The Country Gentleman, June 7 – August 23 1919
Harper & Brothers, New York, November 1920
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, January 1948
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) May 1949, Oct 1960 (Galactic Central)
According to Charles G. Pfeiffer part of The Mysterious Rider is supposed to be based on a true story, but Pfeiffer does not reveal which part.
I understand the desire parents have to see only the good in their children, or to see them as salvageable if their children are flawed. Sometimes these parents are overly optimistic about the potential for reform. Rancher Bill Belllounds is one such parent. Bill’s son Jack is known as a drunkard, gambler, coward and thief. In other words, not a person I would want any of my children to get involved with.
Bill Belllounds himself is a pretty decent guy when he does not have to make decisions regarding Jack.
“Columbine!… So they named me–those miners who found me–a baby–lost in the woods–asleep among the columbines.” She spoke aloud, as if the sound of her voice might convince her.
So much of the mystery of her had been revealed that day by the man she had always called father. Vaguely she had always been conscious of some mystery, something strange about her childhood, some relation never explained.
Poor Columbine. She had been found wandering Middle Park (now Grand County) in Colorado in the late 1800’s (before 1874 when its name was changed to Grand County). Belllounds had taken her in and raised her as his own daughter. Columbine is seen by Bill Belllounds as the salvation for his son Jack. Bill wants her to marry Jack. Columbine had not seen Jack for seven years and had until the day Bill asked her to marry Jack not even known that she was not Bill’s daughter. Asking is to kind a term. Bill said that Columbine was going to marry Jack like it or not.
A stranger turns up in town in response to Bill’s offer of employment. We now get to the meet the mysterious rider. Bent Wade is a gun fighter who has obviously won his gun battles thus far. He sees his mission in life to help people. Generally this happens at gun point and usually the baddies are the ones to suffer. This time Wade takes it upon himself to protect Columbine from Jack, and Jack’s mean plans, for a very good reason.
He sighed, and a darker shadow, not from flickering fire, overspread his cadaverous face. Eighteen years ago he had driven the woman he loved away from him, out into the world with her baby girl. Never had he rested beside a camp-fire that that old agony did not recur! Jealous fool! Too late he had discovered his fatal blunder; and then had begun a search over Colorado, ending not a hundred miles across the wild mountains from where he brooded that lonely hour–a search ended by news of the massacre of a wagon-train by Indians.
That was Bent Wade’s secret.
And no earthly sufferings could have been crueler than his agony and remorse, as through the long years he wandered on and on. The very good that he tried to do seemed to foment evil. The wisdom that grew out of his suffering opened pitfalls for his wandering feet. The wildness of men and the passion of women somehow waited with incredible fatality for that hour when chance led him into their lives. He had toiled, he had given, he had fought, he had sacrificed, he had killed, he had endured for the human nature which in his savage youth he had betrayed. Yet out of his supreme and endless striving to undo, to make reparation, to give his life, to find God, had come, it seemed to Wade in his abasement, only a driving torment.
But though his thought and emotion fluctuated, varying, wandering, his memory held a fixed and changeless picture of a woman, fair and sweet, with eyes of nameless blue, and face as white as a flower.
“Baby would have been–let’s see–‘most nineteen years old now–if she’d lived,” he said. “A big girl, I reckon, like her mother…. Strange how, as I grow older, I remember better!”
- 1922: Salaperäinen ratsastaja (Finnish)
- 1969: Den mystiske rytter (Norwegian)
- 1953: Der geheimnisvolle Reiter (German)