DONALD BARR CHIDSEY “Flight to Singapore.” Short novel. Argosy, 3 August 1940. Available online here.

   For wisdom is greater than rubies; and all things that may be desired are not compared to it.

   Pick up any issue of the major pulps like Adventure, Argosy, Blue Book, Popular, or the like and you could be guaranteed to find at least one stem winder of a story inside, that would at least have made a first rate B-film and maybe more.

   The names that graced those pages include the famous of course like Burroughs, Brand, Merritt, Woolrich, Mundy, Lamb, and such, but also half-forgotten names that once guaranteed a headlong tale well told and usually much more, names like Robert Carse, Georges Surdez, H. Bedford-Jones, George F. Worts, Gordon Young, and the prolific and popular Donald Barr Chidsey.

   Some, like Chidsey, Carse, and Surdez even had post-pulp careers in hardcover for a time, but it is their pulp work that resonates today.

   The story “Flight to Singapore” by Donald Barr Chidsey, is one of those tales, one in a series about Prince Mike of Kammorirri and his bodyguard/pal George Marlin, who finds himself a beat cop and insurance tec now Captain of the Guard, Chief of Police, and head of the Army of the small principality of Kammorirri in Southeast Asia, where Prince Mike’s father, the Sultan, fights to keep his little nation free of being “protected” by the Western powers by keeping almost all contact with the outside world at bay.

   Not an easy task when his heir and pride is Prince Mikuud, Phni Luangha, late of Princeton, a most modern young man who flies his own plane and fights his own fights with the help of his friend George Marlin, who struggles to call him Your Highness when they visit the outside world.

   It starts as George is escorting a rare wanted visitor out of the country and encounters an eager missionary, a type the Sultan especially loathes, but in the pulp world these things can move fast and soon the “Missionary” has drawn a gun and had it shot out of his hand by George and the jungle is hot with gunfire.

   Three men, Langford (the phony Missionary), Kelt (the pilot), and a brutal Australian named Claessens, have found rubies in Kammorirri, the last thing the Sultan needs as the palace drips of them and such treasure would inevitably be an invitation by some Western nation to protect the hell out of the small principality.

   How Prince Mike, with George Marlin’s fast gun and fists, outwits the bad guys, avoids the crisis in treasure by convincing the outside world the rubies are worthless, and cleans up the mess is the crux of a fast moving and entertainingly told tale that encompasses pitched jungle battles, fancy flying, lost temples, well meaning Europeans who have to be protected and held at bay, and just about everything but a romantic interest.

   I don’t know how many of these Chidsey wrote. I do know of at least one other, that being “Run, Tiger!” which appeared in the August 9, 1941 issue of Argosy, and there may be more. “Flight to Singapore” is an entertaining take on the Westernized modern Asian trope that had begun appearing alongside the Yellow Peril several decades earlier, where Number 1 Son and Mr. Moto are both the lead and the brains of the operation, and the plot and action move along at a pace and in high style.

   It’s a shame Prince Mike and George Marlin never got a full length novel adventure. One was well deserved.