"The Magic Mirror" by Algernon Blackwood
Blackwood is a guy one often hears being called one of the best of the writers of the weird, or even the actual best. So I guess it is about time I read something by him. "The Magic Mirror" is apparently something of a forgotten Blackwood story--at least isfdb suggests it was only collected once, as the title story of a 1989 volume with the subtitle "Lost Supernatural and Mystery Stories," and only anthologized once, in Peter Haining's 1986 Tales of Dungeons and Dragons.
"The Magic Mirror" is one of those stories which has a frame story. Our narrator is on a cruise ship, and while hanging around at the bar he hears a fat guy ("Fatty") tell his two friends ("Baldy" and "Jimmy") the story of how in Monte Carlo he met a 100-year-old man who knew how to win at gambling--by leveraging the dangerous magic item he acquired in Tibet from a lama. Said item was a magic mirror--the old geez told Fatty he would be able to read in the mirror the number to play on a roulette wheel, but that he couldn't take advantage of the mirror's powers by himself, that he needed a partner. Fatty became the man's partner, and the two sat together at the roulette table where the old timer read the winning number in the mirror and Fatty placed the bets and and collected the inevitable winnings. They won time and again, making lots of money, but the old guy kept getting paler and sicker looking until he finally died right there at the roulette table. As he died the mirror broke into a thousand pieces.
This story is solid--well written and paced--but no big deal; moderately good is our judgement.
"A Thunder of Trumpets" by Robert E. Howard and Frank Thurston Torbett
"A Thunder of Trumpets" takes Howard's characteristic pro-barbarism, anti-civilization theme and marries it to the argument that what women want is a strong man to master them. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the story is watching Howard, who we conventionally think of as a racist who portrays black people in a terrible light, in this story exalt Hindu ("Hindoo") and Muslim ("Muhammadan") Indians over Americans and Englishmen, and suggest that Indians who deal too closely with Westerners, getting educated in England or serving in British military units, for example, are polluted and corrupted. Unfortunately, the story is sort of boring; instead of Howard's theories about sexual relations, race relations, and the relative merits of citified scholars, businessmen and priests on the one hand and animals, barbarians and savages who live close to nature being embedded in a thrilling adventure or horror plot, as is usually the case with Howard, here the creator of Conan just presents his theories again and again in a plot that seems like that of a weak imitation of Somerset Maugham full of passages like you might expect to see in a woman's romance novel--"A Thunder of Trumpets" is all about a white woman who is enamored with a nonwhite man and bored with white men and their dull ways.
A bit obtuse, as Anglo-Saxons are likely to be in matters not concerning business, he did not notice her abstraction. He had other things to worry him, and with an Englishman or American, business must always come before love.
Bernice Andover is riding her horse alone in the Indian jungle and is thrown; as she lies stunned on the ground, a man-eating tiger appears and menaces her, giving Howard a chance to sarcastically mock man's assumption that he is superior to the beasts. A tall and supple native man with "Aryan" features rescues Bernice by staring the great cat down, and Bernice can't help but contrast this handsome man who is in touch with the natural world with her fiancé, who is too polite and doesn't know how she wishes he would sweep her off her feet and tell her what to do. Bernice's brief glimpse of what life is like in the jungle brings home to her how lame civilized life is, how British people--and the Indians employed by the British who have taken up British habits--stifle their emotions, repress their natural instincts.
Back in the palace of an Anglicized Hindu prince with whom her fiancé is conducting business, Bernice learns that the man who saved her is considered a yogi by the local people, is respected by Hindu and Muslim alike, and believed to have lived for centuries and to have power over animals. For weeks, while her fiancé is trying to swing deals with the recalcitrant and/or hard-bargaining locals, Bernice is going on long walks with this yogi, falling in love with him. The yogi is a chaste guy and never does anything untoward, but finally, one day, the yogi breaks down--for centuries he has pursued higher aspirations, quested after cosmic wisdom, but Bernice is so beautiful he can't resist her, against his better judgement he has fallen in love! He is going to abandon the long road that leads to The Truth That Is All to marry Bernice!
Bernice goes to tell her boring English businessman fiancé that their wedding is off. But seconds before she can break the news to him, an anti-white riot breaks out and the fiancé is knocked unconscious defending Bernice. The yogi appears out of nowhere to wield his magic powers to drive off the rioters and heal the fiancé's wounds. This demonstration of the gulf that lies between the yogi and the mortal woman convinces them that a relationship between them is impossible--to put a period on it, the yogi gives Bernice a glimpse of what he really looks like--a bent and wrinkled, toothless and bald old geezer! The yogi returns to the pursuit of The Truth That Is All, and Bernice, presumably, marries her fiancé, who minutes before the riot had inked a deal, assuring them a comfortable future.
Though perhaps interesting as a piece of insight into Howard's (and broader Western society's) views on relations between the sexes and the races, "A Thunder of Trumpets" is not very entertaining. I'm a Howard fan, and a fan of stories about love triangles, but this one gets a thumbs down; Howard it appears is not equipped to portray a love triangle effectively, and what he is good at, depicting action, adventure and horror material, he doesn't even try to do here.