Bomba, the Jungle Boy on the Underground River - Roy Rockwood - ebook

Bomba, the Jungle Boy on the Underground River ebook

Roy Rockwood



The ongoing adventures of the courageous Bomba the Jungle Boy! In „Bomba, the Jungle Boy on the Underground River”, Sobrinini, the snake woman that Bomba rescued from Snake Island, is also undergoing treatment. During her more lucid moments, she has told Bomba of a chest that she buried in the banks of an underground river. It contains documents and records related to Bomba’s parents. Sobrinini’s disordered mind prevents her from sharing the document information herself, but she is able to give Bomba crude directions to the chest. Bomba and Sobrinini, along with the natives Gibo and Neram, are now on their way to find the Underground River and retrieve the chest. „Underground River” is filled with adventures that challenge Bomba’s great strength and fortitude, making for another exciting volume in the Bomba series.

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“WE will stop here and eat.”

It was Bomba, the jungle boy, who spoke when the curious party of four came to a halt in a clearing of the great Amazonian jungle.

“It is well, Master,” assented Gibo, a tall, stalwart Indian, as he laid aside his bow and war club. “The way has been long and the sun has been hot.”

He motioned to Neram, his fellow servant, and the two began their preparations for a simple meal.

“No, Bomba, it were better to push on,” interposed Sobrinini, the only feminine member of the party, an ancient hag-like woman, whose face retained no traces of its former beauty that had once brought kings and princes to her feet, and whose eyes had in them the gleam of a disordered mind, “The heart of Sobrinini is sore until she can prove to Bomba that she has told him the truth.”

“Bomba does not think that Sobrinini has spoken to him with a forked tongue,” said the jungle boy soothingly. “And Sobrinini needs rest. Else will she faint and fall before we reach the journey’s end.”

The woman looked at him searchingly.

“The journey’s end for Sobrinini will come sooner than Bomba thinks,” she prophesied.

“How will it come?” asked the jungle boy, more to humor the demented creature than because he believed in her claim to second sight.

“Ah, that is more than Sobrinini can tell just now,” was the reply. “But it is coming, and coming soon. If Sobrinini had her beloved snake with her now, it would whisper in her ear and tell her what she wants to know.”

A waft of wind at the moment brushed one of her long floating locks of gray hair against her throat.

Instantly she seized it and pressed it close against her neck, crooning to it the while.

“It is Azra, my pet!” she cried delightedly, thinking she was fondling one of the snakes over which she had such a mysterious power. “Azra is wise. Speak, Azra, and tell Sobrinini when comes her journey’s end.”

It was an eerie sight, and it chilled the blood in Bomba’s veins. It recalled to him the dreadful flight when he had first seen Sobrinini, the witch-woman, dancing on the soil of her Island of Snakes, with the slimy creatures winding themselves in festoons about her throat and body.

Gibo and Neram looked on, terrified.

“She is a woman accursed,” muttered Gibo.

“It were well to pray to the gods,” declared Neram, as he murmured incantations to his favorite deity.

“Azra has spoken,” cackled the witch woman shrilly. “He has told Sobrinini that the end of the journey draws near. It comes on four feet, on eight feet, on twelve feet.”

“Sobrinini has spoken foolish words,” said Bomba sternly, for he dreaded the effect of these wild vaporings on the superstitions of his followers. “Words that are empty and have no meaning. Sobrinini must eat now. Then she shall lie down and rest till the heat of the sun is past.”

Her wild frenzy over, the woman submitted meekly enough, and the party sat down to the meal of turtles’ eggs and cured meat that Gibo and Neram had prepared.

A striking figure was that of Bomba, the jungle boy, one that would have attracted instant attention in any company.

Though barely more than fifteen, he was tall and stalwart, symmetrical and clean-cut. Powerful, panther-like muscles glided back and forth beneath the smooth skin that was as brown as any Indian’s, bronzed by wind and sun.

