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Full text of "Breath of the jungle"

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"Breath o/^^ Jungle 



Jiatne3 
Pi-ancis 



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^J'^" "^ CORNELL 

/ '^ UNIVERilTY 

fS'if iJBRARY 



Cornell University Library 
PR9599.D99B8t915 



Breath of the ungle, 




3 1924 008 156 089 




The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924008156089 



Breath of the Jungle 



iSreatl) of tjjt Sunglt 



By 
James Francis Dwyer 

Author of "The Spotted Panther," "The White 
Waterfall." "The Bust of Lincoln," etc. 




CHICAGO 

A. C. McCLURG & CO. 

1915 



Copyright 

A. C. McCLURG & CO. 

1915 



Published April, 1915 



Copyrighted in Greit Britain 






9. Jt. l|sU J^rtntlng (So.. flU^fniga 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER PAGE 

I The Bronze Tiger 3 

II The Soul Trapper 29 

III The Red Face of Feerish Ali ... 53 

IV A Jungle Graduate 85 

V The Phantom Ship of Dirk Van Tromp 107 

VI The White Tentacles . . . .137 
VII The Three Who Fled . . . .171 
VIII The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 207 
IX The Orang-Outang Fight on the Pa- 
puan Queen 241 

X The Blind Dog of El Corib . .257 

XI The Golden Woman of Kelantan . . 285 

XII The Little Gold Ears of Sleth . . . 323 



[V] 



The Bronze Tiger 



THE BRONZE TIGER 

A Story of American Men in the Valley of Golan Ra 

and Their Encounter with the Tiger 

of Other Men's Gods 

/"^URTIS, the American consul, took this story 
^^ down in longhand the day I staggered into his 
office. And Curtis believed it, too. He brought me 
round to his club, bought me a meal and a peg of 
brandy, gave me a suit of drill and a hand-shake 
that nearly cracked my knuckles. 

" Don't tell it too often when you get back to our 
country," he said. 

"Why?" I asked. 

Curtis laughed grimly and looked about him. 
" Well, they wouldn't get the atmosphere," he said, 
"and atmosphere is everything when it comes to 
believing a story. If you told that yarn in a club 
(Ml Fifth Avenue — No, I'm wrong. They'd 
believe you! The darn thing drips truth! " 

That was a compliment from Curtis. He doubted 
everybody, but he believed me. He gave me clothes, 
a meal, and a hand-shake, and he said that the yarn 

[3] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



dripped truth. I don't know if it does, but here's 
the story: 

I met Masterson at Singapore. He was Ameri- 
can on the father's side, I'm sure of that. As to 
his mother — well, the consul told me that day in 
his office, that Masterson's grandmother was a 
Shan-Talok woman from the head of the Meinam. 
I don't know. There may have been a streak of 
color in Masterson, but I didn't notice it. 

Masterson was going up into the hills above 
Kopah to collect specimens, and I went with him 
as an assistant. I dislike work — that is, hard work 
— but you can't panhandle the Malay. The East 
is the real home of old Ma Poverty. Starvation 
walks around with a chawat round its loins, and 
Mr. Death works overtime. That's why I went to 
work helping Masterson gather specimens of snakes, 
lizards, bugs, and other things in the hills above 
Kopah. 

" It's nice and interesting work," he said. 

" For the lizards and bugs," I snapped. " They're 
being put in bottles and sent to America ; we've got 
to stay to do the recruiting work." 

That was a nasty bit of country round there. 
Body o' me! Yes! There are some places in the 
world that are worse than opium. I mean they're 
more dangerous. The blamed drug is in the air, 

[4] 



The Bronze Tiger 



in the hot dawns, in the white sunlight, and the 
velvety nights. I know it. And those hills above 
Kopah were worse than any other spot I had struck. 
That place was too old. There were wandering 
whiffs of perfume in those hills that got right into 
the back of my head and rooted out memories that 
must have been there for centuries — for a score 
of centuries most likely. They stirred up desires 
and dreams that must have belonged to ancestors 
of mine who lived when the mammoth was orna- 
menting the landscape. Curtis, the American con- 
sul, understood when I told him about it. Curtis 
had been in the East for fourteen years, and he had 
lost a lot of the cocksureness that he had taken from 
Washington. 

" This country is hell," said I to Masterson. " It 
looks as dead as Pharaoh's chariot mules, and yet 
it is alive." 

He was bottling a krait, one of those deadly 
little snakes that lie around in the sand with their 
heads out waiting to bite anyone or anything that 
comes near, and he grinned at me. 

"The Siyins say that the little grains of sand 
talk to each other," he said, "and I believe the 
Siyins are right. Yes, it's alive all right." 

That place made me sick. It was the sort of 
place that the Specters of the Lonely Places would 
pick for a convention ground. It was so. I tried 

[5] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 

to whistle " Dixie " once or twice in that Valley of 
Golan Ra, but I gave it up. That spot was too 
unhealthy for whistling. 

We were fixing our tents one afternoon when a 
real specter came down from the hills above that 
valley. He was a Burmese monk, and he was a 
fright. Body o' me ! Yes ! He was naked except 
for a dirty waist-cloth; his hair stood out around 
his head like a thorny halo, and his finger nails were 
twelve inches long. He was in keeping with the 
surroundings all right. He was just the sort of 
apparition you would expect to run across in a 
place like that. 

Masterson spoke to him in the Malay lingo, and 
he replied in English. Good English, too. Said 
he was a Buddhist monk from Moulmein, and lived 
in a little cave high up in the sandstone rocks. 

"And why do you stay in this place?" I asked. 

"It is a sacred place," he answered. "Buddha 
rested here on the way to the Temple of Paklan." 

" Huh! " I said. " Buddha must have done noth- 
ing else but rest. I've seen about two hundred 
bo-trees that mark places where he squatted." 

"But there is more tlian a bo-tree here," said 
the monk. 

"Why, what's here?" I asked. 

"The Man-eater of Golan Ra," he answered 
quietly. 

[6] 



The Bronze Tiger 



Now I think that Masterson had heard some- 
thing of that man-eater before the monk mentioned 
him. I'm nearly sure he had. The moment the 
apparition mentioned the thing, Masterson dropped 
his specimen-box and came closer to the freak. His 
eyes were mighty scared-looking too. 

"Did that happen here?" he asked. 

The freak nodded his head. " It happened right 
here," he murmured. 

"Let the story loose," I said. "I have never 
heard it." Afterward I was sorry that I had asked 
that greasy monk to tell the yarn, but feeling sorry 
for an action does no good. 

That fakir was some story-teller. Holy St. 
Christopher, wasn't he! That yarn went into ray 
brain through every hair I had in my head. He 
chanted it like a Batta chanting a war-song, and I 
just gasped as I sat on the hot sand and listened. 
Masterson was pop-eyed, too. That monk was a 
devil of a story-teller. 

He said that Buddha had rested at that place on 
his way to the Temple of Paklan. Budd was tired, 
mighty tired. He sat down in the shade to rest 
himself, and while he was sitting there a big man- 
eating tiger came down from the sandstone ridges 
and peeped at him from behind a thorn bush. Peeped 
at Buddha, mind you! 

Do you know that funny music the orchestra 

[7] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



grinds out when they want to give the audience 
cold shivers down its back ? Well, that monk could 
do that stunt with his voice. Wow, couldn't he 
just! He soft-pedaled on the descriptive business 
concerning that tiger pecking round the bush till 
he had Masterson and me rubbering at the stunted 
cactus clumps, thinking that another tiger might be 
peeping at us. The Oriental is the greatest story- 
teller in the world. He puts shadows into his 
stories, and those shadow masses stir your imagina- 
tion just the way it should be stirred. And that 
fakir in the Valley of Golan Ra was the boss of 
all the narrators we had ever met. That tiger liked 
the look of Buddha. Buddha was fat, and the tiger 
was hungry. The brute was a bit of a gourmet, 
and he had grown tired of eating skinny Negritos. 
They gave him indigestion. He licked his chops 
as he watched the fat saint mumbling his prayers, 
and he breathed so excitedly that old Buddha heard 
him and looked up. 

The tiger sort of grinned at Buddha, but Buddha 
took no notice. He was busy thinking out some 
mighty big problems, and he had no time for grin- 
ning at tigers. That's what the fakir said. The 
boss monk in the Temple of Paklan had been graft- 
ing a little, and the saint was thinking out a plan to 
fix him. 

That greasy monk was an actor of the first water. 

[8] 



The Bronze Tiger 



Wow, wasn't he a dandy ! He put up a piece of rock 
to represent Buddha, while he took the part of Mr. 
Tiger, and all the time he was pouring out the 
descriptive matter. 

The tiger came out from behind the bush and 
walked forward a little. He thought that Buddha 
might be a little short-sighted. That brute had 
been in the habit of seeing Malays and Negritos 
bolt in every direction when he poked his head 
around a corner, and he was just a little bit sur- 
prised to see old Budd still juggling with his prayer- 
cord. It hurt his vanity to see a respectable old 
gentleman ignore him completely, and he gave a 
little growl to show the saint that he was a real 
full-grown specimen of a hill tiger. 

That growl annoyed Buddha. At least, the fakir 
said that it annoyed him. The tiger had a breath, 
and the growl sent the odor of that breath under 
the saint's nose. He stopped praying and waved the 
tiger away, but the tiger's stomach was troubling 
him too much at that moment. Buddha looked fat 
and sweet to him. He crept a little closer, and the 
saint got mad. I'm just telling what that monk told 
to Masterson and myself in the Valley of Golan Ra. 

" Go back ! " said Buddha, but the tiger only drew 
his lips back in a sneer. I guess he thought that 
Buddha was having a little joke before he handed 
in his checks. 

[91 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



"Go back to the hills!" cried the saint. "Go 
back at once ! " 

But that tiger had no word like retreat in his 
dictionary. Not much. He just walloped his ribs 
furiously with the end of his tail and crouched on 
his haunches before making a spring at the saint. 

Buddha was as cool as a mudfish according to the 
story of the monk. He just eyed the tiger, and 
the tiger returned the stare. That fool brute was 
wondering why Buddha didn't pick up his gown and 
bolt across the sand. That was what the Negritos 
used to do, and it always amused the tiger to do a 
little run after them before making an evening meal 
off them. 

" Now," said Buddha, " if you spring you will be 
sorry, very sorry." 

The tiger, so the monk reckoned, stiffened his 
muscles and licked his chops. Buddha's threats 
didn't frighten him much. He gave one little growl 
as a signal to himself to be ready, another little 
growl as a signal to be steady, and when he gave the 
third little growl he lifted himself into the air. But 
Buddha did something at that moment. Mind you, 
this part of the yarn is not mine, I'm only telling 
what the monk said in that dead Valley of Golan 
Ra. And that monk was a champion at telling a 
story. When he got up to the part where the tiger 
was going to hop at Buddha, he had us fairly creepy 

[lO] 



The Bronze Tiger 



with curiosity. Yes, sir ! That was no bit of fiction 
as far as he was concerned. It was twenty-two 
carat gospel, and that was why he was able to make 
us shiver like frozen hoboes when he got to the 
climax. 

"Yes, yes," gasped Masterson, "what happened 
then?" 

"Why," said the monk, sinking his voice till it 
was only a whisper, " when Buddha lifted his hand 
the tiger's spring was arrested. He stopped in mid- 
air. It was as if he were petrified instantly, and as 
Buddha continued to pray the old man-eater was 
turned slowly to bronze. . Into bronze, sirs. He 
became a piece of statuary, his body erect, his fore 
paws stretched out, and only the pads of his hind 
feet on the ground." 

I don't know whether it was the surroundings 
that made us scared, or whether it was the manner 
in which that fakir told the story, but when he 
finished we were pop-eyed. Wow, yes ! There was 
never a story-teller like that Buddhist monk, and 
there was never a place that fitted so well as a back- 
ground for such a yarn as that weird Valley. 

Masterson didn't speak for a few minutes after 
the freak had finished his story, then he moistened 
his lips and put a question. 

"Where is the tiger that was turned into 
bronze?" he asked. 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



I expected that monk to say that someone had 
stolen that statue, but I got a surprise — a mighty 
big surprise. He just turned and waved his skinny 
hand toward a patch of thorn that was about five 
hundred yards away, and said simply, "He is out 
there." 

