Saturday, 21 May 2016

Adventure - Review of May 15, 1933 issue

[Inspired by a post on True Pulp Fiction]

Adventure, May 15, 1933 - cover illustration

Cover illustration by Walter Whitehead (not for any particular story, the signpost says Gretna Green) and interior artwork by Neil O’Keeffe. This was an issue that had only 96 pages, a big drop from the 192 pages in the 1918-1927 peak of Adventure. But still worth reading with a couple of great stories from Richard Wetjen and Harold Lamb. 

In the Tradition · Albert Richard Wetjen · nv          4/5

An excellent story of wooden ships and iron men. Captain Barnes of the Albacore is from the old breed of sailors (when that word you had actually shipped on sailing vessels), and has contracted a last voyage before retiring from the sea. Disaster strikes, again and again, but Captain Barnes fights the sea…

Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - In the Tradition by Albert Richard Wetjen
Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - In the Tradition by Albert Richard Wetjen
THE three-masted bark Albacore was a wreck. The white squall, that rarest of all the winds, had come upon her out of a clear sky and with little warning. Her fore and main topmasts had gone by the board, later her jibboom. Two seamen had been washed overside; the cook had been killed and the galley washed clean. The main cabin skylights were smashed; the wheel had snapped like a twig; most of the bulwarks were gone and the hatches had caved in, some tons of water pouring below. The Albacore lay heeled to port, weary as a stricken whale, and the chaotic seas the white squall had left battered her unmercifully. Captain Harry Barnes surveyed his ruined decks and groaned.

“She’s not coming up, sir,” gasped the young second mate, wiping blood from his forehead and steadying himself against a backstay. “Cargo must have shifted.”

Captain Barnes brushed water from his clipped white beard and spat salt over the rail. He was an old man—a very old man—well in his eighties, though still erect and massively built. But the sudden disaster had staggered him.

“We’ll attend to the cargo later,” he croaked. “Get that wreckage secured for’ard.”

The second mate slid down the companion to the main deck.

“He wants to secure the wreckage,” he yelled at the mate whom he found nursing a bruised shin and swearing. The wind was piping thin and high and he had to yell. “What in hell’s he going to do with it?”

Captain Barnes showed them when he went forward. The tangle of top-hamper was still secured to the ship by its gear and was banging the hull at every other roll. They cut it free and let it drift away on the end of a stout wire so it served as a sea anchor of sorts to hold the Albacore steady. Then they got a rag of canvas on the mizzen, and the Albacore headed into the swell.

“We’ll have to get a tow-in somewhere and refit,” said the second mate. It was his first experience with a white squall and he was somewhat excited. “We can’t go on like this. She’s full of water and the cargo’s listing her. If we get another blow we’re gone.”

“That’s right,” agreed the mate, “we’ll have to get a tow.”

Captain Barnes said nothing, but he went slowly aft to get into dry clothes, leaving the watches at work. He felt a little dazed. They were only four days out of New York, with briquet coal for Iquique, Chile, and this was to be his last voyage. He had clung to the Albacore long after she had ceased to make profitable runs. He had been sentimental about the old ship, had dug into his savings to keep her going. But the competition of steam had been too much. For the past six months the Albacore had been tied up, seeking a cargo, and his savings were all gone. And he was an old man, a very old man. He felt it now.

All his friends and what relatives he had left had advised him to go into a sailors’ home. The Albacore was all but worthless; no one wanted a clipper any more. But he had persisted. He had found her a cargo at last; and in Iquique he would sell the old ship. They would buy her for a hulk, if nothing else, and he would get enough out of her to keep him until the end. He had always been independent.

So he had borrowed money to fit her for sea one last time; and after much searching he had gathered a crew of sorts. The voyage should not be long —three months perhaps—and then he could retire in peace. He had never expected disaster to strike him as it had, only four days out. He sank wearily to a chair when he had finished changing and thought for a long time, conning back through the years. The second mate disturbed him, coming down from the poop.

