UNTITLED STORY (“I’m a man of few words . . .”).

The title “Shackled Mitts” was erroneously applied to this untitled story, as Glenn Lord thought it was a story of that title mentioned in REH’s papers, which REH said he had offered to Fiction House in April 1931; but as this story was not written until after early 1932, this can not be that story.

Shackled Mitts was rejected by Fiction House on April 22, 1931.


The story opens with the narrator, Bill McGlory, encountering Biz Barlow at the Suva wharf. Bill immediately attacks Biz, demanding the ten dollars Biz owes him. Biz, ever the smooth talker, persuades Bill to let him explain a scheme that promises much more than ten dollars. Biz tells Bill about Tangua Island, a place divided between two warring tribes, the Tannis and the Guais. According to Biz, the king of the Tannis is the strongest man on the island, and anyone who defeats him in combat becomes the new king and gains control of a hidden treasure.

Biz convinces Bill to fight the Tannis king, Tanabwa, by promising that they will share the treasure. After some hesitation, Bill agrees, and they set off to Tangua. However, the ship’s captain, Hogan, dislikes Bill and Biz and eventually maroons them on the Guai side of the island, leaving them in grave danger.

On the island, Bill and Biz meet Alala, a native girl who helps them cross the lagoon to the Tanni side, where Bill can challenge Tanabwa. Despite initial trepidation and misunderstanding of the combat rules, Bill accidentally wins the fight when a coconut, dislodged by Bill’s charge, knocks Tanabwa unconscious. The Tannis declare Bill their new king.

As king, Bill asserts his authority by stopping the Tannis from killing Tanabwa and later plans to establish peace with the Guai tribe. The fragment ends with Bill beginning to navigate his unexpected role as a tribal king.


  • Bill McGlory: The narrator and protagonist, a tough sailor who becomes the king of Tangua.
  • Biz Barlow: A slick-talking conman who convinces Bill to go on the treasure hunt and fight for kingship.
  • Captain Hogan: The captain who eventually maroons Bill and Biz on Tangua Island.
  • McClune: First mate on Captain Hogan’s ship, involved in the altercation with Bill.
  • Richards: Second mate on Captain Hogan’s ship, also involved in the altercation with Bill.
  • Tanabwa: The original king of the Tanni tribe, defeated by Bill.
  • Alala: A native girl from Tangua who helps Bill and Biz cross the lagoon.
  • Gwa: The old priest of the Tanni tribe who assists Bill in his role as king.

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Source: Howard Works.