It's hard to make anyone feel what we felt in 
that wilderness. Curtis, the American consul, 
understood, but he had been fourteen years in that 
God-forsaken country. 

"Show him to us," said Masterson. 

It was dusk then, the curious tropical dusk that 
comes down like a purple veil before the thick night 
swoops down. The monk started to walk toward 
that patch of thorn, and Masterson and I followed. 
Masterson was all nerves at that moment. The day 
had affected him more than it had affected me. That 
air was like opium to him, and after he had listened 
to the story he walked like a man in a dream. If 
anyone could have canned that atmosphere of Golan 
Ra, they could have sold it to dope fiends. It was 
CMie of the most peculiar spots I had ever seen. 
There are thousands of places in the tropics that 
look unhealthy and feel unhealthy, but the Valley 
of Golan Ra was vicious. I don't know if I make 
my meaning clear by saying that. Curtis understood 
when I told him about it. 

" I know the atmosphere," he said. " it's poison- 

[12] 



The Bronze Tiger 



ous. The country has been left too much to itself, 
and it doesn't want a white man near." 

The consul was right. That valley didn't want 
Masterson or me. The monk fitted into the sur- 
roundings, but we didn't. We knew it, but we fol- 
lowed that fakir across the sand that was still so 
hot that you felt it through the soles of your shoes, 
and so dry that you could hear a lizard rustling 
through it twenty feet away. 

The monk circled the clump of cactus and stunted 
camel' s-thorn, then he stopped and pointed with his 
thin hand. 

"There he is," he whispered. "There is the 
Man-eater of Golan Ra ! " 

Body o' me! I got a shock when I looked at 
the spot he pointed out. The sight we saw hit us 
so hard that we stopped in our tracks with our 
mouths open. I know a little about tigers, so does 
Masterson, but the man who modeled the big bronze 
tiger at Golan Ra knew more about tigers than all 
the naturalists between Penang and Philadelphia. 
That's the truth. The Kachins of Northern Burma 
tell of the tiger-men who live and hunt with the 
tigers, and the man who made that statue must 
have been one of that breed. He must have lived 
with tigers. He must have watched them till he 
knew every muscle in their bodies. Wow, Wow, 
Wow ' What a statue it was! It flamed with life. 

[13] 



Breath of the Jungle" 



That was the genius in it. Genius! Why, when 
we came in front of that thing we stepped aside 
in fear! 

Someone will cry about Antoine Louis Barye 
when they read this. Barye never did anything 
like that. Never ! I've seen a lot of Barye's work, 
but I have never seen anything like that tiger. Holy 
St. Christopher ! No ! Barye's tiger in the Tuilleries 
is not to be compared with that brute in the wastes 
of Golan Ra. Barye's stuff is dead. That tiger in 
the valley between the hills was so full of life that 
you crouched instinctively as you came in front 
of him. 

I didn't wonder about the Buddha yarn being 
woven about that beast. Not much ! It was beyond 
the intelligence of those hill tribes to think that an 
artist modeled that thing. They gambled on super- 
natural influence, and of course they picked Buddha. 
Anyone with the smallest particle of imagination 
would think that the brute had been turned into 
bronze as he was about to spring. 

Masterson looked at me, and swallowed like a 
pelican. In the dim light the thing looked uncanny. 
It did so. And that walking bag of bones knew 
that he had handed us a surprise packet. 

"In the night," he said, turning to Masterson, 
"he is very lonely. He calls to the tigers in the 
hills, and they come down and keep him company." 

[14] 



The Bronze Tiger 



"Who calls?" I snapped. 

" Buddha's tiger," said the monk. " He calls to 
his brothers up in the sandstone ridges, and they 
come down to him. There are a hundred tigers here 
every night." 

The East is a curious place. I wanted to laugh, 
and I couldn't laugh. I thought I could rid myself 
of the irritating fear that gripped me if I were able 
to ridicule that old naked fool's story, but I couldn't 
raise a grin. The look of that tiger choked back 
any laughs that I tried to put forward. 

Masterson stooped and looked for tracks in the 
sand, then he looked at me with a stupid look on his 
face. The atmosphere of that valley had played the 
mischief with Masterson's nerves. He looked like 
a man who has been hit with a sand-bag. 

" They come every night," murmured the monk. 
" They come down to him when he cries." 

" Huh," I grunted, " they're real obliging tigers, 
ain't they?" I don't know whether the story or 
the place upset my courage, but I was scared — 
scared in that curious way when your courage seems 
to be penned in a corner fighting against a fear 
that you can't get a grip on. 

"Do you know that no harm can come to one 
who is near him?" asked the monk. 

"How?" I growled. 

" If anyone places his hand on him and cries out 

[IS] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



to Buddha, no harm can come to him," he answered. 
" No tiger will touch him. The Holy Buddha has 
willed it so. Only a few days ago a Malay, pur- 
sued by a tiger, rushed down here from the hills 
and touched the statue. When he did so the tiger 
that was pursuing him ran away." 

You would think that a remark of that kind 
would make us laugh, but it didn't. It was getting 
dark, and that place had a look that chilled our 
blood. But we didn't want to show the white 
feather in front of that dirty Buddhist monk. Not 
much! We had picked up our rifles when leaving 
the camp: it isn't safe to wander round without a 
gun in those hills, and when that fakir told the story 
about the tigers coming down from the hills I got a 
fool notion into my head to draw his bluflf. 

Masterson must have got the same idea at the 
exact moment I pounced on it. He looked around 
at a couple of stunted trees that were about twenty 
yards from the statue, and then looked at me. 

"We might wait and see if there is any truth in 
the yarn," he said. "I mean the tale about the 
tigers coming down from the hills." 

" Sure," I answered. " We'll wait by all means." 

"What are you going to do?" asked the monk. 

"We're going to stay around and see this tiger 
gathering," I said. " We'll build a platform between 
those two stunted trees." 

[i6] 



The Bronze Tiger 



"Can I stay?" he asked quietly. 

"Stay if you like," said Masterson. "Help us 
get some timber together." 

Masterson and I worked like madmen collecting 
timber to build a platform between those two small 
trees, and the monk helped us without speaking. 
And all the time it was getting darker in that valley. 
Darker? Why, it was that dark when we finished 
the perch that we felt as if we were crawling 
through something tangible as we climbed onto the 
platform we had hurriedly put together. 

We couldn't see the bronze tiger, but we seemed 
to feel him. That's a curious way of putting it, but 
it's the only way that can explain our sensations. 
That piece of work had made a mighty funny 
impression on us, and we could easily understand 
how stories had sprung up about it. In that dreary 
waste of sand and stunted thorn bush that tiger 
seemed to be the only thing alive. Alive, mind you ! 
The rocks were dead, the hills were dead, the cactus 
and stunted trees, and even the monk, looked as if 
they held on to existence by the skin of their teeth, 
as the saying is, but the tiger seemed to flame with 
life. 

Genius is a wonderful thing. They tell a story in 
the Shan states of a man who made a hamadryad 
that was so wonderfully lifelike that the natives 
died with fear after looking at it, and I could believe 

[17] 



Breath of the Jungle" 



that story after seeing the Tiger of Golan Ra. He 
was aUve to that greasy monk. Body o' me ! Yes ! 
Right in my heart I knew that the fakir worshiped 
the thing, and as we crouched on the shaky plat- 
form between the two trees I knew that he was 
staring toward the spot where the tiger stood. 

"It's devilish quiet," muttered Masterson, after 
we had been squatting there for about an hour. 

" Quiet ? " I growled. " I'm praying for an earth- 
quake to come along and burst this infernal silence." 

Wow, wasn't it quiet! I guess we could have 
heard a British-India steamer hoot in the Bay of 
Bengal if that silence strata had run all the way 
to the coast. That was how it seemed to me. And 
every minute of that terrific silence seemed to act 
like a vise that was squeezing out of me everything 
that was human and vital. I don't know whether 
it was that way with Masterson, but I had to wriggle 
my limbs occasionally just to rid myself of the 
belief that I was becoming petrified. 

We were on that platform about four hours 
before anything happened. Then matters began to 
get lively. The monk touched our sleeves with his 
long fingers, and we put our best ears to the breeze. 

"They're coming," whispered the fakir. 

"Who?" gasped Masterson. 

"The tigers," breathed the monk. "I can hear 
them coming down from the hills. When they get 
[i8] 



The Bronze Tiger 



on the sand, you will hear Buddha's tiger cry out 
to them." 

I felt inclined to knock that freak off the plat- 
form when he said that. I felt that we had done 
a foolish thing in waiting round that place, and I 
blamed the monk for making us build that perch. 
A kind of fear gripped me at that moment that I 
had never experienced before. Never! 

A nigger can hear a tiger long before a white man 
can hear him, and it was some minutes before I 
heard a noise. Masterson heard them before I did. 
He was crouched close to me, and I felt his muscles 
stiffen with excitement. Masterson was all nerves, 
just then. The atmosphere of that valley, together 
with the story of the monk, had upset him com- 
pletely. 

"They're coming," he breathed. "They're 
coming." 

"Hush," I whispered. "Be quiet." 

In the tremendous silence that was over that place, 
my skin seemed to feel the soft padding of those 
brutes approaching. Tigers ? Of course they were 
tigers! And you can understand how it struck us 
after listening to the story that the freak had told. 
I pictured him grinning in the darkness. There is 
nothing pleases a nigger better than to get the laugh 
on a white man, and that fakir had sensed our 
skepticism when he unbottled that yarn. 
[19] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



I gripped my rifle and peered over the edge of the 
platform into the darkness that heaved beneath us 
like masses of black cotton wadding. Wow, wasn't 
it dark ! And out of that infernal thick night came 
little snuffles and snarls that made me put a few 
pertinent questions to myself. 

" What brings them to this spot ? " I asked myself. 
" Why the deuce do they come down from the hills 
to the bronze statue ? What f akery is at the bottom 
of it?" 

Just as I was trying to puzzle the matter out, 
the monk gripped my arm and brought his mouth 
close to my face. 

"Now Buddha's tiger will cry out to them," he 
whispered. " Listen ! " 

I got a chill down my spinal column when he said 
that. I was listening with every inch of my skin. 
I wanted to hear that cry. That naked monk had 
me scared right down to my shoes, and I knew that 
Masterson was just as bad. Mind you, Masterson 
had plenty of grit at most times, but all his grit had 
been sucked out of him by the surroundings on that 
evening at Golan Ra. 

" Listen ! " whispered the monk. " Now he will 
cry out to them to let them know that he is lonely." 

The fakir timed it exactly. The cry came at the 
moment he finished speaking. It split the silence like 
a projectile of sound, and it nearly made Masterson 
[20] 



The Bronze Tiger 



leap from the platform. It was a scream with a 
point to it. It knocked me so silly that I couldn't 
think of a thing. 

"Did you hear?" whispered the monk. 
" Buddha's tiger is calling." 

I tried to answer that freak, but I couldn't. That 
scream had paralyzed my tongue. I damned myself 
for nine different kinds of a fool as I crouched 
waiting. I knew how Masterson was. He was 
about eighteen degrees worse than I was. 

I peered into that darkness, feeling mighty angry 
and mighty foolish. I pushed the rifle over the edge 
of the platform, and waited for something that 
would let me know where one of those brutes was 
prowling. 

The monk sensed what I was about to do, and his 
long fingers clutched my arm. "Don't!" he 
whispered. "Don't! You will annoy Buddha's 
tiger if you shoot his kinsfolk here. Listen ! He is 
calling again." 

That cry came again, and I was as stupid as a 
stufifed mongoose. My, didn't it chill me ! I wanted 
to let fly at one of the brutes that snufHed and 
snarled in the dark, just because I thought that the 
report of the rifle would bring back my courage. 
Noise is a great spine-stiffener for the noise-maker, 
I can tell you. 

" Let him cry I " I gasped, and as I spoke the cry 

[21] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



went up again. It was an animal's cry, but it was 
a cry of fear that would chill the heart of a road 
agent. 

" Don't shoot ! " cried the monk. " Don't ! " 

He made a grab at my arm, but I pushed him 
back. A huge pair of emeralds appeared under the 
tree at that instant and I let fly. 

