Bomba, the Jungle Boy at the Giant Cataract - Roy Rockwood - ebook

Bomba, the Jungle Boy at the Giant Cataract ebook

Roy Rockwood

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In this volume the reader is taken into the depth of the jungle where he meets Bomba in a life replete with thrilling situations. You meet Cody Casson, the old naturalist, and the White Hunters, Jake Dorn and Ralph Gillis who gives Bomba a Harmonica, matches, and revolver for saving their lives. The old naturalist gives him a hint of his father and his mother, and Bomba sets off to solve the mystery of his identity. He treks through the Amazon jungle to the Island of Snakes to find an old witch who may know the secret of his origins. From Moving Mountain Bomba travels to the Giant Cataract, still searching out his parentage. Among the Pilati Indians he finds some white captives. He finds, too, an aged woman who had at one time been a great operatic singer, and she is the first to give Bomba real news of his forebears.

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Liczba stron: 213

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Contents

I. THE SUDDEN ATTACK

II. AT GRIPS WITH DEATH

III. IN THE NICK OF TIME

IV. A TERRIFIC STRUGGLE

V. TERRIBLE JAWS

VI. PURSUED BY AN ALLIGATOR

VII. CARRIED INTO CAPTIVITY

VIII. THE MAN WITH THE SPLIT NOSE

IX. THE SAVAGE RAIDERS

X. IN DEADLY PERIL

XI. FEROCIOUS FOES

XII. THE JAGUARS ATTACK

XIII. THE MAD MONKEY

XIV. BESET BY ENEMIES

XV. LYING IN AMBUSH

XVI. THE ISLAND OF SNAKES

XVII. AMID WRITHING SERPENTS

XVIII. THE MYSTERY DEEPENS

XIX. A STARTLING INTERRUPTION

XX. IN THE HANDS OF THE HEAD-HUNTERS

XXI. THE GIANT CATARACT

XXII. RUSPAK GLOATS

XXIII. A MAD STAMPEDE

XXIV. IN THE SWIRL OF THE RAPIDS

XXV. THE RESCUE OF SOBRININI

I. THE SUDDEN ATTACK

BOMBA made his way as silently as a panther through the jungle.

For that jungle abounded in enemies, as the boy had had occasion to know. At any moment a boa constrictor might drop like a flash from a tree above and seek to enfold him in its crushing coils. A turn of the trail might bring him face to face with a crouching jaguar. Or a cooanaradi, deadliest of all venomous snakes, might launch itself from the underbrush and inject its poison into his veins.

There were human foes, too, against whom Bomba had to be on his guard. With the natives who dwelt in that part of the jungle he was on comparatively friendly terms, though he never mingled with them on a footing of intimacy.

But from time to time the dreaded headhunters from the faraway region of the Giant Cataract invaded this district in search of the hideous trophies which their name implied wherewith to adorn their wigwams.

Their coming was a signal for the native inhabitants to flee, carrying along with them their children and scanty household belongings. The head-hunters were cruel and ruthless, and death and destruction followed in their wake.

Bomba had seen signs of them that very morning, and he had no desire for a closer acquaintance. On two previous occasions, he and Casson, the aged naturalist with whom he lived, had been sought out by these dreaded savages and had narrowly escaped with their lives. A third time they might not be so fortunate.

“And as I have only one head, I am exceedingly anxious to keep it on my shoulders,” the boy had told Casson.

So it was with extreme caution that Bomba threaded his way through the jungle, his eyes darting from right to left, plumbing the recesses of every thicket, piercing the foliage of every tree. With him eternal vigilance was the price, not only of liberty, but of life itself.

There was a sudden rustling in the leaves of a giant dolado tree. Bomba halted instantly, drew an arrow from his belt and fitted it to the string of his bow.

But his tense attitude relaxed as the leaves were thrust aside and the grinning, friendly face of a monkey framed itself in the opening.

“Doto!” exclaimed Bomba, in accents of relief and pleasure, as he waved his hand to the newcomer.

