The Whaler by Ben Ames Williams (1924)

61-the-whaler
Ben Ames Williams THE WHALER

Book 61 in the Garden City Publishing pulp digest-paperback series is The Whaler by Ben Ames Williams (1924).

The cover art was rendered by Anton Otto Fischer. However, I’m not sure where the artwork originates. All the illustrated covers in this series predominantly were recycled pulp covers or slicks. Anyone have an idea?

The novel was originally serialized in four installments as Once Aboard the Whaler in the All-Story Weekly (1918: Sep 7, 14, 21, 28).

Toppy Huggit is described as “a raw-boned, gangling youth of twenty…six feet tall, and scarcely more than six inches wide…” Having his parents die while he was young, Toppy resided on his uncle’s farm and was largely taken advantage. After Uncle Seth’s oxen won the stone dragging contest, he gave Toppy ten dollars. This he accepted and immediately he departed Rockingham and, boarding the train, arrived in Boston.

Here, he runs smack into a murder on the streets. Checking upon the dying/dead man, a portly figure runs out and begins searching the corpse’s pockets. Papers missing, he realizes that Toppy, innocent and naive young man and Johnny-on-the-spot, must have taken what he desires. Toppy, fearing the fat man, escapes from his clutches, runs into the first sailor’s restaurant upon the wharf, and seeks the company of fellow humans. The portly figure strides in and sits down near him, and begins to pester Toppy for the papers again. The waiter approaches and learns that Toppy is new to the area, and warns him against partnering up with the fat man, known as “Porp.” The waiter drags the youth behind the counter, out the back door, and introduces him to a man simply called “Cap,” and coerces him into signing a document.

That document lands him aboard the Cap’s ship, the Hartdown, as an unwilling crew-member. Worst yet, his fears are accentuated, learning that Porp is a mate aboard ship! The whole scene, signing the paper, etc, was entrapment! Stuck aboard the whaler, the ship pulls out with Toppy, a farm boy with zero sea-life experience, forced to learn the ways of the whaling vessel, or else.

Toppy suffers a variety of indignities aboard ship but quickly becomes infatuated with the captain’s daughter, Celia Mudge. Naturally no story is truly complete without the love interest, right? Right.

Toppy begins to grow stronger, learns the ship and terms, and soon takes charge of a whaling expedition when the person in charge dies. Giving orders comes naturally to Toppy, and he finds that even the numerous villains will obey, to a length.

All good things come to an end…eventually. The matter of the corpse’s missing papers are continuously introduced by Porp, pestering and threatening Toppy’s life. Turns out it is a crudely constructed treasure map. Several members of the current crew were part of another ship and wrecked upon an island. There, they found another derelict ship, and gold. Realizing the ship lost at sea for years, they decide to head for land and find a ship capable to haul the gold. However, given that none trust each other, they all stick together, fast.

Having joined the Hartdown, some of the villainous crew mutiny against themselves, when the innocent captain’s daughter boards the vessel. They intended to murder the original crew, but a girl is a different matter. Or is it? Half of the crew okay with murder have other plans for Celia, both sexual and material gain….

The crew convince the captain to drop anchor off an isolated island for supplies. While ashore, they attack the original crew and a battle takes place. Toppy escapes with Celia in one of the landing party boats, and while trying to board the parent vessel, finds that two villains left behind are wielding sharp objects. Another of the “good crew” escapes land and paddles out. The pair decide to split and take the ship from two sides. Unbeknownst to them, Celia took one of the boats and paddled quickly around the back side, boarded, and while Toppy is about to be murdered, she takes care of his would-be assailant!

They take the ship.

But if you think the plot remains a clear-case of rescue the rest on the island, etc, you would be wrong. Ben Ames Williams is no slouch on writing a thriller.

In negotiating the safe return of the crew, the villains under the cover of darkness send their best swimmers out to the ship, and wait in the water until Toppy and another paddle to a distant shoreline to rescue the surviving crew and Celia’s dad. They discover too late the attempt, but, manage to derail the plot. Taking the ship again, they have full control, learn the whereabouts of the gold, and return with a British warship (of sorts).

Arresting the survivors on land, the villains throw a wrench in the story by informing the Brits that they discovered gold, and that the Hartdown intends to steal it. The Brits end up confiscating the gold, eliminating one traditional happy ending!

Toppy DOES get Celia and they marry.

