Bomba, the Jungle Boy Among the Slaves - Roy Rockwood - ebook

Bomba, the Jungle Boy Among the Slaves ebook

Roy Rockwood

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Years of tough jungle living made Bomba the most powerful hunter around. At 14, he possessed the strength of three men, and could fight the most powerful jungle beasts with little more than a knife. With his extraordinary throwing arm, he could bury a knife up to its hilt in any enemy within fifty yards. His phenomenally strong arms allow him to send an arrow over impossibly long distances while still striking his targets with perfect accuracy. „Bomba the Jungle Boy Among The Slaves” continues the exciting adventures of Bomba as he seeks to learn the details of his family and heritage. Tarzan wasn’t the only fellow out there in the jungle. Bomba the Jungle Boy attracted readers for his various adventures that featured authentic jungle lore and swift-moving plots.

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Liczba stron: 220

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Contents

I. THE WHIZZING ARROWS

II. A DIVE FOR SAFETY

III. DEEP MYSTERY

IV. IN THE QUAGMIRE

V. IN THE NICK OF TIME

VI. FULL OF MENACE

VII. A STRANGE PROPHECY

VIII. DRIVEN BACK

IX. STARTLING NEWS

X. ON THE TRAIL

XI. THE PUMA SPRINGS

XII. IN THE TOILS

XIII. A HIDEOUS FOE

XIV. THE WHIRLING KNIFE

XV. THE DREADFUL VALLEY

XVI. A STROKE FOR FREEDOM

XVII. MAN OR DEMON

XVIII. AN ASTONISHING STATEMENT

XIX. BEWILDERMENT

XX. TORTURE

XXI. THE MUTTERING OF THE STORM

XXII. A DARING VENTURE

XXIII. IN FLIGHT

XXIV. PURSUED

XXV. VICTORY

I. THE WHIZZING ARROWS

CRACK! The report of a rifle echoed through the jungle.

A tapir, browsing at the edge of a clearing, gave a convulsive start and then sank slowly to the ground.

On its brown skin in the vicinity of the heart appeared a red stain that gradually widened. The stricken beast rolled over on its side and lay still.

There was a crackling of the underbrush and a lithe figure leaped into the clearing and ran to the side of the tapir. The still smoking rifle held in the right hand betokened the source of the shot that had brought the quarry low.

Bomba, the jungle boy, bent over the animal and assured himself that no other shot was needed. Then he straightened up with a smile of satisfaction.

“Good!” he exclaimed. “The white man’s fire stick kills as surely and quickly as the arrows of Bomba. But it speaks with a voice of thunder, while the arrows sing softly. It is not well to make too much noise in the jungle.”

His keen eyes searched the vicinity to see what thing, if any, had been aroused by the report of the rifle.

He formed a striking picture as he stood at the edge of the clearing with a glint of sunshine that had sifted through the trees lighting up his bronzed face, a face so tanned by exposure to sun and wind and storm that at first sight it might have been mistaken for that of a native.

But a moment’s scrutiny would have dispelled that impression. For the features were undeniably those of a white boy. They were strongly though finely chiseled, the nose aquiline, the mouth firm and handsome, the brow broad and high. Keen intelligence looked through the large brown eyes. The head was magnificently shaped and covered with a mass of wavy brown hair.

The boy’s muscular development was remarkable and the rippling ridges on arms and legs marked the athlete. Grace showed in every movement. He wore no clothing except the tunic common to the jungle and a puma skin stretched across his breast–the skin of Geluk, the giant puma that Bomba had slain when, the brute was attacking the parrots, Woowoo and Kiki, two of the boy’s feathered friends. Sandals shod his feet.

Besides the rifle he carried in his hands, his weapons consisted of a bow slung over his shoulder and a quiver of arrows at his side, together with the machete that was thrust in his belt–a knife nearly a foot long with a razor edge that could do deadly execution in hand to hand combat or when hurled through the air by the lad’s powerful arm.

The rifle was a recent acquisition. It had been given to Bomba by a party of three white scientists with whom Bomba had come in contact in the jungle and whose adventures are recorded in the volume immediately preceding this. With the weapon they had left a plentiful supply of cartridges. For this the boy was grateful, but he was still more thankful for the fact that under the treatment of these wise white men, Cody Casson, Bomba’s only white associate in the jungle, was slowly but surely recovering his mind, which had been affected by an accident.

The rifle was new to Bomba, who, up to that time, had been compelled to fight wild beasts and savage men with arrow and knife, in the use of both of which he was wonderfully efficient. True, Bomba had at one time owned a revolver given him by two rubber hunters, Ralph Gillis and Jake Dorn, whom he had met in the jungle and whom he had aided in a time of danger. But the revolver was a feeble weapon against the jungle beasts as compared with this modern rifle Bomba now possessed, or even as compared with the bow and arrows and the machete when used by this jungle-bred lad.

He drew his knife from his belt and set about skinning the tapir.

“There will be rejoicing in the maloca of Hondura when Bomba takes back his meat,” he said to himself. “Pipina, the squaw, will be glad that she can make fresh broth for Casson.”

