Tag Archives: #Outlaws

Grey, Z., 1937. Majesty’s Rancho. New York, New York Sunday News.

When “Majesty’s Rancho” was first published, in New York Sunday News, 26th September 1937, Zane Grey was 65 years old. It’s prequel, The Light of Western Stars, was published 24 years earlier. I mention this, because I believe it has an impact on the end result of “Majesty’s Rancho“. Later publishings were in hardcover in 1938 by Harper & Brothers, in 1942 as an Armed Services Edition and in 1949 by Zane Grey Western Books.

I had to pull back several times while reading “Majesty’s Rancho” and writing this review because I kept on being hit by a sense of “Huh?” and “Say what?”. One reason was the way Madge/Majesty was treated in the story. Grey did not like a female protagonist who might be perceived as possibly stronger than the male protagonist (Pauly, T.H., 2014). By the time he had finished with Madeline in The Light of Western Stars, Grey had found his recipe for breaking such women down and he used that recipe for what it was worth in “Majesty’s Rancho“. He was apparently not alone in not wanting that. Reviewers and the blurb all seem to agree that she needed taking down a few notches.

One of the reasons I felt this way, was because all the main protagonists and the antagonist blamed Madge for their own behavior. Madge blamed Madge for how she behaved, Uhl (antagonist) blamed Madge for how he behaved towards her, Rollie blamed Madge for how he treated her, Lance blamed Madge for how he behaved towards her and Gene blamed Madge for how he and Lance treated her. Talk about internalizing and externalizing blame in stereotypically gendered ways. The only people who did not blame Madge for their own behaviors were Ren Starr and Nels. These two men were voices of reason throughout the story.

Nels: “Wal, I have. An’ I’m gamblin’ on her, Gene. Wild as a young filly, shore she was. But good as gold an’ as true as steel. When she was heah last I had some jars, you bet. I had to figger oot thet times had changed since you an’ me ran after girls. We’ve stayed right in one spot, Gene, an’ this old world has moved on.”

“Right. I’ll bet you we have it coming to us. Madge said in her letter she was having a crowd of college friends come to visit her.”

“Fine. She did thet last time an’ I never had such fun.”

Another thing I had a problem with was the way Madge was blamed for the current finances of the farm. However, when she left the farm, for The University of Southern California, as a 16 year-old their family was wealthy. Madge, herself, had a fond worth a million dollars and her mother was even wealthier. In addition, their ranch was doing really well. That perception was maintained by both her mother and her father the entire time she was away, meaning Madge spent money accordingly. Instead of letting her know that the Crash on Wall Street in 1929 had affected their family and that they all needed to use less money, they told her nothing. Gene had no head for money and kept making unwise money choices. He was afraid of letting Madeline (his wife) do their books in case she found out he had taken out a mortgage on the ranch. All the way through the story, Lance keeps up an internal ranting towards her spending yet he also kept his mouth shut because of a promise to Gene. Madge had sensed something was off the last time she was home but did not know what it was. Before coming home, she had decided she would be spending the rest of her time and money on the upkeep of the ranch. She just wanted one last summer with friends.

“I get it,” she said, soberly, dropping those penetrating eyes. “I’ve always understood Majesty’s Rancho was mine. You know, just in a vain and playful way, perhaps. How about that, Dad—seriously?”

“Of course this ranch is yours—or will be someday, which is just the same. And a white elephant—my daughter.”

“Not for little Madge. What do you suppose I went to college for? What did I study economics for?… Dad—Mom, I tell you I’m home for good. I’m crazy about my home. It has been swell to have unlimited money. Let me play around this summer—entertain my friends—then I’ll hop to the job.”

Madge/Majesty Stewart is the daughter of Gene Stewart and Madeline Hammond from The Light of Western Stars. She has grown up on an awesome ranch right across the border from New Mexico (Blake, K., 2014). When we first meet her she is an honor student and secretary to the student body at the University of Southern California. She is popular with her fellow students and is considered kind and sweet to others, hardworking and a little wild. Her beauty and spirit attract men to her, some nice and some not so nice (like Honey Bee Uhl). Except for Ren Starr and Nels, all the men we get to know in “Majesty’s Rancho” want to possess Madge.

Lance Sidway is the male protagonist. Much like Madge, he is beautiful, kind and sweet to others, hardworking and a little wild. He loves women and they like him. His financial background is completely different to Madge’s, and that background goes some way in explaining how completely incapable he is of understanding Madge. His mom had died early, the Crash and Great Depression came and took their ranch, he had to quit college, his dad died and Lance had to get his sister’s surgery and recovery paid for. So he and Umpqua, his horse, went to Hollywood and Umpqua made a name of itself. Lance got sick of never making a name of himself, always having to be a stunt or boyfriend to  up-and-coming actors, and having to play second fiddle to his horse. So he left Hollywood with Umpqua to find the Wild West he had heard of.

Lance and Umpqua’s ride from Los Angeles, California to Douglas, Arizona.

What he found was that both he and his horse got into better shape and that the West was not so wild after all.

He knew that arid country, having been to Palm Springs and Indio with motion-picture companies. Still, sight of the rolling wasteland with its knolls of mesquite and flats of greasewood, and the irregular barren mountains zigzagging the horizon, afforded him keen pleasure. How different this country from the golden pastures and black hills and swift streams of Oregon! Lance could not have conceived a greater contrast. And by noonday the June heat of the desert was intense. Sweat oozed out of his every pore and Umpqua was wet. But this heat was what both horse and rider needed. They were heavy from underwork and overeating.

Gene Stewart, Madge’s dad, is also mostly a nice guy. He longs for an exciting past he could understand and not the boring demands of being a settled man to an adult (18) daughter. He projects much of his unhappiness on to Madge and there are moments when she wonders if he really loves her. Grey was 65 when the serial was published. He bemoaned the older, slower days when nature remained unspoiled by automobiles and automatic weapons (Cast, C.C., 2008). Gene is written with this type of spirit. Gene’s wife, Madeline is a background figure who comforts Gene and Madge when needed.

When Madge and Lance meet both fall immediately in love. However, from the time they both meet again at the ranch they treat each other atrociously. If this is love, then I’m not missing anything in my life. Why would Grey write them both so jaded? It’s as though he had seen “Gone With the Wind” and wanted to write something like that. Such “romances” have never appealed to me and I wasn not able to finish either the book or watch the film of “Gone With the Wind“.

The main antagonist of “Majesty’s Rancho” is Honey Bee Uhl. Grey often makes his antagonists cartoonish and Uhl is no exception. He did not feel as dangerous as he should have even when the story got to his main scene. I wasn’t able to believe in him, and I think that was part of my problem with this story.

All in all I have to say that “Majesty’s Rancho” is far from one of Grey’s best works. As far as language, it felt authentic. There were racial slurs typical of white farmers of that time. Most of the time I felt as though I was reading the words of a bitter old man, which Grey probably wasn’t. And the romance was soooo not my style. However, if you are into stuff like “Gone With the Wind” then this might be a story for you.

Available free at Roy Glashan’s Library and Internet Archive.



  • Croatian: Grey, Z., 1961/1964/1966/1985. Princezin ranč. Opatija: Otokar Keršovani. Omer Lakomica (Translator).
  • Czech: Grey, Z., 1998. Ranč Majesty. Český Těšín: Oddych. Radomír Karas (Illustrator). Karel Chlouba (Translator).
  • German: Grey, Z., 1952. Majesty; München: AWA-Verl. Dr. Hansheinz Werner (Translator).
  • Hungarian: Grey, Z., 1990. Majesti tanyája. Budapest: Sprint. Pap László (Translator). (2011, Budapest:
  • Italian: Grey, Z., 1961/1969. Il ranch di Majesty. Milano: Sonzogno. Agnese Silvestri Giorgi (Translator).
  • Norwegian: Grey, Z., 1974. Den fortapte ranchen. Oslo: Ingar Weyer Tveitan. Ulf Gleditsch (Translator). (1988, Fredhøi; 1997, Egmont bøker)
  • Spanish: Grey, Z., 1950. El rancho Majestad. Barcelona Bruguera, 1950. Luis Conde Vélez (Translator).




Posted by on 2018-10-28 in Books


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The Border Legion, 1940 film adaptation

The Border Legion, 1940: Information from IMdB

Produced by Republic Pictures

  • Associate producer Joseph Kane

Directed by Joseph Kane

Adapted by Olive Cooper, Louis Stevens and George Carleton Brown


Roy Rogers Roy Rogers …Dr. Stephen Kellogg, aka Steve Kells

George 'Gabby' Hayes George ‘Gabby’ Hayes …Honest John Whittaker

Carol Hughes Carol Hughes …Alice Randall

Joe Sawyer Joe/Joseph Sawyer …Jim Gulden

Maude Eburne Maude Eburne …Hurricane Hattie McGuire

Jay Novello Jay Novello …Santos

Hal Taliaferro Hal Taliaferro …Sheriff Amos Link

Dick Wessel Dick Wessel …Oscar Red McGooney

Paul Porcasi Paul Porcasi …Tony

Robert Emmett Keane Robert Emmett Keane …Willets

Eddie Acuff Eddie Acuff …Ticket Agent

Chuck Baldra …Townsman

Ed Brady Ed Brady …Gambler

Fred Burns …Miner

Bob Card Bob Card …Townsman

Spade Cooley Spade Cooley …Musician

Victor Cox …Barfly

Art Dillard …Saloon Patron

Curley Dresden …Miner

Joel Friedkin …Gus

Chick Hannan Chick Hannan …Henchman

Lew Kelly …Miner

Jack Kirk Jack Kirk …Jack

Cactus Mack Cactus Mack …Henchman

Ted Mapes Ted Mapes …Miner

Leo J. McMahon …Barfly

Art Mix Art Mix …Henchman

Monte Montague Monte Montague …Joe

Jack Montgomery Jack Montgomery …Henchman

Post Park …Henchman

Edward Peil Sr. Edward Peil Sr. …Barfly

Pascale Perry …Hank

Trigger Trigger …Steve’s Horse

Henry Wills Henry Wills …Miner

Bob Woodward Bob Woodward …Henchman

Music by Milton Rosen

  • Musical director Cy Feuer
  • Title music by William Lava
  • Stock music by Joseph Nussbaum

Cinematography by Jack A. Marta

  • Supervising editor Murray Seldeen
  • Editing by Edward Mann

Production Manager Al Wilson

Stunts by Yakima Canutt, Art Dillard, Ted Mapes, Leo J. McMahon, Jack Montgomery,  Post Park, Henry Wills, Bob Woodward, Bill Yrigoyen, Joe Yrigoyen


Subtitles/Dubbed translations:

  • Brazilian Portugese: Legião da Fronteira
  • Greek: Tromokratai ton synoron/Τρομοκράται τον συνόρων
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Posted by on 2018-08-19 in Movies


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The Arizona Raiders, 1936 film adaptation

The Arizona Raiders, 1936

Laramie Nelson (Buster Crabbe) falsely accused of horse-stealing, is about to be strung up by a posse when a sudden lurch of his horse knocks down his would-be executioners, and he makes his escape. He soon comes upon another hanging posse and saves “Honest” Tracks Williams (Raymond Hatton), accused of a long, long list of minor crimes, and the two ride off together. They come to a small Arizona town, and their first encounter is with attorney Monroe Adams (Grant Withers) and his client, Harriet Lindsay (Marsha Hunt), owner of the large, prosperous Spanish Peaks ranch. Harriet and Adams have come to town to stop the marriage of her young sister, Lenta (Betty Jane Rhodes), to shy young Alonzo “Lonesome” Mulhall (Johnny Downs). They are successful, and Alonzo is jailed, along with Tracks, following his attempt to shoot up the town. Tracks offers to arrange an elopement for Alonzo as soon as they are out of jail. Laramie gets them out of jail ahead of schedule by stampeding a herd of … Written by Les Adams <>

Directed by James P. Hogan

Adapted from Zane Grey’s “Raiders of Spanish Peaks” by Robert Yost and John W. Krafft

Cast (in credits order)

Buster Crabbe Buster Crabbe Laramie Nelson (as Larry Crabbe)
Raymond Hatton Raymond Hatton Tracks Williams
Marsha Hunt Marsha Hunt Harriett Lindsay
Betty Jane Rhodes Betty Jane Rhodes Lenta Lindsay (as Jane Rhodes)
Johnny Downs Johnny Downs Lonesome Alonzo Q. Mulhall
Grant Withers Grant Withers Monroe Adams, Harriett’s lawyer
Don Rowan Henchman Luke Arledge
Arthur Aylesworth Arthur Aylesworth Andy Winthrop
Richard Carle Richard Carle Boswell Albernathy, Justice of the Peace
Petra Silva Tiny – the Maid
Ken Cooper Ken Cooper Lynch Mob Member
Augie Gomez Cowboy
Spike Spackman Cowboy
James P. Burtis Second Sheriff at Hanging (uncredited)
Bob Card Bob Card Deputy (uncredited)
Herbert Heywood First Sheriff at Hanging (uncredited)
Billy Lee Billy Lee Little Boy (uncredited)

Produced by A.M. Botsford and Daniel Keefe
Cinematography by Leo Tover
Film Editing by Chandler House
Art Direction by Hans Dreier and Robert Odell
Set Decoration by interior decorator A.E. Freudeman
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Harry Scott
Sound Department by sound recordists Charles Hisserich and Don Johnson
Stunts by Ken Cooper and Spike Spackman
Composed by Gerard Carbonara, Hugo Friedhofer, Sigmund Krumgold, John Leipold and Heinz Roemheld
Presenter Adolph Zukor

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Posted by on 2018-06-24 in Movies


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West of the Pecos; New York, The American Magazine, 1931

Illustrated by Frank Hoffman

West of the Pecos was first published as a 7-episode serial in The American Magazine from August of 1931 to February of 1932. In 1937 Harper & Brothers published the story as an action romance. The Zane Grey’s Western Magazine published West of the Pecos in 1947 and again in 1954. The main characters are Pecos Smith and Terrill (Rill) Lambeth with Sambo as supporting character. As usual, nature plays an important role displaying Pecos River, Horsehead Crossing and Langtry around 1865-1871 (ZGWS). A free copy is available in Roy Glashan‘s library.

“When Templeton Lambeth’s wife informed him that if God was good they might in due time expect the heir he had so passionately longed for, he grasped at this with the joy of a man whose fortunes were failing, and who believed that a son might revive his once cherished dream of a new and adventurous life on the wild Texas ranges west of the Pecos River.

That very momentous day he named the expected boy Terrill Lambeth, for a beloved brother. Their father had bequeathed to each a plantation; one in Louisiana, and the other in eastern Texas. Terrill had done well with his talents, while Templeton had failed.

The baby came and it was a girl. This disappointment was the second of Lambeth’s life, and the greater. Lambeth never reconciled himself to what he considered a scurvy trick of fate. He decided to regard the child as he would a son, and to bring her up accordingly. He never changed the name Terrill. And though he could not help loving Terrill as a daughter, he exulted in her tomboy tendencies and her apparently natural preferences for the rougher and more virile pleasures and occupations. Of these he took full advantage.”

Zane Grey was known for thorough research for his stories and appropriately portrayed characters according to each storyline’s class, gender and color. In West of the Pecos we find ourselves in Texas before and after the war between Southern and Northern states. Texas never experienced the major invasions that other Southern states did. Shortages of essentials like food, medication and paper was extensive because essentials went to the army. To support the war, new property-, poll-, income- and distilling taxes were imposed. Refugees started arriving and wounded men returned. Crime rose and sometimes these were answered with lynchings. Since most white men, like Lambeth, joined the army, women took over the running of most facets of life. Many cotton plantations were not as affected as other industries (TSLAC). However, the Lambeth women experienced hardship, and their slaves probably felt the increasing lack of ready income the most. When the war ended, Lambeth returned a widower with a fifteen year old daughter (Rill) to provide for and a plantation he no longer wants to run.

West of the Pecos is about gender differences, how Texans viewed African-Americans, crime as a consequence of the war, poverty and not giving up. It’s probably one of my favourite Zane Grey action romances. The action is excellent. As usual nature plays a vital part. The romance between Rill and Pecos ends in the usual manner. I believe in Rill’s character more than Pecos’. Both Rill and Pecos talk down to Sambo, but Pecos is probably Grey’s representative for the Southern view of African-Americans:

Pecos Smith had known negro slaves as worthy as any white man, though he had the Southerner’s contempt for most of the black trash.

Lambeth sold the plantation and tries to fulfill his dreams. “He had a vision and it could not be clouded.” All of the slaves are freed, but two of them get hired as vaquero (Sambo) and cook (Mauree) for the outfit. They have a wagon stuffed with provisions and several horses. Upon leaving eastern Texas, Lambeth insists that Rill take on the role as a boy and forget whatever she had learned about being a woman. This is a strategic move on Lambeth’s part. Not only that, but according to the laws of Texas Lambeth owned Rill so she had little say in what happened to her. He explained to Rill that given where they were going, being a boy and vaquero was safer than being a girl. That was truth.

West of the Pecos is divided into three parts. First we have the journey of the Lambeths from eastern Texas to West of the Pecos.You can follow the route Lambeth, Rill, Sambo and Mauree travel. First they go through Austin to San Antonio/Alamo (where Rill meets Pecos for the first time). After San Antonio they join a group of buffalo hunters and go northwest of Colorado River to kill buffalo. Rill, Sambo and Mauree have an exciting first buffalo experience:

…The streams of buffalo had closed in solid and were now scarcely a hundred yards from the wagons. The black and tawny beasts appeared to bob up and down in unison. Dust rolled up yellow and thick, obscuring farther view. Behind, the gap was filling up with a sea of lifting hoofs and shaggy heads. It was thrilling to Terrill, though her heart came up in her throat. The rumble had become a trampling roar. She saw that Sambo’s idea was to keep his big wagon behind Mauree’s smaller one, and try to run with the beasts, hoping they would continue to split behind it. But how long could the horses keep that gait up, even if they did not bolt and leave the wagons to be crushed? Terrill had heard of whole caravans being flattened out and trodden into the plain. Dixie’s ears were up, his eyes wild. But for Terrill’s presence right close, holding his bridle, he would have run away.

