Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Deputy Sheriff of Comanche County. 312 pages. Frontispiece and interior illustrations by John Coleman Burroughs. Publisher's gray cloth with titles in red on the front board and spine....
|Title||:||Deputy Sheriff of Comanche County|
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Deputy Sheriff of Comanche County Reviews
The Deputy Sheriff of Commanche County, 1940, Edgar Rice BurroughsGunderstrom lay asleep on a wooden cot against one of the cabin walls. A man was crossing the room stealthily with a long-barreled Colt in his hands.The almost wild wild west, considering there's a phone or two available, not a lot like today, but some, as well as a car, and buckboards, horses. This splendid little story is just shy of 50,000 words, I'd say, as I typed out a double-spaced 12-pt. page, calculated the remainder, etc etc. 47,500, figuring 250 words per page. I've read a lot of westerns, watched quite a few, too. This is a good story, as westerns go. Burroughs doesn't talk down to you, nor does he lead you on, there is the elements of the story, and as they unravel you learn at the pace that the characters learn. Still not done. I'm savoring it.i pp 9-19The Line Fence“a lone rider drew rein before a gate consisting of three poles cut from straight pine saplings.”…a rack & a pace…horseman terms to describe an easy shuffling gait.Horse’s name…bulls-eye, cause of a white patch on his right eye. Blue roan.New Mexico.A rider, Buck Mason, mustached, comes to ask Ole about the fence, the land, prime for alfalfaAn old man, Ole Gunderstrom, lives in a cabin, (on Spring Creek, five miles from town ) has had the land fenced 20 years, fought w/the rider’s old man about it, who has been dead two years, & the rider tells him he don’t have title to that land. Ole is possibly the richest man, has other homes, ranches, but he lives in this cabin. His wife died. He figures Buck wants Olga so as to get at his riches. Fat chance.Olga? Buck asks. At 16, when Buck was 18, Six years prior, Ole sent her east, to school, keep her away from the trash of Commanche County.Buck keeps reading material under lock & key, a possible embarrassment, including a file of Vogue magazine & a book of etiquette.ii pp 20-32 Who Killed Gunderstrom? Five horsemen. Midnight. Handkerchiefs tied round their faces. One shoots Ole dead. Nine o’clock in the morning, (not next morning, just morning, a bit awkward) sheriff reading the newspaper, & an old man (Old man, Uncle Billy Cage) leaning in doorway spit, reading as well, & the men ain’t been caught yet….though not awkward, as it appears this has been happening, murders. The telephone rings. Tom Kidder from the Circle G, calls, found Gunderstrom. Mason comes in, hears, goes to the cabin. Sheriff goes for Doc Bellows, (Lizzie…a horse?) Uncle Billy says something about 20 miles of rough road…Lizzie again…car? 20 miles or 5 miles from town…by the trail. Tom Kidder is there w/2 hands from the home ranch. Buck Mason looks it over, sees something about the boot the killer tripped over, knows there’s been five. He leaves. When the sheriff gets back, Uncle Billy Cage tells him of an anonymous caller, blaming Buck. Caller spoke, sounded like he had a harelip.iii pp 33- 46 Bruce MarvelThe TF Ranch in Porico County, Arizona. Three generations, all good, but 3rd generation, educated at Eastern colleges, softened…etc. Title passed to banks. Banks used a cattle man, cattle man rented to Corey Blaine, pioneer in the dude ranch business. Corey & others sitting on front porch, buckboard approaches, showmanship, bringing a new guy, Bruce Marvel (who seems to be more than he makes out…Buck?) There’s a blond girl in overalls Kay White, another woman in fancy clothes Dora Crowell (who went to school w/Olga Gunderstrom in Philadelphia) , a man from Boston Bert Adams, a Mrs. Birdie & Mr. Benson Talbot, They’re all going riding the next day, the chuck wagon is ahead of them 15 miles. Mason has been missing 3 weeks.Next morning, the hands make fun of Bruce Marvel’s clothing. There’s