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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.


Reviews:


Translations:

  • 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

Sources

 
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Posted by on 2018-02-18 in Books

 

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Betty Zane (Ohio River I) (1903)

Heroism of Miss Elizabeth Zane, 1851

Popular Graphic Arts; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-2355

Charles Francis Press, New York, 1903

Parents’ Magazine Press, 1947

In this busy progressive age there are no heroes of the kind so dear to all lovers of chivalry and romance. There are heroes, perhaps, but they are the patient sad-faced kind, of whom few take cognizance as they hurry onward. But cannot we all remember some one who suffered greatly, who accomplished great deeds, who died on the battlefield–some one around whose name lingers a halo of glory? Few of us are so unfortunate that we cannot look backward on kith or kin and thrill with love and reverence as we dream of an act of heroism or martyrdom which rings down the annals of time like the melody of the huntsman’s horn, as it peals out on a frosty October morn purer and sweeter with each succeeding note.

Betty Zane portrait from Zane Grey novel. Credit: West Virginia Division of Culture and History

Betty Zane portrait from Zane Grey novel.
Credit: West Virginia Division of Culture and History

The 1700’s was was a time when American Indians were becoming increasingly hostile. No wonder. The invaders were moving farther and farther west and were basically squatting on American Indian land. I can’t say I would be too happy about that myself.

These reckless bordermen knew not the meaning of fear; to all, daring adventure was welcome, and the screech of a redskin and the ping of a bullet were familiar sounds; to the Wetzels, McCollochs and Jonathan Zane the hunting of Indians was the most thrilling passion of their lives; indeed, the Wetzels, particularly, knew no other occupation. They had attained a wonderful skill with the rifle; long practice had rendered their senses as acute as those of the fox. Skilled in every variety of woodcraft, with lynx eyes ever on the alert for detecting a trail, or the curling smoke of some camp fire, or the minutest sign of an enemy, these men stole onward through the forest with the cautious but dogged and persistent determination that was characteristic of the settler.

They at length climbed the commanding bluff overlooking the majestic river, and as they gazed out on the undulating and uninterrupted area of green, their hearts beat high with hope.

The keen axe, wielded by strong arms, soon opened the clearing and reared stout log cabins on the river bluff. Then Ebenezer Zane and his followers moved their families and soon the settlement began to grow and flourish. As the little village commenced to prosper the redmen became troublesome. Settlers were shot while plowing the fields or gathering the harvests. Bands of hostile Indians prowled around and made it dangerous for anyone to leave the clearing. Frequently the first person to appear in the early morning would be shot at by an Indian concealed in the woods.

General George Rodgers Clark, commandant of the Western Military Department, arrived at the village in 1774. As an attack from the savages was apprehended during the year the settlers determined to erect a fort as a defense for the infant settlement. It was planned by General Clark and built by the people themselves. At first they called it Fort Fincastle, in honor of Lord Dunmore, who, at the time of its erection, was Governor of the Colony of Virginia. In 1776 its name was changed to Fort Henry, in honor of Patrick Henry. (From prologue)

As we see from Zane Grey’s prologue the men who set out to settle new land did not care what it took to acquire that land.

Back then a common term for the American Indian was savage. I imagine a term like that made it easier for the people coming to conquer lands to justify their deeds. Like the many stories of people coming from other places and taking land from the natives, this era in the history of the US nation is something one needs to regret. While both sides of the battle for land were guilty of atrocities, there is no doubt which side bears the greater blame. That does not exclude individuals from being able to perform heroic deeds to save their own group from destruction. Elizabeth Zane was such a person.

Elizabeth “Betty” Zane McLaughlin Clark (July 19, 1765 – August 23, 1823) was a heroine of the Revolutionary War on the American frontier. She was the daughter of William Andrew Zane and Nancy Ann (née Nolan) Zane, and the sister of Ebenezer Zane, Silas Zane, Jonathan Zane, Isaac Zane and Andrew Zane. (Wikipedia)

The main attraction of the story about Betty Zane’s deed for me is the fact that we finally get to hear about a woman being the great example to follow. Zane Grey’s stories are filled with women who are strong. But he cannot help himself when he lets patriarchy shine through his depiction of his ancestor and the other women of his stories.

Elizabeth Zane - Poem from St NicholasBut what can women do in times of war? They help, they cheer, they inspire, and if their cause is lost they must accept death or worse. Few women have the courage for self-destruction. “To the victor belong the spoils,” and women have ever been the spoils of war.

No wonder Silas Zane and his men weakened in that moment. With only a few charges for their rifles and none for the cannon how could they hope to hold out against the savages? Alone they could have drawn their tomahawks and have made a dash through the lines of Indians, but with the women and the children that was impossible.

“Wetzel, what can we do? For God’s sake, advise us!” said Silas hoarsely. “We cannot hold the Fort without powder. We cannot leave the women here. We had better tomahawk every woman in the block-house than let her fall into the hands of Girty.”

“Send someone fer powder,” answered Wetzel.

“Do you think it possible,” said Silas quickly, a ray of hope lighting up his haggard features. “There’s plenty of powder in Eb’s cabin. Whom shall we send? Who will volunteer?”

Three men stepped forward, and others made a movement.

“They’d plug a man full of lead afore he’d get ten foot from the gate,” said Wetzel. “I’d go myself, but it wouldn’t do no good. Send a boy, and one as can run like a streak.”

“There are no lads big enough to carry a keg of powder. Harry Bennett might go,” said Silas. “How is he, Bessie?”

“He is dead,” answered Mrs. Zane.

Wetzel made a motion with his hands and turned away. A short, intense silence followed this indication of hopelessness from him. The women understood, for some of them covered their faces, while others sobbed.

