In this novel published in 1912 by Grossett & Dunlap by arrangement with A. C. McClurg & Co. of London, England, Hopalong Cassidy doesn't take an active part until about two-thirds of the book is finished. The title of the book is Buck Peters. Ranchman, subtitled Being the Story of What Happened When Buck Peters, Hopalong Cassidy, and Their Bar-20 Associates Went to Montana and written by Clarence E. Mulford and John Wood Clay. It's Mulford's name that is stamped on the hard-back cover.
So what did happen way up there in Montana? It 'pears as Buck Peters is in cahoots (partners) with a McAllister and they own the Double Y Ranch, and Peters is in Montana to get the ranch going by procuring cattle, etc. Peters sends word back to Texas that he figures he's going to need the assistance of the boys of the Bar-20, at least some of them. The first one that sets out is Tex Ewalt, who recently returned from the East and a failed marriage. Tex tells Hoppy, who is now married, and the boys that he'll sally on up there and take a gander and stay under cover from the Boss Peters to see what's goin' on and gather whut information he can in support of the Double Y. Hoppy and the boys will be headin' north as soon as they finish the spring roundup, it was settled.
George McAllister is doin' his part by sending to the West an Englishman by the name of H. Whitby Booth, a softie who thinks some time among the rough men will toughen him up and make a man out of him if he thinks he's goin' to marry up with Margaret McAllister, McAllister's pretty daughter. McAllister tells him he would be valueless if any one discovered you were acting for me. And part of the stage is set.
Buck Peters makes his appearance in the little Montana town of Twin River and gets into a poker game with Dave Owens, a former Texan, but no one knows it but Buck. A slick gambler, Dave is beat at his own game and reaches for his gun, but Buck has him covered and Dave leaves pronto by the front door. It turns out that Dave works for Karl Schatz, the big German rancher that's tryin' to take over the countryside and squeeze out the Double Y. Dave gits his girlfriend, the French Rose, to set up Peters so Dave can shoot him, but Rose LaFrance sees what he's tryin' to do and Dave is unsuccessful. Rose falls for Peters, but keeps Dave on a string. And Peters goes about the business of getting some cattle, hiring men, and arranging things at the ranch.
Tex rides into Twin River and gets his name changed to "Comin' Thirty," his reply to Dirty's (Pop Snow's) question about
how long he'd been travelin', "comn' thirty year, about." Tex steps into the I Call saloon and into a face-down with Guinea Mike, who ends up shot three times at least. And Tex sets about larnin' which way the wind blows regards the Double Y.
About the time Hoppy shows up with some of the boys, Dave has run some mite-infested cattle across the Little Jill into the herd of the Double Y in the hopes the whole caboodle will die of the itch. But Buck sees what's hapennin' and sorts out those cattle and runs a fence to keep 'em separated from his herd. They dig a trench and fill it with water and a solution that Whitby Booth comes up with to kill the little rascals causing the itch. They run the cattle through to hopefully prevent the itch from spreading. The next thing that's tried by Dave and his pards is to try to steal the cattle by acting like Indians are attacking and doin' the dirty work, and the Double Y loses a lot of their cattle. To the rescue comes Karl Schatz, who is willin' to put up as much money as McAllister and Peters together to buy more cattle and help him out. Schatz and Dave launch a scheme to steal all the money from the bank as a way to git the Peters' Ranch, but Dave has a scheme of his own to leave town with all the money leavin' Schatz and Peters wonderin' what happened.
Buck takes after Dave alone and gets shot in the thigh from ambush. Rose LaFrance (the French Rose) was supposed to leave with Dave, but instead follows Buck and finds him lyin' on the ground, losing a lot of blood. Hoppy and Tex and the boys show up and Hoppy and Tex head out on the tracks of Dave, while Rose and boys take Peters to her place to recuperate. Well, Cassidy and Tex shoot Dave, get the money and bring it back.
I really enjoyed reading this novel because it has humor and excitement along with some great nicknames, like Dirty, Bow-wow, Pickles, Cock Murray, Comin', Chesty, and others, and being published in 1912 the swear words had dashes in them, like d--n, H--l, etc., which I found quaint in this day and age and received a little chuckle each time I saw one. The book was 367 pages of entertainment.