By: Max Brand
February 23, 2023

HiLoBooks is pleased to serialize Max Brand’s 1919 western novel The Untamed for HILOBROW’s readers. The original spaghetti western (complete with a Morricone-style whistling score), this yarn features a protagonist with uncanny violent abilities… leading one to wonder whether it’s a Sarah Canary-esque work of Radium Age proto-sf about a mutant or possibly an alien? (Note that in 1919, Brand also serialized the superman novel Children of Night.) We’ll let you decide.

ALL INSTALLMENTS: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38.



That night the power which had sent Dan into Elkhead, Jim Silent, stood his turn at watch in the narrow canyon below the old Salton place. In the house above him sat Terry Jordan, Rhinehart, and Hal Purvis playing poker, while Bill Kilduff drew a drowsy series of airs from his mouth-organ. His music was getting on the nerves of the other three, particularly Jordan and Rhinehart, for Purvis was winning steadily.

“Let up!” broke out Jordan at last, pounding on the table with his fist. “Your damn tunes are gettin’ my goat. Nobody can think while you’re hittin’ it up like that. This ain’t no prayer meetin’, Bill.”

For answer Kilduff removed the mouth-organ to take a deep breath, blinked his small eyes, and began again in a still higher key.

“Go slow, Terry,” advised Rhinehart in a soft tone. “Kilduff ain’t feelin’ none too well tonight.”

“What’s the matter with him?” growled the scar-faced man, none too anxious to start an open quarrel with the formidable Kilduff.

Rhinehart jerked his thumb over his shoulder.

“The gal in there. He don’t like the game the chief has been workin’ with her.”

“Neither do I,” said Purvis, “but I’d do worse than the chief done to get Lee Haines back.”

“Get Haines back?” said Kilduff, his voice ominously deep. “There ain’t no chance of that. If there was I wouldn’t have no kick against the chief for what he’s done to Kate.”

“Maybe there’s some chance,” suggested Rhinehart.

“Chance, hell!” cried Kilduff. “One man agin a whole town full? I say all that Jim has done is to get Whistlin’ Dan plugged full of lead.”

“Well,” said Purvis, “if that’s done, ain’t the game worth while?”

The rest of the men chuckled and even Kilduff smiled.

“Old Joe Cumberland is sure takin’ it hard,” said “Calamity” Rhinehart. “All day he’s been lightin’ into the girl.”

“The funny part,” mused Purvis, “is that the old boy really means it. I think he’d of sawed off his right hand to keep her from goin’ to Whistlin’ Dan.”

“An’ her sittin’ white-faced an’ starin’ at nothin’ an’ tryin’ to comfort him!” rumbled Kilduff, standing up under the stress of his unwonted emotion. “My God, she was apologizin’ for what she done, an’ tryin’ to cheer him up, an’ all the time her heart was bustin’.”

He pulled out a violently coloured bandana and wiped his forehead.

“When we all get down to hell,” he said, “they’ll be quite a little talkin’ done about this play of Jim’s — you c’n lay to that.”

“Who’s that singin’ down the canyon?” asked Jordan. “It sounds like—”

He would not finish his sentence as if he feared to prove a false prophet. They rose as one man and stared stupidly at one another.

“Haines!” broke out Rhinehart at last.

“It ain’t no ways possible!” said Kilduff. “And yet — by God, it is!”

They rushed for the door and made out two figures approaching, one on horseback, and the other on foot.

“Haines!” called Purvis, his shrill voice rising to a squeak with his excitement.

“Here I am!” rang back the mellow tones of the big lone rider, and in a moment he and Jim Silent entered the room.

Glad faces surrounded him. There was infinite wringing of his hand and much pounding on the back. Kilduff and Rhinehart pushed him back into a chair. Jordan ran for a flask of whisky, but Haines pushed the bottle away.

“I don’t want anything on my breath,” he said, “because I have to talk to a woman. Where’s Kate?”

The men glanced at each other uneasily.

“She’s here, all right,” said Silent hastily. “Now tell us how you got away.”

“Afterwards,” said Haines. “But first Kate.”

“What’s your hurry to see her?” said Kilduff.

Haines laughed exultantly.

“You’re jealous, Bill! Why, man, she sent for me! Sent Whistling Dan himself for me.”

“Maybe she did,” said Kilduff, “but that ain’t no partic’lar sign I’m jealous. Tell us about the row in Elkhead.”

“That’s it,” said Jordan. “We can’t wait, Lee.”

“Just one word explains it,” said Haines. “Barry!”

“What did he do?” This from every throat at once.

“Broke into the jail with all Elkhead at his heels flashing their six-guns — knocked down the two guards — unlocked my bracelets (God knows where he got the key!) — shoved me onto the bay — drove away with me — shot down two men while his wolf pulled down a third — made my horse jump a set of bars as high as my head — and here I am!”

There was a general loosening of bandanas. The eyes of Jim Silent gleamed.

“And all Elkhead knows that he’s the man who took you out of jail?” he asked eagerly.

“Right. He’s put his mark on them,” responded Haines, “but the girl, Jim!”