The Stamped Crime · Allan Vaughan Elston · ss 2/5

This detective story of a man murdered for his gambling winnings, by one of the people he gambled with, depends on a chain of unlikely events.

Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - The Stamped Crime by Allan Vaughan Elston
Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - The Stamped Crime by Allan Vaughan Elston

I FELT a premonition of impending evil before that poker session was half over. It was an impression, intangible yet persistent, that some sinister circumstance threatened our company.

Tangibly the only things oppressively apparent were Foy’s temper—that of a man who all his life had been a poor loser; and the gaiety of Rich, whose effort to make it appear that he was a good loser was extravagantly overdone. The stony face of Paul Seixas expressed no mood at all.

The Breaker of Brynas · Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson · ss 2/5

A Viking story in the vein of Swain’s Saga. But much weaker, and depends on a very unlikely event happening for the hero to survive.

Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - The Breaker of Brynas by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson
Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - The Breaker of Brynas by
Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson
NOW Thorgrim of Orkadal had tarried three days at the hall of Bersi the Unsparing, who had a bad name in the Northland for being greedy of gold. And Astrid, the niece of Bersi, had looked with favor upon Thorgrim, which pleased not Bersi her uncle, nor Vikar the Squinting, his son. These two plotted how they might waylay Thorgrim and seize his ship and the two chests of gold it contained.

It was agreed between Bersi the Unsparing and his son Vikar that Vikar should sail ahead with twice fifty men and two ships and lie in wait for Thorgrim at the Island Hod.

Now Thorgrim, all unaware of this treachery, stood on the lypting and steered Stigandi—the Stepping One—an exceeding handsome ship painted scarlet with the shields along the gunwales alternating black and yellow, while its sail of black vadmal was embroidered with a golden dragon and the sun glittered from the thin gold plates on the dragon’s head at its prow.

Rifled Gold [Part 2 of 5; Hashknife Hartley] · W. C. Tuttle · sl

No review because this isn’t the first part of the serial.

Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - Rifled Gold by W. C. Tuttle
Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - Rifled Gold by W. C. Tuttle



COREY’S Diamond C brand was one of the landmarks in that part of the country. The ranch, located three miles east of Painted Wells, was a rather picturesque old huddle of adobe buildings under some spreading sycamores.

Milt Corey had never aspired to be a big cattle raiser; he had been content to live along, loving his family and home. Two or three droughts in succession and low prices for beef and hides had depleted his scanty capital, as it had that of many cattlemen in that country.

The banks would lend no more money on that sort of security. Milt Corey had secured the ten thousand dollar mortgage when the market was in good shape, but bad luck had prevented him from paying off any of the principal. Now not only was the mortgage due, but also the note held by Ed Ault for the same amount, due in less than six months. On the day following the funeral Ed Ault rode out to the Corey ranch. Ault was no philanthropist; he was a cold blooded gambler. He rode into the shady patio, watered his horse at the well and tied it to an iron ring in the patio wall.

Mrs. Corey came out on the rear veranda as Ault turned. She was a frail little woman, dressed in rusty black. He came up and leaned against the rail.

“Won’t you come up and sit down?” she asked.

“Thank you,” replied Ault gravely. “I wasn’t sure if I’d be welcome out here.”

“There has always been a welcome for anybody here, Mr. Ault.”

“I know it, Mrs. Corey. You folks have had hard luck—mighty hard—and I wanted to tell you not to worry about that note.”

Song in Mahratti · Perry Adams · ss 1.5/5

A story about a lieutenant who lost his courage from shell shock in World War 1, or so his troops believe. The story is not much, and the native character is a mouthpiece for colonialist views.

Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - Song in Mahratti by Perry Adams

“ AH, SAHIB,” said the subahdar-major, as we tried to cool ourselves in the hot, sticky breeze, “the winds before the monsoon always make me a little sad.” He sighed. “Yes, they recall a curious period through which I once passed; I should not care for another like it!”
In the dim light of a single oil lamp at the other end of the long room, he was a blur beside me. We sat quite alone near the door of the regimental mess, gazing out into the velvety blackness which surrounded us—the intense, expectant darkness of an Indian night. Overhead light clouds raced across the stars, skirmishers and advance guards of the coming rains; and below, thirsty nature prepared for the onslaught in a busy hush which one felt rather than heard. The battalion had marched for the frontier these many days, to join the brigade at Dera Ismail Khan. As a very green junior subaltern I had been left behind in charge of the depot, wdiile the subahdar-major had not gone because of a foot infection.

Almost nightly I invited this fine old son of a fighting race to join me in the mess after dinner. The glory and pride of the Mahrattas was reflected in his high caste Hindu face, molded by generations whose courage was a byword when Christ walked the earth.

When the British came to India the untamed Mahratta spirit flamed out against them in three bloody, costly wars. “We have beaten the Mahratta army, but we have not conquered this people,” said the great Duke of Wellington, as his army paused to lick its wounds after the battle of Assaye. But in the end the Mahratta kingdom bowed to the inevitable and swung under the English banner.

Although he had never been out of India, the subahdar-major was a man of the world, with a broad, sympathetic understanding of Western ideas. Like so many of the better type Indian officer, he had absorbed the essence with the form in his hard climb up the ladder, without in the least losing the proud reserve of his Eastern individuality. Without resentment toward the British Raj, lie was able to reflect upon the conflicts of his people, the decline and the decay of Mahratta power, the prodigal waste…

Alias Blackbeard · James W. Bennett · ar

When a Man Belongs · Raymond S. Spears · ss 2/5

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and Raymond Spears gets a story out of it.

Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - When a Man Belongs by Raymond S. Spears
Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - When a Man Belongs by Raymond S. Spears
WAYNE GILBERT drew his final pay envelop from the cashier of the Wurden Manufactures, Inc. and turned down Slip Street toward the Ohio River. The shops were shut down indefinitely. Since boyhood:—even during school vacations—he had worked there, in office, yard, bench, shipping and sales. A prosaic and enthusiastic handy man, he had never even considered the contingency of the establishment’s drawing its fires and having all the machines covered with thick petrolatum against moisture and canvased against dust to await another period of profitable operations.

Yet in the back of his head Gilbert had always felt the allure of the Ohio River flowing by, a spiritual voice constantly calling to him. Heretofore he had thought of a vacation, a picnic, a cruise down the flood when he should have a motor yacht supported by a not improbable interest in the Wurden business, and an assistant to carry on in the shops for him while he lazed in the luxury of a Spring or Autumn afloat.

The Commodore Retires · A. L. Spellmeyer · ar     

The Golden Horde [Part 1 of 2; Nial O’Gordon] · Harold Lamb · na               4.5/5

Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - The Golden Horde by Harold Lamb

Harold Lamb takes the son of a crusader uprooted from Palestine to the Far East, seeking his fortune in the court of the Great Khan. On the way he comes across a merchant who hires him as a body guard, a spy for the Khan, and a mysterious shaman who helps him or does he…? He agrees to steal a precious stone to settle a debt to the merchant when his lack of attention to the merchant’s baggage lets someone steal it.

But this is Harold Lamb, and nothing is what it seems, and sword play alone cannot win against an entire kingdom. Lamb’s heros always have to use their brains and their brawn, and Nial O’ Gordon is no exception

An excellent tale, and you can read it in the Bison Books collection, Swords from the West (disable your ad blocker to see the link):

Along with its sequel, Keeper of the Gate.

THE Winter’s blanket of snow lay deep on the land. It stretched from the frozen tundras down to the southern sea—down to the shallow, tideless gray water of the Sea Gate.

Here clear skies and a warm sun melted the snow. Reed bordered lakes overflowed into the alleys of the Gate itself. And lines of galleys jostled like feeding dogs along the embankment of the caravan road. Out of these galleys swarmed men of all kinds—warriors striding under their gear and slaves bent under hemp sacks—to the bank where sable-clad merchants argued in many tongues and riders in wolfskins spattered them with mud, unheeded. The jangling bells of mules echoed the grunting of lines of camels kneeling for their loads.

