2015 November 29: “Mormon Valley” by H. Bedford-Jones

23 Mormon Valley

Book 23 is “Mormon Valley” by H. Bedford-Jones.
It was originally printed in People’s Favorite Magazine (25 August 1918) as “What Happened in Mormon Valley.”

Despite the cover art (by Charles Durant) this is NOT a Western.

John Marsh is given the task, with partner Abe Levy, a French-Jew, to depart New York City and travel far west, and oversee the engineering construction of a great and wonderful dam that will transform the desert landscape into a multi-million dollar project.

The pair arrive and immediately set to work while facing down bullies among the workforce. All is going well until Marsh’s boss (and daughter, Elsa) arrive, to inspect the progress. At this point, it is learned that the storekeeper, name of Dundas, knows the girl from back East. Marsh is unhappy upon this discovery, as it is clear that Dundas is in love with Elsa.

After the boss departs, he leaves his daughter (and a girl-friend of hers) behind, to remain at the camp for fresh air, etc., while he goes off to inspect another construction site far away.

Maintaining a clean, and liquor-free camp, Marsh is met by an older Georgia-man that wishes to sell liquor to the men. Marsh turns down the offer and bribe money, and the man (Newgate) opens up a town of ill-repute across the state-line, full of saloons, liquor, gambling, dance-hall girls, etc.

Marsh informs his crew any that come back drunk or trying to slip in with concealed liquor shall be immediately fired. This is enforced and many are fired. Much to his chagrin, his men continue to go across and spend their wages.

Desiring some form of truce, Marsh goes to the town and meets with Newgate to negotiate an understanding. He asks only of Newgate to restrict the amount of liquor sold daily to his men, and Newgate, remarkably, readily agrees. In turn, Newgate wishes Marsh to join him in a drink, but Marsh declines. He doesn’t drink. Ever. So, Newgate offers ginger ale instead and they drink to that….

The day and night wanes and Abe is worried sick about the missing Marsh, when, suddenly, Marsh appears stumbling (to all appearances: drunk) past the lady’s cabin, whom take in his appearance immediately, too. He is bolstered up on either side by Newgate and a slutty dance-hall girl.

Abe rushes out there and demands the meaning of Marsh’s situation and Newgate informs that he is drunk, but Abe knows Marsh intimately as a dead-sober man and calls Newgate out as a damn liar and goes to throttle him. Newgate draws a hideaway and shoots to kill. Abe drops. Newgate flees the scene.

Marsh awakens next day to the doctor tending him. The whole camp has already heard a variety of the details. Marsh insists he drank only ginger ale, and after that, remembers nothing. His drink was doped and his clothing soaked in booze so that he would reek of drink. The doctor is unsure of his allegiances in the matter, but concurs that the clothes were indeed soaked.

Marsh is informed that Abe was fatally shot and is being tended by the women, and that Newgate is on the run. Abe’s in good care, especially as it seems that Elsa’s friend is in love with him! Tarnished of good name and reputation, neither girl wants Marsh’s company.

Angry, Marsh sets out to camp, and tells his men the truth and any that don’t believe can go to hell. He focuses all his energies into the construction of the dam and when Abe becomes well again, the pair set off to the nearest railway station. Marsh sends Abe to the capital to have certain forms filed, etc.

While in the rail-stations postal office, he runs across Newgate, operating under an alias. Beating him up and having him placed under arrest for attempted murder (of Abe), he discovers the man has been receiving mail for quite a while. One letter is from Dundas, and clearly marks Dundas as the brains and money backing Newgate’s town!

With this letter and Newgate cuffed, he returns to the camp for a final showdown with Dundas, but Newgate offers fresh trickery when he moves the car’s clutch. Unfamiliar with circumstances, Marsh attempts to switch gears, blows the engine and is hurled through the window and over the hood. Newgate drops Marsh with a blow to the skull and getting the car active again, takes off, leaving Marsh to die in the desert.

