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Title:      The Call of the Savage (Jan of the Jungle)
Author:     By Otis Adelbert Kline
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Language:   English
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Date first posted:          June 2006
Date most recently updated: June 2006

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Title:      The Call of the Savage (Jan of the Jungle)
Author:     By Otis Adelbert Kline



I. A DIABOLICAL SCHEME

DR. BRACKEN suavely bowed his Florida cracker patient out of his
dispensary. It was in the smaller right wing of his rambling ancestral
home on a hummock in the Everglades, near the Gulf of Mexico and five
miles from Citrus Crossing.

The doctor cursed under his breath as a sudden uproar came from the
larger right wing of the house, directly behind him. This wing, a place
double-locked and forbidden even to his two old colored servants, had no
entrance save through a narrow passageway that connected it with his
private office in the smaller wing.

So far as his servants, Aunt Jenny and Uncle Henry, were concerned, a
lock was superfluous. The muffled animal-like sounds that came from it
were so strange and unearthly that they regarded them with superstitious
awe.

As he closed the door behind his patient it seemed that a mask suddenly
slipped from the doctor's face, so swift and horrible was the change
that came over his features. He had been smiling and suave, but as he
turned away from the door his demeanor was more like that of a frenzied
madman. His teeth, bared like those of a jungle beast at bay, gleamed
white and menacing against the iron-gray of his closely cropped Vandyke.
His small, deep-set eyes burned malevolently, madly.

Fishing a bunch of keys from his pocket, he opened the door to the
narrow passageway, pressed a switch that flooded it with light, and
entered, locking it behind him. The roars were louder now. At the end of
the passageway he used another key to open a second door, and stepped
into the room beyond, pressing a second switch as he did so. The yellow
rays of a bulb overhead revealed the stoutly barred cages that housed
his private menagerie within soundproofed walls.

In the cage at his elbow an African leopard snarled menacingly. Its
next-door neighbor, a South American jaguar, padded silently back and
forth with head hanging low and slavering jowls slightly parted. In the
adjacent cage, the bars of which had been reenforced with powerful wire
meshwork, a huge python was coiled complacently around a whitewashed
tree trunk, its shimmering folds resting on the shortened stumps of the
limbs. Beside this was the cage of Malik, the old and nearly toothless
lion.

The glittering eyes of the doctor swept the room, seeking the cause of
the disturbance. They paused for a moment at the cage of Tichuk, the
surly old male chimpanzee, who was squatting on his shelf, striving to
look innocent. But the Brazilian spider monkeys in the cage at Tichuk's
left were leaping and skipping about and chattering excitedly in a
manner that showed all too plainly where the trouble had centered.

In two cages which adjoined each other and that of Tichuk were two
creatures: Chicma, an old female chimpanzee, and a naked boy sixteen
years of age. He was a handsome, superbly muscled lad, with a straight,
athletic figure, broad shoulders, narrow hips, and the features of a
Greek god, crowned by a tumbled mass of auburn curls. Several bloody
scratches stood out against the white of his face and arms, and one hand
still clutched a tuft of chimpanzee hair which he made no effort to
conceal.

"Fighting through the bars with Tichuk again," muttered the doctor. He
reached for a whip hanging on a near-by peg. Then withdrew his hand.
"Won't punish him this time," he growled to himself. "Tomorrow he must
perform the act of vengeance for which I have trained him. Then he will
leave this place forever. And I will be compensated for my years of
bitterness and suffering."

Glancing at his watch, the doctor saw that it was nearly feeding time.
He went into the cooler and emerged a moment later. Growls, snarls,
chatterings, and rending sounds marked his progress.

At last Chicma, the female chimpanzee, was given her ration of bread and
lettuce; but to the omnivorous manchild's ration a pound of raw beef was
added.

This boy, the innocent victim of the doctor's insane hatred for a woman,
had never seen a human being other than the physician. Nor had he
glimpsed any more of the outside world than might be observed through
the small, high windows of the menagerie, or above the tall stockade
just outside it, where he was exercised.

Dr. Bracken had loved the boy's mother, Georgia Adams, a titian-haired
Southern beauty, with a fiery passion of which few men are capable. A
sudden declaration before his departure on a trip to Africa had won what
he thought was a promise from her--a half-hearted assent she had
evidently regretted the moment he had gone; but it was the one thing on
which he had counted during all his weary months of tramping in the
jungles. Her face had smiled at him in the light of many a camp fire;
her voice had soothed his troubled sleep as he lay in his net-covered
hammock while fierce beasts of prey roamed just outside. For
him the red-gold sunsets had reflected the glory of her titian hair.
Bits of the blue vault of heaven visible at times through rents in the
forest canopy, had hinted of the more wondrous blue of her eyes.

But he had returned to America only to have the cup of happiness dashed
rudely from his lips--for she had married Harry Trevor.

True, she had told him, when they had a few moments alone, of writing a
letter breaking the engagement only a week after his departure. He had
accepted the statement politely, yet deep in his heart he doubted it.
She had broken faith, and in his estimation a woman capable of that was
capable of anything. The letter, if indeed there had been a letter, had
never reached him.

So love had turned to hate--an abnormally intense hate that filled his
waking hours and made his nights restless and hideous-a passionate,
unreasoning hate that engendered a desire which soon became a fixed
purpose and the sole end toward which he planned and strove--revenge.

But Dr. Bracken's warped mind had cunningly pretended friendship, so
cunningly that he served the Trevors as their family physician in
Florida. And the birth of a son and heir gave him his long-awaited
opportunity for a revenge which would be no trifling retribution from
which Georgia Trevor would soon recover.

The kidnaping of the day-old boy had been ridiculously easy. At first
the doctor's diabolical plan had been to mutilate and cripple the child,
turn his face into a hideous monstrosity, and return him, to be a living
curse to his parents. But an event had occurred in the menagerie which
changed his plans and gave him the germ of an even more diabolical
scheme.

For the male chimpanzee, Tichuk, at that time caged with his mate
Chicma, had slain their little one in a fit of fury and was attacking
her, when the doctor returned with the stolen baby. Dr. Bracken had
quieted both chimpanzees with hypodermics and removed the unconscious
Tichuk to another cage. Then, a terrible smile upon his face; he had
skinned the baby chimpanzee, treated its hide with an odorless
preservative--and sewed the cotton-padded skin about the human baby. As
Chicma came out of her drugged sleep he placed the child in her arms.

The chimpanzee, dazed and foggy of perception, had sniffed the hairy
hide of her own child. She recognized the scent and feel; yet the
tensely waiting doctor, club and whip in hand, saw her hesitate in
puzzlement, as if on the verge of flinging away this somehow
suspiciously changed child of hers. But nature and mother-instinct
conquered, and she fed the hungry infant.

Filled with a fierce exultation, the doctor stole away, muttering:

"What a scheme! The body of a man and the mind of an ape. And I would
have made a physical monster of him, but with a clear mind. She would
not have recognized him--might not have acknowledged him; but now, with
features unchanged, she can't deny him--and when she has seen she will
die--die by the hand of her own son. I will teach him to slay. Only two
words of the human language, other than his name and the names of these
beasts, shall he know: 'Mother,' and 'Kill!'"

Now, as the demented physician looked at the sixteen-year-old ape-boy, a
grin of triumph overspread his satanic features, for the awful climax of
his revenge was nearly at hand.

The titian-haired woman who was the object of his hatred had come very
near to dying, and thus cheating him of his full measure of vengeance,
shortly after she learned that her child had been stolen. But Dr.
Bracken had stood between her and death, fending off the scythe of the
Grim Reaper.

For fourteen years Georgia Trevor had been an invalid--constantly under
his care. Dr. Bracken had never let her lose hope of the child's return.
Then her husband, who had, meanwhile inherited the enormous fortune of
his father, had purchased a palatial yacht and taken her on a two-year
cruise.

Only the day before Georgia Trevor and her husband had returned to
Citrus Crossing; and the doctor had planned a clever coup; a faked
telegram to get the husband away from the house, that he might
consummate the revenge for which he had waited so long, and for which he
had trained the boy from babyhood.

Dr. Bracken, who had a liking for things oriental, had named the boy
"Jan," after Jan ibn Jan who, in Arabic legends, was Sultan of the Evil
Jinn. A truly demoniac name--the choice of a diabolical mind.

As the raw meat was thrown to him, Jan who was a perfect mimic, seized
it with a snarl as he had seen the carnivora seize theirs. While the
doctor watched, seated in his chair, with a long black stogie going, the
lad retired, growling, to a corner of his cage. First he ate the meat;
then he munched a few lettuce leaves. The rest of his rations he passed
through the bars to his foster-mother.

When Jan had finished his meal, the doctor arose, took his whip from the
peg, and opened the doors of their cages. Then he shouted: "Jan!
Chicma!" and whistled as if he were calling a dog. The boy and
chimpanzee came out.

The doctor walked to a door which had been cut in the end of the
menagerie wing a number of years before, and opened it. While he fumbled
with the latch, the imitative lad, unobserved, opened the catch of the
lion's cage, leaving the door slightly ajar. Then he and the chimpanzee
obediently followed the doctor out of the building into a stockade with
a twelve-foot board fence around it. In this stockade were various
exercizing devices--a trapeze, parallel bars, a thick rope for climbing,
and a suspended dummy dressed like a woman, with titian hair.

For some time the boy and ape amused themselves by swinging on the
trapeze and rope. Then they performed various antics on the parallel
bars.

Presently the doctor called them down from the bars. Walking to the
dummy of the red-haired woman, he shook it savagely and said:

"Mother! Kill!"

Instantly the boy and ape charged the dummy, biting and tearing with
mimic ferocity, the ape snarling and growling, but the boy, between his
own snarls and growls, crying: "Mother! Kill!"

Both boy and ape always enjoyed this mimic fight which ended their
afternoon exercises, and were loath to leave off when the doctor
whistled to them.

But before he could summon them a second time there came a terrific
growl from the doorway behind them. Turning, he beheld Malik, the old
lion, just emerging from the door. With upraised whip he tried to
frighten the beast into returning to its cage, but it snarled and raised
a huge paw menacingly.

He flicked the lion on the nose, and it backed up with a growl. Again he
stung the tender nose, and the lion slunk, snarling, back into the
house. Here it was necessary once more to use the lash in order to get
the stubborn feline to enter the cage. When the beast was inside, the
doctor shut and fastened the door, and with a sigh of relief took his
handkerchief from his pocket and mopped his dripping face.

But his look of relief was instantly supplanted by one of fierce anger
as he realized that it must have been Jan who opened the catch of that
cage door. Well, Jan must be taught a lesson. He should receive a
whipping that he would not soon forget.

Gripping his whip more tightly and frowning thunderously, the doctor
strode menacingly through the door. But after one look around the
stockade he gasped in astonishment.

Jan and Chicma were gone!

At the first growl of the lion from the doorway, Chicma, who had an
intense hereditary fear of the king of beasts, ran, and seizing the end
of the climbing rope swung high in the air. At the end of her swing she
was only a few feet from the top of the fence which surrounded the
stockade. Letting go of the rope, and still carried onward by the
momentum of her swing, she caught the top of the fence with both
forepaws, drew herself up, and dropped to the ground on the other side.

Jan was not nearly so frightened by the growl of the lion. But he was at
the imitative age, and the beast that had just gone over the fence was,
so far as his knowledge went, his parent. Fully as agile as the
chimpanzee and nearly as strong, it was easy for him to swing up onto.
the fence and follow.

Still thoroughly frightened, she was standing fifty feet away from the
fence in a patch of saw palmettos, bouncing up and down and calling to
him in the language of the chimpanzees--the only language Jan fully
understood:

"Come, come! Hurry, or Malik the Terrible One will eat you!"

As soon as his feet struck the ground she scampered off through the
palmettos, swinging along on hind toes and foreknuckles. Jan, who had
never traveled for any great distance, followed, imitating her peculiar
gait for a while, but presently found that he could keep up with her
much better by traveling on only two legs, as the doctor traveled.

He was without clothing of any kind, and the saw-edged leaves cruelly
lacerated his tender skin, so he was soon a mass of bloody scratches.
His feet, bruised and cut by sticks and sharp stones, left spots of red
on the ground. But all of these hurts only served to accelerate his
speed. He imagined that the shrubs were angry with him for some unknown
reason, and, like Dr. Bracken with his whip, were punishing him. He must
get away from them, as Chicma was doing.

They crossed a hummock on which a few tall, gaunt, long-needle pines
stood like silent sentinels. Beyond this the ground became marshy, so
they were sometimes wading ankle-deep in muck, sometimes sunk to the
armpits in muddy water, and sub-aqueous vegetation.

This was Jan's first sight of the outside world, and despite the hurts
he was getting, he was thrilled immeasurably. Freedom--the only condition
that makes life tolerable and desirable to men who have spirit--was his
for the first time. It went to his head like strong wine. He shouted--a
wordless, triumphant roar, voicing the exuberance of his feelings.

Everywhere about him were new sights smells and sounds. With the soft
mud oozing up between his toes, the warm water splashing around his
legs, and the hot sun beating mercilessly down on his tousled red head
and bare body, he strode happily onward.

Presently they came to another hummock, on which grew several wild
orange trees. Chicma sprang into one of these and began to regale
herself with the highly acid fruit, and Jan followed her example.

The sun was low on the western horizon when they came to a forest of
cypress and water oaks, most of which were standing in the water. They
were heavily draped with Spanish moss and Jan, who was wont to
personalize everything, compared the bearded trees with the bearded
doctor, and heartily disliked them for the similarity.

Scarcely had they entered the shady depths ere Jan heard, far off in the
direction whence they had come a weird sound that sent gooseflesh
crawling all over his body.

Chicma heard it, too, and although she had been traveling slowly before,
redoubled her speed, urging Jan in her queer chimpanzee gutturals to
hurry after her. Jan had heard similar sounds before, and they had
always caused the gooseflesh to come up on his skin even though he had
no idea that they were the baying of bloodhounds trailing some luckless
Negro who was attempting to escape from the convict camp.

Chicma sensed that the creatures were on their trail, so she sprang into
a tree, calling to Jan to follow her, just as two huge bloodhounds,
their quarry in sight, plunged forward with eager barks to seize them.

For a moment Jan stood, looking curiously at the advancing creatures.
Then he turned, and with a dexterous leap, caught one of the lower
branches of a water oak. Swinging his lithe body up into a tree, he was
climbing, and watching the dogs, now leaping and barking beneath him,
when he was startled by a thunderous growl just above him.

By this time the darkness had deepened to such an extent that he could
not see clearly, but as he glanced fearfully upward, he beheld a
tremendous black bulk, from which two gleaming, phosphorescent eyes
looked down at him.

Then a huge paw tipped with sharp, sickle-like claws, swung for his
upturned face.



II. IN THE BEARDED FOREST

As SOON As he discovered that Jan and Chicma were not in the stockade,
Dr. Bracken realized that they must, somehow, have got over the fence.
Although he was a wiry and powerful man, the doctor was unable to leap
high enough to grasp the top of the twelve-foot barrier that confronted
him, nor did Chicma's method occur to him.

To have Jan seen at large with one of his chimpanzees would mean the
destruction, of all his plans, and perhaps of himself. Lynchings were
not unknown, and the monstrous crime he had committed would arouse these
people to a killing frenzy.

He dashed around the house to where the stockade jutted out from the
menagerie. Here his trained hunter's eye quickly found the tracks where
Jan and Chicma had alighted, and he hurried away on the trail, feeling
confident of being able to soon overtake his fleeing quarry. He smiled
when he saw the spots of blood mingled with the boy's footprints, for he
believed that the lad would not long endure the pain of attempting to
escape.

He crossed the stretch of saw palmetto and the pine-crested hummock with
speed and confidence, but when he entered the marsh on the other side he
lost the trail time and again where the tracks were concealed under
water, and only found it by repeated circling and searching. This took
time, and time, to him was very precious, for he knew that while he was
floundering about, there in the muck and water, his quarry was getting
farther away.

After about a half hour he decided that he would save time in the end by
going back and borrowing a pair of bloodhounds from the sheriff.

He made the excuse that one of his apes had escaped; but it was with
great difficulty that he dissuaded the sheriff from accompanying him on
the hunt.

The hounds made much swifter progress than the doctor, so much so that
they were soon out of sight, and he was able to follow them only by the
sound of their baying.

He had traveled a considerable distance into the marsh when he met a
Seminole Indian named Pete Little, whom he had often seen around Citrus
Crossing.

"You make big hunt?" the Indian asked.

"Yes. One of my apes got away."

"I seen it," said Pete, and cast a look at the doctor that was full of
meaning. "Red-head boy with it, about sixteen, seventeen year old."

"Yes?"

"Mrs. Trevor, she's red-headed. Her baby boy was stole sixteen year
ago."

"And--"

"I poor. You rich. For thousand dollar I forget."

"I think that can be arranged," said the doctor, his face suddenly gone
pale. His perfectly controlled features betrayed no other sign of his
emotion. He added suddenly, with feigned terror: "Look there, behind
you! A moccasin!"

At the sound of that dread word, the Indian turned. He saw no moccasin,
but realized too late that he had been tricked. There was a sharp
report, a stinging pain that shot through his left side like the searing
of a hot iron--and oblivion. As he pitched forward on his face in the
muck, the doctor holstered his smoking forty-five, kicked viciously at
the prostrate form, and hurried on after the baying bloodhounds, whose
distant cries had suddenly changed to fighting growls.



III. JAN'S FIRST FIGHT

As THE sickle-like claws of the big creature above him swung for his
face, Jan dodged and hastily scuttled out on the limb. But the cornered
black bear was not to be so easily dismissed. With a blood-curdling
roar, it plunged down after the naked youth. At this, the bloodhounds
below increased their clamor, leaping and barking with redoubled fury.

But the limb that Jan occupied, and onto which the beast had suddenly
flung itself, was not equal to the combined weight of boy and brute, and
gave way with a resounding crack.

Clutching wildly in mid-air, Jan grasped the tip of a branch which
projected from an adjoining tree. It sagged with his weight, but did not
break, and with his ape-like agility it was not difficult for him to
quickly scramble to a less precarious position beside the trunk.

The bear, meanwhile, crashed to the ground, where it was instantly set
upon by the dogs. A thud, and a series of plaintive yelps from one of
them indicated that the creature, despite its fall, was able to give a
good account of itself. A medley of fierce barking, snarling and
growling followed. But the bear, harassed by the dogs but not
particularly fearful of them, lumbered away through the dark forest,
crashing through the underbrush and splashing through the pools.
Presently the sounds of its movements died away, and there drifted to
Jan only the barking of the hounds, which were evidently still worrying
their quarry.

Then it was that a new sound came to the alert ears of the young
fugitive--the sound of a man, crashing and splashing among the trees.
Looking in the direction of the sound, Jan saw a bright light moving
through the forest.

As he was watching the approach of the man with mingled curiosity and
fear, Chicma suddenly swung herself into the tree beside him.

"Come," she barked, "or Cruel One will get us! Follow me!"

Jan understood that by "Cruel One," she meant Dr. Bracken. All the
occupants of their small menagerie world had been similarly named to him
by his foster mother. The lion was "Terrible One," the jaguar "Fierce
One," the snake "Sleepy One," and the monkeys "Chattering Ones," words
which would have been nothing more than guttural grunts and barks to
anyone else, but each of which had a distinct meaning for Jan.

Frightened at the very mention of Dr. Bracken, Jan hurried after the
chimpanzee, as she swung from tree to tree, taking a direction opposite
that of the hounds and the great beast they were harrying.

Presently, as they moved away among the cool, leafy branches, the sounds
made by the doctor died away, and his flashlight was no longer visible.
A little later, Jan could not hear the hounds, and the only noises that
came to his ears were the natural sounds of the swamp--the hoarse booming
of frogs, the chirping of crickets, the humming of insects, and the
cries of night birds.

Tired and hungry, Jan besought his foster mother to stop, but she would
not do so until the very edge of the forest was reached, and they could
no longer proceed without descending to the ground. She then curled up
in the crotch of a tree, and the weary youth was glad to follow her
example.

Jan was awakened by a call from Chicma. Hot sunlight was streaming down
on his face through a rift in the branches. Looking down, he beheld the
chimpanzee devouring some berries she was gathering from some low bushes
that grew along the bank of a tiny stream which meandered through the
marsh.

He leaned over to call to her, and as he did so, felt numerous twinges
on his back, neck and arms, which changed his cry to one of pain. His
limbs and body were bright red in color and felt extremely hot, while
touching them caused a burning sensation that was anything but pleasant.
There were many small red bumps, too, which itched intolerably, and
these combined with the scratches he had received made the boy more
uncomfortable than he had ever felt before. It was Jan's first
experience with sunburn and mosquito bites in such heroic doses.

Hearing his cry of pain, Chicma looked up and called softly to him. At
this instant the head of an alligator emerged from the water behind her,
and the powerful jaws seized her by the arm. She screamed wildly in
anguish. As she was being dragged into the water she gripped the thick
roots of a cypress with her other arm and hung on, while the reptile
shook and tugged, in an effort to break her hold and drag her into the
stream.

Jan, who had been about to make a gingerly descent on account of his
many hurts, on seeing this attack on his foster-parent, ignored his own
soreness and dropped swiftly from limb to limb until he stood beside
her. Then, with a snarl like that of a wild beast, he leaped astride the
saurian's back, and bit, scratched and pommeled the armored enemy with
no apparent effect except the damage to his own fists. He sought for a
hold on the creature's head, to pull it away from Chicma, and his hands
came in contact with two round bumps on top of the head. In these bumps
were soft spots. Plunging the middle finger of each hand into one of
these, he pulled backward.

At this, the alligator instantly let go its hold on its victim, and
backed, wildly threshing, into the water. For Jan had found its eyes--the
two most vulnerable points on its entire anatomy. Blinded, and with
every bit of fight taken out of it, the reptile thrashed about in the
shallow water, its sole object to escape those gouging fingers and
unseat the creature on its back. As a result, Jan was thrown into the
water, whence he floundered quickly to the shore, while the alligator,
bent only on escape, glided to the center of the stream where it sank
out of sight.

When Jan reached the bank, Chicma had climbed up into the tree and was
whimpering and licking her wounded arm. He called to her to come
down--that the danger from the monster had passed--but she was so badly
frightened that she paid no heed to him.

This was Jan's first battle with anything other than the red-headed
dummy of a woman which Cruel One had provided. He had, of course, played
at fighting with Chicma many times, for she had, to the best of her
ability, instructed him in the arts of defense and offense, but this was
his first real fight, and he had won. He had conquered a very terrible
monster of which even Chicma was afraid.

His chest swelled with pride as he strode stiffly up and down the muddy
bank, calling the alligator all manner of disagreeable chimpanzee names,
and inviting it to come back for more punishment. He tired of this
presently, when the reptile did not reappear, and set to work to still
the craving of his empty stomach by plucking and eating the berries
which grew in profusion thereabout. He quickly learned to distinguish
between green and ripe berries.

Jan's victory over the alligator made him feel superior to the ape--and
whereas he had previously believed her greater than himself, both
mentally and physically, he now knew, instinctively, that this was not
the case. His man mind had begun to assert itself--to take its natural
place in the scale of creation. He was stronger and braver than Chicma,
and a greater fighter. She might betray her weakness and inferiority by
whimpering, but as for him, no matter how great the pain, he would
henceforth suffer in silence.

They traveled without food until late in the afternoon, when they came
to the lonely cabin of one of the dwellers in the swamp. After
reconnoitering to make sure that there was no one about they raided a
garden which yielded sweet potatoes, celery, lettuce and tomatoes, with
some luscious grapefruit off a nearby tree for dessert.

When they had eaten their fill, they resumed their journey, traveling
toward the reddening disk of the setting sun. But they had not gone far
when there came to the ears of Jan a strange and fearful sound. It
seemed to him an incongruous combination of whispering and roaring, and
his active young imagination immediately set to work to picture the
monster that could make so voluminous and terrible a sound.

He hesitated, fearful of venturing farther in the direction of the noise
but as Chicma advanced unperturbed, and as he now felt himself braver
and greater than she, he marched on beside her with no outward sign of
the trepidation he felt.

It was not long before they came to what was to Jan a most amazing
sight. It was a broad, curved beach of gleaming white sand with
white-crested waves rolling in, dashing a fine spray high in the air and
leaving a line of silvery spume at the point where they receded.

Chicma walked out upon the smooth white sand, and turned to the left.
Jan, perturbed but resolute, walked beside her. The sand felt soft and
pleasant to his injured feet, and it was not long before he gathered
sufficient courage to walk out into the spume. This felt exceptionally
pleasant until the salt began to smart his wounds, whereupon he imagined
that the sea was becoming angry with him, and quickly retreated to the
dry sands.

The sun was just disappearing into the evening mists with a last blaze
of blood-red glory when they arrived at the bank of a small rivulet that
flowed into the Gulf. A few coconut trees adorned its banks, and Chicma
instantly climbed one of these, throwing a half dozen large nuts to the
ground. She then descended and Jan, always quick to mimic followed her
example as she tore the fibrous covering with her sharp teeth.

When she had uncovered the end of the inner shell she broke this open
with a stone and eagerly drank the liquid it contained. Jan also picked
up a stone and bashed in the end of his coconut. He tasted the milk
gingerly at first, then drained it with great relish. He was discovering
more good things all the time in this strange outer world which had been
withheld from him for so long.

But there was more to come, for Chicma, removing more of the fibrous
outer wrapping, proceeded to break off pieces of the inner shell and
devour the white, tasty nut meat that adhered to it. Jan did likewise,
and found another delight.

But Chicma did not open a second nut, for there suddenly sounded above
the roar of the surf, an ominous rumble accompanied by a white flash,
far out over the Gulf. Calling Jan to follow her, the chimpanzee hurried
into the thickest part of the underbrush in the coconut grove, and there
crouched, shivering with her fear of the lightning.

Jan could not understand this fear. Unperturbed, he looked out over the
Gulf in the direction of the noise. The rumblings were becoming louder,
and the flashes brighter. The last red glow of sunset was being
swallowed up by a tumbling mass of blue-black clouds. But these things
were, to him, rather commonplace, for he had often seen approaching
thunder clouds through the high windows of the menagerie, and several
times had viewed them from the stockade.

What principally attracted his attention was a most puzzling thing on
the surface of the water. It appeared to have a pair of large, white
wings, placed one in front of the other, which did not flap like those
of birds, but were held more or less rigidly, straight up in the air. He
was astonished to see one of the wings swiftly disappear, followed in a
moment by the disappearance of the other. On the back of the thing were
tiny moving creatures that looked, at a distance, to be much like Cruel
One.

Jan did, not know that what he had seen was not an animal, but a
Venezuelan schooner, which had scurried to anchor behind a sheltering
point of land and then lowered sail, in order to escape the fury of the
coming storm. Nor had he any means of knowing that one of the figures on
the deck had been scanning the shore with binoculars and had seen both
Jan and Chicma--a naked boy and an African ape--here on the western coast
of Florida.

A short time after Jan crouched down beside the cowering Chicma, the
storm broke.

Captain Francesco Santos, commander and owner of the schooner Santa
Margarita, brushed back the straggling hairs of his small, coal-black
mustache, inserted a cigarette between his coarse lips, and lit it.

Filling his lungs with tobacco smoke, he exhaled slowly and as he did
so, addressed Jake Grubb, his powerful, blond-bearded first mate, who was
peering at the shore through a pair of binoculars.

"Por Dios, Senor Grubb! You seem to 'ave locate' sometheeng that ees of
more interest than the coming storm. May I 'ave the look, also?"

"I seen it, but I don't believe it," replied Grubb, handing his
binoculars to Santos.

Santos turned the glass in the direction indicated, and focused it to
suit his vision.

"Son of wan gun, senor!" he exclaimed. "It ees not the bacardi, for I
see them also, and me, I drank tequila."

"What are they a doin' now, captain?"

"The ape ees just take what you call the duck into the bushes. The boy
ees stand there and look at us. The ape ees scared, but that boy, he's
not afraid of notheeng, I tal you."

A particularly loud clap, of thunder, followed by the spatter of
raindrops and a violent tilting of the schooner as the storm broke, sent
both men scurrying for cover. Once inside the cabin, Santos lit another
cigarette and got out his bottle of tequila, while Grubb resorted to his
pipe and his rum.

"What would you think, captain, if I told you I had an idear for makin'
some easy money?" asked Grubb, refilling his glass and sucking at his
pipe.

"I would be delight', senor, if I, Francesco Santos, could thereby make
what you call the honest penny."

"I believe," said Grubb, "in takin' what the good Lord provides. Over
there, hidin' in the bushes, is some kind of a big African ape. It may
be a gorilla or it may be a chimpanzee, but I know from its looks that
it's one or the other. It must have got away from some circus, because
apes like that don't run wild anywheres except in Africa. People were
payin' good money to see that critter, and they'll do it again. I
traveled with a street carnival for one season, and barked on a
side-show door with a circus, so I know something about the racket. If
we catch that ape, bring it aboard, and build a cage for it, we kin turn
this schooner into a showboat. Or we kin buy a tent, travel from port to
port in ease and style, and stay in each place as long as the dough
rolls in. There ain't no limit to where we kin go, what we kin do, or
how much we kin make."

"Carramba! That sound pretty good, amigo. One hour before daylight,
then, we leave for the shore weeth nets and ropes. I dreenk to our
success, amigo."

"Down the hatch," replied Grubb, as he tossed off his drink.



IV. CAPTURED

JAN WAS awakened by a low cry of warning from Chicma. Then he heard the
sound of human voices. The darkness had passed, and a pink glow heralded
the coming of the sun.

The voices grew louder, closer, and there were crashing sounds in the
underbrush all around them. As these drew nearer, Chicma, calling softly
to the boy to follow, made a sudden rush to break through the narrowing
circle.

As she leaped out of the bushes, the ape tried to dart between two men
who stood about ten feet apart. One was a swarthy fellow with a small
mustache. The other was jet black, and gigantic in stature. But as she
ran forward, the two suddenly lifted a net which they had been trailing
between them, and in a moment she was struggling in its meshes which the
two men drew tighter and tighter around her.

Bewildered by the strange sights and sounds, Jan dashed off into the
undergrowth, but when he saw that Chicma had been caught he paused,
hoping to see her break away. As it became increasingly evident to him
that she would not be able to do this unaided, he snarled like an
enraged animal--then charged.

The two men were bending over Chicma as she thrashed on the ground,
attempting to put ropes on her. Four others, three with brown skins and
one with a bushy yellow beard, were running toward them carrying nets
and ropes. Paying no heed to these reenforcements, Jan leaped on the
back of the man nearest him--the swarthy fellow with the little
mustache--and growling and snarling like a jungle beast, attacked him
with teeth and nails.

But the yellow-bearded giant ran up behind him and pulled him off.

Quick as a flash, Jan turned on this new enemy and sank his teeth into
the hairy forearm. With an exclamation of pain and anger, the big man
jabbed a huge fist into the boy's midriff, causing him to let go his
hold and gasp for breath. The fist flashed out a second time, colliding
with his jaw, and Jan's whirling senses left him.

Jan did not know when he was bundled aboard the ship, nor could he know
that his jailer of sixteen years, Dr. Bracken, had resumed his trailing,
after daybreak, just a bit too late. The signs of struggle and capture
were plain enough, and Bracken furiously followed the tracks down to the
shore, where the marks of a boat's prow were etched deep in the sand.
Looking out across the bay he saw a small schooner flying the flag of
Venezuela. He could not make out her name. Even as he looked, her sails
were raised and her anchor hoisted. Then slowly, gracefully, the vessel
sailed around the point and southward. The half-maddened doctor knew
that for the time being, at least, his vengeful pursuit was balked.

When Jan recovered consciousness once more, he was in a strange
half-dark place of queer sights, sounds, smells and motions. There was a
thick collar around his neck, fastened by a heavy chain to a large ring
in the planking behind him. A little way from him; and trying to reach
him, but held by her chain in a similar manner to a ring on the opposite
side of the space they occupied, was Chicma.

She called softly to him, and when he answered, seemed satisfied by the
assurance that he was alive, and quit tugging at her chain.

Through the cracks between the boards on, which he lay, and which
constantly lurched under him with a motion that gave Jan a most
unpleasant feeling, he could hear the swishing of bilge water, which
stank abominably. Some mildewed excelsior had been scattered over the
planking, and the sour odor of this only increased the wave of nausea
that swept over him.

For hours that seemed interminable, he lay there, constantly swayed by
the lurching of the ship, and suffering in silence.

Then a hatch was raised there was the sound of voices and footsteps
descending the ladder, and the swarthy man with the little mustache,
came through the door. Just behind him was the huge individual with the
yellow beard.

Jan instinctively hated all men with beards because Dr. Bracken was
bearded. And to top this instinctive dislike was the fact that this
particular bearded man had injured him.

The two men were talking. But Jan, of course, was unable to understand
them. The fact that they were looking at him, however, was enough. He
growled menacingly.

"I'll be hanged if that kid ain't wilder than the chimpanzee," said Jake
Grubb. He walked closer to Jan and held out a hand placatingly. "Come
here, boy. What's yer name?"

Jan bared his teeth with a fierce snarl, and snapped at the hand which
was hastily withdrawn.

"Blood of the devil!" exclaimed Santos with mock-consternation. "Look
out, senor. You will be devoured."

"You know, captain, I b'lieve this kid'll make a better drawin' card
than the ape," said Grubb. "We kin show 'em in a cage together--the
African wild man and the African ape. We'll have to make the boy some
kind of a breech clout or skirt out of hide."

"So amigo? And who weel persuade heem to wear it?"

"I'll make him wear it or break his back," replied Grubb.



V. THE ROPE'S END

FOR MANY HOURS, Jan lay on the floor, rising only to drink at intervals
from a pan of water which the men had gingerly slid into his cage.

But the sea grew calmer, the rocking of the craft became less violent
and gradually his seasickness left him. And he grew very hungry.

Although Chicma had been fed several times during this period, Jan's
original ration remained untouched; and he was given nothing more to
eat. A huge black man--the one who had helped to capture the
chimpanzee--had come in once and refilled his water pan for him. Jan had
growled at this giant as he had at the others, but the man had talked
softly, soothingly, to him, and had been very deliberate in his
movements, so the boy had made no attempt to molest him as he poured the
water into the pan from the pitcher.

With his appetite back and his sickness gone, Jan drank the last of the
water which the black giant had left for him. Then he ate the bananas
set before him--a fruit of which he was very fond. But the cold chili
burned him with its pepper, and he quickly spat out the first mouthful.
But the smell of the meat in it urged him on. Scooping up another
mouthful, he chewed it rapidly, and swallowed it. This mouthful seemed
to bite him a little, but not nearly so much as the first. Quickly he
finished the contents of the bowl.