The Whaler by Ben Ames Williams (1924)

“The Oxbow Wizard” by Theodore Goodridge Roberts (1924)

60-the-oxbow-wizard
The Oxbow Wizard” (Garden City Pub, 1924) Theodore Goodridge Roberts

The Oxbow Wizard,” a highly popular young adult frozen north wilderness adventure novella, was the 1st of 3 experimental forays by Garden City Publishing into the “A Book for Boys” series. These were part of the even larger never-properly-define broader series of soft cover digest-paperbacks (similar to dime novels in format) for which I have already earlier blogged. Numbered “60” on the spine for the overall series, the rear cover adverts up to 62 titles, overall, and sports an internal copyright notice of 1924, and 1920 for the original, via Open Road’s publishers, Torbell.

No records to my knowledge has ever indicated where the novella originally was published, however, I have located serial installments of the novella in Torbell’s The Open Road. This was a magazine designed to encourage young boys and men to get out-doors, rather than remain indoors and idle. The serial begins the in December 1919 issue, with the installment titled “Up the Oxbow.”

Additionally, parts of this serial MIGHT appear in The Trail Makers Boys’ Annual (Volume 1, 1920) but I have never obtained a copy for confirmation, nor have I been able to ascertain the full contents of said volume, which contains “stories and articles for Canadian boys” by Canadian men.

These three boys books lack the reproduced covers from SHORT STORIES magazines that made the series initially so enticing to collect. Unable to trace all of the Open Road mags, I can’t be certain whether this cover image originates with the magazine or hails from an entirely different source. Hopefully one of our blog readers may one day solve that mystery!

The story introduces young men to the coming-of-age young Dan Evans. While cleaning out a boarder’s room, he stumbles across an abandoned green bound volume, later revealed to be the collected adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Having read various tales, he begins to apply the logic into his real-life adventures and solves small home issues. His father, never kindly disposed to his son, thinks he is acting “smart” and dislikes his good intentions. However, when a young lady mysteriously vanishes, he applies his newly aroused detective skills and inadvertently bumps into his “odd” uncle, whom is more than he seems. Realizing the young man is smarter than he looks, the uncle demands he continue on to his cabin, where he will meet him later. However, on arriving at the cabin, young Dan Evans discovers the place is occupied by the missing lady, being harassed by a hooligan. Evans takes out the interloper, and it is learned that she married and eloped with the uncle, secretly because the uncle is very shy.

Some time later, as a reward for his skill and assistance, his uncle, removed far and away from the wild and seated at a desk in the city, offers Dan the opportunity to take over his cabin and partner up with an older man, and trap the wild animals for their fur, etc. Dan gives up his lumbering job for the hardworking winter job of trapping.

Mysteries abound when the cabin is found broken into, supposedly by a bear, per his partner. However, Dan sees signs that a bear would not have caused. Time passes and Dan comes upon a woman whom imposes upon his good will to help her feed her starving babies. Her husband is at home, laid up. Dan discovers the man is actually heavily intoxicated, and notices bear claws under the bunk and, an extremely large bear fur on the ground, the dimensions for which match the assumed size of the mythical bear that broke into their cabin!

Realizing the drunk broke into his cabin (despite the girl claiming it was herself, with the good intention of salvaging food for her children) Dan decides to work in the family’s favor to keep them fed.

But when his traps are worked over, he realizes the drunkard is stealing his furs. Proof surfaces when the man, terribly drunk, is found by the partner. Unable to drag him to safety, he remains outside in the frozen wastes. Dan, upon returning to the cabin, discovers his partner missing, and quickly hunts him down. Finally realizing the man’s whereabouts, he is introduced to the drunkard, and they learn that he sold the fur(s) and bought mostly illegal liquor, rather than stocking up with food for his family.

When more of his traps are found disturbed, Dan is irked. Determined to best the drunkard, he utilizes his skills to bait the shiftless cretin, and tracks down the person peddling the illegal booze. With the aid of a policeman, the whole incident is nearly neatly handled.

Not the best story I’ve ever read by Theodore Goodridge Roberts. His other three entries, previously blogged about, better stood the test of literary time than this young adult farce. Overall, of the four titles via this publisher, “The Lure of Piper’s Glen” is undoubtedly the most entertaining.

“The Oxbow Wizard” by Theodore Goodridge Roberts (1924)

“Treasure Trail” by Robert Russell Strang

79-16 Treasure Trail

This is Book 79 (Spine # 16) in the New Western Series, published by Garden City Publishing, issued 1st May 1927.

It, to my knowledge, is also the very last title actually published in the series, despite 8 further titles having been announced. After over 20 years of hunting, I have never seen evidence to support that the series continued beyond this one…. If anyone can debunk my assertion, please do so!

The story, “Treasure Trail” by Robert Russell Strang, and the cover art, both originally appeared with the 10 December 1925 edition of Short Stories magazine.