Marsh awakens to find himself battered and bloody, and, the camp’s safe beside him, empty. Bewildered, he is further nonplussed to see a car coming his way, led by Dundas, the doctor, and others. Dundas delivers a fine speech, ultimately implicating that Marsh and others came at night, broke into the camp store, murdered the storekeeper (that had replaced Dundas), and made off with the safe and contents. Then, Marsh’s partners had walloped Marsh on the noggin’ and left him behind while they went on to escape. The thread is loose but all buy into the theory.

Marsh realizes that he needs that letter from Dundas to Newgate to prove his innocence. Remarkably, while under arrest at camp, some of his men approach (mind you, Abe is still away at the capital all this time) and insist they believe him innocent, and concoct a way for him to escape. He finally agrees to escape, but, only for two weeks. If he can’t locate the evidence in that time, he surrenders to the sheriff.

With the aid of an old desert rat named Piute Joe (seems there is a Piute something-or-other in many of these westerns, eh?) they track across a vast desert to track down the missing automobile. Locating it, they come across a burned and mangled Newgate. The vehicle is crashed, demolished, and worse yet, the letter that had been secreted in the glove box, along with the rest of the car, is a smoky ruin. Marsh’s hopes and dreams are dashed….

Days pass, and the camp learns that the sheriff is bringing Marsh in, after surrendering from heat stroke and dehydration.

Dundas meanwhile has brought Elsa an Arabian horse, and they ride below the dam. Abe watches in misery, them and overseeing the construction, while Dundas again proclaims his love for Elsa, and asks for her to marry him. She declines, and infuriates Dundas, whom brags that if she marries him, he can set Marsh free. She flips the table on him, stating the only reason she rode with him was to get such out of him, and now she realizes firmly that Marsh was an innocent man.

Coincidentally, higher up, a truck slips down a grade and falls down toward them. Elsa is thrown from her horse and in a mark of heroism, Dundas leaps from his and hurls Elsa to safety while being smashed up by the rolling truck.

Dundas is hauled up and the doctor says there is nothing to save the wreck of a man. Abe is distraught, and, in a final moment of evil, Dundas tells Abe that he refuses to confess to the sins and that Marsh can go to the same hell that Dundas is already going to….

Well, Dundas loses that one. Sheriff arrives with Marsh, but, he’s not under arrest! Turns out Marsh was dragged into town by Piute Joe, along with the body of Newgate, whom, shockingly, was not dead. Just mostly dead. Administered back to life in town, Newgate confesses to the whole scheme.

Story ends with Marsh and Elsa proclaiming love for each other and Abe joyously running into the arms of the other girl….

2015 November 29: “Mormon Valley” by H. Bedford-Jones

2015 November 24: “Scavengers of the Sea” by George Ethelbert Walsh

21 Scavengers Of The Sea  USA & UK  UK 05 Scavengers Of The Sea

The 21st book in the Garden City Publications multi-genre pulp 1920s softback series is “Scavengers of the Sea” by George Ethelbert Walsh

Originally published in the September 1920 edition of Short Stories magazine, the cover was rendered by Lynn Bogue Hunt and itself originates from the 25 November 1921 issue. The contents of the story, while they do feature Caribbean pirates, do not feature a swarthy Spaniard pirate nor a parrot of any sort.

In 1929, World’s Work, a UK publisher, issued 10 titles from the original Garden City series. In their short-run reprint series, “Scavengers of the Sea” was Number 5.

The story opens with Dick Jordan clinging to a piece of wood for several days, having been the only survivor in his lifeboat after it flipped from a wave. Other boats had also dropped from the lead ship, but of these, Dick knows not. He is near the end of his life and wits’ end when he is rescued (sort of) by pirates. Realizing his dire predicament, he lies to the leader (Tucu) and convinces him that before the ship went under, he had jewels secured to a buoyant device that only he would recognize.