Body o' me! Didn't that shot start a rumpus! 
I'd give a few dollars to know how many tigers 
were around that statue. Just to satisfy my own 
curiosity, that's all. Those hills are famous for 
tigers, and it was some convention that had assem- 
bled there. You bet it was. 

Masterson was pretty funky just then. I was 
scared, but he was clean out of his wits with fright. 
I was looking for another pair of green eyes to help 
my courage a bit, but he reached over and gripped 
my shoulder. 

" Let them alone ! " he gasped. " Let them 
alone!" 

" Shucks ! " I spluttered, and just at that moment 
I caught sight of another pair of blazing emeralds, 
and I let fly. 

Suffering sinners ! Didn't I get a shock when I 
banged at him ! That tiger must have been as big as 
the bronze statue. He must have been. The bullet 
stirred his temper, and the brute sprang at us. 

He couldn't reach that platform, but he did as 

[22] 



The Bronze Tiger 



much damage as if he had reached it. The big brute 
cannoned against one of the stunted trees, and the 
trvink of that tree had been bored through by the 
teredo ant ! My hair prickled mighty badly as I felt 
that heavy brute strike it. The tree started to crack 
near the ground, and with a dickens of a hubbub 
the timbers of the platform, Masterson, the mad 
monk, and myself flopped heavily to the sand ! 

A piece of timber walloped me on the back of 
the head as I struck the ground, and I guess it was 
some minutes before I regained consciousness. It 
might have been an hour for all I know. I tried to 
get up, but I couldn't. I listened to see if I could 
hear the tigers, but there wasn't a sound. Some- 
thing had stampeded the brutes at the moment the 
platform fell, and they had bolted for the hills. I 
was just wondering what had become of Masterson 
and the monk when their voices came out of the 
silence, and I listened. You bet I did. When I 
told this part of the story to Curtis, the American 
consul, he nodded his head and told me about Mas- 
terson's grandmother. I guess Curtis was right. 
If she was a Shan-Talok woman, a night like that 
was the kind to bring the breeding out of him. Do 
you know what that brace were doing? They were 
praying to Buddha at the very top of their lungs. 

"Keep your hands on the tiger and pray!" 
shouted the monk. " Don't take your hands from 
[23] 



Breath of the Jungle" 



him. He has saved you from the tigers as the Holy 
One willed." 

I tried to crawl toward them, but that smash on 
the back of the head was too much for me. I fainted 
away again, and as I fell on the sand I heard Mas- 
terson repeating a singsong prayer that the Buddhist 
priest was chanting through his nose. 

It was dawn when I came to my senses. I lifted 
myself up and stared about me, but there were no 
signs of Masterson and the monk. That big bronze 
tiger stood up in the dawnlight with his paws 
stretched out in front of him, but the fakir and his 
convert, they had both cleared out. 

" Took him away before dawn, so that he wouldn't 
see anything," I muttered, and then I dragged 
myself over to the statue. 

It was mighty plain to me what brought those 
brutes from the hills when I reached the bronze 
tiger. There had been a little feast there if I could 
judge by the look of things. Some confederate of 
that greasy monk had sneaked up in the darkness 
and left a live gibbon tied to the statue, and it was 
that gibbon that had howled when he knew the tigers 
were on him. He had kept quiet till he knew that 
they had winded him. I guess that little feast had 
been spread for them every night for months, so 
the monk had a sure guess when he told his little 
story to us. 

[24] 



The Bronze Tiger 



That's mighty near all I have to tell. Two weeks 
afterward I found the empty cave where the monk 
used to live. Under a stone near the door was a 
note from Masterson asking me to tell his employers 
at Washingfton that he had thrown up his job. That 
was all. A leprous Negrito told me that Masterson 
and the monk had gone to a Buddhist temple farther 
up the mountains, and I let him go. I had enough 
of those hills. 

I told Masterson's boss in Washington that he 
had thrown the collecting job. The boss was a big 
fat man, so I didn't bother telling him the story of 
that night at Giolan Ra. 

"Thrown it?" he cried. "Why, there's no one 
out there who could give him more money than 
what we were giving him. Do you think there is ? " 

"Search me!" I said, and with that I left him 
there to puzzle the matter over. He wouldn't have 
believed me if I told him everything. But Curtis, 
the consul, believed it. He took me to the club, gave 
me a meal, a peg of brandy, and a suit of drill. And 
he said that the yarn dripped truth. But Curtis had 
been out there long enough to understand the coun- 
try and to know what effect the atmosphere of a 
place like Golan Ra would have on a man who had 
a dash of color in his blood. 



[25] 



The Soul Trapper 



II 

THE SOUL TRAPPER 

The Story of a Man Who Went Mad and a 
Woman's Fight for His Life 

"TDUT a white woman did come to this spot," 
said the German naturalist, stretching him- 
self on the plaited Dyak mat. "There is no place 
on the earth where a man goes that a woman will 
not follow if the necessity arises, and for that I 
thank God. This Samarahan River is as near hell 
as you can go without making a hole in the wall, yet 
a woman came here." 

"A collector?" I asked. 

" No, no ! I would hate to see a woman come to 
this place to trap monkeys or gather bugs, or do 
anything like that. This woman came to — well, 
she came to trap a man's soul." 

"Tell me," I said. 

Hochdorf, the greatest naturalist in the Malay 
Archipelago, who knew more of the ways of animals 
than any of the seventy collectors employed by the 
big Amsterdam firm, spoke soothingly to a black 
monkey that whined in the shadow. The tropical 

[29] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



night had rolled down from Asia, and a tremendous 
silence had come in its train. A new moon rode 
high over the tops of the jungle, where sandalwood, 
teak, kaladang, and mohor, in league-wide masses, 
resembled an ebony base upon which the dome of 
the heavens was softly resting. 

" I will tell you first of the man," said Hochdorf 
quietly. "We will call him Hanslaw, that is as 
good a name as any, and he came from Baltimore, 
over there in the United States. He had the bunga- 
low on the other side of the river, the one just below 
the Dyak village that I showed you this morning, 
and after he was here some time we became great 
friends. He was a fine naturalist, nope better. He 
loved his work, and he would not stop from dawn 
till midnight. 

"'Hanslaw,' I would say, 'you are a fool to 
work like that. You are just what all you Americans 
are, just a bundle of nerves, and if you go pounding 
along like that, something will stop all of a sudden 
in your head, and you will go up like a rocket on 
the Kaiser's birthday.' 

"'I've got to make good, Hochdorf,' he would 
say. ' I've got to make good, and make good quick. 
Work is nothing if you have the right incentive to 
work, and by all that is holy, I have that incentive.' 

"That was all he would say. Just that. Work 
was nothing to him. The hours that he spent in a 
[30] 



The Soul Trapper 



wet singlet curing and fixing things did not trouble 
him. I envied him. Who would not ? Just because 
there was a woman over there in the United States, 
six thousand miles from this little hell in Borneo, 
he could not feel tired. It is wonderful. 

" ' You are an old bachelor and you do not under- 
stand,' he would say. 

" ' Bachelors have done some big things,' I would 
snap back at him. 

" ' Perhaps so,' he would laugh, ' but by the bones 
of the great Cuvier, Hochdorf, it is the man that tlie 
woman is watching who has put the marks of his 
knuckles on this old mud ball.' 

"He was only a big boy, but he was a great 
naturalist in spite of his youth. 

" It was no good speaking to him about taking it 
easy. Through the smoke from that stinking slush 
lamp he saw her eyes looking at him from way over 
in Baltimore, and he would not stop. In the night 
sometimes I would get out of my bed and look across 
the river, and no matter when I looked his light 
would be still burning. 

" Then one day the thing that I said came about. 
He snapped up. Something in the back of his head 
gave way like a piece of elastic. He was working 
on the skeleton of a sintia wurmbii, the big orang- 
outang, and he laid down his knife quietly, very, 
very quietly, and he went out and started to play 
[31] 



Breath of the Jungle" 



with the little pebbles on the bank of the river. Gott 
steh uns bei! It was so. It chilled my blood. 

" ' Hanslaw,' I said, ' what is up, my friend ? Get 
up and leave those pebbles alone.' 

" But he would not get up. He sat there on his 
hams like a hill Kyan, and he played with those little 
bits of stone like a three-year-old baby. It is not 
nice to see anything happen like that. Not to a man 
with brains. And Hanslaw had brains. Ja! 

" What was I to do with a man in that condition 
in this little hell? Seventeen miles down the river 
was Brechmann, but Brechmann knew less about 
such things than I did. Hanslaw had blown up — 
puif — just like that. It made me sick and it made 
those Dyaks wonder a bit. It was the first example 
that those fool niggers had ever seen of the quick- 
lunch methods you have over there in the United 
States. They had never seen a man's brain go pop, 
just because there was three hundred pounds of 
pressure on a machine that was not strong enough 
to bear half that amount. 

" This place is not so bad if one is in the best of 
health, but if you are sick — well, it is hell to be sick 
when you are out on the rim of the earth. If Hans- 
law had met with an accident or if he were suffering 
from malaria it would have been different. The 
Dyaks cured my leg with a plaster of blue mud when 
I nearly cut it off with an ax. And I had much 
[32] 



The Soul Trapper 



quinine if it had been a fever. But it was neither a 
cut nor a fever. A belt had slipped from one of the 
little flywheels in the back of Hanslaw's brain, my 
friend, and a job like that is something that God 
Almighty must attend to in His own good time. 

" For eight days he loafed around the bungalow, 
doing no work and talking little, and in those eight 
days something happened that was peculiar. It was 
more than peculiar. When that little belt slipped 
ofif the flywheel in his head, it made him lose con- 
nection with that part of his brain that had been 
built up through centuries of civilization. Do you 
understand? He just crawled out of a husk that 
civilization had put around him. The veneer of the 
centuries peeled ofif him like the skin of the milk 
snake when he sloughs it in the rirro grass, and 
Hanslaw, the greatest naturalist that had ever come 
to this infernal archipelago, became a savage. It 
was what you might call a backward migration of 
the soul. Or perhaps the soul left him altogether. 
People say that we cannot see into those other lives 
that we have left behind us, but Hanslaw went back 
into one of them. Ja! The thing might not have 
happened if he was in the city at the time the belt 
slipped off his mental flywheel, but here the jungle 
was all around him, and the jungle is impressive. 
It lays its hands on men who are in their right 
senses, so you can guess how it gripped Hanslaw 

[33] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



when he had ripped oflf the protecting cyst that civil- 
ization had slowly wrapped round him. Then there 
were the Dyaks to copy from. Do you see ? 

"His brain was like a bit of new clay, and it 
picked up impressions like a dry sponge sucks up 
water. He flung off his clothes, tied a chawat of 
bark cloth around his waist and did things native 
fashion, and it hurt me to see that. He broke up 
specimen cases to make fish traps, and he did not 
know they were specimen cases when he broke them 
up. Yet he had lectured me about Humboldt a few 
nights before ! 

" On the eighth day Brechmann came up the river 
because I had sent him a message telling him what 
had happened, and we held a consultation about 
Hanslaw. He was fishing with the Dyal<s in the 
river while we talked, and he fished better than any 
of them. And that is saying a lot. But the wonder 
of it was that he had never spent any time fishing till 
that flywheel went wrong in his brain. Do you see ? 
In eight days he had learned all the tricks that the 
niggers knew about fishing, and he had brought five- 
score new tricks out from the back of bis brain 
where some ancestor of his, dead a thousand years 
or so, had stored them. That was the marvel to 
me. I knew that he had never seen a dozen croco- 
diles till he came to Borneo, and I know that he 
never attempted to catch one of those ugly devils 
[34] 



The Soul Trapper 



in his life before that day he started to play with 
the pebbles, yet he could beat all those natives at the 
business after a few days. He tackled one of those 
dirty monsters with as much composure as I tackle 
a glass of beer, and it was not the Dyak fashion of 
killing it that he used. Nein! It was a quicker and 
a better way, and it made those niggers wonder. 
This little pinch of gray matter that we have in our 
skulls plays some funny tricks with us at times. 

" ' We should take him down to the coast,' said 
Brechmann. ' It is bad to let a white man run wild 
with the niggers.' 

"'Ja,' I said. 'If we could get him on a tramp 
steamer and get him up to Singapore, his consul 
might look after him.' 

'"Will we start now?' asked Brechmann. 