In spite of the Western-themed cover, it is anything but; in fact, if you are a fan of James B. Hendryx wilderness and frozen north novels, this novella isn’t exactly up to Hendryx level of quality, but sure as hell will hold your interest throughout.

Phil is a loafer. He isn’t exactly a loser, however, he is sustained on the monthly allowance permitted him, as heir to a fortune, when he comes of age. However, approaching that age, he is fast to learn that the lawyer handling his affairs has absconded with all his inheritance, and the will has gone missing from courtroom document files.

Pretty-boy Phil, as I said, is no loafer. He learns of the gold rush up in Alaska, and decides to put his body to work. He hires out aboard a steamer, and quickly learns the first mate has a penance for kicking the shit out of newbies and beating up on them with his boots. Phil is no laggard in the fists department, and holds his own amply well.

Landing in Alaska, Phil hunts up a job and earns a one-night position as bartender in the most ruthless haunt in town. Noted for the death of many bartenders, Phil makes himself aware of the most dire threats, and when two bastards pull guns, he smashes bottles into them and takes them down. He also wins some thousands of dollars playing the wheel, which he turns over to a lady name of Kate, to keep, for saving his life.

Making his way further inland, he stakes out various land-plots and works the land but doesn’t make much good on becoming rich, until…the ill-fated captain of the steamer he took crosses his path. Phil is nonplussed to discover Capt. Brant blind, his eyes ruined by the first mate and one of the evil gunslingers from the days when he worked that first night tending bar. The slinger is out for Phil’s blood and joined forces with the first mate, in search of a lost gulch that hasn’t a claim on it yet.

Rumor mill earlier stated that the Captain’s brother had discovered millions in gold, but, when he came into town, he smartly had written a letter to his sea-voyaging brother, in case things went awry. And boy, did they! He was murdered! (gasp)

Obtaining the aid of Phil in securing the lost gold, he is soon competing down the mushing pathways of the frozen Alaskan wastes against two other vile, rival teams. The first includes the aforementioned first mate and gunslinger. The second includes the lawyer whom originally wronged him back in the United States!

The two groups eventually merge into one gang, with the sole purpose of slaying Phil and securing the land. However, Phil stakes his claims first, but, he is cornered in a cave, buffeted from all directions by a pepper of rifle fire. He eventually gives up when Kate and the love of his life appear on the scene, having been a third party chasing him, after they learned that the wretched varmints were on Phil’s trail. They end up catching the women and Phil throws down his gun.

They are all absurdly rescued by…well, to tell you would be to ruin the plot, wouldn’t it? Suffice to say, he gets the girl, they all become millionaires, and Kate, yeah, she gets her man, too….

“Treasure Trail” by Robert Russell Strang

“The Valley of Suspicion” by J. U. Giesy

78-15 The Valley Of Suspicion

Book 78 (Spine # 15) is “The Valley of Suspicion”
by J. U. Giesy. The spine and cover have the author’s name misspelled, but correct inside.

The 25 March 1926 edition of Short Stories carried this novelette, while the cover hails from the 10 September 1923 issue, was rendered by James Reynolds.

The plot is simple.

Someone is branding newborn cows with another rancher’s branding iron. Believing that that rancher is dishonest, all ranch owners turn to watching them. However, when the brands all begin to mix, all eyes are now watching one-another.

However, a deeper game is afoot. While all are distracted by this rat race of mixed brands, someone is rustling the bigger game out through the valley. Suspected an ex-Texan are two half-breed “greasers.” Confident of this, he boasts at a dance party of one’s guilty and complicity with the other. To worsen matters, one of the pair are caught kneeling over a recently branded cow.

The owners convene and the young man is kicked out the valley, but given secret instructions by another to prove his innocence and return only when he has evidence. He departs and is not heard from again….

Fast forward, and the daughter of the main rancher is captured by the actual rustlers,¬† kidnapped out of the valley, and brought to the headquarters of the rustlers. Unbeknownst to them, the “greaser” that was disavowed earlier in the novel had changed his name to an alias, claimed to be a bandit on the run, and had taken refuge there as a hired hand. He learns of the girl’s arrival and forks leather quickly through a secret pass in the valley, and returns with a handful of tough ranch-hands to rescue the girl.

This they succeed in doing. The two “greasers” are proved innocent, and, remarkably, this becomes one of the few westerns I’ve ever read where none of the half-breeds or Mexicans or other stereotyped ethnicities are slapped with a final burden of guilt !!! It was a real pleasure reading this novel that clearly denounced that those of ethnic or mixed origins must always be at fault.

