‘Vultures’ Sanctuary’ exists as an untitled carbon, with at least two drafts that are not much different from the final version. Ironically, after being rejected by Fiction House on January 9, 1936, the story’s fortunes turned when Byrne, who had recently moved to Argosy, purchased it. This led to its publication in the November 28, 1936 issue of Argosy.

From the letters:

On January 9, 1936 Howard received a letter from Fiction House with an apology for still holding on to the story:

Dear Mr. Howard:

I was surprised to learn upon receiving your letter this morning that I was still holding “Vulture’s Sanctuary” which you sent in such a long time ago. I was under the impression that this story had been returned to you with explanations some time well before Christmas.

I held the story longer than usual because there was a possibility that I might be able to use it in one of our magazines on which we had planned a revival. This is a well told, well motivated yarn.

As it happened, however, Mr. Glenister decided to keep our revived titles on a tentative basis. We are putting them on the stands purely as a gamble to see how they will go, and the continuance of these depends upon the sale we achieve. In any event I don’t believe that they will appear regularly again before the middle of the year.

Under the circumstances, with ACTION and LARIAT both bi-monthlies, our only regular publications, I am using very little material at this time. Hence the return of “Vulture’s Sanctuary” with my apologies for the unusual delay of it.

John F. Byrne

The story

“Vultures’ Sanctuary” by Robert E. Howard is set in the wilds of the Old West, where the lead character, Big Mac, encounters the infamous Checotah Kid. The Kid, an outlaw, seeks Mac’s help for a seemingly lucrative gold mine venture. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that the Kid’s intentions are far from honest, leading to intense confrontations and betrayals. This tale is steeped in the themes of treachery, survival, and the moral complexities of a lawless land.

The characters

  • Big Mac: A robust cowpuncher, central to the story.
  • Checotah Kid: A cunning and desperate outlaw.
  • Slip Ratner: A shady character who proposes a sinister plan to Big Mac.
  • Judith Ellis: A young girl unwittingly caught in the conflict.
  • Old Man Ellis: Judith’s father, who is involved in the story’s dramatic events.
  • El Bravo and his gang: Bandits mentioned as part of the story’s background.
  • Stark Campbell, John Garrison, Red Emmett, Wolf Wilson: Members of El Bravo’s gang encountered in the narrative.
  • Other characters: Include townsfolk and individuals involved in the saloon confrontation and subsequent events.

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