Not entirely believing Dick’s tale, Tucu agrees to keep him alive in lieu of obtaining these mythical jewels. While en route to the fake site, the pirates come across a schooner that is in disarray. Turns out the ship’s crew mutinied and abandoned ship after the captain lost his marbles, and they refused to take orders from his ocean-savvy daughter, Rose.

Realizing that the pirates intend to board the untended vessel, Dick jumps overboard and swims to Rose’s schooner, boards her, and helps to repel the pirates. The pirates depart, but overnight overcome Rose and Dick.

Having secured the schooner, the pirates listen with glee to the mad rantings of her father, the captain. He claims to have a treasure aboard. To no avail, they tear apart the ship in search of the treasure. Angered, they leave two pirates aboard the schooner and take Dick with them in search of the jewels. While departing, a huge storm rips through the area and Dick uses the opportunity to allow a wave washing over the deck to carry him back out to sea.

Once more adrift in the waters, he swims and luckily finds the schooner. Climbing aboard, he finds one pirate dead and the other overtaking Rose. This situation is soon overcome, but, the pair are desolately still faced with peril of the schooner potentially sinking in the storm. The ship is madly set adrift and whirling and miraculously, overnight, the captain regains his marbles after having been struck the prior day by the two pirates upon the noodle.

The three managed to wrestle the ship to an island that they spot in the distance and avoid crashing her upon the rocks. Dick disembarks, to explore the island. Cresting the lonely hill, he is dismayed to find that on the other side, safely anchored, is the pirate ship. The ship appears to be mostly deserted, and the reason why manifest readily when he spots them on the beach assaulting a group of survivors from a lifeboat that sank from the very same ship that Dick was on.

Too, he watches as a man, Hen Pettigrew, is gunned down three times. Hen is an officer of the law that aboard the damned ship, had arrested Dick on charges of theft. Dick is loathe to go down and save the survivors, so, returns to the schooner, and relays the news. With weapons, they could turn back the pirates and save the day. The captain chuckles that while the pirates may have confiscated all the visible weapons aboard the schooner, he did have some secreted about the ship in case of mutiny.

The captain turns up about a half-dozen automatic pistols. The trio climb the crest and Dick fights his way down to the survivors, arming the competent marksman about them with gun and ammunition.

Enraged by this, Tucu leads his pirates in a charge against the motley crew of survivors and are repelled by a steady onslaught of murderous humming bees that beat a metallic rhythm of pop and perforation of bodily parts. Now, in full retreat, Tucu takes the lead back to his ship but is shocked to find one body on the beach ahead of him alive….Hen Pettigrew! Angered beyond rational reasoning, rather than continual flight, he stops to ventilate Hen’s cranial-coop but a bullet shatters his aim and renders his arm useless.

Dick crashes into him and takes him down. Secured, he wedges his own gun into his waist, when abruptly Tucu unleashes a stowed blade and begins to assault the worn Dick. Rose to the rescue! She shoots Tucu down, saving Dick’s life.

Hen relays that he believes Dick innocent of charges, but must still bring him in. Penniless to hire an attorney to represent him, Rose states that her father was telling the truth regarding treasure and states that she will hire the best to save the man she loves….

2015 November 24: “Scavengers of the Sea” by George Ethelbert Walsh

2015 November 22 “Musket House” by Theodore Goodridge Roberts

22 Musket House

“Musket House” by Theodore Goodridge Roberts originally appeared in the pulp The Popular Magazine (7 June 1921), and represents book No. 22 in the Garden City Publications series.

My apologies, foremost, for supplying such a shoddy cover. It is the only copy I have ever been able to locate. As noted, the cover became wet and adhered to another book (an earlier title in my possession which affected the rear cover instead) and both are heavily water-damaged titles. This title is doubly-difficult to reasonably obtain because the author still has a devout, however small, following, even today.

The tale involves a 28 year old male whom can’t settle down to one job or task in his life, departing from London and abandoning all he has ever known, in search for lost, buried treasure. His hankering for this treasure appears in the form of a diary note his grandfather wrote, regarding his adventures overseas. While in the wilderness, he and a crew of other assorted Lords and such made hospitable stay at a Dexterfells’ home, the Musket House, which legend holds was so named after Dexterfell annually surrendered rifles to the local Indians in exchange for land.

