From the first review by Glenn Lord to many of today’s write-ups, A Gent From Bear Creek is often considered a collection of the Breckinridge Elkins stories. This, I’ve long thought, is a disservice to Howard, who went to some lengths to make this into another serialized novel, like Hour of the Dragon, although one based more tightly on previous stories. And it is especially interesting to note that the new material for the book, some three more chapters worth, was based on two deeply personal relationships; the old boy meets girl, dark stranger comes between, and love triumphs story of Breck Elkins and Glory McGraw, and the deeply personal ties between Breck and his only somewhat tamed horse, Captain Kidd. The capture and partial breaking of the horse is really far and away the most Texas “tall tale” part of the book. I can imagine “Meet Capt’n Kidd” was written while Howard was in a creative frenzy rivaling that of the wild horse in the story.
Sure, A Gent From Bear Creek started out as a series of stories. But if you read the stories as they appeared in Action Stories (easy to do since the publication of Paul Herman’s The Complete Action Stories) and read Gent shortly after, you’ll find there is quite a bit more material — more story — than is commonly recognized.
For more details on the Elkins publishing history, see this post.