Echoes of Boealf
Volume One - Issue One - for R.E.Heapa: Volume 1, Issue 3 of September 2001
This is an Electronic Fanzine for the R.E.Heapa by Benjamin Szumskyj--Copyright © 2001. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction or republication in any form or any medium is prohibited without express permission from the author.
[Note: American and Australian spelling may differ]
'I remember the first story I ever wrote--at the age of about nine or ten--dealt with the adventures of one Boealf, a young Dane Viking. Racial loyalties struggled in me when I chronicled his ravages. Celtic patriotism prevented him from winning all his battles; the Gales dealt him particular hell and the Welsh held him to a draw. But I turned him loose on the Saxons with gusto and the way he plundered them was a caution; I finally left him safely ensconced at the court of Canute, one of my childhood heroes'
[Excerpt from a Robert E. Howard letter, Borrowed from 'The Last Celt', page 49.]
Greetings. As some of you may already know, my name is Ben Szumskyj. For those who don't know me, I will give you a run down as too what I do. I am a member of R.E.Hupa (the Robert E. Howard Press Association), the E.O.D (Esoteric Order of Dagon--The Howard P. Lovecraft equivalent), S.S.W.F.T (Sword and Sorcery as well as Weird Fiction Terminus--a new A.P.A created by myself and spotlights the genres of weird fiction and sword & sorcery/heroic fantasy), Weird Ways (an online/downloadable fanzine dedicated to the works of Michael Mignola and his greatest creation, Hellboy) and now, R.E.Heapa. On top of that, I occasionally contribute the odd article to some journals/fanzines and am currently working on a project that will hopefully be out at the end of the year. I am also working on a magazine dedicated to Robert E. Howard but as it stands, the hope of this project ever seeing the light of day is becoming slimmer each day. (I have waited almost eleven months to sort this all out and as I need only to legalise it, a simple act, something must be wrong on the other end and therefore, my dream of publishing a Howard magazine looks doomed as ever). On another note, I am a bibliophile and love reading and collecting books. My library is increasing ever so slowly, though it is much grander than it was a year or two ago due to my sudden burst of interest in the genres, men like Howard, Leiber and Lovecraft all wrote for. Oh and if you already don't know, I am nineteen years of age·
As for this issue of 'Echoes of Boealf', I have decided to give you something interesting to look at. Recently I have been seeing a lot of pictures of Brownwood,Texas on ' http://www.ebay.com/ ' and thought that it might be of some interest to see what the town looked like in Howard's time. I have also decided to *slightly* revise an essay I published in R.E.Hupa, within my fanzine 'Manuscripts from Gower-Penn' (R.E.Hupa #169 of June 2001) entitled 'Patch: An Authors Best Friend (R.E.Howard's Canine Shadow)'. Lastly, I have also included a (new) review on Glenn Lord's 'Ultima Thule' (published by Joe Marek). I promise for some mailing comments in the next issue of 'Echoes of Boealf'.
Ben 'Benocles' Szumskyj
MEMORIES FROM A PHOTO LENS:
A Town of Importance During Howard's Life
1909 HIGH SCHOOL BROWNWOOD, TEXAS
1909 HIGH SCHOOL BROWNWOOD, TEXAS
CENTER AVENUE, BROWNWOOD, TEXAS - 1912
CENTRE AVENUE - BROWNWOOD, TEXAS--1912
SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MEMORIAL HALL AND U.S.O--BROWNWOOD, TEXAS
CITY HALL--BROWNWOOD, TEXAS--1922
BROWN COUNTRY COURTHOUSE--BROWNWOOD, TEXAS
CENTER AVENUE - BROWNWOOD, TEXAS
DANIEL BAKER COLLEGE - BROWNWOOD, TEXAS - 1909
CENTRAL SCHOOL--BROWNWOOD, TEXAS - 1916
CITIZENS NATIONAL BANK - BROWNWOOD, TEXAS - 1916
CLUB HOUSE LAKE BROWNWOOD STATE PARK - BROWNWOOD, TEXAS
COURT HOUSE - BROWNWOOD, TEXAS
HOWARD PAYNE DORMITORY - BROWNWOOD, TEXAS - 1914
FIN AND FEATHER CLUB LAKE - BROWNWOOD, TEXAS--1908
Photo of Downtown Brownwood, Texas 1924 - West Texans in Convention at Brownwood (City) - 8000 which entertained 30000 in 1924
EARLY SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL - BROWNWOOD, TEXAS--1928
San Antonio River - Agnes Hart in cuz Frannie Camps [rig] BROWNWOOD, TEXAS - 1910
SHOOTING A WELL IN THE BROWNWOOD FIELD÷BROWNWOOD,TEXAS - 1918
THE CARNEGIE LIBRARY - BROWNWOOD, TEXAS
Brownwood, Texas is a much more important town then some Howard fans give it. One should take the time to consider the prospect if Howard had not taken that trip to Brownwood (to continue his schooling), events as we know it would be vastly different.