His stomach filled, Jan was stretching out in his excelsior when he
heard the voices of men descending the ladder.

Tensely alert, he sat up as two men entered the room. The foremost was
the yellow-bearded white man he had learned to dislike so intensely.
Behind him walked the giant Negro. The white man carried a short stout
rope and a roll of leather. The Negro carried a pitcher, with which he
refilled the pans of Chicma and Jan while the first mate unrolled his
leather bundle.

"Now, Borno," said Grubb, "I'll show you how to dress up this kind.
Might have to dress him down before I dress him up, but that's all in a
day's work."

"Oui, m'sieu'," acquiesced Borno, who was a Haitian Negro, and actually
though not nominally the second mate of the Santa Margarita. "Oui,
m'sieu', I watch."

The leather which Grubb had unrolled was a short skirt, slightly
resembling a Highlander's kilts, and attached to a stout belt. Holding
this spread out in his two huge hands, he slowly advanced toward Jan,
who backed away with a snarl.

"Needn't to act thataway. Ain't goin' to hurt ye none," said Grubb. But
his actions belied his words, for he made a sudden spring, clasping the
belt around the boy's waist, and lifting him from the floor.

Squirming, kicking, clawing, Jan was soon dangling with the belt beneath
his armpits, still unbuckled. With cat-like quickness, he doubled up and
bit clear through one of Grubb's hands.

Roaring a blood-curdling oath, the first mate dropped him and backed
away, nursing his wounded hand. Then, flinging down the leather skirt,
he caught up the rope he had brought.

Jan did not cower as the big man advanced toward him, but strained at
his chain in his endeavor to reach his enemy. Standing just out of his
reach, the mate brought down the end of the rope with a skill that came
of long practice, and a little stream of blood trickled downward, from
the welt it made in Jan's tender, sunburned skin.

Again and again he swung the cruel rope, blood spurting from a new welt
at each blow. But not so much as the slightest whimper escaped the lips
of Jan. Instead, he strained at his collar until it nearly choked him in
his attempts to reach his cruel foe. And in his glittering eyes was the
light of a killing frenzy.

Aroused by this mistreatment of her foster-child, and by the smell of
blood, Chicma also was tugging at her chain, endeavoring to go to the
boy's rescue while voicing her anger in forceful chimpanzee invective,
and gnashing her powerful teeth until her pendulous lips and hairy chest
were flecked with saliva.

Borno watched the proceedings calmly at first, but when the body of the
boy was a mass of bloody welts and his spirit remained unbroken, his
eyes glittered with a light that echoed the look in those of Jan, and
his thick lips compressed in an expression of disapproval.

"Zis is too much for Borno," he growled at the mate, and went up on
deck.

Chicma, who had been jumping up and down, now turned, and grasping her
chain in both front paws, braced her hind feet against the wall and
pulled. Jan, who was as quick to see the advantage of this means of
leverage as he was to imitate, followed her example. He was stronger and
heavier than the ape, and the staple which held the ring pulled out,
dropping him on his bloody back on the rough planking.

More amused than perturbed by this incident, Grubb laughed and cut at
the boy's unprotected chest and abdomen with his bloody rope.

But it was only for an instant that Jan remained on the floor. With
lightning quickness he rolled out of reach, then leaped to his feet and
faced his tormentor. Grubb instantly followed him, and had his rope
upraised for another blow when Jan seized the heavy chain which hung
from his collar and, imitating his attacker, swung it back in
retaliation. It caught the first mate a terrific blow across the face,
half stunning him for an instant. But before Jan could swing it a second
time the man leaped for him.

Unhampered now by the chain, it would have been easy for the youth to
dodge beneath the extended arms. But he had no thought of flight.
Instead of attempting to escape, he leaped on the back of his enemy.
There flashed to him, at this instant, the memory of the manner in which
he had vanquished the alligator. And he did not doubt that this new
enemy might be overcome in the same manner. Lightning-quick to act on
any impulse, Jan found the two soft vulnerable spots and plunged in
gouging fingers.

With a shriek of anguish, Grubb seized the boy and flung him over his
head. But swift as his action had been, it was far too slow to save his
eyes from torture.

Unhurt by his fall, Jan sprang to his feet to face a totally changed
enemy. Instead of menacing him with the cruel rope, the mate was now
holding his hands over his face and groaning. But such conduct only
added contempt to Jan's hatred. Again he swung his heavy chain, cutting
Grubb across his unprotected middle.

With a shriek of fear, the mate groped for the door, and hastily climbed
the ladder. But Jan, his anger unsated, followed him, relentlessly
swinging his heavy chain.

When Borno, having sickened at the sight of the cruelty practiced on Jan
reached the deck, he found Captain Santos scanning the horizon with his
binoculars.

"'Ave you dressed the boy so soon?" Santos asked, as he struck a match on
the side of the cabin.

"Non, m'sieu' le capitain," replied the Negro respectfully. "I theenk
you better stop M'sieu' Grubb from use zat rope. Zat boy he's never
geeve up until he dead. Borno know."

Santos laughed nastily. "You lak the young devil pretty well, beh? You
don't lak to see heem hurt. Well, I tal you sometheeng. Thees Grubb
knows hees beesiness. He's 'andle, many men--'undreds, thousands. He's
'andle man or boy wan time, that wan nex' time ees do what Senor Grubb
tal heem."

They both whirled at a sudden sound.

"Nombre de Dios!" Santos cried. "What 'as 'appen' to you, senor?"

But Grubb, who had just emerged from the hatchway, blood streaming down
his face, neither saw nor heard them. Shrieking his fear and anguish, he
ran aimlessly hither and thither across the deck. And following him
grimly, relentlessly, was Jan, bloody but unconquered, swinging his
heavy chain regularly and effectively.

At each thud of the chain Grubb tripped over a coil of rope and shrieked
and ran. Once he fell. But he was on his feet again in an instant,
running as if the very devil were after him. Santos and Borno sprang
forward to rescue the mate. But they were far too slow. Before they had
taken a dozen steps they saw him blunder against the rail and pitch
overboard.

Both men instantly hurried to the rail, Santos hastily snatching a life
preserver while he watched the water for the mate's reappearance. His
head bobbed up, and the captain cast the circle of inflated rubber. But
the mate could not see it.

Following the ship at a pace that matched its own, several large
sail-like fins protruded from the water. The two men saw them converge
toward the struggling human figure.

"Maria Madre!" exclaimed Santos. "Sharks! It ees the end!"

One fin, nearer than the others, suddenly disappeared. The bobbing head
went down with a final, despairing shriek. There was a flashing and
darting hither and thither of other fins and the water was churned to a
pink foam.

Both men had, for the time, forgotten the presence of the red-haired
youth. They found him lying unconscious beside the rail in a pool of his
own blood, the heavy chain still gripped in his fingers.

Borno lifted him as tenderly as if Jan had been his own child.

"Maitresse Ezillee," he prayed to his Voodoo goddess, "give zis boy hees
life, hees health."

Gathering Jan to his broad black bosom, he carried him down the ladder
and gently laid him on his bed of excelsior.



VI. HURRICANE

Weakened by the terrific loss of blood from his many wounds, Jan did not
recover consciousness for some time. When he did, he noticed that
beneath him there was some thing softer and more pleasant to lie upon
than he had ever felt in his life before. Borno, who squatted near him
watching anxiously, had brought one of his own blankets to throw over
the rough excelsior.

As Jan opened his eyes, Borno talked soothingly to the youth, who lay
there, too sick to show either resentment or appreciation. Presently the
Negro, who knew from experience the thirst that comes to the severely
wounded, proffered the pan of water. Jan made a feeble effort to sit up,
but his head swam and he sank back.

His huge hand gentle as that of a woman, Borno helped the youth to raise
his head and held the pan to his lips. Jan drank eagerly, deeply--then
looked his thanks at the big Negro and lay back once more, closing his
eyes.

Borno rose and quietly left the room. Mounting the ladder, he met Santos

"Pardon, m'sieu', but I don' theenk zat boy need to be chain'," he said.
"He's ver' seeck boy."

"Weeth our own eyes we saw what he did to Senor Grubb," replied the
captain. "Me, I would rather see el tigre loose on my ship."

As Santos's native language was Spanish and Borno's Haitian Creole, the
common ground was English, which both understood fairly well, as did the
members of the mestizo crew, who were from Jamaica and Trinidad.

"Zat boy ees need planty sunlight--fresh air," persisted Borne, "or he's
gone die."

"Maybe you like to make the cage for heem on deck," suggested Santos.
"Then we can take off the chain."

"I make ze cage, m'sieu'," promised Borne eagerly.

And so it came about that in a few days, during which the Santa
Margarita had sped steadily southward, Jan and Chicma were installed in
an airy, sunlit cage on the deck, where they could breathe the fresh
salt breeze, uncontaminated by the scent of bilge water, mildewed
excelsior, and the lingering ghosts of previous smelly cargoes which
haunted the hold.

Borno insisted on not only feeding, but personally attending to the
wants of the boy and ape. And both soon became so friendly toward him
that he could enter the cage without fear of attack, although if Santos,
the steward Audrey, or any of the others approached the bars they met
with unmistakable signs of hostility.

From the start, Borno attempted to establish communication with the boy
through speech, using broken English rather than his Haitian Creole, as
it was the language spoken on the ship. Failing in this, he resorted to
simple words and signs. It was not long before he found that Jan only
knew four words: his own name, that of Chicma, and "Mother! Kill!"

The big Negro then set out to teach him to speak, and with considerable
success. Despite his former lack of human association, Jan had a quick,
bright mind, and once he discovered the purpose of the Negro's patient
drilling, was eager to learn. Each day he added a few words to his
meager vocabulary, which, when Borno was away, he took great pleasure in
repeating over and over again to Chicma, much to her puzzlement.'

From a number of tanned jaguar skins, which had been rejected by New
Orleans fur buyers because of shot holes and other imperfections, Borno
fashioned three garments. Understanding the imitative nature of Jan and
Chicma, he entered the cage and put on one which he had made for
himself. He did this several times before Jan followed his example and
donned the garment which Borno had given him. Several days later Chicma
also put on her jaguar skin. And within two weeks all were wearing them.

Borno tried taking his off, but this wouldn't work, for each time he did
this the youth and ape promptly removed theirs. So he was forced to go
about in his primitive attire, much to the secret amusement of the other
members of the crew--secret, because they all feared the mighty thews of
the giant Negro.

The captain said that as soon as they made port the exhibition would
commence. Borno was to represent an African savage who had assisted in
the capture of the chimpanzee and wild boy in their native haunts.
Santos was composing a colorful and highly imaginative ballyhoo to be
used as soon as he could get a tent erected in the first South American
port.

But before they could make port there was an unforeseen occurrence which
the carefully laid plans of the embryo showman had not included.

Borno was returning from feeding his two charges, when he encountered
Santos, very much agitated. The sails were flapping idly--barely moving
the ship through the water.

"Peste!" he said. "I don' like! That damn' barometer she's drop to beat
hall."

"I sink a storm ees come, mon capitain," replied the Haitian. "Borno
smell it in ze air."

"Me, I know it too damn' well," said Santos, savagely flinging his
cigarette butt overboard. "Another day and we would 'ave made the port,
but now--I don' know."

The storm struck two hours later, and so terrific was its force that,
despite the fact that every bit of canvas except the jib had been
tightly reefed, the foremast cracked and went by the board with the
first impact. Santos ordered a small staysail rigged in front of the
mainmast, but it was instantly torn to shreds and a seaman was lost.

This threw the ship completely out of control, had any slight measure of
control indeed been possible in the swirling, foaming, roaring maelstrom
of wind and water that followed.

A helpless plaything of wind and waves, the schooner twisted, turned,
rose and plunged, cavorting obediently at the whim of its undisputed
master, the storm. The decks were constantly awash, and despite the
battened hatches much water leaked into the hold.

Penned in their cage, which was lashed to the mainmast, Jan and Chicma
were overwhelmed by wave after wave of seething water. Jan nearly
strangled on the first one, but after that learned to do his breathing
during the intervals when his head was above water. Chicma seemed to
know such things instinctively.

For hour upon hour the storm continued without slackening its violence.
Then the forward hatch was ripped off by a huge wave, and water began
pouring into the hold.

As suddenly as it had begun, the storm abated, but in the meantime the
schooner had shipped so much water she was likely to go down at any
minute. Knowing the hand pumps would be useless against this deluge, and
feeling his ship sinking beneath his feet, the captain ordered a
lifeboat launched, cursing luridly as he took his place in the stern.

Every member of the crew was aboard and the boat was ready to be
launched, when Borno who stood in the prow, still wearing his jaguar
suit, suddenly leaped back to the deck.

"Zat boy!" he said. "I mus' turn heem loose!"

"Come back, fool! 'Ave you gone loco?" roared Santos. "We 'ave no time!"

"I mus' save zat boy," replied Borno, whipping his heavy machete from
his belt as he hurried toward the cage.

"Es wan damn' fool," shouted Santos, to no one in particular. "Lower
away."

There was a creaking of davits, a whining of rusty pulleys and the boat
splashed to the water. Heavy oars wielded by brawny arms pushed it away
from the ship's side. The lifeboat disappeared in the trough of a huge
wave, rose on the crest of another, disappeared once more, and was soon
far from the ship.

But Borno had not even looked back to note its progress, as intent on
his mission of mercy, he chanted a prayer to Ogour Badagris, the Voodoo
storm god, and started on his perilous way to the cage. Though still
lashed to the mainmast, it had broken some of the ropes and was sliding
around on the slippery deck with each lurch of the ship.

Twice the huge Negro was knocked flat by the rushing waters, and twice
he regained his feet before he reached his objective. He did not pause
to open the wet knots which held the door in place, but slashed them
with his machete. As he flung the door wide an immense wave swept over
the ship and the last lashing broke. The cage, with its two occupants
still inside and Borno clinging to one of the bars, was carried
overboard.

As the huge wave swept the cage into the seething water, Jan held his
breath, hopefully awaiting the opportunity to breathe which had always
come in a reasonable length of time before, and clinging to one of the
thick bars. But this time it seemed to him that the opportunity would
never be forthcoming. His lungs began to hurt; the pain became intense
torture. Involuntarily he took a breath, and the torture was magnified a
thousand-fold as several ounces of salt water rushed into his lungs.
Then, blessed relief just in time, the bar to which he was clinging rose
above the surface of the water.

Strangling and choking, he inhaled great lungfuls of air. Clinging to a
bar beside him, Chicma seemed to be in like case. And swimming beside
the floating cage, gripping its door with one huge black hand, Jan saw
Borno.

The cage was floating bars up, its opened door swung outward over the
edge and causing one side to sag. Jan tried to climb out through the
door, but before he had half of his body out of the water the entire
cage went under, ducking Chicma. He subsided into the water once more,
and the bars of the cage emerged. Chicma chattered angrily, and Borno
told him to "Keep down."

Thereafter Jan held his head only above the surface of the water that
sloshed about in the cage. Borno continued swimming with one hand while
he held to the door with the other.

Presently Jan heard a roaring sound that seemed familiar. Then he
remembered the sound he had heard shortly before his first sight of salt
water--the roaring of breakers on a beach. He wanted to raise himself
once more to look out, but the memory of his last experience restrained
him.

The roaring grew louder, and great foamy waves began sweeping over the
cage, rocking it violently. Suddenly the bottom struck something solid,
and with its two startled and half drowned occupants still clinging to
the bars, turned over and over. It stopped with the bars down, half full
of water, waves spanking against one side. Jan and Chicma sat there in
the water, barely able to see the interior of their prison by the dim
light that filtered through the cracks between the planks.

Above the roaring and slapping of the waves Jan heard a thudding sound.
Presently more light came in, and the blade of Borno's machete flashed
downward again and again, cutting a great V in one of the planks. To
Jan, sitting there in his soggy prison, the time seemed interminable
before the board was cut in two.

Borno sheathed his weapon and, seizing a half of the plank, pulled it
toward him, bending the spikes that held it at the corner. Jan and
Chicma quickly squirmed through the opening, and the three, hurled
forward again and again by the breakers that raced in from behind them,
quickly reached a white, sandy beach.

Apparently exhausted by his efforts, Borno threw himself on the sand.
Chicma, also, squatted on the beach to rest. She was quite old for a
chimpanzee, and her recent experience had tired her. But Jan, save for a
slight soreness in his lungs and nasal cavities from the salt water he
had inhaled, was feeling not only fit but ravenously hungry.

Just above the matted jungle growth that fringed the beach, three
coconut palms reared their crowns, dangling their fruit invitingly. With
a wordless cry of delight, Jan plunged through the undergrowth toward
them. He was about to spring up the nearest tree, when two powerful
brown hands, reaching from behind him, suddenly gripped his throat.

Unable to cry out because of the strangling pressure on his windpipe,
Jan was dragged, kicking and struggling, back into the dark depths of
the South American jungle.



VII. BROWN MEN'S PRIZE

JAN'S STRUGGLES presently grew less as the pressure of the powerful
fingers on his throat continued. Then his arms were seized and tightly
bound behind his back. For some time he lay on the ground, panting for
breath with rattling palate, and staring defiantly up at the strange
creature whose prisoner he had become.

The man was short and powerful, and naked save for an abbreviated
loin-cloth. His straight black hair was cut in a soup-bowl bob, and his
coppery skin glistened with perspiration from his recent exertions, for,
despite his youth Jan was stronger than the average man and had given
him a good tussle.

Jan watched the native suspiciously as he took up a bundle of long
sticks--as long as he was tall--from the ground. One of these sticks was
curved, with a string stretched across the curve from tip to tip. The
others were sharply pointed at one end. To Jan, a stick had always meant
a potential beating, and a low growl rumbled from his throat as his
captor made a step toward him.

Puzzled by this unusual sound, coming from a human being, the tall
savage paused for a moment, looking quizzically down at his prisoner. He
took a second step, and a louder growl resulted. Then he uttered a few
words. The youth's only answer was a snarl and a quick leap to his feet.
Then he darted into the jungle, his hands still bound behind him.

As he dashed away through the forest, Jan heard a quick grunt of
surprise. Then there was a twang, and one of the long sticks whizzed
past his ear, burying its point in a tree trunk, where it quivered for a
moment as if alive.

Sprinting, leaping, stumbling, dodging first one way, then another, and
constantly goaded to his utmost speed by the unmistakable sounds of
pursuit behind him, the youth ran on and on until his breath came in
great sobbing gasps and there was a terrific pain in his side. But still
the sound of those menacing, footsteps followed him relentlessly,
doggedly.

Suddenly there came to his nostrils an odor that was hatefully familiar
to him. It was the smell of burning wood, and he instantly associated it
with Dr. Bracken and his years of captivity. The cook always burned wood
in her kitchen stove, and at some time during the day there was always a
puff of wind to carry it into the menagerie.

Jan halted for a moment, suspicious of the acrid odor, but a shout from
his pursuer sent him running forward again. The shout was instantly
answered by a voice directly ahead of him. Soon there were more yells on
his right and left, and more answers from the man who pursued him.
Accompanying the yells were the patter of footsteps and the rustling of
underbrush, warning him that he had been surrounded.

Looking about for a place to hide, Jan selected a clump of huge
begonias, which spread their immense leaves nearby. Plunging into this
clump, he squatted down, and peering through a space between two
gigantic leaves, watched for the approach of the numerous enemies his
ears told him were closing in on him.

As he sat there with perspiration streaming from him, endeavoring to
keep his labored breathing as quiet as possible, two bronze-skinned
savages suddenly came into Jan's line of vision. They passed on, but
were succeeded by three more, the last of whom stopped as something
caught his attention. It was one of Jan's footprints, and it told this
trained hunter as plainly as words that the youth was hidden behind the
broad leaves of the begonia. With a loud whoop of exultation, he sprang
upon the crouching Jan and dragged him forth.

In an instant, Jan was the center of a ring of curious savages, who
plucked at his shock of red hair, pulled at his jaguar-skin garment, and
poked at his sunburned body as if he were a strange being from another
planet, chattering excitedly to each other the while with many grunts
and exclamations of amazement.

His spirit unbroken and his anger aroused by this manhandling, Jan
voiced his disapproval in the only manner he knew--by alternately
snarling and growling at his captors. This demonstration seemed to amuse
them hugely, and several of them took to baiting him for the purpose of
entertainment.

One huge fellow took it upon himself to poke Jan's tender, sunburned
nose with his forefinger. He instantly withdrew the hand with a howl of
pain, for Jan, with a quick snap, had bitten it nearly through at the
second joint. Enraged, the wounded savage whipped out a machete and
would have cut off Jan's head, but two companions seized and dragged him
away, while the entire party laughed at his discomfiture.

Then Jan's original captor took him by one arm and one of his fellows
seized the other, after which they hustled him along between them into a
cleared space where a fire was burning and many hammocks were swung.
Here Jan's feet were bound, and he was thrown to the ground with one man
watching him. Several others gathered around the fire, which they
replenished, and over which, when it was going well, they suspended the
carcasses of six monkeys, a capybara and two peccaries to roast.


Despite the ache of his bound hands and feet and the stinging bites of
numerous tiny black flies, Jan kept every sense alert, listening to the
strange chatter of the bronze-skinned men and watching their every
movement. All were naked except for their abbreviated loin-cloths, and
all were well armed. Some, he observed, had the bent sticks with strings
stretched across, and the bundles of sharp-pointed sticks which could
fly from them. All had either machetes or knives, familiar to Jan
because of the assortment of cutlery which Dr. Bracken had used in
cutting up meat. Some also carried short, heavy sticks with sharp stones
lashed to their thick ends, and some had very long sticks with sharp
points.

As soon as they finished eating, the savages, one by one, wandered to
their hammocks, which were slung in the smoke of the fire to keep off
insect pests and went to sleep.

Jan's original captor brought him some gnawed monkey bones with a little
meat left on them, and unbound his hands so he could eat. His fingers
were first numb, then filled with a sensation that resembled the
pricking of a thousand needles as the blood began to circulate freely in
them. He ate a few bites of monkey flesh, took a long drink from a gourd
which his captor proffered, and submitted to having his hands bound once
more, for he saw that resistance would be useless.

The black flies, which Jan was powerless to brush away, disappeared at
nightfall, but their place was taken by hordes of mosquitoes. For hours
Jan lay awake squirming and tossing in fruitless endeavor to rid himself
of his tiny tormentors But at last he slept.

Awakened at daybreak by a stir in the camp around him, Jan was fed,
given a drink of water, and left to watch the preparations for
departure. All camp equipment was loaded into a half dozen large
baskets, which were carried on men's backs, suspended by broad straps
that went around their foreheads. When all was in readiness, Jan's feet
were unbound and he was forced to march away with the others.

For five days Jan was taken deeper and deeper into the jungle by the
band of hunters. Near the end of the fifth day they suddenly emerged
into a circular clearing, in the center of which was a large round
communal hut or malocca, flanked by two crudely constructed lean-tos.

A dozen yapping mongrel dogs rushed out to greet them, instantly
followed by more than a score of pot-bellied naked children whose clamor
equaled that of the canines, and then by women wearing nothing but small
square or triangular aprons.

Jan was dragged to a strong stump about five feet tall near the entrance
to the communal hut, and bound to it by strips of fiber passed around
his body. Then his hands and feet were unbound and he was given a drink
of water. Dogs, children, and women crowded around him, all apparently
more curious than the men had been. A dog nipped him on the shin, and
Jan promptly kicked it over the heads of the children standing in front.
Then a youth of about Jan's age, apparently its master, attempted
reprisal by pulling his shock of red hair. Jan cuffed him off his feet
with one well-placed blow, much to the young native's chagrin and the
amusement of the spectators.

Then a middle-aged matron, evidently the squaw of Jan's original captor,
came to his side, knocking children and kicking dogs right and left.
After she had cleared a space around him she handed him a piece of
something flat and hard, evidently food. He bit into it, finding it
rather tasteless and difficult to chew, but it satisfied his hunger
which had been developed by the long march. It was a farinha cake, made
from mandioca root.

Jan was left on exhibition at the stump for some time, but his
popularity as an exhibit suddenly waned as another party of hunters
returned with a new prisoner whose hands were bound behind him and who
was urged forward by spear thrusts from behind. Although, like his
captors, he was naked except for a loincloth and copper-skinned, he was
much taller than the men who had captured him, none of whom were much
taller than Jan, and his aspect was made ferocious by daubs of red ocher
on his face, ornamented sections of bamboo thrust through the distended
lobes of his ears, and a necklace of jaguar's teeth.

The new prisoner was quickly hustled to the stump and bound like Jan to
the opposite side. Women and children crowded around him hurling
insults, while dogs barked and snapped at his legs. But despite the
abuse heaped upon him, he maintained a stoical silence.

As the sun sank lower and lower toward the horizon, and the shadows of
the trees that rimmed the clearing grew longer, many children brought
firewood, which they heaped around the two who were bound to the post.
Jan had no idea what it was for; and although the silent Indian behind
him knew, he gave no sign.

A number of cooking fires were built, and much meat was consumed, as
both hunting parties had been quite successful. But this time the
savages did not retire to their hammocks immediately after their meal.
Instead, they formed a large circle around the prisoners.

As soon as darkness fell, Jan's hands were bound like those of the other
prisoner, and the circle of spectators began a slow dance around them in
time to the throbbing cadence of a kettle-drum beaten by an old man.
Many of the dancers carried flaming faggots, snatched from their cook
fires, which they thrust into the prisoner's faces or held against their
arms or bodies, inflicting painful burns.

Jan struggled to break his bonds, snarling and growling at his
tormentors, but to no avail. Presently, imitating his fellow prisoner,
who had neither moved nor cried out under torture, he relapsed into
silence and ceased his struggles, resolved to show these people that he
could stand pain as stoically as the big Indian.

The dance grew faster and faster, the searing thrusts of the lighted
faggots more frequent. Then suddenly, as if at a prearranged signal, all
of the dancers threw their faggots at the base of the pyre which had
been stacked around the two torture victims. Jan heard a crackling sound
that swiftly increased in volume. Then there was a sudden upthrust of
licking flames and a burst of terrific heat which brought scorching,
excruciating agony.



VIII. ORGY

BORNO AND CHICMA did not rest very long on the beach. By the time they
were dry from their ocean bath, the rays of the sun had grown
intolerable.

The ape got up first, and began sniffing the air as if some far-off
scent had attracted her attention. Then she shuffled away in the
direction of the jungle.

The big Negro, who was wise in the ways of wild things, observed her
actions and followed her. He found her in a small patch of wild
pineapples, devouring one of the fragrant fruits. Selecting a ripe one
for himself, he drew his machete and hacking off the leaves and horny
rind, ate it with gusto. As he was about to prepare another he thought
of Jan and called him. There was no reply.

"Jan!" he shouted again, with all the power of his huge lungs. But not
so much as an echo answered him. Chicma, evidently understanding what
was wrong, threw back her head and called to Jan in her barking
chimpanzee language.

The big Negro had been raised in the jungles of his native Haiti, and,
it did not take him long after returning to the beach to pick up Jan's
trail. Chicma was beside him when he discovered the signs of Jan's
struggle, and she bristled up with a snarl.

They followed the trail until nightfall, when darkness made further
tracking impossible. Then Borno crept beneath the buttressed roots of a
huge ceiba tree, and lay down to snatch such sleep as biting insects
would allow. The chimpanzee crept in and curled up near him.

In the morning Borno divided his pineapple with Chicma, and they took
the trail. Soon they came upon the deserted camp site of the hunters.
Toward noon they found a clump of wild bananas and both ate their fill
of the fruit. Then Borno shouldered half of a good-sized bunch to take
along.

Thus they traveled day by day, Haitian man and African ape, both
actuated by the same desire--to rescue the son of a North American
millionaire from the savages of a South American jungle.

Near the end of the fifth day, when the man and ape had eaten their
evening meal of Brazil nuts, and night had fallen, the hollow booming of
a kettledrum came to their ears across the jungle.

Chicma paid no attention to the sound, but when Borno suddenly got up
and stole away in the direction of the noise, she followed. The big
Negro pushed his way through the jungle as rapidly as possible. Soon he
could hear the whoops and yells of the dancers, and the slapping of
their bare feet on the packed ground. Then he smelled smoke, saw the
flicker of firelight, and emerged into the circular clearing.

Just ahead of him was the huge circle of the community hut. Beside it
was the tall stump to which the prisoners were tied, around which the
dancers whirled, their faces contorted and hideous in the firelight.

Borno circled and entered the clearing behind the big hut, in order to
creep near the fire unobserved. Chicma followed him silently, but when
he reached the rear of the malocca she sprang up onto its thatched roof.

Paying no attention to Chicma, as he did not count on her for much
assistance, Borno gripped his heavy cudgel tightly in both hands and
dashed around the hut. He had heard the crackle of burning wood which
told him that the death pyre was lighted.

With a blood-curdling yell and a swift rain of bone-crushing blows, he
leaped among the dancers felling several and scattering the others right
and left. At the same instant Chicma, who had poised herself on the
thatched roof just above the door, was dropped inside the hut by the
breaking of the roof supports.

The frightened Indians fled in all directions. A few of them started to
go into the malocca for their weapons. But when they were met at the
door by Chicma--a terrifying hairy apparition wearing a jaguar skin, and
frothing with rage--they fled weaponless, fully convinced that the evil
demons of the jungle had joined forces against them.

Borno, meanwhile, kicked the burning wood away from the post, and with a
few deft slashes of his machete released both prisoners.

As soon as he was free, the captive Indian rushed into the big hut,
emerging with a large bundle of weapons and a big basket of smoked meat.
Then he threw several flaming faggots onto the dry thatch, which
immediately blazed up, lighting the entire clearing.

"Vamos!" he said, with a significant gesture and started away, the
basket slung from his brawny shoulders and the weapons carried under one
arm.

Borno understood the Spanish word for "Let's go!" and calling to Jan and
Chicma, hurried after the tall Indian.

Jan, who had seen the wonderful efficiency of the machete paused for a
moment to secure one of the coveted weapons from the belt of a fallen
savage whose skull had been crushed by the big Negro's cudgel-then
followed, with Chicma ambling behind him on hind feet and fore-knuckles.

The Indian, with remarkable precision, struck a narrow trail at the
edge of the clearing. This led them in a short time to a small stream,
on the bank of which a number of dugout canoes rested side by side. Into
one of these he dropped his basket of smoked meat and bundle of weapons.
Then he pushed the other boats, one by one, into the water, permitting
them to drift away downstream, while Borno assisted.

When the last empty canoe was drifting downstream, the one which
contained the food and weapons was launched, with Jan and Chicma riding
in the middle. Borno wielded a paddle in front and the Indian in the
rear.

Propelled by the silent strokes of the two powerful men, the canoe shot
rapidly downstream, passing, one by one, the empty craft which had
already been launched.

Huddled against Chicma, Jan was still suffering much from the burns
inflicted by his captors, but he did not whimper nor cry out. Silent and
wide-eyed, he drank in the brilliant spectacle of the star-strewn sky
reflected by the gently rippling water, and strove to penetrate the
mystery of the shadowy banks, from which came many mysterious and
terrifying sounds--the night noises of the jungle which he had not
learned to interpret.

Steered by the deft paddle of the Indian, the canoe soon emerged into a
much broader stream. Here the steersman kept the craft in the middle as
if he feared some danger from either shore.

Lulled by the rhythmic strokes of the paddles, Jan fell into a deep
slumber and did not awaken until the hot rays of the morning sun struck
him full in the face. The canoe was still traveling in the center of the
broad river, the two men paddling with unremitting vigor.

The Indian presently steered the canoe toward the left bank. They were
almost beneath the overhanging branches and vines before Jan saw that he
was making for a narrow inlet, barely wide enough to admit the canoe. A
moment more, and they were in the deep shadows beneath the densely
matted roof of the jungle. The steersman deftly swung the prow of the
boat inshore, and Borno, springing out, dragged it high on the muddy
bank while two frightened turtles and a small alligator splashed into
the water and disappeared.

Opening the lid of the basket, the Indian took out several strips of
smoked meat. Then he picked up his bundle of weapons and stepped ashore.
Depositing the weapons on the ground, he handed a strip of meat to each
of his companions and to Chicma. Then he sat down to munch slowly the
strip he had kept for himself.

Jan bit into his and found it tough and of a disagreeable flavor. It was
tapir meat, hastily cured, and not only had a smoky taste but was
rancid. Observing, however, that the Indian devoured his with gusto and
that Borno tore off huge mouthfuls with his large white teeth and chewed
them with great relish, Jan resolved to eat his whether he liked it or
not. But Chicma merely sniffed at hers, then tossed it aside and waddled
off into the jungle to look for something more to her liking.

As soon as the Indian had eaten, and drunk from the stream, he promptly
stretched out on the ground and went to sleep. Borno followed his
example. But Jan, who had slumbered all night in the boat was neither
tired nor sleepy. He wandered along the bank of the small stream for a
little way, disturbing a number of frogs and turtles, whose splashing
leaps into the water interested him, and hacking off shrubs and water
plants with his newly acquired machete. This was freedom! This was
life, and he gloried in it.

Presently there came a summons from Chicma--the food call. She had found
something good to eat, and was calling her foster-child to come and
share it with her. Interested, but in no great hurry to comply, Jan
wandered off in the general direction of the sound, lopping off lianas,
branches and bits of bark from tree trunks with his new weapon. It was a
fascinating thing, and he wished to become skilled in its use.

Despite his lingering gait, Jan soon arrived within sight of Chicma, who
had found a clump of wild orange trees and was hungrily devouring the
fruit. But he saw something else which brought a low growl from his
throat and caused every hair on his body to stiffen. For, stretched out
on a thick limb, his spotted sides barely rising and falling with his
suppressed breathing, and the tip of his tail twitching nervously, was
Fierce One, the jaguar, apparently about to spring down on the unwary
Chicma, who seemed to have no intimation of his presence.

With a snarl and a cry of warning which Chicma understood, and which
sent her instantly scuttling into a nearby tree, Jan bounded forward.

Surprised and annoyed at this interruption of its hunting, the jaguar
turned and with a roar of rage leaped for the youth. The beast was
lightning quick, but Jan, who had been trained all his life by a jungle
creature, was just a shade quicker. With a slash of his machete at the
hurtling beast, he flung himself to one side, just out of reach of the
raking claws.

The jaguar was swift at recovery, but no swifter than Jan, for as it
whirled for a second spring, he was on his feet, his keen machete ready
for a second cut. In a fleeting instant he saw the result of his
previous haphazard slash at his enemy--a paw half severed and dangling
uselessly.

