Ridgwell Cullum, (1867-1943,4was a British adventurer who left England at age seventeen to go gold-prospecting in the Transvaal. He then removed to the Cape of Good Hope, where he joined up with a league of freebooters fighting against the Boers. Unable to keep still, he crossed the seas and settled in the Yukon region of Canada. During his stay in that area, he narrowly escaped starving to death. He next crossed the Canadian border, and became a successful cattle-rancher in Montana. It is said that during this period he took part in Sioux uprisings on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations. In 1903, Cullum published his first novel, The Devil's Keg. After its immediate success, Cullum decided to become a full-time writer. Dozens of novels followed throughout a career of nearly forty years. His principal early works include, Hound from the North (1904), The Night Riders (1906), and The Compact (1909). In 1931, these, along with The Purchase Price (1917), were published in an omnibus edition of his works. Despite Zane Grey's success in England, Cullum continued to hold his own in sales and popularity. His characters are larger-than-life, his descriptions vivid, and his plot mechanisms fool-proof.
An elderly woman looked up from the crystal globe before her. The sound of horse’s hoofs, clattering up to the veranda, had caught her attention. But the hard, gray eyes had not yet recovered their normal frigidity of expression. There were still traces in them of the groping mind, searching on, amidst the chaos of a world unseen. Nor was Mercy Lascelles posing at the trade which yielded her something more than her daily bread. She had no reason for pose. She was an ardent and proficient student of that remote science which has for its field of research the border-land between earthly life and the ultimate.
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