Welcome was in the tone and gesture, and the monkey dropped from branch to branch, finally landing lightly on the ground. Its eyes gleamed with affection as Bomba caressed its head.

The boy–for he was no more than that, being fourteen years old at the most–presented a striking picture as he stood there with a ray of sunlight falling athwart his face. He was taller than the average boy of his age and far more muscular and more sturdily built.

From constant exposure to sun and storm, his face was as bronzed as that of an Indian, but his features betrayed the fact that he was of the white race. His eyes and hair were brown, his nose strong and aquiline, and his firm jaw denoted courage and resolution.

He wore the mendiyeh, or native tunic, and across his breast was slung a puma skin–that of Geluk, the purna, that he had come across and slain when it was trying to kill the friendly parrots, Kiki and Woowoo. His arms and legs were bare, and showed the powerful muscles rippling under the brown skin at every movement. On his feet were home-made sandals.

In his belt he carried a machete, a two-edged knife fully a foot in length and ground to an almost razor-like sharpness. A pouch at his waist held his arrows and a five-chambered revolver, the only firearm he had ever owned, the gift of two white men whose camp he had saved from a night attack by jaguars.

“So Doto is glad to see Bomba back!” said the boy as he fondled the animal’s furry head. “And Bomba is glad to meet Doto again. Bomba has been away for many days and has seen many things. He has met men whose hearts are black. He has seen mountains break apart and fire come from the top. Snakes and jaguars have tried to kill him.”

The monkey uttered sounds that would have been unintelligible to many, but that Bomba knew were meant to express sympathy. The boy had an almost uncanny power over animals, and had many friends among the less savage denizens of the jungle, such as the monkeys and parrots. He talked to them and they chattered back at him, and they had arrived at a point where they could understand each other in simple things. Tone and gesture helped to interpret the words and sounds, and each knew intuitively whether the other was sad or glad and they shared emotions in common.

“Bomba’s heart is heavy,” the lad went on, “for he has not done what he wanted to do. He went to see Jojasta, the medicine man. He thought the man could tell him about his father and mother. But Jojasta was killed before he could tell Bomba what Bomba wanted to know. He told Bomba something, but not enough.”

The lad was speaking more to relieve his own sore heart than anything else, but Doto seemed to understand, and put his hairy paw consolingly on the boy’s arm.

“And now before many moons Bomba must go away again,” the lad resumed, “for Jojasta told Bomba that he must go to Sobrinini of the Pilati tribe, beyond the Giant Cataract, and that she could tell him about his father and mother. It is a long way off, and there are many dangers in the way. Bomba may never come back, may never see Doto again.”

The monkey uttered a wail and snuggled closer to Bomba as though in fear of immediate parting. The boy patted the animal’s head affectionately and roused himself from his musings.

“Bomba must go fast,” he said. “He is on his way home to Casson. He has been away a long time, and he does not know whether Casson is alive or dead. So Bomba must hurry.”

As the lad started on in haste, Doto broke out into excited chatterings and clung to Bomba’s arm as though to hold him back.

Bomba knew at once that the animal was trying to warn him of threatening danger, and he stopped short in his tracks.

“What is it, Doto?” he asked.

There was another outbreak of sounds that would have been meaningless to anyone else, but which Bomba had no trouble in interpreting correctly.

His face grew grave as he listened.

“I know,” he said. “The headhunters, the men with black hearts, are in the jungle. I have seen their signs this morning. I thought that I had got past them. But Doto, from the tops of the trees, can see farther than I can. Where are these men with the bloody hands?”

The monkey pointed in front of them in the very direction Bomba was taking.

The boy hushed the monkey’s chattering and stood silent as a statue, listening.

From his long experience in the jungle he had become preternaturally sharp of hearing. He knew all the sounds of the jungle and could interpret them accurately.

But strain his ears as he might, he could detect nothing out of the ordinary. There was the usual hum of insects, the occasional howl of a monkey or shriek of a parrot. But there was nothing to indicate that, besides himself, there was any human being in that part of the jungle.