Then what had previously been but chance and an instinctive movement of
self-protection became a fixed purpose. As the angry brute made its
second leap, Jan slashed the other front paw and nimbly eluded the
snarling bundle of feline fury. The second blow completely crippled the
jaguar's other front paw.

Badly disabled and half disarmed though it was, the fierce beast turned
again and attempted a leap. But it was a clumsy effort, and Jan found it
easy to step to one side and bring his keen weapon down on the back of
the jaguar's neck, severing the vertebrae. With the tenacity of life
shown by all members of the cat family, the doomed beast thrashed about
for some time, then lay still.

Jan stood back, watching the death struggles of his enemy with some
curiosity, alert for a trick. But when the furry form lay quiet, he
cautiously advanced and spurned it with his foot. There was no response.
He seized a hind leg and turned the great beast over. What made it so
limp and helpless? This was the first thing Jan had ever killed, and he
did not fully understand it.

Perhaps Fierce One was sleeping, and would presently awaken to attack
him. Well, let him come. Jan had overcome the awful alligator, the
yellow-bearded man, and now Fierce One. With his tousled red head flung
proudly back, he strutted over into the clump of orange trees in search
of Chicma.

The old chimpanzee was not there, but by calling to her Jan finally got
a reply, far off in the jungle. Chicma would, not come to him, but kept
calling him to come with her--that Fierce One would surely eat him. Jan
only laughed, but he complied, eventually locating the ape at the top of
a tall tree.

"Come down, Chicma," he cried. "Fierce One will not hurt you. He is
sleeping."

"It is a trick. He is only waiting to spring upon us," replied Chicma.
"We must go farther away from him." Then she caught hold of a huge liana
and swung out on it into another tree. By means of the vines and closely
matted branches, she made rapid progress which only an ape can make,
traveling always in a direction away from the orange grove.

Although he could have followed her with ease among the branches and
vines, Jan preferred to walk on the ground. He was filled with pride and
the sense of power.

After they got away from the river bank the undergrowth became less
matted, so walking was comparatively easy. Jan wanted to show these
jungle creatures that he was afraid of none of them.

All day they traveled through the jungle, Chicma fearfully keeping to
the trees while Jan stubbornly remained on the ground. He thoroughly
enjoyed the bright-colored butterflies that flapped through the shafts
of sunlight, and the gayly plumed, raucous-voiced parrots and macaws.

There was a great flock of monkeys, too, who fled to the topmost
branches, chattering vociferously. Jan, who had learned to know and
imitate their simian language since infancy, chattered back at them,
assuring them of his friendship. But they did not trust him. He looked
too much like a man and smelled too much like a jaguar, for the scent of
the great cat's blood was still on his machete and body. The jaguar
skin, too, from which his single garment was fashioned, was a danger
signal to jungle dwellers.

Jan regaled himself with the cloying sweetness and fragile beauty of the
orchids which grew in great profusion and his heart missed a beat when a
huge tapir--much bigger than the jaguar he had killed--came crashing
through the jungle in front of 'him.

It was not until the patches of sunlight no longer penetrated the forest
roof and it began to grow dark that Jan thought of Borno and the Indian,
sleeping on the muddy bank of the little stream.

He had grown fond of his big black friend, and did not want to desert
him. Nor did he want to leave Chicma, who was leading him farther and
farther away from the only human being who had unselfishly befriended
him.

He stopped and shouted to the chimpanzee to wait. But the cry had
scarcely left his lips when something flashed through the forest shadows
striking his left side, and spinning him half around with the force of
its impact.

Jan clutched at the long shaft, wet with his own blood, and broke it
off, gritting his teeth that he might silently bear the pain. Then he
reached behind him for that part which had gone through his flesh, and
jerked it out. But the pain and loss of blood were too great. A
giddiness assailed him, and he sank limply to the ground.

With a whoop of triumph, and machete flashing in his hand ready to
deliver the death-blow, a savage came bounding out of the shadows.



IX. CHICMA'S ATTACK

SITTING on a limb fully fifty feet above Jan's head, Chicma heard his
call and noticed with bewilderment his actions when the arrow struck
him. But when she heard the whoop of the savage, and saw him rushing
toward Jan with upraised knife, her mother instinct came to the fore.
With a snarl of rage, she swung down from the limb on which she had been
sitting, and timed her drop with such precision that she landed on the
Indian before he could reach his intended victim.

Knocked off his feet by the impact of the hairy body of the ape, the
Indian fell on his face, dropping both his machete and his longbow. For
a moment he lay there, half stunned and breathless. Then Chicma sank her
huge teeth into his neck. The pain brought him to his senses, and he
groped for his weapons. Failing to find them; he stood up and shook
himself with the ape still clinging to him like a bloodthirsty octopus.

Watching the struggle of the two as through a dim haze, Jan made several
attempts to rise, but each time fell back because of the giddiness
induced by his wound. It was not until he saw the Indian stoop and reach
for his machete that he was able to get to his feet.

His keen weapon recovered, the savage made a slash at Chicma's head. She
dodged, and he was about to swing for her again when he saw Jan facing
him, similarly armed. With lightning swiftness he struck for the youth's
neck, a blow so powerful that it would have severed his head from his
body. But Jan was faster than the savage, even though giddy. Avoiding
the deadly blow by a quick step backward, he leaped in before the red
man could recover. Jan's machete flashed once, and the Indian's hand,
still clutching his weapon, flew into the undergrowth. Jan's blade
flashed a second time and the savage fell to the ground with a fatal
body wound, and died almost at once.

Jan gathered up the weapons of his fallen foe: a bow, a bundle of
arrows, and a machete with belt and case. Then he and Chicma proceeded
on through the forest. His wound was very painful, but not dangerous as
the arrow had passed only through the muscles beneath his left arm
without injuring any vital organs. When darkness came on, with the
suddenness of the tropics, they perched themselves, supperless, in a
tall tree for the night.

Rising with the sun the youth and the ape set out in search of breakfast
and a drink of water. But it was not until half the day had passed that
they found either. Then, suddenly emerging from the depths of the
tangled jungle, they came upon both in satisfying abundance. They found
themselves on the bank of a tiny stream, the water of which was clear
and cold. Growing on both banks of this stream in profusion were
oranges, pineapples and bananas.

Having drunk their fill of the sparkling water and satisfied their
appetites with the fruit, they proceeded along the bank of the little
stream. They had not gone far before Jan heard, ahead of them, a strange
noise that made him uneasy. He looked quickly at Chicma to see if it had
alarmed her, but she plodded along so unconcernedly that he decided it
could not be anything of consequence.

The noise grew louder as they proceeded, until they came to a sheer
cliff of bare rock towering more than two thousand feet above the
jungle. Emerging from a hole in this rock about fifty feet above the
level of the stream, was a small waterfall. Clear and limpid as crystal,
it tumbled almost vertically into an oval pool.

Jan gasped with admiration at the beauty of this scene. He tried to
explain his feelings to Chicma, but being tired and sleepy she only
grunted and climbed a tall tree beside the pool to find a comfortable
crotch for a nap. To her this was merely a place where food and drink
might be had in abundance. Until the food gave out or the place became
too dangerous here she would remain.

While Chicma took her nap, Jan practiced with his new weapons. While a
prisoner of the hunters, he had often seen them use the bent stick with
the string stretched across it. He found however, that it was far from
being as easy as it looked. The bow was stiff, requiring all his
strength to bend it, and the arrows seemed to strike anywhere but the
place intended.

With the passing days, however, he mastered the weapon, though he had
lost or broken most of his arrows in the meantime.

Chicma spent the greater part of her time dozing in the tree, only
coming down for food or water, but Jan, always searching for something
new, roamed away from the pool every day. For a long time he subsisted
only on fruit, as did the ape, but growing within him, day by day, was
the desire for meat, his favorite food.

One day he brought down a curassow with one of his arrows. Curious he
cut into it with his machete. A slab of the turkey-like breast meat came
away, and Jan, who had never tasted other than raw meat before his
escape from Dr. Bracken, sampled it. Finding it good, he cut away and
ate as much as he wanted, then took the rest back to the pool with him,
hanging it in the tree to keep. But in the morning when he awoke,
ravenous after his long sleep, he found it swarming with little white
worms and giving forth an abominable stench. Disgusted, he hurled it far
out into the jungle, and set forth after new meat.

The first animal to cross his path was an ocelot, the beautiful markings
of which gave him the impression that its flesh must be delicious.
Having wounded it with an arrow, he foolishly rushed to close quarters
to finish it with his machete. But the fierce tiger cat, sorely wounded
though it was, gave him a terrific battle, from which he did not fully
recover for two weeks. And its meat, he found, was not nearly so good to
eat as that of the dingy-colored curassow.

Day by day the youth learned the lessons that the jungle had to teach
him. He learned to hunt with the silence and cunning of the jaguar, to
travel among the branches and vines with the ease and facility of the
monkeys, or to speed along the forest floor with the swiftness of the
deer and the stealth of the panther.

Man, he found, was his natural enemy, and after several encounters in
which he barely escaped with his life, he took to stalking the savages
as he would jaguars or ocelots. Only a few escaped with their lives to
tell of a red-headed jungle demon, half man, half jaguar, that shot at
them from the trees and made off through the branches as easily as a
monkey.

After two years he had not only learned many of the hardest lessons
which the jungle has to teach, but had accumulated a small arsenal of
weapons taken from the savages he had slain. There were a score of bows,
more than a hundred arrows, a dozen long spears, five blow-guns with
their deadly poison-tipped darts, and a miscellaneous assortment of
steel and stone axes, machetes, knives, ornaments and trappings.

He had watched the birds building their nests and the natives their
huts; and the idea had come to him to combine the two in the big tree
in which he and Chicma slept. It proved a hard task indeed for his
untutored hands, but after nearly a month of trials and tearings down,
he completed a round, compact, rainproof tree-hut about fifty feet above
the ground, divided into two parts by a rude partition. On the floor of
each "room" he made a nest of soft grass. The hut proved snug and dry,
even during the heaviest of the tropical rains.

In this hut he kept his weapons, ornaments and other treasures--bits of
bright stone that he had picked up, teeth, claws, and sometimes bones of
animals he had slain, bright feathers and plumes from the birds he had
brought down, and a few odorous, badly cured hides.

Very often he bored Chicma by repeating the human words which Borno had
taught him.

All this time he felt stirrings and yearnings for which he could not
account. He was not content to make short journeys from the hut,
returning at nightfall; but took to wandering farther and farther away,
sleeping in the trees at night. He was always discontented--searching for
something, he knew not what, but always searching, always going farther
and remaining away longer.

One morning when he was four days' journey from the hut, he suddenly
emerged from the jungle into a grove of trees that appeared most strange
and unnatural to him. They grew in straight rows, evenly spaced almost
to the very edge of a broad river. There was little undergrowth beneath
them, and no rope-like lianas were draped among their branches.

Jan was puzzled. Stealthily he moved forward among the slender, straight
trunks to investigate this unusual place. But he had not gone more than
a few steps before he saw something that caused him to stop and hastily
dodge behind one of the tree trunks. To Jan, all strange humans were
enemies, and he instinctively fitted a long arrow to his bowstring. But
as he gazed at the creature coming toward him, something held his hand.
This being was unlike any he had ever seen before and more lovely than
the fairest jungle flower that had ever charmed his innate sense of
beauty.

He gazed, spellbound, while the wonderous creature sat down on the moss
beneath one of the trees, and leaning against it, opened what he thought
was a basket of white leaves on which there were many strange little
black tracks. Curious as he was about the basket with white leaves, he
could not keep his eyes off the face above it. The being had dark-brown
hair, as curly as Jan's own, tumbling just below the nape of a
snow-white neck. The big brown eyes were half-veiled by the long,
curling lashes, pink cheeks, and a tiny red mouth.

This creature, Jan thought, looked altogether too fragile to be
dangerous and was, moreover, too beautiful to be destroyed. He relaxed
his bowstring and was about to lower his arrow, when he suddenly caught
sight of something which caused him to bring the arrow quickly back to
the firing position. It was the flash, through a brilliant patch of
sunlight, of a tawny, stealthily moving creature, larger than a jaguar
and more formidable. The only beast in the menagerie which had resembled
it was Terrible One, the lion, so Jan instinctively thought of it in
those terms.

As the puma, a giant of his species, crept closer and closer, Jan, who
had watched the hunting of these great cats many times in the jungle,
became aware that it was stalking the lovely human he had been admiring.
He could see the tip of the long, yellow tail twitching, the mighty
muscles preparing for the swift charge which even the fastest of the
jungle creatures seldom escapes. Jan foresaw the outcome--a lightning
leap, a rending, bone-crushing blow from the huge paw, a crunch of the
mighty jaws, and a limp and bloody victim being dragged away to some
jungle lair to be devoured.

Many times Jan had seen these great cats bring down their prey, and
never had he intervened to save the victim. But this victim was
different. He could not bear to see that beauty marred--that frail body
mangled and bleeding. Drawing the arrow back with all his strength, he
took careful aim at the tawny shoulder, and let fly.

The arrow flew true to the mark, and the great carnivore, with a
terrific roar of rage and pain, sprang out of its hiding place, straight
for the girl it had marked for its prey.

But quick as was the puma, Jan was there before it, barring the way. His
bow and arrows he had tossed aside, and his keen machete gleamed in his
hand. Snarling furiously, the immense beast reared up on its hind
legs--taller by a head than Jan--and slapped at him with a mighty paw. Jan
dodged to one side, nearly severing the paw with his machete as he did
so; and he would have been temporarily out of danger in another instant,
had not his toe caught on a root, sending him sprawling.

Before he could make another move the puma pounced upon him, sinking
its great teeth into his left shoulder, shaking him as a cat shakes a
mouse, and raking and gouging him with its terrible, sickle-like claws.

The youth felt his strength waning fast. He tried to use big machete,
but his efforts seemed feeble, futile. He hacked at the side of the
monster's head again and again, cutting off an ear, blinding an eye,
leaving nothing on one side but a bloody mass of mangled flesh and bone.
But the powerful jaws would not relax their hold. The bulging; muscular
neck continued to pivot that gory head as it swiftly shook Jan's limp
body.

Jan had reached the limit of human endurance. It seemed to him that a
great weight was crushing him, forcing the breath from his body. His
machete dropped from his nerveless fingers, and merciful unconsciousness
crept over him.



X. OUTSIDE THE WALLS

AT SIXTEEN Ramona Suarez was still something of a tomboy. She loved to
mingle with the dark-skinned children and mongrel dogs of the laborers
on her father's great rubber plantation. She took great delight in
climbing trees, scaling walls and exploring thickets, to the despair of

her doting old duenna, Senora Soledade. Her duenna scolded her, her
mother, Dona Isabella, tried to reason with her, and her father, Don
Fernando, who secretly chuckled over her escapades, tried to look stern
when required to lecture her.

But they might as profitably have scolded the wind, reasoned with the
rain cloud, or lectured the lightning. Ramona would listen dutifully,
then, with a flash of white teeth and a shake of her dark brown
ringlets; would romp away to hatch up some new deviltry.

Senora Soledade, corpulent and dignified, was of the opinion that the
big patio, with its flowers shrubs and trees, winding walks; vine-clad
arbors and bubbling fountains, was a large enough world for any girl.
Charged with the duty of keeping Ramona always in sight, and taking the
task in all seriousness, she was really able to do so only about half
the time.

One day the old duenna was seated in the shade of an arbor in the patio,
working on a bit of lace, and Ramona was busily engaged beneath a nearby
orange tree with her English tutor, Arthur Morrison. Quite positive that
her charge would not get away so long as the tutor was about, and drowsy
from the mounting heat, the senora settled back comfortably in her
chair, and with her hands folded over her ample equator, dozed.

But scarcely had she fallen asleep when the tutor, with a final charge
to his pupil to study diligently, strolled away.

Ramona waited slyly until the tutor had entered the house. Then she
peeked at the old lady, and saw that the coast was clear. Leaving her
text-books, pencils and rulers beneath the orange tree, she picked up
one of her favorite story books and climbed the tree.

At first it had been Ramona's intention to read the book in the tree,
thus dumfounding the duenna when she should awaken; yet one side of the
tree overhung the patio wall, giving her a new idea. Softly she let
herself down from a branch to the top of the wall, then, with the book
gripped between her teeth, suspended herself by her hands on the other
side, and dropped. She had attained the freedom she craved and she meant
to make the most of it.

Tucking the book under her arm, she wandered off between the tall
straight trunks of one of her father's young rubber groves until she
came to the river bank. Then she sat down, leaned against a tree, and
immersed herself in her book.

Ramona was an avid reader, and soon forgot her surroundings. But she was
brought sharply back to reality by two sounds, one following the other
in rapid succession: the twang of a bow-string and the roar of a
mountain lion. For a moment she was paralyzed with fear and in that
moment the great beast charged:

But quick as the puma had been, there was one who was quicker. Ramona
was conscious for an instant of the lithe, auburn-haired youth who put
himself between her and the charging death. Then for a moment things
happened so swiftly that she could scarcely follow them--the roaring
beast, the youth's swift and skillful slash that crippled one of the
great paws, and his leap for safety, blocked by the projecting root.

The girl uttered a single, piercing scream as she saw her champion go
down. Then she leaped to her feet, undecided for a moment whether to run
for help or go to the assistance of her champion. She decided on the
latter course, and looked around for a weapon.

Jan's bow and arrows lay where he had thrown them, and she caught them
up. Fitting an arrow to the string, she aimed it at the heaving flank of
the puma, and pulled. But the hardwood bow was very stiff, and even
though Ramona exerted her utmost strength she could only draw the arrow
back a few inches. As a result, it barely penetrated the tough skin with
little more effect than the bite of a fly.

Seeing the futility of that, Ramona struck at the puma with the heavy
bow. But here, again her strength was not great enough to distract the
attention of the huge feline. What could she do to save this handsome
knight of the jungle who had come so gallantly to her rescue?

She knew that house-cats become greatly annoyed when their tails are
pulled. Perhaps this also applied to the big cats of the jungle. She
could only try.

Springing around to the rear, she seized the long tail with both hands,
braced her feet, and pulled. At this instant, the snarling of the beast
was stilled. She saw the machete fall from Jan's fingers-saw him go limp
at the same moment that the puma, a final shiver running through its
frame, sank heavily down on his senseless body.

Ramona leaped to one side and pulled. Gradually she was able to drag the
great beast off the prostrate form of her champion. But the sharp teeth
were still clamped into the bloody and lacerated shoulder. Picking up
the machete, she pried the jaws apart.

Tenderly she raised the youth's head, placed it in her lap, and with her
tiny handkerchief attempted to wipe away the blood. But the little
square of lace proved quite inadequate, and she threw it away, soaked
with blood, before more than a small part of one cheek had been
cleansed.

The river was only about twenty feet away. Gently lowering his head from
her lap, she dragged him to the water's edge. She ripped a panel of
cloth from her white frock, and dipping it in the water, proceeded to
bathe his face and wounded shoulder.

The cold water and the pressure of the cloth on Jan's wounds brought him
to his senses. The blinding pain made him think for a moment that he was
still in the grip of the puma. He tried to escape. Springing erect he
knocked his little nurse flat in the mud.

For a moment he stood there, staring wildly down at her, while she gazed
back in wide-eyed wonder and alarm. Then she smiled, a wistful little
smile, and Jan, who in all the jungle had found no friends save Chicma
and Borno, knew that he had found another.

He wanted to say something to her. But what? And how? It would be
useless to bark at her in the chimpanzee language. He had tried that
unsuccessfully on Borno and other humans. And the few words which Borno
had taught him had quite vague meanings for him. However, they were
human words, and this creature was undoubtedly human.

"I spik ze Engleesh," he announced, with Borno's accent, intently
watching to see what effect his words would have.

She smiled again, and sprang lightly to her feet.

"I speak it, too," she said. "My name is Ramona."

"My name Jan," he replied, and added naively, "Jan like you."

Before the girl, could reply the shrill voice of Senora Soledade called:

"Ramona!"

"Si, senora," she replied.

"Come here this instant!" was the command in Spanish, which of course
Jan did not understand.

"I must go now, Jan. Goodby," said Ramona, and ran through the grove in
the direction from which the voice had come.

Jan watched her until she disappeared from view. Then, with strange
reluctance, he picked up his machete and his bow and arrows, and plunged
off into the jungle. His wounds were very painful, especially his
mangled shoulder. He must get to Chicma as soon as possible. She would
lick them and make them well after the manner of ape mothers, as she had
often licked the bloody welts inflicted by Cruel One, the doctor. But he
was not thinking of his wounds.

It had taken him only four days to reach the rubber plantation from
their tree-hut, but that was when he was well and strong. Wounded and
weakened by loss of blood, he was six days in making the return journey.
By this time his wounds had closed and although they were still quite
painful, Chicma showed no interest in them.

Recalling the soothing effect of the water with which Ramona had bathed
his hurts he left the chimpanzee dozing in the tree-hut, and
descending, waded into the pool beneath the waterfall. The cold water
allayed the fever, and he paddled about for some time in the manner of a
young puppy.

For two more weeks he divided his time between the tree-hut and the
pool, doing no hunting, and living--on the fruits that abounded in, this
earthly paradise. One day, as he was paddling and splashing in the
water, he discovered that by moving his hands and feet in a certain way
he could keep afloat. Thrilled by this discovery, he tried again and
again, until he was able to swim about the pool at will.

Interested in this new sport, he began to watch the manner in which
other creatures of the jungle swam, and to imitate them. The four-legged
animals, he noticed swam as he did, but the frogs did it in quite a
different fashion. It was some time before he was able to duplicate
their kicking stroke, but he mastered it eventually.

The frogs, he decided, were the really expert water creatures, and he
attempted to imitate them further by entering the water as they did. His
first dive was not a pronounced success, as forgetting his lesson on the
ocean, he made the mistake of trying to breathe beneath the surface.
Half-strangled, he quickly paddled to shore, and having coughed up most
of the water, decided to try again.

It was not long before he learned to hold his breath and dive with the
swift skill of the amphibians.

At first he only dived off the bank of the pool, but later he began
practicing dives from higher points--a projecting ledge of rock, an
overhanging limb. Once his foot slipped and he fell from a considerable
height, alighting flat with a loud smack that all but knocked the wind
from him. This taught him that the water could be very soft or very
hard, according to the way one fell. After that, he took care to cleave
it cleanly and gracefully.

One day, when his wounds were healed and he was beginning to feel the
urge of the jungle trails, he dived from one of the lower boughs of the
tree in which his hut was situated. The force of the dive carried him
clear up behind the curtain of tumbling waters--a place he had not
previously explored. He drew himself up onto a jagged, rocky ledge and
sat there for some time, listening to the roar of the falls and admiring
the thin sheet of water with the faint light filtering through it.

Presently, as his eyes became accustomed to the dim light of the place,
he made out, high above him, two figures so strikingly manlike in form
that he started and involuntarily clutched the hilt of his sheathed
machete--without which he seldom ventured anywhere. In a moment he saw
that they were not men, but harmless images of stone with manlike bodies
and grotesque faces, one of which resembled that of a hawk, and the
other that of a dog. He also noticed that leading up the face of the
cliff to the ledge on which they stood, were a number of notches cut
deeply into the stone.

Springing to his feet, he climbed rapidly upward by means of the
notches, and drew himself up on the ledge. Here a new surprise awaited
him, for he saw that the two grotesque statues guarded the mouth of a
dark passageway which extended into the solid rock beneath the
waterfall.

His curiosity aroused, Jan cautiously entered the passageway. It led
straight into the cliff for about fifteen feet, then veered to the right
and upward. As soon as he made the turn, he was in total darkness and
was compelled to grope his way forward.

The passageway leveled out, presently, and turned sharply to the left.

Still groping in inky blackness, Jan discovered, by the murmur of water
beside the pathway, that he was walking on the bank of an underground
stream. A walk of about ten minutes brought him to a point where dim
light filtered into the cavern. It came from just above the surface of
the water, where the cavern roof dipped, arching over it at a height of
only a few inches. Here the path he had been following led straight into
the water.

Jan paused here for a moment undecided whether to go on or to retrace
his steps. But his insatiable curiosity won out and he waded into the
water. The bank sloped steeply, and he was soon swimming against the
swift current.

When he reached the point from which the light emanated he was forced to
turn on his back in order to keep his nose above water, because of the
narrow space between the cavern roof and the surface of the stream.

Suddenly he shot out into the bright sunlight. Turning over, he looked
about him and saw that he was in the middle of a narrow river, which
apparently flowed straight into the solid rock. A few swift strokes took
him to shore. He climbed the high bank, and when he reached the top,
stopped in sudden amazement at what he saw. For he stood before the
ruins of an immense building, the remaining walls of which were covered
with gigantic bas-reliefs depicting strange, angular-looking human
beings, some with heads like birds or animals, some with beards that
reminded him of the detested Dr. Bracken, and some with not unhandsome
human features. They seemed to be engaged in fighting each other, or in
hunting strange beasts or birds.

Some of the tall columns of the facade were still standing, supporting
fragments of ornamental cornices. Others had fallen and broken into
cylindrical sections.

Guarding the portal of this strange edifice, on either side, were two
colossal statues with bodies that were human in form, but one had a face
like a hawk's and the other like that of a dog. They resembled the two
statues he had seen beneath the waterfall, but were much larger.

Leading to this portal were the remains of a paved avenue now broken and
weed-grown. Along each side of this highway was a row of pedestals, on
some of which stood statues of grotesque monster, half beast, half
human. Others had fallen or been overturned, and their cracked and
shattered fragments were strewn about among the weeds and broken
fragments of paving slabs.

Thrilled with awe and wonder at these strange sights, Jan was slowly
advancing toward the portal when he caught the guarded movement of
something creeping toward him in the undergrowth at his right. He
whipped out his machete and paused, watching breathlessly. Then he saw
another movement as something passed through the undergrowth on his
left.

Suddenly two great shaggy creatures bounded out onto the sparsely grown
avenue and closed in on him. They were manlike and yet apelike in form
with long bushy beards and hairy bodies. One brandished a huge club
menacingly, while the other hurled a large rock fragment straight at the
boy's head.

Jan managed to dodge the missile, and turned to flee. But he had not
taken more than a dozen leaps when a third hairy monster sprang in front
of him, barring his progress, and swung for his head with a heavy
cudgel.



XI. THE JUNGLE DEMON

WHEN SHE SAW the bedraggled and blood-soaked condition of her charge,
Ramona's old duenna threw up her hands and shrieked in holy terror.
Ramona's dress was smeared with mud in the back and with blood in front
The cloth which she had ripped away to use for binding Jan's wounds left
a rent that exposed the peach-tinted silk clinging to her trim little
figure, which was also considerably spotted with gore.

Don Fernando, who had been walking in the patio nearby, smoking one of
his long, slim cigars, came dashing up just as Senora Soledade swooned
away.

"Carramba!" he exclaimed, dropping his cigar and catching Ramona in his
arms, to the detriment of his immaculate white suit. "Tell me what has
happened, my little one! Where are you hurt?"

"I'm not hurt, daddy," replied Ramona, "but Senora Soledade has
fainted."

"Not hurt! But this blood! These soiled, torn clothes! I don't
understand!"

"It is not my blood, daddy. It's Jan's. He saved me from the puma."

"Madre de Dios! Jan? The puma? What is all this? Tell me, quickly, or I,
too, shall collapse!"

"But first let us attend the senora."

At this moment, Senora Soledade sat up and gazed wildly about her.

Don Fernando stood his daughter on her feet, and gallantly hurried
forward to help the old lady. But when she saw the blood on his white
suit she shrieked, and seemed about to swoon again.

"Come, come," he said. "Be brave. Ramona is all right and so am I."

"But the blood! The--"

"There, there!"

He piloted her gently through the patio gate, seated her on a bench, and
returned.

"Now child," he said. "This puma. This Jan. Tell me about them."

"Come with me and I'll show you the puma," she answered. "It's dead."

She related the story of her adventure to her father, as she led him to
where the dead carnivore lay. Don Fernando listened gravely to her
story, and examined the fallen feline with interest.

"A giant of its kind, that beast," he said. "A terrible foe. And you say
it was slain by a mere boy?"

"I didn't say a mere boy," replied Ramona reprovingly. "He was
magnificent."

"Yes, of course my little one. A gallant knight who came to your rescue.
But for him I would have lost you." He threw his arm around her and drew
her close. "I wish I could reward him."

"And why can't you?"

"Your description of him... Do you know who he is?"

"To be sure. He is Jan. He told me so."

"Yes, but your description of him: red hair, a garment of jaguar skin.
He is the wild boy who has slain so many natives during the past two
years. Many strange tales have been told about him. When first seen he
had two companions--a giant black man and a great hairy ape. Both of
these wore jaguar-skin garments, also. They terrorized a small Indian
community, killing several. Since then the boy has been seen once or
twice with the great ape, but mostly he travels alone. No one knows what
has become of the black giant. Do you know what they call this boy?"

"No."

"They call him the jungle Demon. Some say he is half man, half jaguar.
He travels with equal facility on the ground or through the tree tops.
When an Indian is found dead, stripped of his weapons and ornaments,
they say: 'It is the jungle Demon again.' He is more fierce, more
terrible and more dangerous than the puma he has slain. All men are his
enemies."

"But he said he liked me."

"Carramba! Did he? Then promise me this: that you will never leave the
house or patio again unless I or one of the men go with you, armed. Some
day he will come to steal you--to carry you off to his jungle lair to a
horrible fate. It would be a terrible blow to your mother and me, and to
poor old Senora Soledade. Won't you do this much for us? Won't you
promise?"

Don Fernando had long since learned that threats or commands meant
nothing to Ramona, but that she could be appealed to in a reasonable
manner, and that if she made a promise, that promise would be carried
out.

"I don't know, daddy," she answered. "I so love to get away by myself
once in a while."

"Yes, I know. But think of the danger. And think of your mother and
father, and of your old duenna, who loves you."

"All right, daddy, I'll promise."

And so they went into the patio, arm in arm.

As the first man-monster of the ruined temple struck at him with his
cudgel, Jan, who had often dodged the swift blow of a jaguar's paw,
easily eluded his clumsy swing. The force of the blow turned the hairy
one part way around. Jan leaped in and dealt him a blow on the back of
his neck with the keen machete. The monster fell on his face without a
sound, his spinal column severed by the sharp blade.

With savage yells the other two closed in to avenge their fallen
comrade, but Jan was already running swiftly toward the river.

Sheathing his weapon, he sprang from the top of the bank, in a long,
graceful dive. He swam frog-like beneath the surface until a shadow
above him told him that he had entered the underground channel. Then he
arose and, turning on his back, inhaled the welcome air.

As he drew himself up on the bank in the semidarkness, he hesitated for
a moment. These men were deadly enemies. Being bearded like Dr. Bracken
and the brutal Jake Grubb on the ship, they were doubly hateful. He
wanted to go back--to stalk and slay them.

But the jungle, his jungle, was calling. Already he was longing to swing
through its sun-dappled branches and lianas again, and tread the soft
leaf mold in its deeper shadows. And beyond the jungle was a beautiful
being--Ramona.

Jan groped his way back to the falls. Then he descended the notched cut
in the cliff, dived through the curtain of water into the pool, and came
up beneath his tree-hut. Shaking the water from his glistening body, he
climbed up and found Chicma dozing peacefully in her compartment. She
gave a little grunt of greeting as he looked in, then went to sleep once
more.

As time went on she had been paying less and less attention to his
comings and goings. No longer did she romp with him in mimic combat, or
play at tag with him through the tree tops. She liked her soft nest, and
rarely left it except when urged by hunger or thirst. Chicma was getting
very old.

Jan took up his favorite bow and a well-filled quiver of arrows, and
left. As he plunged into his jungle, it was good to feel the soft leaf
mold under his bare feet, the cool leaves brushing against his face and
body.

He was meat-hungry, and his archery soon won him an unwary curassow.
Having eaten, he hurried onward with a fixed purpose--to reach; as soon
as possible, the place where he had found Ramona. With Borno gone and
Chicma become grouchy and unsociable, he longed for the companionship of
a friend. And Ramona was the only other living creature who had shown
friendship for him.

She attracted him, too, in a different way from the others. At thought
of her his pulse would quicken in a manner quite impossible to explain.

He shortened what had been a four-day journey to three. Arriving at the
edge of Don Fernando's grove of young rubber trees, he hurried to the
place where he had last seen her. But he found only the gnawed bones of
the puma.

Recalling the direction in which she had gone when called, he went that
way and eventually arrived at the patio gate. It was made from heavy
planks which fitted a high-arched gateway. He looked through a crack
between two planks and saw the object of his quest, seated beneath a
tree and holding before her the basket of white leaves with little black
tracks on them.

Jan knew nothing of the mechanism of the gate, and the smooth, plastered
surface of the high patio wall offered no opportunity for a finger hold,
but he observed that a branch of the tree under which the girl was
sitting overhung the wall near a branch of a rubber tree outside. This
made a clear path for the jungle-trained Jan.

Hearing a slight sound in the tree above her, Ramona was about to cry
out in fear, but she stifled the sound when her knight-errant dropped
softly beside her.

"Jan!" she whispered. "You startled me!

"Come see you," he responded. "Jan like you."

"Shh! Not so loud. You will wake my duenna."

"Jan don' understan'," he said, imitating her low tones.

She rose, and drew aside the branch of a bushy shrub, one of a clump.
Just behind it he saw a short and very round woman in black, seated in a
gaudily striped lawn chair with her hands folded in her lap, snoring
quite audibly. The thought flashed to his mind that this must be some
deadly enemy of Ramona's. With a low growl he whipped his bow and arrow
from the quiver, and took quick aim at the old lady.

The horrified girl caught his hand.

"No, no! You must not hurt her! She is my friend. She loves me. But she
must not know that you are here with me."

Puzzled, the youth replaced bow and arrow in his quiver.

"Jan try understan'," he whispered.

She laid a hand on his arm.

"Sit here beside me," she said, "so you will not be seen. Then, if we
talk quietly, no one will know that you are here, and perhaps you may
come again."

They talked for nearly half an hour, Jan asking questions in his limited
broken English aided by the universal language of signs and Ramona
trying to explain things to him. He asked her about the little basket of
white leaves covered with many black tracks, and she told him the little
tracks talked to her. She told him the basket was called a "book," and
that the tracks were called "letters," while groups of tracks were
called "words."

At the end of a half hour Ramona said:

"You must go now, Jan. As soon as Senora Soledade finishes her siesta
she will look for me and I don't want her to see you. Come tomorrow at
this time, and I will be here."

