“Thunderhorse” by Edison Marshall

53 Thunderhorse

Book 53 sports a magnificent illustrated action cover by Edgar Franklin Wittmack, which hails from the 10 November 1921 edition of Short Stories. The title of the tale here, “Thunderhorse,” was initially confusing, as no such title had been reported to the FictionMags Index site. However, after reading the tale, it was readily recognized to be “The Test of Charity Blair” from the 1st April 1923 edition of Ace High Magazine.

Charity Blair has been contacted by a relative residing out west in Oregon. She’s been asked to teach school for a year out west. Currently teaching in Chicago, Charity is tired of city-life and heads west on the train. She absorbs the dreary scenery but finds it all to be thrilling.

Met at the depot by John Sherwood, head man at Charity’s aunt’s ranch, she is immediately captivated by the tall, rugged, but certainly not handsome individual. Believing that they are to “ride” to the ranch she is struck briefly in terror to realize she is ride a horse. She has zero prior experience upon one!

Further, she’s not wearing proper attire. Thankfully, Charity’s aunt foresaw this dilemma and sent with John some riding clothes. Switching into them via a towns-person’s home, she is instructed how to mount. Her first attempt is not great, but, she refuses to give up. Realizing its do-or-die time, she accomplishes mounting and suffers through the next ordeal: convincing the horse to respond to her commands.

This too she manages swiftly enough and wins the admiration of John Sherwood. The author then poetically pads out the remainder of the novel by teaching her how to ride, shoot, hunt, teach the children at the school, etc.

So where does this “Thunderhorse” come in? Well, he is an escaped grey-white that has been stealing mares from the ranch and running away with them. And, to worsen matters, Thunderhorse has a price tag on his head. The ranchers are tired of the thievery and have decided that he must die.

However, Thunderhorse has a reputation for not fearing women, and so, Charity befriends the horse.

Eventually it is learned, near the end of the novel, that Thunderhorse is “mostly” innocent, that a bunch of quarter-breeds are stealing the horses and laying the blame at the feet, er, I mean hooves, of Thunderhorse.

The thieves are rounded up, and Thunderhorse is permitted to run wild and free….

“Thunderhorse” by Edison Marshall

2015 December 20: “Green Timber Thoroughbreds” by Theodore Goodridge Roberts

45 Green Timber Thoroughbreds

Book 45 is “Green Timber Thoroughbreds” by Theodore Goodridge Roberts, with cover illustration by Lynn Bogue Hunt. The pulp tale was originally featured in the 10 November 1923 edition of Short Stories magazine.

The tale opens with Robert Vane walking into a wilderness north town and a house is on fire. He rescues an old man and then proceeds up a ladder to carry out another body that is unconscious from smoke inhalation. Then he departs the scene and seeks shelter at the village hotel.

The next day, the town is a-buzz over the whole ordeal, and Vane is thanked profusely for saving Joe. When he is greeted and thanked in person by “Joe” he is nonplussed to learn that “Joe” is a girl, short for Josephine.

He confesses to the hotelier that he is interested in horses, and seeking a specific breed locally that has good blood in it. The tale is more convoluted, in that the horses’ pedigrees all dial back a century when Vane’s grandparents brought over a horse of fine-standing, but was stolen. Stories of great horse races in this region and markings lead Vane to the quiet remote town to investigate if these are descendants of the original.

They are.

So he seeks to buy one horse but the locals that own the breeds are a nefarious, murderous bunch of scoundrels, and, illegally brewing during prohibition. So, thinking he is a  government man, they go out of their way to capture and kill him, but fail.

Finally, they do capture him, drag him far out into the woods and leave him to do. Unfortunately for them, Joe trails the villains, frees Vane, and they, overnight, through a snowstorm, find their way to a cabin and collapse.

They recover overnight with the cabin’s tenants, and two weeks later, marry.

The villains are all arrested by the sheriff.