As we know, Howard went to Brownwood High School to enrol in the eleventh grade, as grades eleven and twelve were not offered at the high school in Cross Plains. It is here that Howard would meet some of his best friends. Tevis Clyde Smith and Truett Vinson. Both shared his interest in the art of writing fiction and verse and would begin the road of a strong friendship between them all.
Smith would eventually introduce Howard to a Novalyne Price, the woman in Howard's life whom he would feel strongly about, even to the point of true love. It should be noted that many of the 'dates' that Howard and Novalyne went out on, were in fact, to the town of Brownwood. It has been chronicled that Howard would in fact live in Brownwood for up to six months (in the year of 1929) at the address of 816 Melwood Avenue.
The following photos/postcards are all of Brownwood, Texas and can give you readers an idea of what the town looked like in the time of Howard's life. Whether Howard actively roamed the town to view the sites is unknown, but if he did, the above pictures is mostly likely what he would have seen by his eyes·
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'Glenn Lord's Ultima Thule'
In my honest opinion, Glenn Lord's inclusion to the 'Hyborean League' entitled 'Ultima Thule' was the most impressive of contributions to this now defunct A.P.A. Now don't get me wrong. The HL had some great contributions (from the entertaining and informative, to the interesting and unique), some of which have been reprinted (and if haven't been, should do so). I was lucky enough to obtain several early mailings of the HL and it was enjoyable to read 'Ultima Thule' alongside 'zines by non-fictioneers whom we all know well today by last name, such as Herron, Indick, Connors and Mosig. Yet when push comes to shove, and for the true R.E.Howard fan, Lord's contribution is by far the best.
Move to the present, and we have Joe Marek, irregular member of R.E.Hupa and king of some of the best R.E.H fanzines to grace the market. This time, he comes up with a new idea, that of collecting all of Glenn Lord's contributions to the 'Hyborean League' as they contain priceless sources of information that have not been reprinted to my knowledge (or if they have, are just as rare as finding the original mailings -- 'A Bicentennial Tribute to Robert E. Howard' comes to mind). These, I must admit, are ever so impressive and are essential in obtaining. (For more information and purchasing details, go to: http://www.angelfire.com/tx3/robertehoward/ultimathule.html)
Issue 1, deals with a correspondence between R.E.H and H. G. Schonfield (of Denis-Archer Publisher), where Howard proposes a collection of his most favourable stories, but even though it is declined, there is still hope as the publisher then states they would be interested in a novel length story. Howard submits his Conan masterpiece, 'The Hour of the Dragon' but to no avail, as a last minute change of internal business workings desisted the project from ever eventuating into what could of the been the first original and most sort out Howard books in fantasy literature history. One can easily feel sorry for Howard after such a prospect.
Issue 2 focuses on the rejection slips Howard received in his lifetime. All are equally interesting, especially the comments regarding some of these stories and why the editors deemed them unfit for publication. For example, 'The People of the Dark' containing 'too much fighting and chasing and manoeuvring', 'Gunman's Debt' being 'overworded' and containing too much 'coincidental material'. The response to 'The Peaceful Pilgrim' is worth finding out for one's self.
Issue 3 contains what may be, one of the most pivotal events that *could have* occurred in Howard's legacy. Imagine if you were given the chance to buy all of Howard's fiction, for·$3000. Most, I am sure, would be signing on the dotted line. Oscar J. Friend and Dr. P.M. Kuykendall are the two mean dealing, with what would become, one of the biggest commercial empires in the genre of fantasy. As for what it would have done to the course of Howard publishing, only the Fates themselves know.
