Featured is Water Rustlers by Hoyt Merion (sic), a side-stapled 64-page booklet, a western novel, published in England by The Ely Press.
When did The Ely Press operate?
What titles did they publish?
I know of only two fiction titles….
No major English libraries (according to COPAC and WorldCat) hold any books published by The Ely Press.
Nor is there a single record that anyone ever existed by the name of Hoyt Merion. However….
The mystery deepens when one realizes that the author also appeared with two “r”s in their surname by a more prominent publisher, Wells Gardner Darton (WGD) spanning 1947-1951.
The English Catalogue of Books from 1948-1951 lists several titles by Hoyt Merrion via WGD. And therein lies any possible clues…but I do not have direct access to those volumes!
The following titles appeared under the Hoyt Merrion name:
- El Fuego’s Line (1947)
- Unlucky Win (1947)
- Valley of Lost Brands (1947)
- When Chance Horns In (1947)
- Rustlers of Yellow Dust Valley (1948)
- Water Rustlers (1949)
- “Cat” Tracy Keeps His Word (1950)
- Ride-Along Rafferty Horns In (1951)
- Ride-Along Rafferty Stops By (1951)
The novel I read via The Ely Press is Water Rustlers, and that title likewise appears above, in 1949. The artwork is signed, however, it is indecipherable, exquisitely tiny, appearing just to the left of the horse’s snout. The printer is listed as Westminster Printing Works, and they definitely operated from 1946-1947. This seems to indicate that The Ely Press may have issued Hoyt Merion (sic) titles prior to WGD, but this is inconclusive. BTW, the other title by Hoyt Merion (sic) via The Ely Press is Dumb Mahoney’s Music. This title apparently was never reprinted by WGD unless it appeared under a new title. I’ll touch upon that tale at a later date.
The plot involves the stereotypical jobless cowboy riding into a new town. Hitching his pinto, Stella, to the saloon post, he enters Clem Rafferty’s saloon (did you notice the saloon owner’s surname? The author’s last two novels feature that name, too) and bears witness to an attempted murder upon rancher Bud Ginty. Lending his guns to protect the rancher finds jobless Tim Raines hired on as a cowhand to a doomed ranch. Drought is upon the ranch, but their neighbor (Galt) has plenty of water from the underground spring. And, he refuses to share unless Bud’s beautiful daughter, Kitty, marries him. Then he will permit Ginty’s thousands of cows to drink. Or they will die.
While out on a ride, Raines hears distant booms and investigating further afield, sneaks onto the Galt ranch lands only to be knocked out. Captured, Raines is bound and tossed in an attic space. He will be murdered after Galt marries Kitty, who has eventually agreed to marriage to save her father’s ranch.
In typical fashion, our hero manages to escape, investigates the source of the explosions, and discovers a secret cave that leads under the earth, and a series of pipes pumping water out from under the Ginty lands! Returning to the ranch, he’s in time to assist Bud Ginty in stopping Kitty from going through with her marital vows. Gathering all the available men, they raid Galt’s ranch and a wonderful gun-battle ensues.
Raines is knocked out, unhorsed, and wakes up to discover a bullet nearly ended his life, but a metal plate on his hat saved his life. Raines announces his intentions to acquire the late Galt’s ranch, and requires a lover to assist in its operation. Naturally, Kitty obliges.
And I must confess that I enjoyed this novel enough to pursue reading the next one. Perhaps if I luck out twice, I may decide to chase the others.