The Devil’s Daughter – Clark Nelson (1939)

sascoverBuck Mason was going to kill a man if he himself wasn’t killed first by the fever.

He is in Columbia to kill Don Fernando for murdering his gal-pal Diane before she had a chance to show us her boobs.[1]  She had pledged herself to Fernando as payment for her father’s debts.

“Mason envisioned the joy of choking the life from this monster, Don Fernando, whom he had never seen; or of burying a knife slowly in his belly.”  I guess these are just idle fantasies as Mason brought a Luger to do the actual deed.

His guide Carnicio quietly directs his attention to a nearly nude woman tied to a tree and covered with a viscous goo.  The good news, in addition to the swell nudity, is that she is still alive.  As she struggles and pleads with her captors, Mason’s eyes adjust to the dark and he sees that what he thinks is a viscous goo, is really a swarm of ants working their way up her lithe body.

Mason charges into the circle of Indians “swinging his gun butt mercilessly upon astonished Indians.”  Carnicio swings the woman’s butt mercifully out of the tree. “Mason tried to clear her infested flesh of the horde of ants enveloping her.  Crushing them and sweeping off her soft and tender skin, he took water from Carnicio and washed and bathed her until her tan, supple body shone smoothly.”  This is how the advertising scam rinse, repeat was conceived.  Although it sound more like Don Draper than Don Fernando.

The woman tells them that Don “The Wicked One” Fernando did this to her, further infuriating Mason.  He offers to take her to casa de Fernando to watch him be anything-but-shot, but she declines and just asks that he tell Alvarado that she is alive.

He continues through the jungle toward Fernando as the fever worsens.  He is fatigued, suffers from Vertigo, and hears a pounding in his head.  He again daydreams of strangling Fernando.  Maybe it’s the fever — use the gun, idiot!  Use the gun!

Mason comes to a building in a clearing and sees an Indian being tortured.  He flips out and puts a bullet through the spine of the torturer.  He then screams, “Don Fernando, Don Fernando!  Come out, murderer!  Come out and fight!  Come out so I can avenge Diane!

A beautiful woman comes out and calmly tells him Don Fernando died a few weeks earlier.  “With his last remaining strength, he protested that it couldn’t be so.  Oh no, he was going to bash Don Fernando’s brains in.”  The gun, stupid — you were going to shoot him!  Being robbed of his vengeance and being racked with fever, Mason collapses onto the ground.

He awakens 10 days later to find himself in worse trouble.  Don Fernando is dead, but his mistress Rosita has assumed his position.  And it was she that killed Diane out of jealousy when Fernando brought her to Columbia.  Then she killed Fernando and took over his plantation.

Mala, the girl they saved from the ants sneaks into the house.  She tells Mason she was tortured and Carnicio was killed because Rosita thinks they have information on the Lost Inca Mines.  As proof of Rosita’s evilness, Mala gives him a little head — Carnicio’s; then Mala gives him a little head — Diane’s. [2]

Oddly, Mason’s name becomes Carson for one sentence:  “Carson reached the gruesome trophy, took it in his hands.  He was kissing the shriveled monstrosity with slobbering lips.” [3]

He quickly reverts to Mason when Rosita bursts in with a machete.  There is much fighting and tearing of clothes as “the two almost naked women tumbled and contorted on the floor at his feet.”  Rosita is just about to stab Mala when Mason grabs a spear — use the gun, stupid!  He is, however, able to put the spear through Rosita, killing her and saving Mala.

After several rereadings, the logistics of the ending still baffle me.

  1. Mala puts Mason in a canoe, and only then does he realize he is still holding Diane’s shrunken head in his hand.
  2. Some messengers catch up to him with a package from Mala.  He opens the package and screams like a madman, “I knew I’d never get away from her!”
  3. A month later, Mason is found passed out with three sacks of gold.  In one hand is a shrunken head with blonde hair.  In the other is a shrunken head with dark hair.  WTF?
  4. So what was in the package Mala sent him?  A map to the formerly-Lost Inca Mine I guess.  And Rosita’s head?  Was Mala into head-shrinking also?  Why would she send it to Mason?  And why would he keep it?  And why would he be carrying both heads around clasped in his hands?

I like the idea of the freed protagonist, but this was one of the lesser stories.  I have high hopes for the final story.  Anthologies are not known for saving the best until last, but this one is written by Robert Leslie Bellem.


  • [1] For those unfamiliar with Spicy Adventure’s ouvre, you can count on every female character showing off her luscious, ample breasts.
  • [2] I couldn’t resist using it twice.
  • [3] In 75 years, no one has fixed this?  If it was left untouched for historical purposes, at least throw a (sic) after it.
  • Title Analysis:  Complete gibberish.  There are no daughters or parents in the story.
  • First published in December 1939.

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