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The Man Who Couldn't Sleep   By: (1874-1950)

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First Page:

[Frontispiece: I could feel the sting of the powder smoke on my up thrust wrist.]

The Man

Who Couldn't Sleep



"The Prairie Wife," Etc.

With Frontispiece



Publishers New York

Published by arrangement with BOBBS MERRILL COMPANY



Printed in the United States of America

To Harvey, of the dome like pate, The dreamy eye, the Celtic wit And kindly heart, I dedicate This blithe romance conceived and writ By one of that triumvirate Who knew Defeat, yet conquered it.



I Running Out of Pay Dirt II The Ox Blood Vase III The Stolen Wheel Code IV The Open Door V The Man from Medicine Hat VI The Irreproachable Butler VII The Panama Gold Chests VIII The Dummy Chucker IX A Rialto Rain Storm X The Thumb Tap Clue XI The Nile Green Roadster

The Man Who Couldn't Sleep



To begin with, I am a Canadian by birth, and thirty three years old. For nine of those years I have lived in New York. And by my friends in that city I am regarded as a successful author.

There was a time when I even regarded myself in much the same light. But that period is past. I now have to face the fact that I am a failure. For when a man is no longer able to write he naturally can no longer be reckoned as an author.

I have made the name of Witter Kerfoot too well known, I think, to explain that practically all of my stories have been written about Alaska. Just why I resorted to that far off country for my settings is still more or less a mystery to me. Perhaps it was merely because of its far offness. Perhaps it was because the editors remembered that I came from the land of the beaver and sagely concluded that a Canadian would be most at home in writing about the Frozen North. At any rate, when I romanced about the Yukon and its ice bound trails they bought my stories, and asked for more.

And I gave them more. I gave them blood red fiction about gun men and claim jumpers and Siwash queens and salmon fisheries. I gave them supermen of iron, fighting against cold and hunger, and snarling, always snarling, at their foes. I gave them oratorical young engineers with clear cut features and sinews of steel, battling against the forces of hyperborean evil. I gave them fist fights that caused my books to be discreetly shut out of school libraries yet brought in telegrams from motion picture directors for first rights. I gave them enough gun play to shoot Chilcoot Pass into the middle of the Pacific, and was publicly denominated as the apostle of the Eye Socket School, and during the three hundred night run of my melodrama, The Pole Raiders , even beheld on the Broadway sign boards an extraordinarily stalwart picture of myself in a rakish Stetson and a flannel shirt very much open at the throat, with a cow hide holster depending from my Herculean waist line and a very dreadful looking six shooter protruding from the open top of that belted holster. My publishers spoke of me, for business reasons, as the Interpreter of the Great Northwest. And I exploited that territory with the industry of a badger. In my own way, I mined Alaska. And it brought me in a very respectable amount of pay dirt.

But I knew nothing about Alaska, I had never even seen the country. I "crammed up" on it, of course, the same as we used to cram up for a third form examination in Latin grammar. I perused the atlases and sent for governmental reports, and pored over the R.N.W.M.P. Blue Books, and gleaned a hundred or so French Canadian names for half breed villains from a telephone directory for the city of Montreal. But I knew no more about Alaska than a Fiji Islander knows about the New York Stock Exchange. And that was why I could romance so freely, so magnificently, about it!

I was equally prodigal of blood, I suppose, because I had never seen the real thing flow except in the case of my little niece, when her tonsils had been removed and a very soft spoken nurse had helped me out of the surgery and given me a drink of ice water, after telling me it would be best to keep my head as low as possible until I was feeling better... Continue reading book >>

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