Issue 4 has an extremely interesting list of how much Howard was paid for his pulp stories. Everything from $1 for 'An Open Window' and $200 for 'The Iron Man'.
Issue 5 has some more rejection letters, once again, commenting on the reasons why they were not accepted for publication, 'The Devils of Dark Lake' being crammed with too much horror', 'Guests of the Hoodoo Room' being 'far-fetched' and 'holding no mystery or surprise for the reader'. The infamous F. Wright's letter concerning Howard's 'The Lion of Tiberias' is also of high interest.
Robert E. Howard's library is most interesting, as it gives us an idea as to some o his sources of research and inspiration. (Which can be found at http://www.rehupa.com/biography_bookshelf_main.htm). The Addenda to Lord's priceless and brilliant 'The Last Celt' is just as appreciated and it would be nice to see if that, a third edition were ever to see the light of day, that these would be added to the bibliography.
In conclusion, let me state again that this is a worthy and invaluable addition to any Howard fans library. I for one, would like to see a collection of Lord's contributions to the R.E.Hupa, the E.O.D (Esoteric Order of Dagon) and P.E.A.P.S (Pulp Era Amateur Press Society). No doubt, these would be just as enticing and insightful and would shed light on those events which occurred behind the scenes in the lives of men like Howard, as well as their legacies which have prospered to this day. My hat goes off to Joe Marek for assembling this collection and for his rewarding idea. Glenn Lord is and will continue to be one of the chiefest figures in the movement of Howard's legacy and his deeds will live well on into the future of Howard studies and interest. We owe this man a lot and his work can only be matched by a love of a genre and author who he truly and honestly admires and respects. If you haven't had the chance to buy 'Glenn Lord's Ultima Thule' you should do so now. For if you don't now, you will soon find it being out-of-print like many before it and another title to place on your 'wants' list ·
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Photo © Roy Barkley
Patch: An Author's Best Friend
'R. E. Howard's Canine Shadow'
'·to my mind, a man that won't stand by his dog is lower
down than one which wont stand by his fellow man'.
Robert E. Howard through Sailor Steve Costigan
One of Robert E. Howard's greatest friends was a few feet tall, had four legs, wagged his tail at his masters arrival and responded to the name 'Patch'. A '·half collie, half walker foxhound', Patch was a black and white canine companion who in Bob's own words had, '·been around for years and not once had he criticized me. He never has so much as implied that he is better than I am, and he never has corrected me about my manners'. As the old saying goes, 'dogs are a man's best friend' and this was ever so true between Howard and his dog Patch. Patch '·was often fed from the table as Robert ate, sitting down by Robert's chair. When Robert helped himself, before eating a bite, he helped Patch to food', for Robert's 'association was so close with his dog until the dog seemed to develop a perfectly human understanding of not only Robert, but Robert's mother and myself'; Doctor I. M. Howard (Robert's father) said.
Some background on Patch. According to Mrs. T. A. Burns, a postmistress who wrote the memoir 'Robert E. Howard as a Boy', Patch was a 'big' dog when Howard was ('a lad of about ten years'). Now, according to Doctor Howard in a letter to E. Hoffman Price on June the 21st, 1914 (eight years after Bob's passing), 'His [Robert's] dog died when he (the dog) was 12 and Robert 24'. By these dates, Howard was 24 in 1930. Yet, if we accept Burns' date, when Bob was 'about' ten, Patch couldn't of been 'big' because he would of only been a couple of years old and born, at least, in 1918.
Now, Dr. Howard also states that Bob '·raised the dog from the time it was a wee thing, before his eyes were barely open·' when Bob received Patch as a gift for Christmas in December of 1917. As Bob was 24 years of age on January the 22nd of 1930 and on the Christmas of 1929 he would have been twelve years old after the Christmas on 1917, these dates seem to be acceptable.
Yet, here is where the problem arises. Mrs. Burns could have not met Bob and Patch before they came to reside in Burkett. In her memoir she states it was 'spring' when they met, yet even if it had been in 1917, prior to the move to Burkett, by her memory she met Patch before he was even born!
