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.
For Father Josť the work was not without its compensations. His grief at Allan's dreadful end had been almost overwhelming, and the work in which he found himself involved had come as a help at the moment it was most needed. Then there was Ailsa, and Jessie, and Alec. His work helped to keep him from becoming a daily witness of their terrible distress. Furthermore, there were surprises for him in the pages of the great ledgers at the Fort. Surprises of such a nature that he began to wonder if he were still living in the days of miracles, or if he were simply the victim of hallucination.
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