Soon Terrill became aware that the teams were no longer keeping up with the buffalo. That lumbering lope had increased to a gallop, and the space between the closing lines of buffalo had narrowed to half what it had been. Terrill saw with distended eyes those shaggy walls converging. There was no gap behind Sambo’s wagon—only a dense, gaining, hairy mass. Sambo’s eyes rolled till the whites stood out. He was yelling to his horses, but Terrill could not hear a word.

The trampling roar seemed engulfed in deafening thunder. The black bobbing sea of backs swallowed up the open ground till Terrill could have tossed her sombrero upon the shaggy humps. She saw no more flying legs and hoofs. When she realized that the increased pace, the change from a tame lope to a wild gallop, the hurtling of the blind horde, meant a stampede and that she and the two negroes were in the midst of it, she grew cold and sick with terror. They would be lost, smashed to a pulp. She shut her eyes to pray, but she could not keep them shut.

Next she discovered that Mauree’s team had bolted. The wagon kept abreast of the beasts. It swayed and jolted, almost throwing Terrill out. Dixie had to run to keep up. Sambo’s team came on grandly, tongues out, eyes like fire, still under control. Then Terrill saw the negro turn to shoot back at the charging buffalo. The red flame of the gun appeared to burst right in the faces of the maddened beasts. They thundered forward, apparently about to swarm over the wagon.

Clamped with horror, hanging on to the jolting wagon, Terrill saw the buffalo close in alongside the very wheels. A shroud of dust lifted, choking and half blinding her. Sambo blurred in her sight, though she saw the red spurt of his gun. She heard no more. Her eyes seemed stopped. She was an atom in a maelstrom. The stench of the beasts clogged her nostrils. A terrible sense of being carried along in a flood possessed her. The horses, the wagons, were keeping pace with the stampede. Dixie leaped frantically, sometimes narrowly missing the wagon. Just outside the wheels, rubbing them, swept huge, hairy, horned monsters that surely kept him running straight.

After a successful hunt, the Lambeths travelled to Maynardsville (Manard) by the San Saba River where Lambeth picks up Texas long-horns and two helpers. The crew continues via the southern edge of L’lano Estacado across the Staked Plains. They become lost and much of the cattle died of thirst. Fortunately, they stumbled upon the Flat Rock Water Holes. After that, they almost died again before they found Wild China Water Holes. Another near death experience almost happened. This time they were saved by Pecos Smith who took them to Horsehead Crossing. The entire journey took eight months, leaving the all four honed for the lives they were about to enter.

In the second part of West of the Pecos, Pecos Smith was the main character. He had

… flaxen hair and he wore it so long that it curled from under his sombrero. His face was like a bronze mask, except when he talked or smiled, and then it lightened. In profile it was sharply cut, cold as stone, singularly more handsome than the full face. His eyes assumed dominance over all other features, being a strange-flecked, pale gray, of exceeding power of penetration. His lips, in repose, were sternly chiseled, almost bitter, but as they were mostly open in gay, careless talk or flashing a smile over white teeth, this last feature was seldom noticed….He was an honest person.

Due to circumstances, Pecos ended up in the same area as Rill. We now enter the third part of West of the Pecos. After he saved fifteen year old (he thought) Rill, Pecos became Rill’s partner. Both wanted to get back at the people who had made their lives much more miserable. War messes people up. Especially on the side that “lost”. Grey has written a story that addresses the times and its prejudices and challenges. As usual, he brings nature to life with accurate descriptions. Yes. Pecos River country really was that harsh.



  • Audiobook: Narrated by Eric G. Glove; Brilliance Audio, 2017
  • Afrikaans: Wes van die Pecos; Afrikaanse Pers-Boekhandel, 1956
  • Croatian: Zapadno od Pecosa; Translated by Omer Lakomica; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1961/1985
  • Czech: Na západ od Pekosu; Translated by Josef Vorel/Jan Hora; V Praze, Novina, 1938; Illustrated by Václav Kotrch 1938
  • Finnish: Texasin tyttö; WSOY, 1944
    • Pecos-joelta länteen; Taikajousi, 1982
  • German: Männer aus Texas; Translated by Franz Eckstein; Berlin: Knaur, 1938
  • Italian: A occidente del Pecos; Translated by Rossana De Michele; Milano, Sonzogno, 1969
  • Norwegian: Vest for Pecos; Translated by Paul Evan; Romanforlaget, 1962
  • Spanish: Al Oeste Del Pecos; Traducción, Luis Conde Vélez, Círculo de Lectores, 1966



Posted by on 2018-02-18 in Books


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The Lost Wagon Train (1936)

Cover illustration by Harrison Fisher

The Lost Wagon Train came about because the Depression of the 1930’s forced Zane Grey to face that one cannot keep on spending money without having some to spend. Cosmopolitan Magazine published the serial “The Lost Wagon Train” in 4 episodes from July-October 1932. According to Joe Wheeler (foreword 2016 ed) The Lost Wagon Train is seen as a companion piece to Fighting Caravans. Not until 1936 did Harper & Brothers publish The Lost Wagon Train in book form. The story is now available to borrow on Internet Archive. Pages 12, 13 and 175, 176 were not properly scanned.

All authors have their own style of writing. Zane Grey was no exception. The Lost Wagon Train is typical of Zane Grey romances in many ways. Latch has failed at love and failed in the military. Grey has yet again used nature as a character. In addition, the story is written for the white middle-class of his day. However, it is a darker story than most of his others.

“Latch’s band of outlaws and savages hid in Spider Web Canyon awaiting the Kiowa scouts who were to fetch news of any caravans that were approaching.

It was a summer night in 1861. Spider Web Canyon lay up in the first range of mountains rising off the Great Plains. The rendezvous had been a secret hiding-place of Satana, a fierce and bloody chief of the Kiowas. He and Latch had formed a partnership – a strange relation growing out of an accidental joint attack upon a wagon train.” (p. 1)

Chief Set-t’ainte was known as Chief Satana/Satanta among the white population.

Chief Satana in The Lost Wagon Train must be based on Kiowa Chief Satanta, (Set-t’ainte/White Bear). Satanta was a Chief whose guerilla tactics challenged the US Army and slowed down the invasion of his people’s lands. It is easy to forget that the Civil War was a war within a war. In The Lost Wagon Train Satana sees Latch’s gang as a tool to ally with but also as traitors to their people.

Stephen Latch “looked to be around thirty 30 years old and was the son of a Louisiana plantation owner“. When the Confederacy failed to bestow on him a commission in the Confederate Army he duelled with the officer who

“forestalled him. With blood on his hands and with all the Rebel hatred for the North in his heart, he had set out to wage his own battle with the Northerners. From a guerilla warfare it had degenerated into border outlawry.”

To Latch the Kiowas were disposable tools. He would gladly sacrifice them in his impossible search for revenge for acts brought upon himself.

It seems obvious that the way I understand stories depends on how old I am. When I first encountered “Vogntoget som forsvant” (Norwegian translation) I must have been around 10-13 years old. Back then, I read the story as a story without any understanding of the time it was written, the time it was describing and how incredibly difficult it is to determine exactly what makes something “right and wrong/good and bad”. Determining that has become more and more difficult with time. At this point of my life, I find myself unable to do so on purely logical grounds.

Understanding the behaviour of the Kiowa warriors during the first part of The Lost Wagon Train is easy peasy. War consists of a series of gruesome actions. Agreeing to massacre the entire wagon train makes sense as a tactic in this horror. At the 1867 Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty, Satanta spoke: “… I came to say that the Kiowas and Commanches have made with you a peace. The word shall last until the whites break their contract and invite the horrors of war. …” And the whites did.

“This must be the notorious war-cry of Indians, Cynthia recognized in it the great vengeful cry of the tribe that had been deceived, wronged, robbed, murdered.” (p. 58)

In The Lost Wagon Train Satana, Hawk Eye and the Kiowa warriors are stereotypically portrayed and made so Grey’s intended readers would buy his stories. “Uggh!” certainly pops up a lot. They are supporting characters, nothing more.

Other than Stephen Latch, the only other character who comes to life is Corny/Slim Blue. Estelle is more like most of Grey’s female leads. Corny does not appear until the second part of the story. The first part of The Lost Wagon Train is mainly about the forming of Latch’s gang and their massacre of the Bowden wagon train at Tanner’s Swale on Dry Trail. The second part of the story is a sort of redemption story but also has the required romance of any Zane Grey romance story.

“Let go of that woman, Leighton”

Many people see Stephen Latch as an evil man. Would they feel the same if the story had been about the massacre of a Commanche village? Or the annihilation of a plantation in the South? I don’t see either Latch or what he did as particularly evil. Or, rather, no more evil than all the terrible things humans do in the name of a cause. He is an expert at rationalization, objectifying his targets and soothes his conscience enough to go through with what he planned. Latch is a man who wants to survive and does not want to starve while doing so. His time is a brutal one, propaganda is intense and his methods are in line with that time’s methods. So, maybe Latch is not that different from you or me. What Stephen Latch is, is a complex character. I do not particularly like him, but he is still a great character for this story. Nor did I like John Bowden, who was about to be massacred. I have met many John Bowden’s in my life. People who have power over others are definitely not exempt from stupidity. Often it seems as if the degree of their greed equals the degree of their stupidity. Bowden is completely unwilling to even consider the dangers he is putting his caravan in. All that matters is getting his stuff to Fort Union as fast as possible.

My favorite character, as usual, is nature. During the build-up to the battle, Grey uses nature to change the rhythm of the story, possibly to give the reader breathers.

“transforming the canyon from a dark, gray-fogged, stone-faced crack in the wilderness to a magnificent valley of silver and gold iridescence. The wisps of clouds lifted up as on wings of pearly fire, the white cascade tumbled out of a ragged notch in the black rim, to fall and pause and fall again, like fans of lace; …”  (p 19).

Against orders, one person survives the destruction of Bowden’s wagon train. To say that Latch gets the shock of his life, is an understatement.

“Christ. Am I mad? … Who are you?” cried Latch in a frenzy.

“Stephen! You-you! … Oh, that you should be the one to save me.”

She sank to her knees with nerveless hands.

“No! … It can’t be! Not you! That would be too – too horrible.”

“Yes, it is I, Cynthia,” she whispered.

Of course she finds out almost immediately that Latch is leader of the gang. Because he is a weak man, Latch blames his actions on her. And, because of the way women were/are supposed to be, Cynthia accepts that blame.
“In a word – Leader of Latch’s band… To this you have brought me.”

“I will welcome death at your hands. I have brought you to this degradation;”

Latch has two friends in the gang. Keetch and Lester Cornwall. Keetch loses his leg in one raid, and stays in Latch’s Field taking care of Cynthia and Latch’s business. Lester Cornwall stays at Latch’s side. Again and again Cornwall warns Latch about another gang-member, Leighton, and every stinking time Latch ignores the danger. In fact, Latch is the only one who does not see the danger Leighton poses. I know it is a necessary literary device for this story, but I just have to say that Latch drove me crazier with this gullibility. Well, actually Grey drove me crazier.

Grey writes historical romances, not historical novels. This is why people, events and places do not match the time of the story. But many of these people, events and places were real. When Latch speaks of the Maxwell Land Grant on Vermigo, he is speaking of a place that actually existed.

When the time came for the gang to dissolve, Latch did well by his people.

“We’re here first. This valley is mine. I bought it from Santana. It is wonderfully rich in grass, water, climate. Farms will prosper here. Game abounds. The hills are covered with timber …My proposition to you all, except Leighton, is this. I’ll start you all with a ranch and cattle – say five hundred head each. A fine start! Also five thousand dollars each! Bunch together with some Mexicans, and Keetch here to superintend, and throw up cabins corrals, barns. Build homes. Get yourselves wives, even if they have to be squaws. And live down the past.”

And that brings us to the second part of the story. On page 152 Grey brings us to a future time that has Corny/Slim Blue as a main character, Estelle Latch is another one, and, this time around, Stephen Latch as a supporting character to both their stories. It begins with Slim saving Estelle and that, of course, brings romance into The Lost Wagon Train. Romance fraught with complications, huge complications – the kind Zane Grey loves. Gigantic complications rooted in Stephen Latch’s past.

Again, we see Grey’s love of the landscape when he writes about Corny’s reaction to seeing Latch’s Field for the first time.

Like all the valleys in this region, Latch’s headed in a notch under the hills. Only this one was by far the most imposing and beautiful of the ones he had seen. Green squares attracted his speculative eyes, groves of cottonwoods and ridges with a line of walnut trees marched to the opposite wall, meadows like parks of golden grass shone against the sunset. (p. 181)

Because of the way meaning changes, some of Greys sentences made me smile. All stories from that era do that to me. “Making love” is not intercourse nor does “ejaculation” have anything to do with semen. “Gay” is happy etc.

Latch’s way of being able to live with what he had done, accepting but not condoning, seems like a sensible method. It reminds me of stories from Rwanda. No matter what his motives were, Latch completely changed his behaviour once the band was dissolved. Leighton is a great example of what might happen if a person get stuck in their past. Yet letting go is such a difficult thing to do. The Tutsi and Hutu certainly know all about that. Just look at the way many Germans still try to make up for something their grandparents did. I certainly struggle plenty with letting go of hurt.

The Lost Wagon Train is found on Internet Archive



  • Audio: The Lost Wagon Train; Narrated by John McLain; Brilliance Audio, 2017
  • Czech: Zmizelá karavana; Translated by Josef Vorel; Illustration by Zdeněk Burian; V Praze, Novina, 1938
    • Illustration by Josef Ulč; V Brno, Novina, 1993
  • German: Die Todeskarawane; Translated by Franz Eckstein; Berlin, Th. Knaur Nachf. 1937
    • Todes-Treck; Translated by E. Tabory; Bergisch Gladbach, Bastei-Verl, 1968
    • Der letzte Wagenzug; Translated by Alfred Dunkel; München, Wilhelm Heyne, 1973
  • Hungarian: Úri bandita és városi leány; Translated by Kosáryné Réz Lola; Budapest: Palladis, 1938
  • Italian: La carovana scomparsa; Translated by Nicoletta Coppini; Illustration by Guido Crepax; Milano, Sonzogno, 1968
  • Norwegian: Vogntoget som forsvant; Translated by Lars Berge; Oslo, Ingar Weyer Tveitan, 1961
  • Polish: Zaginiony tabor; Translated by Janina. Sujkowska; Illustrated by Lucjan Jagodziński; Warszawa: M. Arct, 1938
  • Portugese; A caravana perdida; Translated by Raul Correia; Illustration by Carlos Alberto Santos; Lisboa, Agencia Portuguesa de Revistas, 1961
  • Spanish; La caravana perdida; Translated by Luis Conde Vélez; Barcelona, Bruguera, 1950
    • Translated by Ramón Margalef Llambrich; Barcelona Molino, 1982
    • Argentina, Librostauro, 2010
  • Swedish: Vagntåget som försvann; Translated by J.E. Berg; Stockholm, Interdeal AB, 1964



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Posted by on 2017-07-28 in Books


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The Trail Driver: Zane Grey (1931)

Translator: Hansheinz Werner

Translator: Hansheinz Werner

Zane Grey’s stories were mainly written to entertain. Entertainment was achieved through action- and romance-driven stories. For a story written in the early 1900’s, there was quite a bit of cussing and violence. Readers should be aware of changes in word-usage. Commonly used words back then are considered racist today. Views expressed in The Trail Driver romanticize cowboys and discriminate against women, Native-Americans and African-Americans. In most ways The Trail Driver is representative of the propaganda of its day (Wisniewski/Nakamura).

Comment by Zane Grey in 1936, Cant, C.C. (2008)

American tribes

Portion of US map compiled by Aaron Carapella detailing Americans in the US before Europeans invaded

By the time of the cattle-drives, most of the Plains Indian tribes had been decimated in the genocide of Native American (Jawort). The Comanche were too busy trying surviving the American Army to fight cattle drives for anything but survival (Miheshua, p. 14).

The Trail Driver enters the US at a turning-point of the cattle-drives (1871). It was first published as a serial in McCall’s Magazine, Oct. 1931—Feb. 1932 and later published as hard-cover by Harper & Bros in 1935. Friesen points out that Zane Grey got the crossing of the Chisholm Trail at Doan’s Store wrong. Other than that, Grey seems to have his facts straight. (VC Friesen, ch. 27).

Adam Brite is a Euro-American, middle-aged, single and childless man. He has just made a profit off a run on the Chisholm-trail and seeks to further that profit by a second run. This time he is overly optimistic in buying 4500 head of long-horns (ornery buggers) plus about 200 mustangs for his remuda.

“A 12-man crew could manage a herd of 2,000 to 3,000 head. The trail boss was the ultimate authority on the trail, like the captain of a ship, and was paid $100 to $125 a month. Of the rest of the crew, the cook was the most important, earning about $60 per month.” (Texas Almanac)

Adam’s role in the story is that of father-figure. He joins in the work and tries to not play favorites. In many ways Brite’s role is to point out to the reader what might be going on inside people’s heads: “that the Uvalde cowboy had been shot through the heart by something vastly different from a bullet.” Sometimes he pranks Joe or Reddie if the mood hits him. I guess Adam is a greedy, kind-hearted racist man who was somewhat aware of his own racism.

The foreman Adam got himself has an excellent reputation. Like any good owner, he lets Texas Joe Shipman handle the crew as Joe sees fit. Joe is “tall amber-eyed, tawny-haired young giant might well play havoc with the heart of any fancy-free girl“. Fortunately, he is much more than that. He has to keep the feisty crew in check. Like he says: “I reckon I gotta make myself disliked,” The person he struggles most with (in true Zane Grey romance style) is Reddie Blayne. Joe organizes defense and offense against cattle-rustlers (Russ Hite and gang) and deals with Commanches. His worst problems are the combination of weather and long-horn cattle. .

Joe brings his friend Less Holden along “No better ever forked a hawse. But Less is the wildest hombre.” We don’t see much of Less during the story. His character is one on the outskirts of the crew and its adventure. Less calls himself a “walking calendar” due to his ability to figure out what day it is. The explanation is quite mundane, but I do not want to be a spoil-sport.