Jan left without protest, going over the wall as he had come. Once in
the jungle, he shot a peccary, ate his fill, drank deeply at the river,
and crept beneath the roots of a ceiba to dream of a pair of lustrous
brown eyes.

And Ramona, having sent him away, was thrilled by her power over this
handsome youth who, though he was a mighty slayer of fierce beasts and
savage men, obeyed her lightest request without question.



XII. IN A SERPENT'S COILS

ON THE following day, and for many days thereafter, Jan met Ramona
beneath the tree in the garden. As she had made it plain that she did
not want these meetings known, he always came and went with the utmost
caution. The hollow beneath the roots of the ceiba tree became his home.
The fruit and game of the nearby jungle supplied him with ample food.

On the second day, Don Fernando, walking in the patio with his spotless
white suit and smoking his long, slim cigar, had a narrow escape from
death when Ramona stopped Jan just in time as he was preparing to launch
an arrow. Gradually she was able to make him understand, how dear her
father, mother and duenna were to her, and that her tutor and the
servants were friends who must not be slain or injured.

Much of the time she spent in tutoring him. Jan was an eager pupil, and
mastered the alphabet in a few days. Then he tackled an English reader.
Ramona's parents, having been educated in the United States, she was
able to correct Jan's accent.

He was particularly interested in her books on natural history. Many
animals he recognized at once by their pictures, having seen them in the
jungle. He marveled at the pictures of the mighty prehistoric monsters,
saying he wished he could meet and overcome some of them in battle. He
was quite disappointed when Ramona told him they were all dead.

Jan was greatly attracted, too, by Ramona's writing and drawing
materials. For many days, he watched her sketch. Then, one day, she gave
him pencil, paper, and drawing board, and found that, without training,
he could do almost as well as she. His greatest delight was to copy the
pictures in the natural history books, labeling each sketch with its
correct name which, having once learned, he never forgot.

Each day Jan brought some offering from the jungle for his little
goddess. He sought out the rarest orchids and the most luscious fruits
and berries. Once, after an encounter with a Carib native, he brought
her a necklace of jaguar teeth. But she did not dare to keep it, much to
his disappointment.

Jan noticed that she had in the palm of her right hand, a blue tracing
of a many-petaled flower. One day, with pen and ink, he traced a similar
flower in his own palm. But to his surprise, the ink soon rubbed off. He
tried to find out what made hers stay, but she, didn't know. The mark
had been there always--as long as she could remember.

One afternoon Jan was drawing, using a sharp, flexible pen and India
ink, when he accidentally pricked his finger. The next morning he
noticed a little blue spot where the wound had been. When, after a lapse
of several days, the spot remained, he began to trace a blue flower in
his own palm in this manner. The work took some time, and cost him a
sore hand for a while, but he ended by having a permanent tattoo mark
almost identical with that of Ramona, and was delighted with the result.

As soon as he had learned sufficient English, Jan told Ramona about his
early life in the menagerie, and of Dr. Bracken, whom he called "Cruel
One." He was amazed and deeply relieved when Ramona told him that it was
impossible for Chicma to have been his mother. He often wondered after
that what his real mother was like, and if he would ever see her.

For more than two months, Jan lived beneath the ceiba near the
plantation, watching the rubber workers, the house servants, and
Ramona's parents and friends, and stealing in to see her at every
opportunity.

To Ramona these secret meetings with her jungle hero were delightfully
romantic. She felt a little remorseful about them at first, knowing that
her parents would not approve. But she had only promised her father that
she would not leave the house or the patio alone, and this promise was
being carried out to the letter.

When she had progressed sufficiently with her studies, her parents
planned to send her to the United States, then to Europe, to complete
her education. At the end of the two-month period of Jan's stay the time
for her departure was near at hand. He noticed a change in her and asked
what was wrong, but she would not tell him until the last day.

As she was helping him with his reading lesson, a tear suddenly splashed
on the page. Jan looked at her in surprise.

"What is the matter?" he asked. "Why do you cry?"

"I'm going away for a long time," she said. "I may never see you again."

"If you go away I will follow," he replied.

"You must not try to follow," she said. "You could only go along for a
little way, anyhow. First we will travel down the river in some of my
father's small boats. We will go around the rapids, several of them, the
Indians carrying the boats and luggage. Then we will take a small
steamer. This steamer will carry us to a seaport where we will take a
bigger one that will take us across the ocean, far, far from here. Many
thousands of miles."

"But won't you come back?"

"I hope to, some day. But it will be a long time."

"I will wait and watch for you," said Jan.

He stood up and slung his quiver over his shoulder. There was a heavy
weight in his breast, and something was choking him.

Suddenly Ramona stood on tiptoes, threw her arms around his neck and
kissed him.

"Goodby," she whispered. "Wait for me, and I'll wait for you."

Then she darted off through the shrubbery, light-footed as a young deer.

To Jan, who had never before been kissed, who had not known there was
such a thing, it was a most astounding and pleasant experience. For a
moment he stood in a daze, gazing after the fleeing girl. Then he
scampered up the tree, swung out on the limb, and dropped to the ground
beyond the patio wall.

At last his preoccupied mind thought of Chicma, and he felt a twinge of
remorse at having neglected her so long. No knowing what might have
happened to her. Plunging into the jungle, he resolved to go straight to
his tree-hut. Never before had he been separated from Chicma for so
long, and though the old comradeship had dwindled, he could never forget
the tender care she had given him, nor the many romps they had taken
together. He was very sad and lonely, and his mind was filled with
gloomy forebodings.

As fast as he had hurried away from the hut, he hurried back.

Late in the afternoon of the third day, he reached his objective. He
peered into the hut and called softly in the language of the
chimpanzees.

There was no answer. The hut was deserted.

Alarmed, he swung out on one of the upper limbs and called again, as
loudly as he could shout.

He was surprised and delighted when the answer came back from almost
directly beneath him. Chicma was waddling unconcernedly along the edge
of the pool, eating a banana. Then Jan saw a sight that changed his cry
of delight to a low, scarcely audible growl.

Swimming swiftly across the pool in the peculiar, zigzag manner of
serpents was an immense anaconda. There was no mistaking its purpose.
With its massive head swaying on its arched neck, and forked tongue
darting from between its scaly lips, it swam straight for Chicma.

Jan shouted a warning, but too late.

For a moment the great head poised above the cringing ape. Then the jaws
with their cruel, back-curved fangs, gaped wide and the serpent struck.



XIII. DR. BRACKEN'S CLUE

DR. BRACKEN knew, when he saw that Jan and Chicma had been carried off
on a Venezuelan schooner, that his elaborate plans for revenge had been
delayed. He would not admit that they had been defeated. He had always
been a man of fixed purpose, and now his determination became so strong
that nothing short of death itself could have stopped him.

Back in his office after his fruitless tramp through the swamp, he sat
with his feet on his desk, smoking innumerable black stogies and
scheming.

At first he thought of taking a steamer for Venezuela and checking up on
the arrivals there. But his African trip and some unlucky stock ventures
had reduced his fortune to a few thousand dollars, and his professional
income had dwindled to scarcely more than a pittance. A trip to South
America would be expensive, and perhaps fruitless, as the schooner might
have visited and left any one of a hundred other ports before he could
reach it. Then, too, Chicma might have died at sea, for chimpanzees have
delicate constitutions. In that case it would be almost impossible to
trace Jan.

He could look up the names of all schooners sailing under the flag of
Venezuela and write letters of inquiry to their masters, offering a
reward. But this might implicate him in a kidnapping case.

He decided that his best plan would be to run blind advertisements
regularly in the newspapers of Venezuela's chief seaports. So he
inserted notices in all of them twice weekly for several months.

At the end of that time, when no answers had come, he wrote to the
masters of all Venezuelan schooners, using an alias and living in
Jacksonville for the purpose of getting his mail there under the assumed
name. He received courteous replies from every ship's master to whom he
had written, but not one could tell him what he sought to know.

In desperation Dr. Bracken resorted to his original plan, some nine
months after Jan's escape. Selling his menagerie and what securities he
had, he deposited the money in a Tampa bank, obtained letters of credit
and left.

First he called at every United States port on the Gulf of Mexico. Then
he obtained passports and called at every other port on the gulf, the
Bay of Campeche, and the Caribbean Sea. Still unsuccessful, but
unwilling to give up, he circled the entire continent of South America,
spending some time in each port and returning via the Panama Canal.

Nearly three years after Jan's escape, he got back to Citrus Crossing
with his meager fortune dissipated--only to find a letter there,
postmarked "Cumana." With trembling, eager fingers, he opened it and
read in Spanish:

Dear Sir:

Today I bought a bottle of tequila, and the man who sold it to me
wrapped it in an old newspaper. When I unwrapped it later I noticed your
advertisement.

I am the ship's master who captured the ape you mention. With her was a
wild boy with red hair. My ship, the Santa Margarita, was driven out of
her course and sunk by a hurricane. The boy and ape, together with my
first mate, a Haitian Negro, escaped into the jungle.

Having lost my fortune with my ship, and being compelled to earn my
living as a day laborer, I have not had the means to pursue them. But I
have heard rumors of their doings, and could easily locate them for you
if supplied with the money to finance an expedition into the jungle. I
should be delighted to undertake this for a reasonable compensation.

I am, sir, your most humble and obedient servant, CAPTAIN FRANCESCO
SANTOS.

Dr. Bracken thoughtfully stroked his iron-gray beard. Then he lit a
black stogie and sat down, puffing fiercely. Fate, it seemed, had not
only worked against him, but was now laughing at him. For she at last
revealed the one person who could lead him to Jan--but after she had
stripped him of the money needed for going after the boy.

The doctor was not a man to accept defeat, however, even from Fate.
There would be a way to carry on; there must be a way.

Suddenly he slapped his thigh and laughed. An idea had occurred to him
which appealed to his grim sense of humor. By a clever juggling of the
facts he felt sure that Harry Trevor, Jan's father, could be made to pay
all expenses for the expedition, including the doctor's own.

Over in the harbor of Tampa the palatial yacht Georgia A. rode idly at
anchor, awaiting the whim of her master. This and Trevor's millions
would be at his disposal, Dr. Bracken saw with satisfaction.

The Trevors were having tea on their spacious screened veranda when he
drove up.

"Welcome home, doc," said Harry Trevor, genially, rising and extending
his hand as the doctor came in. "Have a pleasant trip?"

"Rather," replied the physician, as they shook hands. "As trips go, it
wasn't half bad."

He released the young millionaire's hand and looked at Georgia Trevor
with an involuntary catch of his breath. If anything, she grew more
beautiful year by year in spite of her great sorrow. She was a trifle
thinner, a little paler than she had been in that bygone time when his
love had turned to hate. But her velvety skin was unmarred by wrinkles,
and the shimmering copper of her hair was still untouched by the
silversmith called Time. Only in her big blue eyes, might one see the
shadow of the tragedy that had all but deprived her of life itself--the
tragedy which, though, she did not suspect, had been brought about by
the man who was now smiling down at her, his white teeth gleaming
against the dark background of his beard.

The doctor advanced and bowed low over her hand.

"I see you have been busy during my absence," he said.

"Busy? Doing what?"

"Growing more beautiful."

She laughed--a little silvery ripple that had an undertone of sadness.

"What'll it be, old man?" asked Trevor. "Tea, or something stronger? My
bootlegger just brought me some excellent Scotch."

"Tea will do, thanks."

He took a seat at the table and watched Georgia as she gracefully poured
the amber beverage. Trevor pushed lemons, sugar and cream before him.

The doctor helped himself to cream and sugar, and stirred his beverage
thoughtfully for a moment. Finally he spoke.

"I don't want you to take it too seriously, yet," he said, "for it is
possible that I am mistaken. However, I believe I have some great news
for you two."

Georgia Trevor leaned forward eagerly.

"It's not about--it can't be about our baby!" she exclaimed.

"Yes."

The teacup dropped from her forgers, and the two men sprang to her
support, as she seemed about to faint. But she steadied herself
resolutely.

"I'm--I'm quite all right. Tell me!"

The doctor sat down once more, and Trevor collected the fragments of the
shattered cup.

"You will remember that an ape of mine wandered away about three years
ago," began the doctor. "A female chimpanzee. She was a valuable animal
and a favorite pet of mine, so I spared no expense in my attempts to
recapture her.

"I followed her into the swamp, but eventually lost the trail, nor did I
hear anything of her for several months afterward. But one day while
hunting I met an old 'cracker' who lived by himself back in the swamps.
He told a strange tale of having seen the ape, in company with a
red-headed youth about sixteen years old, captured by the crew of a
Venezuelan schooner. Both were taken aboard the ship, which then sailed
away.

"I doubted the tale at first, but as it was my sole remaining clue, I
decided to act upon it. I advertised in the leading Venezuelan
newspapers without result. But today, upon my return, a letter was
waiting for me. Written in answer to my ad, it confirms the strange
story of the old cracker, who has since died. How this boy and my
chimpanzee came to be traveling together is a mystery. Possibly the same
person who kidnaped your baby captured my ape. Perhaps, after becoming
friends, they escaped together. At any rate they were really captured
together, and together were shipwrecked on the coast of South America.
Listen to this."

He took the letter of Santos from his pocket, opened, and read it.

Georgia Trevor turned to her husband, her eyes alight with hope.

"It must be our boy, Harry!" she exclaimed. "I am sure it is. Can't we
go to South America at once and look for him? Oh, I want him so!"

"We certainly can, dear," he said. "I'll send a wire to Tampa, so the
yacht will be provisioned and ready. Then we'll drive over in the
morning, get aboard, and be off." He turned to the doctor. "You're
coming with us, aren't you, doc?"

The physician sighed.

"Like to," he responded, "but I'm afraid I can't. You see, I had a
little run of bad luck with stocks. I'm cleaned."

'"Don't let that worry you, old man. I want to pay all expenses, you
know. Insist on it. And we need you; not only because of your medical
knowledge but because you are a seasoned traveler and jungle explorer.
I'd like to have you take charge of the expedition on a salary--name it
yourself--and all expenses paid. Just tell me how much you need at
present, and I'll advance it now."

The details were soon settled. Money was cabled to Santos, and he was
instructed to organize and take charge of a party for the expedition,
and then to await the arrival of the yacht.

The next morning the Georgia A. steamed out of Tampa harbor, bound for
South America.



XIV. THE HIDDEN VALLEY

JAN HESITATED for a moment when he saw the cruel jaws of the immense
anaconda close on the shoulder of Chicma. Then, running lightly out to
the end of the limb on which he stood, he dived for a point beside the
great, thick coils that were slithering up out of the pool to encircle
their victim.

Although it was a much higher dive than he had ever made, Jan struck the
water cleanly and came up beside the serpent. Whipping out his machete,
he hacked again and again at the writhing coils. The waters of the pool
seethed with the struggles of man, ape and serpent.

Presently the anaconda released its hold on Chicma, who was, by this
time, near the curtain of water dripping from above. She instantly
scrambled through it, and Jan was left alone to fight it out with the
huge reptile, which had now turned all its attention to him.

With jaws gaping and neck arched above the foaming water, it struck
straight for his face. But although the dart of the serpent was
incredibly swift, the counter-stroke of Jan was quicker. His machete
flashed in, a shimmering arc, its keen edge half severing the reptile's
enormous head from its body. Feebly, the snake attempted to strike
again, but this time the machete completed its task, and the gaping head
flew off to sink out of sight, while the scaly body continued to writhe
and flounder aimlessly about in the water.

Jan's first concern was for Chicma, whom he had seen as she crawled
through the sheet of falling water. Plunging in after her, he found her
huddled against the cliff beneath the falls, whimpering and licking her
wounded shoulder.

"Come!" he barked in the chimpanzee language. "Let us go back to the
hut."

"No. Sleepy One will get me."

"But he has gone to sleep forever."

"I will not go. He might wake up."

He coaxed, but to no avail.

Then he thought of the open valley at the other end of the cavern where
he had met the hairy men. Perhaps he could persuade her to go that way.
And anyhow, he wanted to explore the valley and to avenge himself on the
hairy creatures who had attacked him. He would teach them and their kind
to let him alone, as he had taught the Indians of the jungle.

He went back to the tree-hut, where he gathered an assortment of
weapons: a bow and a quiverful of arrows, a blowgun with a supply of
poisoned darts, and a spear. He also exchanged the machete he was
carrying for one slightly larger and heavier.

Returning to where Chicma cowered beneath the waterfall, he said:

"Come. We leave this place."

She followed him obediently as he climbed the notches in the face of the
cliff and entered the cave guarded by the hawk-faced and dog-faced
statues. She was not afraid to go with him through the dark corridors of
the cavern. But she balked when they reached the place where it was
necessary to enter the water once more in order to get out into the
sunlight. Twice she had been injured by monsters that had come up out of
the water--an alligator and an anaconda--and she feared it.

After coaxing and arguing for some time to no avail, Jan decided to take
his weapons through first, then come back after her. He made them into a
bundle with the curari-tipped blowgun darts on the top, so the poison
would not be washed from their points. Supporting the bundle, half in
and half out of the water, with one hand he swam out into the sunlight.
Making for the shore, he hid his bundle in a clump of reeds, then swam
back into the cavern.

Chicma, seeing him return unhurt, finally decided to go back with him.

As solicitous as a mother for her babe, Jan helped Chicma through the
underground channel. She had cared for him in his years of helplessness,
and now that she grew more dependent day by day, he felt that come
what might he must care for her.

Emerging into the sunlight, they swam for the shore and climbed up the
bank. Standing on the top, they shook themselves like two dogs.

Jan gathered up his weapons and they started off down the broken,
weed-gown avenue. To the ape, the grotesque images which lined the
approach to the temple ruins were only so many oddly shaped stones, but
to the boy they were a source of wonder and curiosity. He eyed each one
suspiciously as he came near it, fearful lest it should suddenly come to
life and attack them. He also kept a sharp lookout for his former
enemies, the hairy men.

On reaching the portal of the ruined temple, they advanced cautiously,
Jan keeping his weapons in readiness in case some unseen enemy should
leap out from behind a pillar or fallen rock fragment.

A large part of the roof had caved in, but many sections were still
intact. The walls were decorated with brightly colored murals, and much
statuary stood about on pedestals and in niches. The floor was of
smooth, well-matched tiles laid in geometric designs. All of these
things appealed tremendously to Jan's inherent artistic and aesthetic
nature, so that he proceeded slowly in order to gaze his fill at the new
wonders constantly appearing before him.

The building consisted of a central auditorium, around which were many
corridors and anterooms. At one end of the great hall; on a semicircular
platform, stood a colossal image of a man with a thin, sickle-like beard
curving outward from the point of his chin. On the head was a tall
crown, ornamented on each side with a curling plume and a twisted horn,
and in front with a smooth, golden disk. One huge hand held a
three-lashed whip, and the other a short-handled crook.

Passing on through the ruins of the building Jan and Chicma emerged in
the remains of what had once been a large and magnificent garden,
circled by a high stone wall. Despite the fact that it was overgrown
with weeds and creepers, there remained many flowers, shrubs and trees.
In the center an ornate fountain of marble and carnelian splashed
musically.

At the far end of the garden was a small, vine-covered bower. Jan
wandered toward this, admiring several small statuettes which stood
along the pathway, while Chicma made straight for an orange tree near
the wall.

He had passed the fountain only a little way when he saw something that
caused him to stiffen in his tracks, then silently dart behind a clump
of shrubbery. A thing inside the bower had moved; an immense thing with
striped sides and back, and a huge, cat-like head.

Loading his blow-gun with a poisoned dart, Jan waited tensely. The great
shaggy head slowly emerged into the pathway, followed by a striped body
as large as that of a burro. With tasselled ears laid back and
eight-inch tusks gleaming, its appearance was terror-striking.

Jan recognized the creature instantly from a picture he had seen in one
of Ramona's books. It was a saber-toothed tiger, and Ramona had told him
it belonged to a past age, that there were no longer any such creatures
on earth. Apparently she had been misinformed.

The primeval giant cat had evidently been awakened from its nap by the
sound of their entrance into its retreat, and resented it. Noting the
direction of its baleful gaze, Jan saw that it was watching Chicma as
she sat on one of the lower branches of the orange tree, greedily
devouring the fragrant fruit.

Jan put his blow-gun to his lips and sped a tiny dart at the monster.
The slender missile imbedded itself in the great striped shoulder, and
clung. The creature shook itself; dislodging it. Evidently the small
projectile had not caused this big cat any more inconvenience or pain
than the sting of an insect.

Knowing the usual effect of the curari poison with which he had tipped
the dart, Jan waited, expecting to see the creature sink down dead in
its tracks. But--instead, it charged straight for the tree in which
Chicma was feeding, uttering a roar louder and more terrible than any
Jan had ever heard.

As the beast charged, Jan sent a second dart into its side. He shot a
third into its heaving flank as it leaped for the lower branches of the
orange tree.

Chicma had taken one look at the charging carnivore and scampered for
the topmost branches of the tree, but when she saw it leaping up toward
her she swung over the top of the high wall and dropped out of sight on
the other side.

The poison from the first dart had evidently not been enough to paralyze
the motor nerves of the huge beast. But the triple dose began to take
effect as it caught the lower branches of the tree. It clung to them for
a moment, snarling and roaring, then fell to the ground on its back.

Jan knew that no member of the cat tribe would fall on its back from
that height unless it was very near death, so he waited. After thrashing
about for some time in the undergrowth, the mighty killer finally lay
still.

Before approaching it, Jan fired an arrow into the carcass. As no
movement followed, he was convinced that the monster was sleeping its
last long sleep, and advanced to examine it. For some time he looked the
beast over, marveling at its long, sickle-shaped claws, its bulging
muscles, and its immense saber-like tusks. What a fearful antagonist it
would make! Jan had fought the jaguar and the puma, machete against
teeth and claws, and won, but he felt very dubious indeed about the
outcome of such a duel with one of these monsters.

However, it had gone to sleep now, never to waken. He must reassure
Chicma. He called to her, but there was no reply. He called again at the
top of his voice. Still no answer.

Alarmed, he scrambled up the orange tree and onto the top of the wall.
He was looking out over a vast, rolling plain--a savanna of tall, waving
grass, dotted here and there with clumps of trees. Meeting at the point
where the river went underground and traveling as far as he could see to
the right and left, until lost in the blue haze, was an unbroken line of
tall cliffs, encircling the valley through which the river meandered.
Beyond the plain before him was a dense forest, Chicma's trail of
trampled grass led that way; she had set out for the jungles of this
great closed valley.

After caching his blow-gun darts and spear in one of the anterooms of
the temple in order to lighten his burden, Jan hurried after the
chimpanzee, following the plainly marked trail with ease through the
tall, rustling grass.

This grass, with its rough cutting edges, reminded Jan of the sawgrass
he had encountered in the Everglades. It brought hateful memories of Dr.
Bracken, and the life he had lived as a prisoner in the menagerie.

He had thought he would easily catch up with the aged Chicma in a few
minutes, but before he had gone far he knew that her great fright at the
saber-toothed tiger had caused her to run much faster than usual. At
last he caught sight of her, just passing over the brow of a low hill
ahead.

Then he saw something that checked the shout on his lips and brought him
to an abrupt halt--a row of hideous monsters, with sharp horns on the
tips of their noses and just above their eyes, were galloping over the
hill. Their shoulders were protected by great bony ruffs, and behind
these, mounted on their backs, sat men clad in shiny yellow armor and
carrying long lances.

Knights--mounted on triceratops! Jan recognized both from pictures he had
seen in Ramona's books. But she had said that both belonged to the past,
that such things were no more.

With a shriek of fear, Chicma turned and attempted to flee, but in a
twinkling she was surrounded, and a half dozen of the armored men had
alighted and were advancing toward her.

Jan's first impulse at sight of that formidable host was to run. But
when he saw Chicma surrounded, his loyalty held him. Fitting an arrow to
his bowstring, he launched it at the man who stood nearest to the
cowering chimpanzee. To his surprise, the six-foot shaft rebounded
harmlessly from the glistening yellow cuirass. He released a second, and
this glanced off the metal helmet, narrowly missing Chicma.

But the first arrow had revealed his presence to the enemy. Wild shouts
of the armored men mingled with the hoarse bellows and thundering hoof
beats of their fearsome mounts as they charged. In a trice he was
surrounded by a circle that bristled with triple-horned heads and
glittering lance points.

Jan dropped his bow, whipped out his heavy machete, and stood at bay.
Several of his assailants dismounted and came toward him carrying long,
two-edged swords in their hands. A moment more and he would have been
cut to ribbons, had not there come a sharp command from one of the men
who had remained mounted. At this, the advancing warriors sheathed their
weapons and leaped in, clutching him with their mailed hands.

Despite his valiant resistance, his machete was soon wrested from him,
his wrists were bound together behind his back, and he was flung into a
saddle in front of one of the riders.

As the cavalcade moved away, Jan saw with relief that Chicma, too, was a
prisoner, and not slain as he had feared.

Although the great beasts which carried the mailed warriors were
ponderous and clumsy-looking, they traveled across the grassy plain at a
considerable speed. It was not long before they reached the forest which
Jan had seen from the wall of the ruins. It was much like his jungle of
the outside world, though many of the plants were new and strange to
him. Here shrub, tree and vine intermingled in such a thick and
impenetrable tangle that the riders were forced to pass, single file,
along a narrow tunnel which had evidently been cut for the purpose
through the thickly interwoven vegetation.

A moment later there flashed through Jan's nimble mind a plan for making
his escape. They had entered one of the thickest and darkest parts of
the jungle when he suddenly pivoted in the saddle, catching the man who
rode behind him with his elbow, just below the armpit, and hurled him
off his mount to the right. Almost at the same instant, he threw himself
into the thicket at his left.

Because his hands were bound behind him, Jan fell on his face in the
undergrowth. But he quickly scrambled to his feet and dashed away. The
shouts of men, the clank of armor and the crashing of jungle growths
apprised him of pursuit, and he hurried breathlessly onward.

Although the swift mounts and heavy armor of the warriors had been to
their advantage for capturing Jan in the open, they were a hindrance in
the jungle. Soon they fell so far behind that the sounds of pursuit came
but faintly to the fugitive's ears. But he did not slacken his pace.

The jungle came to an end with unexpected abruptness, and Jan found
himself on the margin of a small stream thickly dotted with water
lilies. Just in front of him a black-robed figure--a white man--stood in
the stern of a black boat, built and carved to resemble a huge alligator
with head and tail up-curved from the water. The man in the black robe,
a thickset, ruddy-faced, bullet-headed fellow with a shaved poll, held a
long, stout pole with which he was evidently about to push off from
shore. But as soon as he saw Jan, the robed man quickly shifted his hold
and swung the pole bludgeon-like for his head. Jan dodged, and turned to
reenter the shelter of the jungle.

But at that moment his feet slipped on the muddy bank, and he fell, face
downward. The boatman's long staff, which he had avoided the first time,
swung again as he tried to scramble to his feet. This time it struck him
squarely on the right temple, and brought oblivion.



XV. THE BLACK PRISON

WHEN JAN recovered consciousness once more he was lying in the bottom of
the boat, which the black-robed man was poling up the narrow stream. He
tried to move, and found that not only his wrists, but his ankles also,
were bound. Piled in the boat around him were many baskets of lotus
plants which his captor had gathered.

At first they passed only the moss-draped, liana-laced border of the
jungle, but they presently arrived at a place where a high wall of black
marble fronted the stream. The prow of the boat grounded at the base of
a flight of steps which led up from the water's edge to a massive gate
that barred a great arched gateway. At each side of this stood a guard
in black armor, holding a long pike and wearing a sword and dagger.

The man in the boat shouted, and the gate swung back. A dozen
black-robed figures came through it and down the steps. Some of them
dragged the prow of the boat higher, while others took out the baskets
of lotus plants. Many exclaimed in apparent surprise as they saw Jan
lying bound in the bottom of the boat, but none offered to touch him.

When the cargo of plants had been removed, Jan's captor looped a rope
around his neck. Then he drew a knife from his girdle and cut the rope
that bound his ankles, signing for him to rise.

Jan stood up, and his head swam dizzily, for it was still rocking from
the blow he had received. But his captor, with a hoarse command which he
could not comprehend, stepped out of the boat and tugged at the rope
circling his neck--an unspoken order which the captive understood very
well--and which he had to obey.

After following his conductor up the steps, Jan was led through an
immense garden of well-kept flowers, shrubs and trees. It was decorated
with statuary depicting some figures of rare beauty and others of
surpassing ugliness. And dotted here and there were pools and fountains.
In some of these pools were sacred lotuses, budding and in full bloom;
in others, Jan saw the black-robes setting out the plants which had just
been taken from the nearby stream.

Having crossed the garden, they entered a doorway where two more
black-armored pikemen stood guard in an immense building of black
marble. Then they followed for some distance a long corridor, the floor
of which was of black and silver tiles, and the walls of which were
decorated with brightly colored murals. Many doorways opened into this
corridor, but Jan's captor did not pause until he reached a great arched
opening at its very end.

Here he was halted by two guards, each of whom, in addition to his sword
and dagger, carried an immense broad-ax. After exchanging a few words
with Jan's captor, they permitted him to pass into a large central room,
the domed ceiling of which resembled the sky on a starlit, moonless
night. Conspicuous among the sparkling constellations was--though Jan, of
course did not know what it was--a magnified representation of the planet
Saturn, showing globe and rings as they would look through a telescope.

Jan stared in wonder and amazement at this vivid and exaggerated
representation of the nighttime sky. Then his attention was attracted by
a group of black-robed figures standing on the other side of the room at
the right and left of a great, black throne.

His captor jerked him roughly forward, nearly choking him, and advancing
obsequiously, knelt before the black throne.

Seated on the throne was a man whose emaciated features were of chalky
paleness--a white skin stretched over a nearly fleshless skull. On his
head was a shimmering silver helmet, the crest of which was fashioned to
represent the arched head and neck of an alligator. It sparkled with
many jewels, dominated by an immense emerald that flashed above the
center of his forehead.

His lank body was incased, also, in silver armor, and over his shoulders
was thrown a long, black cape, broidered and bordered with silver and
jewels. Depending from about his neck by a slender chain was a ball of
silver, circled with many concentric disks of the same metal--an emblem
of the planet, Saturn.

As he stared down at Jan, his ghastly features were immobile,
inscrutable. Only his sunken eyes, which glowed with the greenish light
that characterizes the orbs of night-prowling beasts showed any signs of
animation. And their gaze was baleful--menacing.

After looking at Jan for a moment, he addressed a few words to his
captor. The latter replied at some length. When he had finished, the man
on the throne made a sign with his right hand. As he did so, the youth
noticed that in his palm was tattooed a blue flower like that in the
paten of Ramona, a copy of which was in Jan's own palm.

In response to the gesture, a fat, black-robed, shaved-headed fellow
with heavy pink jowls came and bowed before the throne, extending a
metal box with the lid thrown back. From this box the man on the throne
selected a jeweled bracelet, which he tossed to Jan's still kneeling
captor. Then he clapped his hands, whereupon two armored guards clanked
into the room from a door at the side of the dais.

At a word of command from the man on the throne, each of them seized Jan
by an arm, and together they marched him away. After they had gone down
a narrow and tortuous corridor for a long way, they came out into a
sunlit courtyard paved with black granite. Crossing this, they arrived
before a massive gate, guarded by four armored pikemen and four ax-men.

One of the pikemen drew back a heavy bar, and the gate swung open. After
removing the rope from around Jan's neck and cutting his bonds with a
dagger, his two conductors pushed him through. Bewildered, he looked
about him as the gate closed behind him.

He stood in a long, rectangular pen surrounded by twenty-foot walls
built of large granite blocks, smooth-faced and so carefully fitted
together that it was barely possible to see where they joined.

In the pen were several hundred men--not white like his captors, yet
lighter in color than the Indians he had encountered in the jungle.
Their skin seemed to vary from light tan to yellow. Some of them closely
resembled Indians except for their lighter skins, but the eyes of most
of them slanted more, and their cheek bones were more pronounced. All
wore leather breech clouts and sandals of twisted grass, and some had
gaudily colored blankets thrown over their shoulders.

They were squatting on the ground or standing around in little groups,
conversing. But as soon as Jan entered he became the target for their
glances, and evidently the chief subject of their conversation. Many
crowded around him, chattering excitedly, and staring as if he were some
strange beast on exhibition. The ring drew closer.

Jan snarled menacingly. He disliked Indians, for with a single exception
they had always proved hostile to him; always sought his life. These men
reminded him of Indians. But they gave way before him as he strode
forward, stiffly erect and alert for attack, toward the gate at the
opposite end of the inclosure. Perhaps they were awed by the fire that
flashed from his steel-gray eyes. Or they may have been impressed by the
powerful muscles that rippled beneath his smooth skin.

Having crossed the inclosure without being touched, Jan sat down in the
shadow of the gate. Although many slanting eyes still stared at him, no
one had followed. He considered plans for escape. He could not scale the
twenty-foot walls unaided. Furthermore, at intervals of thirty feet
around the rim were small sentry towers, each of which held two archers.
Great stealth would be required, even on the darkest night, to avoid
these alert watchers and escape with a whole skin.



XVI. THE DAY OF PAYMENT

ABRUPTLY THE GATE behind Jan swung open. He sprang to his feet as four
black-armored men entered, marching abreast, carrying long swords in
their hands. Behind them came a file of slant-eyed, yellow-skinned
slaves, naked save for breech clouts and sandals. Each slave bore an
immense tray on his head, and Jan saw that some were heaped high with
fruits, some with chunks of cooked meat, and some with golden-brown
cakes. Following these slaves were others who bore large earthenware
jars on their heads, and around whose waists cups hanging from wire
hooks jingled musically.

As the gate closed behind them, the slaves carrying the trays knelt in a
row, still holding them on their heads. Those who carried the jars also
knelt, and set them on the ground. The occupants of the inclosure,
meanwhile, hurried to form a long line, jostling and crowding each
other for the places nearest the front. Then, at a shout from one of the
swordsmen, they filed past the row of kneeling slaves, where each was
supplied with a piece of meat, a cake, some fruit, and a cupful of brown
beverage which was dipped from the jars, and which Jan afterward learned
was called chocolate. The four swordsmen stood by, to see that no one
got more than his share.

Jan was hungry, having eaten nothing since entering the valley. He went
to one of the meat trays and was about to help himself when a swordsman
shouted something to him which he could not understand, and ran between
him and the tray, brandishing his weapon. Under the menace of the keen
blade, Jan backed away, the guard following him chattering and
gesticulating.