“The Valley of Suspicion” by J. U. Giesy

“Six-Gun Quarantine” by E. E. Harriman

77-14 Six-Gun Quarantine

Book 77 (# 14 on the spine) is E. E. Harriman’s “Six-Gun Quarantine.” Originally published in the February 1926 edition of the pulp fiction magazine The Frontier, it features artwork that originates with the 25 April 1925 issue of Short Stories magazine.

This copy is unique.

It was inscribed by the author, E. E. Harriman, and dated April 1927 (the book was printed 1 March 1927). Within a month, Harriman signed the book and posted it off to one “Mr. McCracken.” The precise identity is unknown, but it may well be wilderness man Harold McCracken. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_McCracken

77 Inscribed

The novel’s story is simple and straightforward enough to be concisely reported here without much trouble.

Jim and his friends own small ranches and are troubled by a ruthless landowner whom is hoodwinked into buying tons of cattle. Among these are diseased cattle afflicted with “blackleg.” Jim and his friends try to convince our villain to quarantine them from infecting the other cattle and the land and water they trample through, but, the blackguard is used to running roughshod over his insignificant neighbors.

They soon learn that the cattle are to be led far north and sold to another unsuspecting party, thereby infecting a huge swath of land, which begins through their northern neighbor’s properties.

Enlisting the aid of large and small rancher’s assistance to the north, they trap the blackguard and his cattle in a pass and cull the infected out and permit the rest to pass.

Trouble brews, and Jim is left to fend off the ex-foreman in a ruthless and brutal battle of guns and fists. Naturally, no story is complete without the love interest. Jim gets the girl, or, rather, being a tough-gal, she gets HIM !!! It was well-worth the time spent leisurely reading this novel.

“Six-Gun Quarantine” by E. E. Harriman

“The Master Squatter” by J. E. Grinstead

76-13 The Master Squatter

Book 76 is “The Master Squatter” by J. E. Grinstead.
The story originates in the November 1925 edition of the pulp, Frontier.

Officially, this book is # 76, however, the publishers, Garden City Publishing (Doubleday & Co.), decided to alter the spine numbering to # 13, reflecting the fact that the prior dozen were part of “The New Western Series” (as advertising on the back cover). This book was released 1st February 1927.

(NOTE: All of the books in this “New Western Series” were released monthly)

 

The first in this proposed series was E. E. Harriman’s “Texas Men and Texas Cattle” which I blogged about, weeks ago.

The tale opens with the Mitchell family moving out to Texas, for the health of Lon’s mother, during the years of the fence-cutting wars. Barbed wire is a fairly recent invention up to this point, and the Mitchell family find themselves walled in by miles of wire. One day, Lon’s father is slain by squatter Jim Sampson. The consumptive mother runs out of the cabin, spots her slain husband, froths at the mouth, and promptly dies. Lon, blond and blue-eyed, barely 15-years of age, cries his eyes out and on that fateful day, youthful innocence is shattered. On the outside, he becomes a shell; inside, he is seething with murderous, vengeful intent. He eventually makes his way to some neighbors, whom take him in and teach him the ways of the gun. It’s not long before he is proficient, with both eyes open, and capable with either hand. A sure dead-shot and damn quick on the draw.

Fast-forward 7 years. Murderer Jim Sampson is no longer in Texas. He has migrated up to the Chickasaw reservation some years back, and, with two outlaws, secured half a million acres of land over the years. All that was required, initially, was his two sidekicks to marry a squaw. Within a year, the women were mysteriously dead but they had lived long enough for the villains to be accepted on the territory.

Not content with his reach, Sampson, the master squatter, seeks to freely obtain [illegally] more land, by slapping down posts and fencing in the obtained property. However, his neighbor has other ideas. He is preparing to go to war with Sampson, to preserve his lands.

Enter Lon, seven years older. He is riding with a bunch of cowmen pushing 7000 head north through the Chickasaw trail, when they come to a stop outside of a town. Lon and a small crew go into town and unexpectedly find themselves in the middle of a proposed murder plot. Lon drops both assassins before they have a chance to slap leather, stunning all occupants.

Turns out the pair due to be slain are the aforementioned owners of the competing ranch. With their assistance, they move all 7000 cows safely through the reservation, as a debt for Lon’s slaying of the assassins.

With that mission complete, Lon breaks company with the crew and joins up with the rancher, since he now knows that Jim Sampson’s residence is here. Riding onto the ranch one day with a marshal, he and Lon await the arrival of Sampson from his ride into town.