"'No, we will leave it till the morning,' I said. 
' We will invite him on a trip down to your place, 
and if he gets suspicious we must kidnap him.' 

" Now I know that Hanslaw did not hear what 
Brechmann and I had planned to do. We took good 
care to be out of hearing when we talked the matter 
over, but instinct is better than hearing. Hanslaw 
had his instincts sharpened when that flywheel went 
wrong. You bet he had. That was how he knew 
which way to jump when the crocodile lashed out 
with his tail. His skin felt things the same as that 
of a wild animal. And he felt that Brechmann 
[35] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



and I were scheming something that concerned 
him. That is so. In the morning when we were 
making preparations to go down the river he bolted. 
Yes, he bolted into the jungle. I told you he had 
become a better savage than the natives. Well, he 
was. We went in pursuit of him with a crowd of 
Dyaks, and he made fools of us. We were — what 
is that word you use? Ah, tenderfoot! We were 
tenderfeet compared to him in his knowledge of the 
jungle. Mein Gott, yes! He fooled us like as if 
we were so many children. He chattered like the 
orang-outang, and he laughed when he found that 
we could not tell his cries from the cries of the 
monkeys. We had never heard such imitations. 

" Brechmann got tired of chasing him after a day 
or two, and he went back to his camp, leaving me 
with the difficulty on my hands. It was not a nice 
thing to spend the day thinking over. Not much! 
My brain is slow, and I act like an old woman in a 
matter of that kind. I tried every way to get the 
madman back to the bungalow, but it was no good. 

" Three weeks after he had bolted, a mail came up 
from the coast. There was a letter for Hanslaw 
from that place, Baltimore, that he came from over 
there in the United States, and I opened that letter. 
That is so. It was a beautiful letter. Never have I 
read such a letter. It made me feel sorry to think 
that I had no one to write me letters like that. I 
[36] 



The Soul Trapper 



think I could have worked as Hanslaw worked if 
I had. I think so. Hanslaw said that Love was 
the big lever that moved the world. I believe him 
now. The day before his brain threw the somer- 
sault he quoted some lines of verse to me, and I did 
not understand those lines till I read that letter. 
Yes, I remember the lines. Let me see, they ran 
like this : 

Methinks no leaf would ever bud in spring, 

But for the lovers' lips that kiss, the poets' lips that sing. 

"You think it is strange that I, an old bachelor 
who is trapping animals in this wilderness, should 
remember those lines. Wait till I tell you all of the 
story and then you will not think it strange. You 
will understand why I remember. 

"I read that letter eight, twelve, twenty times, 
then I sat down and wrote an answer to it. It was 
the first time I had written to a girl since I left 
Bonn. That is funny, is it not? But I tried my 
best to write that girl a good letter. You are 
wondering if I told her everything, are you not? 
Yes, I did tell her all that I knew. Ja, I did. I told 
her how he had worked through the days and 
through the tropical nights when the hot smells get 
up off the ground and take you with their cursed 
fingers till you drip with perspiration, and I told 
her how the little belt had slipped from the flywheel 

[37] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



in his brain. It was no good trying to lie to the 
woman who wrote that letter. Not one bit. I told 
her how we had chased him into the jungle, and 
how he had mocked us by imitating the big simia 
satyrus. My, I never did such a bit of writing in all 
my life. When I had finished it I sent it down to 
the coast with two of the Dyaks, and then I went 
about my work. If Hanslaw was crazy I could not 
give his craziness as an excuse to my employers. 

" But that madman tried to make me as much of 
a lunatic as the Fates had made himself. He would 
come down here by the river at night and howl at 
me. That was pleasant, wasn't it ? He would howl 
at me from the trees, and then he would sneak softly 
up to the windows of the bungalow and send rocks 
flying among my specimens. It was the devil. 

" Brechmann came up the river and he grinned 
when I told him of the tricks that Hanslaw was up 
to. It amused him because he was seventeen miles 
away. 

" ' Shoot a charge of salt at him,' he said. ' Shoot 
it at his bare legs, and I bet he knows enough to keep 
away from your place.' 

" ' No, I will not do that,' I said. ' If Hanslaw 
was in his right mind he would sooner cut off his 
head than harm one of my specimens.' 

" ' Salt is a good thing,' said Brechmaim. ' It is 
the best persuader that you can find.' 

[38] 



The Soul Trapfper 



"'You go back where you came froml' I 
screamed. ' It is not your specimens that he is play- 
ing the mischief with. Clear out and leave me to 
mind my own business ! ' 

" And he did clear out, wondering whether I had 
snapped something in the back of my head like 
Hanslaw had done. 

" But Hanslaw kept me mighty busy in the nights 
that followed. He bombarded this place till the 
volleys of stones took my memory back to Gravelotte 
when the French Chasseurs tickled us some. One 
would think that the mad devil had a hundred arms 
to judge by the way he sent the stones down on this 
place. He made my life a misery. I could not open 
a window to get a breath of air, and if I sat in the 
dark with a door open he seemed to know. He had 
cat's eyes. He ruined much of my best work, but 
when I would be that angry that I could kill him, I 
would think of that girl's letter. 

" It went on like that for three months, then one 
morning while I was skinning a crocodile down on 
the bank of the river, I saw a boat coming up the 
stream. There were four Dyaks pulling it, and 
someone else was sitting in the stern. I stood up 
and watched it, and I don't know what I felt like 
just then. Something came up in my throat that 
was bigger than the ball on Strasburg Cathedral. 
Ach Gott! I took a new view of the world at that 

[39] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



minute. Just before I saw the boat everything 
looked bad and crooked. I was as poisonous as a 
red-necked cobra, then ever3rthing was changed. 
Hanslaw told the truth. The flowers would not 
bud in the spring if it was not for love. I, an old 
bachelor, who has not heard a good woman laugh 
for fifteen years, I tell you that. It is the truth, and 
it is from the lookers-on that you get the truth. 

" I think I helped her out of that boat when it 
grounded on the stinking mud. I am doubtful to 
this day if I did. I have an idea sometimes that 
I stood there like a badly-stuffed specimen. Can you 
think what a task that woman set herself in coming 
from Baltimore to this hell? Can you imagine it? 
It made the sweat run down my face when I thought 
of what she had put up with in coming up the river 
with four dirty naked niggers. There are no Cook 
excursions around Borneo, my friend. 

" ' You are Mr. Hochdorf,' she said, when she put 
her little hand into my big, dirty paw. ' I want to 
thank you for your letter.' 

" That was all she said. You would think that I 
was expecting her, and that it was not six thousand 
miles of a run between the United States and 
Borneo. I cried. I cried to think that the world 
is not as bad as some bilious devils make out. Out 
on this God-forgotten place I was witnessing some- 
thing that poets could sing of. Ja. It was good to 
[40] 



The Soul Trapper 



think that there were women like her in the world. 
I cannot tell you of the feelings that she stirred in 
me. A man mjiy read of an act, but when he sees 
it — Ach! It is different. 

"She did not ask any questions, and that is the 
wonder of it. Is it not? She just looked at me and 
at the cursed jungle that was crushing in all around 
the bungalow, and she seemed to know everything 
that I knew. I cannot make it clear to you, but she 
understood things in a way that puzzled me. 

" Do you know, she never mentioned Hanslaw all 
that day? Well, she did not. She did not mention 
his name. She just sat by that little window and 
stared at the trees. Once only she looked at me, and 
I said : ' Some time before midnight,' before I 
could stop myself. And she nodded when I said it. 

" She did not eat anything much. She just nibbled 
like a canary, and I knew that she was praying for 
the night. That madman was somewhere up in the 
hills sleeping, but I knew that he would be down to 
give my bungalow a bombardment when the night 
came down thick. 

" When the darkness fell like a blanket, she stood 
up and walked to the door, and I stood up too. 

" ' Miss Leslie,' I said, ' you must not go far. You 
are in a wilderness.' 

" ' I am only going into the clearing,' she said. ' I 
promise you that I will not go further.' 

[41] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



" She looked at me with those big blue eyes of 
hers that Hanslaw used to see through the smoke 
of the slush lamp when he was working, and then 
she went quietly out into the dark. The moon was 
not up, and the night was so thick that you would 
think it possible to cut up the darkness into cubes 
and build things out of it. A tropical night has a 
breed of blackness that you will not find anywhere 
else. It made me nervous to let her go, but I knew 
it was no use trying to stop her, and I knew that 
she wanted to go by herself. She had come six 
thousand miles to do something, and I was nothing 
in the scheme of things. Nothing at all. 

" But I was nervous. You know how some nights 
are more silent than others ? Well, this was one of 
those silent nights. You cannot get them in the city, 
but in the jungle they are plentiful. The atmos- 
phere was that heavy that you felt inclined to put 
up your hand and push it off the back of your neck. 

"About an hour after the girl went out I called 
to her, and she answered me from that big tapang 
tree in the clearing. 'I am all right,' she said. 
' Please do not worry about me.' 

" But I could not keep from worrying about her. 
I strained that thick night for noises till my ears 
ached, and every time a twig cracked in the jungle 
I was at the door with my neck poked forward like 
a water snake. It was a night when you would ex- 
[42] 



The Soul Trapper 



pect things to happen, and that graveyard silence 
made me perspire, I tell you. 

"I was just going to call out again to the girl 
when that thick night air was set quivering. It was 
like as if little threads of purple and silver and gold 
were being threaded in and out of the dark patches, 
and I gasped. She was singing. She was singing 
out there in the night, and I had never heard such 
singing. No, I did not. I forgot that I was in 
Borneo when I heard it. It just crushed out the 
darkness and the loneliness of this inferno and 
lifted me up and took me ten thousand miles away. 
Mother of me! Yes. It had that soft croon in it 
that a mother breathes to a sick baby, and you can- 
not hear that every day. I wish we could, don't 
you? It would keep us wholesome and clean, 
perhaps. 

" I moved out of the doorway and listened. Her 
voice was as sweet as the silver tulip bell at the 
Dilwara Temple. It did not spring at you like some 
voices. It swirled around and around like silk 
lariats, and you could not tell whether she was in 
the clearing or across the river. It was wonderful. 
I have never heard such singing. 

"She stopped for a second as if she wished to 
listen, and before the notes of her song had died 
away, a stone crashed against the window of the 
bungalow, and a hyena laugh went up into the night 

[43] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



like a brass blare. I was never more sick in my life 
than at the moment I heard that devilish scream. 
It was terrible. I had to sit down on the step 
because I had no strength to stand. I was sick with 
the thoughts of what she was suffering. 

" The girl started to sing again, and there was no 
more laughing. And there were no more stones. 
She sang and sang and sang, and the jungle listened. 
Gott, it was weird ! I never felt the mystery of this 
place till that night. Somewhere in the tree masses 
was a man whose soul had gone out of his body, 
and she was trying to bring it back. Perhaps you 
cannot see how big it was to me on that night, but 
I tell you that I never heard anything like it. I am 
not the most emotional of men, but I have never had 
such strange sensations in my life. Her singing 
went into the very marrow of my being, and made 
me feel as if I had come up against something that 
the world had overlooked in its haste to make 
dollars. I don't know what it was. I cannot ex- 
plain it to you. But it was a soul calling to a soul. 
Ach, yes ! 

"I stayed awake all through the night. There 
were no more stones or no more laughter. But she 
sang on. Toward dawn, when the first bit of baby 
pink came up out of Micronesia, I shook myself and 
stumbled down through the clearing. She was 
standing near the tapang tree where she had been 
[44] 



The Soul Trapper 



eight hours before, and I took her by the arm and 
led her inside the bungalow. Her dress was all wet 
with the dew, and her face was as white as the snow 
on the Himalayas. But she never spoke. Not one 
word about the night. Not a single word. 

"The next night it was nearly the same thing 
over again. But there was one exception. That 
madman threw a stone at the bungalow, but he did 
not laugh his infernal hyena laugh. He crept away 
quietly after he had thrown the rock, and to me that 
was wonderful. For three months he had been 
doing that nightly howl, and suddenly he became 
dumb. It was strange, wasn't it? 