Library of Congress

Photo by William Henry Jackson, 1843-1942

Alabama Moze is the cook. “It took no second glance for the boss to be assured that this cook was a treasure“. He brought his own stocked chuck-wagon. In addition to being the place where food is made, the cowhands sleep under it if it rains. Alabama’s job is tough. In addition to getting up hours before the drivers and wranglers, Alabama has to haul wood whenever it was available or use dried cow/buffalo-turds for his fire. At times the chuck-wagon has to be hauled across rivers that sometimes went wild. Alabama is African-American. Grey shows us how African-Americans were usually (Massey, SA) treated on cattle-runs, “... On the trail it was not usual for any rider to share the tasks of a negro. Manifestly Pan Handle Smith was a law unto himself…”. Being the cook, Alabama was probably treated better than regular African-American cow-hands. He is the only one of the crew whose fate we do not learn.

Pan Handle Smith is a gun-fighter and “might have rode up this Trail with Jesse Chisholm an been doin’ it ever since.” Giff MacShane told me that Pan is Pecos Smith in West of the Pecos. When Adam hires him, Smith is looking to get out of San Antonio. Gun-fighters weren’t bad guys/gals per se. “Pan Handle Smith had been outlawed, but he had really been more sinned against than sinning.” During the story, Smith calms tempers in both cattle and feisty teen-agers and supports Shipman as foreman.

The Uvalde quintet are “de finest an’ fightenest boys I ever seen,“. Their leader is Deuce Ackerman who “appeared to be the most forceful personality“, a quality needed to handle his friends. We see more of him than the other four. San Sabe comes a close second. San Sabe “had Indian or Mexican blood, and his lean shape wore the stamp of vaquero.” He has a lovely voice and it works wonders “That was the magic by which the trail drivers soothed the restless long-horns.” Rolly Little is “small and round. He had yellow hair, a freckled face, and flashing brown eyes, as sharp as daggers.” Ben Chandler is a “typical Texas youth, long, rangy, loose-jointed, of sandy complexion and hair, and eyes of clear, light blue“. His drinking problem gets him into serious trouble with Deuce, Joe and Adam. Roy Hallett is the last of the five. He is “a quiet, somber, negative youth“.

In addition, Adam is joined by Hal Bender, “the tenderfoot from Pennsylvania, appeared to be a hulking youth, good natured and friendly, though rather shy“, and Whittaker (no first name) was “a red-faced, sleepy-eyed, young rider of twenty-two, notable for his superb physique“. Finally, at Pecan Swale, their first stop, their last addition in the form of Reddie Bayne arrives: “Before the rider stopped Brite answered to a presagement not at all rare in him—that there were meetings and meetings along the trail. This one was an event.” Brite is correct in his presentiment. No Reddie, no The Trail Driver.

Artist: Edward Rapier, July 27, 1878

Artist: Edward Rapier, July 27, 1878

Shortly after the arrival of Reddie, Grey reveals that Bayne is a girl. While not common, women on the trail were a known phenomenon. They chose this tough life for many reasons. “An’ I got the idee pretendin’ to be a boy would make it easier. Thet helped a lot. But I’d always get found oot.” Turns out the last boss who found her out wants her back. Wallen, a rancher from Braseda, is a nasty guy. He rides into the camp at Pecan Swale demanding Reddie: “… I want this rider, Reddie Bayne. He come to me in a deal I made with Jones at Braseda.” At this point the crew learns that Reddie is a girl. Adam has known it for some time.

Wallen is joined by Ross Hite. Ross is a cattle- and mustang-rustler. “Humph! Mebbe Hite is at the haid of this new game,” declared the boss, seriously. “Cattle-drivers sometimes lose half their stock from stampeders. I’ve heahed of one whole herd bein’ stole.” To add to the tension of the story, Grey throws in Comanche raiders.

The Indian mustangs were haltered to the saplings at the edge of the glade. What a ragged, wild-eyed bunch! They had nothing but halters. These they strained against at every rifle-shot. And more than a few of them faced the covert where the drivers lay in ambush. They had caught a scent of the whites. Heads were pointed, ears high, nostrils quivering.

Even the weather conspires to make life miserable for the drivers. In real life, the weather and ornery nature of the long-horns were enough of a challenge on most drives.

The night fell dark, with rumble of thunder and sheet lightning in the distance. The tired cattle bedded down early and held well all night. Morning came lowering and threatening, with a chill wind that swept over the herd from the north. Soon the light failed until day was almost as dark as night. A terrific hailstorm burst upon the luckless herd and drivers. The hailstones grew larger as the storm swept on, until the pellets of gray ice were as large as walnuts. The drivers from suffering a severe pounding passed to extreme risk of their lives. They had been forced to protect heads and faces with whatever was available. Reddie Bayne was knocked off her horse and carried senseless to the wagon; San Sabe swayed in his saddle like a drunken man; Texas Joe tied his coat round his sombrero and yelled when the big hailstones bounced off his head; bloody and bruised, the other drivers resembled men who had engaged in fierce fistic encounters.

I still enjoy Zane Grey’s stories, but keep on wondering how I would read them if I was Native American or African American. Whenever gender bias comes up, I’m jarred out of the flow. That is most likely a good thing and might well have to do with my sense of fairness evolving. Reading stories that were written almost 100 years ago, is always a strange experience. Noting that many stories today are still as problematic is kind of depressing.

During its heyday, between 1867 and 1884, some five million cattle and an equal number of mustangs were moved along the trail. 

The Trail Driver is available for free at Faded Page and Roy Glashan’s Library



  • Croatian: Gonič stada; Translator: Omer Lakomica; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1966
  • Czech: Jezdci z pastvin; Translator:  Jaroslava  Vojtěchová; Praha: Olympia (to 1992), 1965
  • Finnish: Aavikon ratsastaja; Translator: Werner Anttila; Porvoo, Helsinki, W. Söderström, 1939
  • German: In der Prärie; Translator: Dr. Franz Eckstein, Berlin, Th. Knaur Nachf, 193
    • Sie kämpften sich durch; Translator: Hansheinz Werner; München: F. Schneider, 1969
    • In der Prärie; Translator: Hansheinz Werner; München: Heyne, 1981
  • Hungarian: A vöröshajú leány; Translator: Ruzitska Mária; Budapest, Palladis, 1937
  • Italian: La lunga pista; Translator: Simonetta Damiani; Milano, Sonzogno, 1968 (Cover artist: Guido Crepax)
  • Norwegian: Texas Joe; Translator: Claes Henrik Jaeger; Oslo, Ingar Weyar Tveitan, 1958
    • Chisholm-ruten; Translator: Claes Henrik Jaeger; Oslo, Fredhøi, 1982
  • Portugese: O guia da montanha; Translator: Fernanda Pinto Rodrigues; Lisboa: Ag. Port. de Revistas, 1959
  • Spanish: El conductor de manadas; Translator: Lino Novás Calvo / José Luis Fernández; Barcelona, Juventud, 1937




Posted by on 2016-06-08 in Books


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Film adaptations of “The Border Legion”: 1918, 1924, 1930, 1934

The Border Legion: my book review

1918: The Border Legion (Silent movie in black and white)

Produced by Goldwyn Pictures Productions

Directed by T. Hayes Hunter

  • Assistant director Claude Camp

Adapted by Victor de Viliers and Lawrence Marston

Cast (in credits order)

Blanche Bates Blanche Bates …Joan Randall; Hobart Bosworth Hobart Bosworth …Jack Kells; Eugene Strong …Jim Cleve; Kewpie Morgan Kewpie Morgan …Gorilla Gulden; Russell Simpson Russell Simpson …Overland Bradley; Arthur Morrison Arthur Morrison …Sheriff Roberts; Bull Montana Bull Montana …Red Pierce; Richard Souzade …Bate Wood; Kate Elmore …Mrs. Wood

Cinematography by Abe Scholtz

Film Editing by Alex Troffey


1924: The Border Legion (Silent movie in black-and-white)

Produced by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation

Directed by William K. Howard

Adapted for screen by George C. Hull

Cast (in credits order)

Antonio Moreno Antonio Moreno …Jim Cleve; Helene Chadwick Helene Chadwick …Joan Randle; Rockliffe Fellowes Rockliffe Fellowes …Kells; Gibson Gowland Gibson Gowland …Gulden; Charles Ogle Charles Ogle …Harvey Roberts; Jim Corey Jim/James Corey …Pearce; Eddie Gribbon Eddie/Edward Gribbon …Blicky; Luke Cosgrave Luke Cosgrave …Bill Randle

Cinematography by Alvin Wyckoff

Presented by Jesse L. Lasky and Adolph Zukor

  • French: Les loups de la frontière
  • Portugese: Os Dramas do Oeste


1930: Border Legion (Mono sound in black-and-white format)

Produced by Paramount Publix Corporation
Directed by Otto Brower and Edwin H. Knopf
Adapted for film by Percy Heath and Edward E. Paramore Jr.
Cast (in credits order)

Jack HoltJack Holt…Jack Kells; Fay WrayFay Wray…Joan Randall; Richard ArlenRichard Arlen…Jim Cleve; Eugene PalletteEugene Pallette…Bunco Davis;Stanley FieldsStanley Fields…Hack Gulden; E.H. CalvertE.H. Calvert…Judge Savin; Ethan Allen…George Randall; Syd SaylorSyd Saylor…Shrimp; Hank BellHank Bell…Kells Gang Member; Jim CoreyJim Corey…Kells Gang Member; Pat HarmonPat Harmon.

Music by Oscar Potoker
Cinematography by Mack Stengler
Film Editing by Doris Drought
Casting By Fred A. Datig
Sound by Earl S. Hayman
Camera by Eddie New
Casting assistant Dick Stockton
Subtitles/dubbed to:

  • Austrian: Goldgräber in Not
  • Brazilian Portugese: A Legião dos Celerados
  • Greek: Legeon ton synoron

1934: The Last Round-Up (Mono sound in black-and-white format)

Produced by Paramount Pictures

  • Producer Harold Hurley

Directed by Henry Hathaway

  • Assistant director Neil Wheeler

Adapted for film by Jack Cunningham


Randolph ScottRandolph Scott…Jim Cleve; Barbara FritchieBarbara (Adams) Fritchie…Joan Randall; Monte BlueMonte Blue…Jack Kells; Fred KohlerFred Kohler…Sam Gulden; Fuzzy KnightFuzzy Knight…Charles Bunko McGee; Richard CarleRichard Carle…Judge Savin; Barton MacLaneBarton MacLane…Charley Benson; Charles MiddletonCharles B. Middleton…Sheriff; Frank RiceFrank Rice…Shrimp; Dick Rush…Rush; Buck ConnorsBuck Connors…Old Man Tracy; Robert (Bob) Miles…Scarface; Sam AllenSam Allen…First Miner; Ben CorbettBen Corbett…Second Miner; Jack (Merrill) Holmes…Bartender; Jim CoreyJim Corey…First Outlaw; Jim MasonJim (James) Mason…Second Outlaw; Charles BrinleyCharles Brinley…Rancher; Charles Murphy…Rancher; Bud OsborneBud Osborne…(uncredited)

Music by Herman Hand

Cinematography by Archie Stout

Sub-titles/dubbed to:

  • Austrian: Todeslegion
  • Brazilian Portugese: O Último Assalto
  • Danish: De Lovløses Brigade
  • Spanish: El último rodeo


  • Mordaunt Hall (New York Times): “… Jim Cleve, a handsome fellow who does not seem to be long on brains …”
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Posted by on 2015-05-25 in Movies


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Film adaptations of Desert Gold: 1919/1926

My book review

1919: Desert Gold: Information from IMDB

Produced by Zane Grey Productions

Directed by T. Hayes Hunter

Adapted by Fred Myton


E.K. Lincoln E.K. Lincoln …Dick Gale; W.H. Bainbridge William H. Bainbridge …Jim Belding; Frank Brownlee Frank Brownlee …Jonas Warren; Lawson Butt Lawson W. Butt …The Yaqui; Jeanne CarpenterJeanne Carpenter; Edward Coxen Edward Coxen …Captain George Thorne; Beulah Dark Cloud …Papago Indian Mother; Mary Jane IrvingMary Jane Irving …The Child; Frank Lanning Frank Lanning …Papago Indian Son; Walter Long Walter Long …Rojas; Arthur MorrisonArthur Morrison …Lash; Eileen Percy Eileen Percy …Nell; Russell Simpson Russell Simpson …Ladd; Margery Wilson Margery Wilson …Mercedes Castenada; Laura Winston …Mrs. Belding

Cinematography by Abraham “Abe” Scholtz and Arthur L. Todd

Translated sub-titles into:

  • Danish: The Wild West
  • French: Le secret de l’or

1926: Desert Gold: Silent movie (Information from IMDB)

Produced by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation

  • Producers Jesse L. Lasky and Adolph Zuker

Directed by George B. Seitz

Adapted by Lucien Hubbard


Neil Hamilton Neil Hamilton …George Thorne; Shirley Mason Shirley Mason …Mercedes Castanada; Robert Frazer Robert Frazer …Dick Gale; William Powell William Powell …Snake Landree; Josef Swickard Josef Swickard …Sebastian Castaneda; George Irving George Irving …Richard Stanton Gale; Eddie Gribbon Eddie Gribbon …One-Found Kelley; Frank Lackteen Frank Lackteen …Yaqui; Richard Howard …Sergeant; Bernard Siegel Bernard Siegel …Goat Herder; Aline Goodwin …Alarcon’s Wife; Ralph Yearsley …Halfwit; George Regas George Regas …Verd

Cinematography by Charles Edgar Schoenbaum

Supervised by B.P. Schulberg and Hector Turnbull

Translated sub-titles into

  • Austrian: Der Schrecken der Steinwüste
  • Brazil portugese: A Protegida
  • Danish: Ørkenguld
  • French: La roche qui tue
  • Polish: Pustynne zloto
  • Swedish: Guld, kvinnor och äventyr


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Posted by on 2015-03-01 in Movies


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The Heritage of the Desert (1910)

Credit: Galactic Central

Credit: Galactic Central

The Popular Magazine starting 15th June 1910 (5 episode serial)
Harper & Brothers, New York 1910
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine starting May 1947
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Dec 1949, Jan 1957, and Jan 1961 (Galactic Central)

The Heritage of the Desert is set to cirka 1878 in Arizona: Lee’s Ferry and Painted Desert (ZGWS).

The Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park;  Credit: Lsaldivar, 20th July 2011

The Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park;
Credit: Lsaldivar, 20th July 2011

John Hare is discovered dying in the desert by Mormons. Because of his settings, Zane Grey often writes about Mormons. Some of his novels are scathing in their critique of their practice of polygamy. But in general he treated them as he treated any other character in his novels. Some were creeps and others were obviously admired by him.

At the very beginning of The Heritage of the Desert we meet a group of men who happen to be Mormons. These guys were worried about helping John Hare who was obviously out to get the outlaw Dene.

“Leave him here,” said one, addressing a gray-bearded giant. “He’s the fellow sent into southern Utah to spy out the cattle thieves. He’s all but dead. Dene’s outlaws are after him. Don’t cross Dene.”

I imagine most of us can relate to not wanting to mess with the baddies. Some of the group decide to leave while August Nabb and his boys decide to save Hare from death by desert.

August Nabb’s party consisted of himself, his sons and his adopted daughter Mescal, wife and other comely women.

Sunset in White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument;  Credit: PDTillman, 15th October 2012

Sunset in White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument;
Credit: PDTillman, 15th October 2012

John Hare had come West for his health. He had been thought a spy. These accusations made it necessary for him to run. Hare had gotten lost and one simply does not get lost in the desert. We quickly see that the outlaws have not given up on finding him.

What Hare discovers is that the regular settlers are harried by two main parties. One of those is the Dene outlaw gang. For the most part these guys steal cattle from the ranchers in the area. Holderness steals something that the people there hold much dearer: Land.

“August, some of our young men need no one to corrupt them. Dene had no great task to win them. He rode in here with a few outlaws and now he has a strong band. We’ve got to face it. We haven’t any law, but he can be killed. Some one must kill him. Yet bad as Dene is, he doesn’t threaten our living as Holderness does. Dene steals a few cattle, kills a man here and there. Holderness reaches out and takes our springs. Because we’ve no law to stop him, he steals the blood of our life—water—water—God’s gift to the desert! Some one must kill Holderness, too!”

Not only does John Hare learn of the troubles the Mormon settlers encounter, he also learns about their faith and discovers that he is in love with Mescal. Loving Mescal is a problem because August Naab would like her to marry one of his own sons.

Painted Desert, Utah;  Credit: Eddie Lluisma

Painted Desert, Utah;
Credit: Eddie Lluisma

As with a couple of his earlier biographical works, we see Zane Grey favoring the romance genre in his writing. I find it fascinating that a man like Grey would be attracted to the romance industry. However, I have come to realize that men often wrote romance back in the day. Most of the authors on the market had male names. I don’t know what the tendency is today.

Back to The Heritage of the Desert. John Hare is very much aware of how much he owes August Nabb.

“They said I fell among thieves,” mused Hare, when he was once more alone. “I’ve fallen among saints as well.” He felt that he could never repay this August Naab. “If only I might live!” he ejaculated. How restful was this cottage garden! The green sward was a balm to his eyes. Flowers new to him, though of familiar springtime hue, lifted fresh faces everywhere; fruit-trees, with branches intermingling, blended the white and pink of blossoms. There was the soft laughter of children in the garden. Strange birds darted among the trees. Their notes were new, but their song was the old delicious monotone—the joy of living and love of spring. A green-bowered irrigation ditch led by the porch and unseen water flowed gently, with gurgle and tinkle, with music in its hurry. Innumerable bees murmured amid the blossoms.

How on earth is he supposed to resolve his obligations to Nabb, his feelings for Mescal and being wanted by Dene and possibly Holderness?

Zane Grey often anonymized real life characters. Given the timeline of the story Cap Brown is a likely candidate for the role of Dene and his gang. (Nichols) It is probable that Holderness was based on the story of the land hungry character of the cattle baron I.W. Lacy.