But any suggestion that he might be a native of the jungle was negatived at once by a glance at his face, as handsome as that of a Greek god and clearly betokening his white blood. His features were finely-chiseled, his nose aquiline, his mouth beautifully molded, his jaw strong and determined. His hair was brown and wavy, and his eyes, of the same color, were candid and wholly fearless.

He wore the short tunic of the natives and an animal skin across his breast, the skin of Geluk, the puma, that Bomba had slain when it was attacking his friends, Kiki and Woowoo, the parrots. His arms and legs were bare and his feet were clad in native sandals.

In all that vast jungle there were no eyes so keen, no feet so swift, no aim so sure, no mind so quick, no heart so courageous as those of Bomba, the jungle boy.

There was a slight frown on his brow as he stole a glance once again at Sobrinini sitting across from him. Her recent outburst had pained and disconcerted him. He had based high hopes on the period of sanity that had been hers since the beginning of this journey. Now she had relapsed again, for a time at least, into her demented state.

This fondling of the lock of hair as a snake! This wild talk of the journey’s end coming on four feet, eight feet, twelve feet!

Would she ever regain her senses sufficiently to tell Bomba what he longed so desperately to know? For somewhere in her disordered mind and memory was knowledge that Bomba could get from nowhere else on earth. If the witch woman failed him, he was indeed bereft.

There was a flutter and a shrill chattering in the branches above them, and a parrot of gay plumage flew down on the shoulder of the jungle boy.

“Kiki,” cried Bomba in surprise and delight, for he recognized his feathered visitor. “Kiki has come to see Bomba and Bomba’s heart is glad.”

He smoothed the feathers as the parrot nestled confidingly to him and nipped affectionately at his ear. Then it made odd noises, to which the jungle boy listened attentively.

“So Woowoo is coming, too,” replied Bomba to the bird’s remarks, while the listeners to this strange colloquy looked on with eyes that bulged. “That is good. It seemed strange to Bomba that Kiki and Woowoo should ever be far apart.”

The branches parted, and another parrot fluttered down and took up its perch on the jungle boy’s other shoulder.

“It is good that you have come, Woowoo,” Bomba greeted the newcomer, caressing him. “Kiki told Bomba that Woowoo was on the way to meet his good friend.”

“It is witchcraft,” muttered Neram fearfully.

“Not so,” denied Gibo, who was more familiar with his master’s habits and had before witnessed the almost miraculous understanding of birds and animals that Bomba had acquired through his long lonely years in the jungle. “Bomba speaks and the birds hear and answer. There is none like Bomba.”

For a little while the eerie conversation lasted. Then Bomba gently removed the parrots from their perches and with a parting caress dismissed them.

“Kiki and Woowoo must seek the trees again,” he said, “for Bomba is going on a long journey and he has much that weighs on his heart. It may be many weeks before Bomba comes this way again. But he will not forget his good friends, Kiki and Woowoo, and he will look for them again when he returns.”

With shrill chatterings of farewell the parrots rose reluctantly and were lost in the thick foliage of the trees.

Bomba looked after them until they had vanished from sight. Then his eyes fell. As they fell, they caught sight through an opening between the trees of something that caused him to stiffen to attention.

A tapir was grazing at a river bank several hundred feet away. The wind was blowing toward the travelers, so that the beast had not caught the human scent. It browsed lazily on the grass that grew thickly near the bank, wholly unknowing of danger.

“Gibo,” commanded the jungle boy in a low voice, “give Bomba his bow and arrow.”

The natives had followed Bomba’s glance and caught sight of the tapir, its brown hide shining in the sun.

Gibo obeyed his master’s command and Bomba fitted an arrow to the string.

“But, Master,” interposed Neram timidly, “it is too far. The arrow will not reach.”

“Be silent, foolish one,” chided Gibo. “Neram knows not the keenness of Bomba’s eye nor the strength of Bomba’s arm.”

The jungle boy crept cautiously to the edge of the wooded space.

Standing in the shadow of the last trees, he raised his bow, drew the arrow back to the head, and waited.