He was made to understand that he must take his place in the line, at
the very end. So carefully had the supply of rations been computed that
when Jan finally reached them, but one portion of each thing was left.
With his meat, cake and fruit held in the curve of his left arm before
him, and his cup ofchocolate in his right hand, he made his way
through the jostling crowd. The slaves and swordsmen withdrew, and he
heard the gate slam shut after them.

Suddenly a brown hand reached over his shoulder from behind and snatched
his meat. With a low growl of rage, Jan whirled to confront the
pilferer. But there were no less than a half dozen men behind him, each
of whom might have been guilty. Each wore an innocent expression, and
none seemed to have more than one piece of meat.

Enraged and disappointed at losing his favorite food, but unable to tell
who snatched it, he turned away to seek a spot where he might eat the
remainder of his rations undisturbed. Then a youth of about his own age
stepped in front of him with a friendly smile, and tearing his own piece
of meat in two, offered him half.

Jan was nonplused. The anger surging within him made him feel like
flying at anyone who crossed his path. But his wrath dissolved before
that disarming smile and unselfish offer. He accepted the meat, and the
two lads sat down side by side to eat, neither knowing that this was to
be the beginning of a friendship that would be strong and lasting.

They conversed by signs at first, but Jan soon made his companion
understand that he wished to know the names of things, by pointing to or
touching them and looking at him questioningly. As he was quick to learn
and had an excellent memory, it was not long before he was combining
verbs and adjectives with his nouns, and forming short sentences in this
new language.

Weeks passed, and though many prisoners were taken away and new ones
brought in, Jan and his companion remained. During this time. Jan
learned the language of the yellow people, and also a considerable
portion of that of their white captors, which his friend taught him.

The yellow-skinned youth's name was Koh Kan, Koh being his given name
and Kan both his family name and title. Tattooed in the palm of his
right hand was a picture of a feathered serpent, done in red. This, he
told Jan, was a picture of Kan, the mighty serpent, earthly
representative of the Fair God, Quetzalcoatl, whose abode was in the
sun, but who was expected to return some day to earth. Koh's father, he
said, was hereditary ruler of his race and High Priest of Kan, so he was
Prince Koh of the House of Kan. Jan had only a hazy idea of the position
of a prince, but he had noticed the great respect shown this one by the
yellow prisoners, and judged that it must be quite important.

Koh said his people lived in a great city called Temukan, which was a
long, dangerous journey away, beyond an immense, muddy pit in which
roved terrible and gigantic monsters. They were always at war with the
white people, he said, whose chief city was called Satmu, and who
worshiped a number of gods. His people, he said, had but one sect and
worshiped Quetzalcoatl in the person of Kan, the great feathered
serpent, who was propitiated with human sacrifice--prisoners of war and
convicted criminals.

The white people, he said, were divided into four sects who worshiped
two gods Re and Asar; a goddess, Aset; and a demon, Set--whose earthly
representative was Sebek, a very terrible living water monster. They
also did homage to three minor divinities.

The Sect of Re, he said, wore gold-plated armor, or clothing of a golden
yellow color--such as had first captured Jan. That of Asar wore white,
and that of Aset light blue. But the Sect of Set wore black.

"You and I," he told Jan, "have been captured by the people of Set."

"For what purpose?" asked Jan.

"Each day," said Koh, "you have noticed that two men are taken away,
never to return?"

"Yes, I have noticed that," replied Jan.

"They are fed to the monster, Sebek," said Koh. "Some day we, too, shall
be fed to him, as will every man in this place."

"What is he like?" Jan wanted to know.

"There are said to be monsters like him in the great pit of mud which
lies near the center of the valley, but nowhere else," Koh told him.
"His head and long jaws are like those of an alligator, but many times
bigger. His body is very long, and his feet are like the fins of a fish.
Here, I will show you."

With the tip of his finger he sketched a picture of the creature he had
described. Then arising, he continued: "He is said to be this long," and
stepped off twenty paces, or about fifty feet.

"But if there are other creatures like this," said Jan, "why is it that
they feed men to this one only?"

"He is selected from among the others by the High Priest," Koh replied,
"who makes certain tests to ascertain whether or not the soul of Set has
descended into him. This only happens about once in five generations, as
the beasts are very long-lived, and a new one is selected from the pit
only when an old one dies."

At every opportunity Jan made inquiries about Chicma, but he learned
nothing until one day when a prisoner who had formerly been a slave of
the golden Sect of Re told him he had seen her, and that she was kept as
an object of great curiosity in the royal palace of Satmu, having been
presented to the empress by the captain of a band of huntsmen who had
captured her.

A few days after that, as Jan and Koh sat talking, four guards walked up
to where they sat.

"It is the summons!" whispered Koh. "We are to be fed to Sebek!
Farewell, friend Jan. I hope that we may meet and be friends in the next
world."

The two lads embraced, but were quickly torn apart by the guards, who
hustled them away.



XVII. A WARM TRAIL

ON ONE of the long wooden docks that projected over the river in front
of the Suarez hacienda, Don Fernando and Dona Isabella, as well as a
score of their Indian servants, stood gazing intently downstream. Today
Ramona was expected home from her first year of school in the United
States. A servant had just come dashing up to the house to announce that
the boats were coming.

After gazing for a brief interval, Don Fernando removed his slim cigar
from between his lips and said to his wife:

"The mozo was wrong. Those are not our canoes."

"But they must be," insisted Dona Isabella. "Who else would be coming
this way with so many boats?"

The don shrugged.

"Explorers, perhaps, or a party of hunters. We'll soon see."

There were six canoes in all, most of them smaller than the six sent out
by Don Fernando in charge of Felipe Fuez, his foreman, with orders to
meet and bring Ramona and her governess.

As the first canoe drew near to the dock, the don carefully scanned the
faces of its occupants. Besides the four Indian paddlers it contained
two white men--one a swarthy Venezuelan with a small, pointed mustache,
the other a lean, bearded man wearing a pith helmet and khaki, who might
be an American or an Englishman. In the second boat rode two more people
with pith helmets and khaki clothing. One was a broad-shouldered,
clean-shaven, athletic-looking fellow who appeared to be in his middle
thirties; the other was a woman, somewhat younger and quite comely,
whose curls glinted auburn in the reflected sunbeams that danced up from
the river. The other four boats contained Indian paddlers and luggage.

The first canoe came up beside the dock. Its gunwale was seized by
willing hands, steadied.

The don and dona were smiling and gracious now, masking their
disappointment at not seeing Ramona, that they might welcome the
strangers with fitting cordiality.

When the first two stood on the dock the bearded man took the
initiative.

"I am Dr. Bracken, Don Fernando,' he said in Spanish.

"I am honored, senor," replied the don. "Dona Isabella, may I present
Dr. Bracken?"

"An honor and a pleasure," murmured the doctor, when the dona had
acknowledged the introduction. "May I present Captain Santos?

"My other companions speak very little Spanish," he added then. "Permit
me to translate for you."

"Hardly necessary," smiled the don. "I'm a Harvard man, and the dona
attended Lake Forest University. We first met in the States at a
football game."

"Splendid!" replied the doctor. "Then the introductions will be in
English."

And so they were. Dona Isabella and Mrs. Trevor soon found much in
common, due to the former's residence in the States.

Suddenly there came a cry from an Indian at the end of the dock.

"More canoes coming!"

Don Fernando looked down the river. Two had rounded the bend. A third
was just nosing into sight.

"Viva!" he cried. "Our boats!"

"It's our daughter, Ramona," explained Dona Isabella.

The first canoe came on swiftly, outdistancing the others. It glided
toward the pier, propelled by the don's best paddlers, and steered by
Ruiz himself, a big fellow with a snow-white mustache and goatee. He
deftly guided it to the dock amid shouts of welcome.

As many willing hands steadied the boat, Ramona stood up, leaped lightly
out, ran into the arms of Dona Isabella, kissed and hugged Don Fernando.
There were tears of joy in the eyes of all three. The don held her away
from him, admiring her proudly.

"How you have grown, my little one! And how stunning you look in those
'flapper' clothes!"

Many other pairs of eyes also admired the trim little figure, the
lustrous dark eyes and hair, and the skin of milk and roses. The usually
half-closed orbs of Captain Santos opened wide and he gasped
involuntarily. As his eyes drank in Ramona's youthful loveliness,
passion flamed suddenly in his breast, was reflected in the flush that
mounted to his throbbing temples. Suddenly self-conscious and fearful
lest he had been noticed, he tore his eyes away and fumbled for a
cigarette. Not until he had lighted it did he cast a furtive glance
around him. No one, it seemed, had observed him. With a sigh of relief,
he exhaled a cloud of blue smoke.

But there was one who had seen, and understood fully. Dr. Bracken,
outwardly unmoved, was inwardly gloating. For many days he had been
looking for a rope with which to bind Santos to his cause. Now it was
revealed to him as plainly as if the captain had spoken his thoughts
aloud.

Fussing like a brooding hen, the short and rotund duenna, Senora
Soledade, was on the dock now.

Dona Isabella was introducing Ramona and Georgia Trevor. The girl
started perceptibly as she clasped the hand of the auburn-haired woman
and for the first time had a good look at her features.

"What as wrong?" asked the older woman.

"It's--it's nothing at, all. You look wonderful. You remind me strangely
of someone else."

Don Fernando gave some crisp orders about the luggage. The Indians
scrambled to obey, and the party moved toward the house.

According to Don Fernando's code, it would have been very bad taste to
ask the purpose of his guests' expedition.

The subject did not come up until all had gathered for dinner.

"I'm curious to know," said Georgia Trevor to Ramona, "about this person
who so greatly resembles me."

"His name is Jan," replied Ramona, "and he is only a little older than
I. He once rescued me from a puma."

The effect of this statement on the four guests was electric. The eyes
of Santos narrowed slightly. Dr. Bracken retained perfect control of his
features, but he could not prevent the sudden pallor that spread over
them at the mention of Jan's name. Harry Trevor's face showed his
intense interest: that of his wife, sudden hope.

"Slightly older than you--resembling me!" she cried. "Harry, it must be
our boy! He would be nineteen now. Tell me more about him, my dear--tell
me all about him!"

With flashing eyes, Ramona related the story of her rescue. Her
description of Jan was so favorable that her hero worship was obvious to
all. She said nothing about her frequent meetings with him, although she
hoped to resume them. Don Fernando had given his opinion of Jan quite
plainly.

"Por Dios!" exclaimed the captain. "That ees him, all right! Ees wan
dangerous hombre, too, I tal' you. Me, I rather meet the hongry puma,
any time."

"He's dangerous only to those who would harm him," flashed Ramona. "I am
not afraid to meet him."

"I feel," interposed Harry Trevor, "that we owe our host and hostess an
explanation. If you don't mind, my dear," with a look at his wife, "I'll
begin at the beginning and tell them why we have come into the South
American jungles."

She nodded assent, and while all listened in rapt attention, and with
varying emotions, he related the entire tale. The don and dona were
sympathetic, eager to help. Ramona hoped that these people, whom she had
begun to like very much, would really prove to be Jan's parents.

After dinner coffee, liqueurs and cigars were served on the terrace that
overlooked the patio, and quite early everyone retired.

The rooms of Dr. Bracken and the captain were opposite each other. As
they walked down the hall together, the doctor invited Santos in for a
chat. Santos sat down and lit a cigarette while the doctor softly closed
the door. After listening for a moment, he returned and flung himself
into a chair.

"It's about time, captain," the doctor said evenly, "that you and I came
to a complete understanding. I'm not going to beat around the bush. You
want to make money, don't you?"

"Si."

"And today you saw something which you want even more than money."

"I don't gat you."

"Yes you do. I wasn't blind today, Santos, when we stood on the pier as
a certain party arrived. Now, suppose I am willing to help you realize
your desire. Would you be willing to help me realize a certain wish of
my own? To work with me and keep your mouth shut?"

"Si, senor. I work to beat hal' and keep the mouth shut tight."

"Fine! Now what do you suppose would happen if you were to go to Don
Fernando and propose marriage with his young daughter?"

"Planty!'

"Yes. He'd kick you out of the house. Now suppose you were to approach
the daughter and suggest that she elope with you?"


The captain shrugged.

"Who knows what a woman will do, senor?"

"You know and I know that she is not likely to consider the plea of a
stranger twice her age when she is in love with a handsome youth."

"So I theenk you right. She's craz' about that keed, for sure."

"Now where do you come in? What are your plans? You probably intend to
steal that child, run away with her at the first opportunity. You will
try to force marriage upon her--break down her will. If you succeed you
will be the husband of the heiress to the Suarez millions. Sooner or
later her people would take her back, and you with her. Suppose, on the
other hand, that she would not marry you under any consideration. You
could demand, and probably get a princely ransom. Failing in this, you
would still have the girl--and to you, she herself would be worth the
ransom of a grandee. Am I right?"

"If so, what then?"

"Simply this: I want to find Jan at once and keep him away from this
house until it fits certain plans that I have to bring him here. I don't
want his parents or their friends to hear of his capture. If you are
willing to help me and say nothing, I'll be glad to do the same for you.
Well, what do you say?"

"I say, 'O.K.' amigo. I'm weeth you till the cow goes home."



XVIII. A DEATH HOLIDAY

A GREAT CROWD filled the open-air Temple of Sebek, a circular
amphitheater near the great black Temple of Set. Word had gone forth
that two unusual sacrifices would go into the capacious maw of the great
fish-reptile Sebek this day--a prince of the House of Kan, and a strange
white savage.

Not only were many black-robed priests present, and black-armored
warriors, but there were also nobles of the order of Set, with their
black cloaks, in special seats reserved for them. In other sections were
tradesmen, artisans, artists, scribes, musicians and laborers. Although
their costumes varied greatly in pattern and richness, all wore black,
which identified them as the followers of Set. No women or children were
present.

On a raised platform of black marble stood Samsu, High Priest of Set and
cousin of the Emperor Mena, in his sacrificial robes and ornaments. His
pasty, skull-like countenance turned slowly from side to side, and his
small snaky eyes sparkled with satisfaction as he noted how vast an
audience had gathered to view this special sacrifice.

The feeding of Sebek was a daily rite at the sun's zenith, and was
therefore so common that when ordinary prisoners were sacrificed no one
attended except those priests and warriors whose presence was commanded.
But it was not often that Sebek feasted on royalty, and the white savage
was a distinct novelty.

The High Priest looked down at the monster, a gigantic ichthyosaur,
swimming back and forth in the deep pool, the surface of which was about
ten feet below the bottom tier of seats. Sebek was always hungry, and
unusually active whenever his feeding time drew near. The jewel-studded
gold rings in his ears and nostrils clattered as he reared his monstrous
head from the water; snorting and snapping his jaws, which bristled with
sharp teeth and were large enough to take in a grown man at a single
gulp.

Then Samsu looked over at the two youths who stood on a slab of black
stone opposite him, that hung out over the pool. The white man, whose
sole garment was a ragged piece of jaguar skin, was gazing down into the
pool, watching the movements of the monster with apparent interest, but
with no signs of fear. The yellow prince, who wore the royal red of the
House of Kan, stood stiffly erect, his gaze haughty, fearless. Behind
them was a closed door, fitted snugly flush with the edges of the smooth
wall. At a signal from the High Priest, the polished slab on which they
stood would tilt straight downward.

Jan looked up from his examination of the creature in the pool.

"A mighty monster, this Sebek," he said to Koh.

"And terrible," replied Koh, speaking softly so he would not be
overheard. "Think of the number of people that slimy monster has eaten
in its long lifetime! And we, too, now go to our destiny by way of that
filthy maw. See how the Black Ones have gathered, like buzzards around
the dead! It will soon be over, friend Jan. Samsu has taken the mallet,
and is squinting at the sun. At the third stroke of the gong, we drop."

"Then listen to me, and act quickly," replied Jan. "The pool has an
inlet and an outlet. 'The inlet is at our right, the outlet at our left.
Look down at the outlet now. Fix its position in your mind. Don't wait
for the third stroke of the gong. Dive as soon as you hear the first,
straight toward that outlet. Remain under water and swim into it. The
monster has made the pool turbid with its movements, so you will not be
seen. When you are deep in the outlet so no one can see you, rise
and turn on your back. Thus you may breathe in the narrow air space at
the top and swim out to freedom. The monster is too large to follow you
through the opening."

"But what of you?" questioned Koh. "Will you come with me?"

"Later," replied Jan.

"I refuse to go if you intend to sacrifice yourself to save me," said
Koh.

"Do as I say!" insisted Jan. "It is the only hope for both of us. Get
ready. The High Priest is about to strike."

Samsu struck the great gong that hung behind him. It responded with a
booming, metallic note. To the surprise of all present, the bodies of
the two youths flashed outward from the slab in a simultaneous, graceful
dive. Before the second note had boomed forth, both were under water.

As Jan and Koh had dived in opposite directions, the monster was
confused for a moment, not knowing which way to turn. Koh, in accordance
with his instructions, swam straight for the outlet, remaining beneath
the surface. But Jan, who had dived beneath the monster's belly, came up
beside it, and to the intense amazement of the spectators, grasped one
of the bejeweled rings that hung from the rim of Sebek's short ear. Then
he swung himself up on its scaly back, just behind the head.

This unexpected trick was greeted with cries of astonishment from the
spectators, and with frantic efforts on the part of the ichthyosaur to
unseat its rider. But as it thrashed about, Jan gripped the immense neck
with his thighs and clung to an earring with each hand.

The spectators were getting far more entertainment than they had
expected.

Presently the monster dived. In a few moments it emerged riderless, with
blood streaming from its eye sockets, dyeing the water a pale crimson.
As the multitude cried out in horror at this sacrilege, it began
swimming blindly in a circle. Of the two intended victims they could see
no trace.

As soon as the great fish-lizard had plunged beneath the water with Jan,
he had put into effect the plan which had come to him when he saw its
great resemblance to an alligator. He had plunged his fingers into its
eyes.

Then he kicked himself away from the great bulk and swam toward the
south wall. Following this, he explored with his hands until he came to
the mouth of the outlet. Into this he plunged. After a few swift
strokes, he rose to the surface, turned on his back, and drew great
sobbing breaths of air into his aching lungs.

He swam in total darkness for a long time, despite the fact that the
swift current and his own efforts were carrying him rapidly forward. It
was with great relief that he finally saw a faint light ahead.
Increasing his efforts, Jan shot out of the culvert into the sluggish
current of a broad river. Quickly turning over, he gained the bank with
half a dozen stout strokes and, seizing an overhanging root, drew
himself up, dripping and triumphant.

In front of him the bushes parted and Koh emerged, his finger to his
lips. Faintly Jan heard the sound of voices, the clank of armor and
weapons, and the thunderous tread of great beasts, mingled with their
occasional hoarse bellowings. Together, the two fugitives crouched in
the shelter of the bushes.

"A hunting party of the Golden Ones," whispered Koh. "They will soon
pass."

They crouched there breathlessly while the sounds grew alarmingly
louder. Presently, however, they began to recede, and were lost in the
distance.

"They've gone," said Jan. "And now, friend Koh, our paths lie in
different directions. You will want to get back to Temukan as soon as
possible. I go to Satmu to rescue Chicma."

"Come to Temukan with me, my friend," pleaded Koh. "You can't hope to
rescue Chicma from the very palace of the Emperor. First there is the
river to cross. The bridges are guarded night and day. You have no boat,
and if you swim there are man-eating monsters in the stream which can't
be eluded so easily as the clumsy Sebek.

"Even if you succeed in reaching the island, so well guarded are the
city walls and the palace itself that you can't hope to penetrate both
without being either killed or captured. And you might as well be killed
outright as captured, because if they take you alive, your death will
only be a matter of a few days. Besides, if Samsu learns of your
capture, he is sure to demand you from his imperial cousin, Mena, so he
may torture and slay you as a punishment for what you have done today.
He would probably give half his wealth to have you in his power right
now.

"But even if you are captured and Samsu does not hear of it, you can't
expect a much kinder fate from the Emperor. He will have you entered in
the games, where human prisoners are forced to fight each other or huge
and terrible beasts, some of which have been brought in from that place
of horrors, the pit of mud. Not one prisoner in a hundred escapes the
games alive. Come with me to the city of my father, the city which I
will some day rule. Wealth, power, lands, slaves--everything you could
wish shall be yours."

"I would like to go with you, my comrade," replied Jan. "But my duty
calls me to Satmu, and that is where I am going."

"Well, then," said Koh. "I'll go with you."

"To meet all those dangers for a cause that does not concern you. I
can't permit it!"

"I owe you my life," replied Koh. "Surely you will allow me to pay part
of the debt! Besides, I will enjoy the adventure. With my knowledge of
the country and people you will have a much better chance for success,
too."

"As you will," said Jan, reluctantly.

"Now," said Koh, "if we swim the river the chances are ten to one that
we will not get across alive. If we should elude the monsters that live
in it, we would be seen and captured by boatmen. But if we search along
the bank we are very likely to find a boat which we can steal under
cover of darkness, and which will take us across in safety. While we are
looking for the boat we may find something to eat."

"There is wisdom in your words," said Jan. "Let us search for food and a
boat."



XIX. THE RIVER OF MONSTERS

AT FIRST they were undecided whether to go up the river to the west, or
down the river to the east. Behind them to the north was the Temple of
Set, with its cluster of buildings and its background of pyramid-shaped
mausoleums. The main temple housed the High Priest, his black-robed
assistants and attendants, and his black-armored warriors.

In a group of smaller buildings lived the tradesmen, artisans, and
laborers, comprising a small village with its market place. And in a
tiny cluster of hovels near the Temple of Sebek were the despised
handlers of the dead--the embalmers, who spent their lives segregated
from other men. They had no intercourse with others except to receive
the bodies intended for the burial grounds of Set, and to return the
embalmed mummies to the temple attendants, who placed them in the
caskets.

The nobles of Set lived in baronial castles scattered about the country
north of the temple, where peasants toiled in fields and tended flocks.
Koh had explained these things to Jan, so both knew that it would be
extremely dangerous for them to venture north, away from the river.

Across the river to the south was the magnificent City of Satmu, capital
of the empire. It was in the center of an island about five miles by
ten, rimmed by marshes and a circle of rolling, partly wooded areas.
Four immense arch bridges connected the island with the mainland to the
north, south, east and west, each bridge guarded by a small fortress.
The city itself was circular, and about three miles in diameter. From
where they stood on the river bank the two fugitives could see its north
wall, and beyond that its gayly colored roof tops, its towers, domes and
minarets.

Standing in the center of the city, and dominating the scene with its
great size and magnificence was the Imperial Palace, its central dome of
polished gold reflecting the rays of the afternoon sun with dazzling
brilliance.

Since the north bridge lay only a mile to the east of them, Koh and Jan
decided to go toward the west. They had not gone far when the
jungle-trained Jan suddenly caught his companion by the arm and
cautioned silence. Koh could hear or see nothing at first, but presently
he heard the rustle of small animals through the undergrowth and the
patter of their little feet. Jan had not heard them much sooner than his
friend, but his delicately attuned nostrils had caught their scent long
before the sound was audible.

Motioning to Koh to remain where he was, Jan swiftly and noiselessly
swung himself up into the tangle of branches and lianas above. In less
than a minute he was directly above a herd of small, spotted animals,
none of them much bigger than a full-grown fox, and bearing a singular
resemblance to the horses which he had seen on some of the plantations
that fringed his jungle. Their scent, too, was singularly like that of
horses. He remembered having seen a picture of one of these creatures in
Ramona's book of extinct animals. It was called an eohippus, and she had
told him it was the earliest known ancestor of the horse.

Jan knew at a glance that the little beasts were not so dangerous as
carnivorous beasts their size might have been, but still they might
attack in mass if he should drop among them. Peccaries had done that
several times, wounding him severely with their sharp teeth and hoofs
and forcing him to take refuge in the trees, despite the fact that he
was armed. And now he had no weapons whatever. But they must have meat.

Singling out his intended victim, Jan suddenly launched himself through
the air with a throaty roar like that of an attacking puma, a sound
which usually paralyzes the prey for an instant. As he alighted beside
the little beast, Jan clutched it around the neck, while the rest of the
herd, squealing with fright, splashed up the bank and plunged into the
undergrowth.

With a deft twist, Jan broke the neck of the prize. Then he swung it
over his shoulder and walked back to where Koh waited for him.

"Here's our meat," he said, and proudly displayed his kill.

"But we have no knife to cut it with, and no fire," objected Koh.

"What of that?" asked Jan. "We have our teeth and hands. The meat is
fresh and good. Cooking would only spoil it."

He tore off a foreleg and handed it, still dripping with warm blood, to
his companion. Then he tore off another, and peeling back the hide as an
ape peels a banana, began devouring the tender flesh with gusto. Koh,
the delicately nurtured prince of an ancient civilization, held the gory
portion handed him as if it had been a burning brand, and watched Jan
with wonder and a tinge of horror.

"By the long red feathers of Kant," he exclaimed. "I have heard that the
hairy ones, the man-apes who live in the caves so devour their meat, but
never have I seen nor heard of a man eating it thus."

"And never," said Jan, "have I tasted such sweet and delicious meat. Try
it."

"I'll starve first," said Koh, and flung his portion to the ground.

Jan made no reply, but continued eating, squatting on his haunches and
gazing out over the river toward the distant golden dome where he hoped
to find and rescue Chicma. Presently a small sailing vessel hove into
view. It had a single, lateen sail of golden yellow hue, in the center
of which was painted a coat of arms. There were three men in the boat,
and a pile of recently slain water birds.

"The emperor's fowlers," whispered Koh. "That is one of the boats that
supplies the imperial table with the birds that inhabit the marshes."

"How do they kill them?" asked Jan, seeing no weapons in evidence.

"With throwing sticks," replied Koh. "See, each man has a small pile of
curved sticks beside him. I have heard that the emperor himself
sometimes hunts thus, for the sport of the thing."

As Koh watched Jan, eating with apparent relish, his hunger increased.
Finally it overcame his scruples, and he picked up the leg which he had
cast away so disdainfully. Following Jan's example, he first peeled back
a portion of the skin. Then he shut his eyes, and tearing off a bite,
quickly chewed and swallowed it. Much to his surprise, he really liked
it.

By this time Jan had devoured most of the meat on his portion, and was
gnawing the gristly parts of the joints, which he swallowed with relish.
Then he cracked the bones between his strong teeth and ate the marrow
for dessert. These things he had learned to do by watching the carnivores
of the jungle, and having once tried them, had found them to his
liking.

Having satisfied his hunger, Jan went down to the river to wash his face
and hands, and to drink. Then he returned, and with that feeling of
contentment which follows a satisfying and tasty meal, lay down to doze
in the speckled shade and to wait for Koh to finish. For the first time
since his capture by the black-robes, life was once more worth living.

Koh was not long about finishing his meal. When he had washed and drunk
at the river, Jan sprang to his feet and slung the remains of his kill
over his shoulder. They started off along the river bank to the west.

The sloping, jungle-draped shore gradually gave way to a steeper and
more rocky formation, where the vegetation, except for a narrow fringe
of willows and oleanders at the water's edge, was quite sparse. Soon
they were picking their way among fallen boulders and rock fragments at
the base of a steep bluff.

Suddenly Jan, who was in the lead, stopped and sniffed the air
apprehensively. Koh came to a halt behind him, peering around his
shoulder in an attempt to learn the cause for his uneasiness.

But the cause announced itself with unexpected and terrifying
suddenness. For, with a terrific roar that rolled across the river
valley, a great shaggy creature crept from a cave mouth about ten feet
above Jan's head, and with its claws aspread and white teeth gleaming,
tensed to launch its mighty bulk through the air straight for the
startled youths.



XX. MAN-HUNT

THE MORNING AFTER his arrival at the hacienda, Dr. Bracken was astir
bright and early. After drinking a cup of coffee and declining all items
of breakfast which the obsequious butler suggested, he lighted a black
stogie and strolled outdoors. The sun was rising with a blaze of glory,
swiftly dissipating the mists that hung over the river, and promising an
exceptionally warm day.

As the doctor made his way toward the huts where his Indians were
quartered, he caught sight of a familiar figure standing on the dock and
gazing out over the river--Captain Santos. He immediately turned his
steps in that direction.

Santos looked around as a board creaked beneath the doctor's tread.

"Ah, good morning, captain!" greeted the doctor. "Up early, I see."

"Si. Eet was no use to stay in bed. I could not sleep wan weenk all
night. I 'ave fall een love to beat hal'. I can't sleep, I can't eat,
for theenk about that keed."

"The best thing you can do," said the doctor, "is to snap out of it muy
pronto, and work with me. Now--how many of our Indians can we trust with
this work, provided they are well paid?"

Santos grinned. "We can trust any of them--eef well paid."

"Then here's the plan: We have thirty Indians, all told. I gather that
this wild boy is somewhere in the jungles to the south of here. I think
I know where to find him and how to capture him. After he is caught, I
must have a place to keep him until I am ready to bring him here.

"So we'll split into three searching parties. We'll allot ten men to
Trevor, and let him go to the north, where he'll be quite sure not to
find Jan. You will take ten men and head east, while I go south with the
other ten. Instead of continuing east, however, you will circle
southward until you strike my trail. I'll wait for you at my first camp.
Then I'll show you where I want you to build my little prison. We'll
make a secret base camp on the spot, and we'll take Jan there."

"Your plans, senor, are good for your own ends. What about mine?"

"I was coming to that. Once we get Jan we'll see that a message from him
reaches the girl, asking her to meet him at a certain place. She'll go.
Well have two Indians there to persuade her to go the rest of the
way--to our camp. If something goes wrong with our plans we'll kill the
Indians for attempted abduction. Their comrades will not know they have
been paid to do this work, and dead men tell no tales."

"Senor," said Santos, admiringly, "you 'ave wan damn' good head. What
you say, I do."

"Good. Get your three parties organized, and I'll go and fix things with
Trevor."

Dr. Bracken found the Trevors breakfasting with the don and dona. He
outlined his plan to them, and all were in hearty accord with it. Don
Fernando offered to take ten of his own men and search the country to
the west, across the river, though Jan had never been known to hunt in
that part of the jungle and that was agreed upon.

By ten o'clock the four bands were ready to march. Farewells were being
said. The two, women were saying goodby to their husbands, while the
doctor and Ramona stood a little way off.

Suddenly, to Dr. Bracken's surprise, she turned to him and said in a low
voice:

"I'll tell you something, doctor, if you will promise not to tell
anyone."

"Eh? Of course I'll promise, senorita."

She came closer. "It's about Jan. I believe I can tell you where to find
him. You see, my father and mother don't know that he came to see me
many times after he saved me from the puma. But I do so want you to find
him and bring him back!"

"I'll find him, never fear," replied the doctor, "even if I have to
devote my whole life to it. What was it you were going to say?"

"He told me," said Ramona, "that he lived in a tree-hut, four days'
journey to the south. It is beside a deep pool that is beneath a
waterfall. Your chimpanzee is there, also. That is all I know, but it
may help."

"It will help a lot," the doctor assured her, "and I am deeply grateful
to you for confiding in me. You may rest assured that your confidence
has not been misplaced. And now the others are ready, so I will say
goodby."

The doctor smiled grimly to himself as he led his band of Indians away.
This was going to be easier than he had anticipated. In one of his packs
was a case of hypodermic needle cartridges, such as he had used for
capturing wild animals in Africa. After finding Jan's tree, all he would
need to do would be to camp near it, out of sight, and wait for the
young man to appear. A "hypo" bullet in the arm or leg would put him to
sleep for several hours. When he awakened he would be in the doctor's
power.

As for abducting Ramona, Dr. Bracken had no intention of carrying out
this part of the bargain with his confederates. He could easily dispose
of Santos in the jungle, and return to the hacienda with the report that
the captain had been killed by a native's blow-gun dart.

The doctor was in an excellent humor when, about an hour before sunset,
he bade his Indians halt and make camp. He had finished his evening meal
and lighted a stogie when Santos and his Indians marched into camp.

The two bands camped together that night, and together went forward on
the following day, and for two days thereafter. Then, as night was
drawing near, Dr. Bracken heard the roar of a waterfall. Bidding the
Indians stop where they were and make camp, he took Santos forward with
him. Before he left, he loaded his rifle with a hypo cartridge and
ordered the captain to do the same.

They located the waterfall about a half mile away. Looking upward, the
doctor, with a grin of triumph, saw Jan's tree house.

"Wait here and keep out of sight," ordered the doctor, "while I go
forward to investigate. If the man or the ape shows up, shoot for an arm
or leg."

He handed the captain several extra hypo cartridges and walked over
beneath Jan's tree. Beneath it he found many nutshells, the dried
remains of orange, pineapple and banana skins, and a number of gnawed
bones. The appearance of these remains convinced him that neither Jan
nor the ape had been in the tree for several months.

He accordingly laid his rifle on the grass, and climbed the tree.
Perspiring in every pore and breathing heavily, he presently reached the
lowest limb and drew himself up on it.

A single glance into the interior of the hut convinced him that it had
not been used for some time. With great curiosity, he examined Jan's
collection of native weapons, ornaments, clothing and hides. Careful
woodsman that he was, he looked also for evidence that would convince
him beyond any doubt that this was Jan's hut. With the aid of his flash
light he found it, clinging to the bark of the tree trunk--chimpanzee
hair, auburn hair, and the hair rubbed from the jaguar-skin garments
with which Borno had clothed both of them.

He was about to leave when he noticed something else--a piece of notebook
paper projecting from beneath a badly cured jaguar skin. Quickly lifting
the pelt, he saw many more pieces of paper and a stubby, much-chewed
pencil. The papers were covered with pencil drawings, crude but showing
marks of talent, and with much childish printing, all in capital
letters. In it he found many names and descriptions of animals, both
prehistoric and existing, evidently copied from natural histories. He
also found the sentence written over and over: "Jan likes Ramona."

Pocketing one of the papers and replacing the skin over the others, the
doctor, quite satisfied with his discoveries, climbed down the tree once
more. Picking up his rifle, he walked over to where Santos awaited him.

"I've found his lair," he said. "Some day, if he is alive, he is sure to
return to it. We'll build a blind, here at the edge of the jungle, and
post a good marksman in it night and day, with a rifle and plenty of
hypo cartridges. While we're waiting for the lad to return we can be
building our cell and our permanent camp."

"You are sure this ees the right place?"

"Positive. Look here." The doctor extracted the folded note paper from
his pocket and handed it to Santos.

"So! What ees this? A beeg home-backed lizard weeth teeth on his back
and horns on his tail. 'Stegosaurus,' eet say onderneath."

"A prehistoric reptile," said the doctor. "Jan must have copied it from
one of Ramona's books."