The expansion of Utah’s cattle industry during the 1870s and 1880s was built upon four cornerstones that included small operations throughout the state, the cattle barons–ranchers like Preston Nutter, B. F. Saunders, James W. Taylor, the Whitmores, and the McIntyres whose animals numbered in the thousands, Mormon cooperative enterprises some associated with United Orders and others such as the Bluff Pool in southeastern Utah which grew in response to outside threats by the Lacy Cattle Company to take over rangeland and control access to water and other resources, and corporate cattle companies who tapped resources in Great Britain, Pittsburgh and other eastern cities, and even Utah investors to found such companies as the Carlisle Cattle Company, the Pittsburgh Land and Livestock Company, the Webster City Cattle Company and the Ireland Cattle Company among others. (UHG)

"Herd Quitters";  By Charles Marion Russell, 1902

“Herd Quitters”;
By Charles Marion Russell, 1902

Another main character of Zane Grey’s novels becomes extremely visible in The Heritage of the Desert. This character appears in every single one of his Western Romances. In The Heritage of the Desert the name of that character is Painted Desert in Utah. On his earlier journey with Buffalo Jones, Zane Grey seemed to fall in love with the landscapes of Utah, Nevada and New Mexico. Having lived in Utah for a few years I see his point.  Grey’s writing captures the beauty of nature in a manner that even my brain manages to envision.

For Mescal was there. Far away she must be, a mere grain of sand in all that world of drifting sands, perhaps ill, perhaps hurt, but alive, waiting for him, calling for him, crying out with a voice that no distance could silence. He did not see the sharp peaks as pitiless barriers, nor the mesas and domes as black-faced death, nor the moisture-drinking sands as life-sucking foes to plant and beast and man. That painted wonderland had sheltered Mescal for a year. He had loved it for its color, its change, its secrecy; he loved it now because it had not been a grave for Mescal, but a home. Therefore he laughed at the deceiving yellow distances in the foreground of glistening mesas, at the deceiving purple distances of the far-off horizon. The wind blew a song in his ears; the dry desert odors were fragrance in his nostrils; the sand tasted sweet between his teeth, and the quivering heat-waves, veiling the desert in transparent haze, framed beautiful pictures for his eyes.

Wolf kept to the fore for some thirty paces, and though he had ceased to stop, he still looked back to see if the horse and man were following. Hare had noted the dog occasionally in the first hours of travel, but he had given his eyes mostly to the broken line of sky and desert in the west, to the receding contour of Echo Cliffs, to the spread and break of the desert near at hand. Here and there life showed itself in a gaunt coyote sneaking into the cactus, or a horned toad huddling down in the dust, or a jewel-eyed lizard sunning himself upon a stone. It was only when his excited fancy had cooled that Hare came to look closely at Wolf. But for the dog’s color he could not have been distinguished from a real wolf. His head and ears and tail drooped, and he was lame in his right front paw.

Hare halted in the shade of a stone, dismounted and called the dog to him. Wolf returned without quickness, without eagerness, without any of the old-time friendliness of shepherding days. His eyes were sad and strange. Hare felt a sudden foreboding, but rejected it with passionate force. Yet a chill remained. Lifting Wolf’s paw he discovered that the ball of the foot was worn through; whereupon he called into service a piece of buckskin, and fashioning a rude moccasin he tied it round the foot. Wolf licked his hand, but there was no change in the sad light of his eyes. He turned toward the west as if anxious to be off.

“All right, old fellow,” said Hare, “only go slow. From the look of that foot I think you’ve turned back on a long trail.”

Again they faced the west, dog leading, man following, and addressed themselves to a gradual ascent. When it had been surmounted Hare realized that his ride so far had brought him only through an anteroom; the real portal now stood open to the Painted Desert. The immensity of the thing seemed to reach up to him with a thousand lines, ridges, canyons, all ascending out of a purple gulf. The arms of the desert enveloped him, a chill beneath their warmth. (Chapter XIV. Wolf)


The Heritage of the Desert available on Gutenberg, LibriVoxas MP3











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Posted by on 2014-07-08 in Books


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The Young Forester (1910)

Forest Ranger on forest fire patrol duty;   Cabinet National Forest, Montana, 1909;  Credit:

Forest Ranger on forest fire patrol duty;
Cabinet National Forest, Montana, 1909;

Harper & Brothers, NY 1910

Zane Grey wrote the Ken Ward Books for Boys as adventure stories for a younger audience. In each of them Kenneth Ward sets off into the unknown and through him Zane Grey gets to present both places and issues that were important to him in a manner that appealed to a younger audience.

In The Young Forester Zane Grey discusses what it meant to be a U.S. Forest Service Ranger through his character Ken Ward. Ward has a dream and that dream is to become a Forest Ranger. He just needs to convince his father to let him go to Arizona so he can check the ranger life out in the company of his friend, Dick Leslie. Dick Leslie has already proven himself as a Forest Service Ranger by having the necessary qualities and having passed the required test.

Ken’s father feels Ken has romanticized the life of a ranger too much, but after Ken has taken him through his own woods he realizes that his son has studied the subject and tried to prepare for what lies ahead. So Ken gets his go ahead on the condition that Ken comes back and continues his studies in the autumn.

On his way West, Ken meets a man called Bluell who lives in Holston (Ken’s embarkation station). Ken manages to settle for the night in a hotel and right away sees that people are a lot tougher than he is. Someone as fresh from the East as Ken is in for a lot of trickery but not all are out to get him.

His very first advice is to keep his mouth shut about going into the Ranger business. Secondly, he shouldn’t talk so much about being from the East. And finally he gets advice on how to handle his riding and pack horse. In all these things Bluell seems to steer him true.


The Tiger Creek Mill; Credit: Sierra Nevada Logging Museum

Certain things come to light that Ken finds odd. Coming across the trail that he had lost the day before Ken sees the same Mexican man who had been following him around the evening before. Then Ken arrives at a mining operation in the hills that is run by Bluell. This operation is cutting an awful lot of trees and Ken wonders at how legal this operation is. Dick Leslie seems to have changed quite a bit. All of these things together and Ken is getting a bit worried.

According to one old (real life) ranger:

The only serious opposition I recall was from contractors undertaking to supply timber needed by the larger mining companies for fuel and mine timbers. They had been accustomed to cut large quantities where they pleased, without payment. When the forest reserves were created, the contractors didn’t even attempt to get permits or purchase the timber from the Government, but would help themselves. That kept my father and the rest of us busy. (Richard H. Hanna)

It just so happens that Bluell represents one such contractor and that they aren’t all that concerned about permits or payments. Illegal logging isn’t something people only did back in the old days when they supposedly did not know better. We are really good at it today as well.

Ward overhears Bluell revealing his thoughts about Ken. It isn’t pretty.

Fire fighters going to the front;   Lassen National Forest, California, 1927 (FHS5536);  Credit: U.S. Forest Service History

Fire fighters going to the front;
Lassen National Forest, California, 1927 (FHS5536);
Credit: U.S. Forest Service History

“His name’s Ward. Tall, well-set lad. I put Greaser after him the other night, hopin’ to scare him back East. But nix!”

“Well, he’s here now—to study forestry! Ha! ha!” said the other.

“You’re sure the boy you mean is the one I mean?”

“Greaser told me so. And this boy is Leslie’s friend.”

“That’s the worst of it,” replied Buell, impatiently. “I’ve got Leslie fixed as far as this lumber deal is concerned, but he won’t stand for any more. He was harder to fix than the other rangers, an’ I’m afraid of him.” he’s grouchy now.

“You shouldn’t have let the boy get here.”

“Stockton, I tried to prevent it. I put Greaser with Bud an’ Bill on his trail. They didn’t find him, an’ now here he turns up.”

“Maybe he can be fixed.”

“Not if I know my business, he can’t; take that from me. This kid is straight. He’ll queer my deal in a minute if he gets wise. Mind you, I’m gettin’ leary of Washington. We’ve seen about the last of these lumber deals. If I can pull this one off I’ll quit; all I want is a little more time. Then I’ll fire the slash, an’ that’ll cover tracks.”

“Buell, I wouldn’t want to be near Penetier when you light that fire. This forest will burn like tinder.”

“It’s a whole lot I care then. Let her burn. Let the Government put out the fire. Now, what’s to be done about this boy?”

Understandably, Ken worries where this is going to end. And so he should.


The Young Forester (Ken Ward book for boys) available on Gutenberg







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Posted by on 2014-07-07 in Books


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Desert Gold (unabridged: Shower of Gold) (1913)

Desert Gold - Zane Greys Western Magazine

The Popular Magazine Mar 1, Mar 15, Apr 1, Apr 15, May 1 1913
Harper & Brothers, New York, 1913
Field and Stream Jan, Feb, Apr, Jul 1915, Feb, Apr 1916
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine Jun 1948
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Jan 1950, Dec 1956

Tecolote Camp Pinacate Cholla;  Credit: Jack Dykinga

Tecolote Camp Pinacate Cholla;
Credit: Jack Dykinga

I have created a post of the prologue of Desert Gold. Victor Carl Friesen has commented on it being a short-story all by itself, and I thought I would follow up on that idea (ZGsWW)

Desert Gold was set to about 1911 in Altar Valley in Arizona and the Pinacate Range in Sonora (ZGWS).

Adventure is a vague term, a term often used as something people long for. “My life is so boring, why can’t something exciting happen?” As a child I often found myself romanticizing the lives of the main characters of Zane Grey’s novels. “I want that” is one thought that would go through my head (in Norwegian: “Jeg skulle ønske det kunne skje med meg”). Then adventure of a different sort came into my life and I discovered it was not how I thought it would be. Reading Zane Grey’s texts now makes me appreciate the life I have even more. The “good old days” simply were not especially “good”.


Nogales Arizona 1910-1920
Real-life Casita
Border marker between the US and Mexico

Richard Gale is at the point I was before my own adventures. He wanted away from the demands of his life. So, he did what a lot of people of the same mind in the US at that time did. He went West, to New Mexico. Around 1911 New Mexico was definitely an adventurous place with plenty of danger and excitement. Richard Gale embraces that adventure and finds himself both loving and hating it.

It was reflection such as this, only more serious and perhaps somewhat desperate, that had brought Gale down to the border. For some time the newspapers had been printing news of Mexican revolution, guerrilla warfare, United States cavalry patrolling the international line, American cowboys fighting with the rebels, and wild stories of bold raiders and bandits. But as opportunity, and adventure, too, had apparently given him a wide berth in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, he had struck southwest for the Arizona border, where he hoped to see some stirring life. He did not care very much what happened. Months of futile wandering in the hope of finding a place where he fitted had inclined Richard to his father’s opinion.

Richard Gale’s father is the Governor. His father is like many of Zane Grey’s fathers. Mr. Gale expects Richard (Dick) to fail and come crawling back home to daddy.

In Casita Dick meets an old friend. George Thorne is with the Ninth Cavalry of the army. Their assignment is to patrol the border and to the best of their ability uphold the peace. Richard’s arrival is at a time when Mexico seems just about to erupt in revolution. George is glad his commission expires in three months. At the time Dick met George, George was trying to get his sweetheart back from the rebel leader Rojas. Richard helps Thorne rescue Mercedes Castanrdes.

Desert Gold - Pancho VillaIn Desert Gold Rojas is called the Robin Hood of the poor. Pancho Villa held that role in real life. Like Rojas Villa was a strict leader. Many of the deeds performed by Villa are the same as the ones performed by Rojas in Desert Gold. Loved by some hunted by others.

Thorne sends Richard and Mercedes into the desert. He is afraid of what Rojas and his people will do. George has to return to his division and help them out against any potential explosion from the Mexican side.

In the desert Dick and Mercedes meets a couple of Anglo cowboys and go with them to the ranch of the Beldings by Forlorn River. Among the Beldings is one Nell. Nell is a lovely young girl with whom all young men seem to fall in love. She and Richard are about to become the main couple of the story with George and Mercedes as their side-kicks.

Desert Gold - Uprising_of_Yaqui_Indians_Remington_1896 Cowboys, cavalry , bandits, Native Americans and rangers all depend upon their horses. Horses have a large role in Desert Gold. Both greed and friendship play a part in the relationships we see between people and the horses we meet. And it really is no wonder that the relationship between human and horse was close. In their work both Thorne and Gale could be out on the range for days and weeks at a time. Some of the areas they ventured into were inhospitable for life of such size. Depending on the love of your horse could end up being a matter of life or death.

This lonely horseman bestrode a steed of magnificent build, perfectly white except for a dark bar of color running down the noble head from ears to nose. Sweatcaked dust stained the long flanks. The horse had been running. His mane and tail were laced and knotted to keep their length out of reach of grasping cactus and brush. Clumsy home-made leather shields covered the front of his forelegs and ran up well to his wide breast. What otherwise would have been muscular symmetry of limb was marred by many a scar and many a lump. He was lean, gaunt, worn, a huge machine of muscle and bone, beautiful only in head and mane, a weight-carrier, a horse strong and fierce like the desert that had bred him.

The rider fitted the horse as he fitted the saddle. He was a young man of exceedingly powerful physique, wide-shouldered, long-armed, big-legged. His lean face, where it was not red, blistered and peeling, was the hue of bronze. He had a dark eye, a falcon gaze, roving and keen. His jaw was prominent and set, mastiff-like; his lips were stern. It was youth with its softness not yet quite burned and hardened away that kept the whole cast of his face from being ruthless.

Zane Grey’s other favorite character of his novels is one here as well. Arizona, New Mexico and Utah’s natures feature heavily in his story, and according to some critics this where Grey shows his mettle as an author. Others find him too wordy. All of his words strung together makes the landscape come alive for me. There is no doubt in my mind that Grey’s greatest love affair was with the landscapes of his stories. No doubt at all.


Desert Gold on Gutenberg

Shower of Gold, Kindle










Magazines: The Beaver Herald 1923




Posted by on 2014-07-04 in Books


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The Lone Star Ranger/Rangers of the Lone Star (unabridged: The Last of the Duanes) (1914)

Texas Ranger Jack Coffee Hays

Texas Ranger John Coffee Hays
Credit: Hays County History

The Lone Star Rangers was published in All-Story Cavalier Weekly, 5 part serial beginning with v31 #2, May 9, 1914. Harper & Brothers were not completely happy with the story as it stood. When they saw Zane Grey’s new story The Last of the Duanes they cut it with nearly 90,000 words due to what they saw as too much violence. In its strongly edited form The Last of the Duanes was published in The Argosy, September of 1914.

What Harper & Brothers, New York then did was to combine these two stories into the story that most people have come to know as The Lone Star Ranger in 1915. In 1917 the story The Lone Star Ranger was also released on GRIT in October.

Credit: Galactic Central

Credit: Galactic Central

For this reason, readers of The Lone Star Ranger will find that inexplicable changes happen to the story and it flows rather poorly at times. Despite this it was a best-seller back in the day and because of this I recommend that you get Last of the Duanes.

In 1996 Rangers of the Lone Star/Last of the Duanes was published in unabridged form. When the somewhat autobiographical work of Last of the Duanes was published in its entirety and Buck and Jennie were resurrected into the unsympathic characters that the original publishers had felt them to be. (ZGWS) Lone Star Ranger/Last of the Duanes is set to the 1870s in Texas by the Neuces River headwaters and Mount Ord in western Texas (ZGWS). In the introduction to the story Zane Grey writes:

“It may seem strange to you that out of all the stories I heard on the Rio Grande I should choose as first that of Buck Duane—outlaw and gunman.

But, indeed, Ranger Coffee’s story of the last of the Duanes has haunted me, and I have given full rein to imagination and have retold it in my own way. It deals with the old law—the old border days—therefore it is better first. Soon, perchance, I shall have the pleasure of writing of the border of to-day, which in Joe Sitter’s laconic speech, “Shore is ‘most as bad an’ wild as ever!”

In the North and East there is a popular idea that the frontier of the West is a thing long past, and remembered now only in stories. As I think of this I remember Ranger Sitter when he made that remark, while he grimly stroked an unhealed bullet wound. And I remember the giant Vaughn, that typical son of stalwart Texas, sitting there quietly with bandaged head, his thoughtful eye boding ill to the outlaw who had ambushed him. Only a few months have passed since then—when I had my memorable sojourn with you—and yet, in that short time, Russell and Moore have crossed the Divide, like Rangers.

Gentlemen,—I have the honor to dedicate this book to you, and the hope that it shall fall to my lot to tell the world the truth about a strange, unique, and misunderstood body of men—the Texas Rangers—who made the great Lone Star State habitable, who never know peaceful rest and sleep, who are passing, who surely will not be forgotten and will some day come into their own.”

The Wapanucka Press (Wapanucka, Okla.);  Vol. 17, No. 29, Ed. 1 Thursday, November 2, 1916

The Wapanucka Press (Wapanucka, Okla.);
Vol. 17, No. 29, Ed. 1 Thursday, November 2, 1916

As the story begins, we meet Buck Duane the last of the fighting stock of the Duanes of Texas. Cal Bain has come to town with blood in his mind and Buck’s uncle fears that if the two meet gun-fighting with occur. His uncle worries that a meeting between the two will end up with Buck being hanged. But like most young people, experience is often the only way to learn. Buck does not listen to his uncle. Suddenly Buck finds himself an outlaw and in the company of another one by the name of Stevens.

The line between outlaw and lawman was often blurred in the days of the Wild, Wild West. Some of the lawmen had been outlaws and some of them weren’t really firm in their lawfulness after becoming Rangers or sheriffs and their ilk.

Duane’s role in Last of the Duane’s is one of a vigilante. He doesn’t want to live a life of crime, yet killing people seems to be the only thing he is good at. One consequence of this is the many deaths Duane sees during the novel. But another consequence is his need for some sort of redemption. While he has no regrets for killing the people he kills, Duane does want the killings to count for at least something semi-good. When the need to rescue the young girl, Jennie, from a gang leader and that leader’s wife the opportunity for redemption comes to Duane’s life. How it all ends for him is a good question.

“Jennie, run out! Get on a horse!” he said.Jennie flashed out of the door.

