The 1st draft of Murderer’s Grog. One of Howard’s spicy stories was later published under the name Sam Walser. Featuring Wild Bill Clanton.

The final story was received by Kline on April 27, 1936. Circa May 1936 it was sold to Trojan by Binder for $27.00.

See also “Murderer’s Grog” – the finished story.

The story is a tale of passion, betrayal, and the quest for power in a land where loyalty is as fleeting as the desert sands. The narrative is rich with the atmosphere of Peshawur, the tension of forbidden desires, and the relentless pursuit of ambition at any cost. This draft encapsulates Howard’s ability to blend action, intrigue, and a deep sense of place into a compelling narrative, set against the backdrop of a vibrant and dangerous Peshawur.

Alternate title:


From the letters:

On June 3, 1936 Howard wrote to his friend E. Hoffmann Price (letter #353):

Dear Ed:

Sorry to hear Pawang Ali has been banished. I can’t imagine why. It was a fine series. However I’m sure you’ll find another character to take his place. I haven’t time to write much. My mother is very low and I fear cannot survive. I have little heart to speak of writing or anything else, but I will say that I have made several sales recently: the first two of the Pike Bearfield series to Argosy, another Spicy adventure, a Breck Elkins yarn to Action (now a monthly and has expressed a desire for a monthly Elkins) and another of the same type to Popular’s Star Western. All these sales were made within the past ten days.

Pawang Ali was the hero of a series of detective stories by Price that ran in Clues Detective from 1933 to 1936. The Pike Bearfield stories Howard refers to is “A Gent from the Pecos,” published 3 October 1936, and “Gents on the Lynch,” published October 17, 1936. Murderer’s Grog is the spicy adventure and The Elkins stories are “Sharp’s Gun Serenade,” published in January 1937 and “The Curly Wolf of Sawtooth,” published in September 1936.

Summary of the story

“Murderer’s Grog” begins with Wild Bill Clanton, a man on the edge due to potential financial ruin and legal troubles, ascending the stairs to Olga Valisky’s rooms in Peshawur. Clanton is a man of action, driven by desire and frustration, seeking solace or escape in Olga’s company. Peshawur, depicted as a city of fortunes and dangers, sets the stage for a story where law and personal ambition are on a collision course.

Upon entering Olga’s quarters, Clanton’s mood shifts from anger to anticipation, only to be met with unexpected coldness from Olga, who lounges in her room, a blend of opulence and mystery. Their interaction quickly escalates from flirtation to a physical confrontation, revealing Olga’s true intentions and the complexities of their relationship.

The narrative weaves through Clanton’s desperation to secure a business deal involving smuggled rifles, his contentious relationship with the British authorities, and his tumultuous interaction with Olga and her servants. Olga, living among the locals yet isolated from both them and the British cantonment, embodies the intrigue and danger that Clanton navigates.

After a violent altercation in Olga’s home, Clanton leaves, only to be lured into drinking a powerful concoction that fuels his rage and recklessness. The story culminates in a dramatic confrontation involving Olga, Ahmed Shah (an agent of Baber Ali Khan), and the revelation of betrayal and unfulfilled desires.


  • Wild Bill Clanton: The protagonist, a man driven by desire and ambition, caught in a web of legal and financial troubles.
  • Olga Valisky: A mysterious woman living in Peshawur, who embodies both the allure and danger that Clanton is drawn to. She initially invites Clanton’s advances but ultimately rejects him for another man, leading to a violent confrontation.
  • Punjabi Maid: Olga’s servant, who witnesses Clanton’s aggressive entry and later, his humiliating exit.
  • Ahmed Shah: An agent for Baber Ali Khan, pivotal in the twist that sees Clanton’s plans unravel. He represents the local power structures that Clanton attempts to navigate for his own gain.
  • Shinwari Manservant: One of Olga’s servants who physically confronts Clanton during his aggressive pursuit of Olga, symbolizing the physical and cultural barriers Clanton faces.
  • Baber Ali Khan: Though not directly appearing in the story, his decision not to support Clanton’s venture is crucial to the plot’s development. He symbolizes the powerful local figures whose favor Clanton seeks to secure his ambitions.
  • British Commandant and Authorities: They represent the colonial power structure that Clanton is desperately trying to evade, contributing to his sense of urgency and desperation.
  • Dive-keeper and Gun Maker: Minor characters who contribute to the story’s climax by drugging Clanton, showing the depths of local intrigue and the dangers Clanton faces in his reckless pursuits.

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