The next obstacle to tackle, is that Patch is not mentioned once in Howard's fictionalised autobiography 'Post Oaks and Sand Roughs'. Patch was no doubt, very important to Bob, so why was he not mentioned in the novel? Simple. The memory was too painful for Bob. In fact, one will not find Howard ever speak of Patch in a letter or any written word as the mere thought of the dog clearly depressed Howard. He could accept his own death, but not that of those whom he loved. Referring back to Doctor Howard's letter to E. H. Price, he wrote of Patch's death:
'·when the dog as 12 years old, he sickened to die. Robert knew his dog was going to die. He packed his grip, opened the gate, walked out, and said, 'Mama, I am going.' He went to Brownwood and stayed until his dog died, which was two or three days. But each morning he phoned and asked his mother if Patch·was still alive; finally on the third or fourth morning, his mother told him she thought the Patch dog would not last longer than 12 o'clock. He always spoke thus: 'Mama, how are you?' When his mother would reply, he would say: 'How is Patch?' After the fourth day when his mother told him the dog was going, he never inquired any more; he knew the dog would soon die. Therefore he never spoke of him again. I had the dog buried in a deep grave in the back lot, then had the lot plowed deeply and then had them take a big harrow and harrow it deeply all over to destroy every trace of the grave, so sensitive was he to the loss of his dog. And only once did he ever allude to the death of his dog again. He said to his mother one day: 'Mother, did you bury Patch under the mesquite tree in the corner of the lot on the east side?' She said yes, and the matter as never mentioned by any of us again'.
Confusion surrounds the whereabouts of Patch's place of burial. Some reports state that the dog was either buried under the pecan tree or the mesquite tree in the Howard's garden, while other sources state that he could have been buried up to three other different places. You can come to your own decision, as the truth may never be known.
Taking the good with the bad, there have been those students of Howard's life whom believe he turned his back on Patch in his greatest time of need. A fair enough statement, but one that can only be made if that person was in such a position themselves, involving a dying pet. Depending who you are as a person, some people would rather see a dog put to death over a life of pain, while others would want to live ever moment with their pet, to the end. In Howard's case, the death of his dog would have been so devastating to him (just look at what happened to Howard while he wasn't there!) he would rather let it rest in peace. Though, as mentioned before, Howard found it difficult to deal with the death of those whom he loved and would rather seal his own death than those around him.
Then there is the allegation that Bob moved to Howard in 1929 because of Patch's inevitable death. But Bob was in Brownwood for at least six months, from July through to December of 1929, while Doctor Howard said he was there only for a few days. It was possible Patch became sick and died after Bob had moved back to Cross Plains. Yet one would presume, Bob couldn't have moved to Brownwood for six months because there is no way he would leave Patch for such a long period of time. Or could he? There was no way he could have taken Patch with him, because the boarding houses forbade it.
I would say in all realism, Doctor Howard was correct and Mrs. Burns had made an incorrect judgement. She had misjudged Howard's age drastically and her perception of Patch may have been 'big' but that doesn't mean he was big. Patch lived with the Howard's, so it would be foolishly to take Burns' memoir at face value. This still though, does not explain the huge time ratio of being either six-month or three days·
The impact Patch had on Bob, goes much deeper that one would think. Patch was fictionalised in several of Howard's writings, most notably in the Sailor Steve Costigan yarns. An obvious respect and admiration for his canine companion. Many of these stories (that is, those boxing stories involving the dog 'Mike' playing a substantial role in the plot) occur around the years of 1930/31·right after Patch's death! I have chosen to spotlight the Sailor Steve Costigan tales 'The Bull Dog Breed' (Fight Stories, February 1930), 'Breed of the Battle' (Action Stories, November 1931) and ever so briefly 'Fist and Fang' (Fight Stories, May 1930). I strongly recommend a read of the Conan tale 'Beyond the Black River' (for the canine character 'Slasher' owned by Balthus), 'The Hoofed Thing' were the canine 'Bozo' is present and lastly the rewritten Sailor Steve Costigan yarns of Dennis Dorgan, and his dog·'Spike'. Howard's love for Patch can bee seen through the way in which he wrote about dogs in these stories, and I have chosen the Costigan tales specifically because Howard often referred to himself by this name as it was more or less, a fictionalised version of him. Patch, in my eyes, has been reincarnated into literature as 'Mike'.