"And the next night he threw stones, but it did 
not seem to give him the devilish amusement that 
he got out of the business before she started to 
sing. No, it did not. He did his little cannonade 
and then he crept away or listened to her in the trees. 
But the fact that he was somewhere near and yet 
not visible to her, was making that girl suffer. I 
saw that. She was being crucified by the black 
jungle that held him from her ; but there was nothing 
for me to do. Once I hinted at some scouting work, 
but I dropped that hint in a hurry. It was not on 
her program. All I could do was to sit and wait, 
and try and coax her to eat something that would 
keep her strength up. 

"Night after night she sang in different places 

[45] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



around the bungalow, and those big trees seemed to 
listen to her like so many giants. And then, after 
about two weeiis of that, Hanslaw stopped throwing 
stones. But he was there in the dark. She knew 
that, and I read the information in her face. I 
could see it, and I could hear it in her voice. 

" Then one night, it was a fine moonlight night, 
the miracle happened. The Samarahan River looked 
like a belt of silver, and the snags stood up like black 
spikes that were holding it down in its bed. The 
girl was down near the bank singing softly to the 
tapang trees, and I crouched here in the shadow of 
the bungalow and wondered what would be the end 
of it all. I began to think that I was a fool to write 
that letter to the United States. I thought that it 
would have been better for me to have said nothing 
or to have written a letter saying that Hanslaw had 
got lost in making a trip into the interior. 

"Presently she started to sing in a way that I 
had never heard before. It was more wonderful 
than I had ever heard her sing. And in that moon- 
light it had a witchery in it that was astounding. 
It was a magic melody. I crept down through the 
bushes till I could see her. She was standing right 
on the bank of the stream, and she was looking 
across the river to that strip of sand that you can 
see directly in front of the little landing. 

" I followed the direction of her eyes, and then I 
[46] 



The Soul Trapper 



saw. Yes, I saw Hanslaw. Ja! I had never seen 
him fully since the day he ran away. He was 
standing on the strip of bare sand, and he was look- 
ing straight across at her. He stood like a statue. 
His limbs were bare, and the only thing he had on 
him was the bark-cloth chawat that he had put on 
when he threw away his clothes. 

"I laid down flat on my stomach and waited. 
There seemed to be nothing in the world but those 
two people. That is so. It was just a big empty 
globe in which a girl fought for the soul of a man 
against the jungle. That was how it seemed to 
me. It is only in a place like this that you could see 
a drama like that. There was the silver stream in 
which the dirty, scaly-backed crocodiles were sleep- 
ing, the madman on the other side, and the girl. 
And I was the only spectator of a play that was 
bigger than anything Shakespeare ever conceived. 

"Hanslaw saw her. He could not help seeing 
her. She was right down on the bank, and the big 
moon lit up the place like the Unter den Linden on 
a festival night. For five minutes he stood motion- 
less, and all that time she sang a soft old ballad that 
would tear the heart out of an image. That is so. 
She was singing for her own life as well as for his. 
I knew that. Her voice never had such melody in 
it as it had at that minute, and it will never have it 
again. I am sure it will not. 
[47] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



" She stopped with a little choking trill, and Hans- 
law moved restlessly. I clawed the ground to keep 
from springing on to my feet. Then that half- 
naked man moved around like a restless panther, his 
body half turned toward the trees as if he was in- 
clined to spring into the dark depths. 

" She started to sing again, and he was still till 
she had finished. Then his nervousness gripped him 
again. It seemed as if he was afraid of someone 
cutting off his retreat. It was terrible to watch. Her 
singing seemed to hold him while she sang, but the 
moment she finished he was ready to spring back 
into the trees at the slightest sound. 

" The girl stopped exhausted, and he made a quick 
move for the shadows. He had crossed the sand 
when something happened. I do not know if she 
threw herself into the water or if the rotten bank 
gave way beneath her when she was leaning out. I 
think it was the latter. But before I could get on 
my feet she was being swept down the river ! 

" You know what this Samarahan River is ? It is 
alive! In that dirty mud there are thousands of 
crocodiles. It is so. I got to my feet with the most 
awful feeling that I have ever felt, and, as I did so, 
a cry like the cry of a lost soul came from Hanslaw, 
and his long naked body shot out like a .shaft into 
the silver stream where the girl was battling. That 
was a horrible cry that he gave. I can hear it now if 
[48] 



The Soul Trapper 



I shut my eyes. I will always hear it. I will never 
forget it. Do you know what I am talking of ? It 
was the cry of the soul coming back to the body it 
had left. And I heard it! 

"He reached her in three strokes, and he swam 
toward this side of the shore. I prayed then. I 
did. I had not prayed for ten years, but I prayed 
quick as he was striking out for this bank. I knew 
then that God Almighty had done something in His 
own way, and that He had made me a witness of 
the miracle. 

" She had fainted when he reached the bank, and 
I crouched in the shadow and watched him. Very 
gently he picked her up in his long, sinewy arms and 
carried her up to the bungalow, and I walked on air 
as I followed. I was stunned. I was incapable of 
doing anything. That is so. 

"He carried her in the door and placed her on 
the couch that was just inside, and then she came 
to her senses and spoke to him. I listened in the 
dark outside. For a minute he did not answer, then 
he spoke as if the floodgates of his soul had been 
suddenly ripped away, and I crawled away down to 
the Dyak village. It was not for me to hear any 
more. I had heard enough. J a! I had heard 
enough to tell me that she was as safe as if she was 
in her mother's home in Baltimore. That was all 
I wanted to know. 

[49] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



"In the morning I came back here. Hanslaw 
had on a clean drill suit of mine, and he had shaved 
himself with my razor. When I came to the door 
he caught my two hands and held them for three 
minutes without speaking. Then the girl came out 
from the other room and put an arm around his 
neck, and the other arm around mine. And the 
three of us cried. I am glad to think that I could 
cry at such a time. 

" ' You are a good fellow, Hochdorf ,' said Hans- 
law. 'Ethel is taking me home.' 

" And that girl put her arras around my neck and 
kissed me then, and that is the greatest reward I 
have ever got. I am sure it is. She was one of 
God Almighty's angels, and Hanslaw and I were but 
two pieces of mud alongside her. That is all we 
were. She was the greatest woman I have ever 
known." 

"And now?" I asked, as the German stopped 
speaking. 

" I got a letter from them yesterday," he replied. 
" He is lecturing in one of the European capitals, 
and he is making good. He is a great naturalist, as 
I told you. But that woman — AchGott! Hanslaw 
was right about the flowers. They would not bud in 
spring if there were not women like her in this 
world. That is so." 



[SO] 



The Red Face of Feerish AH 



Ill 

THE RED FACE OF FEERISH ALI 

THIS is the first time I have put this story upon 
paper, but twice before I have related it briefly 
to two different persons. Once when I told it to 
the bumboat man at Berbera in return for a bowl 
of flour and sweetened water, he looked at the little 
statue of Mohammed in the corner of the room and 
winked slowly three times. The other person to 
whom I narrated the happening was a little wrinkled 
Hadesi, who sat by the roadside where the great 
pilgrim trail to Mecca winds like a white milk snake 
across the hills, and he walloped the sand with the 
flat of his sword when I had finished. 

" And what answer did you give the woman when 
she asked you what are the greatest things in the 
world?" queried the little Hadesi. 

" This was my answer," said I : 

Four things greater than all things are. 
Women and horses and power and war. 

" Wow, that was a great answer 1 " said the little 
Hadesi, and when I walked on across the hot sand 
that glittered like crushed diamonds, he was pound- 

[53] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



ing the earth with his sword blade and chanting the 
song of Mahbub the Muleteer to the desert winds. 

Now this is the story. Three hours after the old 
Penlennon dived into a thousand fathoms of water 
off the coast of Somaliland, seven hundred miles 
northeast of Mombasa, I struck a humpbacked patch 
otwet sand about half the size of the parade ground 
at Aden. The coast line showed up like a smudge 
of soot on a sky of brass, and I watched it as I 
rested. I knew that I would have to swim the stretch 
of oily water between the sand hiunmock and the 
shore before the tide rose. 

I was on the sand bank about an hour when I 
sighted a fleet of feluccas, catamarans, and daha- 
beahs coming out from the mainland and making 
straight for the island, and I covered myself with 
a tangle of seaweed so that I could see everything 
without being seen. There were over thirty boats 
in the fleet, and they completely surrounded the 
little hummock. Then the biggest dahabeah drew 
out from the rest, and I watched a big, bearded 
man on the deck yelling instructions to the crew. 
The naked Arabs lowered a long, yellow box into 
the water, paddled the box to the sand bank, fixed 
it on the highest point, and then splashed back to 
the dahabeah. The moment they climbed aboard, 
the mixed fleet turned and raced for the mainland, 
leaving me 2ilone with the mystery box. 

[54] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

" Now it's up to me to investigate," I said, and I 
clawed myself out of the seaweed and went toward 
the big box. " Someone has died of the plague," I 
muttered, as I stumbled toward it. " This is an isle 
of the dead by the look of things, and they bring 
the bodies out here for the current to carry them out 
to sea." 

The box was covered with a piece of coarse 
matting, and I pulled this aside and looked in. 
Staring up at me were a pair of topaz eyes that 
were deeper than the Guinea Basin, and those eyes 
belonged to a bro'.vn woman who was prettier than 
the houris that wait to open the pearl gates of the 
seventh heaven. The bumboat man at Berbera said 
that couldn't be so, but the bumboat man was a fool. 
He didn't see her. 

"What is wrong?" I stammered, and when I put 
the question I thought that the odds were a million 
to one against her being able to understand it. But 
I got a surprise. 

" The world is wrong," she answered, and when 
I stood staring at her with my mouth open like a 
Shangalla beggar, she smiled like the sun on an 
Easter morning. 

"And what is wrong with the world?" I asked 
stupidly. 

"When you cut the thongs on my wrists and 
ankles I will tell you," she answered. 
[55] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



I cut the cords hurriedly, wondering as I did so 
what was at the bottom of the mystery. She chafed 
her limbs till she was able to stand upright, then she 
folded her silk sarong around her body and looked 
at me with her big topaz eyes. 

" What are the greatest things in the world ? " she 
asked. 

It was then that I gave the answer which so im- 
pressed the little Hadesi. I had heard a sailor 
chanting the song in a Portuguese boarding house 
at Mombasa, and the words came to my lips as she 
asked the question. Said I: 

Four things greater than all things are. 
Women and horses and power and war. 

" You are wrong," she said. 

" And what are greater ? " I asked. 

" Love and hate," she answered ; then she walked 
down to the water. "We had better make a start 
for the mainland," she continued. "The tide is 
rising." 

I pushed the yellow box into the water without 
speaking, the woman slipped in behind me, and when 
she had got a grip with one hand we struck out for 
the shore. That was a mighty big swim, but at last 
we found ourselves high and dry on a stretch of 
pebbly beach that looked lonelier than the ruins of 
Kamak. 

[56] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

The woman got her breath and turned toward 
me. "We're here," she said, "and now I'd like to 
know what you intend doing?" 

"I'll sleep here tonight," I answered, "and to- 
morrow I'll strike south along the coast till I find a 
settlement. And you ? " I asked. 

She was staring at the sea when 1 out the ques- 
tion, but she turned suddenly and fired an interroga- 
tion at me. 

" Did you ever hear of the Red Face of Feerish 
AH?" she asked. 

I laughed when she said that. It was a fool ques- 
tion when you put it to a man who has lived on the 
east coast of Africa. Every sailorman from the 
Crozets to Holy Cross Bay has heard of the Red 
Face, and she knew from my laugh that my ears 
had been open to the stories told about it at night on 
deck, and along shore. 

"Would you like it?" she asked, carelessly. 

Then I laughed again. It sounded just as foolish 
as if anyone had asked me if I would like the tail of 
Halley's Comet or the Ring of Saturn! My, yes. 
The Red Face of Feerish Ali had been a dream for 
thirteen hundred years. All the world trekkers that 
had ever cut the East into strips had heard of the 
thing. The Siahposh Kafirs know of it ; the Basutos 
chant its power in their war songs; the Druses 
whisper of it, and the Zimoors sing of its beauty in 

[57] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



the hills behind Fez. I had to laugh mighty hard 
at the cool way she asked me if I would like it. 

" As you are in a generous mood," I said, " you 
might get me the mainsail of the Flying Dutchman 
and the — " 

She turned on me and I stopped. Her topaz eyes 
flamed in a way that pushed my words back into 
my throat, and I just stared at her as if I were 
hypnotized. 