a Butts, a bow-legged puncher, one or two not named…two horses named, Crowhop & Baldy. Marvel will ride Baldy.iv pp 47-61 Kay White The topping of Baldy. Topping means to get on a horse & let it jump & kick a bit if need be--then it is okay to ride for beginners. Miss Abbie Pruell calls to her niece, Kay, as the group rides away, careful of snakes. Butts tells the other hands that he’s going to get the new guy, Bruce Marvel, the way he rides is disgusting to them. Miss White tries to teach him. 3 days they ride into the wilderness…going to Hi Bryam, owner of 4 good lion dogs for the hunt. Marvel has learned that Kay’s father is a wealth California banker, mother dead, father coming after hunt. He surmises that Corey Blaine is interested in Kay White, troubling, as he does not like Blaine. (Blaine is a pain.) Bud is another cow hand with them, & likeable, unlike Butts. Hy Bryam, disliked by Bruce. 3 days hunting, no success. Bruce is now paired with Dora Crowell, Blaine & Kay White followed. Hy Bryam w/other two dogs, led Dora & Bruce along a ridge. Bert Adams remains in camp w/the Talbots. Blaine tells Kay that he is ignorant, no book learning, like Adams. Corey tells Kay that she’d never marry a cow poke. She disagrees, I’d marry Hy Bryam is I chose. Kay wonders about his motives, her answer to him, whether that might encourage him, or what… or more. Corey stops after a bit, grabs her hand, says he loves her. She says no go, no mas.v pp 62-77 The Lion HuntDora & Bruce. Dora tells Bruce in more than a few words that he is hiding something, that he rides better, knows more than he makes out. They get to the crest of the ridge, see Kay & Corey on the other ridge. Dora speaks what might be the theme: “It’s funny how so many of us want to be something else beside what we really are…& Kay is no better than the rest of us.” How so? She doesn’t wear overalls & work shirts at home. The theme again, voiced by Dora: “There’s a little false alarm in all of us.” A false alarm is what Dora calls it, as well as Olga, when she was attending school. Dora elaborates, tells “Bruce” (for I think he is Buck in disguise) says that Olga will be coming west. They hear the hounds, Dora speeds off. Bruce takes his boot garters off & tosses them--Dora said they were on backwards.Cougar lion treed, Kay doesn’t want to shoot him, on the suggestion of one that the two girls shoot as one. He looks free. Hy saws qqc along the lines of shoot em all, too many, we’d have more deer. Like in the Kaibib forest, says Kay, since they killed all the lion, too many deer, starving. Oh my. They must have PETA active there, not to mention all those shithead, asshole Democrats, so-called “progressives,” who want to ban all the guns. Line all the fuckers up & shoot ’em, good riddance to bad trash. Kay shoots, but her horse takes off, Marvel gives chase. He catches her, takes her as she’s riding, her horse falls, he gets it to stand after a bit, fixes the broken rein with a knot that only Corey Blaine noticed Marvel leads Kay’s horse back. They return. Corey says to Bud about the knot, about his riding, & they wonder what the game is. vi pp 78-89 Hi BryamDora & Kay go to their tent when back, talk of what happened, of Bruce. Dora says she’s heard Bruce slip, as well, in his word usage--& Buck was reading those books--& then Birdie Talbot sticks her head in, saying that Butts & Bryam are back w/the lion. Could you kill a lion w/a revolver, asks Bruce/Buck. Bruce asks to take a few shots w/Corey’s revolver, accidentally (on purpose) fires a round…Bruce finds his bullet, in the bedroll that he shot…he missed the can five times, a dollar was wagered by the Talbots…& Bruce keeps the bullet. Later, Bruce Marvel & Hy Bryam. Talk. Of a sort. Hy, not. Bruce compares their boots, Hy’s being an inch-&-a-half different…an oddity, so it says. Later, Blaine & Butts go to Hy Bryam’s cabin…& a “denser shadow among the pines, seeming to come to rest upon an open window.” Blaine gives this order, Mart & Eddie know what to do…take the south trail…One Mile Creek into