It’s not really the author’s best work, by a long-shot, but, I am happy to have had the pleasure to read this novel, since it is a damn hard one to obtain. The story falls flat with me since I have zero interest in horse racing and the background of the pedigrees, etc, which was used more as “padding” then necessary to the overall story.

2015 December 20: “Green Timber Thoroughbreds” by Theodore Goodridge Roberts

“The Remittance Woman” by Achmed Abdullah

42 The Remittance Woman

Book 42 is “The Remittance-Woman,” by Achmed Abdullah, a man whom you can always rely on to bring you some quality Oriental fiction. This tale originates within the July 1922 pulp Everybody’s Magazine.

Marie Campbell is a hopeless bounder of an American, daughter to a wealthy hardworking man, whom doles out to her a regular allowance which she spends with reckless regard. She has no concept of reality and talks, dresses, and behaves more like a man than a lady should. Annoyed at her attitude, her father gives her two options: choose between being a man or a woman!

She chooses to be treated as a man, and he accepts. In this regard, she is to leave America, make good on her own, and he will pay  her quarterly an allowance of $1500 (negotiated UP by her from one-grand, incidentally). She agrees, and nonchalantly states she will visit China.

Appalled by her decision, he insists that she take along with her a thumb-sized Chinese vase, but keep it hidden and only share its existence when she deems it necessary. Baffled by his attitude toward a fragile vase, she readily agrees and we later find her in China at a hotel, already having blown through two quarters’ allowances and deep in debt at the hotel. She has foolishly, childishly, spent her funds on Chinese items at extravagant prices.

Things go awry when the hotel maid is murdered and a series of men railroad her into jail, because she refuses to yield up what they desire…the Chinese vase!

While in jail, she effects her escape, only to land within the confines of the Temple of Horrors. She negotiates her leave (with the man featured on the front cover of the book) and while being escorted out, manages once again to escape.

With the aid of an English sailor (the male silhouette featured on the cover) she makes her way to the grounds of a Russian, whom absurdly she immediately falls in love with and he, in turn, with her, at first sight. She confesses the location of the missing vase to him, but he does not pursue it. Instead, she is surrendered into the hands of a distant relative, whom delivers her safely to the house of another, where one of the men, whom had her arrested earlier in the novel, is agitating over her disappearance, and the Chinese warpath against foreigners that is about to occur.

She boldly walks in and gaily laughs about the whole affair and tells the man where the vase is hidden. Thankfully, to make the novel shorter, the house they are at, its landed estates happen to butt-up-against the grounds of the aforementioned hotel, which he operates (how convenient!)….. He hurls his body out the door, sprints, retrieves the vase, and brings it back.

Marie takes the vase and goes back to the Temple of Horrors, demands the man on the throne surrender and proclaim peace, work with the three men that attempted to secure the vase from her, or, she will destroy the vase, which contains, secreted within, power of dominion, etc. Her threat is not necessary, as all present believe she is capable of such heresy, since her recently deceased uncle destroyed the vase’s twin.

And so, peace is restored to the lands of China, war called off, and Marie claims the Russian as her own to marry and take back with her to America.

Given the Hollywood’s modern zeal for pushing strong heroine-led movies upon the populace, they should perhaps give this novel some consideration, as it amply yields up tons of foreign color and intrigue. Naturally, it would need a serious re-write….

“The Remittance Woman” by Achmed Abdullah

“The Law of the Range” by W. C. Tuttle

24 The Law Of The Range

Book 24 wraps up the initial series of western, sea, wilderness and Frozen North tales brought to one and all back in 1923, by the Garden City Publications outfit.

Herewith, we have W. C. Tuttle’s “The Law of the Range.” The original copyright notices states 1922, via The Ridgway Company. This leads me to assume that this tale was originally printed as “The Spark of Skeeter Bill,” in Adventure (30 March 1922).

