Thrilling tales from the great land of lakes and forests
In Curwood, the famous ‘Mounties’ had possibly their first and most enthusiastic champion and author of their adventures of fiction and legend. The image of the lone policeman out in the Canadian wilderness enduring every force nature could hurl against him and yet still resolutely and infallibly ‘getting his man’ was never more powerful than in the pages of Curwood’s stories. His inspiration came from a time before ‘The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’, when the force was titled, ‘The North West Mounted Police’ and of course this meant the adventures are set in an earlier era—the Canada of the 19th century—where the untamed land was sparsely populated with untamed men and the tribes of indigenous Indians that might yet be hostile. These men were policemen, trappers, trackers, rangers, part lawman, part soldier—often imagined in their distinctive scarlet uniform—in fact the very stuff which has evoked true adventure in the minds of those aged from 8 to 80!
The first volume of this four volume set from Leonaur includes two full length novels, the first introducing the ‘Mountie’ Curwood made a benchmark for the breed. ‘Philip Steele of the Royal North West Mounted Police’ and ‘Rivers End’. Available in soft back and hard back with dust cover for collectors.
The outlaw had disappeared in the black edge of the Bad Lands when Philip dashed up out of the dip into the plain. There was only one break ahead of him, and toward this he urged his horse. In the entrance to the break there was another sandy but waterless dip, and across this trailed the hoof-prints of the outlaws’ mounts, two at a walk—one at a gallop. At one time, ages before, the break had been the outlet of a stream pouring itself out between jagged and cavernous walls of rock from the black heart of the upheaved country within. Now the bed of it was strewn with broken trap and masses of boulders, cracked and dried by centuries of blistering sun.<br>
Philip’s heart beat a little faster as he urged his horse ahead, and not for an instant did his cocked revolver drop from its guard over the mare’s ears. He knew, if he overtook the outlaws in retreat, that there would be a fight, and that it would be three against one. That was what he hoped for. It was an ambush that he dreaded. He realized that if the outlaws stopped and waited for him he would be at a terrible disadvantage. In open fight he was confident His prairie-bred mount took the rough trail at a swift canter, evading the boulders and knife-edged trap in the same guarded manner that she galloped over prairie-dog and badger holes out upon the plain. Twice in the ten minutes that followed their entrance into the chasm Philip saw movement ahead of him, and each time his revolver leaped to it. Once it was a wolf, again the swiftly moving shadow of an eagle sweeping with spread wings between him and the sun. He watched every concealment as he approached and half swung in his saddle in passing, ready to fire.
A quick turn in the creek bed, where the rock walls hugged in close, and his mare planted her forefeet with a suddenness that nearly sent him over her head. Directly in their path, struggling to rise from among the rocks, was a riderless horse. Two hundred yards beyond a man on foot was running swiftly up the chasm, and a pistol shot beyond him two others on horseback had turned and were waiting.<br>
“Lord, if I had Billinger’s gun now!” groaned Philip.<br>
At the sound of his voice and the pressure of his heels in her flank the mare vaulted over the animal in their path. The clatter of pursuing hoofs stopped the runner for an instant, and in that same instant Philip halted and rose in his stirrups to fire. As his finger pressed the trigger there came to his ears a thrilling sound from behind him—the sharp galloping beat of steel upon rock! Billinger was coming—Billinger, with his broken leg and his carbine!<br>
He could have shouted for joy as he fired.<br>
Once—twice, and the outlaw was speeding ahead of him again, unhurt. A third shot and the man stumbled among the rocks and disappeared. There was no movement toward retreat on the part of the mounted men, and Philip listened as he slipped in fresh cartridges. His horse was panting; he could hear the excited and joyous tumult of his own heart-but above it all he heard the steady beat, beat, beat of those approaching hoofs!. Billinger would be there soon—in time to use his carbine at a deadly rate, while he got into closer quarters with his revolver. God bless Billinger—and his broken leg!<br>
He was filled with the craze of fight now and it found vent in a yell of defiance as he spurred on toward the outlaws. They were not going to run. They were waiting for him. He caught the gleam of the hot sun on their revolvers, and saw that they meant business as they swung a little apart to divide his fire. At one hundred yards Philip still held his gun at his side; at sixty he pulled in his mare, flattened along her neck like an Indian, his pistol arm swinging free between her ears. It was one of the cleverest fighting tricks of the service, and he made the movement as the guns of the others leaped before their faces. Two shots sang over his head, so close that they would have swept him from the saddle if he had been erect. In another moment the rockbound chasm echoed with the steady roar of the three revolvers.<br>
In front of the flaming end of his own gun Philip saw the outlaw on the right pitch forward in his saddle and fall to the ground. He sent his last shot at the man on the left and drew his second gun. Before he could fire again his mare gave a tremendous lunge forward and stumbled upon her knees, and with a gasp of horror Philip felt the saddle-girth slip as he swung to free himself.<br>
In the few terrible seconds that followed Philip was conscious of two things—that death was very near, and that Billinger was a moment too late. Less than ten paces away the outlaw was deliberately taking aim at him, while his own pistol arm was pinned under the weight of his body. For a breath he ceased to struggle, looking up in frozen calmness at the man whose finger was already crooked to fire.<br>
When a shot suddenly rang out, it passed through him in a lightning flash that it was the shot intended for him. But he saw no movement in the outlaw’s arm; no smoke from his gun. For a moment the man sat rigid and stiff in his saddle. Then his arm dropped. His revolver fell with a clatter among the stones. He slipped sidewise with a low groan and tumbled limp and lifeless almost at Philip’s feet.