That aside, he also reportedly was something of a pirate and had buried loot upon his lands. While drinking heavily and playing cards, he becomes deeper and deeper in debt beyond monetary capability, and Lord Stourbridge decides to burn the notes. Dexterfell becomes enraged and humiliated, insists on honoring the notes, and whispering, informs the Lord that their is loot beyond his imagination buried upon the land.

Oddly, he ends up leaving Musket House to kill an annoying whippoorwill that is torturing the assorted Englishmen, but ends up blowing his face off instead, by accident.

Fast-forward a couple generations, and Lord Stourbridge’s useless grandson, having read that diary entry, has sold all his worldly possessions to pay for ship and rail to track down this fairy tale loot.

And so, enter Rodney Goodwin.

Foolishly, he makes to meet the current resident of Musket House, the last reported known heir of the Dexterfell line. He’s informed that the old man is madly insane, but knocks on the door, regardless, and is met with a pair of circular objects that lead down twin long barrels and a leering face that gives him a 15-second start to run before he’s filled full of lead.

He accepts the sprinting challenge and promptly hugs the dirt as one barrel, then the other, cleave the air above him. Angered by the assault, he charges the assailant, Dexterfell, whom is chuckling but unaware of the charge, for he can’t see through the shotgun’s cloud.

Rodney tackles the coot and knocks the gun aside and threatens to thrash him, when, to his amazement, the old nutter speaks completely and rationally sane. Rodney cares not for his sudden miraculous change of attitude and confiscates the shotgun, and departs back to the place he is bedding down at.

While in his room at night, something is hurled through the open window, and attached is a note written by Dexterfell, begging for the return of his only gun, so that he doesn’t starve to death. He admits to being poor and the gun is is only means to obtaining food.

Recklessly, Rodney returns the firearm and departs. He’s later invited to meet the old man in even terms at Musket House. Accepting, he knocks at the door and finds the man relatively cleaned up, of good speech, and acting the part of a gentleman. They play chess and Rodney loses on purpose, hoping to get in the man’s good graces and perhaps learn more of the treasure.

Plans go awry when an equally crazy half-breed assaults Dexterfell and, Rodney, whom comes upon the scene, stupidly hurls himself through a shattered window. The half-breed knocks him out and tosses him down into the wine cellar, to die.

Departing, Rodney is left unconscious and old Dexterfell, upstairs, is out cold, too, from a brutal bit of torture.

To their rescue comes Lizbeth. She resides at the home in which Rodney takes residence, down the trail a bit, and worries about his not appearing for meal time. Grabbing a gun, she hustles up to Musket House, spies the shattered window, and creeps in carefully. Finding Dexterfell out, she searches the whole house until she finds the trapdoor cellar and descends.

Alarmed at her findings, she returns with help and brings both men back with her to the house. Nursed back to health by a regional doctor, whom, incidentally, recognizes our Rodney from a London party, disclaims him as a bounder (honestly, the odds of anyone knowing him from anywhere is absurd, and it does zero for the plot).

Eventually, each profess their love for each other, but the plot thickens and we learn the half-breed Indian and Dexterfell are actually half-related, and, furthermore, that Lizbeth is the granddaughter of a Dexterfell herself, something that she never knew, until the half-breed, in a drunken state, blurts it out to Rodney, whom disbelieves it.

Sadly, she is nearby and overhears the drunken confession and makes a run for it. Lizbeth fears Rodney will never now marry her, because she is tainted with Dexterfell “mad” blood in her.

The whole story collapses with Rodney chasing her and injuring himself to the point that she returns to his side and all the while, back at Musket House, a lynx that happens to have wandered in the house was down in the cellar, and assaults the half-breed. A lantern is upset and the whole place goes up in one big blaze….

