run cattle while Gus believes that Call is no cattleman. When he questions the Captain about who would run such a ranch, Call says he thinks the boy - Newt - would do it just fine.


Once again the chapter builds in information about these characters and their past together. Jake is a woman’s man and seems to put a spell on every female he meets. Call has secretively been thinking about moving north for a long time, and Jake’s description of Montana now has him returning to his dream. Gus has always thought of Call as a Ranger or a worker, but never a cattleman. He’s surprised that Call’s dream involves Newt. We can see that these men have been stuck in neutral for a long time and now an opportunity has presented itself and ideas are beginning to take hold. It’s also foreshadowing that Call believes Newt could handle the ranch they would built, because eventually he’ll leave it in the boy’s hands.


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