First off, a description of Mike. Mike is a bulldog that is describes as '·a fine dog·' who was 'Clean white, not a speck of any other color about him. That means good luck for his owner'. He had 'Powerful jaws÷not too undershot÷good teeth÷broad between the eyes÷deep chest÷legs that brace like iron'. The story goes, that Costigan '·picked Mike up wandering about the wharfs of Dublin and fighting everything he met on four legs and not averse to tackling two-legged critters. I name him Mike after a brother of mine, Iron Mike Costigan·' As you will soon see, Mike is a well-personified canine and a walking ghost of Patch.
'The Bull Dog Breed' is a boxing story which centres around a fight between Sailor Steve Costigan and Tiger Valois of the French fleet, with Mike by his side all the way, like '·a bloomin' bow-legged angel'. Throughout the story, Mike is almost personified and adopting an almost brother like role, coincidental as Costigan named him after his brother 'Iron Mike Costigan'.
Without giving the story away, I will highlight those particular scenes of importance, involving Mike. The first involves the 'Old Man', Costigan's captain, accidentally falling over Mike, '·who was taking a snooze by the hatch. The Old Man give a howl as he come up and booted the innocent pup most severe. Mike instantly attached hisself to the Old Man's leg, from which I at last succeeded in prying him with a loss of some meat and pants leg'. Visualise this and you will surely break out into laughter. This is followed up with the brash response that the 'Sea Girl' Costigan's ship, is too small for the both of them and Mike has to be left here at this port. Costigan's reply is simple, 'Then I go ashore with him' followed by 'Mike is a gentleman, and no Welsh water rat can boot him and get away with it. If you want to banish your best A. B. Mariner, it's up to you. Till we make port you keep your boots off of Mike, or I will personally kick you loose from your spine'. Here we see Costigan defend his dog to the point he is willing to become a loner and loose his job for he is a man who does not count on those whom he works with or under, only those whom are his equal. Mike. Howard would have no doubt done the same for Patch.
The bond between Mike and Steve is a strong one. '·I felt low in spirits, and Mike knowed it, because he snuggled up closer to me in the 'rickshaw that was carrying us·and licked my hand. I pulled his ears and felt better. Anyway, Mike wouldn't never desert me'. Howard said the same thing of Patch. Anywhere one would go, the other would follow. They also have an understanding of one another, much like Howard had with Patch and vice-a-versa. They say that no matter what you have done through out the day, when you come home, your dog will wag it tail with joy and be happy to see you regardless of who you are as a person and what has happened to you in a day. They do not judge you, nor look down on you. They do not talk back, nor do they persecute you for your beliefs or profession. Real people don't. Good people don't. And in all honesty, Christian people don't. Howard was persecuted in his town of Cross Plains, yet Patch (and Howard's few friends and parents of course) never did.