With an iron grasp Duane held to the rifle-barrel. He had grasped it with his left hand, and he gave such a pull that he swung the crazed woman off the floor. But he could not loose her grip. She was as strong as he.

“Kate! Let go!”

He tried to intimidate her. She did not see his gun thrust in her face, or reason had given way to such an extent to passion that she did not care. She cursed. Her husband had used the same curses, and from her lips they seemed strange, unsexed, more deadly. Like a tigress she fought him; her face no longer resembled a woman’s. The evil of that outlaw life, the wildness and rage, the meaning to kill, was even in such a moment terribly impressed upon Duane.

He heard a cry from outside—a man’s cry, hoarse and alarming.

It made him think of loss of time. This demon of a woman might yet block his plan.

“Let go!” he whispered, and felt his lips stiff. In the grimness of that instant he relaxed his hold on the rifle-barrel.

With sudden, redoubled, irresistible strength she wrenched the rifle down and discharged it. Duane felt a blow—a shock—a burning agony tearing through his breast. Then in a frenzy he jerked so powerfully upon the rifle that he threw the woman against the wall. She fell and seemed stunned.

Duane leaped back, whirled, flew out of the door to the porch. The sharp cracking of a gun halted him. He saw Jennie holding to the bridle of his bay horse. Euchre was astride the other, and he had a Colt leveled, and he was firing down the lane. Then came a single shot, heavier, and Euchre’s ceased. He fell from the horse.

A swift glance back showed to Duane a man coming down the lane. Chess Alloway! His gun was smoking. He broke into a run. Then in an instant he saw Duane, and tried to check his pace as he swung up his arm. But that slight pause was fatal. Duane shot, and Alloway was falling when his gun went off. His bullet whistled close to Duane and thudded into the cabin.

Duane bounded down to the horses. Jennie was trying to hold the plunging bay. Euchre lay flat on his back, dead, a bullet-hole in his shirt, his face set hard, and his hands twisted round gun and bridle.

“Jennie, you’ve nerve, all right!” cried Duane, as he dragged down the horse she was holding. “Up with you now! There! Never mind—long stirrups! Hang on somehow!”

He caught his bridle out of Euchre’s clutching grip and leaped astride. The frightened horses jumped into a run and thundered down the lane into the road. Duane saw men running from cabins. He heard shouts. But there were no shots fired. Jennie seemed able to stay on her horse, but without stirrups she was thrown about so much that Duane rode closer and reached out to grasp her arm.

Thus they rode through the valley to the trail that led up over, the steep and broken Rim Rock. As they began to climb Duane looked back. No pursuers were in sight.

“Jennie, we’re going to get away!” he cried, exultation for her in his voice.

She was gazing horror-stricken at his breast, as in turning to look back he faced her.

“Oh, Duane, your shirt’s all bloody!” she faltered, pointing with trembling fingers.”

As his son, Loren Grey, states in the foreword to Last of the Duanes he regards:

it as Zane Grey’s definitive study, not only of the bloodshed and gun play true of the old West, but also a depiction with great insight of the inner turmoil of a man indirectly made an anti-hero by his actions, one who struggles not only with his own violent nature but with his past in his final hope to achieve redemption as a Texas Ranger.


The Lone Star Ranger on Gutenberg

Last of the Duanes on Kindle









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Posted by on 2014-07-02 in Books


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Wrangle’s Run: Chapter 17 of “Riders of the Purple Sage” (1912)

Wrangle's race

The plan eventually decided upon by the lovers was for Venters to go to the village, secure a horse and some kind of a disguise for Bess, or at least less striking apparel than her present garb, and to return post-haste to the valley. Meanwhile, she would add to their store of gold. Then they would strike the long and perilous trail to ride out of Utah. In the event of his inability to fetch back a horse for her, they intended to make the giant sorrel carry double. The gold, a little food, saddle blankets, and Venters’s guns were to compose the light outfit with which they would make the start.

“I love this beautiful place,” said Bess. “It’s hard to think of leaving it.”

“Hard! Well, I should think so,” replied Venters. “Maybe—in years—” But he did not complete in words his thought that might be possible to return after many years of absence and change.

Once again Bess bade Venters farewell under the shadow of Balancing Rock, and this time it was with whispered hope and tenderness and passionate trust. Long after he had left her, all down through the outlet to the Pass, the clinging clasp of her arms, the sweetness of her lips, and the sense of a new and exquisite birth of character in her remained hauntingly and thrillingly in his mind. The girl who had sadly called herself nameless and nothing had been marvelously transformed in the moment of his avowal of love. It was something to think over, something to warm his heart, but for the present it had absolutely to be forgotten so that all his mind could be addressed to the trip so fraught with danger.

He carried only his rifle, revolver, and a small quantity of bread and meat, and thus lightly burdened, he made swift progress down the slope and out into the valley. Darkness was coming on, and he welcomed it. Stars were blinking when he reached his old hiding-place in the split of canyon wall, and by their aid he slipped through the dense thickets to the grassy enclosure. Wrangle stood in the center of it with his head up, and he appeared black and of gigantic proportions in the dim light. Venters whistled softly, began a slow approach, and then called. The horse snorted and, plunging away with dull, heavy sound of hoofs, he disappeared in the gloom. “Wilder than ever!” muttered Venters. He followed the sorrel into the narrowing split between the walls, and presently had to desist because he could not see a foot in advance. As he went back toward the open Wrangle jumped out of an ebony shadow of cliff and like a thunderbolt shot huge and black past him down into the starlit glade. Deciding that all attempts to catch Wrangle at night would be useless, Venters repaired to the shelving rock where he had hidden saddle and blanket, and there went to sleep.

The first peep of day found him stirring, and as soon as it was light enough to distinguish objects, he took his lasso off his saddle and went out to rope the sorrel. He espied Wrangle at the lower end of the cove and approached him in a perfectly natural manner. When he got near enough, Wrangle evidently recognized him, but was too wild to stand. He ran up the glade and on into the narrow lane between the walls. This favored Venters’s speedy capture of the horse, so, coiling his noose ready to throw, he hurried on. Wrangle let Venters get to within a hundred feet and then he broke. But as he plunged by, rapidly getting into his stride, Venters made a perfect throw with the rope. He had time to brace himself for the shock; nevertheless, Wrangle threw him and dragged him several yards before halting.

“You wild devil,” said Venters, as he slowly pulled Wrangle up. “Don’t you know me? Come now—old fellow—so—so—”

Wrangle yielded to the lasso and then to Venters’s strong hand. He was as straggly and wild-looking as a horse left to roam free in the sage. He dropped his long ears and stood readily to be saddled and bridled. But he was exceedingly sensitive, and quivered at every touch and sound. Venters led him to the thicket, and, bending the close saplings to let him squeeze through, at length reached the open. Sharp survey in each direction assured him of the usual lonely nature of the canyon, then he was in the saddle, riding south.

Wrangle’s long, swinging canter was a wonderful ground-gainer. His stride was almost twice that of an ordinary horse; and his endurance was equally remarkable. Venters pulled him in occasionally, and walked him up the stretches of rising ground and along the soft washes. Wrangle had never yet shown any indication of distress while Venters rode him. Nevertheless, there was now reason to save the horse, therefore Venters did not resort to the hurry that had characterized his former trip. He camped at the last water in the Pass. What distance that was to Cottonwoods he did not know; he calculated, however, that it was in the neighborhood of fifty miles.

Early in the morning he proceeded on his way, and about the middle of the forenoon reached the constricted gap that marked the southerly end of the Pass, and through which led the trail up to the sage-level. He spied out Lassiter’s tracks in the dust, but no others, and dismounting, he straightened out Wrangle’s bridle and began to lead him up the trail. The short climb, more severe on beast than on man, necessitated a rest on the level above, and during this he scanned the wide purple reaches of slope.

Wrangle whistled his pleasure at the smell of the sage. Remounting, Venters headed up the white trail with the fragrant wind in his face. He had proceeded for perhaps a couple of miles when Wrangle stopped with a suddenness that threw Venters heavily against the pommel.

“What’s wrong, old boy?” called Venters, looking down for a loose shoe or a snake or a foot lamed by a picked-up stone. Unrewarded, he raised himself from his scrutiny. Wrangle stood stiff head high, with his long ears erect. Thus guided, Venters swiftly gazed ahead to make out a dust-clouded, dark group of horsemen riding down the slope. If they had seen him, it apparently made no difference in their speed or direction.

“Wonder who they are!” exclaimed Venters. He was not disposed to run. His cool mood tightened under grip of excitement as he reflected that, whoever the approaching riders were, they could not be friends. He slipped out of the saddle and led Wrangle behind the tallest sage-brush. It might serve to conceal them until the riders were close enough for him to see who they were; after that he would be indifferent to how soon they discovered him.

After looking to his rifle and ascertaining that it was in working order, he watched, and as he watched, slowly the force of a bitter fierceness, long dormant, gathered ready to flame into life. If those riders were not rustlers he had forgotten how rustlers looked and rode. On they came, a small group, so compact and dark that he could not tell their number. How unusual that their horses did not see Wrangle! But such failure, Venters decided, was owing to the speed with which they were traveling. They moved at a swift canter affected more by rustlers than by riders. Venters grew concerned over the possibility that these horsemen would actually ride down on him before he had a chance to tell what to expect. When they were within three hundred yards he deliberately led Wrangle out into the trail.

Then he heard shouts, and the hard scrape of sliding hoofs, and saw horses rear and plunge back with up-flung heads and flying manes. Several little white puffs of smoke appeared sharply against the black background of riders and horses, and shots rang out. Bullets struck far in front of Venters, and whipped up the dust and then hummed low into the sage. The range was great for revolvers, but whether the shots were meant to kill or merely to check advance, they were enough to fire that waiting ferocity in Venters. Slipping his arm through the bridle, so that Wrangle could not get away, Venters lifted his rifle and pulled the trigger twice.

He saw the first horseman lean sideways and fall. He saw another lurch in his saddle and heard a cry of pain. Then Wrangle, plunging in fright, lifted Venters and nearly threw him. He jerked the horse down with a powerful hand and leaped into the saddle. Wrangle plunged again, dragging his bridle, that Venters had not had time to throw in place. Bending over with a swift movement, he secured it and dropped the loop over the pommel. Then, with grinding teeth, he looked to see what the issue would be.

The band had scattered so as not to afford such a broad mark for bullets. The riders faced Venters, some with red-belching guns. He heard a sharper report, and just as Wrangle plunged again he caught the whim of a leaden missile that would have hit him but for Wrangle’s sudden jump. A swift, hot wave, turning cold, passed over Venters. Deliberately he picked out the one rider with a carbine, and killed him. Wrangle snorted shrilly and bolted into the sage. Venters let him run a few rods, then with iron arm checked him.

Five riders, surely rustlers, were left. One leaped out of the saddle to secure his fallen comrade’s carbine. A shot from Venters, which missed the man but sent the dust flying over him made him run back to his horse. Then they separated. The crippled rider went one way; the one frustrated in his attempt to get the carbine rode another, Venters thought he made out a third rider, carrying a strange-appearing bundle and disappearing in the sage. But in the rapidity of action and vision he could not discern what it was. Two riders with three horses swung out to the right. Afraid of the long rifle—a burdensome weapon seldom carried by rustlers or riders—they had been put to rout.

Suddenly Venters discovered that one of the two men last noted was riding Jane Withersteen’s horse Bells—the beautiful bay racer she had given to Lassiter. Venters uttered a savage outcry. Then the small, wiry, frog-like shape of the second rider, and the ease and grace of his seat in the saddle—things so strikingly incongruous—grew more and more familiar in Venters’s sight.

“Jerry Card!” cried Venters.

It was indeed Tull’s right-hand man. Such a white hot wrath inflamed Venters that he fought himself to see with clearer gaze.

“It’s Jerry Card!” he exclaimed, instantly. “And he’s riding Black Star and leading Night!”

The long-kindling, stormy fire in Venters’s heart burst into flame. He spurred Wrangle, and as the horse lengthened his stride Venters slipped cartridges into the magazine of his rifle till it was once again full. Card and his companion were now half a mile or more in advance, riding easily down the slope. Venters marked the smooth gait, and understood it when Wrangle galloped out of the sage into the broad cattle trail, down which Venters had once tracked Jane Withersteen’s red herd. This hard-packed trail, from years of use, was as clean and smooth as a road. Venters saw Jerry Card look back over his shoulder, the other rider did likewise. Then the three racers lengthened their stride to the point where the swinging canter was ready to break into a gallop.

“Wrangle, the race’s on,” said Venters, grimly. “We’ll canter with them and gallop with them and run with them. We’ll let them set the pace.”

Venters knew he bestrode the strongest, swiftest, most tireless horse ever ridden by any rider across the Utah uplands. Recalling Jane Withersteen’s devoted assurance that Night could run neck and neck with Wrangle, and Black Star could show his heels to him, Venters wished that Jane were there to see the race to recover her blacks and in the unqualified superiority of the giant sorrel. Then Venters found himself thankful that she was absent, for he meant that race to end in Jerry Card’s death. The first flush, the raging of Venters’s wrath, passed, to leave him in sullen, almost cold possession of his will. It was a deadly mood, utterly foreign to his nature, engendered, fostered, and released by the wild passions of wild men in a wild country. The strength in him then—the thing rife in him that was not hate, but something as remorseless—might have been the fiery fruition of a whole lifetime of vengeful quest. Nothing could have stopped him.

Venters thought out the race shrewdly. The rider on Bells would probably drop behind and take to the sage. What he did was of little moment to Venters. To stop Jerry Card, his evil hidden career as well as his present flight, and then to catch the blacks—that was all that concerned Venters. The cattle trail wound for miles and miles down the slope. Venters saw with a rider’s keen vision ten, fifteen, twenty miles of clear purple sage. There were no on-coming riders or rustlers to aid Card. His only chance to escape lay in abandoning the stolen horses and creeping away in the sage to hide. In ten miles Wrangle could run Black Star and Night off their feet, and in fifteen he could kill them outright. So Venters held the sorrel in, letting Card make the running. It was a long race that would save the blacks.

In a few miles of that swinging canter Wrangle had crept appreciably closer to the three horses. Jerry Card turned again, and when he saw how the sorrel had gained, he put Black Star to a gallop. Night and Bells, on either side of him, swept into his stride.

Venters loosened the rein on Wrangle and let him break into a gallop. The sorrel saw the horses ahead and wanted to run. But Venters restrained him. And in the gallop he gained more than in the canter. Bells was fast in that gait, but Black Star and Night had been trained to run. Slowly Wrangle closed the gap down to a quarter of a mile, and crept closer and closer.

Jerry Card wheeled once more. Venters distinctly saw the red flash of his red face. This time he looked long. Venters laughed. He knew what passed in Card’s mind. The rider was trying to make out what horse it happened to be that thus gained on Jane Withersteen’s peerless racers. Wrangle had so long been away from the village that not improbably Jerry had forgotten. Besides, whatever Jerry’s qualifications for his fame as the greatest rider of the sage, certain it was that his best point was not far-sightedness. He had not recognized Wrangle. After what must have been a searching gaze he got his comrade to face about. This action gave Venters amusement. It spoke so surely of the facts that neither Card nor the rustler actually knew their danger. Yet if they kept to the trail—and the last thing such men would do would be to leave it—they were both doomed.

This comrade of Card’s whirled far around in his saddle, and he even shaded his eyes from the sun. He, too, looked long. Then, all at once, he faced ahead again and, bending lower in the saddle, began to fling his right arm up and down. That flinging Venters knew to be the lashing of Bells. Jerry also became active. And the three racers lengthened out into a run.

“Now, Wrangle!” cried Venters. “Run, you big devil! Run!”

Venters laid the reins on Wrangle’s neck and dropped the loop over the pommel. The sorrel needed no guiding on that smooth trail. He was surer-footed in a run than at any other fast gait, and his running gave the impression of something devilish. He might now have been actuated by Venters’s spirit; undoubtedly his savage running fitted the mood of his rider. Venters bent forward swinging with the horse, and gripped his rifle. His eye measured the distance between him and Jerry Card.

In less than two miles of running Bells began to drop behind the blacks, and Wrangle began to overhaul him. Venters anticipated that the rustler would soon take to the sage. Yet he did not. Not improbably he reasoned that the powerful sorrel could more easily overtake Bells in the heavier going outside of the trail. Soon only a few hundred yards lay between Bells and Wrangle. Turning in his saddle, the rustler began to shoot, and the bullets beat up little whiffs of dust. Venters raised his rifle, ready to take snap shots, and waited for favorable opportunity when Bells was out of line with the forward horses. Venters had it in him to kill these men as if they were skunk-bitten coyotes, but also he had restraint enough to keep from shooting one of Jane’s beloved Arabians.

No great distance was covered, however, before Bells swerved to the left, out of line with Black Star and Night. Then Venters, aiming high and waiting for the pause between Wrangle’s great strides, began to take snap shots at the rustler. The fleeing rider presented a broad target for a rifle, but he was moving swiftly forward and bobbing up and down. Moreover, shooting from Wrangle’s back was shooting from a thunderbolt. And added to that was the danger of a low-placed bullet taking effect on Bells. Yet, despite these considerations, making the shot exceedingly difficult, Venters’s confidence, like his implacability, saw a speedy and fatal termination of that rustler’s race. On the sixth shot the rustler threw up his arms and took a flying tumble off his horse. He rolled over and over, hunched himself to a half-erect position, fell, and then dragged himself into the sage. As Venters went thundering by he peered keenly into the sage, but caught no sign of the man. Bells ran a few hundred yards, slowed up, and had stopped when Wrangle passed him.

Again Venters began slipping fresh cartridges into the magazine of his rifle, and his hand was so sure and steady that he did not drop a single cartridge. With the eye of a rider and the judgment of a marksman he once more measured the distance between him and Jerry Card. Wrangle had gained, bringing him into rifle range. Venters was hard put to it now not to shoot, but thought it better to withhold his fire. Jerry, who, in anticipation of a running fusillade, had huddled himself into a little twisted ball on Black Star’s neck, now surmising that this pursuer would make sure of not wounding one of the blacks, rose to his natural seat in the saddle.

