Jan of the Jungle - Otis Adelbert Kline - ebook

Jan of the Jungle ebook

Otis Adelbert Kline

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Opis

Led to believe that his natural mother is a chimpanzee Chicma, a young boy knows only the savage ways of the great apes. Kept in a cage, he is systematically trained to become a savage killer by the fiendish Dr. Bracken. But the young boy, Jan, is clever enough to escape from the lab and make it out into the surrounding swamp with his chimp mentor at his side and emerge near the Lost Empire of Mu. The swamplands offer Jan has his first taste of freedom. He grows up fast, and has several run-ins with the wildlife of the swamps-crocodiles, snakes, bears, etc.... With all his fighting skill, there remained only one challenge to Jan: trace his origins and locate his man-parents. Full of intrigue and adventure, this classic from Otis Adelbert Kline is a must for adventure-pulp literature fans!

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Liczba stron: 297

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Contents

1. A DIABOLICAL SCHEME

2. IN THE BEARDED FOREST

3. JAN’S FIRST FIGHT

4. CAPTURED

5. THE ROPE’S END

6. HURRICANE

7. BROWN MEN’S PRIZE

8. ORGY

9. CHICMA’S ATTACK

10. OUTSIDE THE WALLS

11. THE JUNGLE DEMON

12. IN A SERPENT’S COILS

13. DR. BRACKEN’S CLUE

14. THE HIDDEN VALLEY

15. THE BLACK PRISON

16. THE DAY OF PAYMENT

17. A WARM TRAIL

18. A DEATH HOLIDAY

19. THE RIVER OF MONSTERS

20. MAN-HUNT

21. FORBIDDEN GROUND

22. A PERILOUS VISIT

23. THE LOTUS MARK

24. CAGED

25. RAKING CLAWS

26. THE VANQUISHED

27. A FIGHTING VICTIM

28. JUNGLE MAN-HUNT

29. THE GRAVEN ARROW

30. ENEMIES

31. DR. BRACKEN’S REVENGE

1. 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 be 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 reinforced 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 bet 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 the boma. 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 louse, 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 exercising 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 fore-knuckles. 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 mud water, and subaqueous 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.

2. 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?”

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