The beast had turned in such a way that its heart no longer presented a target, and it was in the heart that the arrow must lodge. If merely wounded, the brute would plunge into the river and creep along its bed under water until it had got beyond the reach of its pursuers.

For minutes that seemed hours to the breathless watchers, Bomba waited, as, rigid as a statue, not a muscle quivering.

At last the beast turned.

Twang! The arrow sped on its way, singing its song of death. The tapir gave a convulsive spring, fell over on its side, and lay still.

A gleeful shout rose from Gibo and Neram and a shrill cackling from Sobrinini. Bomba turned away carelessly and threw his bow down on the turf.

“Let Gibo and Neram go and bring the tapir here,” he directed. “There will be much fresh meat for the journey.”

“Said I not, oh, foolish one, that there is none in the jungle like Bomba?” crowed Gibo to Neram, as the pair rushed over the open space to where the tapir was lying.

“He is under the favor of the gods,” admitted Neram. “They have anointed his eyes and, made them sharp. They have breathed on his arms and made them strong.”

Bomba found Sobrinini regarding him with eyes in which admiration and foreboding struggled for mastery.

“It is well that Bomba can make the arrows sing the song of death,” she murmured, “for Sobrinini sees that before long he must shoot hard and straight at enemies more deadly than the tapir.”

“What kind of enemies?” queried Bomba, with a smile. “There is no wild beast of the jungle with which Bomba has not fought many times.”

“Teeth and claws, teeth and claws,” muttered the witch woman. “They are sharp and cruel. And they tear–tear till the flesh is sundered from the bones.”

“Let us not talk of these,” urged the jungle boy. “Bomba will know how to deal with them if they come. Bomba would rather hear what Sobrinini alone can tell. Let Sobrinini unlock the door of her mind and tell Bomba of his father and mother. Who are they? Where are they? Bomba’s heart is sore because he does not know these things.”

“Father? Mother?” repeated the witch woman vaguely. “It is long since Sobrinini has seen them, and she cannot remember.. If she had Azra, the wise snake, here it might be that he could tell her.” She seemed to be cudgeling her memory. “Bartow. Laura–”

“Yes, Bartow and Laura,” cried Bomba eagerly. “Those are the names that Bomba has heard Casson speak when he has been babbling in his sleep. Where are they? Do they still live? Why is it that they left Bomba in the jungle?”

“Sobrinini’s head is tired,” was the reply. “Let Bomba ask Casson what he wants to know. Or Jojasta, the medicine man of the Moving Mountain. Or Japazy, the king of Jaguar Island. They will know the things that Sobrinini forgets.”

“But Jojasta is dead!” cried Bomba. “A falling pillar of his temple killed him. And Japazy, too, is dead. These eyes of Bomba saw him go whirling down the side of a precipice. As for Casson, a veil is over his mind and he speaks words that have no meaning.”

They were interrupted by Gibo and Neram, who came dragging the body of the tapir in triumph.

“The arrow, Master!” exclaimed Gibo, as he handed the missile over to Bomba. “It had pierced the tapir’s heart. The lightning of the gods could not have struck more truly.”

Bomba wiped the arrow carefully on the turf and restored it to his quiver.

“Here is much meat for many days,” exulted Neram, as he looked at the body of the animal, the flesh of which was highly prized by the natives.

“Let Neram and Gibo cut out only the best parts,” directed Bomba. “It is not well to have too much to carry on the trail.”

The servants set to work with their knives, skinning and cutting up the tapir.

Suddenly a wild shriek came from Sobrinini.

“A jaguar!” she screamed.

“Three of them!” shouted Gibo, as he made a dive for his weapons.

Bomba whirled about, his hand on his knife. Not twenty feet away were three huge jaguars, crouched for a spring.


THE scent of the tapir’s blood had no doubt drawn the three savage monsters to the outskirts of Bomba’s camp. There the heavy brush had shielded their movements until they had come within striking distance.

Now they crouched low on the ground, their greenish-yellow eyes like balls of fire, their tails switching menacingly from side to side, horrid growls issuing from their throats, every muscle tense for the spring.