"Mil demonios! You theenk he steal her book? Eet say here, too, 'Jan
likes Ramona.' Carramba! I geeve him a real bullet if I catch him fool
around her!"

"If you give him anything but a hypo bullet before I'm through with him,
it will be just too bad for you," warned the doctor, snatching the paper
from his hand. "When I have finished with him you can chop him in little
pieces, for all I care, but not before. Sabe?"

"Si, senior, I onderstand. But after that he better look out, I tal'
you."

Darkness came on with the suddenness common to the tropics just as they
got to camp, so nothing more could be done that day.

Early the next morning the doctor left minute instructions with Santos
for the construction of the jail cell and permanent camp, and took two
Indians with him to build the blind near the tree-hut.

Having finished the blind; the doctor left the two Indians on guard
there, promising to send two more that night to relieve them. Each was
armed with a rifle containing a hypo cartridge, and ordered to shoot
only for the arm or leg.

A week later the permanent camp was completed. There was a cabin for the
doctor and Santos, in one end of which a small room was partitioned off
by means of stout wooden bars. This, the doctor called his cancel(?), or
jail, and it was here that he intended to imprison Jan until he should
be ready to take part in the terrible climax to his revenge which he
head planned and toward which end his life, since the birth of the boy,
had been devoted with a fervor worthy of a better cause.

There was also a bunk house and cook shack for the Indians.

But while all this was taking place, Santos was doing a certain amount
of planning in the furtherance of his own ends. It was not necessary, he
thought, to capture Jan in order to entice Ramona away from the
hacienda. This could easily be done by sending her a short note
imitating Jan's writing.

Without broaching his plan to the doctor, who he knew would frown on it
because it might interfere with his own scheme, Santos took two of his
Indians into his confidence, offering each an immense sum of money for
his part in the crime. Soon it would be necessary to send some one back
to the hacienda for supplies, and when this time came he meant to detail
his two accomplices for the work.



XXI. FORBIDDEN GROUND

AT THE THUNDEROUS roar of the beast just above their heads, about to
spring, Jan and Koh both leaped forward as if propelled by a powerful
springboard, and ran as fast as they could. There was the thud of an
immense body on the spot they had just vacated, followed by the gallop
of huge pads and the rattle of long claws on the stones.

They had not gone far when Jan knew, by the increasing proximity of the
sounds from behind, that the great beast was rapidly gaining on them. He
threw a quick glance over his shoulder, and recognized it instantly from
a picture he had seen in Ramona's book--a giant cave bear.

Knowing that further flight was useless, and that unarmed as he was he
would be quickly pulled down and devoured, he decided to stake
everything on the chance that he might be able to outwit this terrible
enemy. Suddenly halting in his tracks, he turned and faced his pursuer.

The bear instantly came to a sliding halt, alert for a trap or ambush.
When it appeared to have satisfied itself that no hunters lurked nearby,
and that it was confronted only by a single unarmed man--for Koh had
continued his running, not knowing that Jan had stopped--it reared up on
its hind legs, head and shoulders taller than a tall man, and advanced,
roaring thunderously.

Jan raised the carcass of the little eohippus over his head, then hurled
it straight at the oncoming beast. It just grazed one furry ear and
alighted some ten feet behind the bear. But in the instant of its
passing the monster had got a whiff of its favorite food, the elusive
but toothsome little dawn horse.

Suddenly dropping to all fours, the bear turned and started toward the
carcass. Jan took advantage of this by adding to the distance between
himself and the monster. The beast heard him and swung about again,
undecided whether to take the game already killed or pursue that which
was still alive.

But the bear was not the only carnivore in the vicinity that had scented
freshly killed eohippus. A slinking, dog-like beast came trotting down
the trail, sniffing hungrily, and keeping a wary eye on the bear. The
latter did not hear it until it loosened a small stone. Then it swung
about with a snarl.

The presence of the new brute, which Jan recognized as a hyaenodon,
decided the issue. With a fierce roar of rage, the bear sprang for the
intruder just as it was about to seize the prize. The hyaenodon leaped
back out of reach of the great, flailing claws, and squatted on its
haunches. It could not hope to get a full meal now, but it would wait
with doglike patience until the bear had finished, hoping that the
lordly beast might leave a few edible scraps.

Jan did not wait to see more, but hurried on after his companion. He
found Koh coming toward him a few hundred feet down the trail.

"I missed you," said the prince, "and so came back, fearing the bear had
caught you."

"There is still danger," said Jan. "I gave it the eohippus, but that
will only be a mouthful for such a big brute. Come on."

They set off at a stiff trot, which either of the youths was capable of
keeping up for hours. Presently Koh stopped and caught his companion's
arm.

"Look!" he cried, excitedly. "A boat!"

The sun was dropping behind the tree-clothed river bluffs as they
hurried down the bank to examine their prize. It was only a crude dugout
canoe with one paddle and a barbed, three-pronged fishing spear lying in
the bottom. But to these two it was as welcome as the most luxurious and
palatial yacht.

"Get in the other end," said Koh. "I'll push off."

Jan did as he was bidden. He had had no experience with canoes except as
a passenger, and bowed to his friend's superior knowledge and skill.

Koh lifted the anchor, a stone with a rope around it, into the boat.
Then he pushed off, scrambled aboard, and seized the paddle.

He had not taken two strokes when there came an angry shout from the
river bank. A bearded, sun-bronzed white man, naked save for
breech-clout and sandals, ran down to the water's edge and launched a
long spear at them. It flew high, but Jan stood up and caught it.

"Come back, thieves!" shouted the man on the bank. "Come back, cowards,
and I will kill you with my bare hands!"

Koh was using the paddle with considerable dexterity.

"Too bad to take his boat," he said. "Evidently he is a fisherman, and
this is his means of livelihood." He shouted over his shoulder to the
raging man on the bank. "We'll leave your boat on the island for
you--straight across. Come over the bridge and get it."

In reply, the man hurled after them a choice collection of Satmuan
curses. Then the darkness descended suddenly, and he faded from view.

Koh was an expert with the paddle, and it did not take him long to reach
the opposite shore. The prow grounded among some rushes, and Jan,
leaping out, dragged it up until more than half of the boat was out of
the water. He retained the spear which the bearded man had cast at him,
and Koh followed with the fishing spear.

For some time they splashed through a grassy marsh. Presently they
struck higher ground, and entered a thick, dark wood. Here were many
strange smells and sounds. Great beasts crashed through, the scents of
which were totally unfamiliar to Jan. Weird cries, shrieks, bellows and
roars resounded in the darkness, unlike anything he had ever heard in
his own jungle. These made him cautious, so he progressed but slowly.

Koh had never been in the jungle at night before, and though he was a
brave youth his nerves were constantly on edge at each new noise. He was
following Jan, holding onto the butt of his spear, so they would not
become separated in the inky darkness.

There were mighty, flesh-eating killers abroad in the jungle. No mistake
about that. From time to time they heard the plaintive death cries of
helpless creatures dragged down by carnivores, and the struggles of
others.

With immense relief they emerged from the jungle about midnight. The
moon had risen, and they saw through a ten-foot barricade of heavy
posts, set about four inches apart, a rolling plain covered with short
grass. Busily cropping this grass with their parrot-like beaks, singly
and in scattered groups, were several hundred of the terrible,
three-horned mounts of the Satmuans.

One triceratops grazing near them evidently heard them or caught their
scent, for it lowered its immense head and charged belligerently, clear
up to the paling. There it stopped, snorting and pawing the earth.

"It looks as if we will have to go around this pasture," said Koh. "I'd
rather go back into that dark jungle than climb in there with those
brutes."

"If they are so fierce, how is it that the soldiers and hunters can ride
them?" asked Jan.

"They learn to know their masters and their masters' people," replied
Koh. "They are fighting beasts, you know, ridden by fighting men, and to
them all strangers are enemies. Unless restrained by their riders, they
will attack any strangers they meet. These beasts are quite docile among
Satmuans, but they attack strangers, and will even attack other beasts
of their own kind belonging to strangers."

As they circled the pasture near the paling, the immense brute inside
kept pace with their progress. But presently tiring of this, or perhaps
convinced that they were not going to enter, it left them with a
contemptuous snort, to return to its feeding.

At last Jan and Kob drew near to a long row of low sheds, near which
were a number of small, round buildings with lights shining from their
windows.

"The stables," said Koh, "and the houses of the keepers."

They circled once more, this time through a grove of orange trees
planted in straight rows. This brought them up against the northwest
wall of the city--a wall fifty feet high, smooth and unscalable. At
intervals of five hundred feet along this wall were guard towers, in
each of which was a sentinel.

"Well, here we are," whispered Koh. "This is as far as I can guide you.
I don't know of any way we can get into the city except as prisoners."

"There must be some way," said Jan. "Let us look."

They circled to the left, keeping to the shadow of the wall so they
would not be seen from above, until they were scarcely a quarter of a
mile from the great, arched north gate. This Koh assured Jan, had been
closed for the night, and would be guarded by not less than fifty men.



XXII. A PERILOUS VISIT

AS THEY STOOD there talking, Jan took hold of a thick creeper which had
grown up the side of the wall, and pulled it to throw it out of his way.
To his surprise, it clung to the wall. He pulled harder, but it would
not budge. Then he stepped away from the wall and looked upward. Half a
dozen creepers like this one had climbed side by side, almost to the
summit.

"Come!" he whispered to Kob. "Here is a way into the city."

Tearing off a branch of the vine, he made both ends fast to the hunting
spear and slung it over his back that he might have the use of both
hands. Koh did likewise with the fishing spear. Then Jan sprang up the
vine with ape-like agility, and the prince, after waiting until they
were about twenty feet apart in order that their combined weight would
not be on the same tendrils at the same time followed.

When he reached the top of the wall, Jan moved with extreme caution. His
position was about halfway between two sentry towers. The sentry on his
left was standing in front of the tower, leaning on his longbow and
looking out toward the bridge. At first he could not see the one on his
right, but he presently made out his huddled form leaning against the
tower, asleep.

Very carefully, Jan drew himself up, and flattening, wormed across the
edge of the wall. It was about three feet thick at the upper edge. Just
behind it was a row of terraces, each three feet wide, and with a drop
of the same distance to the next, reaching clear to the ground. He
crawled down onto the first terrace and, unslinging his spear, waited. In
a moment he was joined by Koh, and the two noiselessly descended the
terraces until they reached the ground.

The part of the city in which they found themselves was a residence
section of flat-roofed buildings set closely together, their fronts
level with the paved street. Lights showed in a few of the houses, but
most of them were dark, showing that their occupants had retired.

After following the wall for some distance, they came to a narrow
street, lighted only by the rays of the moon, and now nearly deserted.

"This street must lead to the palace," said Koh, "for I have heard that
the city is laid out like the web of a spider, with streets branching
out in all directions, but all centered at the Imperial Palace. The
palace, with its gold dome, represents the sun, and the streets
branching out from it, the rays. There are concentric circles of
narrower streets connecting the ray streets."

"Then let us follow this street," said Jan.

"Dressed as we are," replied Koh, "that would be an impossibility. The
streets are constantly patrolled and we would be seen and captured."

"And where would we be taken?"

"Probably to the palace for judgment. Ordinary prisoners would be taken
before a magistrate, but because I am of royal blood and you are a
stranger in the valley we would probably be taken before the emperor,
himself."

"After all," mused Jan, "it would be the easiest way to get there."

"What do you mean?"

"Leave your spear here and follow me."

Jan discarded his hunting spear and started down the street. Kob dropped
the fishing spear and followed. The first person they passed wore the
garb of a merchant. He stared at them as if he could not believe his
eyes, but they walked on, ignoring him.

They saw two more men approaching. Moonlight glinted from their polished
armor and the tips of their spears.

"The patrol!" whispered Koh.

"Good!" replied Jan.

He swaggered straight toward the oncoming figures. Kob followed his
example. Soon the clank of armor and weapons was audible. It grew
louder. Jan thought the two would pass them by, unnoticed, but suddenly
as they were abreast, one turned.

"Halt!" he commanded.

Jan and Koh stopped in their tracks. The two in armor sauntered over,
peering at them.

"A strange pair," said the first, staring beneath his raised visor.

"By the long slim beak of Tehuti!" exclaimed the other. "A savage
dressed in the skin of an animal!"

"And this other!" said the first. "Pierce me through, if he wears not
the scarlet of the royal house of Kan! Who are you two?" he demanded:

"I am Kob of Temukan," said the prince.

"And I am Jan."

"Jan of where? Of what?"

The youth hesitated for a moment.

"Jan of the jungle," he replied.

"Of the jungle? You look the part. Where are you going?"

"We were on our way to the palace."

"To the palace! You hear him, Batau? They were going to the palace--a
jungle savage and a yellow prince! No doubt they intended calling on his
imperial majesty, the emperor."

"No doubt, Pebek. They are visiting royalty--a prince of Temukan and a
prince of the jungle. It would be discourteous to let them go
unattended."

"They should have a guard of honor. We will go with them to the palace."
Pebek bowed ironically to the two youths. "You will permit us to escort
you. Proceed."

The two youths moved forward, each with a spear point at his back.

On their way to the palace they met a few straggling townsmen. These
stared, but made no comment. Soon they stood before the great arched
gate of the palace grounds. Here were fully fifty golden-armored
warriors on guard. Jan began to realize the magnitude of the task he had
undertaken.

At a word from their captors the gates swung open, and they were allowed
to pass.

"This place is easier gotten into than out of," muttered Koh.

"So it seems," replied Jan, "but we are not ready to leave, yet."

"Silence you two," growled Batau, and prodded Jan with his spear point.

With the pain of that wound, Jan's carefully thought out plan was
forgotten. It transformed him, in an instant, to a raging jungle
creature.

He whirled with a snarl of rage and, seizing the shaft of the spear,
snapped it off. Balancing it for a moment, he hurled the resulting
three-foot javelin with all his might. It struck Batau in the left eye
and entered his brain, killing him instantly.

Pebek had attempted to come to the rescue of his comrade, but he had
immediately been set upon by Koh. His movements impeded by the weight of
his armor, the warrior was far too slow for his agile adversary. He had
dropped his long spear, useless at such close quarters, and was drawing
his sword, when Koh snatched his dagger from his belt and struck for his
neck, just above the rim of his breast plate. The slim blade went home
to the jugular, and Pebek, after staggering blindly for a moment,
slumped to the ground, blood oozing from between the joints of his
armor.

"Quick!" pasted Koh. "Let us get them out of sight. If they are
discovered the whole palace guard will be after us."

They swiftly dragged the two fallen warriors into the shrubbery that
bordered the path. Then they returned and picked up the weapons that had
been dropped, returning into the shrubbery with these.

Scarcely had they reached their place of concealment when they heard the
march of approaching warriors.

"They heard, and are after us," said Jan.

"I think not," replied Koh. "It is probably a squad from the palace to
relieve the watch at the gate. They keep step, and are not hurrying. But
when they reach the gate, look out."

Koh's surmise was proved correct, when a few moments later fifty
spear-men filed past, looking neither to the right nor left. As soon as
they had passed, each youth armed himself with the sword and dagger of
his fallen foe-man. Then they hurried away toward the palace.

"How do you expect to find Chicma in that great building?" asked Koh, as
they stood in a little clump of tall trees, looking up at the massive
structure with its towers, turrets and balconies.

"By her scent, if she is there," replied Jan. He was looking up at the
tall tree beneath which they were standing. Its branches brushed the
railing of an upper balcony.

At this moment there came a shout from the gate--the sound of armed men
running through the shrubbery.

"Follow me," said Jan. "I see a way into the palace, where they will
least expect to find us."

He sprang up into the tree, and climbed rapidly. The prince followed
more slowly, unable to compete with the ape-like agility of his
companion. When he reached the limb that brushed the balcony, Jan swung
out on it, caught the railing, and drew himself up. At the rear of the
balcony a hinged window stood open. The room behind it was in darkness.

Creeping over to the opening, Jan investigated the room with twitching,
sensitive nostrils. His nose told him that people had been there
recently, but that it was unoccupied now. Koh came silently over the
railing.

Excited shouts came up to them from the ground, cries of rage. The two
bodies had been discovered.

Jan led the way into the darkened room. At the far end, he saw a faint
blur of light, and went directly toward this. It came from behind a
heavy curtain which draped a doorway. Cautiously he moved the curtain a
little way. Outside was a narrow hall, lighted at intervals by lamps
hung on wall brackets. The oil burning in them gave off a mild, sweet
aroma that reminded Jan of flowers.

A quick survey showed him that there was no one in the hall. He stepped
out, followed by Koh, his nostrils wide as he endeavored to catch
Chicma's scent. The perfume from the lamps confused him.

Presently he turned to the left and like a hound on a trail, went
straight to a door about fifty feet away. Here he halted, sniffing for a
moment, then lifted the curtain and peered in.

He saw Chicma, but she was not in a cage, and she was not alone. She was
lolling on a cushioned divan, daintily nibbling on a sweetmeat from a
dish piled high on a taboret beside her. Her ragged jaguar-skin garment
was gone. In its place was a gaudily colored jacket of the softest silk.
There was a jewel-studded gold collar around her neck, and jewels blazed
from golden settings on her finger and toe rings. Beside her stood a
slender yellow slave girl, who was brushing her fur.

Jan turned to Koh.

"Seize the slave," he whispered. "We'll bind and gag her. Then Chicma
can come away with us."

Together they rushed in. Koh clapped his hand over the girl's mouth
before she could cry out. Startled by their abrupt entrance, Chicma
leaped down from the divan and started to run. Then she recognized Jan,
and stopped.

"What do you want?" she clucked, in her guttural chimpanzee tongue.

"I've come to take you away," he said.

"I like it here," she replied. "I won't go away. You do not need me. You
are grown, and can care for yourself. Go away and don't bother me."

Jan was dumfounded. To think that he had risked his life needlessly,
passed through countless perils to save Chicma from her captors, only to
find that she actually liked her captivity! All this he could not tell
to Chicma. There was no chimpanzee way of expressing it.

"I will go," he clucked to her. To Koh: "She won't go. We must go
without her. First I'll help you bind the girl."

He tore a strip of cloth from the curtain. But before he could use it,
the girl suddenly wrenched her mouth free from Koh's hand, and shrieked
loudly.

There was an answering shout from the hallway, the clank of armored men
running.

"No use to bind her now," said Jan. "Come."

He dashed out the window, onto the balcony. Koh flung the girl from him
and followed, just as a host of warriors rushed into the room. One of
the guards, searching the shrubbery beneath, spied the two figures
on the balcony and shouting to his fellows, pointed upward.

The nearest tree stood about twenty feet from the balcony. Jan stepped
up on the rail, and shouting, "Follow me!" plunged across the dizzy
height. For him it was not much of a jump. Many times he had leaped this
far, from tree to tree, in the jungle. His sure hands gripped the lowest
branch, clung there. But the branch cracked, sagged, then tore loose
from the trunk. Jan's body swung out to the horizontal and dropped. He
struck on his back with terrific force. Then came oblivion.



XXIII. THE LOTUS MARK

IN HER boudoir on the second floor of the Suarez hacienda, Dona Isabella
was talking with Georgia Trevor. The hour of the siesta was past and a
servant had just brought tea.

Ramona, accompanied by her duenna, had gone quietly to the patio to read
a book.

Jan had not been found. After two months in the jungle Dr. Bracken had
sent word that he had set up a base camp far to the south, and that he
had sent a messenger to Captain Santos, instructing him to build a
similar camp to the east. He had suggested that the same thing be done
to the north and west thus keeping a large area of the jungle under
constant watch. Harry Trevor, trusting him implicitly, had immediately
accepted the plan. Both he and Don Fernando were absent, establishing
the new base camps, but were expected to return that day, as Ramona was
to leave for school early the following morning.

Georgia Trevor stirred her tea thoughtfully. "Ramona seems quite sad
today," she said. "I wonder what can be wrong with her? Do you think it
is because her vacation has ended and she must leave for the States
tomorrow?"

The dona put down her cup. "That may have something to do with it," she
answered. "But she has assured me many times that she likes school.
There is something wrong with Ramona, some undercurrent I can't fathom.
At the beginning of her vacation she was bright and cheerful, but as the
days passed she seemed to grow more and more worried about something."

"She's still quite young to be away from home for ten months at a time,"
suggested Georgia Trevor. "No doubt she gets homesick. Only seventeen,
isn't she?"

"Yes-er-we think she is. I may as well tell you all about it," said the
dona. "Ramona is not our daughter, though we love and cherish her as our
very own."

"I've noticed that except for her dark eyes and hair she doesn't
resemble either you or Don Fernando. There seems to be something
Oriental about her type of beauty, suggesting a princess of ancient
Babylon or a vestal virgin from some temple of Isis."

"It may be," said the dona, "that your intuition is nearer the truth
than you realize. I'll show you something."

She opened a tiny wall safe and from one of its trays removed a large
brass key. With this she unlocked the lid of a massive brass-bound
chest. In the bottom of the chest was a black lacquered basket, its lid
inscribed in white, red and yellow, with characters greatly resembling
Egyptian hieroglyphics. As if it were a fragile sacred relic, the dona
lifted it reverently and placed it on a table.

"This," said the dona, "is the basket in which we found Ramona a tiny
baby not more than six months old. My husband had gone out on the river
with an Indian servant, for some early morning fishing. He noticed the
basket floating nearby, and was attracted by the strange characters with
which it was covered.

"He lifted the basket into the boat, and was astounded when he heard
strange little mewling sounds coming from it. He tore off the lid. Lying
in the bottom of the basket on a bed of soft wool, wrapped in a shawl of
golden-yellow silk, was a tiny baby girl.

"He rushed home to me at once, and when I saw the child, I immediately
fell in love with her. She was half starved, showing that she had been
floating in the basket for many hours. She may have traveled that way
for a great many miles, as the current is very swift. We tried to learn
who her parents were, and when we were not able to find out anything
about them, we adopted her.

"The inscriptions on the basket could not be read by any of the Indians
we asked, although for some reason the Indians always seemed to regard
them with superstitious awe.

"About a year later Sir Henry Westgate, the English archaeologist and
explorer, stopped here on his way into the jungle. He told us he sought
traces of colonists from an ancient civilization that had once existed
on a vast continent in the Pacific.

"My husband showed him this basket, told him where and how he had found
it, and asked if he could decipher the writing on it. Sir Henry's
expression when he--saw that basket reminded me of Galahad, finding the
Holy Grail. He said that it was a historical discovery of vast
importance, and that if the people who had set it adrift could be
located, the riddle of the lost continents of Mu, Atlantis and Lemuria
and the origins of all ancient civilizations and cultures could be
solved. Here is his translation."

From the bottom of the basket she took a sheet of paper, and read aloud:

"'To thee, mighty Hepr, Great God of the Waters, enthroned in eternal
power and glory upon the coils of the great serpent, between thy
sentinels the twin mountains Qer-Hapi and Mu-Hapi, Samsu, humble slave
of thy beloved son, Set, consigneth this daughter of Re, that thou
mayest deal with her in thy great wisdom according to thy omnipotent
will so powerful that went thou to relax it for but an instant, the gods
would fall down headlong and all men would perish.'"

"What can it mean?" asked Georgia Trevor, tensely.

"According to Sir Henry," replied the dona, "it means that a certain
Samsu, High Priest of Set, or Saturn, for some reason set the child
adrift upon the water, hoping that she would meet her death. She may
have been his own child, or she may have been the daughter of some other
powerful man. The statement that she is a daughter of Re shows that she
is a royal princess, or daughter of the sun. For the safety of his soul
even though he desired her death, the High Priest dared not slay a royal
personage himself. So I suppose he managed to put the blame on Hepr, God
of Waters, by consigning her to the river in a basket that would float.

"In the palm of the baby's right hand was tattooed an open lotus, the
sacred flower of Mu. This proved beyond all doubt that Ramona was a
princess of the blood imperial, Sir Henry said. If he is correct,
Ramona's ancestors were ruling a mighty civilization while our
Cro-Magnon forbears in Europe were living in caves and wearing animal
skins.

"The remains of every civilization of the past, Sir Henry told us, show
the cultural influence of Mu, the mother continent. Her ships carried
adventurers to all parts of the earth, where they established colonies
ruled by the viceroys of the motherland. But Mu, along with Lemuria was
broken up by a great earthquake, and sank into the ocean.

"An expedition had set out from the motherland on a good-will tour of
Mu's colonies, led by the Crown Prince, with a retinue of ten thousand
men and women from all walks of life.

"While he was in Egypt the prince received word of the destruction of
the motherland. He set sail for Atlantis, but in a terrific storm many
of his ships were lost. Of his own flagship nothing was ever heard.

"Sir Henry was convinced that the prince and a band of his followers had
landed somewhere on the coast of South America. The sight of Ramona's
basket convinced him that he was on the right trail, and that if he
would follow this river and all of its branches to their sources, he
would be sure to find the descendants of the people of Mu. With this
intention he led an expedition into the jungle some sixteen years ago.
Since then no word has come from him. Probably he and his men were
killed by savages."

Standing in the patio beneath the tiny balcony that jutted out from the
dona's boudoir, Ramona waited for Jan. She had waited there every day of
her vacation, but now, the last day, hope had fled.

A humming bird with iridescent plumage shot past Ramona's head as she
sat beneath the trysting tree, and lighted on a bush, beneath the dona's
window. She put down her book and followed it, to watch it at close
range while it sipped the nectar from the flowers.

Above the pixie drone of the midget flyer's wings, she suddenly heard
her supposed mother say: "Ramona is not our daughter." Shocked, she had
remained to listen, and had heard the whole story.

Ramona turned away from the window with eyes brimming, stunned to, learn
that she was not a Suarez and that the don and dona, whom she had loved
as her father and mother, had merely taken her in, a foundling. Her real
parents, it seemed, had not wanted her--had even desired her death.
Otherwise they would not have set her adrift on the river where the
chances were a hundred to one that she would perish.

As she walked down the path toward her tree, an Indian entered the
patio. He glanced cautiously about as if fearful of being seen, then
came toward her. Bowing low, he handed the girl a folded slip of paper.

"Jan send you this," he said softly, with a wary glance in the direction
of the snoring duenna. "I wait for you outside gate."

With trembling, eager fingers, Ramona unfolded the little missive,
while the Indian slunk away. She instantly recognized the large, crudely
made capital letters of Jan's writing.

RAMONA: I AM BADLY HURT. WANT TO SEE YOU. THE INDIAN WILL SHOW THE WAY.
WILL YOU COME? JAN.

Would she go? She had promised her father that she would never leave the
patio, unguarded. No, not her father. Don Fernando had deceived her
about that, as had the dona. Yet a promise was a promise, for all that,
and she had never broken her word.

For a moment she stood there, a prey to conflicting emotions. But only
for a moment. This was an emergency. Jan was wounded--perhaps dying. And
he wanted to see her--needed her. That was enough. Promise or no
promise, she must go.

As she passed the arbor, the corpulent Senora Soledade stirred uneasily,
ceased her snoring for a moment, and seemed about to awaken. Ramona ran
forward on tiptoes and quietly opened the gate. Stepping through she
closed it soundlessly. Over among the young rubber trees the Indian
stood with folded arms, waiting.

When he saw her coming, the savage started off toward the jungle. Once
in its depths, he stopped until she came up.

"How far?" she asked.

"Only a little way," he answered. "I show you, quick."

At first he led her straight south, but presently he began turning
toward the southeast. As they penetrated deeper and deeper into the
jungle, Ramona began to grow apprehensive. She recalled that Jan had
told her all Indians were his enemies. If this were the case, she
wondered how it would be possible for him to employ an Indian as a
messenger.

Then, to add to her fears, she began to hear sounds behind her, as if
someone or something were dogging her footsteps. She ran up close to her
guide--touched him on the shoulder.

"Something is following us," she said. "I heard it. It may be a puma or
a jaguar. I'm afraid."

"I go look," said the savage, and walked back for a little way.
Returning presently, he said: "Nothing follow. No be 'fraid."

He proceeded as before, but it was not long until the girl heard a twig
snap behind her. She cast a quick glance over her shoulder, then
screamed at the top of her voice as she saw a strange savage coming
stealthily toward her, carrying a small coil of rope. Like a charging
panther, the native sprang forward. She turned to run, but the Indian
who had lured her into the jungle stopped her before she was fairly
started. Then despite her cries and struggles, he held her while the
other bound her hands and gagged her.

Then someone other than Jan had written the note! But who? And how could
any one imitate his lettering so well?

Suddenly they came to a tiny clearing, walled in on all sides by
tangled, matted vegetation. In the middle of the clearing was a small,
newly built hut.

Standing in front of the hut, smoking a cigarette, was Captain Santos, a
grin of triumph on his dark features. He dropped the butt, ground it
beneath his heel, and slowly exhaled the blue-white smoke through his
nostrils as the two Indians came up with their beautiful young captive.

"Unbind her," he commanded in Spanish.

While they loosed the bonds that held her wrists, the captain removed
her gag.

"Now go! Vamos! Get the supplies from the hacienda and hurry back to
camp. I'll see you there--later."

Ramona faced him bravely, trying to hide the horrible fear that clutched
at her heart.

"What is the meaning of this, Captain Santos?" she demanded. "Where is
Jan?"

"Jan," he replied, brutally seizing her wrists, "is dead. And since you
ask, it means, my little one, that you are mine."

She tried to pull away, but the powerful fingers held her like steel
bands. She kicked, bit and screamed, but Santos only laughed.

"Cry out all you like," he said. "It will amuse the monkeys and
parrots." Then he dragged her into the dark interior of the hut.



XXIV. CAGED

WHEN JAN became conscious after his fall from the tree, he was lying on
a smooth stone floor. He sat up, and numerous twinges of pain shot
through the muscles of his back.

Then he remembered his leap from the balcony of the Imperial Palace, the
broken tree limb, and the crash that brought oblivion.

He got to his feet unsteadily and looked about. He was in a narrow cell,
on all sides of which were stout iron bars. The air was heavy with the
odors of sweating men and animals. In a cell on his right was a hairy
man-monster like the ones that had attacked him when he first entered
the valley. This husky creature was squatting in a corner, busily
scratching himself. Jan could see other hairy monsters squatting in the
cells beyond.

In the cell on Jan's left still another form paced back and forth. There
were a few scattered patches of hair on his body, but the rest was quite
naked and as white as Jan's own skin. His beard and the hair on his head
were much longer than those of the hairy-bodied creatures at the right,
both hanging below his waist, and were dark brown, streaked with gray.
He stood more erect than these others, and was not nearly so heavy or
muscular.

There were two doors to each cell. One led to a passageway in the rear,
and the other to a circular arena of white sand about an eighth of a
mile in diameter. Looking across this arena, and to the right and left,
Jan could see hundreds of other cells. Those nearest him housed yellow
men, white men, and hairy men. But in those farther away were caged many
strange and terrible-looking creatures. Some, such as the saber-toothed
tigers, cave bears and hyaenodons were familiar to him. But there were
many others--giant beasts, birds, and reptiles--he had never seen or heard
of before.

Presently a great commotion started among the men, beast-men, and
beasts. Amid a deafening medley of roars, growls, shrieks, shouts and
howls came a sound of clanging gates. Then Jan saw the reason. It was
feeding time.

He could see the attendants coming along the passageway. One would move
a lever, raising a gate a little way, while the other pushed food
beneath it. Then the gate would clang back into place and the two would
move on to the next cage while a third, following them, filled the water
pans.

Like the beast-men on one side of him and the wild-looking white man on
the other, Jan was fed raw meat. He was hungry, and seized it eagerly.
It proved to be the flesh of some creature unfamiliar to him, but quite
palatable and satisfying. After eating he drank, and lay down on his
belly to ease his bruised and aching back. With his head cradled in his
arms, he soon fell asleep.

Some time later he awakened with a start. Something was prodding his
shoulder. It was the end of a long pole thrust through the bars by a
white man who wore a yellow tunic and sandals. He withdrew the pole as
Jan scrambled to his feet and faced him.

"Do you speak the language of men, wild one?" he asked.

"When it pleases me," replied Jan defiantly.

The fellow grinned.

"It will do you no good to be surly with me," he said. "I am only here
to help you. The games will start soon, and if you have the intelligence
to listen and heed, so much the better for you."

"The games!" exclaimed Jan.

Then he remembered what Koh had said. If they were captured they would
probably be sentenced to the games--to battle in the arena with men and
monsters, usually against great odds. "Is Prince Koh here?" he asked.

"The prince is in the section with the other prisoners from Temukan,"
was the reply. "But heed me now, for I may not spend much time with
you." He unrolled a scroll and glanced at it.

"You have been sentenced to stand trial by combat, first with a man,
second with a bird, and third with a beast. If you kill the man, that
will of course save your life. But if you subdue him without killing
him, he will become your slave. If you kill or overcome the bird, you
will have the right to ask and be granted a boon by the Emperor. And if
you overcome or kill the beast, you will be granted your life and
freedom.

"In case you won all three fights, which has never been done, you would
go and stand before the golden pavilion in the south, where the Emperor
and Empress will be enthroned. You would raise your hand in salute,
thus"--raising his right hand with the palm forward--"whereupon the
Emperor would give you your freedom."

Examining the scroll once more, the man passed on to the next cage-the
one occupied by the bearded white savage.

"What about you, wild one? Can you talk?" he asked.

The bearded man looked at him blankly. Then he began a series of
guttural grunts and barks very much like the language of the
chimpanzees.

"Ha! So you speak like the hairy ones. Well, no man can understand such
noises, so I cannot instruct you."

"I can tell you what he says," volunteered Jan. "He asks what you want.
Shall I interpret for you?"

"No use," said the yellow-clad one. "He would not have the intelligence
to understand."

As the sun approached noon, the attitude of the multitude of spectators
in the amphitheater grew tense. Already Samsu, High Priest of Set, had
taken his place on the north. He was surrounded by his black-clothed
nobles with their ladies, black-armored guards, and black-robed priests.

The seat of honor on the west was occupied by Teta, High Priest of Asar.
His impressive title and name were Neter Ka Aser, Teta, Sa Re, or Holy
Soul of Isiris, Son of the Sun. Like Samsu, he was a cousin of the
Emperor. Surrounding Teta were his white-cloaked nobles and their
families, white-armored guards, and white-robed priests.

In the seat of honor on the east side sat Pilatre, High Priestess of
Aset. Her title--Neter Urt en Aset, Pilatre, Sat Remeant Divine Great
Lady of Isis, Pilatre, Daughter of the Sun. She was Teta's daughter.
Pilatre was attired in light blue, and her fierce Amazon guards wore
armor lacquered a cerulean shade, while her ladies and her comely vestal
virgins wore diaphanous garments of the same azure tint.

