The version titled “The Curly Wolf of Sawtooth” features Bearfield Elston. The version titled “A Elkins Never Surrenders” comes from an earlier draft, and features Breckinridge Elkins.
The appearance in THE SUMMIT COUNTY JOURNAL had the name changed to “Breckenridge” to be like the town it was published in.

Otis Adelbert Kline (REH’s agent) first listed the title of the story as “A Elkins Never Surrenders”. He offered it to V. I. Cooper, when he declined, Kline returned the story to REH. A month later it hits the logs again with a new title “A Elston to the Rescue”, and is then sold to Miller for STAR WESTERN. The published title is likely from the magazine editors. Received by Kline Agency on December 4, 1934. Circa May 1936 it was sold to Popular by Binder.

“The Curly Wolf of Sawtooth”, or as it is later renamed, “A Elston to the Rescue” is a short story that follows the adventures of Bearfield Elston, a larger-than-life character who finds himself embroiled in a family feud in Arizona. Elston, who is characterized by his extraordinary physical strength and fiery temperament, is sent by his father to aid their relatives, the Garfields, who are having trouble with a neighboring family, the Clantons. The story is filled with humor, exaggerated action, and misunderstandings, ultimately revealing the complexities and absurdities of familial loyalty and feuds.


The story begins with Bearfield Elston arriving at his father’s cabin, where his father, known as Pap, is cursing about a feud the Garfield family is involved in. Pap, afflicted by rheumatism, orders Bearfield to go to Arizona to help their relatives, the Garfields, in their conflict with the Clantons.

Bearfield heads to Perdition to catch a stage to Arizona, engaging in some drinking challenges along the way. He wins money by downing quarts of liquor, eventually boarding the stage to Arizona, where he falls asleep for most of the journey. When he wakes, he finds himself near the town of Sawtooth, Arizona, where the Garfields live.

Upon arrival, Bearfield meets his grand-uncle Joel Garfield, who is surprised and somewhat alarmed by Bearfield’s boldness and aggression. Bearfield immediately decides to confront one of the Clantons he spots in town, knocking him out with a single punch. This act of violence draws the attention of the local sheriff, whom Bearfield also overpowers and humiliates.

Bearfield announces his takeover of the Garfield clan’s defense, disregarding any thoughts of truces or compromises. He forcibly mobilizes the Garfield family, despite their lack of enthusiasm for violence. He sends the women to safety in town and prepares for a siege, ordering the men to build shutters and stockpile water and ammunition.

The Clantons, taken aback by Bearfield’s aggressive tactics, retreat to their ranch. Bearfield, not satisfied with merely preparing defenses, decides to take the fight to the Clantons. He attempts a dramatic attack using a cannon he borrows from the town, loading it with various projectiles and firing it at the Clanton house. The blast damages the house but fails to kill any Clantons, who had been sleeping upstairs.

Bearfield then plans a night attack on the Clantons’ camp in a nearby canyon. He and Uncle Joel sneak up on the camp, but Bearfield’s guns have been sabotaged by Joel, who had been trying to avoid further violence. When Bearfield discovers this, he is furious but continues the attack with his bare hands, scattering the Clantons.

In the morning, Bearfield receives a letter revealing that the Garfields he has been fighting for are not his actual relatives; they spell their name differently and are unrelated. Realizing his mistake, Bearfield is enraged by the deception. He confronts Uncle Joel, who admits to the ruse and his attempts to mitigate the violence.

The story concludes with Bearfield making a dramatic escape from the approaching mob and soldiers, reaffirming his commitment to his family’s honor and disdain for the Guarfeles’ ingratitude and deception.


  • Bearfield Elston: The protagonist, a strong and fiery man sent to defend his family’s honor.
  • Pap (Elston): Bearfield’s father, who sends him to help the Garfields in Arizona.
  • Uncle Joel Garfield: Bearfield’s grand-uncle in Arizona, who is surprised by Bearfield’s aggressive tactics.
  • Old Man Clanton: The head of the Clanton family, who is in conflict with the Garfields.
  • John Clanton: The eldest Clanton son, who suffers a dislocated jaw from Bearfield.
  • Bill Garfield: One of Joel’s sons, who helps in the preparations and scouting.
  • Jim Garfield: Another of Joel’s sons, who acts as a messenger and helps prepare defenses.
  • Joe Garfield: The third of Joel’s sons, who is tasked with initiating hostilities.
  • Sheriff: The local law enforcement officer who attempts to arrest Bearfield but is overpowered.
  • Deputy Sheriff: An officer who also tries to intervene and is overpowered by Bearfield.
  • Old Lady (Mrs. Garfield): Joel’s wife, who is bewildered by Bearfield’s actions.
  • Four Garfield Daughters: They are sent to safety by Bearfield during the conflict.
  • Jedge: A judge who briefly interacts with Bearfield when he is taking the cannon.
  • Captain of the Soldiers: The officer leading the soldiers who confront Bearfield at the end.
  • Postmaster of Sawtooth: Delivers the letter revealing the mistaken identity of the Garfields.

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