The Sheik by Robert E. Howard
Published in The Tattler (Brownwood High School paper), March 15,
The book mentioned in the Introduction is Edith Maude
Hull’s romance novel The Sheik (1919), filmed two years later
under the same name and starring Latin sex symbol Rudolph Valentino.
THE OTHER DAY I ambles kinda aimless into a book-store.
She’s a new range for me so when the clerk comes up and says
“What can I do for you, me good man?” I says, “Lady, you
can trot out the latest edition of ‘Relentless Rupert, the Red-handed
Avenger of the Spanish Main.’ ”
She gives me the once-over kinda scornful. “We don’t keep no
such low brow stuff,” says she. “Whyn’t you read
somethin’ inspiring and romantic? Now here’s a very popular novel
called ‘The Sheik.’ ”
“Indeed?” says I.
“One fifty,” says she.
I slips her the fish and a half and does a lam. The book has got a picture
on the cover of a Oriental gent on a cayuse doin’ a lam across the
prairie. I read a book once called “Huloo Himalaya, the Horrible
Hindoo,” which was about a Oriental gent and I thought mebbe this was
like it. But nothin’ doin’. This Sheik was a heavyweight champeen
of Africa which is braver than most birds, because he kidnaps a Jane which
all others run from instead of after. He’s a regular bear-cat, caveman
stuff, sabe? And this dame falls in love with him for it. Of course
they marry and live happy forever after.
“Well,” says I thoughtfully, crammin’ the book into the
stove, “I’m out one and a half cartwheels and she’s a
touchin’, inspirin’ romance but she ain’t authentic; she
ain’t true to life. Not none. Now, me, I’ll write a book which is
true to life. Th’ misguided public needs it. It’s me duty.”
So here goes.
Scene: The Desert.
A THUNDER of horse-hoofs! A medley of yells. Oriental yells!
Venus Herring was in full flight across the desert. She looked back. A tall
handsome Arab on a magnificent mule was pursuing her! Frantically she kicked
her burro in the ribs. She was spurred to greater efforts by the Arab’s
barbaric war-whoop, “He-ya! Uneeda Takhoma Nabisco!”
She turned in her saddle and fired her elephant-gun. A miss! She fired the
other barrel. Another miss! Horrors! She could hit a barn at three steps,
flying. Why could she not hit that Arab?
As the Oriental drew up alongside, she swiped at him with the stock of her
rifle but he was wearing a high silk “Stove-pipe” hat and the
blow bounced harmlessly off.
The next moment he had walloped her across the head with the handle of his
spear and dragged her off her burro. He slung her across his saddle and
galloped away. She struggled and screeched.
“Sit still, you little idiot!” he shouted, banging her nose
against the saddle horn.
Scene: The Sheik’s Tent.
“I AM the Sheik Ahmed!” announced the Arab,
throwing Venus into a corner.
“Amid what?” she asked faintly.
“Don’t get fresh with me kiddo,” he warned [. . .] the
Sheik Ahmed ben Ahmed ben Whoopitup.
“I love you!” he continued, dragging her around the tent by
the hair. “You shall be mine!” slamming her down on the floor and
masterfully kicking her in the face.
“Kiss me, my dear,” he ordered passionately massaging her
features with a pair of brass knucks.
“Never, you vile scoundrel!” she exclaimed, throwing a table
“Aha, you would, would you?” he cursed. “Evidently you
don’t know who I am!” catching her by the neck and reaching for a
Scene: Inside And Outside The Sheik’s Tent.
VENUS HERRING yawned and reached for another bon-bon. How
long had she been in the Sheik’s village? Three weeks! Ye gods and
little fishes! And not a movie the whole time.
Outside, she could hear the Sheik’s wild desert-raiders engaged in
some game. She could hear the click of the galloping dominoes and the voices
of the men, “Come seven!” “Phoebe, Ah imploah’s
yo’ to save de family jewels!” “Yo’s faded.”
“Roll ’em, boy roll ’em.”
She rose and stepped to the tent door. The Sheik was playing marbles with
the Frenchman, Gaston. (pronounced Gas-town.)
He scowled when he saw her.
“Beat it back into that tent,” he ordered. “The sun will
ruin your complexion and I’m not going to ride fifty miles to get you
another either soon.”
“Villain!” she exclaimed, retreating in time to dodge the
saddle he hurled at her.
Scene: Outside And Inside The Sheik’s Tent.
VENUS looked out the tent door. The Sheik was striding up
and down before the tent, speaking aloud:
“The bread Burns,” he soliloquised, “the potatoes are
Browning, the sausage is a Longfellow; on the stove there is Bacon. What are
He entered the tent. He was in high spirit. He had been playing keeps with
Gaston and won seventeen taws. Then he had played tiddledywinks with the
Sultan of Turkey and had beaten him forty-seven times, hand-running.
However, he scowled when he looked at Venus.
“I’s tired of you,” he announced. “I’m going
to send you back to England.”
“Ahmed!” she cried “Why, you couldn’t do
“Why not?” he queried coolly.
“Please don’t,” she begged.
“You annoy me,” he answered, hitting her with a chair.
She stepped to the door. “Gaston, come here!”
“Certainly, ma’mselle, but why?” was the reply.
“To act as referee,” she answered and turning she swung for
the Sheik’s jaw. He warded and knocked her through the tent with a
left-handed punch. She returned and drove the Sheik across the tent, hitting
him with a right upper-cut, a left-hook and an over-hand swing.
Just then Gaston tapped the gong.
Venus leads with her right. The Sheik countered and let drive a swing
which Venus ducked, and slammed him with a right-and-left. They clinched and
Venus hammered the Sheik on the back of the neck until he fainted. He rose at
the count of eight and fought on the defensive the rest of the round. The
Venus swung with her left. The Sheik side-stepped, feinted and knocked
Venus down with a left-uppercut. She got up at the count of seven and
clinched. They broke away and exchanged blows until the gong.
The Sheik leads with his left. Venus side-stepped and hit the Sheik with a
straight right, giving him a black eye. The Sheik lifted Venus off the floor
with a hay-maker. As she came down she hit him with an over-hand swing,
staggering him. Before he could recover she swung for his jaw and knocked him
out for the count.
“Ah, ma’mselle,” exclaimed Gaston, “I take great
pleasure in presenting you the championship belt of the Sahara
“The pleasure is mostly mine,” she responded. “Now, beat
The Sheik opened his eyes, saw Venus and climbed the tent-pole.
“Use discretion and be a nice girl,” he begged.
”Come down from there,” she commanded, knocking him from his
perch with a table.
“And you won’t send me away?” she asked, wreathing her
fingers in his hair and poising a rolling-pin.
“No, my dear,” he responded.
“My hero!” she exclaimed. “My Desert