Under the Great Tiger was a collaboration between Robert E. Howard and Tevis Clyde Smith. Published in two parts in the All-Around Magazine May-June and July 1923. This magazine was Tevis Clyde Smith’s amateur paper. He published several issues of this with a very small print run.

From the letters

In the letter (#002) from June 22, 1923 Howard writes to Tevis:

I got your paper and it’s really good. Hurray for the “Great Tiger”! If you want to, you might put this in the next issue, “Take my advice and buy your books from Truett Vinson. They’re worth the money. Take it from a guy who knows!” R.E.H.

From Tevis Clyde Smith

In his book Pecan Valley Days from 1956 Tevis Clyde Smith mentions the story:

Robert E. Howard was from Cross Plains, and he had come to Brownwood to finish his high school education, as his local school system, like others of that time, offered one grade less schooling than some of the larger places. I had read about him, at the same time reading some of his writings, for, before the Christmas Holidays, the school paper had offered prizes for stories, and Bob had just about swept the field. We  became acquainted, and were soon working together on a serial for The All-Around, a rather gory, and somewhat swashbuckling tale, laid in Afghanistan, and titled “Under The Great Tiger.”

Smith also mentions the story in his Report on a Writing Man from the Howard Collector #4:

After our introduction, we commenced work on “Under the Great Tiger.” This tale was never completed, though the main character drenched two successive issues of The All-Around Magazine in gore by permanently ending the activities of three Afghans in less than three hundred words, fair economy of language, it seems to me, if economy of language is something the reader desires. It should be mentioned that the small circle of subscribers, as well as exchanges, remained noncommittal. 

It’s mentioned again in the letter/essay named “The Magic Name” written to Glenn Lord, published in Fantasy Crossroads #10/11, March 1977:

In talking with Jonathan Bacon, I stated that I would rather not start with the first time Bob ever put a toe in his mouth. I thought it best to begin with my first meeting with Bob, and, if needed, to make a flashback, though I should mention some things I’ve talked about a number of times: I had a 6×9 Kelsey hand press, I published a small paper along the order of the Lone Scout tribe papers, Truett Vinson was assistant editor, and Bob and I wrote a fragment, never completed, called “Under The Great Tiger.” This fragment was published in the amateur journal, and should probably have never been mentioned, as some people seem to have the impression that a rare work of art is being kept out of reach of humanity. If anyone feels this way, now is as good a time as any to disillusion him. However, I might dust it off, do a lot of research, and see what could be done with it one of these days, if I get sold on the idea, and Glenn Lord feels it is worthwhile.

Detailed summary

The story begins with the narrator reminiscing about a trip to Kabul, Afghanistan, for some undisclosed business. The nature of this business is kept secret at this point.

The narrator is seated at a table in one of Kabul’s inns when an Afghan chieftain named Yussef Ullah and his 12 men enter the establishment. Yussef Ullah is described as an influential warrior.

The narrator decides to get acquainted with Yussef Ullah, even though he is half-drunk. He approaches Yussef Ullah and, in a somewhat bold move, slaps him on the back and invites him to join him for a drink.

Yussef Ullah initially appears hostile and gives the impression that he might attack the narrator. However, he eventually agrees to accompany the narrator to his table.

At the table, they engage in conversation and continue drinking. However, Yussef Ullah’s patience begins to wear thin as the conversation progresses.

Suddenly, Yussef Ullah becomes enraged and accuses the narrator of being a thief and a coward from a nation of such. He threatens to kill the narrator.

Yussef Ullah draws his sword and attempts to attack the narrator. In a desperate move to defend himself, the narrator steps back but stumbles over a chair and falls to the ground.

With Yussef Ullah closing in on him, the narrator quickly retrieves a pistol from his pocket and fires it at Yussef Ullah. The bullet strikes Yussef Ullah between the eyes, killing him instantly.

The narrator then swiftly gets to his feet and shoots two more of Yussef Ullah’s men before they can reach him.

Amid the chaos, one of the Moslems throws a long spear at the narrator. He manages to dodge the spear and, displaying incredible agility, retrieves it from the floor. Using the spear as a vaulting pole, he leaps over the heads of his attackers and escapes through a window.

The chapter ends with this daring escape, leaving the reader with a sense of intrigue and anticipation for what will happen next.


  • Narrator (Unnamed): The protagonist and narrator of the story. The nature of his business in Kabul is initially undisclosed.
  • Yussef Ullah: An influential Afghan chieftain and warrior who becomes involved in a confrontation with the narrator.
  • Yussef Ullah’s Men: A group of Afghan warriors accompanying Yussef Ullah.
  • Moslems: Refers to the Afghan warriors in Yussef Ullah’s group who follow their religious faith.

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