The Sheik (Howard)

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The Sheik  (1923) 
by Robert Ervin Howard
First published in The Tattler (the newspaper of Brownwood High School), March 15, 1923.

Introduction[edit]

The other day I ambles kinda aimless into a book-store. She’s a new range for me so when the clerk comes up and says “What can I do for you, me good man?” I says, “Lady, you can trot out the latest edition of ‘Relentless Rupert, the Red-handed Avenger of the Spanish Main.’”

She gives me the once-over kinda scornful. “We don’t keep no such low brow stuff,” says she. “Whyn’t you read somethin’ inspiring and romantic? Now here’s a very popular novel called ‘The Sheik.’”

“Indeed?” says I.

“One fifty,” says she.

I slips her the fish and a half and does a lam. The book has got a picture on the cover of a Oriental gent on a cayuse doin’ a lam across the prairie. I read a book once called “Huloo Himalaya, the Horrible Hindoo,” which was about a Oriental gent and I thought mebbe this was like it. But nothin’ doin’. This Sheik was a heavyweight champeen of Africa which is braver than most birds, because he kidnaps a Jane which all others run from instead of after. He’s a regular bear-cat, caveman stuff, sabe? And this dame falls in love with him for it. Of course they marry and live happy forever after.

“Well,” says I thoughtfully, crammin’ the book into the stove, “I’m out one and a half cartwheels and she’s a touchin’, inspirin’ romance but she ain’t authentic; she ain’t true to life. Not none. Now, me, I’ll write a book which is true to life. Th’ misguided public needs it. It’s me duty.” So here goes.

The Sheik[edit]

Chapter 1[edit]

Scene: The desert.

A thunder of horse-hoofs! A medley of yells. Oriental yells! Venus Herring was in full flight across the desert. She looked back. A tall handsome Arab on a magnificent mule was pursuing her! Frantically she kicked her burro in the ribs. She was spurred to greater efforts by the Arab’s barbaric war-whoop, “He-ya! Uneeda Takhoma Nabisco!”

She turned in her saddle and fired her elephant-gun. A miss! She fired the other barrel. Another miss! Horrors! She could hit a barn at three steps, flying. Why could she not hit that Arab?

As the Oriental drew up alongside, she swiped at him with the stock of her rifle but he was wearing a high silk “Stove-pipe” hat and the blow bounced harmlessly off.

The next moment he had walloped her across the head with the handle of his spear and dragged her off her burro. He slung her across his saddle and galloped away. She struggled and screeched.

“Sit still, you little idiot!” he shouted, banging her nose against the saddle horn.

Chapter 2[edit]

Scene: The Sheik’s tent.

“I am the Sheik Ahmed!” announced the Arab, throwing Venus into a corner.

“Amid what?” she asked faintly.

“Don’t get fresh with me kiddo,” he warned […] the Sheik Ahmed ben Ahmed ben Whoopitup.

“I love you!” he continued, dragging her around the tent by the hair. “You shall be mine!” slamming her down on the floor and masterfully kicking her in the face.

“Kiss me, my dear,” he ordered passionately massaging her features with a pair of brass knucks.

“Never, you vile scoundrel!” she exclaimed, throwing a table at him.

“Aha, you would, would you?” he cursed. “Evidently you don’t know who I am!” catching her by the neck and reaching for a horse-whip.

Chapter 3[edit]

Scene: Inside and outside the Sheik’s tent.

Venus Herring yawned and reached for another bon-bon. How long had she been in the Sheik’s village? Three weeks! Ye gods and little fishes! And not a movie the whole time.

Outside, she could hear the Sheik’s wild desert-raiders engaged in some game. She could hear the click of the galloping dominoes and the voices of the men, “Come seven!” “Phoebe, Ah imploah’s yo’ to save de family jewels!” “Yo’s faded.” “Roll ‘em, boy roll ‘em.”

She rose and stepped to the tent door. The Sheik was playing marbles with the Frenchman, Gaston. (pronounced Gas-town.)

He scowled when he saw her.

“Beat it back into that tent,” he ordered. “The sun will ruin your complexion and I’m not going to ride fifty miles to get you another either soon.”

“Villain!” she exclaimed, retreating in time to dodge the saddle he hurled at her.

Chapter 4[edit]

Scene: Outside and inside the Sheik’s tent.

Venus looked out the tent door. The Sheik was striding up and down before the tent, speaking aloud:

“The bread Burns,” he soliloquised, “the potatoes are Browning, the sausage is a Longfellow; on the stove there is Bacon. What are these Wordsworth?”

He entered the tent. He was in high spirit. He had been playing keeps with Gaston and won seventeen taws. Then he had played tiddledywinks with the Sultan of Turkey and had beaten him forty-seven times, hand-running.

However, he scowled when he looked at Venus.

“I’s tired of you,” he announced. “I’m going to send you back to England.”

“Ahmed!” she cried “Why, you couldn’t do that?”

“Why not?” he queried coolly.

“Please don’t,” she begged.

“You annoy me,” he answered, hitting her with a chair.

She stepped to the door. “Gaston, come here!”

“Certainly, ma’mselle, but why?” was the reply.

“To act as referee,” she answered and turning she swung for the Sheik’s jaw. He warded and knocked her through the tent with a left-handed punch. She returned and drove the Sheik across the tent, hitting him with a right upper-cut, a left-hook and an over-hand swing.

Just then Gaston tapped the gong.

Round Two

Venus leads with her right. The Sheik countered and let drive a swing which Venus ducked, and slammed him with a right-and-left. They clinched and Venus hammered the Sheik on the back of the neck until he fainted. He rose at the count of eight and fought on the defensive the rest of the round. The gong.

Round Three

Venus swung with her left. The Sheik side-stepped, feinted and knocked Venus down with a left-uppercut. She got up at the count of seven and clinched. They broke away and exchanged blows until the gong.

Round Four

The Sheik leads with his left. Venus side-stepped and hit the Sheik with a straight right, giving him a black eye. The Sheik lifted Venus off the floor with a hay-maker. As she came down she hit him with an over-hand swing, staggering him. Before he could recover she swung for his jaw and knocked him out for the count.

“Ah, ma’mselle,” exclaimed Gaston, “I take great pleasure in presenting you the championship belt of the Sahara Desert.”

“The pleasure is mostly mine,” she responded. “Now, beat it.”

The Sheik opened his eyes, saw Venus and climbed the tent-pole.

“Use discretion and be a nice girl,” he begged.

”Come down from there,” she commanded, knocking him from his perch with a table.

“And you won’t send me away?” she asked, wreathing her fingers in his hair and poising a rolling-pin.

“No, my dear,” he responded.

“My hero!” she exclaimed. “My Desert Lover!”

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) before 1964, and copyright was not renewed.
For Class A renewals records (books only) published between 1923 and 1963, check the Stanford Copyright Renewal Database and the Rutgers copyright renewal records.
For other renewal records of publications between 1922 - 1950 see the Pennsylvania copyright records scans.
For all records since 1978, search the U.S. Copyright Office records.

The author died in 1936, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


Works published in 1923 would have had to renew their copyright in either 1950 or 1951, i.e. at least 27 years after it was first published / registered but not later than 31 December(31 December) in the 28th year. As it was not renewed, it entered the public domain on 1 January 1952(1 January 1952).