Study Guide

Lonesome Dove Chapters 86-90

By Larry McMurtry

Chapters 86-90

  • After the fight, Gus slips Newt and the boys extra money for a whore.
  • The boys ask Lippy to lead them to a saloon with whores. There, they try whiskey for the first time.
  • Some of the boys can't hold their liquor and barf immediately.
  • A little drunk, Newt heads up the back stairs, where the whores are supposed to be. He's greeted by a woman named Buf, a.k.a. the Buffalo Heifer.
  • Buf's looks live up to her name.
  • Buf accepts Newt's money and takes him into her boudoir. She washes him up, and he finishes while she's doing it.
  • Despite having finished prematurely, Newt is brought into Buf's bed to wiggle around a bit before she dismisses him.
  • After all the boys have a turn—except Pete Spettle, who is saving his money—the boys find Lippy, who bought an accordion.
  • The drunk boys all load onto one poor horse, except Newt, who has to walk, and they begin the trek back to camp.
  • Clara has more visitors. She hears Augustus McCrea's voice from miles away. Okay, maybe not miles, but she definitely hears him coming.
  • Augusts has brought Call and Lorena and Newt along for the visit.
  • Lorena is embarrassed and anxious at seeing Gus kiss Clara, but Clara is very kind and welcoming to Lorena.
  • Gus is surprised to see July Johnson there—and even more surprised that July Johnson's newborn son is there, too.
  • Clara fills Gus in on everything that had happened over the last few weeks, and she tells him about her comatose husband.
  • Call wants to buy some horses, but Cholo and July make him speak to Clara.
  • Call is a little taken aback at having to do business with a woman. The audacity of it all.
  • Clara drives a hard bargain—and by "bargain," we mean no bargain. It's her price or no deal.
  • Since Clara has such good horses, Call regretfully pays her price.
  • Call tells July that they hanged Jake Spoon, and July's glad they did, because he didn't imagine he'd ever catch him, anyway.
  • Meanwhile, Clara tells Gus about her dislike for Call. She thinks Call brings out the worst in Gus and wishes they weren't partners.
  • Clara seems a little jealous that Gus spent time with Call instead of her, but Gus reminds her that he wrote her letters, and she never wrote back.
  • Turning the discussion back to nicer times, Gus and Clara talk about their "orchard" (87.162), a place on the Guadalupe River where they shared fond memories.
  • Later that evening, dinner is served.
  • At dinner, Clara tells Gus to leave Lorena behind. Clara could use some female help around the house.
  • Clara also wonders why Gus won't tell Newt that Call is his father.
  • Gus says he imagines Call will work up to it, but Clara doesn't think he will.
  • Newt and Call head back to camp, but before they leave, Clara gives Newt her best horse—an amazing gift.
  • Newt doesn't understand what he did to deserve it.
  • After Call and Newt leave, Clara takes Gus to look at her comatose husband Bob.
  • Nothing like a man with bedsores to put another man in the mood, but Gus wants to kiss Clara.
  • Clara's not interested in Gus, though. She'd much rather he left Lorena so she could have a friend around the house.
  • When Gus does go in for a smooch, it's a disappointing one, and Clara laughs at him.
  • Clara goes downstairs and invites Lorena to stay. Lorena is shocked.
  • And Gus is shocked that Lorena says yes. Clara's glad another woman will be there to watch the girls.
  • Gus promises to return.
  • Even though Clara doesn't want Gus as a husband, she doesn't want him to go to Montana. She suggests he buy land nearby, in Nebraska.
  • But Gus wants to go to Montana with Call, so off he rides.
  • Dish Boggett is shocked that Gus would return without Lorena.
  • Gus misses Lorena and Clara, though Call is convinced Gus did the right thing. They prepare to solider on, even though Po Campo predicts a drought.
  • Call scouts for water and finds the next source to be a whopping 80 miles away.
  • A windstorm slows their journey across those dry miles.
  • Even though Po Campo carefully rations the water, the men run out.
  • But they make it, and all the cattle storm the river like they'd never seen water before.
  • Soon the guys hope to reach the Yellowstone, their goal.
  • The men and cows rest on the Salt River for two days.
  • In the middle of the night, horse thieves steal twelve horses… and no one notices. Who are these magical animal-disappearing thieves? Penn and Teller?
  • Call, Gus, and Deets track the thieves to an Indian camp.
  • It's a pretty straggly camp, and the men are confident they can get their horses back without a fight.
  • Too confident, it turns out, because one young warrior charges with a lance and drives it into Deets's chest!
  • Call and Gus fire simultaneously, killing the boy instantly.
  • Deets dies, and his last words are a question: "Where's little Newt?" (90.64). Newt is safe at camp when Deets dies.
  • Call and Gus gather the horses and return with them and Deets's body to camp.
  • Gus is angry with himself for his carelessness.
  • When Newt sees the men arrive with Deets's body, he curls up tight in his blanket, wanting to mourn in peace.
  • Newt cries privately while Gus and Call go to bury Deets. They have a short memorial service, and Call carves Deets a grave maker from a piece of wood taken from the side of the wagon. It's a sweet message with Deets's name and his accomplishments.
  • Call hammers the marker into the ground, and the men walk away. Lippy cries, saying he wished he'd stayed in Lonesome Dove.

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