For this Sea Gate, as the newcomers called it, was the port of Tana. To the north and east of it stretched a new and limitless empire, an empire ruled by horsemen and filled with unknown treasures. The caravan road that began at Tana went by thousand-mile stages into the heart of Cathay.

To Cathay where, in this year of the Leopard in the second cycle of his reign, the great Khan Kublai ruled all the Hordes.

MARDI DOBRO sniffed the morning with relish and went down to the waterfront to begin his day’s work. Being a shaman, he lived by his wits. He knew the tricks of conjuring and telling omens; he was an old hand at making or unmaking spells and writing prayers for the sick to swallow.

In his soiled red robe, with a white bearskin pulled over his high shoulders, Mardi Dobro pushed through the tumult to a dry spot by a fire. His green eyes, framed in the tangle of his long black hair, seemed to take no notice of the men around him as he knelt and picked a glowing ember from the fire.

But the man who stood before the bakshi-the officer-was a strange figure. Half a head he rose above the crowd, with a brown camel's-hair cloak hanging from his wide shoulders. He wore neither hat nor turban, and his sun-lightened hair fell to his shoulders. He leaned quietly on the top of a kite-shaped shield, upon which was the battered semblance of a lion.

"He has no voice," cried the bakshi of the rolls. "He knows not Armenian or the speech of the U-luss."

And Mardi Dobro, who knew all the types of the caravan road, had never beheld one like this man without a voice. His darkened skin showed that he came from a hot country, yet his eyes were a clear blue. He bore himself like a man grown; but he was young, almost a boy.

"Yah rafik," asked the shaman at a venture-for the cloak was of Arab work-"O man of the roads, art thou of the Arabs?"

"Nay," the youth answered at once.

"Was there ever," demanded the bakshi, irritated because the voiceless one had responded to another, "an Arab with hair like ripe wheat and a lion upon his shield? What is his name?"

"What name bearest thou?" the shaman asked in Arabic.


"Ni-al." The secretary wrote it down. "From what place is he? What lord follows he? Whither goeth he? And why?"

"Patience," muttered Mardi Dobro as he put the questions to the stranger. "Eh, bakshi, he says that he is from beyond the sea. He has no master and he goes to no place."

"Cha!" The Chinese flourished his reed pen angrily. "How can I write that in the book?" He turned to the Tatar soldier, who was eyeing the lion on the shield with curiosity. "Take thou the weapons from this wanderer from nowhere who serves no one."

Stretching out his arm, the burly Tatar caught the hilt of the stranger's sword and half drew it. Instantly the man named Nial swung up his clenched fist, striking the warrior where the throat meets the jawbone. The guard whirled and fell, his long -skirted coat flapping about his boots. The crowd stared in amazement. Few had seen the blow, and fewer still dreamed that a man's hand without a weapon could knock another down. The Tatar lay without moving, although he breathed heavily.

Clang! The bakshi struck hard upon a bronze basin hanging beside him, and other soldiers appeared, hastening toward him. Death was the punishment for attacking a Tatar with a weapon. The crowd fell away from the man named Nial, who, feeling the menace in the air, raised the lion shield on his arm and drew his sword, a long straight blade of gray steel. But Mardi Dobro sprang in front of him.

"Move thou not," he commanded, "and say naught."

The Camp-Fire · [The Readers] · lc

Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - Campfire
Illustration for Adventure, May 15 1933 - Campfire

ACCORDING to time honored custom, on the occasion of his first story in our pages, Perry Adams rises to make his bow to the members of the Camp-fire:

Malverne, Long Island

I was born somewhere between thirty and a hundred years ago in a place called North America. Early training prevents my being more specific, as I was brought up to shun publicity in all forms. Candor compels me to state that I have not had to exercise myself unduly because of it. I am told that I was a model youth—a model which all the mothers thereabouts warned their sons not to follow.