With deft strokes he removed the hide from one side of the beast. Then he rolled the body over to continue the operation.

He stretched himself to relieve his cramped limbs and then bent again over the carcass. As he did so, several arrows whizzed over his head. If he had still been in a standing position, he would have been transfixed.

Like lightning, Bomba flung himself into the underbrush that bordered the edge of the clearing. Then, as swiftly and sinuously as a snake, he wormed his way into the tangled depths of the jungle.

There had been no signs that hostile natives were in that part of the jungle. From time to time raiding parties from distant tribes invaded that section, leaving a trail of blood and flame and death. More than once Bomba had come in contact with these invaders and had had to fight for his life. But now for many months there had been peace in the vicinity of the Araos, the tribe whose leader, Hondura, was a firm friend of Bomba.

As silently as a shadow, Bomba made his way through the undergrowth until he was at some distance from the scene of the attack. Then, when he was beyond the sight of prying enemies, he forsook the ground for the air. He knew that his foes could track him through the brush. But the air left no traces.

So he swung himself up to the bough of a tree and passed from branch to branch, from tree to tree, with the agility of a monkey. He kept this up for a considerable time and then his flight halted.

For he had no idea of fleeing indefinitely. All that he had wanted to do was to keep out of the way of his enemies until he could form his own plan of campaign, learn the numbers and plans of his foes, and then take measures to thwart or defeat them.

With his swiftness of foot and the jungle experience he had gained, he could easily have outdistanced them and secured his own safety. But it was not of his own safety he was thinking.

For there was the tribe of the Araos to whom he was bound in closest ties of friendship, the good chief, Hondura, his little daughter Pirah, the unsuspecting natives, men, squaws and children, Casson himself, all unknowing of the presence of savage raiders in their neighborhood. They must be warned. Bomba must learn the full nature and extent of the threatening danger.

He described a wide circle, and then, with all the caution of a panther stalking its prey, he approached again the place where he had left the body of the tapir.

Drifting along like a ghost, taking advantage of every tree and bush that might screen his movements, he had progressed for half a mile when he came to an abrupt stop.

He had seen nothing, heard nothing to arouse his suspicions. But his nostrils were almost as keen as those of the animals of the jungle and he had caught the human scent.

With dilated nostrils he sniffed the air, and, having located the direction from which the scent was coming, he moved stealthily toward the objects of his search with every sense on the alert.

He was not long in finding them. Not more than five minutes had elapsed before he glimpsed two brawny forms squatting at the foot of a tree some fifty yards ahead.

Instantly he dropped to his knees and worked his way through the tangle of brush that intervened. When he was near enough to see and hear clearly he lay flat on the ground and peered through a slight opening in a thicket.

The men whom his eyes lighted on had tall, muscular forms and brutish, evil faces. Above their low brows rose head-dresses of feathers, and rude symbols were daubed in red paint upon their breasts.

A thrill ran through Bomba’s veins as he recognized those symbols. These were the marks of the dreaded head-hunters, those fiends in human form that dwelt beyond the Giant Cataract!

But his eyes dwelt lightly upon their forms and faces. They looked rather with a shudder of repulsion at the horrid trophies that hung at the warriors’ belts.

Human heads! One the head of a man, the other that of a woman, as shown by the long; locks. Human heads freshly lopped off, for from them the blood still oozed. Relics perhaps of the inmates of some little hut in the jungle to which the head-hunters had come that very day. Pitiful, terrible to look at, gruesome, but trophies in which the savage hunters took great pride and which were destined to ornament the roofs of their wigwams in their far distant haunts.

The temptation was strong to Bomba to avenge at once the victims of the head-hunters by sending a couple of arrows through the hearts of the evil brutes who had severed these heads. He could have done it easily, and the savages would have been dead without knowing what had struck them.

But Bomba held his hand. There must be other head-hunters about, scores of them in all probability, for they would never have come such a distance except in strong force. What good in ridding the world of two when their places would be immediately taken by others? He must use craft rather than weapons.

He had no delusions about the terrible enemies he had to deal with. Their name was a terror in all that region. Twice before in Bomba’s memory they had invaded that section of the jungle in which he dwelt and he had been forced to battle with them for his life and Casson’s. Each time he had been successful; but he had no assurance that his good fortune would continue.

He strained his ears, for now the men were talking. Bomba knew most of the native dialects and had no trouble in understanding what was said.

“It is long since we left our village,” said one of the warriors, as he ran his hands almost caressingly through the hair of the head that hung at his belt, “and Motulu will be glad once more when he hears the roar of the cataract and sees the sun shining on the roof of his wigwam.”

“Motulu speaks well,” replied the other. “Mambu, too, is weary and would return. Why should Nascanora tarry here longer? His warriors have taken many heads and shed much blood. Surely Nascanora should be satisfied.”

Motulu looked around cautiously before he answered.

“Nascanora will never be satisfied,” he said, “until he has the head of the white boy to adorn his wigwam. He has sworn by the gods that he will not return to the village until he can carry it at his belt. Then only can Nascanora sleep well.”

