The Girl on the Hell Ship draft. The story was sent to Frank Armer (Spicy Adventures) on October 8, 1935. “The Girl on the Hell Ship” was sold to Spicy Adventure Stories on October 23, 1935, and published in the April 1936 issue under the title “She Devil” and the byline “Sam Walser.” Howard would sell four more stories to the magazine.

See THE GIRL ON THE HELL SHIP for more information, extracts from the letters and what changed between the draft and the final story.

Summary of the story

The narrative unfolds on the “Saucy Lass,” where Captain Harrigan and Raquel O’Shane engage in a vehement dispute, underscored by Harrigan’s threats and physical intimidation towards Raquel. Amidst their altercation, the chaos is momentarily disregarded due to a commotion on deck, where Wild Bill Clanton is discovered battling First Mate Buck Richardson. Clanton, a newcomer who was found adrift and saved from a shark attack, demonstrates exceptional combat prowess, overshadowing Richardson, despite their shared history of enmity over a woman.

The confrontation escalates when Raquel, in an act of defiance, disposes of a crucial chart that Harrigan valued for its directions to a treasure on Aragoa Island. The loss of the chart spurs a violent reaction from Harrigan, leading to a chase on the deck. Clanton intervenes, protecting Raquel from Harrigan’s wrath and asserting his position by challenging Harrigan’s treatment of her.

Clanton’s claim to know the location of Aragoa Island without needing the chart convinces Harrigan to appoint him as the first mate. This shift in dynamics is followed by a chaotic sequence where Clanton and Raquel end up marooned on an island after Harrigan attempts to kill them for the presumed betrayal. On the island, they encounter hostile natives, leading to a series of violent encounters that showcase Clanton’s fighting skills and strategic thinking.

Utilizing his wits, Clanton tricks Harrigan and the crew into believing they’ve found the ambergris, resulting in Harrigan and Richardson being captured by the natives. With the crew convinced of Clanton’s navigational skills and claim to the ship through a deceitful wager with Harrigan, Clanton assumes command of the “Saucy Lass,” setting off for the Solomons with Raquel by his side.


  • Captain Harrigan: The brutish and tyrannical captain of the “Saucy Lass,” obsessed with finding treasure on Aragoa Island.
  • Raquel O’Shane: A spirited and defiant woman, verbally and physically abused by Harrigan, she stands up to him and plays a crucial role in the narrative.
  • Wild Bill Clanton: A formidable fighter and the story’s hero, who defends Raquel, outsmarts Harrigan, and becomes the de facto captain of the “Saucy Lass.”
  • First Mate Buck Richardson: Harrigan’s first mate, known for his ruthlessness, who suffers a humiliating defeat by Clanton.
  • The Bos’n: A minor character who informs Harrigan of Clanton’s arrival and later participates in the crew’s activities under Clanton’s command.
  • The Crew of the Saucy Lass: Background characters who witness the events and ultimately follow Clanton’s command.
  • The Kanakas: Native islanders who pose a threat to Raquel and Clanton, leading to a series of conflicts that demonstrate Clanton’s combat skills and strategic mind.

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