“Zane Grey epitomized the mythical West that should have been.” —True West, praise for the author
It would seem that the end of every war has been followed in the United States by social and moral changes, mostly for the worse. Zane Grey certainly felt that way about the effects of the Great War, and to show these changes and how to cope with them became the impulse behind what he called The Water Hole. However, before magazine publication, changes were made in his text, including the names of all the characters. Fortunately Grey's original handwritten manuscript has survived, so now this story can be told with his characters named and presented as he intended them to be.
In 1925 widowed businessman Elijah Winters brings his daughter, Cherry, from Long Island to stay at a trading post in a remote area some distance from Flagstaff, Arizona. Removed from the country clubs and speakeasies, Cherry is at first bored with simple ranch life, and to entertain herself she flirts with several of the cowboys, not realizing they are very different from the young men she knew back east. Also very different is Stephen Heftral, a young archaeologist who is searching for an ancient and lost kiva of a primitive Indian tribe that disappeared centuries before in what became the land of the Navajos.
Heftral believes that this lost kiva is most probably in a desert fastness called Beckyshibeta, the Navajo word for water hole. Elijah colludes with Heftral to awaken Cherry to a new and healthier way of life by taking her, by force if necessary, to the site. Cherry resents being kidnapped but comes to forget the luxury of her past in the beauty and dangers of the canyons—and in the thrill of making an important archaeological discovery.
From beloved author Zane Grey come four thrilling tales of the West. The very essence of the American West can be found in the stories of Zane Grey, an author whose popularity has not flagged since his first novel was published.
"Silvermane" is concerned with the efforts of two Mormon mustangers, brothers Lee and Cuth Stewart, to capture a wild stallion in the Sevier range country.
"Tappan's Burro," with the text restored from the author's handwritten manuscript, tells of the life of a desert prospector and his burro, Jenet. Tappan dreams of finding gold—and does. When he is pursued by claim jumpers, it is Jenet who guides him across the floor of Death Valley when it is beset by suffocating gales of nocturnal heat and gas.
"Ca├▒on Walls," also restored according to the author's holographic manuscript, is the story of outlaw Smoke Bellew, who enters a remote Mormon settlement only a jump ahead of a posse. Finding employment as a ranch hand working for a dowager Mormon, Smoke is able to make her ranch a financial success while simultaneously falling in love with her wanton daughter, Rebecca. But it is too good to last.
"From Missouri," its text restored as well, is a story about a schoolteacher from the East who is discouraged from coming to Arizona Territory by letters forged by three cowhands. But the mysterious Frank Owens' love letters convince her she must come anyway. When Jane Stacey does arrive, to the amazement of the three cowhands, she is not the middle-aged matron they had expected but a young and very attractive woman. However, the lecherous Beady Jones has his own idea of how the new schoolmarm should be introduced to the West.
Panguitch is king of the wild mustangs. A magnificent stallion the color of a lion, except for his black mane and tail, he has been unsuccessfully sought for years by a number of horse hunters. Chane Weymer can hardly believe when the Paiute Chief, Toddy Nokin, confides in him, a white man, that Panguitch and his herd are on Wild Horse Mesa in Utah. How can a herd of horses be on the insurmountable mesa?
Chane buys horses from the Paiute that he plans to sell to the Mormons, but he is attacked by horse thieves and escapes with only the horse he is riding. Having evaded the thieves, he discovers wild horses led by Panguitch. Now that he knows Panguitch’s access to Wild Horse Mesa, Chane decides to return to capture the wild stallion.
Chane is near exhaustion when he rides into the Melberne-Loughbridge horse-hunting camp. Amazed to find that his brother is part of the crew there, he accepts Melberne’s invitation to join them. But trouble lies ahead as Benton Manerube, a man associated with the horse thieves who attacked Chane, is in the camp posing as an expert horse hunter.