Bomba knew only too well who the “white boy” was whose head was so ardently desired by the chief of the head-hunters.

A dubious look came into Mambu’s face.

“The white boy is hard to catch,” he said. “He is as cunning as a snake and as brave as the puma. Does Motulu not remember how he faced Nascanora and dared him to fight him with knives? And how, when he was escaping from the village, he sank the haft of his machete into

Nascanora’s face, so that blackness came over Nascanora’s eyes and he fell as one who is dead? It is in the mind of Mambu that the white boy is under the protection of his gods and cannot be hurt. It would be well if Nascanora sought the white boy no longer, but returned to the lands of the tribe.”

“Let not Nascanora hear that Mambu has spoken thus,” warned Motulu, “or Mambu’s tongue will be torn out by the roots so that he can speak no more. Listen! He is coming!”

The men sprang to their feet in an attitude of attention, a great club in the left hand of each and a spear in the right.

There was a trampling in the brush and the sound of guttural voices.

Bomba burrowed still more deeply into the recesses of the thicket, covering himself with dead leaves in the process so as to resemble the earth on which he lay.

The tread of feet came nearer. Then the bushes parted and a great, hideously painted savage strode into the clearing.

II. A DIVE FOR SAFETY

“NASCANORA!” breathed Bomba to himself, as his eyes fell upon that menacing figure.

A thrill went through the lad at the recognition. There were the haughty bearing, the hawk-like eyes, the wicked mouth, the features ingrained with cruelty that he remembered so well. The Nascanora who had led his warriors at the siege of the cabin that the boy was defending! The Nascanora who had threatened him with fiendish tortures on the Island of Snakes! The Nascanora who had carried him captive to the tribal village near the Giant Cataract!

The same and yet not the same. The same in cruelty and brutishness, but not the same in appearance. For the upper part of the nose had been crushed in and the face was hideous. The wound had long since healed, but the disfigurement remained, a vivid reminder to Bomba of that night when he had driven the handle of his knife into the chief’s face and felled him like an ox.

He knew only too well what fate awaited him if he should ever fall into the clutches of the savage whose face he had thus marred.

The chief was evidently in a bad humor. His brows were drawn together in a frown and his eyes glowed like coals of fire.

Behind Nascanora came a troop of his followers, walking gingerly and casting furtive glances at their leader as though each were hoping that not upon him would fall the weight of their chief’s displeasure.

“You are dogs!” cried Nascanora, wheeling about as he reached the center of the clearing, while his glittering eyes went from one to another of his warriors. “You are not worthy to serve Nascanora. You have the white boy within your reach and you let him go. You shoot at him and your arrows miss. You pursue him and cannot catch him. The white boy laughs at the braves of Nascanora. He mocks them as if they were squaws.”

Nascanora’s men stood without a word under this berating, not one of them daring to lift his eyes.

At last the medicine man, whose sacred office gave him some degree of immunity and in whom Bomba recognized his old enemy, Ruspak, ventured to speak.

“Let not Nascanora be angry,” he said placatingly. “The white boy is as cunning as a weasel, yet even a weasel may be captured at last. It is strong magic that is brewed by the white boy and the white-haired old wizard with whom he lives. But Ruspak’s magic is still stronger and it will put the white boy in Nascanora’s hands. It may not be to-day and it may not be to-morrow, but Nascanora shall yet hear the white boy scream under the torture.”

The only answer to this was an angry grunt. It was clear that the chief’s confidence in his medicine man’s powers had not been strengthened by recent events.

“Let food be made ready,” ordered Nascanora, as he flung himself down at the foot of a tree.

He sat with his knees drawn up, his face like a thundercloud while the warriors hurried about gathering brush and wood for the fire to cook their supper.

Bomba noted with a wry face that they had brought with them for their meal the choicest portions from the tapir that he himself had killed. No broth would be made from that meat for Casson.

But his thoughts soon took another turn, There was not enough brush and twigs in the clearing itself for the fire, and the dusky warriors spread out to gather more in the surrounding forest. At any moment one might stumble over him.

It was too late to move, for the slightest motion would be instantly discerned. He must await events and take his chance.

He held his breath as the padding footsteps came nearer. The leaves with which he had covered himself offered a good protection from prying eyes. But if one of the savages should stumble over his prone body–

Several minutes passed without detection, and Bomba was beginning to breathe more easily when a foot prodded him in the ribs with such force that the owner of that foot had all he could do to retain his balance. He started back with a grunt of surprise.

Then the surprise changed into swift suspicion. The contact had dislodged some of the leaves and the savage caught a glimpse of the boy’s brown skin.

A yell rose from the fellow’s throat that was checked almost instantly. For with the speed of light Bomba leaped to his feet and drove his fist into the warrior’s jaw.

But the yell and the sudden movement had done their work. In a second the camp was in wild excitement. The savages grasped their spears and their bows and, led by Nascanora himself, rushed toward Bomba.

The lad turned and ran for his life.

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