Sonora…trail to Kelly’s place from there…qqc bout the old man…no funny stuff he warns em. vii pp 90-100 The BurNext morning, Bruce asks if Baldy is going to be “topped”. Not by Corey. Butts does it, but he stops 200 yards out, picks qqc up…he puts it under saddle. Bruce Marvel takes it out, this yours? Paired up, as before, Dora/Bruce talk, she pesters him who is he. Talk of Corey, apparently he has a mine interest qqc. They go off for periods at a time, she tells Bruce, they got back from a trip 3 weeks before you came to the ranch (the 3 weeks again) Kay & Blaine riding, Blaine is trying to make time, she’s having none of it. After a stop, she pairs up w/Bruce, irritating Blaine. vii pp 101-114 Fourflushers, AllKay/Bruce talk…her horse is called Lightfoot (make a note of it). They get to clothes, like Dora/Bruce did, as well. fourflushers is a word that Kay uses to describe those who don clothing to affect a look, whether it be a cowpoke, golfer, polo player or whatever I guess. Later, Bruce (Buck) is surprised that Kay might possibly hold a place he thought reserved for another. So by this point, Burroughs seems to be writing w/the idea that by now, the reader has come around to the idea that Bruce is Buck…or if not, & I wasn’t entirely sure as yet, this chapter cinches the deal. All we need now is a twist, Buck’s twin bother, or something, a la Harry Crews’s Car…she’s my little deuce coupe! You don’t know what I got! Bruce/Buck is thinking of grabbing Kay off her horse & he is lost. He about forgets Olga--she is somewhere else, Kay is present & accounted for, even though there had never been an understanding, he had an understanding, & he’d go to her if she’d never come back. Later, at the campfire, Corey, sullen, is offered $75 by Bruce for Baldy. $100. Bruce peels off 5 20s & hands them over. Baldy’s yourn. Bruce has lost his lucky horse’s tooth. Ha! Later, they go to sleep, all save Kay/Bruce, she asks why he bought Baldy, cause he saved your life. Later still, after setting his bedroll nearby Corey’s, after being down for a bit, he rises up, throws one of Corey’s boots into the fire & pretends to have shooed a coyote away. ix pp 115-125 The Sorrel ColtNext morning, no boot is found. Great fun at breakfast. Bruce gets on Baldy after no one will top him, but the horse doesn’t do the usual kick, bounce, & run 200 yards. They ride, Kay beside Bruce. She was awake in the night, saw it, thinks it is small & petty. I’m sorry your saw it, is all he says. They’re back at the home camp. Blaine has old boots, well-worn, two colors of leather, little brass hearts in the center of each heel. Walking, Bruce follows, looking, humming. Bruce asks for a fresh horse, to find a new lucky horse’s tooth. Bruce rides, the horse bucks after a bit, Blaine is surprised, Bruce rides to the rail town where a week before he had debarked. General store, where post office is, writes letter, mails it. Back at the ranch, the guests ask where he is…talk talk…Benson asks if Birdie remembers the English lord, wonderful bridge partner at Fishkill-on-the-Hudson…found out he had escaped from Matteawan, had been an school teacher until he killed his wife for trumping his ace. x pp126-137 Blaine is JealousOut on the porch of an evening…Bud & Butts late, but there. Bruce? They worry about the sorrel colt, figure it might have killed Bruce, but here he comes, says he got lost, says to Butts, take my horse, my man, an insult, but Corey nudges him & he acts. No tooth, but he says he’ll get Bud to take him tomorrow…& Bud agrees to do so…though he isn’t aware of a dead horse. Kay says come on I’ll get you a sandwich. Bruce insults Butts again, Corey retrains him. Asks what’s new. Kay got a letter from pa. Should be soon. Dora says a friend is coming, too, Olga Gunderstrom. Talk of evidence against Buck. An Indian said he saw Buck riding away from cabin late the afternoon of the murder. Figure Mason is one of gang that has been robbing banks & paymasters around here, figure the harelip is a member of the gang, etc. p134, Comanche spelled w/one “n”. Cory Blaine warns Bruce before they turn in to lay off the girls. A fire burns on a ridge. xi pp 138-152 “That would be Eddie” Next morning. No “paper chase” Corey has bizz. Arranged for Bud to take em to Crater Mountain. Tooth! Ok. Butts to C.M. Bud & u can tooth hunt. Bruce/Bud…”look at that horse that fell dead” (Corey Blaine’s, mentioned in a previous chapter) Bud has been on the ranch long. His father used to own it. There is a rider in the hills that Bruce sees. They turn and go back. Bruce pretends to lose a spur. Bud is sent on. Bruce sneaks & peaks. Corey talking to 2 others, one is Eddie. Bruce rides, rides, gets in front of the 2, one speaks…funny…talk. Paper chase=tomorrow. Blaine has tried to get rid of Bruce twice now, folk coming from Detroit, need room.xii pp 153-161 “Goodbye, Kay” Evening, Bruce smokes on the veranda. Corey/Butts at corral talkin. Kay comes out, talks, she’ll be hare in chase game, but Bruce tells her he is going. Double up w/Bert Adams. She asks why Cory wants him gone. He tries, can’t tell. Next morning, they all know he is leaving. Taking Baldy. xiii pp 162-173 Marvel Buys an OutfitCorey, Kay, Bud head out for the chase. Marvel/Butts alone at corral, train due at three. Miss Pruell on veranda, embroidery on lap. She is Kay’s aunt, Kay’s father coming, Kay’s mother, her sister died. Dora, Mrs Talbot w/Kay. Mr White comes in a car. Abbie Pruell/John White. Butts obnoxious; Bruce is brought to town, stays at a hotel. One train is late, freight train wreck. He gets his horse fed & stored. xiv pp174-187 KidnappedCorey, Bud, Kay. Corey instructs Bud on dropping paper, for the chase. 40 miles. Bert Adams won’t sit down again. Corey leads Kay into a wash. She is kidnapped by two who tie up Corey. At the house, Bud returns, followed by the others, followed by Corey’s horse. They figure qqc is up. Will send out Bud w/2 others on fresh horses. Dora convinces Mr White to call the deputy sheriff. The call is placed to the hotel where Bruce answers. The sheriff lives out in country, no phone. Marvel tells White one will ride now, the message will get to Sheriff. Tells the hotel proprietor to tell them to head to Hy Bryam’s shack. Marvel changes into his regular clothes, his 2 .44s, but no one sees him leave. Train arrives, as does Olga Gunderstrom, Butts waiting. No one sees Marvel at the livery. He takes a sack of oats. xv pp 188-204 One Hundred Thousand DollarsButts drives like a BOOH getting back, Olga peeved, they passed Buck/Bruce, though no recognition, too fast. Butts heads out to “look”…unties Blaine. Blaine figures ransom, but no reward when he saves the day.Butts/Blaine arrive, are told sheriff it out, “west” would have helped sheriff, though he had a tip, making Blaine curious…He asks for “Blue” another horse, to go get her back. White has telegraphed to other sheriffs, Mexico. Butts finds the note from the kidnappers. “Tell Mr White that if he wants to see his daughter alive again to have one hundred thousand dollars in twenty dollar bills ready one week from today at TF Ranch….” Blaine leaves after arranging signals, Horsecamp Butte, and the hill for Butts. xvi pp 205-217 At Bryam’s Cabin Bruce riding. At Hi Bryam’s, a watcher sees the light that Buck/Bruce saw. Tells. Name is Mart, campfire this side of Mill Creek. They (3 of em) are fixin to skedaddle. Kay is thinking, Corey, but tied up…Bruce? She questions what he is. The 3 discuss it. Bryam stays, tells a tale, no go he say, won’t work. Deming they went to, say. Eddie is one, Mart the other. Kay excuses herself inside, grabs a pack of cards. Ties handkerchief to a card, drops, tears cards, drops, marks trail. xvii pp 218-231 Torn Playing CardsDeputy sheriff of Porico County is ahead Blaine, but in the night, he spots their fire, goes around it, falls in a wash. Horse’s leg is broken. Blaine calls to the posse to help him. Bruce/Buck heard it as well. Bryam, at his shack, watches a horseman approach, thinking it is Blaine, gets his rifle, a Springfield thirty-thirty Bruce plans as he rides, goes up to Bryam’s shack, the