" You fool ! " she cried. " Do you think I am a 
liar? I asked you if you would like the Red Face 
of Feerish Ali, and I want an answer." 

"Sure I'd like it," I stammered. "I'd give my 
soul for it." 

There was a light in her eyes that made me think 
of a woman who had stabbed her husband at Kis- 
mayu, and it was that light that enabled me to get 
a grip on things. I remembered having heard that 
the men of the Gamant tribes have a habit of putting 
away their wives when a prettier woman swings up 
on the horizon, and I guessed that the sand hum- 
mock off the coast was a mighty good place to put 
a woman who was not wanted. You bet it was. And 
I guessed a bit farther than that. I came to the 
conclusion that the guy with the black beard on the 
big dahabeah was the husband of the lady with the 
topaz eyes, and then I got a hunch that she knew of 
the hiding place of the Red Face of Feerish Ali. 
[58] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

Blackbeard was no ordinary Arab, and I thought 
that it was mighty unlucky for him if her ladyship 
had a bunch of his secrets up her sleeve. 

A wide-faced moon swung up over the hills as we 
sat on the beach, and all of a sudden the woman 
started to sing the Song of the Red Face. I had 
heard bits of it before, but they were mighty small 
bits when I compared them to her chantey. My, 
yes ! Hers was a song of songs. It seeped through 
my skin and intoxicated me. It brought back the 
past and sent the horsemen of Feerish Ali galloping 
down the pearly sky. I heard the Moslem warriors 
charge and watched the desert tribes scamper madly 
across the hot sands when the Face of Feerish 
spurted fire as he led his cavalry after them. 

It was a song full of blood and fire, of charging 
hosts and thundering squadrons, of swinging axes 
and flashing swords, of whizzing spears and crash- 
ing shields. There was never such a song. And the 
wonder of wonders, I seemed to see everything that 
she was singing of. I saw Feerish sweep down 
through Habesh, the Arab name for Abyssinia, 
Feerish of the Red Face, the face that no one could 
look upon. Wow! the thing scared me. I listened 
with my nerves on a tension, and my throat got dry 
as she chanted stanza after stanza. That song had 
been polished by desert bards for thirteen hundred ' 
years. A thousand tongues had plaited into it the 

[59] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



swit of the swinging blade, the groans of the dying, 
and the kleeck of the short ax on the- shields of brass. 
Lordy ! what a poem it was ! 

The woman finished at last with the death of 
Feerish at the Bahr-el-Azrek, which is the Blue 
River, and I gave a little gurgle of wonder. It was 
a terrible story. My heart was thumping madly 
with the thrill of the thing, and my ears were strain- 
ing the silence that seemed to close in around us 
when she finished. There was never a song like 
that. All the sagas of- the Vikings, the ballads of 
the Sikhs, and the chants of the Afghans were weak 
things compared to that. Skald or troubadour could 
never have written that. Time had made it with a 
million tongues and the white sunshine that makes 
the imagination bubble. And I knew as I sat there 
like a man in a dream that the woman with the topaz 
eyes had spoken the truth when she asked me if I 
would like the Red Face. I was sure of it. 

She turned on me suddenly and looked into my 
face. "Of what are you thinking?" she asked. 

"Of the power of hate," I said. Then, after 
a pause, I said baldly: "What possessed the big 
fool to do it?" 

I thought she was going to spring at me when I 

put the question, but she controlled herself with an 

efifort. "He loved a Falasha woman from Mej 

Hana," she said quietly, " and she was three times 

[60] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

more beautiful than I. Lie down and sleep now, 
for tomorrow we go up into the mountains." 

But I couldn't sleep. I lay awake thinking of 
Feerish Ali and his hordes sweeping down from 
Arabia, and the Arabs flying before the Red Face 
that had become a legend. And the woman had 
offered it to me! Fate and Hate were leading me 
to a thing that had been hunted by all the iron- jawed 
adventurers that had ever spurred or sailed into 
the unknown. 

The dawn came up out of the Indian Ocean in 
a great wave of flame, and the woman sprang to 
her feet. I don't think she slept much either. 

"Come along," she cried. "We have far to go 
today." 

The mountains looked like blue chiffon tacked on 
to the bottom of the wine-red sky as we turned 
toward them, and the woman struck out with the 
easy swing of the desert born. I followed without 
a murmur. I didn't wish to question her any 
further. All ihrough the night that song had rioted 
through my blood like wine, and I was ready to fol- 
low her anywhere. I knew what love Could do, and 
now I was being shown v/hat hate could do. The 
woman with the topaz eyes was selling a secret that 
had been kept for thirteen hundred years. 

All through the hot morning we tramped and 
tramped, climbing higher and higher over slaty 
[6i] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



ridges that stretched up and up till I got the im- 
pression they would end suddenly and give us a 
three-mile drop into the plains of Abyssinia. Wow, 
yes! Out of the clumps of cactus and thorn an 
occasional jackal peered at us, and once a batch of 
hyenas collected on a slope and laughed at us like a 
mob of lost souls. The place got on my nerves, but 
the woman walked on steadily, as if she saw nothing, 
only the picture of that woman from Mej Hana who 
had taken her place in the affections of the big man 
with the black beard. She had a look in her eyes 
that made me start to think out plans for getting 
rid of the Red Face after I got my grip on it. Every 
time I looked at her I had the sort of hunch about 
my luck that you get sometimes at a roulette table 
when you ask the croupier to raise the limit to the 
skies. 

" Huh," said I to myself. " Old Blackbeard was 
ten different kinds of a fool to let this lady know 
his secrets and then try to get rid of her in that 
slipshod way." 

Handfuls of the red dust on those hills were 
caught up by wandering puffs of air, and you'd 
swear they were crimson ghosts dancing across the 
wastes. They made my blood run cold. The place 
was dead. There were only the jackals and hyenas, 
vultures and lizards, and the wraiths that danced 
mad sarabands across the plains. I thought then 
[62] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

that the woman had a purpose in singing me the 
Song of the Red Face. Every time my nerves got 
shaky as I looked around at the stripped horror of 
the place, I thought of the great chant and my 
muscles stiffened. Only for that song the devils 
that seemed to inhabit that place would have made 
me turn tail and rush for the coast at full speed. 
The ocean is a mighty clean affair when you com- 
pare it with bare hills that made you feel that some- 
thing terrible would crawl over them at any minute. 

We slept that night high up on the mountains, at 
least we tried to sleep. I lay awake all through the 
night listening to the peculiar noises made by the 
puffs of wind that hummed across the hills, and the 
howling of the jackals, and the rustling of lizards 
and crawling things. Besides, I was mighty hungry. 
We had nothing but bitter berries and brackish water 
from the time we had landed on the mainland, and 
berries are not satisfying to a man who is very 
hungry. 

We started on across the stony slopes the moment 
it was daylight, and about midday we came to the 
great chasm in the hills. That was the deepest abyss 
I have ever seen. I suppose it is the deepest that 
anyone has ever seen. It looked as if the heat of 
the place had baked the crystalline rocks till they 
parted, and across the landscape there was a trench 
that was over a mile deep. My, what a cleft that 
[63] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



was ! The rays of the sun were like white lances as 
they dived into the depths thousands of feet below. 
The Grand Canon of the Colorado, the quebrada of 
the Apurimac in the Andes, and the big fissures in 
the Himalayas near the Khaiber Pass are small 
affairs compared to that cleft in the crystalline rocks 
of Somaliland. It was a terrible chasm. It looks 
as if some giant had sliced the thing with a sword 
blade ten miles long when the earth was cooling. 
That's so. It took my breath. I panted like a 
winded buffalo when I stood and stared at the thing, 
and the dizzy depths loosened the muscles of my 
knees till I fell on the ground with terror. 

"What is wrong?" asked the woman. 

"I'm afraid," I gasped. "I'm afraid of that!" 

I pointed at the infernal trough and she laughed 
at my fear. She picked up a rock and jerked it 
down into the thing, and I gave a yell as I watched 
the stone dropping through space for a mile. Gee, 
it was awful! There were no shelves or ledges like 
you see in the Grand Canon. The sides of that 
devilish crevice were perpendicular, and I clutched 
at the tufts of desert grass and clawed myself back 
from the rim. 

"Why," said the woman, "I thought you were 
willing to attempt anything to get the Red Face?" 

"So I am," I stammered, "but that thing took 
my breath." 

[64] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

She looked at me curiously, and I got to my feet 
and followed her as she coasted the edge of the 
thing. It was weird, terrible, awe-inspiring. The 
sunbeams, striking down into it, whitened the walls 
and made them that snaky and slippery that you 
felt inclined to scream out with terror every time 
you looked at them. 

We walked for about half a mile along the edge, 
then the woman pushed her way through a clump of 
stunted thorn, and next minute we came out in front 
of a spidery bridge of coarse hemp that swung above 
the depths at a point where the huge gash was not 
more than thirty feet from side to side. Oh! that 
bridge gave me an awful sensation. It swayed back- 
ward and forward with the gusts of wind that blew 
up out of the abyss, and I clutched the thorn bushes 
lest the horrible fascination of the crevice would 
make me take a dive into the place. 

The woman looked at me and smiled, then she 
walked forward to the end of the bridge. I felt 
seasick and worse. You bet I did. She was stepping 
on to that bit of flimsy ropework that swung over 
the chasm, and I yelled out to her as I glanced at the 
mile-deep drop beneath the cobweb of hemp. Imagi- 
nation pictured her dropping through five thousand 
feet of air, and I got a feeling that made my head 
swell. 

" Come back ! " I yelled. " You're mad ! " 

[6$] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



" It's perfectly safe," she laughed. " I have been 
over here scores of times." 

The bridge swayed beneath her as she walked 
slowly across, and I laid down on the edge of the 
chasm and squirmed like a Tamil with the cholera 
as I watched her. I never felt any sensation like I 
suffered then. Not much ! 

She stopped when she had got halfway across and 
looked back at me. " Come along," she said. " Fol- 
low me, there is no danger." 

"I can't!" I screamed. "I can't! My head 
would swim if I attempted to walk over that 
cobweb." 

"Not for the Red Face of Feerish Ali?" she 
asked. 

" No," I stammered. 

She remained silent for a while, then she started 
to chant a part of that song that told of how Feerish 
rode alone at the head of his riders, and how the 
desert hordes fled because they thought that fire 
came from his face. She sang it standing upon the 
bridge, and while she sang I crawled toward the 
place where the hemp cables were tied to the rocks. 
I couldn't resist that song. 

I clutched the ropes and looked down at the 
depths that came up against me like a cold hand. 
The place set me trembling as if I had a fit of ague. 

" Come on," said the woman, softly. " You are 
[66] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

only half a mile from it now. The Rocking Stone 
is on the opposite bank." 

Now when she mentioned the Rocking Stone I 
was certain that she spoke the truth when she said 
that she knew the hiding place of the Face. Ras 
Allad, the blind Arab, who kept an opium joint in 
the place of The Nine Devils at Mombasa, had often 
sung to me of the Rocking Stone that hides the Red 
Face, and when she mentioned the stone I got down 
on my hands and knees and crawled out on the 
bridge. That song of hers made me drunk, and I 
wanted to get my hands on that thing if I lost my 
life in the attempt. 

"Pass the guy ropes under your arms and shut 
your eyes," said the woman. "I will tell you if you 
move an inch from the center of the bridge." 

I closed my eyes and started forward on that 
swinging, spidery arrangement that swung above 
the depths. The woman's voice came to me as I 
shuffled forward timorously. " Keep on," she said. 
" You're going all right. Come on. You are more 
than halfway across. A little to the right; to the 
right." 

I stopped then and opened my eyes with fear, and 
my limbs were paralyzed by the dread that gripped 
me. I tried to turn around to make for the side I 
had left, but the woman rushed out on the swaying 
structure and gripped my arm. " No, no," she cried. 
[67] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



"Don't go back! I cannot get it without help. 
You're nearly over. Come along ! " 

She gripped my arm and pulled me with a strength 
that surprised me, and as she pulled she chanted the 
song. I gathered myself together and followed her, 
trying vainly to shut my eyes to the quivering heat 
waves that filled the chasm. 

"Keep moving!" she cried. "You are nearly 
over. Now you are right." She gave me a final 
pull as I reached the other end of the bridge, and I 
staggered to a safe spot and collapsed. 