“I will go.” (Chapter XIV)

And so Elizabeth gets the chance to shine, to show the world that women are more than they are allowed to be in a society where women are thought to the be the nurturers not the protectors. She shows that if there are people in war who have courage it is the women who are expected to support but not chance their own lives. Not matter what my views are on the conflict between the various sides of the American Revolution and the Anglos against the Native Americans, Elizabeth Zane is to me a person whose courage shines as the sun.

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Available at Lambertville Library (with illustrations by Louis F. Grant)

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Reviews:

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Translations:

  • Bosnian: Posljednji graničar; Kapić, Dika; Sarajevo, Oslobođenje, 1990.
  • Croatian: Betty Zane (Posljednji graničar); Lakomica, Omer; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1960.
  • Czech: Betty Zane; Vorel, Josef, Brno, Návrat, 1927.
  • Dutch: Betty Zane (Een kind van het Westen); Roldanus, Jr., W J A; Utrecht, A.W. Bruna & Zoon’s. Uitgevers-Maatschappij, 1925.
  • Estonian: Betty Zane; Tallinn, Olion, 1996.
  • Finnish: Betty Zane (seikkailukertomus Pohjois-Amerikasta intiaanisotien ajoilta); Nyman, O. E.; Helsinki, Kirja, 1925.
  • German: Betty Zane (Heldenmädchen von Fort Henry); Werner, Baudisch, Paul; Berlin, Th. Knaur Nachf., 1928.
  • Hungarian: Betty Zane: regény (A vadon leánya); Zigány, Árpád; Budapest, Palladis Rt. Kiadasa, 192-.
  • Italian: Betty Zane; Pitta, Alfredo; Milano, Sonzogno, 1932.
  • Norwegian: Betty Zane; Thue, Hans Fr.; Oslo, Fredhøi, 1920. (Gratis tilgang Nasjonalbiblioteket for norske IPer)
  • Serbian: Betty Zane; Kumanac, Vlado; Zagreb, HRT Naklada, 1944.
  • Slovakian: Neodovzdaný list; Dzurillová, Elena & Schnitzer, Teodor; Bratislava, Mladé letá, 1985.
  • SpanishLa heroína de Fort Henry: Betty Zane; Gols, Joan; Barcelona, Juventud, 1929.

    • Catalan Spanish: Betty Zane; Jané, Jordi; Barcelona, Joventut, 1989

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Sources

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 2014-07-13 in Books

 

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The Light of Western Stars (1913)

Munsey’s Magazine, May – December 1913
Harper & Brothers, New York, 1914
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, November 1949 (RGL)
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Jul 1951, Sep 1958
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (UK) v1 #6 195? (Galactic Central)

The Light of Western Stars was first published as a serial in Munsey’s magazine in 1913 then published as a novel in 1914. Its backdrop is most likely the beginnings of the Mexican revolution. Set to somewhere around 1912 in the San Bernardino Valley in Arizona and the Peloncillo Mountains in New Mexico the musings about interesting times in the novel do seem to indicate that incursions of guerilla had started. (ZGWS) Because of this forts were built along the border just in case.

Francisco-I-Madero-contra-Porfirio-Diaz-Historia-de-la-Revolucion-MexicanaMadeline (Majesty) Hammond had come to El Cajon in New Mexico to visit her brother, Alfred. She longed to see him again and to get away from the life of a socialite back East. Socialiting had lost its appeal and Madeline now longed for a life with greater meaning than the one she had lived. Once she arrives in El Cajon Madeline discovers that all is not well. For one thing her brother has not received notice of her coming, and for another she meets trouble in the form of Gene Stewart.

Ochard in El Cajon ca. time of novel

Ochard in El Cajon ca. time of novel

Her brother is not doing as well financially as he had intimated in his letters to his sister. Indeed, his financial situation is rather dire. Madeline steps in and supports him both financially and by trying to become part of the life he leads. She buys land for herself and discovers that the West is both wilder and tamer than she had thought and that people were not always what they first seemed.

“He’s sure going to feel the ground,” said Florence, smiling at Madeline. “Miss Hammond, I suppose that prize horse of yours—White Stockings—would spoil his coat if he were heah to roll in this greasewood and cactus.”

During lunch-time Madeline observed that she was an object of manifestly great interest to the three cowboys. She returned the compliment, and was amused to see that a glance their way caused them painful embarrassment. They were grown men—one of whom had white hair—yet they acted like boys caught in the act of stealing a forbidden look at a pretty girl.

“Cowboys are sure all flirts,” said Florence, as if stating an uninteresting fact. But Madeline detected a merry twinkle in her clear eyes. The cowboys heard, and the effect upon them was magical. They fell to shamed confusion and to hurried useless tasks. Madeline found it difficult to see where they had been bold, though evidently they were stricken with conscious guilt. She recalled appraising looks of critical English eyes, impudent French stares, burning Spanish glances—gantlets which any American girl had to run abroad. Compared with foreign eyes the eyes of these cowboys were those of smiling, eager babies.

“Haw, haw!” roared Stillwell. “Florence, you jest hit the nail on the haid. Cowboys are all plumb flirts. I was wonderin’ why them boys nooned hyar. This ain’t no place to noon. Ain’t no grazin’ or wood wuth burnin’ or nuthin’. Them boys jest held up, throwed the packs, an’ waited fer us. It ain’t so surprisin’ fer Booly an’ Ned—they’re young an’ coltish—but Nels there, why, he’s old enough to be the paw of both you girls. It sure is amazin’ strange.”

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The Light of Western Stars available on Gutenberg

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Review:

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Films/movies

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Translations:

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Border War (1910-19)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 2014-07-03 in Books

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
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