The general assembly was a motley jumble of color. Each class dressed
according to its trade, profession or occupation, so far as cut and
quality of garments went, but with no restrictions as to color, except
that no person not definitely allied with one of the four great
religious orders might be completely clad in the color of that order.
Color combinations of every kind were permissible, and were used to such
an extent that a kaleidoscopic effect was produced wherever the people
congregated.

Vendors of sweetmeats, nuts, fruits and chocolatl, a beverage made from
a mixture of chocolate and honey, moved through the crowds, noisily
crying their wares. Hawkers of cheap jewelry, gewgaws, trinkets and
charms scrambled from tier to tier, shouting the merits of their
merchandise. Others sold scrolls of thin papyrus on which a program of
the day's events was inscribed in curious hieroglyphic characters.

But the bedlam of sound was suddenly hushed as there came a blare of
trumpets from the south. Then, from beneath the stand supporting the
golden pavilion, a gold-armored herald dashed out into the arena,
mounted on a fierce three-horned steed.

"The Emperor and Empress come!" he cried. "Salute your rulers!"

In an instant, every man, woman and child, from high priest and great
noble down to the lowliest slave, bowed the knee. Slowly, majestically,
the royal couple came through the arched doorway beside the great golden
throne. With quiet dignity they took their seats.

A great cry went up from the crowd:

"To Mena and Nefertre! Life! Strength! Health!"

Having paid this tribute to their exalted rulers, the people resumed
their seats.

Surrounded by his gold-armored warriors, his nobles and their ladies,
and the yellow-robed priests of Re, Mena watched a small sundial on a
pedestal before him. It was the custom to begin the games just as the
sun reached the meridian, in order that Re, the Sun God, might look
auspiciously down upon them from his great central throne in the
heavens.

When the shadow on the dial pointed directly north, Mena raised his
scepter. There was a clash of cymbals, a roll of drums, and a blare of
trumpets. The games were officially opened.

A mounted herald dashed into the arena and announced:

"His Imperial Majesty, Mena, Son of Re, has commanded that the first
event offered for your entertainment today shall be the triple trial for
life of the fierce young wild man known as Jan of the Jungle.

"As his life is thrice forfeit, so thrice must he defend it. First was
it forfeit to Set, when he blinded the Sebek and escaped from the
temple. For this offense he shall do battle with a man. Second, his life
is forfeit to the State, as he slew one of her soldiers. For this
offense, if he survive the first, he shall do battle with a bird.

"Third, his life is forfeit to the great god Re, because he entered by
force the habitation of his High Priest, the Imperial Palace. For this
offense, if he survive the other two ordeals, he shall fight a beast. It
is the decree of the Emperor that if he survive all three, then will he
have earned life and freedom."

Standing with face pressed against the bars of his cell, Jan listened to
the announcement of the herald. He saw the riders disappear through the
gate beneath the imperial throne. Then the door in the front of his cell
was raised. The end of a long pole prodded him in the back, and a gruff
voice called, "Out with you!"

With a snarl, Jan turned to seize the pole, but it was snatched away.
The attendant who held it behind the bars then dropped the pole and took
up a long trident.

Jan saw that sooner or later he must enter the arena. As well do it
peacefully as to remain there and receive wounds that might cripple him.
He walked out, and the door clanged into place behind him.

For a moment he stood there undecided where to go or what to do. He had
heard it ordained that he must fight a man, yet he was alone in the
arena. Perplexed, he started to walk across the white sand. He had
reached a point opposite the golden throne of Mena when he heard a clang
behind him. Turning, he saw a long-bearded, naked man coming toward him.
It was the wild-looking white man who had been confined in the cell next
to his.

The man walked forward into the arena, apparently as much at sea as Jan
about what he was supposed to do. The youth waited until he came up.

"What do they want us to do?" barked the other in a queer man-ape
language.

"To fight, I believe," replied Jan in the same guttural tongue.

At this moment, a gold-armored rider dashed through the gate beneath the
throne. Riding up between the two, he threw a heavy knotted club at the
feet of each. Then he withdrew.

"Ah, this is better!" exclaimed the bearded man, catching up his club.
"We will not have to fight with teeth and nails."

Jan picked up his own club. Then he warily watched his opponent, who was
coming toward him, the club held high over his head, as if he would
crush Jan to earth with one blow.

The youth stood his ground. He did not even raise his own weapon. But
when the heavy club descended with terrific force, Jan was not there.
With cat-like quickness he had leaped lightly to one side. As the
bludgeon of his opponent thudded to the sand where he had stood a moment
before Jan swung his own weapon.

Had it landed squarely it would have crushed the skull like an eggshell.
The blow, however, was only a glancing one. But it struck with enough
force to tear the scalp of the bearded man and knock him unconscious. He
collapsed in a heap.

It had been ridiculously easy. Jan stood there, leaning on his club, and
gazing at his fallen foe. Two armored riders dashed out. One reined his
steed to a halt, dismounted, and threw the limp and unconscious body
over his mount's back in front of the saddle. The other rider handed Jan
a long spear. Then both withdrew.

Over at his left, Jan heard the clang of a gate. He looked, and gasped
in surprise and awe at sight of the weird and terrifying monstrosity
that was trotting toward him on two legs.

It was a bird fully eight feet tall, with a crest on its immense head
like that of a kingfisher. Its great, eagle-like beak was large enough
and strong enough to pluck off the head of a man at a single snap, and
swallow it like a cherry. Its legs, longer and stronger than those of a
full-grown horse, terminated in immense, sharp clutching talons.

There had been a picture of this bird of prey standing over its kill in
one of Ramona's books. It was called a brontornis, or thunder bird and
like many of the other strange creatures he had met within this valley,
was supposed to be extinct.

As the immense bird drew near, it cocked its head to one side for a
moment as if deciding whether or not Jan would be worth while as a food
morsel, considering the risk. It must have made an abrupt decision that
he was, for it suddenly spread its short, stubby wings and charged.

Jan extended his spear point, and braced his feet to meet the charge,
aiming for the center of the huge, feathery breast.

It was almost upon him, the spear not an inch from its breast, when it
suddenly swooped, arched its neck, and snapped downward, seizing the
shaft of the weapon in its powerful beak.

Taken completely by surprise, Jan was swept off his feet as the
feathered giant gave a quick jerk backward in an effort to pluck the
spear from his grasp. He hung on, and the bird, after swinging him far
around to the right, suddenly flung its head the other way.

A cry went up from the breathlessly watching crowd as the shaft snapped
off and Jan, holding the broken butt, was thrown to the ground.

Dropping the spearhead, the bird leaped for the fallen Jan. Before he
could move, it had pinned him beneath one immense foot, its clutching
talons embedded in his left, shoulder and arm. Then it threw back its
head and uttered a loud ringing cry that momentarily drowned the clamor
of the excited onlookers--like a cock crowing over a vanquished rival,
but with a voice more nearly resembling that of a lion.

Lying beneath the terrific weight of the feathered giant, with blood
gushing from his shoulder and arm where the cruel talons were embedded,
Jan struggled desperately to arise, and futilely beat the bird with his
slender spear shaft.

Having voiced its cry of victory, the brontornis leisurely bent over to
devour its struggling prey. Jan saw the immense head coming down,
straight for his face, the powerful hooked beak opened wide--and did the
only thing left for him to do. He thrust the splintered end of his spear
shaft between the gaping mandible and down the throat.

With a peculiar sound which in a smaller bird might have been a squawk,
but coming from this throat was more like a strangled roar, the monster
jerked his head up and shook it, trying to dislodge the shaft. But Jan
had thrust with all his might, and the splintered end was tightly
lodged.


After several futile shakes the bird tried, first with one foot, then
the other, to claw the stick from its throat, its prey momentarily
forgotten. But when the second foot lifted, Jan was free, and quick to
take advantage of his freedom.

Leaping to his feet, he ran to where his heavy club lay. Picking it up,
he returned, and swung it with all his strength against the shin of the
leg on which the monster was standing. Under the force of that blow the
bone shattered like matchwood, and the feathered giant toppled over.

It was up in an instant, however, on its good leg. Jan swung his club
again, and the bird slumped to the ground, flapping its useless stubs of
wings and squawking thunderously--the spear shaft still protruding from
its throat.

Then Jan directed blow after blow at the huge, crested head. Twice that
head lolled in the sand as if the monster was quite dead, and twice it
was reared again, bruised and bloody, so tenacious of life was this
creature. But the third time it sank, never to rise again.

While the onlookers roared their approval, Jan threw down his club and
walked over before the golden throne. It was the first time he had had a
good look at the Emperor and Empress; and he was surprised. Somehow he
had expected Mena to be old and hideous like the High Priest, Samsu. He
was astonished, therefore, to see a handsome, smooth-shaved,
athletic-looking man, not yet forty. His wife, Nefertre, was not only
quite young-looking, but beautiful. She reminded Jan of Ramona, as if
she might indeed have been an elder sister or her mother.

The Emperor stood up.

"You have earned a reward, Jan of the jungle;" he said, not unkindly.
"Name it."

"I ask that the prisoner, Prince Koh of Temukan, be freed and sent back
unharmed to his father with a suitable escort," said Jan.

The Emperor looked astonished.

"Prince Koh has been condemned to the games," he said. "He is to appear
in the next event. I cannot--"

He did not finish his sentence, for the Empress had suddenly reached
over, laid her hand on his arm, and said something to him in a low
voice. Jan could not hear what she said, but he surmised that she was
interceding for him, as she gave him a little friendly smile. At first
Mena shook his head firmly, but gradually, as his beautiful wife talked
to him he seemed to relent.

"Very well, Jan of the jungle," he said. "Your request is granted." He
turned to the master of ceremonies. "Go on with the next event."

Through one of the numerous gates beneath the tiers of seats lumbered a
great hairy beast with long, curling tusks. A uniformed trainer rode on
its neck, and an attendant followed, carrying a sharp, three-pronged
hook at the end of a heavy chain, trailing from a collar around the
great beast's neck.

At first Jan thought he was going to have to fight this monster, a
mighty bull mastodon, but he breathed easier when it passed him
unnoticed, and stopped near the carcass of the bird. The man holding the
hook jabbed a prong into the feathery body, the trainer shouted a
command, and the great prehistoric beast of burden moved away, dragging
the remains of the thunder bird with ease.

Scarcely had the carcass of the feathered giant disappeared when a
gold-armored rider galloped out of the gate beneath the throne. He
handed Jan a longbow, a quiver of arrows, and a short sword with
scabbard and belt. Jan buckled the sword belt around his waist and slung
the quiver by its strap beneath his left arm so the feathered ends of
the arrows could be reached quickly, and wondered what manner of monster
he was doomed to fight this time.

He had not long to wait, for a gate clanged over at his right, and there
stalked into the arena the most powerful and ferocious of beats--a giant
saber-toothed tiger.



XXV. RAKING CLAWS

STANDING in the center of the arena, Jan felt quite small and
insignificant in the presence of the mighty carnivore that was stalking
majestically toward him. He realized that the chances were all against
him, jungle champion though he was, for winning a battle with a
saber-toothed tiger. He was in greater danger than he had ever been
before.

He fitted an arrow to the bowstring and waited. A shaft launched from a
distance would only infuriate the brute and hasten its charge. But
should the cat continue its slow, majestic pace, he might be able to
send an arrow through an eye into the brain from a distance of fifty
feet or so.

No sound came from the myriad onlookers in the seats above. They were
watching silently, breathlessly, to see how the contestant would play
this extremely dangerous game. It promised almost certain death.

Seated on the lowest tier before the throne were two archers, whose duty
it was to see that animals which did not show a fighting spirit in the
arena were goaded to greater ferocity. For this purpose they had
longbows, and arrows with barbed heads, backed by cross pieces that
prevented their piercing beyond a depth of two inches. A few of these
barbed arrows clinging to its sides and flank usually put any beast in a
fighting humor.

One of the archers, observing that the advancing tiger did not appear
any more ferocious than a house cat confronted by a dish of milk, fitted
a barbed arrow to the string, and nudged his companion.

"The youth is waiting for a close, careful shot," he said, "hoping it
will be deadly. Watch me spoil his plans." He drew the arrow back to his
ear, took deliberate aim, and let fly.

At the twang of the bowstring the feline looked up curiously. Then, as
the cruel barb suddenly stung its shoulder, it gave vent to a roar of
rage and charged, not at Jan in the center of the arena, but straight
for the archer who had launched the arrow.

It was fully fifteen feet from the floor of the arena to the lowest
tier, but the tiger made it in a single graceful leap. Before the
astonished and horrified archer could draw his sword, the great cat was
upon him. A single crunch of the powerful jaws crushed his head to
bloody pulp.

All this took place in a few seconds, but during that brief time Jan had
not been idle. As the great beast launched itself into the air, he sent
an arrow into its side. By the time it had slain the archer he had sent
a second arrow after the first.

Then he saw the monster knocking armored soldiers right and left with
sledge-hammer blows from its powerful front paws as it made straight for
the golden throne. There were cries of horror from the spectators--shrieks
of terror from the ladies who sat with the nobles on each side of the
throne.

The Emperor stood up and drew his sword. The Empress turned deathly
pale, but stood her ground. There was but a thin line of soldiers
between the monster and the throne.

Jan cared nothing for the archers and the soldiers. He cared nothing for
the fate of the Emperor. All these were his enemies. But the Empress had
smiled at him, with a smile that reminded him of Ramona. And she had
interceded with her husband for him. She was his friend; and she was in
deadly peril.

Dropping his bow, Jan sprinted for the gateway beneath the throne.
Reaching it, he leaped upward, grasped the ornamental rim of the arch
above it, and drew himself up. Just above the arch hung the imperial
banner of Satmu, draped over the wall. Jan seized a golden tassel,
pulled himself up, and grasping the edge of the banner, clambered
upward.

Flinging an arm over the rim of the wall, he swung his body across. Then
he whipped out his shortsword and charged over the fallen warriors in
the wake of the flailing, roaring tiger.

Between the throne and the charging fury there remained but one man. He
was Telapu, son of Samsu, Captain of the Imperial Guard and Crown
Warrior. Despite his armor and his longsword, Telapu could not bring
himself to face the monster that had knocked his men about like
ninepins. With a shriek of terror, he turned and ran, leaving the
Emperor and Empress to face the beast unguarded.

It was at this moment that Jan came up behind the tiger. With a mighty
leap he alighted on the shaggy back, and grasping the loose skin of the
neck, thrust his shortsword in to the hilt just beneath the shoulder
blade.

Sounding a frightful roar, the great cat turned to seize its foe. But it
toppled backward. Jan and the tiger rolled together to the lowest tier,
where they brought up against the edge of the wall with terrific force.

As they lay there motionless, apparently locked in a death embrace, it
was the Emperor who first dashed down the steps to Jan's aid. Lifting a
heavy paw which lay across Jan's chest, he dragged his limp body away
from that of his terrible foe.

Then he shouted for the royal physician and attendants. The Empress, who
had hurried after him, bent over the youth and laid her hand over his
heart.

"May Re be praised!" she exclaimed. "He lives! You must see that he is
fittingly rewarded for this brave deed, my lord."

"Such reward as is in our power to confer shall be his," replied the
Emperor. Then he uttered a sudden exclamation of surprise as he noticed
the emblem tattooed in the palm of Jan's right hand. "Look! The sacred
lotus! This is no common savage, but a prince of the blood imperial! It
accounts for his extraordinary bravery."

"You forget, my lord," said Nefertre, "that Telapu is also of the blood
imperial. Does this, then, account for his cowardice?"

"It's a different strain," replied Mena; "a throw-back, which by Heru
and Anpu I'll weed from my ranks!...But here's the doctor."

Jan wakened in a soft bed beneath yellow silken coverlets in which were
embroidered the imperial coat of arms of Satmu. His head, shoulder and
arm were neatly bandaged, and his tattered garments of jaguar skin had
been replaced with a silken sleeping wrap.

When he sat up and saw the magnificence of the bedchamber, he thought at
first that he had arrived in that beautiful place called heaven, which
Ramona had described. But his head swam dizzily, and he subsided to the
pillow once more. He recalled rolling down the tiers of the amphitheater
in the dying clutch of the tiger, and the conviction, as his head struck
the wall, that his time had come to sleep the long sleep.

But there was a saffron-skinned Temukanese slave standing at the foot of
his bed. Had this slave also gone to heaven?

"Where are we?" he asked.

"In the Imperial Palace, highness," replied the slave respectfully.

"Where is Prince Koh of Temukan?" asked Jan.

"He awaits the permission of the royal physician to visit your highness,
before beginning his journey."

"Tell the royal physician I want to see the prince now," said Jan.

The slave bowed low and withdrew. In a few moments he returned with a
tall, dignified man, whose upper lip and jowls were shaven, but whose
chin was adorned with a short gray beard, rectangular in shape and
plaited with fine gold threads.

"I am Usephais, the doctor, highness," he said. "So you would entertain
visitors? It must be that you are recovering rapidly. Let us see."

He unwound Jan's bandages, one by one, and examined his wounds. Then he
listened to his heart, and felt his brow for fever.

"Head ache?" he asked.

"Not much," replied Jan, "but it swims when I sit up."

"I know. That will pass. Here drink this."

He dissolved a powder in a glass of wine and held it to the patient's
lips.

Jan drank, and immediately felt a grateful glow suffusing him.

"We'll have you up and around in a day or two," said Usephais, "but for
the present you must stay in bed. You may see your friend, however."

He withdrew, and within a short time, Prince Koh was kneeling at the
bedside.

"I don't know how to thank you," he said, gripping Jan's hand. "Since
your brilliant defense of their majesties, yesterday, I've been treated
as a visiting prince rather than a captured slave. And I'm to leave for
my native kingdom of Temukan today with an escort."

Some time later Jan was visited by the Emperor and Empress. Because of
his ignorance of human customs or the formality of courts, he had no
idea of the honor bestowed upon him by such a visit, but he flushed
under their enthusiastic praise of his valor, and something within him
that had always longed for the care and love of a real human mother
responded to the maternal ministrations of the beautiful Nefertre, who
could talk to him so soothingly, and whose cool, soft hand upon his brow
seemed to bestow a healing benediction.

By order of the royal physician, he was kept in his apartments for three
days. On the fourth he was summoned to the imperial audience chamber.

The page who brought the summons was followed by a half dozen slaves,
who bore quilted silken garments, gold-plated armor and weapons. While
the Emperor's messenger waited, the slaves quickly dressed Jan in the
silken garments, fastened his armor on him, and belted his sword and
dagger about his waist. Then he followed the page to the throne room.

Mena was seated on a jewel-studded golden throne, on a dais at one end
of the room. Above the back of the throne, a brilliantly polished golden
globe, representing the sun, was supported by three images: a blue one
of Aset, cut from lapis lazuli; a white one of Asar, carved from
alabaster; and a black one of Set, sculptured from polished jet.

Standing at each side of the throne were the leading nobles officials
and dignitaries of the realm, including the High Priest of Asar and that
of Set, and the High Priestess of Aset.

As Jan and the page entered the room, a major-domo announced:

"His Royal Highness Prince Jan."

Then the page conducted him to the foot of the throne, while every voice
was hushed, and every eye was turned upon him.

The Emperor stood up to receive him, an unusual honor, and made public
acknowledgement of the crown's indebtedness to him for his act of
heroism at the games.

Then the monarch resumed his seat and glanced over to the left where
Samsu High Priest of Set, stood with a little group of his black-clad
followers.

"I believe you have a petition, Samsu," he said.

"I have, your majesty," replied the High Priest. "The savage who stands
before your throne blinded the holy Sebek. I ask that he be given into
my hands, that he may be punished for this sacrilege."

"He has already stood trial by combat on that score," replied Mena. "The
incident is closed."

"In the name of the great god Set I demand justice!" said Samsu his
skull-like face working.

"Well, then, justice you shall have," said Mena. "Telapu!"

Standing at the right of the throne, Samsu's craven son turned deathly
pale, and his knees quaked violently when he suddenly heard his name
spoken by the Emperor. Nothing had been said to him about his display of
cowardice at the games and he was beginning to believe that on account
of the influence of his father, the matter had been overlooked.

"Yes, your majesty," he replied, his voice quavering.

"Your services as Captain of the Imperial Guard are no longer required.
The title of Crown Warrior is yours no longer. I return you to your
father and to the ranks of the black ones. Go!"

The eyes of Samsu flashed an angry green. Here was a decided setback to
his ambition. For Mena had no heir, and he had hoped to place his son in
line for succession to the throne of Satmu. But he dared not utter a
word of protest. As Telapu, pale and tearful, stumbled over to where he
stood, he kept his head bowed.

"Prince Jan," said Mena rising once more. "In the presence of these
witnesses, I name you Crown Warrior and Captain of the Imperial Guard."

He raised his hand dismissing the court.

Samsu, his face plainly showing his hate and envy, departed with his
disgraced son and his black-clad followers, while the other courtiers
crowded around Jan to congratulate him.



XXVI. THE VANQUISHED

SHORTLY AFTER Jan returned to his quarters a page entered and bowed
before him.

"Your highness's slave by combat awaits leave to come into your
presence," he said.

"My slave by combat? What do you mean?"

"It is the one your highness overcame in the arena. Shall I send him
in?"

"Yes."

A moment later a slender, stately individual, whose iron-gray beard was
trimmed to a sharp point, and whose neat court attire and well-groomed
person proclaimed his gentility, walked into the apartment. Wrapped
around his head was a clean white bandage. Jan, who had expected to see
the hairy wild man he had vanquished at the games, was astounded. Yet on
close scrutiny, there seemed to be a slight resemblance between this man
and the one he had stunned with his club.

"Who are you?" asked Jan.

"I am Sir Henry Westgate of the outer world," replied the man, accenting
his Satmuan speech as if unfamiliar with its use yet understanding it.
"I have been told you came here from the outer world. What language did
you speak there?"

"English," replied Jan. "Also a few Indian and Spanish words.

"I am English," said Sir Henry. "These people tell me I become your
slave since you vanquished me in the arena. I do not remember fighting
you. Can you tell me about it?"

Jan told him how he had first seen him in a cage next to his beneath the
seats of the amphitheater and of the fights that followed.

When he had finished, the Englishman said:

"This is terrible--tragic! I must have lost my memory for years. No doubt
that blow in the arena restored it. They tell me I was captured, quite
naked, with a band of hairy men, who were brought in for the games.

"I was exploring the jungle, looking for a way to this very city, the
existence of which I suspected. As I wandered through the wilds I lost
many members of my expedition. Some fell prey to wild beasts, some to
the long arrows and poisonous darts of the savages, and some to the
fever. Finally, when I was reduced to but four followers, I left camp
one morning on a lone trip of exploration. After traveling several miles
I came to a tall cliff. I am a trained climber, and had brought a rope.
After hours of effort I succeeded in reaching the top of that cliff, and
found that I was on the top of a long ridge about five hundred feet
wide, enclosing a vast green valley. With my field glasses I made out
what looked like a good-sized city about fifteen miles from where I
stood. I was sure this was the city for which I had been searching.

"There was a shelf about fifty feet below, and beneath this a number of
other shelves. I had a sixty-foot rope, and this I made fast about the
base of a stunted tree that grew on the cliff top. Then I let myself
down over the cliff. I reached the first shelf without mishap, and the
second.

"As I was descending to the third I heard shouts below me--sounds
manlike and yet beast-like. Looking down; I saw a score of primitive
beast-men, bearded, whose bodies were covered with hair. They began to
hurl sticks and stones up at me. I tried to scramble back up on the
shelf, but a missile struck the side of my head, and all went black.

"I remember nothing more that happened until I returned to consciousness
here in the palace three days ago. I know only that years must have
passed, because my hair and beard grew so long and turned so gray."

"And now you wish to go back to the outer world?" asked Jan.

No. I prefer to remain here in Satmu, to study its people. It is a
privilege for which I would give many years of my life."

"Then do so," said Jan. "If the fact that I knocked you unconscious made
you my slave, you are free from now on," and extended his hand, as he
had seen white men do. The English scientist took it gratefully.

As the days passed, lengthened into weeks and months, Jan grew tired of
the luxury and splendor of his life in the palace, and longed for the
simplicity and freedom of his former jungle life. He often thought of
Ramona, and wished that he could revisit the plantation to see if she
had returned from her journey. But he had come to Satmu by such a
devious way that he had no idea where to look for the underground
passageway through which he had entered the valley.

Mena had given orders that he be instructed in reading and writing, in
the arts and sciences, and in the use of arms. He progressed rapidly
with his studies, and still more rapidly in the use of weapons, which he
took to as naturally as a duck to water, thanks to his jungle-trained
skill and coordination. In a few months he could fence as well as his
master. The best archer in the army could not send an arrow or hurl a
javelin straighter or farther than he.

As for riding the fierce three-horned steeds, he had a way with the
brutes that even the most experienced riders could not duplicate.

Having learned to ride and to fence, he was taught tilting, a sport in
which long lances and shields were used by the two rivals in each match.
In the practice bouts, blunt lances were used, the object being to
unseat an opponent. But in jousting matches and duels, lances with
needle-sharp points were employed.

He often went on hunting excursions, sometimes with small parties, and
sometimes, when the Emperor went, with large forces of hunters. The
valley abounded in big game, and the hunters riding their swift,
three-horned steeds usually found excellent sport. Following the hunters
came the mastodons with their drivers and attendants. The attendants
cleaned and cut up the game, and loaded it on the backs of the huge
woolly pachyderms, to be conveyed back to Satmu.

One day when Jan was out with a small party of hunters, he sighted a
giant ground sloth some distance away, squatting on its haunches and
eating the leaves of a tree. The party had been following a herd of
deer, but when Jan saw this immense creature, he left the others and
hurried his mount toward it.

He had not gone far when the mylodon must have decided that the leaves
were more luscious farther on, and lumbered away with considerable
speed, for despite its awkwardness and immense bulk it could travel
quite swiftly. Soon it was leading Jan across a stretch of marsh land,
dotted with little clumps of trees. And here the sloth made swifter
progress than the pursuing triceratops, as its broad pads were better
adapted to this travel than those of Jan's steed.

It took more than two hours to cross the marsh. By this time, Jan had
lost sight of his quarry. But the trail was plain enough, and he urged
his mount along this at top speed. Soon he emerged from the
tree-sprinkled country onto a broad grassy plain. Less than a half mile
away he saw the mylodon.

Here, with the advantage all in favor of the triceratops, he gained
rapidly on the monster. As he came up behind it, it turned, and rearing
itself on its thick tail and sturdy hind legs, awaited his coming.

Jan couched his long lance and charged. He had aimed for the left
breast, and the lace point struck and entered the target unswervingly.
With a terrible screaming roar, the mylodon swung its two powerful
forefeet in retaliation. An immense paw struck Jan with a terrific
impact, and sent him rolling in the tall grass fully twenty feet away
from his saddle. For a moment he lay there, half stunned.

The mylodon, apparently mortally wounded, was bellowing, moaning and
threshing about in the grass. But the triceratops, having lost its
rider, was galloping back toward Satmu by the way it had come, as fast
as its stout legs would carry it.

Jan shouted to his runaway steed at the top of his voice, but with no
effect.

Had he been a city-bred man, confronted by the prospect of being left
alone in this wilderness, Jan might have sunk to the utmost depths of
despair. But to this man of the jungle being alone in the wilds was a
pleasure. It was easy for him to slip back into the old ways.

He waited until the great sloth lay still. Then, with his keen dagger,
he carved a steak from the rump and ate until his hunger was satisfied.
Nor did he neglect carving off another piece and wrapping it in a strip
of tough hide as a provision against future needs.

After he had eaten, Jan was thirsty, and the breeze from the south
carried the scent of water. He accordingly set out in that direction. As
he did so, there came to him the howling of a hyaenodon that had scented
the kill, answered by a score of canine throats from all directions.

A half hour's walk brought him to the bank of a river that meandered
between low, willow-fringed banks. After he had drunk his fill, he
looked downstream, and noticed that there was something strangely
familiar about the locality in which he found himself. An unbroken line
of tall, perpendicular cliffs confronted him, and the river disappeared
into the face of one of these, not two miles from where he stood. On the
left bank of the stream stood the temple ruins and the great stone
images that he had seen when he first entered the valley.

Here, then, was the lost passageway! The gateway to his beloved jungle,
and perhaps to that beautiful creature beyond the jungle who had gone on
a long journey, but who had promised she would return and wait for him.

Hungry for a sight of his jungle once more, and thrilled at the prospect
of finding Ramona, Jan lost no time in getting to the temple ruins. As
it was impossible for him to swim weighted down with his armor and
weapons, he made a light raft from pieces of driftwood bound together
with strands of twisted grass. Then he stripped, and after piling his
clothing, armor and weapons on the raft, pushed out into the stream.

Inside the cavern, he dragged his craft up on the bank, and dressed once
more. Then he followed the dark passageway to the opening beneath the
falls, descended the cliff face, plunged through the sheet of falling
water and waded ashore.

A glance upward revealed that his tree house was still there. Joyously
climbing the bank, he made for the base of the great tree that had been
his home for so long.

But he came to a sudden halt, as two rifles cracked almost in unison. At
the impact of the two projectiles, Jan spun halfway round, then fell.



XXVII. A FIGHTING VICTIM.

As JAN FELL to the ground, Dr. Bracken's two Indian watchers their
rifles still smoking, leaped from their hiding place and ran toward him
with exultant shouts.

But much to their surprise and consternation, the victim got to his feet
just as they reached him. His sword leaped from its sheath. One savage
was pierced before he could recover from his astonishment. The other
quickly turned and fled into the jungle.

Jerking his blade free of the sagging body, Jan hurried after the
running Indian. But the weight of his armor impeded him. Whipping bow
and arrow from the quiver at his back, he sent a steel-tipped shaft
after his fleeing assailant.

It struck the Indian in the back of the neck and passed through,
inflicting a mortal wound. By the time Jan came up beside him, he was
dead.

Having made sure that the savage was sleeping the long sleep, Jan
returned to the base of the tree. Here, he curiously examined the armor
covering his left shoulder, where the two projectiles had struck. It was
dented in two places, but not broken through. He saw one of the
projectiles lying nearby--a crumpled hollow cylinder with liquid dripping
from it, and the broken stub of a needle on one end.

Before proceeding on into the jungle, Jan decided to inspect the tree
house. But in order to climb, he was forced to remove his metal shoes
and gauntlets. These he slung by straps around his neck. Then he made
the ascent.

Most of the articles in the tree house seemed to be as he had left them,
except that the machetes and other iron weapons had rusted. The roof had
several holes in it where parts of the thatch had blown away, and the
floor was littered with leaves and bits of grass that had fallen from
the roof.

Although his armor had saved him from the hypodermic bullets of the two
Indians, Jan was beginning to grow quite tired of it. He was as proud of
it as is any high school boy with a new raccoon coat, and pride dictated
that he should keep it on, that Ramona might witness its splendor.

But he could not run with it on, nor swing through the trees, hence his
trip to the Suarez plantation would be slowed down. He decided to leave
it in the tree house.

With the aid of his dagger and a rawhide thong, he quickly fashioned
himself a garment from one of his jaguar hides. Then he removed his
armor and silken garments, piled them on the floor, and covered them
with another hide. He also decided to leave his sword, as it might
impede his movements, and take with him only his bow and arrows and his
dagger.

As he descended the tree and plunged into the jungle, he exulted in the
feeling of freedom induced by his change of costume. It was good to feel
the warm air blowing on his bare head and naked limbs. And the soft leaf
mold caressed the soles of his feet, which for months had been shod with
metal. This jungle, to him, was home.

Night found him many miles from his tree house, comfortably curled in a
crotch high above the ground, here the evening breeze, gently swaying
the tree-tops, softly lulled him to sleep.

He rose with the sun, and finding the meat he had brought with him a bit
too high for palatability, he flung it away and shot a peccary. Having
breakfasted, he set off once more toward the north.

It was late afternoon of the third day when he reached the ceiba tree
under the roots of which he had slept during those days which had passed
all too swiftly before Ramona's departure for the United States.

He was about to peer into his former retreat when he suddenly heard a
girl scream, as if in deadly terror. He heard several more muffled
cries. Then all was still as before. The sound had come from far over to
his right. And the voice was undoubtedly that of Ramona. Just once
before had he heard her utter such a scream--on that eventful day when he
had stepped between her and the charging puma.

With the swiftness of a leaping deer, he bounded off in the direction
from which the sounds had come.

It was some time before Jan reached the spot from which the cries had
come. But once there, his jungle-trained eyes instantly read the story
of the girl's futile struggle with two Indians. From this point, the
trail they had taken was as plain to Jan as is a concrete pavement to a
motorist: He had not gone far before he again heard the voice of Ramona,
mingled with the gruff tones and coarse laughter of a man.

A moment more, and he emerged into a small clearing just in time to see
the girl being dragged into the dark interior of a hut by some invisible
person.

With an involuntary snarl, he bounded across the clearing and entered
the hut. As he had plunged from the bright sunlight into semi-darkness,
there was an instant when he could see nothing. During that instant, a
pistol blazed at him from beside a shadowy bulk that loomed in the
darkness, and a sharp pain seared his side.

Jan launched himself at that shadowy form. One hand sought and found the
wrist that held the pistol. The other gripped a sinewy throat. The
pistol roared again, so close that the powder burned his shoulder. Jan
suddenly bent and seized the gun wrist in his teeth. There was a lurid
Spanish curse, and the weapon thudded to the clay floor.

Although Jan was far stronger than the average man, his advantage was
offset by the fact that his opponent knew, and did not hesitate to
employ, almost every trick of wrestling and boxing, as well as many
which are barred both on the mat and in the ring.

Striking, biting, clutching, clawing, gouging, and kicking, they fought
there in the semi-darkness with the ferocity of jungle beasts.
Presently, locked in a vise-like clinch, they swayed and fell to the
floor. Rolling over and over, they crashed through the flimsy wall of
the hut and out into the sunlight. And it was there, when his eyes
became adjusted to the change of light, that Jan recognized Santos, his
old enemy.

The sight added fuel to the flames of his anger--gave a new impetus to
his fast-waning strength. Santos had clamped on an arm-lock that would
have broken the bones of one less mightily thewed. But his eyes caught
the glitter of Jan's jeweled dagger hilt which the youth had completely
forgotten in this primitive struggle with nature's weapons.

The captain had nearly reached the limit of his endurance: If he could
get that dagger he might end the contest in his favor with a single,
well-placed thrust. But he could not reach for it without giving up the
advantage which the arm-lock gave him, as this kept both his hands
occupied. He must therefore act with lightning swiftness.