Take this instance of Costigan in the boxing ring. 'I sat in my corner, and Mike took his stand just outside, like he always does when I fight, standing on his hind legs with his head and forepaws resting on the edge of the canvas, and looking under the ropes. On the street, if a man soaks me he's likely to have Mike at his throat, but the old dog knows how to act in the ring. He won't interfere, though sometimes when I'm on the canvas or bleeding bad his eyes get red and he rumbles away down deep in his throat'. If this were Howard and Patch, it would be like the brother he never had. The fight progresses to the point that Costigan is being badly beaten, with no hope for a comeback, until he sees a light at the end of the tunnel. And not that of a near death experience, but that of·Mike. 'Mike knowed I was getting the worst of it and he'd shoved his nose into my right glove, growling low down in his throat. And I was thinking about something. One time I was laid up with a broken leg in a little fishing village away up on the Alaskan coast, and looking through a window, not able to help him, I saw Mike fight a big gray devil of a sled dog--more wolf than dog. A big gray killer' and later, '·while I lay there and raved and tried to get off my bunk with four men holding me down, that blasted wolf-dog cut up poor old Mike to ribbons. He was lightning--like Francois. He fought with the slash and get away--like Francois. He was all steel and whale-bone--like Francois'. But, '·Mike never give up; he never took a single back step; he kept walking in on the dog'. Costigan then thought as, '·Mike rubbed his cold, wet nose in my glove, that me and Mike was both of the same breed, and the only fighting quality we had was a everlasting persistence. You got to kill a bulldog to lick him. Persistence! How'd I ever won a fight? How'd Mike ever won a fight? By walking in on our men and never giving up, no matter how bad we was hurt! Always outclassed in everything except guts and grip!' What one could see here, is that Costigan/Howard considers Mike/Patch a part of himself, a shade of life in his beaten and hounded soul. It can be debated as to whether Howard took Patch too any boxing matches he attended. What I find interesting, is that Patch was very much apart of Howard and source of happiness in his life. And when Patch died, Tevis Clyde Smith made note of Howard's reaction after his dog's death and his outlook towards suicide became shifted. It is as if a brother had died. I am certain Howard would have reacted the same if Tevis or Truett had died before him. Someone he had loved and respected him was lost. A part of Howard had died. This is like a cracked mirror reflection of Mike giving Costigan that burst of life he so desperately needed·
With that much sought inspiration from Mike, Costigan picks himself up and ignores the physical pain (Howard's verbal assaults/pain?) and continues to fight, against all odds. Yet no matter how hard he tries to ignore and fight through the pain it becomes overwhelming, as he is only one man. Lying there on the floor again with not a chance of a comeback, a miracle occurs. Mike. 'Then through the noise I heard one deep, mellow sound like and old Irish bell, almost. Mike's bark! He wasn't a barking dog; only on special occasions did he give tongue. This time he barked only once. I looked at him and he seemed to be swimming in a fog. If a dog ever had his soul in his eyes, he had; plain as speech them eyes said: 'Steve, old kid, get up and hit one more bow for the glory of the breed!' The outcome is obvious from there on, yet I chose those scenes as they show two things. One, that Costigan/Howard would defend Mike/Patch if any harm was to come to him and secondly, Mike/Patch is a source of strength, a figure that can help his owner through a dark stage in their life.
Next is 'Breed of the Battle', a story which literary personifies Mike to a human status and could be debated at to whether this is a Mike story or a Costigan story. The story takes place in Singapore, where Costigan is informed of illegal dogfights run by the notorious Joe Ritchie. Costigan expresses his thoughts against such a brutal sport, stating it is a '·dirty low-down game'. When confronted by a man, who wishes to buy Mike, Costigan is infuriated! 'You mean you want me to sell you Mike?' I asked kinda incredulous. 'Sure. Why not?' 'Why not!' I repeated indignantly. 'Well, gee whiz, why not ask a man to sell his brother for a hundred dollars? Mike wouldn't stand for it. Anyway, I wouldn't do it'. The buyer leaves, but soon after, Mike is kidnapped. Upon finding the suspicious man he had confronted prior, he handles him in a rough manner and accuses him of stealing Mike. He, as all criminals do, denies it. Costigan replies, 'That's a lie', I screamed, crazy with rage. 'You tried to buy Mike and then you had me slugged and him stole. I'm on to you D'Arcy. You think because you're a big shot and I'm just a common sailorman, you can take what you want But you ain't gettin' away with it. You got Mike and you're goin' to give him back or I'll tear your guts out. Where is he? Tell me before I choke it outta you'. We have seen two parts of Howard's personality here. First, Howard/Costigan would not part with Patch/Mike for any amount of money, as he is an honest man who makes his money honestly from his profession or writing/boxing. It would be like selling his soul, betraying a brother. He would not stand for it. Secondly, Howard would be willing to go to the extreme to punish one who would do wrong against his dog, much the same outlook if anyone were to do anything to his parents or friends. I don't believe he would kill a man, but no doubt (as any lover of their pet would) roughen up the person and bust a head or two. As the saying goes, 'Evil prospers when good men stand by'.