"Now we are right," said the woman. "Come 
along, we will be there in no time." 

We followed the edge of that terrific gash for 
about a mile, crushing our way through clumps of 
cactus and stimted brushwood. The woman was in 
the lead. She walked with tireless feet, and I fol- 
lowed close behind her, leaving bits of my clothing 
on every thorn bush that reached out to block the 
way. It was a devil of a track. Every bush seemed 
to be all spines and hooks, and I was just wondering 
if I would be flayed alive when I reached the place, 
when we turned an elbow of the canon, and the 
woman stopped. 

" This is the Rocking Stone," she said quietly, and 
I wiped the blood and perspiration out of my eyes 
and looked at the pillar of basalt that was imme- 
diately in front of me. 

[68] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

The pillar was fully fifteen feet high and over ten 
feet in circumference, and it Stood upright in a bowl 
of rock. It reminded me of a stunted fir tree in a 
shallow pot. 

"It rocks backward and forward," said the 
woman. " Put your shoulder to it and push." 

I put my shoulder to it and pushed gently, and the 
pillar started to rock in its socket of stone in a way 
that made me jump back from it. 

" It won't fall," said the woman, laughing softly 
at my fear. " See, you must keep on pushing it till it 
swings as far as the socket will allow. Do you under- 
stand? Behind this pillar is the opening that leads 
to the passage where the Red Face lies hidden, and 
one can only get into that opening when the pillar 
swings to the farthest point that the bowl of rock 
will allow." 

I understood then. I put my shoulder against the 
big basalt column and set it rocking violently, and 
as it swerved out of its upright position, it disclosed 
a round opening in the rocky wall immediately be- 
hind. This opening was only visible for a few 
seconds as the huge pillar swung away from it to 
either side, and as I thrust the thing forward when 
it swung back to me, I wondered how the woman 
would ever negotiate the entrance. 

If she sprang and missed the hole in the wall she 
would be crushed as the stone rolled back. 

I69] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



"Keep it going!" she cried. "Push harder. 
Harder!" 

She wrapped her silk sarong tightly around her 
legs, and I looked at her with a question in my eyes 
as I kept the pillar moving. 

" I am going to jump," she said quietly. 

"You will be killed!" I cried. "You will be 
crushed between the pillar and the wall ! " The per- 
spiration streamed down my face as I looked at her. 

"No, no," she cried. "Keep it going. If I get 
inside I will signal you when I am ready to come 
out." 

I would have stopped the thing, but I was afraid 
that the woman would leap if she saw that I was 
slackening the speed of the terrible pendulum, so I 
put all my strength into the task and swung it back- 
ward and forward till I thought that it would leap 
out of its socket and thunder into the chasm. The 
whole width of the opening in the wall was disclosed 
now, and the woman gathered herself together like 
a puma waiting to spring. 

"Keep it going!" she cried. "Faster! Faster! 
Faster!" 

I flung my last ounce of strength into the task, 
and at that moment the woman sprang ! 

It was a wonderful leap. My, yes ! I saw only a 
flash of blue silk, then the stone rolled back over the 
opening, and I knew that she was through. She had 
[70] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

measured the distance, timed the movement of the 
murderous pendulum, and then hurled herself at the 
opening with wonderful swiftness. If she had 
missed it I would have been powerless to save her. 

I flung myself down on the sand and watched the 
pillar as it slowed down. I figured that she would 
be in that place for a few minutes, and I endeavored 
to rest myself so that I would be able to set the 
pendulum swinging to its full extent when she was 
ready to make the return jump. 

Ten minutes passed, twenty minutes, thirty. I 
began to think that something had happened, but 
just as my fears were becoming uncontrollable, there 
came a faint pounding from behind the pillar, and 
I again set the basalt pendulum in motion. 

As the opening became visible, her voice came to 
me from the darkness of the passage in which she 
was waiting. "You will have to tell me when to 
jump," she cried; " I cannot see from here. Tell me 
when the pillar is swaying most, and then scream out 
when it passes the hole as it swings toward the 
chasm." 

I set my teeth and pushed. The big boulder 
rocked and rolled, making a terrific grinding noise 
as it swished to and fro in its basin. Its swing be- 
came longer, and I watched it with bulging eyes. 
The woman's life was in my hands, and the strain 
was tremendous. 

[71] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



" Get ready to jump ! " I shouted 

" I am ready," she said. 

The stone came toward me on its return swing, 
and I thrust it back with all my strength. 

" Jump ! " I screamed. "Jump ! " 

Out of the darkness of the opening she shot with 
the speed of a bullet, stumbled headlong into the 
sand, then picked herself up, and approached me. I 
was staggering blindly back from the pillar, but as 
she came toward me I caught a flash of something 
that nerved my weakened legs and set my heart 
pounding madly. Oh! yes! A million lances of 
red fire darted from the breast of the woman. Her 
bosom seemed to be on fire. The white blinding 
light of the bare hills was sucked up by something 
that she clasped in her arms, and was then flung 
back in spurts of red flame that made me cover my 
eyes. It blinded me. It took my senses away from 
me for a moment; then I looked again and saw. 
Bound across the woman's breast with a piece of the 
silk sarong was the Red Face of Feerish Ali ! 

I suppose that I was the first western man that 
had ever seen that affair. Thousands had hunted 
for it, but they had never found it. Desert tribes 
had kept the secret since the day when Feerish and 
his Moslems had been butchered at the Bahr-el- 
Azrek. It had figured through a hundred legends of 
the East, and had been sung of from Lourengo 
[72] 



The Red Face of Feerish All 

Marquez to Tabriz, and from the oases of the Igidi 
Desert to the brick walls of Tashkend. Falashas, 
Shangallas, Nubians, Agows, and Arabs had fled in 
terror before the thing that the woman clasped in 
her arms, and I had a queer feeling of dread as I 
stumbled forward and touched it. 

It was a great mask of gold, with openings for 
the mouth, eyes, and nostrils, but in the center of 
the forehead was the real wonder of the affair. 
There was embedded a ruby greater than the biggest 
ruby the world has ever heard of. The ruby that 
Tamerlane wore in his crown and the one that Shah 
Jehan presented to his bride were small and in- 
significant jewels compared to the one in the Red 
Face. There was never a stone like that. Never! 
It was a living, blazing heart of blood that seemed 
to swell as one's blinded eyes watched the red fire 
stream out from it. It gripped my brain with a 
band of iron, and I flung myself on the grotmd 
beside it as the woman placed it on the sand. 

"Is it worth the trouble?" she asked. 

" Trouble ? " I cried. " There was never anything 
like this. I would go to perdition for it ! " 

She laughed at my remark, and I cried over the 
mask as I ran my fingers over it. My, what a story 
that thing could have told of fight and slaughter! 
That big ruby eye had struck terror into the tribes 
that thought Feerish was a bloody-eyed Cyclops as 

[73] 



Breath of the Jungle" 



he galloped down on them. The treasure fascinated 
me. It hit me in the emotional solar plexus, and 
I could do nothing but fondle it and weep over it. 

The woman touched me on the shoulder and 
brought me out of the stupor into which I had 
fallen. She was looking nervously at a clump of 
low brushwood at the rear of the wall that ran 
behind the Rocking Stone, and when I sprang to 
my feet she pointed toward it. 

" We are followed," she whispered. 

"How? Where?" I gasped. 

She shaded her eyes with the palm of her hand, 
looked for a minute at the brushwood clump, then 
turned and gripped my arm. 

"We must run!" she cried. "If we can reach 
the bridge across the chasm we can stop them from 
pursuing us farther." 

I seized the mask of Feerish Ali and rushed after 
her as she turned back toward the spidery structure 
we had crossed on our way. I didn't like being 
captured at that moment, and I cursed the spy in the 
brushwood as I ran madly, behind her. I wanted to 
get away out of that cursed country and take the 
Red Face with me. In my mental eye I saw the 
savants of Europe and the United States blinking 
their eyes when I put before them an article that 
they were certain was never in existence. My! 
what a shock it would be ! 

[74] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

The heat waves danced above the big crevice, and 
the dust phantoms rose up and pursued us as we 
raced forward. Once I looked behind, and then I 
ran faster. I caught a glimpse of a man dodging 
from one clump of cactus to another, and I clutched 
the mask tighter as I gasped the news to the woman. 

" Hurry ! " I cried as I raced beside her. " Hurry ! 
He is gaining on us ! " 

She staggered, and I grasped her arm and helped 
her forward. Her feet were bleeding from the rocks 
and stones, but she showed wonderful grit as she 
stumbled on. I had never seen a woman with one- 
half her courage. 

We reached the infernal spider's web across the 
abyss, and she led the way. I had to give her the 
Red Face to hold while I dropped on my knees and 
shufHed across with the guy ropes under my arms, 
and my eyes closed against the horrors of the depths, 
and all the time she screamed at me to go faster. 
When I staggered on to the far side, she pushed the 
mask into my hands and thrust me behind the thick 
bushes on the rim. 

" Quick f Give me your knife!" she cried. 
" Hurry, he is coming ! " 

I gave her the knife, and she rushed back to the 
middle of the bridge and started to saw away at 
the little cross strands of hemp that were knotted 
tCK the two big rope cables that spanned the crevice. 

[75] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



She didn't touch the cables. She only sawed at the 
hemp lacing that bound them to each other, so that 
a man running across would step on a place that 
she had sawed and go through into the abyss. 

It turned me sick as I watched her, but when I 
looked at the mask at my feet I forgot the murder- 
ous work she was doing. God, yes! I wouldn't 
have cared if a thousand men had tumbled into that 
place as long as I got safely away with the Red 
Face. Life was a small matter compared to that 
treasure. You bet it was. I screamed to her to 
hack the cross strands cunningly so that our pursuer 
would not see, and I hugged the mask to my chest 
as she obeyed. 

The woman slipped back and dropped down 
beside me in the sand. The silence was fearful. 
Our hearts were pounding mightily, and the kleck 
kleck of a sand lizard went out into the stillness like 
the blows of a sledge hammer. 

"Who could it be?" I gasped. 

"I don't know," breathed the woman. "There 
are very few who know of the Rocking Stone. 
Hush ! Here he comes ! " 

There was a rustle in the bushes on the other 
side of the gulch, then a man broke cover and made 
a wild dash for the bridge. I think the heat blinded 
the woman for an instant, so that she could not tell 
who it was, but it was only for an instant. She rose 
[76] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

to her feet with a scream of agony, and as she 
screamed I saw the cross strands running from 
cable to cable break through beneath the weight of 
the black-bearded man who had skippered the daha- 
beah that had brought her to the sand bank ! 

He didn't go right through. His arms caught 
the cables that were untouched by the knife, and as 
I looked at him swinging there with five thousand 
feet of air beneath his kicking legs, I saw the woman 
dashing a,cross the bridge toward him. My ! what 
a woman she was ! She had cut so many of those 
cross ropes that it was a mighty risky job for her 
to venture back to help him, but she went. My, yes 1 
She went without thinking of her own danger. She 
only saw him swinging by his arms, and those legs 
that had a mile of space beneath them. Those legs 
turned me sick. I tried to turn my head away, but 
he fascina,ted me — his legs clawing for support. I 
dreamed of them for months after that day. 

The woman reached the side of the man and put 
her muscular arms around his chest. Then she 
started to lift with every muscle in her body. It 
made the little Hadesi on the Mecca road cry when 
I told him of that happening. "What a great 
woman ! " he said, and by the bones of Marco Polo 
she was great! That black devil had left her out 
on a sand bank two days before, and she was risking 
her life to save him. 

[77] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



The bridge rocked and swayed as she lifted him 
slowly. I think she could have lifted him if he 
weighed a ton. I am sure she could. Up and up 
she lifted him till he got his knees upon the strong 
cables, and I got a cold chill when I saw that he was 
safe. I did some mighty quick reasoning at that 
moment. The woman's hate that had made her take 
the Red Face from its hiding place had turned to 
love when she saw that big brute slip through the 
bridge, and it didn't take me two minutes to see how 
I'd fare now that they had joined forces. You bet 
it didn't! I knew that Blackbeard was not an 
amiable customer because she had told me that it 
was a good job for my health that he did not catch 
a glimpse of me on the sand bank; so when I saw 
them crawling toward me, I got busy. 