He increased the pressure on Jan's arm, then suddenly let go and,
straightening up, grabbed for the dagger. Jan had been resisting the
hold by curving the arm downward. As the captain released it, his hand
came in contact with a smooth, round stone, half embedded in the soft
clay.

With a grunt of triumph, Santos jerked the dagger from its sheath and
raised it aloft. But at this instant, Jan swung the stone, catching him
between the eyes. At the impact of that terrific blow, the dagger
dropped from Santos's nerveless fingers, and he slumped forward.

Flinging the limp body of his enemy from him, Jan picked up his dagger,
sheathed it, and hurried into the hut. There on the floor, in a little
crumpled heap, lay Ramona, as limp and apparently as lifeless as the
captain.

Tenderly, Jan picked her up and carried her out into the sunlight. So
far as he could see, there were no marks of violence on her other than
the red lines where the rope had chafed her wrists.

A great fear entered his heart. Perhaps he had arrived too late, after
all. Perhaps the weapon which had creased his ribs and burned his
shoulder had slain her in some mysterious manner, and she was sleeping
the long sleep.

But in a moment Ramona, who had fainted, opened her eyes. Weakly she
flung an arm around his neck, snuggled more closely against his
shoulder.

"I waited so long for you, Jan," she murmured. "I thought you would never
come."

As he stood there holding her in his arms and looking down into her
great dark eyes, Jan saw a light in them that kindled the smoldering
flame in his bosom and sent the blood coursing madly through his strong
young body. Unconsciously he held her tighter. Slowly he bent over her
lips.

Once before in her life she had kissed him. The farewell of a child, a
playmate. That kiss he would always remember. But in the interval of
separation, Nature and the longing each had felt for the other, had
wrought a wondrous change. Now the fires of their youthful love flamed
as their lips met.

Her arm tightened around his neck, stole up to caress his tangle of
auburn curls.

"I love you, Ramona," he murmured.

"Jan! Take me away with you! Don't ever leave me again!"

With Ramona still in his arms Jan strode off into the jungle, her slight
weight as nothing to him.

"Oh, Jan! What have I said? What have we done? Put me down! Please!"

Puzzled, he stood her on her feet.

"You must take me home, Jan. I didn't mean what I said."

"You mean you don't want to come with me?"

"I must hurry home. I don't know what made me say what I did. My people
will be worried frantic about me. And tomorrow I leave again, for
school."

Hearing that, Jan felt crushed.

"All right," he said soberly, "I'll take you home."

They had not taken more than a dozen steps in the direction of the
hacienda, when there came to them the sounds of men's voices, and a
trampling and crashing through the undergrowth.



XXVIII. JUNGLE MAN-HUNT

AT SOME DISTANCE from his base camp, Dr. Bracken, with several of his
Indians, was tramping through the jungle when the two who had abducted
Ramona dashed breathlessly out into the trail, their expressions plainly
showing their excitement.

The doctor stopped.

"What the devil is the matter?" he demanded. "Where are you two going?"

"El Diablo kill captain!" panted one of them.

Dr. Bracken knew that by. "El Diablo" they referred to Jan.

"Where is he? Quick!"

"Over at malocca! Captain build hut, steal senorita from hacienda!
Diablo come! Kill captain!"

"Served him right, the dirty double-crosser!" snarled the doctor. "But
come! Show me where! We'll catch this Diablo now, for sure." He shouted
an order to the other Indians standing along the trail. "Quick,
men-follow met" Then he dashed off with the two guides.

"Why didn't you catch El Diablo?" he demanded, as they raced along.

"Got no rifles," grunted one. "Can't catch without the rifles."

"Afraid of him, eh? You stood there and let him kill your captain."

"No. Captain already dead. He send us away. We hear shots. Go back.
Captain on ground. El Diablo going into hut. We run hunt for you."

But before they got to the malocca the doctor suddenly saw a shaft of
sunlight flash on a tousled mass of auburn curls, a light skin, and a
spotted garment of jaguar hide. He snapped his rifle to his shoulder and
fired.

Jan heard the sound of men coming through the jungle toward them. He
stopped and looked about him while Ramona went ahead. At that instant a
rifle cracked, and a bullet, striking a twig beside him went whining on
its way. Crouching low, he hurried to where the girl stood waiting for
him.

"Come!" he said to Ramona. "They are after us. They are too many for us
to fight. We must run."

It took every ounce of jungle cunning Jan possessed to elude the doctor
and his savage pack, as he piloted Ramona through the tangled
vegetation. He was forced to zigzag, and at times to double in his
tracks, but always his course led him nearer and nearer to the hacienda.
And always the pack was close at his heels.

Presently, after some two hours of running and dodging, they emerged in
the don's grove of young rubber trees. The sound of the hunters crashing
through the jungle grew louder behind them.

Jan stopped.

"Good-by," he said. "Run to the house! Hurry! I'll lead them another
way."

"But, Jan--There is something I--that is--your father and mother--"

"Hurry!" he snapped. "They are almost here." Then he swarmed up a thick
liana, swung onto a limb, and disappeared in the dense tangle of
foliage.

Ramona stood there uncertainly for a moment, looking at the spot where
he had vanished. But the sound of the running savages, now only a few
hundred feet away, recalled her to her peril, and she turned and ran
breathlessly to the patio.

After Jan turned back into the jungle, climbing from tree to tree, it
was not long before he saw his pursuers coming toward him. And in their
midst was a figure that aroused in him all the pent-up hatred that years
of abuse had engendered--Dr. Bracken.

His intention had been to wait until the man-hunters had passed beneath
him, then shout to attract their attention and lead them in the other
direction. But that was before he knew that his ancient enemy led the
party.

From the Satmuan quiver at his back he drew bow and arrow. Then he took
deliberate aim at the bearded figure, and let fly. Pierced through the
chest, the doctor uttered a choking cry and collapsed. At the twang of
his bow, the Indians stopped, peering ahead of them to see whence it had
come. But they did not think to look upward.

There was a second twang, and one of the Indians pitched forward on his
face, shot through the heart. The others turned and fled, scattering in
all directions, but two more of their number fell before they were out
of bow-shot.

Jan returned his bow to the quiver and swung forward through the
branches. He paused, directly above his fallen enemy. The doctor's
white, upturned features were motionless. His eyes were closed.

For a moment, Jan stared down at the hated face. Then he went onward
into the depths of the jungle. When he had traveled for a considerable
distance, he sighted a curassow and remembered that he had not eaten for
some time. The bird fell before his arrow, and he descended to the
ground. With his keen dagger for a carving knife, Jan sat down to his
savage feast.

Having eaten, he went to the river for a drink of water. Then darkness
set in, and he climbed a tree for the night.

Morning found him in a quandary as to where to go or what to do.
Ramona's actions had both puzzled and piqued him. Why, he wondered, had
she begged him with one breath to take her away, and with the next,
insisted that he take her back to her people? Like many an older and
more experienced male, Jan came to the conclusion that the feminine mind
was baffling.

She had said she was going away. So he finally decided that he would go
and try to see her before she left--perhaps persuade her to come with
him. Failing in this, he would return to Satmu and try to forget her. He
accordingly set off along the river bank.

When he reached the hacienda, Jan proceeded with caution. He heard much
talking, then a loud cheer, and cries of "Adios!"

Hurrying forward, he peered through the bushes. Just ahead of him was
the dock, and on it many people were standing. There were Indians,
half-breeds and white people; men, women and children. They were waving
farewell to a fleet of canoes that was heading down the river. In the
foremost canoe rode Ramona.

Jan's heart sank. He felt very lonely and forsaken. For some time he
watched the people on the dock. He noticed, among the others, a woman
whose hair was the precise color of his own. He thought her very
beautiful. Her sweet face, with its big, wistful eyes, attracted him
unaccountably. She was clinging to the arm of a tall, dark-haired,
sun-bronzed man he had not seen before. Together with the don and dona,
they walked to the house.

Jan turned away, heavy-hearted. Leisurely, he made his way back to his
tree house, hunting as he traveled, and taking five days. He approached
it cautiously, fearful of ambush. But there was no one about. The
skeletons of the two Indians he had slain lay where they had fallen,
picked clean by jungle scavengers.

Somehow the place did not seem so alluring to him as he had imagined it
would when in Satmu. Here was nothing but desolation and loneliness.
With Ramona gone, it was unbearable. Every man he met was his enemy.

In Satmu he had many friends--good comrades with whom he could joust,
fence or hunt. The hidden valley now attracted him as much as the jungle
had drawn him before. He decided to return to Satmu. It would be the
place to try to forget--to shape his life anew.

Jan found his armor, clothing and sword lying where he had left them.
Descending to the ground, he carried them up under the falls, climbed to
the chamber above, and made his way to where he had left his raft. Here
he stripped to the skin, leaving his jaguar-hide garment in the cave and
piling everything else on his narrow raft.

Pushing off, he swam out into the channel. Soon he emerged into the
bright daylight of the hidden valley. He was swimming for the side on
which the temple ruins stood when something splashed in the water quite
near him. Then he heard much splashing from the direction of the
opposite bank.

Turning, he saw a large band of hairy men, some standing on the bank
hurling sticks and stones at him, others plunging into the water and
swimming toward him.

With missiles splashing about him he pivoted and tried to drag his
narrow raft swiftly to the other bank. But a large stone struck the edge
of the unstable craft tilting it and spilling his armor and weapons, all
of which sank immediately.

Abandoning the now useless raft, he quickly swam out of range of the
missiles and made the shore.

Stark naked, he ran up the bank with the water dripping from his
glistening body. Then he sprinted along the broken, weed-grown avenue
lined by the giant stone images, straight for the temple ruins.

Close behind him came a howling mob of hairy, wild men, brandishing
clubs and hurling such bits of stone as they could catch up while
running.



XXIX. THE GRAVEN ARROW

When Ramona dashed into the patio after her rescue by Jan, she found no
one there. She passed on through the big house, and found it empty and
deserted. But in front of the house she heard excited voices. As she
burst out onto the veranda she saw most of the plantation personnel
assembled on the river front. Harry Trevor and Don Fernando, having
divided their available forces, were each ready to lead a search party
into the jungle.

Her old duenna, Senora Soledade, was weeping hysterically, while Georgia
Trevor and the dona tried to quiet her. Ramona ran up to where the three
women stood, and all attempted to embrace her at once.

As soon as they had ascertained that she was unharmed, everybody, it
seemed, was asking her questions at one time.

She told them of her kidnaping by Santos, her rescue by Jan, and the
pursuit by Santos's Indians, which she had just escaped at the edge of
the clearing.


Within a short time the two parties that had been organized to hunt for
her had united, and forming a long line started out to look for Jan.

Harry Trevor was forcing his way through the dense undergrowth when he
heard a shout far over at his left. This was followed by excited
talking. Hurrying over, he saw Don Fernando and two of his plantation
hands bending over a man lying on the ground. As he came closer he saw
that the man was Dr. Bracken. The feathered shaft of an arrow protruded
from his chest. The don had opened the man's bloodstained shirt front,
and was listening for heartbeats:

"Is he dead?" asked Trevor, coming up beside him.

"His heart still beats," replied the don. "He may pull through. The
arrow seems to have pierced the upper right lobe of his lung."

"Better get that arrow out of him, hadn't we?" suggested Trevor.

"Have to pack the wound when we do," replied Don Fernando, "or he may
bleed to death. We'll take him to the house just as he is."

Under the don's directions a litter was quickly made from two saplings
with branches placed across them. On this the doctor was gently laid,
and carried to the hacienda. Then a canoe was dispatched for Padre Luis,
a missionary priest living with a tribe of Indians down the river. He
was reputed to have great medical skill.

Some hours later the padre arrived. After extracting the arrow and
dressing the wound, he announced that if no infection set in, the
patient would probably recover. When he left the sick room, he took
along the two pieces of the arrow he had removed. Together with the don
and Trevor, he entered the library.

"A strange arrow for these parts, senores," he said. "No Indian
workmanship there. The head is of tempered, polished steel. The band
behind it is pure gold. Those hieroglyphics on the band, besides, are
not Indian writing."

He handed the pieces to Don Fernando.

"Why!" exclaimed the don. "They look like the picture writing on the
basket!"

"Basket?" asked the padre.

"A strange basket I found floating down the river some years ago,"
replied the don, who in his excitement at sight of the characters had
almost betrayed the family secret. "But wait. I have a code. Sir Henry
Westgate, an archaeologist who passed through here a number of years
ago, left it with me."

He took a bulky manuscript, yellow with age, from a desk drawer, and
thumbed through it. Presently he stopped, and with pad and pencil noted
the characters on the gold band and compared them with those on the
manuscript page. Presently he read:

'Warrior of the Prince, Tchan, Son of the Sun.' I have it! There is no
letter J in the alphabet of these people, so they were forced to use
Tch. The inscription means, 'Crown Warrior Jan, Son of the Sun.' This
arrow belonged to your boy."

"Crown Warrior," mused Trevor. "What could that be?"

"It says here," continued the don, "that it is a title bestowed for
distinguished service to the crown. I am of the opinion that your son
has found the lost colony of Mu, for which Sir Henry Westgate was
searching. And having reached it, he has distinguished himself in some
way, earning the title of Crown Warrior. How he attained the hereditary
title of 'Sa Re,' I cannot imagine."

"The Indians hereabout all have traditions of an ancient warlike white
race living in the interior," said Padre Luis.

"I have listened to these tales many times, but I never believed them."

"If this is Jan's arrow, it follows that he shot the doctor," said
Trevor. "I wonder why."

"I believe I can explain that," the padre said. "After I had dressed his
wound and administered a stimulant, the doctor talked a little. He said
he and his men had caught a glimpse of the youth and had followed him,
hopping to capture him and bring him in. Jan had suddenly turned and
shot him. Bracken apparently did not know that the senorita was with Jan
that she had been abducted, or that Captain Santos had been slain. I
told him he must not do any more talking on account of his injured lung,
but he insisted on telling me that much. No doubt he will be able to
explain everything shortly."

"In the meantime," said Trevor, "how are we to find Jan?"

"It is my opinion," replied the don, "that in order to find him we must
locate this lost colony of Mu. No doubt he is well on his way to his
adopted people by this time."

"I'll find it," said Trevor, "if I have to go over the entire South
American continent with a fine-toothed comb."

As Jan, naked and unarmed, sprinted toward the temple ruins with the mob
of hairy men in swift pursuit, he suddenly thought of the blowgun and
darts he had left in an anteroom some time before. If they were still
there and he could but get to that room in time he would give these wild
men a surprise.

He dashed through the portal amid a shower of sticks and stones and made
straight for his cache.

On reaching it, he found, to his delight, that the weapon and missiles
were still there.

Quickly catching the blowgun and the quiver of darts, he loaded the tube
and stood in the hallway, waiting. But to his surprise, not one of the
hairy men came near. He stood there for some time, and though he could
hear the shouts of the wild men outside the temple, he saw no one.

Presently he decided to take a look. He made his way to the portal of
the building, cautiously watching for an ambush.

At the portal, he paused. Standing about fifty feet away was a large
group of hairy men, chattering excitedly. They seemed afraid to come any
nearer. Evidently they were fearful of some danger, fancied or real, in
the temple ruins. Something within the building had evidently frightened
them before. Perhaps the saber-toothed tiger which had formerly laired
there had slain some of their companions. Jan raised his blowgun to his
lips. Then he sped a dart at a big hairy fellow who towered above the
others. The wild man fell without a sound, and the others stared at him
in awed amazement.

Then one of them spied Jan standing in the entrance. With a loud cry of
rage he pointed the youth out to the others. Jan dodged a shower of
miscellaneous missiles and brought down another hairy creature with a
tiny dart. The entire pack seemed about to charge him.

Suddenly he heard a familiar sound over at his right--the clatter of
armored riders and the thunderous tread of their mounts. The hairy men
heard it, too, and turning, scampered for the river. But few of them
reached it for a troop of the Golden Ones came charging around the side
of the ruins with lances couched, pursuing them relentlessly, spitting
them on their shafts and riding them down beneath the thundering hoofs.

In the midst of the party rode Mena, Emperor of Satmu, resplendent in
his glittering, richly jeweled armor. He caught sight of Jan standing in
the portal, and dismounting, walked toward him.

"By the long hairy nose of Anpu!" he said, coming up. "How is it that we
find you going about in the costume of a new-born infant? Where are your
armor and weapons, and what is that odd-looking tube you carry?"

"My armor and weapons are at the bottom of the river, majesty," replied
Jan. "I put them on a raft and went for a swim, but the hairy ones came
and overturned them, chasing me into the temple where I found this
weapon." He explained the use of the blowgun to the Emperor, and pointed
out the bodies of the hairy men who had been slain by the darts.

"A curious and terrible weapon," said Mena. "I'm glad they are not used
in Satmu. Leave it here, and come with me. Luckily, the mastodons carry
some extra armor, arms and clothing of mine, so we can fit you out
again. We'll dress you like an emperor for your triumphal return. You
had me worried, Jan. Thought we would never find you. But to-day we came
across the gnawed skeleton of the big sloth you killed, with your broken
lance still wedged between its ribs, so I imagined that if you were
alive, you would be somewhere hereabout."

"Permit me to thank your majesty for coming to my rescue," said Jan.

"It's all right, lad. You came to mine once, didn't you?"

A big mastodon lumbered over at a sign from the monarch.

"Ho, slave!" he called to the driver perched on the woolly neck. "Make
the beast kneel. We would get some wearables from that pack."

It was not long before Jan, fully armed and armored once more, was
riding beside the Emperor on one of the three-horned mounts. The
cavalcade entered Satmu shortly after dark that night.

Jan's return to Satmu was a signal for much rejoicing among its
inhabitants, for he had the double distinction of being the Emperor's
favorite, and the popular idol as well. Mena held a great feast in honor
of the event, which lasted far into the night.

Jan said nothing to any one of his adventures in the jungle. His secret
sorrow at Ramona's refusal to return with him was well concealed.
Instead of moping about, he worked harder and played harder than ever
before. By keeping busy he succeeded in covering up the longing that
tugged at his heart.

But try as he would, he could not forget Ramona. He lived over and over
again those hours spent in the patio, learning to speak, to write and to
draw; and that one outstanding moment in his life when, with arms around
his neck and warm lips close to his, she had begged him to take her away
with him--to never leave her again.

Then he would wake to stern reality, and go about the business of trying
to reshape his life.



XXX. ENEMIES

THUS THE months passed. A new note of sadness was added when Chicma died
of old age and rich living. Having been the pet of the Empress, she was
given a royal funeral, and her mummy was laid away in a magnificent
sarcophagus in one of the pyramidal mausoleums of the burial grounds of
Re.

Like all popular idols Jan had his enemies. Chief among these were
Samsu, High Priest of Set, and his craven son, Telapu, whom Jan had
ousted. It was popularly conceded that the Emperor would name Jan his
heir; but Samsu had other plans.

The black priest, however, was very crafty. Openly, he voiced only
admiration for the Emperor's favorite. But several attempts were made on
Jan's life. Assassins attacked him by night. Heavy stones mysteriously
fell near him from house tops. Once he was near death from poison.

Although Samsu was suspected, there was never the slightest evidence of
his guilt. But like all who plot in secret, he finally made a slip that
exposed him.

Jan entered his room late one night, tired after a day's hunting. A
slave was there to take off his armor, and another to prepare his bath.
The room was fully lighted, and everything was apparently as it should
be. Yet Jan had a feeling of uneasiness which he could not shake off.
Something was wrong. A sixth sense seemed warning him that danger
threatened.

Having bathed and donned his silken sleeping garments, he got into bed.
One slave had taken his armor out to be polished. The other snuffed the
fragrant oil lamps and departed, leaving him in darkness and silence.

Then Jan realized what had warned him of danger. Above the powerful
aroma of the burning lamps, his jungle-trained nostrils had caught the
scent of some one--a stranger--there in his room.

For some time Jan lay still, listening tensely. There was no unusual
sound. He realized that whoever was in the room would know, by the way
he was breathing, that he was not asleep, so he simulated the regular
respiration of slumber.

A few minutes later he heard some one slip from behind a tall chest that
stood in one corner and stealthily move toward him in the darkness.

Continuing his regular breathing, Jan reached for the heavy stone water
bottle that stood on a tabouret beside his bed. Then, springing out of
bed he hurled it straight at the shadowy form of the marauder. A thud, a
gasp, and the sound of a heavy body falling to the floor, told him his
missile had struck the mark. He leaped to the door, flinging it wide and
admitting the yellow light from the flickering hall lamps.

A black-robed, shaved-headed figure lay upon the floor, moaning and
choking. It was the priest Kebshu, first assistant to Samsu. Jan had
seen him at court many times with the High Priest of Set. Near his hand
lay a long, keen dagger, which he had dropped as he fell.

Some one came along the hallway, stopped in front of the door. Jan
looked up. It was Sir Henry Westgate, his arms filled with dusty scrolls
from the library. He dropped them, and taking a lamp from its bracket,
brought it into the room.

"What's wrong?" he asked. "What has happened?"

"Just another assassin of the Black One," said Jan, wearily. "I hit him
with a water bottle and he doesn't seem to recover well."

Sir Henry opened the black robe of the fallen man, revealing a bloody
bruise over the heart from which a fractured rib protruded.

"I am--dying!" moaned the man on the floor. "There is something--must
confess--to Emperor!"

A sentry came clanking along the hallway, stopped, and entered the room.

"Go and ask the Emperor to come here at once," Jan told him.

The guard hurried away.

"Why did you try to kill me?" Jan asked the gasping man on the floor.

"Samsu--made me," was the reply. "Must obey--chief."

Sir Henry shook his head sadly.

Presently Mena arrived, a robe thrown over his sleeping garments. He
bent over the recumbent priest.

"Well, Kebshu, you finally got caught in the act," he said, "and having
the man, we can easily take the master.".

"Must tell--something, majesty," said Kebshu. "Bend lower--will not be
here much longer."

"Go on. I'm listening," said Mena, stooping still lower.

"About your majesty's infant daughter. It was I--who stole her, for
Samsu. He did not want--heir--stand between Telapu and--throne."

"Villain! What did you do with her?"

"Samsu put her in--floating basket, with--prayer to Hepr. I think that
she--that she--" His weak voice trailed off to silence. A shudder ran
through his frame. Kebshu was dead.

Mena stood up, solemnly raised his right hand, and said:

"By the life of my head and the tombs of my forefathers, I swear that
Samsu shall be chained naked on the Rock of judgment for three days
without food or water, that the great god Re may do with him as his
wisdom dictates."

Then he turned, and with bowed head, started to walk out of the room.
But Sir Henry, who had been listening attentively, suddenly called:

"Majesty!"

The Emperor turned slowly.

"What would your majesty say if I were to tell you that your daughter is
probably alive?"

Mena dropped his dejected air, fiercely gripped the wrist of the
Englishman.

"What do you mean?"

Westgate told how Don Fernando had found Ramona in a basket.

"You must take me to her!" said Mena. "I will violate every tradition of
my ancestors. I will wreck the barriers that shut us off from the outer
world which we have not passed for thousands of years, if I can only
find my little daughter!"

"That will not be necessary," said Jan of the Jungle. "I can find Ramona
for you."

He opened his right hand, displaying the tattooed sacred lotus.

"This was copied from the palm of her right hand," he said. "She taught
me to speak, to write, to draw. I begged her to come here with me, but
she refused. I was hurt. For that reason I have never gone back."

"But you will go back now," said Mena.

"The Emperor's word is my law," replied Jan. "I leave at dawn."

Harry Trevor had left no stone unturned in his search for his lost son.
Large parties of his men traversed the jungle from east to west and from
north to south, looking for Jan and inquiring about the lost colony of
Mu.

When he saw that his quest might take months, or even years, Trevor
brought a large tract of land across the river from the property of Don
Fernando. Plans were begun for a palatial home. At the river front he
prepared to install concrete docks and a large boathouse for launches,
speedboats and canoes. He would also set out thousands of rubber trees,
the nucleus of a plantation.

Dr. Bracken's lung recovered, and he again took charge of the jungle
sector south of the Suarez plantation. The two Indians who were
implicated with Santos in the kidnaping of Ramona had run away. But he
kept the others at his base camp, and posted new guards at the tree hut.

Shortly after his arrival there, Dr. Bracken was seated in his cabin one
day when a familiar figure appeared in the doorway. With a start, he
recognized Santos. The captain's appearance was much changed by a livid
scar in the center of his forehead.

"You don' expect to see me again, eh?" said Santos, with a grin.

"One doesn't look for dead men to come to life," replied the doctor,
"and you are officially dead. Sit down."

The captain seated himself on a folding stool and lighted a cigarette.

"Was only knock' out for leetle while," he said. "My two Indian come
back for gat my gun. They find me sitteeng up. I 'ad stock the hut weeth
provision, so we stay there. But now I need some theengs. You are my
frand. I come to you."

"You made a damn' fool move, kidnaping that girl when you did. But we'll
forget that. I can use you if you want to take a little trip for me.
I'll put you on a salary and pay all expenses. But of course you'll have
to keep under cover."

"I do that, all right. What ees this trip?"

"I want you to go to Caracas for me, to get some things. I'm going to
set a trap for Jan that he won't escape. The Indians fired their hypo
bullets, all right, but Jan was evidently wearing gold-plated armor. Now
this time I'll fix him. Here's what I want."

Closing the door so the Indians would not overhear, he hitched his chair
close to that of the captain and gave him his instructions.

That night Santos left for Caracas.



XXXI. DR. BRACKEN'S REVENGE

SOME two months later the captain returned with twenty carriers, all
heavily laden. All were paid and dismissed except the two Indians who
had previously accompanied him.

During the following week, a circular trench about four feet wide and
eight feet deep was dug around the tree which held Jan's hut. A few
inches of the top soil and sod were retained, but all other soil taken
out was dumped into the stream.

Then many copper wires were stretched about in the trench, after which
it was covered with crossed sticks barely strong enough to sustain the
earth and sod laid on them. Running from this trench to the doctor's
cabin, slightly below the surface of the soil, was a concealed insulated
electric cable.

His trap completed, the doctor settled down to await the arrival of his
victim. His Indians supposed the trench to be an animal trap. Every time
a tapir blundered into it, Bracken pretended to be highly elated, made
the necessary repairs, and covered the surface as before.

One night the doctor returned to his cabin, tired out after a long
march. He had been to the hacienda on the occasion of Ramona's
home-coming from school.

The doctor climbed into his bunk and was just closing his eyes in
slumber when the alarm bell sounded on the wall near him. He got up,
struck a light, and shut off the alarm. By this time several of his
Indians had responded.

"I suppose another confounded tapir has fallen into the pit," he
grumbled, as he got into his clothing. "But we'll see."

Carrying flash lights, he and the Indians left for the trap. Walking in
the lead, the doctor quickly saw a hole in the thin covering between the
tree and the river.

The air was heavy with mingled odors of gas and ether.

The doctor stepped up to the hole, and flashed his light within. Then he
gasped in astonishment. His trap contained a victim!

Two Indians came up with stout looped ropes. When they saw what lay in
the bottom of the pit, they too gaped in amazement. For it was the body
of a man clad from head to foot in shining golden armor.

One loop was dropped around a foot, and pushed into place with a long
pole. The other was dropped around the helmeted head. In a few moments
the armored body lay on the surface of the ground.

With his long pole, the doctor shut off the machinery that was flooding
the interior of the trench with ether-spray and gas. Then he raised one
of his victim's eyelids to note the degree of anaesthesia.

Under his directions, a crude litter was constructed, and in this the
insensible one was conveyed to his cabin. The Indians were told to go to
their bunks.

As soon as they were gone, the doctor stripped Jan of his armor and
clothing. Then he fashioned a crude garment for him from one of his
jaguar skins, and dragged him into the cage. From his medicine case, he
took a bottle marked with the Latin name, "Cannabis indica."

When Jan showed signs of returning consciousness, Bracken prepared a
solution of the hashish, which he gave him to drink. Then the victim
relapsed into a drugged slumber, and the doctor went back to his bunk.

For more than two weeks the doctor kept Jan under the influence of
hashish, that drug which changes the gentlest of men to dangerous,
insane killers. Hashish, the mind-destroyer, from which we have derived
our word "assassin."

It was his purpose to undermine Jan's mentality by drugs and hypnotic
suggestion, until Jan had reverted to the stage at which he escaped from
the menagerie and would be therefore subject to the doctor's control as
he had been during his life behind the bars of a cage.

Dr. Bracken also constructed a cage on wheels, a narrow affair that
could be dragged along the jungle paths cleared by machetes. When all
was ready, he traveled north until he came within striking range of his
victim, Georgia Trevor. An Indian was dispatched to circle the
plantation and come back from the north with the report that Jan had
been seen in that direction.

From his place of concealment, the doctor grinned his triumph as he saw
Harry Trevor and Don Fernando leave with a party of searchers, following
their false informant.

He waited for darkness, then saw to it that his stage was properly set.
Georgia Trevor, he observed, was alone in the living room of the cottage
they were occupying while the big house was being built.

After leaving instructions with Santos and the two Indians who waited in
the shadows with the caged Jan, he walked boldly up to the front door
and entered.

Georgia Trevor, who had been reading, started up in astonishment at his
abrupt entrance.

"You!" she said. "I thought it was Harry, coming back."

"I have a surprise for you," he announced. "Remain where you are."

"You don't mean--?"

"But I do. I've found your son. I've found Jan."

There was the sound of shuffling feet--something sliding across the porch
toward the door.

The doctor clapped his hands. A figure shambled into the room, walking
ape-like on toes and knuckles-a redheaded youth whose sole garment was a
tattered jaguar skin.

Georgia Trevor gazed at the figure, horrified, fascinated, as a bird
gazes at a serpent about to devour it. Jan's eyes stared wildly back at
her--devoid of reason, menacing.

"Madame," said the doctor, "behold your son." Then he suddenly clapped
his hands, and cried:

"Mother! Kill!"

He watched gloatingly as with a horrible bestial roar, the drug-crazed
Jan charged straight for the woman who had borne him.

Ramona Suarez drew the prow of her canoe up on the dock in front of the
Trevor cottage. The dona had gone to bed with a headache, leaving Ramona
to her own devices, and the girl had decided that she would cross the
river and spend the evening with Georgia Trevor.

As she walked up the sloping lawn toward the house, she noticed a
shadowy something on the front porch.

There seemed to be a cart at the bottom of the steps, and from this two
men were sliding a tall, narrow cage toward the door. She walked closer,
then gave a little gasp of surprise for by the lamplight that streamed
out from the house she saw that Jan was in the cage. It was being moved
by Santos and one of the Indians who had abducted her. Although she had
no inkling of the purpose behind these actions, she knew that it could
not be other than evil. She must warn Jan's mother.

Keeping in the shadow of the shrubbery, she ran lightly around to the
side of the house. A French window stood open, and there was a screen
door on that side of the porch. She tried the door, found it unlocked,
and stepped silently inside. Through the French window she saw Georgia
Trevor, pale and frightened, standing beside her chair. Advancing toward
her with a peculiar, ape-like walk and the look of an insane killer in
his bloodshot eyes, was Jan.

She heard the words of the doctor: "Madame, behold your son," and his
command, "Mother! Kill!"

As Jan emitted his terrible roar and charged, Ramona ran between him and
his mother.

"Jan! Jan!" she cried. "What are you doing? Stop!"

Jan paused, stood erect, staring fixedly at her as if trying to evoke
some lost memory.

The doctor seized her by the arm, jerked her roughly aside.

"Keep out of this, you little fool!" he snarled.

Some thought, some suggestion penetrated Jan's hypnotized, drug-fogged
mind as the doctor dragged the girl aside. This girl was his. Some
one--it must be an enemy--was hurting her.

With a second roar as thunderous as the first, he charged again, but
this time at the doctor.

Ramona covered her eyes with her hands. There were groans, snarls, thuds
curses--the snapping of human bones and the rending of human flesh. Then
an ominous stillness, broken only by some one's loud, labored breathing.

Suddenly Ramona was caught up as lightly as if she had been a child and
carried out of the house, across the lawn, through the rows of young
rubber trees, into the darkness of the jungle.

Weeks later, Harry Trevor and his wife were following four Indians who
carried in a litter, a hideous, misshapen wreck of a man. One eyelid
sagged in an empty socket.

An ear was missing. Where the nose should have been, a small square of
surgical gauze was held in place by bits of crossed tape. The arms and
legs were twisted and useless.

When it was found that the mangled form of Dr. Bracken had some life in
it an Indian had been dispatched for Padre Luis. But he had returned
with the news that the good padre had gone on a mission in the interior,
and would be gone for weeks. It was a journey of two weeks to the
nearest surgeon, and it would take him two more weeks to return. By that
time it would be too late to set the doctor's broken arms and legs. And
he was so near death that he could not travel.

So the woman and man he had devoted the best years of his life to
injuring, nursed him and did the best they could to maintain his
flickering spark of life.

He had recovered sufficiently in six weeks to stand travel in a litter,
and Harry Trevor was sending him to Bolivar for surgical attention.

As the Indians carefully deposited the litter in the boat, a canoe drew
up beside it and grounded against the sloping landing. A tall straight
clean-limbed young man with the features of a Greek god crowned by a
tumbling mass of auburn curls sprang lightly out. He stood for a moment,
smiling at the couple who stood on the dock staring at him as if they
could not believe their eyes.

His silken garments, decked with gold and jewels worth a fortune, were
those of another age. Jewels blazed from the golden hilts of the sword
and dagger that hung from his belt.

"Father! Mother!" he said, holding out his arms. "I am your son, Jan. I
have come back to you because--because we need each other."

The hideous wreck in the litter cocked its good eye up at the little
group on the dock--saw Jan embrace his father, kiss his mother, whose
auburn head barely reached to his shoulder. With a shudder Dr. Bracken
turned away from the sight of his ruined plan for revenge.

"Where is Ramona?" Jan's mother asked.

"She is with her father and mother," replied Jan. "Her real father and
mother. She's a royal princess, you know. I just came from the hacienda.
Carried a message to the don and dona for her. She will live with her
own parents, but has promised' to visit them often."

"And you, Jan--my son! My boy! You will stay with us, won't you, now that
we've found you after all these years? Think of it! I have always
thought of you as a baby, for all those years, but I find you grown up--a
man."

"Of course I'll stay, mother, for a while. And I'll come back often. But
next month you must come with me for a visit. Preparations are being
made for a royal wedding, and I wouldn't want to keep Ramona waiting."

"Jan! You mean that you two are going to be married?"

"Of course. And mother, other than you, she is the most wonderful girl
in all the world."



THE END



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