He glanced at Doto with a look of inquiry, as though to ask if the animal might not be mistaken. But Doto held to his arm with such a frenzied clutch that Bomba decided to trust in the creature’s instinct or knowledge–or both.

There was no help for it. In spite of his eagerness to reach Casson, about whose condition he was in a ferment of anxiety, he must make a long circuit to avoid the region in which Doto had indicated that danger lay.

So he changed his course, left the faint trail that he had been following, and swung out in a sweeping semicircle, with every nerve at tension and every sense on the alert. With him went his friend, Doto.

On the route he was now pursuing there was no trail, and Bomba had to hack a way through the underbrush. This involved exhausting work and made his progress slow. But most of all he dreaded it for fear that the noise he necessarily made should attract the attention of lurking foes.

At times, when the brush was very thick, Doto would climb to the lowest branch of a tree and swing from one bough to the other of the interlacing trees, and Bomba, who was almost as agile as the monkey himself, followed his companion’s example.

Soon, however, the jungle thinned a little, and they traversed the forest with redoubled speed in order to make up for lost time.

An hour had passed when Doto suddenly grasped the lad’s arm and pulled him to the ground. At the same moment, an arrow whizzed over Bomba’s head. A second later another arrow followed and buried itself in a tree, where it hung quivering.

Bomba’s enemies were upon him!

II. AT GRIPS WITH DEATH

LIKE a flash, Bomba acted.

He knew that if he rose he would be offering himself as a target. At least two of his foes were near at hand. There might be more.

Not fifty feet away was a fallen tree, a veritable monarch of the jungle, that he and Doto had made their way over with difficulty. Its branches and foliage spread over a large area.

Turning in that direction, keeping on hands and knees and motioning Doto to follow, Bomba made his way through the intervening thickets with as much speed as possible.

Had his enemies followed at once, Bomba would probably have been discovered and over, taken. But they were wary, and from previous experiences of their fellows knew to what deadly effect Bomba could shoot. So, from their places of concealment, they waited for the target once more to present itself.

And when, a few minutes later, they were reinforced by some of their mates and rushed forward in a body to the place where Bomba had last been seen, their expected prey had vanished.

Bomba had utilized those few precious minutes to the utmost. Moving noiselessly and yet rapidly, he had reached the vast mass of branches and ensconced himself in their furthest depths.

His concealment was aided also by the fact that the tree had fallen across a hollow, so that there was a deep pit directly under the trunk. Into this Bomba burrowed, crouching low so that his whole body was hidden even should the branches and foliage be thrust aside by his pursuers.

He had sent Doto off in another direction, as the monkey could be of no help to him if it came to a fight, and might by its chattering betray his hiding place to his enemies.

And now, with his heart beating rapidly but with his courage at the highest pitch, Bomba waited for the coming of his enemies.

He knew that he was in desperate straits and that, if discovered, he would be doomed. But before the end came he would do his utmost to take some of his foes with him.

It was characteristic of the boy that at this supreme moment he thought more of Casson than of himself. He had so often faced death that it had lost most of its terrors.

But Casson! Poor, sick, half-demented Casson! What would become of him if anything should happen to Bomba, who had so long been his reliance and defender?

In that confined space the lad’s bow and arrows were of no use to him. But he had his revolver fully loaded, and at such short range it could be trusted to do deadly execution. And as a last resort, if it came to a hand to hand fight, there was his machete, in the use of which he was a master.

Before long he could hear his pursuers beating the bushes in the vicinity, giving utterance to grunts of rage as their search continued fruitless. He held his breath and waited. Then he heard another sound, faint at first but gradually becoming more definite, a rustling as of some soft, long body slithering through the brush.

At intervals there was a sound like a rattle, as though the creature had encountered some obstacle that had aroused its irritation and was taking this way of showing it.

Bomba knew that sound, and his heart skipped a beat.

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