1937-12 The Golden Peril

Cover Date: December 1937
Volume 10 # 4
Copyright Date: Friday, November 19, 1937
Author: Lester Dent and Harold A. Davis
Editor: John Nanovic
Cover Artist: Walter M. Baumhoffer
WHMC: The available material in the collection comprises one folder, f. 468. This is the story outline.

The Golden Peril by Kenneth Robeson
Claws Under the Sea by Wallace Brooker
Barnegal’s Bargain by Kenneth L. Sinclair

Test Your Wits
Doc Savage Club
– Self-Sacrifice
– The Code of Doc Savage
– How to Join the Doc Savage Club
– Imitation Oceans
– Training Falcons

There is an advertisement for the latest issue of Crime Busters. Lester Dent has a new Click Rush story is this issue. Also mentioned are Maxwell Grant, Theodore Tinsley, Norvell Page, Steve Fisher, Laurence Donovan, and Frank Gruber.

Harold Davis to Lester Dent
August 31, 1937 – Harold Davis writes Dent commenting on a Doc Savage story he is working on. Davis is writing on Tuesday and comments that he will likely send out what he has finished on Thursday and mail the rest on Saturday. Davis mentions that Nanovic has lost half his magazines. Davis is urgings speed on Dent’s part as he is sailing on the September 25 for Europe. Davis admits he needs the money to pay the balance on his Italian tour, due Monday, September 13. Davis refers to two prior stories he has worked on – “the return to Central America” and “the underground yarn.” He is probably writing about “The Golden Peril” and “The Living-Fire Menace.” Based on the timeline and the known submission dates, the story Davis is talking about in the letter is likely “The Mountain Monster.” The submission date for that story is September 10, 1937, which is three days before Davis September 13 payment deadline for the Italian tour. Davis expresses some concern over his current story (The Mountain Monster) but claims it is better than the “The Golden Peril” but not as good as “The Living-Fire Menace.” Davis closes with some cutting remarks about the “efficiency experts” that were employed have resulted in half of the Street & Smith magazines being discontinued. He speculates that Laurence Donovan is high and “literally” dry. Davis laments that this destroyed his chance to work on any of the Skipper stories.

On page two, Davis mentions a potential Doc Savage plot. The basic idea deals with a fire menace. Note, this is the same idea Davis mentioned in an earlier letter where he called it “The Man Who Ruled the Sun.” Davis describes a world-wide menace with entire armies around the world being destroyed. The goal is extortion against governments.

Davis closes his letter by mentioning the conflict in China. No address is listed for Dent. WHMC Folder C3701_f6

This story is very much a sequel to “The Man of Bronze.” The Republic of Hidalgo is threated by a coup. Doc Savage and his men travel to Hidalgo to aid President Avispa and the republic. There is a return to the Valley of the Vanished along with a reunion with King Chaac and Princess Monja. But there is also another figure from the past who raised his spectral head. General Gassell, whose Mayan name is Son of the Moon, is the son of Morning Breeze.

The climax of the story reveals a plan to flood the gold market with the treasure from the Valley of the Vanished. This would disrupt world economies and allow the mastermind to create chaos. His ultimate goal is to make himself world ruler.

The Mayans leading the gold train at the story’s beginning are described as tall men. Not all Mayans are short and stocky.

“The Golden Peril” presents more evidence of the high rank Doc holds with the Mayans. During the war council, Doc sits as an equal at the head of the table with King Chaac.

The reunion scene in Chapter Fifteen when Doc and his men return to The Valley of the Vanished is poignant. It is one of the most touching and romantic scenes in the entire series.

King Chaac is speechless with emotion. The reunion between he and Doc is super-charged with feeling. Princess Monja is suffering the pains of a love that can never be fulfilled. Her love is without hope.

In “The Golden Peril” from December 1937, Doc Savage encounters an unusual type of grenade: Protruding from the body of the thing speeding through the air toward them were rows of tiny spikes. Those spikes made the object look something like a prickly pear.    Every one of those tiny spikes were a plunger. Should any one of the scores of spikes on the side of that bomb touch even the slightest projection, the plunger would set off a thermite compound that would tear a score of men to tiny bits! As described, this is a very unusual type of weapon to modern readers.

Yet the secret of this death device is found in an incident that goes back to an 1858 political assassination attempt in Paris, France by an Italian against the president of France.  The Italian was a revolutionary named Felice Orsini who viewed the French President, Napoleon III, as the single person blocking Italian independence.  In 1827, Orsini traveled to England where he had a peculiar weapon constructed. The bomb had protruding horns filled with mercury fulminate that would explode upon contact and fire the main charge. Six devices were made. The bomb was put to use the next year in what became known as the Orsini Affair.  The intended target was not harmed but eight people were killed and another 142 were wounded. Felice Orsini was soon arrested, tried, and convicted.  He was executed by guillotine few months later.

The Orsini bomb did not die with its creator.  During the American Civil War a peculiar kind of hand grenade called the Hayne’s Excelsior grenade appeared that had its basis in Orsini’s design.  This was a small iron ball studded with percussion nipples designed to explode when it landed after being thrown.

For the next fifty years, European newspapers are peppered with accounts of attacks using Orsini bombs, arrests, and discovery of dozens of the bombs throughout the continent. A failed attempt on Prince Milan Obrenović of Serbia occurred in 1871. Russian Czar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 by a group using Orsini’s bomb.  The Orsini bomb evolved into the Orsini grenade as shown in the June 1917 issue of Scientific American.