Sampson curses vilely when he spots Lon, and goes for his iron, but, unfortunately (for him, of course), he was both neither quick enough nor smart enough to wait for a better opportunity. Dying in minutes, he curses the boy before the marshal, whom later asks Lon to explain how the two know each other.

Lon, for the first time in seven years, spills the beans, and expects to be arrested for murder. However, the marshal negates this, stating that Lon had been deputized, and Sampson had been reaching for his death-dealer. The slate is clean.

Lon rides away, with no mission left in life, back to the neighboring ranch, where there is a cute 18-year old innocent-looking girl, waiting for him…

At its heart, the novel is quite simple, forthright, and engagingly fun to read. However, like so many other authors, Grinstead inserts some of his own religious philosophies and propaganda into the novel, for literally SEVERAL pages. Personally, I detest this, as it detracts from the story, but I do understand that young men are reading this story (back then) and Grinstead (or the editors) may have wanted to make sure the readers understood that you are held accountable for your own actions, whether it be your belief in God, or, the judicial system, or vigilantism, etc.

“The Master Squatter” by J. E. Grinstead

“The Clean-Up On Deadman” by Frank C. Robertson

75 The Clean-Up On Dead Man

Book 75 in the Garden City Publishing “cheap” digest-paperback series, which ran from 1923 through 1927, is “The Clean-Up on Deadman” by Frank C. Robertson. The tale originated within the 25 August 1924 edition of Short Stories pulp magazine. The cover art hails from the 25 April 1924 Short Stories and was created by James Reynolds.

Ted Marsh, a lone rancher, joins a crooked posse reportedly chasing two rustlers. Ted knows that the majority of those present are villains, and is interested in seeing how events play out. However, when they eventually do capture the rustlers, Ted and three others are ordered by the corrupt sheriff to head back with the rustled horses. Realizing that something is afoot, Ted breaks from the pack and circles wide back on the trail, to the spot where the duo was captured.

Ted discovers nobody at the cabin but discovers an envelope with the name Monson on it. Never having heard of the fellow, he heads onward toward a train depot, realizing that the sheriff and gang could only head in that direction.

While spying on the gang, Ted is bonked over the head and tossed in a river, to die. Remarkably he stays afloat on some form of a decrepit raft (how convenient) and a rascally old varmint fishes him out of the river. When Ted comes to, he is suffering from amnesia, and the old fellow, having found the envelope in Ted’s possession, has read the contents and believes that Ted is mixed up with a bunch of train robbers.

When Ted eventually recovers his memory, he sets the fellow straight, and learns that the old man knows the actual identity of the supposed sheriff (again, how convenient, eh?). The pair join forces and ride back to Ted’s county, to try and unseat the sheriff and unmask the band of robbers.

But plans oft need go awry, otherwise I’d be reading a short story instead of a long novelette. Trying to remain hidden from all, he is immediately discovered by a half-breed (belonging to the gang) and then boldly rides into town. The innocent members of the town are shocked to behold Ted, alive! They had all heard that he died, likely drowned, when his horse was found by the river. Unable to set them straight on what actually happened, for one can’t simply accuse the sheriff without evidence, Ted begins to plant seeds….

However, the sheriff and gang hardly wait until night falls before ambushing him at the hotel and try to assassinate him. Ted breaks free with the aid of the old varmint. The latter is arrested, but Ted escapes captivity and flees to a ranch where he used to be well-known and liked.

A posse is formed to capture him. The sheriff alluded to the townspeople that Ted lost his mind and assaulted two men, etc. The posse rides up to the ranch and all hell breaks loose and a gun battle ensues.

Rather than have anyone hurt¬† or die on his account, Ted eventually surrenders and the sheriff locks him away. Word soon circulates that Ted and the old codger are due to be whacked during the course of the night, but the local women sabotage the sheriff’s plans, by bringing freshly cooked food to the jail, in order to keep the men detained. The sheriff had intended on releasing the pair at night to go eat at a restaurant and establish an alibi as to why they were killed, supposedly trying to escape. But when word of this plot got out, the women flipped the position by eradicating the necessity of feeding the men at the restaurant, by bringing the food directly to them.

The old codger feigns that the women-folk poisoned his food and the deputy sheriff opens the cell to retrieve the trays of food while he is groveling in agony upon the ground (talk about an overused plot device!) and then the old fellow yanks the deputy to the ground, retrieves his gun and ties the fellow up.

Making good their escape, Ted and he depart and, after learning that the sheriff and other key members of the gang are missing all day, realize that the gang has decided to seek greener pastures. The local bank, which was being used to hide the stolen gold and funds from the bank heist, is now empty!

