|Cover of Adventure, October 20, 1922 (courtesy Laurie Powers’ Wild West Blog)|
From the Camp-Fire, Adventure, 20thOctober, 1922, where Nictzin Dyalhis had his first story (Who Keep the Desert Law) published:
|Illustration for Who Keep the Desert Law by Nictzin Dyalhis|
FOLLOWING Camp-Fire custom Nictzin Dyalhis rises and introduces himself on the occasion of his first story in our magazine:
Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania.
“Hello, the Fire!”
In the old days it paid to stand off and yell, and not approach too close until actually invited. Of course, the invitation is an open one, but even so, although frequently tempted to walk into the light, I have refrained until I felt justified in coming in out of the wet.
BY PROFESSION I am a chemist. In years nearly fifty—-in heart, about sixteen – my wife’s mother says I’ve never grown up! One way she’s quite right, for I am one of these sawed-off, hammered-down, weazened-up runts weighing— when I’m fat-and-sassy—from five to ten pounds over one hundred.
A long time ago I went to the South-west. My intentions were good—I was going to assay all the ore west of the Rockies!
Rex Beach wrote a book once called “Pardners”— in that book an old-timer says: “Thar’s two diseases no doctor has any right meddlin’ with—one’s hoss-racing, t’other’s prospeclin.’” He’s quite right! I know! Assaying? Pooh pooh! An old man, with more pity on my ignorance than I deserved, took me with him on the desert.
Bitten at a tender age, what hope remained for one thus afflicted?
SURE, I’ve done lots of other things since, but—I went one trip snapper-fishing in the Gulf when only a “kid-of-a-boy.” I took one trip and only one “down-de-bay” out of Baltimore on an oyster-dredger in the bad old days of the “pungy,” the “bug-eye,” and the “brogan-canoe”! I’ve signed out on more than one “tall water” cruise, but I invariably turned up missing before the return trip. Because why? Prospectin’ was good somewheres up-country!
I’ve prospected for gold, silver, platinum, tungsten, several of the commercial minerals and, above all, for gems and precious stones, including pearls (fresh-water variety), also, turquoise and ruby (domestic and foreign). Did I ever strike it rich? I’ll say I DID! I’m worth exactly eleven million seven hundred thousand dollars—in experiences which otherwise I might never have had! Money? How do you get that way? I’m dead broke!
“Never made any?” Oh, yes, I did—but I used it! What am I to do when Winter comes? Before next snow-fly I’ll be on the trail again. Following that—I should care! And the worst of it all is— my wife aids and abets me in my sins! And she’s no slouch with a pan, a dry-washer or a jassacks! She can tie all “them” hitches—hackamore, hobble, diamond and squaw. Also, she knows a dang-sight more than I do about pearls.
Now I’ve no contract to use up all the paper in sight, so here we rest—you probably need it after this screed!
And to you about the Fire—may your shadows never grow less! And to those on the trails—may your feet never grew wearied!
For more information on this author who was a prominent science fiction writer and had five cover stories in Weird Tales, see this article.