In his mind perhaps, as certainly as in Venters’s, this moment was the beginning of the real race.

Venters leaned forward to put his hand on Wrangle’s neck, then backward to put it on his flank. Under the shaggy, dusty hair trembled and vibrated and rippled a wonderful muscular activity. But Wrangle’s flesh was still cold. What a cold-blooded brute thought Venters, and felt in him a love for the horse he had never given to any other. It would not have been humanly possible for any rider, even though clutched by hate or revenge or a passion to save a loved one or fear of his own life, to be astride the sorrel to swing with his swing, to see his magnificent stride and hear the rapid thunder of his hoofs, to ride him in that race and not glory in the ride.

So, with his passion to kill still keen and unabated, Venters lived out that ride, and drank a rider’s sage-sweet cup of wildness to the dregs.

When Wrangle’s long mane, lashing in the wind, stung Venters in the cheek, the sting added a beat to his flying pulse. He bent a downward glance to try to see Wrangle’s actual stride, and saw only twinkling, darting streaks and the white rush of the trail. He watched the sorrel’s savage head, pointed level, his mouth still closed and dry, but his nostrils distended as if he were snorting unseen fire. Wrangle was the horse for a race with death. Upon each side Venters saw the sage merged into a sailing, colorless wall. In front sloped the lay of ground with its purple breadth split by the white trail. The wind, blowing with heavy, steady blast into his face, sickened him with enduring, sweet odor, and filled his ears with a hollow, rushing roar.

Then for the hundredth time he measured the width of space separating him from Jerry Card. Wrangle had ceased to gain. The blacks were proving their fleetness. Venters watched Jerry Card, admiring the little rider’s horsemanship. He had the incomparable seat of the upland rider, born in the saddle. It struck Venters that Card had changed his position, or the position of the horses. Presently Venters remembered positively that Jerry had been leading Night on the right-hand side of the trail. The racer was now on the side to the left. No—it was Black Star. But, Venters argued in amaze, Jerry had been mounted on Black Star. Another clearer, keener gaze assured Venters that Black Star was really riderless. Night now carried Jerry Card.

“He’s changed from one to the other!” ejaculated Venters, realizing the astounding feat with unstinted admiration. “Changed at full speed! Jerry Card, that’s what you’ve done unless I’m drunk on the smell of sage. But I’ve got to see the trick before I believe it.”

Thenceforth, while Wrangle sped on, Venters glued his eyes to the little rider. Jerry Card rode as only he could ride. Of all the daring horsemen of the uplands, Jerry was the one rider fitted to bring out the greatness of the blacks in that long race. He had them on a dead run, but not yet at the last strained and killing pace. From time to time he glanced backward, as a wise general in retreat calculating his chances and the power and speed of pursuers, and the moment for the last desperate burst. No doubt, Card, with his life at stake, gloried in that race, perhaps more wildly than Venters. For he had been born to the sage and the saddle and the wild. He was more than half horse. Not until the last call—the sudden up-flashing instinct of self-preservation—would he lose his skill and judgment and nerve and the spirit of that race. Venters seemed to read Jerry’s mind. That little crime-stained rider was actually thinking of his horses, husbanding their speed, handling them with knowledge of years, glorying in their beautiful, swift, racing stride, and wanting them to win the race when his own life hung suspended in quivering balance. Again Jerry whirled in his saddle and the sun flashed red on his face. Turning, he drew Black Star closer and closer toward Night, till they ran side by side, as one horse. Then Card raised himself in the saddle, slipped out of the stirrups, and, somehow twisting himself, leaped upon Black Star. He did not even lose the swing of the horse. Like a leech he was there in the other saddle, and as the horses separated, his right foot, that had been apparently doubled under him, shot down to catch the stirrup. The grace and dexterity and daring of that rider’s act won something more than admiration from Venters.

For the distance of a mile Jerry rode Black Star and then changed back to Night. But all Jerry’s skill and the running of the blacks could avail little more against the sorrel.

Venters peered far ahead, studying the lay of the land. Straightaway for five miles the trail stretched, and then it disappeared in hummocky ground. To the right, some few rods, Venters saw a break in the sage, and this was the rim of Deception Pass. Across the dark cleft gleamed the red of the opposite wall. Venters imagined that the trail went down into the Pass somewhere north of those ridges. And he realized that he must and would overtake Jerry Card in this straight course of five miles.

Cruelly he struck his spurs into Wrangle’s flanks. A light touch of spur was sufficient to make Wrangle plunge. And now, with a ringing, wild snort, he seemed to double up in muscular convulsions and to shoot forward with an impetus that almost unseated Venters. The sage blurred by, the trail flashed by, and the wind robbed him of breath and hearing. Jerry Card turned once more. And the way he shifted to Black Star showed he had to make his last desperate running. Venters aimed to the side of the trail and sent a bullet puffing the dust beyond Jerry. Venters hoped to frighten the rider and get him to take to the sage. But Jerry returned the shot, and his ball struck dangerously close in the dust at Wrangle’s flying feet. Venters held his fire then, while the rider emptied his revolver. For a mile, with Black Star leaving Night behind and doing his utmost, Wrangle did not gain; for another mile he gained little, if at all. In the third he caught up with the now galloping Night and began to gain rapidly on the other black.

Only a hundred yards now stretched between Black Star and Wrangle. The giant sorrel thundered on—and on—and on. In every yard he gained a foot. He was whistling through his nostrils, wringing wet, flying lather, and as hot as fire. Savage as ever, strong as ever, fast as ever, but each tremendous stride jarred Venters out of the saddle! Wrangle’s power and spirit and momentum had begun to run him off his legs. Wrangle’s great race was nearly won—and run. Venters seemed to see the expanse before him as a vast, sheeted, purple plain sliding under him. Black Star moved in it as a blur. The rider, Jerry Card, appeared a mere dot bobbing dimly. Wrangle thundered on—on—on! Venters felt the increase in quivering, straining shock after every leap. Flecks of foam flew into Venters’s eyes, burning him, making him see all the sage as red. But in that red haze he saw, or seemed to see, Black Star suddenly riderless and with broken gait. Wrangle thundered on to change his pace with a violent break. Then Venters pulled him hard. From run to gallop, gallop to canter, canter to trot, trot to walk, and walk to stop, the great sorrel ended his race.

Venters looked back. Black Star stood riderless in the trail. Jerry Card had taken to the sage. Far up the white trail Night came trotting faithfully down. Venters leaped off, still half blind, reeling dizzily. In a moment he had recovered sufficiently to have a care for Wrangle. Rapidly he took off the saddle and bridle. The sorrel was reeking, heaving, whistling, shaking. But he had still the strength to stand, and for him Venters had no fears.

As Venters ran back to Black Star he saw the horse stagger on shaking legs into the sage and go down in a heap. Upon reaching him Venters removed the saddle and bridle. Black Star had been killed on his legs, Venters thought. He had no hope for the stricken horse. Black Star lay flat, covered with bloody froth, mouth wide, tongue hanging, eyes glaring, and all his beautiful body in convulsions.

Unable to stay there to see Jane’s favorite racer die, Venters hurried up the trail to meet the other black. On the way he kept a sharp lookout for Jerry Card. Venters imagined the rider would keep well out of range of the rifle, but, as he would be lost on the sage without a horse, not improbably he would linger in the vicinity on the chance of getting back one of the blacks. Night soon came trotting up, hot and wet and run out. Venters led him down near the others, and unsaddling him, let him loose to rest. Night wearily lay down in the dust and rolled, proving himself not yet spent.

Then Venters sat down to rest and think. Whatever the risk, he was compelled to stay where he was, or comparatively near, for the night. The horses must rest and drink. He must find water. He was now seventy miles from Cottonwoods, and, he believed, close to the canyon where the cattle trail must surely turn off and go down into the Pass. After a while he rose to survey the valley.

He was very near to the ragged edge of a deep canyon into which the trail turned. The ground lay in uneven ridges divided by washes, and these sloped into the canyon. Following the canyon line, he saw where its rim was broken by other intersecting canyons, and farther down red walls and yellow cliffs leading toward a deep blue cleft that he made sure was Deception Pass. Walking out a few rods to a promontory, he found where the trail went down. The descent was gradual, along a stone-walled trail, and Venters felt sure that this was the place where Oldring drove cattle into the Pass. There was, however, no indication at all that he ever had driven cattle out at this point. Oldring had many holes to his burrow.

In searching round in the little hollows Venters, much to his relief, found water. He composed himself to rest and eat some bread and meat, while he waited for a sufficient time to elapse so that he could safely give the horses a drink. He judged the hour to be somewhere around noon. Wrangle lay down to rest and Night followed suit. So long as they were down Venters intended to make no move. The longer they rested the better, and the safer it would be to give them water. By and by he forced himself to go over to where Black Star lay, expecting to find him dead. Instead he found the racer partially if not wholly recovered. There was recognition, even fire, in his big black eyes. Venters was overjoyed. He sat by the black for a long time. Black Star presently labored to his feet with a heave and a groan, shook himself, and snorted for water. Venters repaired to the little pool he had found, filled his sombrero, and gave the racer a drink. Black Star gulped it at one draught, as if it were but a drop, and pushed his nose into the hat and snorted for more. Venters now led Night down to drink, and after a further time Black Star also. Then the blacks began to graze.

The sorrel had wandered off down the sage between the trail and the canyon. Once or twice he disappeared in little swales. Finally Venters concluded Wrangle had grazed far enough, and, taking his lasso, he went to fetch him back. In crossing from one ridge to another he saw where the horse had made muddy a pool of water. It occurred to Venters then that Wrangle had drunk his fill, and did not seem the worse for it, and might be anything but easy to catch. And, true enough, he could not come within roping reach of the sorrel. He tried for an hour, and gave up in disgust. Wrangle did not seem so wild as simply perverse. In a quandary Venters returned to the other horses, hoping much, yet doubting more, that when Wrangle had grazed to suit himself he might be caught.

As the afternoon wore away Venters’s concern diminished, yet he kept close watch on the blacks and the trail and the sage. There was no telling of what Jerry Card might be capable. Venters sullenly acquiesced to the idea that the rider had been too quick and too shrewd for him. Strangely and doggedly, however, Venters clung to his foreboding of Card’s downfall.

The wind died away; the red sun topped the far distant western rise of slope; and the long, creeping purple shadows lengthened. The rims of the canyons gleamed crimson and the deep clefts appeared to belch forth blue smoke. Silence enfolded the scene.

It was broken by a horrid, long-drawn scream of a horse and the thudding of heavy hoofs. Venters sprang erect and wheeled south. Along the canyon rim, near the edge, came Wrangle, once more in thundering flight.

Venters gasped in amazement. Had the wild sorrel gone mad? His head was high and twisted, in a most singular position for a running horse. Suddenly Venters descried a frog-like shape clinging to Wrangle’s neck. Jerry Card! Somehow he had straddled Wrangle and now stuck like a huge burr. But it was his strange position and the sorrel’s wild scream that shook Venters’s nerves. Wrangle was pounding toward the turn where the trail went down. He plunged onward like a blind horse. More than one of his leaps took him to the very edge of the precipice.

Jerry Card was bent forward with his teeth fast in the front of Wrangle’s nose! Venters saw it, and there flashed over him a memory of this trick of a few desperate riders. He even thought of one rider who had worn off his teeth in this terrible hold to break or control desperate horses. Wrangle had indeed gone mad. The marvel was what guided him. Was it the half-brute, the more than half-horse instinct of Jerry Card? Whatever the mystery, it was true. And in a few more rods Jerry would have the sorrel turning into the trail leading down into the canyon.

“No—Jerry!” whispered Venters, stepping forward and throwing up the rifle. He tried to catch the little humped, frog-like shape over the sights. It was moving too fast; it was too small. Yet Venters shot once… twice… the third time… four times… five! all wasted shots and precious seconds!

With a deep-muttered curse Venters caught Wrangle through the sights and pulled the trigger. Plainly he heard the bullet thud. Wrangle uttered a horrible strangling sound. In swift death action he whirled, and with one last splendid leap he cleared the canyon rim. And he whirled downward with the little frog-like shape clinging to his neck!

There was a pause which seemed never ending, a shock, and an instant s silence.

Then up rolled a heavy crash, a long roar of sliding rocks dying away in distant echo, then silence unbroken.

Wrangle’s race was run.


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The Border Legion (unabridged Cabin Gulch) (1916)

Henry Plummer as depicted by James

Henry Plummer as depicted by James

All-Story Weekly>, January 15, 1916 ff.
The Country Gentleman, April 8, 1916 ff.
Harper & Brothers, New York, 1916
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, March 1948 (RGL)
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Mar 1949, Apr 1956, May 1960 (Galactic Central)

One of the reasons Cabin Gulch was changed was for what the editors felt was excessive swearing and violence. Zane Grey was trying to be historically accurate in his portrayal of Jack Kells, the outlaw leader. But that did not matter to his editor. In a much edited version the new title was The Border Legion and it was first published as a serial in All-Story Weekly in 1916. (Friesen) I read The Border Legion but would recommend that you get Cabin Gulch instead simply because it will give you the full feel of what Zane Grey tried to convey with his story.

The Border Legion - Zane Greys Western Magazine

Credit: Galactic Central

Zane Grey has decided to move a bit further west this time. According to ZGWS we now find ourselves around the year 1863 in the gold mining camps along Alder Gulch in Montana and around the town of Hartley in Montana.

As he often did, Zane Grey found his inspiration from real life. This time the story of Henry Plummer had caught Mr. Grey’s interest. Henry Plummer was elected as sheriff of Bannack, Montana in 1863. His background had been memorable to say the least. Criminal and law-enforcer at the same time was the life he was leading as it neared its end. (This day in history)

Blurb from The Border Legion:

Jim Cleve has been deemed, “a good guy” all of his life and it agitates him to no end. Even his girlfriend, Joan Randle has scorned him for this “weakness” shouting, “You haven’t it in you even to be BAD!” Dejected and hurt, Jim abandons the life he has known for the gold mining camps along Alder Gulch in southern Montana. It is here, among the thieves and murderers, that he must make a new name for himself

Blurb from Cabin Gulch:

This wonderful, dramatic story was written in 1915, but for ninety years it has only existed in a profoundly censored version, “The Border Legion.” Joan Randle, in a spirit of anger, sends Jim Cleve out into the lawless country of the mining frontier in Idaho Territory to test his mettle as a man. Then, regretting their quarrel, she goes in pursuit of him, in hope of turning him back, only to be taken captive by the notorious mining camp and stagecoach bandit, Jack Kells. Kells is so intent on having Joan to himself that he kills for it, even some of his own men. When a huge gold strike is made at Alder Creek, Kells and his gang move in to loot the miners. Most disheartening of all for Joan is the fact that Jim Cleve has joined Kells’s gang. This powerful tale of tragedy, romance, historical realism, and hope can now at last be read as Zane Grey wrote it.

The Border Legion - All-Story Weekly

Credit: Galactic Central

In the case of The Border Legion, Sam Gulden is the baddest of the bad. Gulden is also the sort of man that keeps young girls naked and tied up. Jack Kells is the other force of evil in The Border Legion. He is our Henry Plummer whose charm hid what he was capable of doing. The lovers of this story are Joan Randle and Jim Cleve. Their way to that part in the other person’s life is filled with pot-holes (of which Kells is one).

Well and truly caught by Kells’ gang (the Border Legion), Joan is drawn into the clutches of Kells through his charm. I think it would probably be safe to say that Kells was a psychopath. He wanted Joan. He would do anything it took to make her his. One of his tools was allowing her to fall for his “sweet” side before he showed her his rough one. That way he could keep her needing to “save” him from himself making up excuses for the other part of him that she saw. Falling for her kidnapper probably makes Joan another victim of what today is called the Stockholm Syndrome.

All this time Jim tries to be there for Joan, but he too is caught in Kells’s clutches. His role in the life of Kells is as another member of Kells’ gang. As is so often true in real life, men and women seem more attracted to baddies – at least charming baddies.

Zane Grey isn’t the best writer of romantic dialogue and action. I wonder if his own access to a great deal of women had something to do with his lack of understanding of the workings of romance. I know that my own autism stands in the way of my understanding of the concept.

Alder Creek, 2000;  by Stephen McMillan

Alder Creek, 2000;
by Stephen McMillan

While romance/action is a large part of the story of The Border Legion/Cabin Gulch we also get to enjoy Zane Grey’s forte in writing. His portrayal of nature is amazing and I wish there was more of that and less of the romantic dialogue.

Manifestly Jesse Smith had selected the spot for Kells’s permanent location at Alder Creek with an eye for the bandit’s peculiar needs. It was out of sight of town, yet within a hundred rods of the nearest huts, and closer than that to a sawmill. It could be approached by a shallow ravine that wound away toward the creek. It was backed up against a rugged bluff in which there was a narrow gorge, choked with pieces of weathered cliff; and no doubt the bandits could go and come in that direction. There was a spring near at hand and a grove of spruce-trees. The ground was rocky, and apparently unfit for the digging of gold.

While Bate Wood began preparations for supper, and Cleve built the fire, and Smith looked after the horses, Kells and Pearce stepped off the ground where the cabin was to be erected. They selected a level bench down upon which a huge cracked rock, as large as a house, had rolled. The cabin was to be backed up against this stone, and in the rear, under cover of it, a secret exit could be made and hidden. The bandit wanted two holes to his burrow.

When the group sat down to the meal the gulch was full of sunset colors. And, strangely, they were all some shade of gold. Beautiful golden veils, misty, ethereal, shone in rays across the gulch from the broken ramparts; and they seemed so brilliant, so rich, prophetic of the treasures of the hills. But that golden sunset changed. The sun went down red, leaving a sinister shadow over the gulch, growing darker and darker. Joan saw Cleve thoughtfully watching this transformation, and she wondered if he had caught the subtle mood of nature. For whatever had been the hope and brightness, the golden glory of this new Eldorado, this sudden uprising Alder Creek with its horde of brave and toiling miners, the truth was that Jack Kells and Gulden had ridden into the camp and the sun had gone down red. Joan knew that great mining-camps were always happy, rich, free, lucky, honest places till the fame of gold brought evil men. And she had not the slightest doubt that the sun of Alder Creek’s brief and glad day had set forever.

