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….