“Spanish Gold on Devil Horse” is an early draft of a tale by Robert E. Howard that blends elements of action, adventure, and mystery. Set in the rugged landscapes of West Texas, the story unfolds around Steve Costigan, a writer with a penchant for adventure and an unexpected plunge into a treasure hunt steeped in historical intrigue and danger.



Steve Costigan, while helping a friend travel, stumbles upon a mystery involving two suspicious geologists, whom locals believe to be out of place on East Peak. Intrigued by their secretive behavior and an old Spanish coin found by a local boy named Skinny, Steve’s interest is piqued, setting him on a path toward an old Spanish treasure.

As the narrative unfolds, Steve encounters various characters, including a desperate young woman named Marylin la Valon, who is directly connected to the treasure through her ancestors. The treasure, lost since the early 19th century when General Ricardo de la San Gabrielle vanished with it, is believed to be cursed, having incited violence and greed among those aware of its existence.

Steve and Marylin partner up, despite initial mistrust, to locate the treasure, navigating through threats from two dangerous men, Gomez and El Culebra. Their journey is fraught with peril, involving chases, captures, and escapes, climaxing in a violent confrontation near East Peak.

The story culminates in a dramatic shootout involving the two antagonists and a grim resolution as the cursed treasure leads to betrayal and death. In the end, Steve and Marylin, bonded through their ordeal, decide to leave the gold, tainted by bloodshed, focusing instead on their future together.

Comparing the draft and the finished story


Early Draft:

  • The protagonist is named Steve Costigan.
  • Other significant characters include Marylin la Valon, Gomez, and El Culebra.

Full Story:

  • In the final version, the protagonist’s name is changed to Mike, which can suggest a redefinition or relatability aspect introduced by Howard in later revisions.
  • It’s common for Howard to refine or change names in his drafts to better fit the tone or historical setting of the story.


Early Draft:

  • Begins with the discovery of a Spanish coin, leading to a treasure hunt.
  • Involves geologists who are secretly looking for the treasure, and the plot unfolds with confrontations and betrayals centered around this quest.
  • Ends with a dramatic showdown involving betrayal and a plane crash.

Full Story:

  • Likely includes more nuanced motivations and clearer explanations for the characters’ actions, enhancing the logical flow of events.
  • Additional plot twists or more complex interactions between characters could be introduced to deepen the narrative.
  • The ending might be adjusted to provide a more resolved or morally poignant conclusion, possibly emphasizing themes like redemption or the folly of greed.


Early Draft:

  • Set around the fictional East Peak and the surrounding oil boomtowns, reflecting a rugged, adventurous backdrop typical of Howard’s settings.

Full Story:

  • Howard might have added more detailed descriptions of the settings to enhance the atmosphere and immersion into the story’s environment.
  • Additional locations relevant to the newly introduced plot elements might be included, providing a broader scope and richer context.


Early Draft:

  • Steve Costigan is portrayed as a physically strong and morally straightforward protagonist.
  • Marylin la Valon is the treasure-connected damsel in distress.
  • Villains like Gomez and El Culebra are relatively one-dimensional, representing clear antagonistic roles.

Full Story:

  • “Mike” (the renamed protagonist) could be depicted with more depth, possibly showcasing internal struggles or more complex motivations.
  • Marylin’s character might receive an enhancement, giving her more agency or a more pivotal role in the resolution of the story.
  • Antagonists such as Gomez and El Culebra could be depicted with more backstory or motivations that provide a psychological depth, making them more realistic and less stereotypically evil.

Overall Differences

The transition from the early draft to the full story in Howard’s works typically involves significant enhancements to character development, plot complexity, and thematic depth. The changes from Steve Costigan to Mike in the protagonist role likely reflect broader adjustments in character portrayal and narrative focus, aiming for a more mature or sophisticated storytelling style. Howard’s revisions would have aimed to improve coherence, emotional impact, and thematic resonance, ensuring that each element of the story—from the setting to character arcs—serves the larger narrative and its intended message.


  • Steve Costigan: Main protagonist, a writer and adventurer, drawn into the treasure hunt.
  • Marylin la Valon: Key female character, connected to the treasure through her ancestry.
  • Skinny: The local boy who finds the Spanish coin, igniting the treasure hunt.
  • Gomez: Antagonist, a cunning and dangerous man pursuing the treasure.
  • El Culebra: Another villain, partner to Gomez, brutal and relentless.
  • Leary: A rough character involved in the later stages of the treasure hunt, ultimately meeting a tragic fate.

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