The pair hump a pair of horses and rake the ground with hooves, tearing up the miles in hot pursuit of the gang. Wildly outnumbered, they are bemused to learn that the gang no longer trusts one another and whack one another, as each member of the gang tries to make off with the loot.

Finally, with little resistance remaining, Ted takes in the lone survivor of the gang, retrieves the stolen loot, and coming home, learns that he is to earn a fat reward from various enterprises…..

It’s a rather loose story, with loads of padding.

“The Clean-Up On Deadman” by Frank C. Robertson

“Straight Shooting” by W. C. Tuttle

71 Straight Shooting

Book 71 is “Straight Shooting” by W. C. Tuttle.
The novella originally appears in the 10 August 1924 Short Stories magazine and the cover art debuted upon the 25 July 1925 edition, was created by Paul Strayer. The tale jumped to the Hollywood big screen as “The Border Sheriff” (25 April 1926) (though the screen version, naturally, differs from the novel).

NOTE: If you want to read another blog entry on
W. C. Tuttle, try this one:

http://buddiesinthesaddle.blogspot.com/2011/01/w-c-tuttle-thicker-than-water.html

 

Foremost, this novel sure fits among Tuttle’s better, earlier Western efforts, with a “fairly” concrete plot. Unlike most others, Tuttle opens this tale in Chinatown, San Francisco, with our hero dining in a Chinese restaurant, for unknown reasons. Remarkably, while present, he learns that two hoodlums, dining across the ways, are about to slay a man (accompanied by a pretty girl).

Our hero (swoon) is Cultus Collins, who makes what appears to be his third pulp appearance, and, for my money, I find him more desirable than Sad Sontag.

Realizing that the hoodlums are part of a plan to assassinate the incoming pair, Cultus leaps into action, gunning down one of the pair of assassins and, steals the innocent pair out the back door. There, they are accosted by a policeman and Cultus knocks him down. Cultus quickly hurls the duo into a passing taxi cab and then vanishes, himself.

The story then switches locale, and we find the girl (Joan) and the man (Uncle Henry Belden) back on the HB Ranch. We learn that the pair had been out West signing “options” on their ranch, but, in fact, as is often the case in westerns, the papers were switched out and they actually sold the ranch for pennies on the dollar to a crook, name of Carter Brace.

The plot thickens and becomes more convoluted when Tuttle introduces literally a dozen-plus other assorted characters, many of whom seem useless to the plot, until Collins wraps up the whole scenario for us in the closing pages.

We are introduced to the fact that Uncle Henry has a neighbor, one “Red” whom is a couple years older than Joan. He’s never been into being sociable, but one day rides onto the ranch with a wounded horse. He is awkward in their presence, and Tuttle leaves the reader with the impression of bad-blood between Red’s deceased father and Uncle Henry, whom at one time were partners….

Furthering that, cows have been vanishing from the HB Ranch and Joan one day stumbles across some of the missing brand being rustled by “Red” and his crew. She is repelled by “Red” and his actions, and to worsen matters, he seems to have developed a romantic disposition towards her and fancies matrimony! His apparent awkwardness around her is hilarious to degrees.

Meanwhile, in town, Carter Brace has hired an unscrupulous lawyer, name of Hewette, whom goes so far as to blackmail Brace into surrendering all the cattle on the HB Ranch to him! Hewette is curious why Brace would do so, since the roaming steaks amount to all the ranch’s invested value. Or does it? He soon discovers that Brace has a mining background….

Coincidentally, fate lands Cultus Collins in town and he tangles with some hardliners, showing he is ably capable with both fists or guns. Making quick friends afterward at the bar, he hires on with a local ranching interest and keeps his head low for a while, then decides to investigate the local claims of rustlers, led by the nefarious Dutch Oven gang.

Before riding out, Collins is spotted and recognized by Brace. He sends a wire to San Francisco, informing authorities that HERE is the man that shot up the patronage at the Chinatown eatery. The authorities wire a telegram to the local sheriff to arrest Collins.

Riding into the range, he and Tater-Bug (one of the hands) are spotted by a look-out. They eventually make their way back to their camp, only to discover their horses are missing. Much later in the novel, Collins goes solo at night and makes it through the pass, to discover nary a gang, but a lone shed with a crazy Indian, and the missing horses. He kills the Indian and begins to understand that the Dutch Oven gang are a blind.

The sheriff departs to hound Collins, but later is found shot dead. Everyone assumes that Collins murdered the sheriff. The deputy now finds himself promoted and shockingly yet, Collins sneaks into the office and declares his innocence. No need. The new sheriff believes him an honest man already, and to his surprise, Collins asks him to be deputized! After which, exit Collins (to investigate the Dutch Oven hideout, as aforementioned).