“By God!” said Silent. “I’ve got him! He’s done for!”

He stopped short.

“Unless you’re feelin’ uncommon grateful to him for what he done for you, Lee?”

“He told me he hated me like hell,” said Haines. “I’m grateful to him as I’d be to a mountain lion that happened to do me a good turn. Now for Kate!”

“Let him see her,” said Silent. “That’s the quickest way. Call her out, Haines. We’ll take a little walk while you’re with her.”

The moment they were gone Haines rushed to the door and knocked loudly. It was opened at once and Kate stood before him. She winced at sight of him.

“It’s I, Kate!” he cried joyously. “I’ve come back from the dead.”

She stepped from the room and closed the door behind her.

“What of Dan? Tell me! Was — was he hurt?”

“Dan?” he repeated with an impatient smile. “No, he isn’t hurt. He pulled me through — got me out of jail and safe into the country. He had to drop two or three of the boys to do it.”

Her head fell back a little and in the dim light, for the first time, he saw her face with some degree of clearness, and started at its pallor.

“What’s the matter, Kate — dear?” he said anxiously.

“What of Dan?” she asked faintly.

“I don’t know. He’s outlawed. He’s done for. The whole range will be against him. But why are you so worried about him, Kate? — when he told me that you loved me—”

She straightened.

“Love? You?”

His face lengthened almost ludicrously.

“But why — Dan came for me — he said you sent him — he—” he broke down, stammering, utterly confused.

“This is why I sent him!” she answered, and throwing open the door gestured to him to enter.

He followed her and saw the lean figure of old Joe Cumberland lying on a blanket close to the wall.

“That’s why!” she whispered.

“How does he come here?”

“Ask the devil in his human form! Ask your friend, Jim Silent!”

He walked into the outer room with his head low. He found the others already returned. Their carefully controlled grins spoke volumes.

“Where’s Silent?” he asked heavily.

“He’s gone,” said Jordan.

Hal Purvis took Haines to one side.

“Take a brace,” he urged.

“She hates me, Hal,” said the big fellow sadly. “For God’s sake, was there no other way of getting me out?”

“Not one! Pull yourself together, Lee. There ain’t no one for you to hold a spite agin. Would you rather be back in Elkhead dangling from the end of a rope?”

“It seems to have been a sort of — joke,” said Haines.

“Exactly. But at that sort of a joke nobody laughs!”

“And Whistling Dan Barry?”

“He’s done for. We’re all agin him, an’ now even the rangers will help us hunt him down. Think it over careful, Haines. You’re agin him because you want the girl. I want that damned wolf of his, Black Bart. Kilduff would rather get into the saddle of Satan than ride to heaven. An’ Jim Silent won’t never rest till he sees Dan lyin’ on the ground with a bullet through his heart. Here’s four of us. Each of us want something that belongs to him, from his life to his dog. Haines, I’m askin’ you man to man, was there any one ever born who could get away from four men like us?”


SERIALIZED BY HILOBOOKS: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague | Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”) | Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt | H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook | Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins | William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land | J.D. Beresford’s Goslings | E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man | Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage | Muriel Jaeger’s The Man With Six Senses | Jack London’s “The Red One” | Philip Francis Nowlan’s Armageddon 2419 A.D. | Homer Eon Flint’s The Devolutionist | W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Comet” | Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Moon Men | Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland | Sax Rohmer’s “The Zayat Kiss” | Eimar O’Duffy’s King Goshawk and the Birds | Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Lost Prince | Morley Roberts’s The Fugitives | Helen MacInnes’s The Unconquerable | Geoffrey Household’s Watcher in the Shadows | William Haggard’s The High Wire | Hammond Innes’s Air Bridge | James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen | John Buchan’s “No Man’s Land” | John Russell’s “The Fourth Man” | E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” | John Buchan’s Huntingtower | Arthur Conan Doyle’s When the World Screamed | Victor Bridges’ A Rogue By Compulsion | Jack London’s The Iron Heel | H. De Vere Stacpoole’s The Man Who Lost Himself | P.G. Wodehouse’s Leave It to Psmith | Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” | Houdini and Lovecraft’s “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs” | Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sussex Vampire” | Francis Stevens’s “Friend Island” | George C. Wallis’s “The Last Days of Earth” | Frank L. Pollock’s “Finis” | A. Merritt’s The Moon Pool | E. Nesbit’s “The Third Drug” | George Allan England’s “The Thing from — ‘Outside'” | Booth Tarkington’s “The Veiled Feminists of Atlantis” | H.G. Wells’s “The Land Ironclads” | J.D. Beresford’s The Hampdenshire Wonder | Valery Bryusov’s “The Republic of the Southern Cross” | Algernon Blackwood’s “A Victim of Higher Space” | A. Merritt’s “The People of the Pit” | Max Brand’s The Untamed | Julian Huxley’s “The Tissue-Culture King” | Clare Winger Harris’s “A Runaway World” | Francis Stevens’s “Thomas Dunbar” | George Gurdjieff’s “Beelzebub’s Tales” | Robert W. Chambers’s “The Harbor-Master”.