Once the Border Legion gets to Alder Creek, the play for power begins between Kells and Gulden. Keeping the Border Legion loyal to their leader is going to be quite a challenge considering all of the temptations in the area. Gold-mining towns were usually tent towns and only an ingrained sense of another man’s territory kept others out of your tent. For outlaws like the Border Legion, such considerations were non-existent. Perhaps promises made to one’s own boss would take on the same value in such a place. Greed is, after all, such a wonderful breaker of loyalty.


The Border Legion on Gutenberg

Cabin Gulch on Kindle








Henry Plummer is elected sheriff of Bannack, Montana

Stockholm syndrome

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Posted by on 2014-06-30 in Books


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Wildfire (1916)

Wild Hoofbeats

Wild Hoofbeats: America’s Vanishing Wild Horses
by Carol J. Walker
Credit: Carol J. Walker

Serialized in The Country Gentleman, April 8, 1916 ff.
First book edition published by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1916
Featured in Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, May 1949

My favorite animal on the earth is not humans but horses. Especially the wild ones. I wouldn’t like a stallion attacking me, but its beauty and grace of movement is undeniable. In this Zane Grey novel we get to meet the Mustang Wildfire.

Wildfire - The Country GentlemanLin Slone, one of our main characters, is a horse wrangler. In the 1870’s a horse wrangler was the person that managed the spare horses on cattle drives. The wrangler kept the horses happy and was also the one who knew how to train a newly caught horse (unless he was fresh to the game). Lin Slone is an experienced wrangler who prefers the company of horses and the solitude of nature to the company of people. He is, of course, going to be the man who ends up capturing Wildfire but that capture costs both man and horse a great deal.

Slone was packed and saddled and on his way before the sun reddened the canyon wall. He walked the horses. From time to time he saw signs of Wildfire’s consistent progress. The canyon narrowed and the walls grew lower and the grass increased. There was a decided ascent all the time. Slone could find no evidence that the canyon had ever been traveled by hunters or Indians. The day was pleasant and warm and still. Every once in a while a little breath of wind would bring a fragrance of cedar and pinyon, and a sweet hint of pine and sage. At every turn he looked ahead, expecting to see the green of pine and the gray of sage. Toward the middle of the afternoon, coming to a place where Wildfire had taken to a trot, he put Nagger to that gait, and by sundown had worked up to where the canyon was only a shallow ravine. And finally it turned once more, to lose itself in a level where straggling pines stood high above the cedars, and great, dark-green silver spruces stood above the pines. And here were patches of sage, fresh and pungent, and long reaches of bleached grass. It was the edge of a forest. Wildfire’s trail went on. Slone came at length to a group of pines, and here he found the remains of a camp-fire, and some flint arrow-heads. Indians had been in there, probably having come from the opposite direction to Slone’s. This encouraged him, for where Indians could hunt so could he. Soon he was entering a forest where cedars and pinyons and pines began to grow thickly. Presently he came upon a faintly defined trail, just a dim, dark line even to an experienced eye. But it was a trail, and Wildfire had taken it.

Slone halted for the night. The air was cold. And the dampness of it gave him an idea there were snow-banks somewhere not far distant. The dew was already heavy on the grass. He hobbled the horses and put a bell on Nagger. A bell might frighten lions that had never heard one. Then he built a fire and cooked his meal.

It had been long since he had camped high up among the pines. The sough of the wind pleased him, like music. There had begun to be prospects of pleasant experience along with the toil of chasing Wildfire. He was entering new and strange and beautiful country. How far might the chase take him? He did not care. He was not sleepy, but even if he had been it developed that he must wait till the coyotes ceased their barking round his camp-fire. They came so close that he saw their gray shadows in the gloom. But presently they wearied of yelping at him and went away. After that the silence, broken only by the wind as it roared and lulled, seemed beautiful to Slone. He lost completely that sense of vague regret which had remained with him, and he forgot the Stewarts. And suddenly he felt absolutely free, alone, with nothing behind to remember, with wild, thrilling, nameless life before him. Just then the long mourn of a timber wolf wailed in with the wind. Seldom had he heard the cry of one of those night wanderers. There was nothing like it—no sound like it to fix in the lone camper’s heart the great solitude and the wild.

Wildfire - Zane Greys Western MagazineLucy Bostil is our female main character. She has just turned 18 (Zane Grey generally liked them young, both in real life and in his novels) and is excited about finally being considered an adult. Her father is horse crazy.

Bostil owns quite a few horses but is always on the look-out for that “one, perfect” wild stallion. I guess you could say that he is one of the bad guys because he is willing to go to any lengths to get one. All of Grey’s story try to impart the “Code of the West” on to his reader. One of those codes is “If it’s not your, don’t take it”. Losing his best friend is worth it just so he might retain the status of having the best mustangs.

In my mind I see Bostil as any other addict. He is so caught in the grip of his addiction that he will sacrifice family, friends and reputation to get the drug of his choice. Addiction is very much a mental disease and one from which recovery is extremely difficult.

Once he has taken care of the competition, Bostil is the one in the county with the finest horse, Sage King. Now others covet what he has. Cordt, the horse thief, wants Bostil’s stallion and he will also do anything to achieve his goal.

Because I happen to be on the side of horses rather than that of people, I am going to say that all the men of this story were greedy bastards who took what they wanted no matter the price the object of their desires had to pay.


Wildfire on Free Read Australia







  • Finnish: Tuliharja; Engström, Don; Helsinki: Taikajousi, 1980.
  • German: Wildfeuer; Werner, Hansheinz; München, AWA Verlag, 1953
  • Hungarian: Futótűz; Lendvai, István; Budapest: Nyiry Z., 1995.
  • Italiano: Wildfire; Pitta, Alfredo; I Nuovi Sonzogno, 1966 (Copertina: Guido Crepax)
  • Norwegian: Hestekongens datter; Gundersen, Rolf / Oslo: Fredhøi, 1917. (Gratis tilgang Nasjonalbibilioteket for norske IP-adresser)
  • Polish: Płomień; Sujkowska, Janina; Warzawa: M. Arcta, 1936
  • Portugese: Fogo selvagem; Passos, Maria Margarida & Sousa, Homem de; Lisboa, Agencia Portuguese de Revistas, 1957.
  • Serbo-Croatian: Grey, Zen; Divlji plamen; Škunca, Stanko; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1961
  • Slovenian: Wildfire; Klinar, Stanko; Ljubljana, Državna založba Slovenije, 1962.
  • Spanish: Huracán; Fernández, José; Barcelona, Juventud, 1933




Posted by on 2014-06-29 in Books


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The Man of the Forest (unabridged: Dorn of the Mountains) (1917)

The Notch of the White Mountains

The Notch of the White Mountains (Crawford Notch), 1839 – National Gallery of Art Artist: Thomas Cole

The Country Gentleman October 20 1917 – January 26 1918
Grosset & Dunlap, 1920
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine June 1949
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) March 1951, December 1957
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (UK) v1 #2 195? (Galactic Central)

My version is the Norwegian translation of The Man of the Forest (To Tapre Piker) – the old version, but not the original as Zane Grey intended it. Even though I have not read it, I  recommend you get the original – Dorn of the Mountains. Dorn of the Mountains appeared first as a 15 episode serial in The Country Gentleman in 1917. The writing that had been added and removed in Man of the Forest was restored to Dorn of the Mountains.

Greed is once again the theme of Zane Grey’s novel. At least I think it is, as it is about one rancher (Beasley) wanting another man’s (Al Auchincloss) ranch and willing to do anything to get it. Romance is, of course, the other theme although some of the romantic attention is extremely unwanted. Unwanted attention comes from Harve Riggs who seems to think that he is God’s gift to Helen.

Helen is the older sister of the two women, Helen and Bo Raynor, coming West to help their dying uncle with his ranch. Auchincloss’ rivals do not want them to appear at the ranch. Snake Anson and his gang are hired by Beasley to kidnap the two girls and hide them. This is the plot the forester Milt overhears.

The Mountain Pass, 1900, by Thomas Hill

The Mountain Pass, 1900, by Thomas Hill

Milt Dale, or Dorn (thorn in German) as he is known as in Dorn of the Mountains, loved the life of a hunter/trapper in the wilds of the White Mountains in Arizona. One need only gaze at the painting by Thomas Cole to understand its appeal. By chance that life brought him into earshot of the kidnapping plans and he runs to the rescue.

Helen caught her breath. She divined that some peril menaced her. She looked steadily, with all a woman’s keenness, into this man’s face. The moment was one of the fateful decisions she knew the West had in store for her. Her future and that of Bo’s were now to be dependent upon her judgments. It was a hard moment and, though she shivered inwardly, she welcomed the initial and inevitable step. This man Dale, by his dress of buckskin, must be either scout or hunter. His size, his action, the tone of his voice had been reassuring. But Helen must decide from what she saw in his face whether or not to trust him. And that face was clear bronze, unlined, unshadowed, like a tranquil mask, clean-cut, strong-jawed, with eyes of wonderful transparent gray.

“Yes, I’ll trust you,” she said. “Get in, and let us hurry. Then you can explain.”

“All ready, Bill. Send ’em along,” called Dale.

He had to stoop to enter the stage, and, once in, he appeared to fill that side upon which he sat. Then the driver cracked his whip; the stage lurched and began to roll; the motley crowd was left behind. Helen awakened to the reality, as she saw Bo staring with big eyes at the hunter, that a stranger adventure than she had ever dreamed of had began with the rattling roll of that old stage-coach.

Dale laid off his sombrero and leaned forward, holding his rifle between his knees. The light shone better upon his features now that he was bareheaded. Helen had never seen a face like that, which at first glance appeared darkly bronzed and hard, and then became clear, cold, aloof, still, intense. She wished she might see a smile upon it. And now that the die was cast she could not tell why she had trusted it. There was singular force in it, but she did not recognize what kind of force. One instant she thought it was stern, and the next that it was sweet, and again that it was neither.

Wolf pack hunting bisonI believe most of the romance novels by Zane Grey were also about greed. Greed can be thought to be our instincts at work in our attempt to pass our genes on to the next generation. Zane Grey did not say that, I did. But it seems as if Zane Grey might not have disagreed too much with me on that matter. The Man of the Forest has a strong message of the importance of our environment like most of his stories. We should not let our instinct for hoarding/survival take control of our duty to conserve the Earth.

“Sometimes two or more wolves will run a deer, an’ while one of them rests the other will drive the deer around to his pardner, who’ll, take up the chase. That way they run the deer down. Cruel it is, but nature, an’ no worse than snow an’ ice that starve deer, or a fox that kills turkey-chicks breakin’ out of the egg, or ravens that pick the eyes out of new-born lambs an’ wait till they die. An’ for that matter, men are crueler than beasts of prey, for men add to nature, an’ have more than instincts.”

But having the ability to reason does not necessarily mean that we will do so. If we all tried to be logical and earth-friendly in our thinking, the world would be a very different place to live today. Probably not better for a Norwegian like myself, but very much better for the folks who live by the Gulf of Mexico, the tar-sands of Canada, the citizens of Iraq, Syria and Sudan, and the people who are slaving away in the diamond mines of South Africa.


The Man of the Forest on Gutenberg

Dorn of the Mountains (about 50 pages longer)







  • 1922: Metsien mies (Finnish)
  • 1926: To tapre piker (Norwegian)
  • 1930: Der Mann aus dem Walde (German)
  • 1975: Arvet (Swedish)
  • 1976: Einsames Camp (German)
  • 1995: Mannen fra skogene (Norwegian)
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Posted by on 2014-06-18 in Books


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The Thundering Herd (Unabridged version: Buffalo Stampede) (1924)


Photograph from the mid-1870s of a pile of American bison skulls waiting to be ground for fertilizer.

Ladies’ Home Journal, February 1924
Harper and Brothers, 1925 (abridged)
Sure-Fire Screen Stories, February 1934
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, October 1950
The Thundering Herd is available for free on Project Gutenberg

Once again Zane Grey had turned out to be too controversial in his for his times.

Bison population survey photograph, Wood Buffalo National Park (17 July 1946)

Bison population survey photograph, Wood Buffalo National Park (17 July 1946)

More wild buffalo have been slaughtered in America in the past ten years than at any time in the last century. Capitalizing on the Indian’s complete dependence upon the buffalo, 19th century government leaders launched a campaign to wipe them out, and in so doing, force the Indians into a sedentary lifestyle more in line with the prevailing European notions of private property and “civilization.” Secretary of Interior Columbus Delano made the following remarks in 1873, a year after Yellowstone National Park was established:

“The civilization of the Indian is impossible while the buffalo remains upon the plains. I would not seriously regret the total disappearance of the buffalo from our western prairies, in its effect upon the Indians, regarding it as a means of hastening their sense of dependence upon the products of the soil and their own labors.”
–Annual Report of the Department of the Interior

Illus. in: Harper's Weekly, 1874 Dec. 12, v. 18, no. 937. LC-USZ62-55602; Credit: Library of Congress

Illus. in: Harper’s Weekly, 1874 Dec. 12, v. 18, no. 937. LC-USZ62-55602;
Credit: Library of Congress

The Thundering Herd is about the period of 1874-1877, a time when buffalo were killed without thought of ecosystems. We find ourselves in Texas along the Red River & Pease River headwaters and Llano Estacado (ZGWS). Zane Grey explains his inspiration:

“From Buffalo Jonos I first heard about the millions of buffalo on tho plains in the early days—the vast thundering herds—and the stories’of how they were massacred for their hides and bones. Hides Bold as cheap as twenty-five cents. This slaughter was one ot the bloodiest carnages in the history of tho world, and a terrible blunder. For tho buffalo were superior to cattle, and would have enriched our great West. But they were butchered In a few short years. I determined to write the story ot the vanishing ot the thundering herds, and set about getting my material.” (The Hutchinson News, 4 April 1925, p. 10)

Part of the explanation of the massive slaughter of the buffalo was not only due to the influence of the Department of the Interior, although the mission set by them would lend legitimacy to the fervor or its carrying out. A technical advance in weaponry enabled the exterminators to kill without being spotted beforehand by the buffalo. In addition a new method of tanning was developed. All of a sudden the whole world wanted buffalo hides and they could have them at more affordable prices. Buffalo City came to life. (Native American)

Arapaho camp with buffalo meat drying near Fort Dodge, Kansas, 1870. ARC Identifier 518892; Credit: National Archives

Arapaho camp with buffalo meat drying near Fort Dodge, Kansas, 1870. ARC Identifier 518892;
Credit: National Archives

Once again Zane Grey uses the power of the written word to engage his audience in an important issue of his time. We aren’t just getting a romance when he writes about Tom Doan joining the buffalo hunters going into the Southwest’s inhospitable Staked Plain. Before the decimation of the buffalo herds there were probably somewhere between twenty-five to seventy million individuals (BFC) roaming the prairies. After the settlers were done with them there were probably only about 334 individuals left (FWS).

Slaughter of that magnitude must do something to a person. It certainly does to Tom Doan. He finds himself baptised in blood and gore. I don’t know if the Europeans expected the Native Americans to just sit back and let them go on with their killing. After all, the bison were an integral part of the lifestyles of the plains-indians. So Tom Doan finds himself fighting the Comanches and Kiowas, other white hunters, and himself.

Early on the ninth morning of that long journey Tom and Stronghurl forded the Pease River, at a dangerous crossing, and entered the zone of slaughter. No live buffalo were in sight, but the carcasses left by the advancing hunters polluted the summer air and made of the prairie a hideous shambles. They passed thousands and thousands of bone piles and rotten carcasses; and as they advanced the bone piles became fewer and the solid carcasses more. Coyotes in droves, like wild dogs, fought along the road, regardless of the wagons. Indeed, many of them were so gorged that they could not run. And as for buzzards, they were as thick as crows in a Kansas cornfield in October, likewise gorged to repletion.

The wake of the hide-hunters was something to sicken the heart of the stoutest man and bring him face to face with an awful sacrifice.

Tom verified another thing that had long troubled him and of which he had heard hunters speak. For every single buffalo that was killed and skinned there was one which had been crippled and had escaped to die, so that if ever found its hide would be useless. In every ravine or coulee or wash off the main line of travel Tom knew, by investigation of those near where he and Stronghurl camped or halted at noon, there lay dead and unskinned buffalo. If he saw a hundred, how many thousands must there be? It was a staggering arraignment to confront the hide-hunters.

Toward noon of that day herds of live buffalo came in sight, and thereafter grew and widened and showed movement. Tom eventually overhauled a single wagon drawn by four horses, and drew up beside it, asking the usual query.

The Thundering Herd - Cover

The only thing that stands between Tom and the loss of himself to despair at what his life has turned into is the love of a woman. But none of Zane Grey’s stories provide love-birds with easy resolutions and love-lives. In this case we have a step-father who refuses Milly any contact with other men. Milly slowly begins to understand (partly through contact with Tom) that all is not as it should be with her step-father’s band of non-sanctioned hunters.

Blurb for Buffalo Stampede: On his first trip to the West, Zane Grey became friends with Buffalo Jones, the “last of the plainsmen” as he called him in the book he subsequently wrote about him. Jones had been witness to the great herds of buffalo that had once ranged on the Great Plains, and he had been a participant in the destruction of those herds. In early 1923 Grey decided that he would write the epic story of the thundering herds of buffalo, the great hunt that decimated them, and the battle between the Plains Indians and the buffalo hunters. At last, Zane Grey’s magnificent panorama of the war for the buffalo, and against the buffalo, is being published, just as he wrote it, violent and furious action against a background of elegiac sadness for the passing of those mighty, noble herds, the restoration of a literary masterpiece.