Everything finally comes to a head when the HB Ranch owner and Joan ride into town, doing final battle at the courthouse. Everyone is present, and the defense shocks the crowd when they call Cultus Collins in as a witness. Hewette declares that he can’t be a witness, as he is wanted for murder, and insists the sheriff arrest him. Cultus seats himself, and keeps a long barrel rifle with him, covering the guilty parties.

He slowly unmasks all the villains present, and naturally, some are moronic enough to do that on their own. He bluffs his way through Brace, stating he has a telegram from California demanding THAT man’s arrest for other crimes. Brace tries to draw but is gunned down. The telegram, incidentally, is blank. We then learn that the 8 Bar 8 ranch are the true rustlers, and lawyer Hewette owns a half stake in that ranch! Exit Hewette!

Joan realizes now that “Red” was not the leader of the gang, and he informs her that he was stealing the cows to sell on the side to save Uncle Henry’s interests. All is forgiven, naturally, and we know that the awkward “Red” will begin to court Joan.

My synopsis of the novel does not do Tuttle justice, not in the least. There are tons of other side plots going on, and humorous tidings, too. Tuttle has a refined knack for inserting humor at opportune moments that do little to distract from the pace of the novel.

My copy of this rare novel is in deplorable condition. The cover is detached, rear cover missing, and, the last dozens of pages are rat chewed, causing slight loss of text to some pages, but, the identity of the missing words is quite evident.

 

“Straight Shooting” by W. C. Tuttle

“The Lone Hand Tracker” by William West Winter

66 The Lone Hand Tracker

Book 66 is “The Lone Hand Tracker” by William West Winter.

It’s unclear (to me) where this long novelette first appeared. The book sports an original copyright notice of 1924. None of the tales recorded thus far, on FictionMags, remotely match this story. The cover art hails from an unknown edition of Short Stories magazine. While unsigned, it appears to be the work of James Reynolds.

The tale itself is dreadfully slow and drags on. It is nearly a Western nor a true wilderness tale, although it clearly leans more toward the latter.

Hartley Peckham is, essentially, a bounty hunter. He is also an excellent tracker. With the state overrun by outlaws, the governor contracts Peckham and desires to swear him in as an officer of the law, but Peckham works alone, and works according to his own rules. Thus retained, we find Peckham in the opening pages trailing a wagon heading deep into the wilderness, when he spots foot prints running back away from the tracks of the wagon. Then he notes that the tracks reverse direction and return in the direction of the wagon. It is not long before he also notes that a bear is running after the wagon, and he rightly surmises that the girl foolishly tried to pot the bear and it charged them.

The bear chose to pursue the wagon, leaving the girl stranded. She attempts to find her own way but becomes hopelessly lost. Peckham tracks her down and, rescuing her, brings her to the local settlement. Here, she is handed over to her fiance, Doctor Bristow.

Peckham seems interested in some recent news of a heist, but you can feel the tension radiating between the doctor and himself. Further, he alludes to the fact that he is aware that the girl’s father is a wanted man, having stolen bank funds.

She immediately throws in her lot with the doctor and anyone (legal or otherwise) to overthrow the shackles of Peckham. She doesn’t want her father caught, and doesn’t realize that she is entirely in a bad situation.

As the novel progresses, we eventually learn that she hardly knows the doctor, that he himself is not as he seems (actually a convict whom fled from the West and assumed another man’s identity who IS a doctor in Chicago), and further that, he is in league with local outlaws and they plan to strip her father and her of the bank funds and leave them, in all likelihood, for dead.

Finally realizing her predicament, she is left to self-pity and vainly hoping that Peckham, a man she has made clear to plainly detest and vocally wish death upon, would come and rescue her!

Instead, she makes good her escape, accidentally, with the aid of one of Peckham’s friends, a cripple. They totter over the side and into a valley, falling most a long way down and bloodying themselves up real good.

Three of the outlaws try to pursue them, but to no avail. They ride off to the nearest town to obtain the loot, which the father had hid in a bank vault. They have the key and papers now in their possession, having obtained the key from the father and slaying him. The daughter feels no remorse for him, for her father turned out to be more interested in his own well-being than for hers.

Three remaining outlaws from the bank heist remain at the camp site, and Peckham and two others ride hard in and gun them down. Immediately Peckham puts his tracking abilities to work and most the day later, finally finds a way down to the bottom of the ravine, and nearing night, discovers the pair, asleep against a tree. They would have frozen to death over night.