dogs greet him, Bryam can’t make out who he is, though he looks familiar to him. He follows the poorly disguised trail, leans over and picks up the handkerchief! Must be a short horse! Ha ha ha ha ha! Bryam, still watchin, recognizes Baldy! Bryam sees that it is that nosey dude, shoots, misses, Bruce fires his .44 Not dead, but hurtin’ He rides on. Bruce says qqc bout Bull’s Eye, talkin to Baldy, who hasn’t had much rest (nor Bruce)xviii pp 232-244 On the Trail The posse arrives at Bryam’s. He says go east, gets Corey alone, but dies. Corey blames it on Bruce Marvel, send them on, says he’ll bury Hy. After they leave, he takes off, leaving Hy lay. Bruce finds the Queen of Hearts, or half of her, on the trail he follows. Bruce stops for short breaks. Talks to Baldy. Goes on. Spots a fire, keeps going. Thinks that Blaine is on a horse called Pudding’s Foot. He creeps forward to the place where the fire is, wondering, will there be the two, or will Blaine be there, as he hadn’t seen Pudding Foot’s track, a big one.xix pp 245-255 “Stick ‘em Up!”Sees one man reclining, two prone. One reaches, dies. Kay sees it, Mart. He dies. They eat. The saddle up & leave. Kay asks about Mart. Nothing to dig with. She harbors bad feelings about it, about Bruce, later, she reconsiders. Eddie thinks of escape. They head north. Bruce has the scoop on Blaine.xx pp 256-269 Water!Blaine on the trail, misreads the sign, believes Marvel is headed to the east, but 4-tracks. He comes on Mart, dead. He spurs for home, thinking, our word--Bryam (dead), Mart (dead), and him--against Marvel, heedless of his horse’s ability or health. Marvel, on the other trail, where years before w/his old man they knew of water, the horses weaken. They rest at the water hole. Blaine is hot to get back. Marvel talks to Eddie, shows him notches (2 more) in the guns, his father’s, a sheriff, who made most of the notches. After resting, they head out.xxi pp 270-283 “He is Buck Mason”Blaine is at Bryam’s shack. His horse dies. Bryam is still lying there, too. He saddles his horse, hobbled there. The dogs watch. He makes it to the TF Ranch, to bunkhouse, tells Butts what’s what. Blaine tells Mr White & the others a story. Marvel. Dora doesn’t believe him. Bruce, Kay, Eddie arrive. White accuses him, Olga comes out, accuses him. Marvel gives em Eddie to hold, says he’s a deputy sheriff, walks off. Kay comes back out--she’d gone in. hears. xxii pp 284-294 “You’re Under Arrest”Olga tells Blaine,Butts $5000 reward dead or alive for Bruce/Buck. They get their guns. Eddie convinces Olga to free him--he’d been tied in the office. Buck waits for B/B. 2 sheriffs arrives, they arrest Buck. Eddie, fleeing, is stopped by 4 horsemen, the posse.xxiii pp295-312 The Brass Heart Buck tells his defense…including how Eddie talks like he has a harelip--he got part of his tongue shot off! Blaine killed Gunderstrom because he was helping the five, held back, etc. In the end, Buck gets the girl, and though that is nicely ambiguous, I think the reader knows which girl he got.
Thank GOD for Project Gutenburg! I found SO many of his books there and growing up/living my entire life 20 miles from his Hometown is a big deal. There simply are not that many literary GIANTS in the dusty nowhere towns of west Texas, so Anything written by this great man is a work of art in my eyes. Moving past bias though, with this being a regional piece, I just LOVED this one!http://www.gutenberg.org/
Perhaps suffering from not being the total surprise the first Burroughs Western held for me, this one didn't so totally blow me away. But, still, a great book and, like Bandit this is a secret treasure--I mean, they don't seem to get the praise they deserve because they have been hidden so long in Tarzan and John Carter's shadows...
Just for storytelling and fun I'd give this a 4. But the plot, as often with ERB, depends a fair amount on coincidence and misdirection, and that might bring the score down a bit. This one was pretty easy to figure out, but all in all it was a good fun read.
read some time in 1996