Like lightning, Bomba drew from his belt his machete, a murderous knife nearly a foot long and ground to a razor edge. He grasped it by the tip of the blade and sent it hurtling through the air just as one of the jaguars sprang at him.

The whirling knife caught the brute while it was still in the air and sank to the haft in the jaguar’s throat.

At the instant of throwing, Bomba leaped aside. The impetus of the spring carried the yellow and black body to the spot where the jungle boy had been standing a moment before.

But the brute had received its death blow. It rolled over and over in frightful convulsions, tearing at the knife embedded in its throat.

The other beasts sprang at the same moment as their comrade, but selected other victims.

Neram seized a spear and Gibo his club. The former hurled the spear as one of the brutes launched itself against him.

The spear grazed the jaguar’s hide, but did not check the animal in the least. The next instant the beast had borne Neram to the ground and was tearing at his arm with its teeth.

Gibo raised his club and brought it down with terrific force on the brute’s head. It stunned the jaguar and made it lose its hold of Neram’s arm. Before it could recover, a rain of blows from the heavy club crushed its skull.

The third jaguar leaped at Sobrinini, and the frail form of the witch woman went down under the impact.

The brute crouched on her prostrate body, but before its fangs could seek her throat a loud yell from Bomba attracted its attention and caused it to raise its great head in snarling defiance.

The jungle boy had snatched up his bow and had swiftly fitted an arrow to the string. Then he had leaped in front of the jaguar and drawn the arrow to its head.

His yell had accomplished its purpose. The uplifted head and open jaws gave Bomba the target he desired.

While the quick eye of the jungle boy seeks a vital spot, it may be well, for the benefit of those who have not read the preceding volumes of this series, to tell who Bomba was and what had been his adventures up to the time this story opens.

Bomba had never known his father or mother. From as far back as he could remember he had lived in the depths of the Amazonian jungle, his only companion a frail, white-haired naturalist named Cody Casson.

The old man was kind to Bomba, but he was moody and absorbed, and often passed days at a time without speaking except in monosyllables.

Under conditions that made for strength and hardihood, Bomba grew into boyhood. There were Indians about, friendly for the most part, but they rather avoided Casson’s cabin, as they thought the queer white man was capable of weaving evil spells.

At fourteen Bomba was stronger than most grown men. His muscles were like steel, his eyes like those of a hawk, his body capable of enduring any fatigue. He had learned to use the bow and arrow with unerring skill. He could hurl a knife that found its target at any distance under fifty yards.

As Casson grew more feeble, Bomba naturally slipped into the position of provider for himself and Casson. In his hunting trips he came frequently into combat with the wild beasts and terrible reptiles of the jungle and learned to match their cunning with his own.

Casson at times roused himself from his brooding and tried to give the boy the rudiments of an education in English. But this training came abruptly to an end when one day Casson and Bomba came across a giant anaconda. The reptile was advancing to attack Bomba when Casson fired and the rusty gun exploded, knocking Casson senseless and wounding the anaconda, which retreated.

Bomba dragged Casson back to the cabin and nursed him back to physical health. But the old man’s memory was almost entirely gone, and from that time he was half-demented.

Bomba had frequently begged the old man to tell him of his parents, and Casson had promised to do so when the lad grew older. But after the accident Casson could not tell him, though he often tried. But just when he seemed on the verge of a revelation his memory would fail him. All that Bomba really learned was that his father’s name was Bartow and his mother’s name was Laura. All else remained in mystery.

How Bomba came in contact with two white men, rubber hunters, Dorn and Gillis; the adroitness and courage with which he saved them when their camp was attacked by wild beasts; the thrilling encounters he had with savage beasts and poisonous snakes and huge boa constrictors and with the head-hunters, still more to be dreaded, who besieged him and Casson in their cabin, are told in the first book of this series, entitled:

“Bomba the Jungle Boy; or, The Old Naturalist’s Secret.”

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