Safe and secure again, Peckham takes the girl to town, beating the outlaws, since he knows short-cuts, and while at the bank in the morning to withdraw the funds they are beset upon by the criminals. Guns are drawn and they die while Peckham is creased across the ribs.

The tale clumsily wraps up with the girl acknowledging her interest in this beastly man, and he eventually takes her back to the deep woods, to claim as his own.

In conclusion, the book isn’t awful, but, it simply was not for me. I’ve never read a story by Winter prior, but, this one didn’t instill any interest in me to pursue him any further. That aside, his working knowledge of the wilderness, etc, is well-written indeed, but the flow of the story simply did not appeal to this reader.

“The Lone Hand Tracker” by William West Winter

“The Scourge of the Little C” by J. E. Grinstead

65 The Scourge Of The Little C

Book 65 is “Scourge of the Little C” by J. E. Grinstead. This pulp reprint to 1920s soft-cover paperback “cheap edition” is a well-written novella hailing originally from the August 1925 issue of The Frontier magazine. The artwork is from the 10 August 1925 issue of Short Stories.

“Dimp” Gier rides into town in time to be the partial witness to a gunning. Unconcerned with the rowdy surroundings, he deposits his horse at the stable and takes a room for the night. The hotelier and stableman are afraid for their lives once they realize the man is with the secret “C” society, which has been lynching and killing, locally.

The reader is confused by all this talk, and Grinstead does well to keep us adequately in the dark until he feels like dispensing with further information. Eventually we learn that the rider, “Dimp,” so named for the dimples he sports, thus created when a bullet ripped through his face, while short of stature but strong as an ox, is one of the secret original founding heads to the “C” group, an association bent to exacting justice and cleaning up the county and surrounding areas from rustlers and killers and other assorted malcontents that are ruining their homesteads.

The next day, he leaves the hotel and rides out to the J Bar B ranch, run by old man John Barton, whom has a deaf wife whom can read lips fairly well, and of course, the traditionally necessary lovely heroine daughter, whom handles the ranch books and funds, etc.

Dimp lets Barton in on who he is but demands that nobody else be informed. Despite that, it isn’t long before the crew figure out he is “somebody” since Barton refers to him as “Mr. Gier.” Dimp insists on bunking with the fellows and that Barton desist from the “Mr.” as it gives away everything (yeah, no shit, right?)

There are many harrowing battles throughout the book, many killings, lots of vicious episodes, and throughout, Dimp maintains his distance from Barton’s daughter, despite the fact that she has finally come around to liking him and can’t fathom why he refuses to mingle with her. Man of little words but loads of action, Dimp is set on focusing on the task at hand rather than mix it up with a girl.

Things come a head one day when the neighbors are all rounded up to attend a party, and Dimp ends up dancing with the daughter (Edna). But when another man (Keechi) arrives on the scene, Keechi, looking in from a window, is infuriated to spot Dimp dancing with “his girl.” This man is part of the local criminal element and a large gun battle ensues.

Many are injured, and the leader of the gang and Keechi effect their escape.

While riding back to their ranch, Barton, Edna, and Dimp are astounded to behold before them the very dark handsome tall leader of the criminals, one Dan Pemberton, astride a fine horse, before them. He draws on Pimp, realizing he is the brains behind the resistance but Dimp takes him alive. While traversing a ferry, the four are under heavy fire from the banks and a stray bullet meant for Dimp’s skull takes the taller Pemberton full in the face. He pitches over the rail and dies in the waters.

Dimp is enraged to learn that a heavy barrage of fire had been directed at Edna, and knows that Keechi, realizing that she is no longer “his girl,” has decided to slay her.

A final battle ensues when Tinshkila (a local ranking Indian) sends a fellow man to bring Barton a note to come to their aid, as the rustlers have now heavily infiltrated their territory.

Barton, Dimp, and crew mount (and leave Edna and mom home alone with four to protect them, just in case) and ride off to assassinate the entire bloody lot of villains. This they handily do, but some escape, among them, Keechi. Dimp rides like hell back to the ranch in time to save the woman he loves and they fall into each other’s arms and Dimp idly wonders, as papa Barton strides in, just what he thinks about his daughter in Dimp’s arms.

Apparently he isn’t worried….

This is a fine novel, and I strongly advise anyone with the opportunity and interest in Westerns with sound plots, to read it. You won’t be disappointed. I’m somewhat surprised that this novel never made it to the big screen, but it might have been too complex for Hollywood and the audience to devour.

“The Scourge of the Little C” by J. E. Grinstead