 

2015 November 22 “Musket House” by Theodore Goodridge Roberts

2015 November 24 “The One Big Thing” by James B. Hendryx

20 The One Big Thing

The 8 January 1918 edition for All-Story Weekly gifts us with this remarkably cold, and very much adult, novel, of the frozen far wastes of the Canadian wilderness. Written by the talented James B. Hendryx, “The One Big Thing” is what our protagonist, Gregg North, is direly in search of attaining.

Having completed a generously big assignment on the railroad expansion project, he resigns to pursue bigger game. North wants to make a name for himself, and seeks to map out the Athabasca and surrounding areas, in order to eliminate the need for old-fashioned canoe-trips delivering furs from the far regions, trips that often take months or years, even. These are costs that add up, and he desires to map the waterways, convert powerful rapids to dams churning out electricity, and create locks. Developing the northland will convert and unbreachable region into a powerhouse.

However, he is warned against the likes of the seemingly cloaked in mystery Louis Robespierre, whose Robespierre House, deep in the wilderness, is refuge to any and all that seek out its walls.

Hiring a guide to navigate him up through the waterways, North, aided by Raoul, traverse the rivers and byways. North, with notebook, makes notes at every opportunity. But one night, he finds his notebook to be stolen. He suspects Raoul of foul-play, but keeps silent. His suspicions are somewhat shattered when he is unexpectedly shot at by another Indian and Raoul unexpectedly comes to his rescue.

Believing all his ill-fortune is somehow the dark and sinister machinations of this mysterious Robespierre entity, North demands Raoul to change directions and deliver him unto Robespierre House, for a confrontation.

Arriving at his final destination, North is held up weeks on end, while Robespierre is reportedly out. The time arrives, finally, when a heavily wooded paneled door swings open and a bear of a man enters. He knows already all about North and even surrenders the stolen notebook back into his care, after North confesses to the man his entire life plan.

Robespierre admits that he himself owns much of the real estate, both from his own work over the decades and inheritances from prior generations that inhabited the region. Realizing that he is forced to work with Robespierre, the pair shake and mutually work toward the completion of North’s “big” plans.

But the plans go awry, when Robespierre is sniped and mortally wounded. Learning of his injury, North returns to find Louis gravely wounded and slowly dying. As thus, the big man informs North that five years earlier he had sent his daughter to America for higher learning, but does not know where the daughter, Honoré, is located. The local priest knew, but, he is dead.

North demands Robespierre to stay alive long enough for him to secure the girl and bring her back to her father. The deadline is Christmas Day. North traverses to the deceased priest’s home and ransacks the papers. Here, he finds a receipt for Boston.

Yeah, and you know North is headed south and then east on the next available train. His reception at the private school is met with scorn, as the head mistress disbelieves his tale of the dying father, believing he is there to kidnap the beautiful young lady. The credibility of the novel stumbles here when coincidentally, of all the possible girls that could walk past and overhear the conversation, who should it be but the young Honoré?

She catches enough of the conversation, and seeing North dressed as one from her home region, grasps the situation immediately and the pair spring for escape. Encouraging North to change clothes from wilderness to something more citified, the pair elude a nationwide manhunt demanded by the headmistress. Nearing their final rail destination, Honoré realizes that even on board the train, they are hounded, and so North pulls a gun and calls for the train to come to a screeching halt. Herewith, they are on foot and miraculously, through a blizzard, North delivers the young lady to her dying father, on Christmas Day.

The next day, he is dead.

They read a will that he left in their care, and it states that they are both to inherit, etc. There are some gruesome scenes that follow that I will not detail, as I do not wish to ruin someone else’s potential enjoyment in reading this novel.

In the end, North must fight to protect the girl he has come to love and hunt the man that fatally and eventually, has come to become the Robespierre’s murderer. However, the conclusion is anything but expected, as Honoré begs North not to pursue the killer. He painfully backs down, but, not before handing the flattened bullet, retrieved from the dead man, to another Indian, whom recognizes marks left on the bullet and has full realization as to the identity of the murder. With a nod, the Indian accepts the unvocalized mission to slay Honoré’s father’s murderer.

