ROBERT E. HOWARD
to AUGUST DERLETH,
Thanks immensely for the opportunity of reading "Five Alone." It is magnificent, real power, there. I was gripped by it. It really got under my hide as few stories can do. The living members of that strange family, clinging to their morbid obsession, conversing with departed kin--say, did you draw them from real life? Anyway, you managed to invest them with a startling reality. Thanks too for the poem; it is a fine piece of work. I'd like to see more of your poetry.
And thanks, also, for the picture. You know, you are rather a striking figure of a man; power evident both in body and features. That waterfall background is superb.
Thanks for your comments concerning "The Man on the Ground"; I rather like the yarn, myself, because of its efforts at realism. You're right about "The Black Stone" and other kindred yarns of mine. They were written more as experiments than anything else, and I soon saw that they were not my natural style. I've been trying to write stories laid in my own environments, for some time, but I've had very little success at marketing them.
Sorry to hear that the crops in your country have suffered from drouth. There's one hell of a drouth burning this country up right now. The cotton looks pretty good, but the grain crops suffered savagely, and the corn wasn't worth a curse. It's fairly hot, though up on this divide it's never as hot as it is south of it. The average heat has been about 106 to 112, in the shade.
I enjoyed H.P.L.'s stories in the Weird Tales, both the one he wrote and the one he revised. By the way, who is Hazel Heald? Smith's yarn was first class, too.
I'm sure glad to hear that "Five Alone" is to be published in the anthology you mentioned; it certainly deserves it. And you certainly deserve to be included among "the most significant young writers of the country."
I'm enclosing a snapshot of myself, taken among the ruins of old Fort McKavett. I drove over there last Sunday and took a few pictures. Didn't have time to work up an article, though. Fort McKavett is in Menard County, about 155 miles southwest of Cross Plains. It was established in 1871, and abandoned the same year. Again in 1872 it was occupied by two companies of cavalry and five of infantry--largely negroes. It was abandoned permanently in 1883; and thereby hangs a tale, which is not likely ever to be written--not by me, at least. I will merely remark that the Federal soldiers found their most dangerous enemies _not_ to be Comanches. Fort McKavett is situated near the headwaters of the San Saba River, and folks live in the less ruined buildings which once formed barracks and officers' quarters.
That part of Texas is pretty historical--a funny thing--West Texas is older than East Texas, as far as white history goes. Not so funny, either, considering that the thrust of Spanish exploration was, mainly, from New Mexico, eastward, and from Old Mexico, northward. The Anglo-Saxon drive, of course, was from the east.
You will read much of San Saba River and the surrounding territory in CORONADO'S CHILDREN. It is on the San Saba that the famous Lost Bowie Mine is supposed to be located. (Though some maintain it was on Rio de Las Chanas, now called Llano River.) Near Menard, through which I passed on my way to Fort McKavett, are the ruins of San Luis de Las Amarillas, the presidio built by the Spaniards to protect the workers in the Los Almagres mine. Little good it did; the Lipans ran them all out, workers and soldiers together, and then the Comanches kicked out the Lipans; and then the Texans lammed the Comanches, and we've still got it. God knows who'll own it next. But the mine is lost and forgotten except by a few stubborn old timers.
Another town I went through was Paint Rock, in Concho County, so named because of Indian paintings on rock cliffs near the town. It was to John Chisum's ranch on the Concho River that the survivors retreated after that bloody fight on Love Creek, where five hundred Texans fought three thousand Comanches for a day and a night, in 1864. It was from Concho County, in 1867, that John Chisum started for New Mexico, with ten thousand cattle, and, though he did not know it, the shadow of the Bloody Lincoln County War, and the stalking phantom of Billy the Kid.
Best wishes, and thanks again for the story, poem and picture.