INSTEAD of going to Yale, for which I had prepared, I went into the coffee importing business in New York. I drank so much coffee that it kept me up nights, so after three years in the business I decided to go to Newcastle-on-Tyne, in England, to get more sleep. But I found that I had simply jumped from one extreme to the other, so I returned to New York and wrote a good many reams of what I termed fiction. As I was unable to induce any of the right people to believe that it was fiction, the undertaking did not prove financially profitable.

Through going abroad so much during my schooldays, and afterward, I had made a number of close friends in England. A good many of them were professional soldiers, who went to France in 1914. When the Lusitania went down, I decided to go and do something about it, because not only had a number of friends been killed in France, but the Lusitania carried down several more.

A FEW days before I sailed, a mutual friend introduced me to Oliver Madox Hueffer, a brother of the well-known Ford Madox Hueffer, or Ford Madox Ford, as he is now known. Oliver Hueffer was at that time a special correspondent of the New York Sun and had been in Mexico.

He was in the British Army Reserve of Officers and had just been recalled to the colors.

Because I spoke French quite decently and could get by in German, Hueffer suggested that I might be of immediate help as -an interpreter with the British forces. He kindly suggested that I sail on the same steamer and offered to pull strings at the British War Office, so that I might get an interpretership quickly; the job carried a commission with it.

SO Hueffer and I went to England, but when we got there we found that the interpreter business was out, since the War Office had passed a recent order that in future all interpreters should be drawn from the French forces. Since I could not hope to compete with the French at their own game, I was a little undecided as to my best course. W7hile I was thinking things over, Hueffer was ordered to his regiment and I have never seen nor heard of him since. I certainly wish him well and I hope he came through.

Some of my friends offered to recommend me for a commission in a line regiment, but the period of training was quite long at that time (1915) and I feared the war might be over before I could get properly introduced. At last I joined up in the ranks of a London regiment in which I had many friends. We moved to Cambridge and were intensively trained for France.

IT WAS probably for this reason that we were sent to India. The British War Office has always been noted for a rare sense of humor! I think ours was the last transport, or about the last, to go to India through the Suez, because the Austrian submarines were getting altogether too clubby for comfort. Between Malta and Port Said, an Austrian sub suddenly came to the surface on our port beam; it cruised along beside us, for some hours. No damage was done, because it had run out of torpedoes. Our transport and the sub took a few pot-shots at each other, just for fun, before the sub sank out of sight. Permit me to say that this was not my idea of a good time.

For the next two years I was a member of the famous First Peshawar Division, Indian Army. This is a wonderful corps, in every way. In it, and in the Fourth Quetta Division, are assembled the very cream of the British Army in India and the Indian Army. These two divisions guard India’s renowned Northwest Frontier, through which run the Khyber and Chaman Passes, and others, leading into Afghanistan. In this country one does not have to be especially gifted to be able to go out and be killed on any desired day of the week. Here life is checkered, but never dull.

FINALLY my regiment was kicked out of the First Division, because casualties and sickness had reduced our effective strength below the minimum demanded of a regiment in the First Division. Shortly thereafter I transferred to the Signal Service and almost at once was offered a commission in the Indian Army, which I accepted. My last two and a half years of service were as an officer in an Indian regiment.

In 1920 I got back to America, and since then have spent most of my time in the advertising business, writing copy. This seems to have been more successful than my early attempts at fiction, because with these very eyes I have frequently seen the copy in national magazines. This has lead me to a fuller understanding of that fine old Peruvian saying: “If you can’t get in the front door, try the back door!”     —perry adams

Ask Adventure · Anon. · qa

The Trail Ahead · Anon. · cl

1 comment:

  1. It's easy for collectors to make the mistake that these 96 page ADVENTURES are a big decline in quality, etc. Not only did the magazine decrease the pages but the price was cut from 25 cents to 10 cents.

    But as Sai points out, there was still plenty of good fiction being published. Maybe the stories were a lot shorter but the fiction was still well done.