2015 November 24 “The One Big Thing” by James B. Hendryx

2015 November 15 “The Hen Herder” by J. Allan Dunn

19 The Hen Herder

Ripped from the 10 August 1922 edition of Short Stories magazine, “The Hen Herder” actually exceeded my expectations. Fearing for yet another dreary western novelette, I was impressed to find a solidly constructed plot crafted around a seemingly boring title.

Our protagonist arrives at the ranch at the behest of the owner, Stephen Foster, presumably to raise the best damn chickens in the county so that he (Foster) can win the Blue Ribbon. He’s tired of losing to some other outfit.

The hired hands hear of this gentleman’s arrival and are put-off by the fact that the boss has even gone so far as to share his best cigar with him, something none of the hands have had the privilege.

Stocky and of an average height, they are further amused to see that his face is bloated, raw and peeling from the Arizona elements. Sniffed out immediately as a city-slicker, they harass him behind his back and soon thereafter to his face, over dinner.

Stephen Foster’s daughter, Mary, instantly takes a hard dislike to Homer Higgins, the “Hen Herder.” Aside from simply not liking his looks, she’s annoyed that her father failed to take her into confidence over Homer’s being hired. Further, tending to chickens, in her mind, and the others, is not a man’s task. So, he has already fallen well from grace in their minds.

Matters worsen when a ruthless gang escapes the penitentiary, led by Ober. The leader had been, years ago, arrested and captured by Stephen Foster, and now Ober and his gang are seeking retribution.

Homer seems to take a strange interest in Ober’s prior and current activities, even to the point of learning how to ride a tame horse and explore the mountainous surroundings for the mythically cached bank loot. Exploring Owl Canyon, he decides that nobody would hide loot in any of the caves as there are simply too many rattlers present.

Furthermore, upon hearing the full bank hold-up story, he’s certain that two people who were never caught were likely locals. Certain that they are Thayer and Pedro, two of Foster’s most recent hires, he incites a brawl with Thayer only to confirm whether Thayer has a scar or not, upon his shoulder. The crowd are bemused to no end that the Hen Herder actually ends up beating Thayer to a pulp, despite himself receiving the same treatment.

Ober and his gang are nearing the ranch, and word gets back to them of the impending hit. Homer comes clean that he is actually a banker’s detective, looking to protect Foster’s interest and regain the lost loot.

Certain that the gang are intending on kidnapping Mary and holding her for ransom, Homer remains at the ranch with some of the hired hands, while the rest of the detail fan out for the mountains and abroad, to cut off the gang.

But, when Mary’s lover rides in partially shot-up, and announces where he was ambushed, all hands ride hard and away in pursuit, leaving Homer and the girl alone. Homer quickly confides in Mary that he is a detective (she didn’t know, only the hands and boss knew) and his real name is John Boyd. Just then, the door is kicked in and Ober and Thayer storm in. Thayer wants redemption for losing to the Hen Herder, and goes to beat him senseless, when Boyd pops out a hideaway up his sleeve and wounds Thayer, takes out Ober and then Pedro.

Boyd doesn’t escape uninjured. He’s been shot three or four times, and, outside, the barn was set ablaze. This thankfully alerts the hands to return and they find Mary nursing what she thinks is a dead man.

Fearing that Mary may be falling in love with Boyd, her father informs her that he told Slim (Mary’s erstwhile suitor) to contact Boyd’s wife and children, to let them know he was alive. She blanches, to think that she was falling for a married man, and Stephen Foster chuckles at his own deceit…… THE END.

2015 November 15 “The Hen Herder” by J. Allan Dunn

2015 November 11 “The Phantom Wolf” by T. Von Ziekursch

18 The Phantom Wolf

An interesting novelette written by wilderness-writer Theodore Von Ziekursch, both the story and the cover art hail from the 10 September 1922 edition of Short Stories magazine. Cover art is by Remington Schuyler. This is the first of only a few titles by Ziekursch to be bound as a solo publication.