The climax of the story comes with Patch fighting against a foreign dog (Terror), owned by the head dog-fighting owner Joe Ritchie in the 'land of the tiger'. 'Two dogs was there, a white one and a big brindle one, though they was both so bloody you couldn't hardly tell·Both had been savagely punished, but Mike's jaws had locked in the death-hold on Terror's throat and the brindle dog's eyes were glazing·'For gosh sake, Costigan,' he gasped. 'Get this white devil off. He's killn' Terror'. 'Sure I will', I grunted, stooping over the dogs. 'Not for your sake, but for the sake of a good game dog'. And I slapped Mike on the back and said: 'Belay there, Mike; haul in your grapplin' irons.' Mike let go and grinned up at me with his bloody mouth, wagging his stump of a tail like all get-out and pricking up one ear'. Mike pretty much becomes Costigan's brother, Iron Mike in this story. Costigan has a lot of faith in Mike, as does the bulldog in his master. The same can be seen between Howard and Patch, would could me seen that they shared a common inner spirit. Well know Howard visited boxing matches and had an interest in Grimm and Dempsey. Whether or not Patch ever got into a fight with any of the stray dogs that roamed Cross Plains is unknown, in 'Breed of the Battle' Mike was boxing, his glove being his jaw and his opponent, a foreign 'fella'.
The last of the Sailor Steve Costigan yarns is 'Fist and Fang'. I will not go through the whole story, but do wish to highlight two areas. The first, is when Mike is believed to be dead: 'Three or four natives had went for Mike and pulled him off of his victim, which was hollowing and bleeding like a struck hog·the others danced and jumped around Mike trying to stab him with spears and hit him with clubs, without losing a leg at the same time; while Mike tried to eat his way through them to me. Then while I watched with my heart in my mouth crack! went a pistol and Mike went down, rolling over till he lay still with blood oozing from his head. I [Costigan] gave a terrible cry and began to rave and tear at my ropes; I struggled so wild and desperate that I jerked loose from the kanakas which was holding me·' Just by reading that, I almost shed a tear and I even wanted to punish the attacker. This again, shows that Howard would be overcome with rage if any harm came to Patch.
Then there is the second scene in which Mike kills for Costigan. Now it can be debated as to whether Patch would risk his life or attack anyone who would harm Bob, but I am pretty sure he would do so. From what we know, Patch followed Robert around as if he was Robert's shadow. Here is the scene: 'Santos howled, swung up the axe and leaped again--and a white thunderbolt shot across me and met him in mid-air! Square on the Malay's chest Mike landed, and the impact knocked Santos flat on his back. One terrible scream he gave, and then Mike's iron jaws closed on his throat'.
Another piece of fiction, this time written by Tevis Clyde Smith, involves our beloved Patch as a real life character, under the name of 'Scrap'. Titled 'Conversation on the Bridge: A Play in One Act', the two characters 'Fear Dunn' (The Brown Man a.k.a Robert E. Howard) and 'Fear Finn' (The Blonde Man a.k.a Tevis Clyde Smith) are talking on a bridge in 1928. Fear Finn asks Fear Dunn, '·by the way, how's Scrap?' Fear Dunn replies, 'Doing good--and he's as kind as ever. He's been around for years and has never so much as implied that he is better than I am. He has never corrected me about my manners. He doesn't know anything about man's inhumanity to man·'
As a man whom loved to delve into the origins of races, I am sure Howard would have been pleased to know that Patch's collie blood was renown for being '·hard, powerful...dogs, difficult to control and rough with...stock; but their keen...instinct,... concentration and great power over...sheep or cattle were [ever so] useful assets'. Much like his master. 'James Hogg (1772-1835), a shepherd and poet from the Ettrick Valley in the Scottish Borders wrote, 'without [the sheep dog] the mountainous land of England and Scotland would not be worth sixpence. It would require more hands to manage a flock of sheep and drive them to market than the profits of the whole were capable of maintaining''. Then there is the walker foxhound blood, dogs which are known for being contempt (and at time jealous), fast and with the heart of a deceptive and cunning hunter.
Howard used the following paragraph to close 'Breed of the Battle':
'Before you do, ' I said, 'drink to the boy who who stands for everything them aforesaid ships and sailors stand for--Mike of Dublin, an honest gentleman and born mascot of all fightin' men!'
In memory of Patch of Cross Plains, raise a glass and hug your pets when you get home·for Patch was an honest gentleman and a born mascot for all the friendships out there.
Rest in Peace