Owen Daybright had been a a part of Acorn, the Strobie ranch for fifteen years, since he was eleven. Old Arch had plucked him, an orphan, from the railroad crew for one reason. He wanted a companion for his son, Lee, a wild, short tempered boy. He hoped Owen would be a calming influence.
No such luck. The wo hated each other and once Owen nearly killed Lee in a fight. Arch knew the truth of it.
Owen was foreman now and because of his great regard and affection for Arch, he looked after, and cleaned up after, Lee even though they didn’t like each other.
That’s what he was doing when he ran into Lily Fasken’s brothers, delivering groceries and five hundred to the mother of the new baby. He wants the name of the father. Lily won’t say and neither will Owen.
An older Faskin brother arrives, sent for, and the pair keep pressing Owen, fighting, threatening to kill him, but Owen doesn’t talk
It’s also round-up time and the Acorn ranch is part of a massive gathering, broken up into two divisions, Lee heading one, Owen the other.
Before it’s all over, Lee is conspiring with the Faskins, telling them Owen is the father, and planning his murder. He’s out to sell the Acorn part of the herd and disappear with the money, desert his wife who he’d hurriedly married when Lily became pregnant, and dumping Jen, his fiance at the time. Edith was more malleable than Jen(who’d known Owen and Lee since they were all kids).
VENGEANCE VALLEY was published in 1949 and made into a film in 1951 starring Burt Lancaster as Owen Starbright. It stuk pretty close to the novel until the end, cut out a character or two, and made Jen Lee’s wife.
Liked this one.