Shortly after the death of his father, Jim Carter learns that many years ago, his dad had invested in timber in the far frozen reaches of the North country. Packing his necessities, he departs Kentucky and goes north to investigate the claim, but only after receiving a letter from his father’s two business partners up there, that state the timber isn’t playing out to financial rewards any longer but are willing to buy him out. That play doesn’t make much sense, as it is a contradiction.

Sensing scoundrels afoot, he travels north and while paddling the river crashes in the rapids. He is miraculously saved by a French-Indian by name of Beaumois. The half-breed takes him where Carter seeks, but with curiosity. (Why Beaumois happens to be in the area to begin with is bewildering, but, this is one of the few faults with the author’s novel).

Nursed back to health at the half-breed’s cabin, Carter meets a missionary man and a young woman residing with him. Carter does not detail why he is in this far-flung tract. Eventually, he goes to the village and spots a man beating on an Indian whom has captured a wolf. Carter doesn’t take well to the beating and jumps into the the mix, beating back the attacker. The Indian shuffles away and the wolf, also beaten senseless, drags itself away, unnoticed.

Here, Carter meets Frazier and Holt, the pair that tried to buy out his (deceased) father. Twas Holt that beat on both the Indian and kicked the wolf heavily and threw it against a cabin wall. Having met the opposition, Carter departs and later comes upon the very same wolf with its pack, attacking a lynx. The lynx causes the lead wolf serious injury, and begin to fall upon him with savagery.

Not disposed to sitting idle, Carter begins shooting the attackers, and finds that the lead wolf has a broken jaw and happens to be very same as the one from the village. Realizing the wolf is wild, not a dog, he knows better than to approach it. All the same, he coaxes it to follow him to his cabin. Remarkably, like all wilderness novels of this vein, the wolf fights against its natural inborn instincts to shy away from humans, etc, and finally, pushes its ailing body into the cabin.

Carter carefully maintains his distance throughout while feeding the wolf and at one point wakes up to find the wolf licking his outstretched hand before silently withdrawing. Having gotten better, the wolf departs, but, maintains a vigil around Carter, protecting him from potential harm.

Too, the phantom wolf has a score to settle…with Holt.

The climax comes early when Frazier and Holt announce that they know who Carter is, that they were aware that his dad was already dead, etc. Carter earlier has claimed to possess upon his person a signed contract with the men and his father. With the aid of other timber men, they assault his cabin and beat him up, with the aim to secure that paper and destroy it. They steal his wallet and escape back to their base.

Despondent over the loss, Carter learns that the paper was stolen earlier, but the girl, whom knew the men would make such a play. She surrenders the document back into Carter’s care, and he immediately decides to trek hundreds of miles to civilization to file warrants against Frazier and Holt.

The chase is on! Carter is on foot, hiking across the frozen bad lands, and hours later, the villains give chase on sleds drawn by huskies. Along the way, they are baffled to learn that ahead of them rides another sled, drawn by a female and an Indian! Unbeknownst to them, yet another Indian is on the trail, Beaumois, from earlier in the novel. He wants Carter out of the way himself, privately, because he is in love with the girl and doesn’t believe Carter is playing fair with her affections.

The plot becomes deeply involved and convoluted for a while.

The girl and Indian (being the one that originally caught the wolf) catch up to Carter.

The villains camp out a short ways back, while Beaumois watches on. Shockingly, Frazier steals the food rations and cuts the traces, etc, and leaves Holt and the other men stranded. He hurries over to Carter and company and tells them to rapidly get their shit together and they must flee. Heeding his advice, they do just that, but Carter insists the food be left behind. He won’t be party to wanton murder.

After Frazier has stolen the food, during the night, the phantom wolf stole in and attacked Holt. Badly injured, he eventually dies, frozen to death, and of gangrene.