  • 1930: Die Donnernde Herde (German)
  • 1952: Bøffelkrigen (Norwegian)
  • 1981: Jylisevät kaviot (Finnish)
  • 1968: La mandria tonante (Italian)
  • 1990: Villdyrjakten (Norwegian)




Posted by on 2014-06-13 in Books


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Forlorn River (Nevada I) (1927)

Forlorn River - complete dust jacket

Ladies Home Journal March – April 1926
Harper & Brothers, New York 1927
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine Sep 1951
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Mar 1953 (Galactic Central)

Klamath River; Credit: Wandering Lizard

Klamath River; Credit: Wandering Lizard

Forlorn River takes place before the Department of Reclamation starts emptying the Lamath Valley of fresh-water and after the Modoc wars. Its setting is around 1890, (ZGWS) so 17 years after the Modoc war/Lava Beds war/Modoc campaign ended in 1873. That war was fought because of a lack of understanding from the US military about the differences between the tribes and their views on the settlers. Secondly, one might even venture to say that once again it was about ownership of the land. One of the results was the creation of the Klamath Reservation. Hard feelings had taken over and the settlers were now harassed by Modoc who were unwilling to settle in the reservation. No wonder as the Klamath people were their traditional enemies and how do you make friends with your enemies.

Forlorn River - The Lost River Ranch

That brought about the Lost River war, a fight for the right to a Modoc reservation on Modoc land. The ironic and sad thing is that the US government would have saved a whole lot of money and lives if they had just bought the land needed from the settlers.

At the time of Forlorn River I imagine hatred between the settlers and the Modoc might possibly have barely started to lessen. Whether the war between the Modoc and the US military is the reason Zane Grey includes a Native American in his story that is called Modoc is difficult to say but it is a definite possibility considering his previous stories. He had definite views on what happened when settlers took over the land.

Ben Ide was the kind of person adventure and trouble sought. First he has to leave home because of his carelessness with money and obsession with wild horses. After he leaves he rescues and befriends a man with a mysterious background, Nevada. Then he falls for the daughter (Ina Blaine) of one of the ranchers. Of course, other men want her as well. In addition, the land he has bought is also sought by other men and they will shy from nothing in order to get the land. As if that was not enough, Ben and Nevada run into Nevada’s old friend, Bill Hall. Bill has managed to follow a criminal career and one of Ben’s acquaintances seems to be involved in the gang’s decision-making.

Copper Wild Mustang by Kimerlee Curyl

Copper Wild Mustang by Kimerlee Curyl

In the films, both Ben and Nevada are in love with Ina, but in the novel Nevada falls in love with Ben’s younger sister (who is very definitely not Ina). Ina has come home from school with newfangled ideas about her own independence. She gets into trouble with her family for that for they had foreseen an old but wealthy husband for her. Both Ben and Ina have different plans, but in order to realize these plans Ben is going to have to capture the wild horse California Red. He brings Nevada and Modoc along on the hunt and in the meantime, well in the meantime Ina gets into trouble

“Ina saw in his face that he was telling the truth, if not the whole truth. This then had been the secret of his veiled power; and he had unmasked himself before her because he believed she dared not betray him.”


Forlorn River on Open Library







  • 1931: Il fiume abbandonato (Italian)
  • 1964: Jakten på kvegtyvene (Norwegian)
  • 1978: Kadotettu joki (Finnish)
  • 1973: Der verlorene Fluß (German)


Battle of Lost River

Lost River, California

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Posted by on 2014-06-10 in Books


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Nevada II (1926)

Lees Ferry

Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry in the Grand Canyon, ca.1898 Photographer: George Wharton James California Historical Society Collection, 1860-1960

The American Magazine: November 1926 – May 1927
Harper & Brothers, New York in 1928

One does not simply become a gunman. Something lies behind the choice to leave family and home to settle for a life where your own life is in danger from others wanting to test how good you are with your pistol. In the life of Jim Lacy (Nevada’s real name) those seeds were planted when he became an orphan. Nevada is both a savior and a crook. But most of all he is a loyal friend who is willing to stand up for those that he loves, even if they do not know about it.

“From the lake Nevada gazed away across Forlorn River, over the gray sage hills, so expressive of solitude, over the black ranges toward the back country, the wilderness whence he had come and to which he must return. To the hard life, the scant fare, the sordid intimacy of crooked men and women, to the border of Nevada, where he had a bad name, where he could never sleep in safety, or wear a glove on his gun-hand! But at that moment Nevada had not one regret. He was sustained and exalted by the splendid consciousness that he had paid his debt to his friend. He had saved Ben from prison, cleared his name of infamy, given him back to Ina Blaine, and killed his enemies. Whatever had been the evil of Nevada’s life before he met Ben, whatever might be the loneliness and bitterness of the future, neither could change or mitigate the sweetness and glory of the service he had rendered.”

Now that his friends have been saved, Nevada returns to Lineville and the people who knew him. Unfortunately he also returns to the life of men out to kill the famous gunman Jim Lacy.

“A man like you must always worry,” rejoined Burridge, with evident sympathy. “You can’t ever be free unless you hide your name. It’s bad enough to have sheriffs after you, an’ natural enemies, but it must be hell to know there’re men who want to kill you just because of your reputation.”

Rock art, Chevelon Canyon;  Credit: Spirit Eagle: Arizona

Rock art, Chevelon Canyon;
Credit: Spirit Eagle: Arizona

We jump four years into the future, to California-Tule Lake and Ben and Hettie. Ben is married to his Ina and they now have a son called Blaine. Hettie has just turned 20 years old and still pines for Nevada. She is not alone in missing him. Ben wishes his best friend would once more become a part of their life. He wants Nevada to claim the half of Forlorn River ranch and Mule Deer ranch that belongs to him.

Ben and Ina take Ina’s mother to San Fransisco for a visit with the physicians. The doctor recommends Ina’s mother move to a warmer climate like, say, Arizona. So Ben sells off most of the land and stock and they take off in their covered wagons bringing just a few people, some belongings and a few animals. The family ends up settling near Mogollon Rim close to the town Winthrop. Ben tells the rest of them just how he found the “ranch of his dreams”.

“‘They tell me you’re hard to please. But I’m makin’ bold to ask you personally just what kind of a ranch you want to buy?'”

“So I up and told him, elaborately, just what I was looking for. Then he laughed, sort of amused and, pulling at his long mustache, he said: ‘My name’s Burridge. I’ve got exactly what you want. Somewheres around ten thousand head. Lots of unbranded calves an’ yearlin’s. Cabins an’ corrals not worth speakin’ of. But water, grass, timber, an’ range can’t be beat in Arizona. It suits me to sell for cash. That’s what they call me–Cash Burridge. Suppose you get a lawyer an’ come over to the city hall an’ see my title. Then if it strikes you right, I’ll take you out to my ranch.’

Gunmen of the WestExcept something is amiss with their new home and they will once again need the help of Nevada. But where is Nevada? What has become of him? Will he make it back in time? Does he still care for Hettie?

One of the concluding statements in the story tries to explain the phenomenon of the gunman:

“I’m glad I hit upon the truth,” he said, with eagerness. “I watched you yesterday and I believe I saw then something of your ordeal. And I see now in your face the havoc that tells of your pain. It is my earnest hope to soothe that pain, Hettie Ide, and I know I can do so. Listen. It has been a terrible shock for you to find in your Texas Jack–or Nevada, as you call him–no other than the infamous or famous Jim Lacy. This is natural, but it is all wrong. There need be no shame, no fear, no shrinking in your acceptance of this fact. I’ve met and trusted no finer man than this same Jim Lacy. But I did not come to eulogize him. . . . I want to make clear in your mind just what such men as Jim Lacy mean to me. I have lived most of my life on the frontier and I know what its wilderness has been, and still is. There are bad men and bad men. It is a distinction with a vast difference. I have met or seen many of the noted killers. Wild Bill, Wess Hardin, Kingfisher, Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, an’ a host of others. These men are not bloody murderers. They are a product of the times. The West could never have been populated without them. They strike a balance between the hordes of ruffians, outlaws, strong evil characters like Dillon, and the wild life of a wild era. It is the West as any Westerner knows it now. And as such we could not be pioneers, we could not progress without this violence. Without the snuffing out of dissolute and desperate men such as Dillon, Cedar Hatt, Stillwell, and so on. The rub is that only hard iron-nerved youths like Billy the Kid, or Jim Lacy, can meet such men on their own ground. That is all I wanted you to know. And also, that if my daughter cared for Jim Lacy I would be proud to give her to him.”


Nevada on Gutenberg







  • 1947: Nevada (Italian)
  • 1950: Nevada (German)
  • 1958: Nevada (Norwegian)
  • 1977: Nevada (Finnish)


Tom Horn: A Pinkerton Agent (undercover work in the Wild West)

Violence and Lawlessness on the Western Frontier

Wikipedia: List of Old West gangs

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Posted by on 2014-06-09 in Books


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Robbers’ Roost (1930)

dirty devil river

Mouth of Fremont River (Dirty Devil River); Brown expedition 1889

Collier’s Weekly Magazine, October 11 – December 6, 1930
Harper & Brothers, New York 1932

Once more we find ourselves in Utah, this time around 1877 by Dirty Devil River (ZGWS).

“A beautiful young city girl, … a bold, young adventurer with a mysterious past, … two bands of desperados laughing at death”

exclaims the Milwaukee Journal as it introduces the coming daily serial starting May 7, 1931.

Credit: Robbers Roost Management Area

Credit: Robbers Roost Management Area

Let’s see what the above characterization looks like when Zane Grey’s own words are used:

A beautiful young city girl:

She had a wonderful step, a free, swinging, graceful stride, expressive of health and vitality. She did not look slender, as in the long ulster, but superb, broad of shoulder. She wore a half-length coat over her brown dress. It had a collar of dark fur which presented vivid contrast to her exquisite complexion. The veil was tucked back and now permitted sight of a wave of shining golden hair. At a little distance her eyes looked like great, dark holes set in white. But as she approached Jim saw they were violet in hue, warm, beautiful, fearless.

The mysterious adventurer:

He was a young man in years, but he had the hard face and eagle eye of one matured in experience of that wild country. He bestrode a superb bay horse, dusty and travel-worn and a little lame. The rider was no light burden, judging from his height and wide shoulders; moreover, the saddle carried a canteen, a rifle, and a pack. From time to time he looked back over his shoulder at the magnificent, long cliff wall, which resembled a row of colossal books with leaves partly open. It was the steady, watchful gaze of a man who had left events behind him.

And two bands of desperados. First off – Heeseman’s gang:

“Heeseman is the rustler of Dragon Canyon. None of the ranchers even round here know thet, but I know it. He’s got a small outfit, but shore enough bad. An’ in some way he got wind of Herrick’s scheme.”

Hays’ gang:

“Shore you ought. It’s not his money, you noticed,” drawled the robber, forcing the bill upon the reluctant youth. Then he addressed the traveler. “Say, Mormon, when you get uptown, or wherever you’re goin’–jest say Hank Hays paid you his respects.”

Robber's Roost Colliers magazine 3

Robbers’ Roost is another story from Zane Grey that draws from real life events. In Utah there is a place called Robbers’ Roost where bandits would hide out. About the time of this story (1870’s) a cattle rustler by the name of Butch Cassidy turned up and used Robbers’ Roost to hide the cattle he had stolen. The cost of taking Robbers’ Roost was too high for lawmen of the area. (RRH)

When Herrick thinks to save his cattle from rustling by setting two gangs up against each other he might not have been thinking all that clearly. Hays and Heeseman are more trouble than help. Fortunately for Herrick Jim Wall turns out to be on his side. Wall goes against his boss, Hays, when Hays kidnaps Helen – Herrick’s sister. That seems to be the line across which Wall was not willing to cross.









Robbers’ Roost: History

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Posted by on 2014-06-03 in Books


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The Hash Knife Outfit (Jim Traft II) (1933)

Colliers, September 21, 1929

Colliers, September 21, 1929

Collier’s Sep 21 1929 (+11), as “The Yellowjacket Feud”
Harper & Brothers, New York 1933
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine May 1948
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Mar 1950, Apr 1957, Apr 1961 (Galactic Central)

The Hash Knife Outfit is the sequel to The Drift Fence and its story unfolds about 7 years after the Pleasant Valley War.

Credit: $1LENCE D00600D, 2012

Credit: $1LENCE D00600D, 2012

In real life The Hashknife outfit worked for Aztec Land and Cattle Co. But ALCC were owners who knew diddly about cattle. It turned out they had bought every other section of land with the other half being made available for settlers. What the Hashknife outfit did was turn their cattle loose and let them graze where ever they wanted (32000 heads of cattle). Trouble was inevitable and the Hashknife outfit’s (eventually found its way to the Babbits) reputation for dastardly deeds was a given. (Duggan, R., 2012)

A conflict needs two parties and that is why we have the Diamond Outfit (or – probably the Diamond “A” Cattle Co) for the role as the so-called good guys. These guys were also huge and prone to both losing and gaining cattle unexpectedly. (Rancher’s net) Burton C. Mossman (ranger) was first a member of the Hashknife outfit, then a ranger and later on an owner of the Diamond A. (AZ Rangers)

Enter Zane Grey and his love of a good background and storytelling ability. His fictional telling of the Hash-Knife Outfit (who were never criminals in the eyes of the law) vs. the Diamond Outfit probably has some elements of truth, but just what those might be we will never know.

Cowboys herding cattle. PhotoId : 2005.0015.039

Cowboys herding cattle. PhotoId : 2005.0015.039

“Awful funny,” agreed Locke, in a dry tone, which acquainted the listening Jim with the fact that the circumstance was most decidedly not funny. “Anyway, it started me off. An’ the upshot of my nosin’ around was to find out that the Hash-Knife crowd are at Yellow Jacket an’ all of a sudden on common interested in you an’ young Jim, an’ the Diamond, an’ Slinger Dunn.”

“Ahuh. Wal, they’ll be a heap more so by spring,” replied Traft. “Funny about Bambridge.”

“The Hash-Knife have friends in Flag, you bet, an’ more’n we’d ever guess. Shore, nobody knows our business, onless the cowboys have talked. I’m afraid Bud an’ Curly have bragged. They do when they get to town an’ guzzle a bit. Madden did darn little drinkin’ an’ none ‘cept when he was treated. Another funny thing. He bought all the forty-five calibre shells Babbitt’s had in stock. An’ a heap of the same kind, along with some forty-fours for rifles, at Davis’s. He bought hardware, too. Some new guns. An’ enough grub to feed an outfit for a year.”

Things have happened on the love-front and the situation at the end of The Drift Fence is no longer the case in The Hash-Knife Outfit. Not to worry though. There will be plenty of “lover’s qualms” and damsel-in-distress situations along with all of the action that the above promises.

The Hashknife Outfit on Gutenberg

Review: Charles Wheeler


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Posted by on 2014-06-01 in Books


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Films based on “Fighting Caravans”

1931: Fighting Caravans: Information from IMDB

Directed by Otto Brower and David Burton
Screenplay by Edward E. Paramore, Jr., Keene Thomspson, Agnes Brand Leahy and Arthur Caesar


Gary Cooper Gary Cooper …Clint Belmet Lili Damita Lili Damita …Felice Ernest Torrence Ernest Torrence …Bill Jackson Tully Marshall Tully Marshall …Jim Bridger Fred Kohler Fred Kohler …Lee Murdock Eugene Pallette Eugene Pallette …Seth Roy Stewart Roy Stewart …Couch May Boley May Boley …Jane Eve Southern Eve Southern …Faith Frank Campeau Frank Campeau …Jeff Moffitt Charles Winninger Charles Winninger …Marshall Frank Hagney Frank Hagney …Renegade

Oscar Apfel Oscar Apfel …Minor Role Irving Bacon Irving Bacon …Mustachioed Barfly Chief John Big Tree Chief John Big Tree …Indian Chief Chris Willow Bird Chris Willow Bird …Apache Indian Frank Brownlee Frank Brownlee …Minor Role Jack Carlyle …Minor Role; Blue Cloud …Navajo Indian Iron Eyes Cody Iron Eyes Cody …Indian After Firewater Bill Cooley …Minor Role Rae Daggett …Minor Role Jane Darwell Jane Darwell …Pioneer Woman Sidney De Gray Sidney De Gray …Minor Role (uncredited)Clifford Dempsey Clifford Dempsey …Minor Role (uncredited)Walter Downing Walter Downing …Minor Role (uncredited)James Durkin James Durkin …Minor Role Chief White Eagle Chief White Eagle …Indian (uncredited)Peggy Elinor Peggy Elinor …Minor Role (uncredited)Jim Farley Jim Farley …Amos Pauline French Pauline French …Pioneer Woman (uncredited)Rosa Gore Rosa Gore …Pioneer Woman High Eagle High Eagle …Mission Indian (uncredited)Helen Hunt Helen Hunt …Pioneer Woman (uncredited)Dolores Johnson Dolores Johnson …Minor Role (uncredited)Jane Keckley Jane Keckley …Pioneer Woman (uncredited)Harry Lamont Harry Lamont …Minor Role Harry Lee Harry Lee …Minor Role (uncredited)Donald MacKenzie Donald MacKenzie …Gus James A. Marcus James A. Marcus …The Blacksmith Merrill McCormick Merrill McCormick …Townsman (uncredited)Guy Oliver Guy Oliver …Minor Role Tiny Sandford Tiny Sandford …Man at Wagon Train (uncredited)Syd Saylor Syd Saylor …Charlie Scott Seaton Scott Seaton …Minor Role Harry Semels Harry Semels …Brawler (uncredited)Ernest Shields Ernest Shields …Minor Role (uncredited)Bruce Warren Bruce Warren …Minor Role (uncredited)E. Alyn Warren E. Alyn Warren …Barlow White Cloud White Cloud …Choctaw Indian (uncredited)Chief White Feather Chief White Feather …Iroquois Indian (uncredited)

Music by Max Bergunkerm, Emil Bierman, A. Cousminer, Karl Hajos, Herman Hand, Emil Hilb, Sigmund Krumgold, John Leipold and Oscar Potoker
Cinematography by Lee Garmes and Henry W. Gerrard
Film Editing by William Shea
Art Direction by Robert Odell
Sound by Earl S. Hayman
Stunts by Spike Spackman
Camera and Electrical equipment by Francis Burgess, Warner Cruze, Russell Harlan, Art Lane, Warren Lynch, Fred Mayer, Guy Roe, Frank Titus and Cliff Shirpser
Presenter: Adolph Zukor


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Posted by on 2014-05-31 in Movies


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