The tale opens with [cough cough] one Skeeter Bill riding into an ambush. His horse is shot out from under him and dies. Skeeter lays for the assailant, whom courteously makes himself present and open to Skeeter slicing lead through his legs. Tossing his rifle aside, Skeeter, rather than slay the man that slew his horse, demands to know why his was shot at.

The man is a sheepherder, out on the range with his wife. They moved to the range for his health, but the only work he could find was to herd sheep. Well, they are in cow country, and sheepherders ain’t welcomed too warmly. The herder has been harassed by others and assumed Skeeter was riding in to do the same.

Making as pards, the man brings Skeeter home and they have a wonderful sit-down. Now, Skeeter is a wee bit of a flippantly facetious cuss, and as a reader, you sort of chuckle along with his silliness, throughout. Skeeter takes up the task of riding into town for the couple to fulfill their shopping list, since he knows the town won’t allow the couple do buy anything.

Dressed more like a cowman and a gunner himself, Skeeter rides in on the old buckboard, and instantly finds himself the center of attention. Disregarding them, he saunters into the shop and is informed by the keeper they ain’t got nothing on his list. Skeeter makes mental note of what is present and walks the town.

Presently, the sheriff rides in, bleeding from a bullet wound. While the whole town is distracted, Skeeter ambles back into the store and wallops the man with a bag of flour, then, fulfilling the shopping list, leaves the correct amount of funds and departs, returning to the sheepherder’s ranch.

Upon arrival, he notices their shotgun discharged and abandoned on the porch. He doesn’t see the couple, but, finds a man shot down and dead. Heaving the body, he tries to hide the corpse but the sheriff and some others ride over from town, after the shopkeeper makes complaints.

Caught with the corpse, he is arrested and brought in. Refusing to admit his innocence, the judge slaps him with time in the penitentiary. This doesn’t go over well with the cattlemen, since the corpse was the boss of the Tin-Cup ranch! They are all for a lynching party.

The sheriff sneaks him out of the jail cell, days later, at night, during a dark rainstorm. They board a train and make their getaway. Unfortunately, another cattle group are planning to rob the train! To worsen matters, they run across another group with similar plans to stop the train…the Tin-Cup riders are set to stop the train, and lynch Skeeter!

Not knowing whom either group is up against, they shoot it out and one of the party purposely detonates a “torpedo” on the tracks signaling an emergency stop. Just in time, too, since one of the Tin-Cup apparently blew up the train trestle. The train comes to a screeching halt with the engine nearly dangling neatly over the precipice.

The Tin-Cup gang boards and the sheriff coolly wounds two attackers but suffers wounds of his own. Skeeter drags the sheriff along and jumps, making his getaway. Only, that jump never ends. He didn’t know that the train had stopped over the river!

They splash and Skeeter swims to the banks, dragging the unconscious sheriff with him. Out of the water, he finds the keys to the cuffs and makes to vamoose but then, because he IS A GOOD GUY, he goes back to save the sheriff.

Along the way, he picks up some others (I’d be entirely ruining the plot if I explained this part further, which only adds to the hilarious nature of Skeeter and his situation) and they all tromp to the sheepherder’s cabin, only to find yet another wounded person present that is NOT the couple. Skeeter nabs the buckboard and brings in three wounded people.

Meanwhile, in town, all believe he and the sheriff are dead, and the doctor is tending the two Tin-Cup gang that the sheriff shot on the train. They live. In walks Skeeter with all three…the sheriff, a hired gun man, and the fellow from the ranch (whom was there to kill the husband and take the purty wife, but I won’t ruin WHY this doesn’t occur), and the sheriff, after recovering, admits that he was the one that wielded the shotgun and killed the cattle boss, and to top that off, he is the secret owner of the sheep!!!

As usual, you can rely on veteran writer W. C. Tuttle for a competently written story, even if a wee bit unusual, but sure-as-hell entertaining!

“The Law of the Range” by W. C. Tuttle