Skipping some of the plot…we learn that Frazier is secretly the father of the girl, and brother to the missionary man, hence the reluctance to kill Carter unnecessarily. (Forgiveness and hugs all-around).

However, the story is not over! We’ve yet to reckon with Beaumois, whom calls out Carter. He places Carter in an awful position to leave or be slain by Beaumois, or, another option, is given a gun and told that he can kill Beaumois instead.

Carter surrenders the gun to Beaumois. He won’t slay the man over the girl, nor, will he leave. He accepts his fate that Beaumois will simply have to kill him, instead. However, the phantom wolf has other ideas and jumps the half-breed, but not before being shot full in the face. The wolf howls in pain and writhes about the ground, badly blinded. The half-breed, impressed on all counts, shows that the gun was loaded with blanks, but, at close range, nonetheless the discharge deeply affected the wolf.

Carter gets the girl, and, in the end, the blinded wolf with the broken jaw slowly, blindly, drags itself to the cabin…..

2015 November 11 “The Phantom Wolf” by T. Von Ziekursch

2015 November 8 “The Night Rider” by Elmer Brown Mason

17 The Night Rider

Book 17 is the pulp adventure “The Night Rider” by Elmer Brown Mason, an author whose output existed predominantly between 1910-1925, despite being born 30 September 1877 and dying 19 July 1955. Clearly being an author was not his bread-maker. The Pulp Flakes web-blog has a very detailed history on this author, at the following link, and is damn-well worth the read:

http://pulpflakes.blogspot.com/2012/10/ElmerBMason.html

In this novelette, Warren Baird is a youth whom saw action during The Great War, but, having returned, hasn’t done a damn thing since. He is a bum of a United States citizen, living off the monthly allowance from his aged uncle, whom informs Warren that every man that lives to a ripe old age does so with a hobby, something that keeps them interested in life itself.

Warren has no hobbies, no life desires, save for spending his money and time at clubs, with equally spoiled brats, and dating a girl whom clearly has no interest in him if he has zero inheritance. On a lark, he accepts a dare from another brat to take a lumber job, of sorts.

He is to track down to the Carolinas, near Pickens, and count trees on a tract, to confirm the counts made many years ago. Accepting the position, he is joined by two competent timber cruisers and they land in Pickens. While there, they split up and search for the person in charge of the timber, one Old Man Brury.

Warren finds that everyone ignores his repeated on-the-streets-request for aid in locating Brury, until the sheriff nabs him for looking like a draft dodger. Coincidentally, of the millions of citizens in this country, one of them that served with Warren in the war lives in Pickens and spots him as the sheriff is running him in. (This unlikelihood mars the reality of the plot).

His rescuer and one-time service-mate joins up with their merry timber counting group, and set out to the woods. His mate, whom operates under the war nickname of Hard Boiled, knows the local country inside-and-out and brings them out to Brury’s cabin. In the woods, all bets are off. You hill folk are armed to the teeth and Brury is illegally brewing “out thar.” The boys don’t give a hoot about the legalities of the liquor in question until it begins to interfere with their task.

When Warren is assaulted and nearly killed on various attempts, he becomes fed-up with Brury and his activities and vows to get him locked away. Matters are spun further out of control with the mysterious “Night Rider” attempts to kill them. He is later caught and unmasked as the draft dodger, whose striking resemblance to Warren was played up earlier in the novelette.

The boys catch the dodger, Brury dies from a rattlesnake, and they bring the story to a conclusion with Warren informing his uncle that he’s got a job that he loves and will not be returning to the city.

It’s a fun young man’s adventure story, a romp through the woods with the stereotypical beautiful girl thrown in the mix, lots of drinking and smoking, hunting, and other assorted hill activities that would seem more at ease written by the stalwart Hapsburg Liebe than Elmer Brown Mason.

“The Night Rider,” btw, since I failed to mention it above, hails from the 25 October 1921 edition of Short Stories magazine. I’m not sure which issue sported the cover art, nor, whom rendered the artwork.

2015 November 8 “The Night Rider” by Elmer Brown Mason