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:
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.