"This is where I do a fadeaway," I muttered, 
and, gathering the Red Face of Feerish Ali in my 
arms, I dashed off full speed into the cactus and 
thorn clumps that fringed the abyss. 

All through the afternoon I ran without stop- 
ping. A score of times I would have dropped from 
exhaustion, but each time I glanced at the big ruby 
in the forehead of the gold mask I ran faster. The 
sun sank into the West, shooting red lances at the 
ruby, which the ruby returned, and still I stag- 
gered on. Every bush seemed to shelter the Bearded 
Sheik and his wife, and I guess I was half insane 
[78] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

with terror when the night fell, and a big moon 
climbed over the hilltops and looked at me. 

I had no idea where I was. Sometimes I thought 
that I was running toward the ocean, and at other 
times I seemed to get a creepy feeling that told me 
that I was still close to the big chasm. I sensed the 
thing like a Hindu senses the nearness of a cobra. 
I staggered across a moon-washed slope, still clasp- 
ing the Red Face to my bosom. I was out of the 
cactus and thorn for a moment, and I increased 
my speed. A mirage of the ocean came up before 
my eyes, and I moved my tired legs faster. 

" If I could get to the coast and get up to Aden," 
I muttered. "Up to Aden. ,Up to Aden." I 
repeated the words over and over as I raced down 
the incline. "Up to Aden. Up to — " 

I gave a mighty yell just then and threw myself 
on my face. It was the only way to save myself. 
I clawed with both hands at the little patches of 
desert grass, and, when I finally stopped sliding, 
I lay listening within twelve inches of the brink 
of the chasm, listening to the tinkle of something 
that was falling through the black depths that defied 
the moonbeams ! And that something was the Red 
Face of Feerish Ali, which had slipped out of my 
hands when terror had made me fling myself face 
down and claw madly at every little tuft of grass 
to stop myself from being hurled over the rim ! 

[79] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



I lay for an hour or more, unable to move, then 
I crawled hurriedly into a shelter of brushwood. 
Voices came to me out of the silence of the night, 
and as I listened I saw the woman and the black- 
bearded man come over the rise. They walked 
slowly down toward the brink of the crevice, and it 
was mighty evident to me that they were hot upon 
my trail. 

They reached the edge and stood for a moment 
talking quietly, then the man turned down the bank 
while the woman walked slowly toward the bushes 
where I was hiding. They had evidently agreed to 
beat the clumps along the edge in search of me. 

I held my breath as she came nearer. She passed 
within a yard of me, then, as if she possessed the 
scent of a bloodhound, she circled around the clump, 
and came directly toward the spot where I was 
lying. I moved my leg lest she would trip over 
it, and the movement made my presence known 
to her. She stopped and leaned forward. 

"You are there?" she said softly. 

"Yes," I answered. 

"Where is the Face?" she asked. 

" At the bottom of the abyss," I answered ; then, 
as she stood like a statue, I told her hurriedly of 
the happening. 

When I had finished she stood for a few minutes 
without speaking; but a faint halloo, that came 
[80] 



The Red Face of Feerish Ali 

from the direction in which the man had gone, 
made her speak rapidly. 

" I believe you," she said. " There is a curse 
on the thing. But the Black Sheik would kill you 
if he found you. Stay where you are till morn- 
ing, and then make your way down the coast to 
Obbia. Good-by." 

" Good-by," I answered, and then I watched her 
hurry along the rim of the chasm to meet her 
lord. 

Next day I found my way to the coast, and 
five days afterward I reached Obbia, and that is 
the story. The bumboat man said that it would 
try the belief of an Englishman, and an English- 
man will believe anything the moment you get him 
out of the English Channel ; but the little wrinkled 
Hadesi said it was a good yarn. 

I am sorry that I had no copy of that song of the 
Red Face to give to the Hadesi. 



[»i] 



A Jungle Graduate 



IV 

A JUNGLE GRADUATE 

THE moonlight fell upon Schreiber's bald head 
as he jerked his body out of the depths of the 
rough-hewn lounge chair. His ey^s were turned to 
the blue-black smear of jungle, but his ears were 
absorbing the faint sounds that came from the 
interior of the bungalow. The path, like a white- 
washed strip, reached fearfully toward the weird 
tree masses, and alongside it the coarse rirro grass 
stood up haughtily as if protesting against the man- 
made barrenness. The jungle resents a cleared 
space; it speaks of the presence of human beings. 

"What is it?" I asked softly. 

" Nothing," murmured the naturalist, but his grip 
on the unplaned pine limbs which formed the frame 
upon which the Dyak mat was stretched did not 
relax. He gave one the impression of a man sifting 
the noises of the night with his whole body. 

Suddenly his head came sharply down between 
his shoulders, and the chair groaned a protest as he 
left it with a spring. A black line appeared upon 
the moon-whitened path, and the heavy German 
pounced upon it with the agility of a cat. 

[8S] 



Breath of the Jungle" 



" It is that damn vermilion snake," he grunted, 
holding the wriggling thing up by the tail as he 
shuffled toward the door. " This is the second time 
he has escaped." 

When the chair had again received him with a 
long-drawn creaking sound, I put a question. 

"Did you see him before he started across the 
path?" I asked. 

" No," snapped Schreiber. " I just felt that things 
are not right. That is easy. When he escaped 
it caused a little silence and just a little change in 
the note of those that didn't keep altogether quiet. 
Listen, please, now." 

From inside the darkened bungalow came a 
peculiar wasp-like buzzing that filtered unceasing 
into the mysterious night. The surrounding jungle 
appeared to be listening to it. At first it defied the 
attempts of the ear when it sought to analyze the 
medley, then the different noises asserted them- 
selves slowly. It was the inarticulate cry of the 
German's prisoners. There was the soft moaning 
of the wakeful gibbon, the pat pat of the civet, the 
whimper of the black monkey, the snuffling of caged 
small things, and the rustle of snakes that crawled 
wearily around their boxes. The sounds seemed to 
bring to the place a peculiar aura that put the 
bungalow apart from the untrammeled jungle that 
surrounded it on all sides. 
[86] 



A Jungle Graduate 



"They are all right now," murmured the Ger- 
man, contentedly. " They are quiet, so." 

" But how did they know that the vermilion snake 
had escaped?" I asked. "They're in the dark, and 
the snake made no noise." 

The naturalist laughed, the pleasant laugh of the 
man to whom a question like mine brings the thrill 
of subtle flattery. 

" How ? " he repeated. " My friend, the gibbon in 
there felt it in his blood, ja. He whimper softly, 
oh, so softly, and the news ran along the cages. The 
dark makes no difference to the wild people. Every 
little bit of their bodies is an eye. Every little hair 
listens and tells them something. That is as it 
should be. I felt the change in their notes. I was 
dreaming of Jan Wyck's place in Amsterdam just 
then, and I wake up mighty quick. The black 
monkey stopped quiet, for the black monkey is wise, 
but the tune of the others changed to pianissimo 
very, very sudden. A snake is a fellow that can 
get in anywhere. Listen to them now. I did not 
tell them that he was back, but they know." 

A feeling of nauseation crept over me as the 
German spoke haltingly, groping for the words 
to express himself. To me the bungalow appeared 
as a leprous spot in the jungle of wild, waving 
tapang, pandanus, and sandalwood, laced together 
with riotous creepers. The whimpering, snuffling, 
[87] 



'Breath o£ the Jungle' 



and protesting rustling made me shiver, and I sur- 
prised myself by voicing my thoughts. 

"It seems so infernally cruel," I stammered. 
"If you look at—" 

The naturalist interrupted me with a quiet laugh, 
and I remained silent. The big meerschaum was 
being puffed vigorously. 

"It is not cruel," he said slowly. "Out there," 
he waved a hand at the blue-black smear of jungle 
that looked like a foundation upon which the pearly 
sky reared itself, "they are dining on each other. 
My prisoners are safe and have plenty. Did you not 
hear just now how it troubled them when the snake 
escaped? So! The black monkey has a little one 
and she was afraid. The jungle life is not a lengthy 
one for the weak. I was at Amsterdam five years 
ago — Ach Gott! it seems fifty years ago — and at 
Hagenbeck's I see a one-eared mias that I trapped 
years ago. She looked well. Would she be alive 
here? I do not know." 

The irritating droning noise continued to pour 
out of the bungalow. It floated out into the night 
that appeared to be all ears in an effort to absorb it. 

"No, captivity is not bad if they are treated 
right," continued the naturalist, "and can you tell 
me where they are not treated well?" 

I didn't answer. Confronted with a request for 
reasons to back up my stammered protest, I found 
[88] 



A Jungle Graduate 



myself without any. Schreiber's captives were well 
fed. The baby monkey was guarded from the 
snake. 

The big German smoked silently for several 
minutes, his eyes fixed on the jungle belt in front. 

"The zoological people treat their animals better 
than society treats human beings," he said, gently. 
"And the naturalists? Well, they treat them well. 
I never knew one who did not." 

He stopped for a moment, and then gave a little 
throaty gurgle. Memory had pushed forward some- 
thing that displeased him. 

"I made a mistake," he remarked, harshly. "I 
did know of one. The night is young, I will tell 
you of him. It happened a long while ago when I 
first came to the Samarahan River — Fogelberg and 
I came together. This man's name was Lesohn — 
Pierre Lesohn — and he was a naturalist of a kind. 
That is, his heart was not in his work. Nein! He 
was always thinking of other ways of making money 
and no man who calls himself a naturalist can do 
that. This business calls for everything — heart, 
soul, brain, all. That is why I said Lesohn was not 
a naturalist. The devil of discontent was gnawing 
at him, and in this work there should be no discon- 
tent. No, my friend. 

" One day I pulled down the river to Lesohn's 
place, and he pushed at me an illustrated paper from 
[89] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



Paris. He laughed, too, very excitedly. He was 
nearly always excited; the discontented people 
always are. 

" ' What do you think of that? ' he said. 

"I read the piece in the paper, and I looked at 
the picture that went with it. It was the picture 
of an orang-outang, and it had under it the brute's 
name. He had two names, just like you and me. 
There he was sitting at a desk smoking a cigar 
and making a bluff that he was writing a letter. 
It turned me sick. It was not good to me. I handed 
the paper back to Lesohn and I said nothing. 

"'Well?' he snapped, 'I asked you what you 
thought of it.' 

" ' Not much,' I said. ' It interests me not.' 

" ' You old fool ! ' he cried out. ' That monkey is 
earning two hundred pounds a week at the Royal 
Music Hall in Piccadilly. He is making a fortune 
for his trainer.' 

"'I do not care,' I said, 'I am not concerned 
one little bit.' 

Ho, ho ! ' he sneered. ' You want to work in 
this stinking jungle till you die, eh? I have other 
things in my mind, Schreiber.' I knew he had, but 
I didn't interrupt him just then. 'Yes,' he cried 
out, ' I do not want to be buried out here with the 
wahwahs singing the " Dead March " over my grave. 
I want to die in Paris. And I want to have some 
[90] 



A Jungle Graduate 



fun before I die, Schreiber. There is a little girl 
whose father keeps the Cafe des Primroses — Mon 
Dieu! Why did I come to this wilderness?' 

And how will that help you ? ' I asked, pointing 
to the paper that had the picture of the smart 
monkey in it. 

" ' How ? ' he screamed. ' How ? Why, you old 
stupid, I, Kerre Lesohn, will train an orang-outang 
too.' 

" ' It is not good to make a brute into a human,' 
I said. 'I would not try if I were you.' 

" Lesohn laughed himself nearly into convulsions 
when I said that. It was a great joke to him. He 
fell on the bed and laughed for ten minutes without 
undoing his face. He was a smart man, was Pierre 
Lesohn — too smart to come out of Paris. The 
smart men should always stay in the cities. The 
jungle is not for them. It agrees only with men 
who have made a proper assay of their faculties. 
Lesohn never had time to make an assay. He was 
too busy scheming." 

Schreiber stopped and again leaned forward in the 
big chair. Something had gone astray in the buzzing 
noise from the prison house, and like a maestro he 
listened for the jarring note. Softly he rose from 
his seat and slipped into the interior darkness. 

When he returned he relit his pipe slowly — the 
jungle life makes a man's movements composed and 

[91] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



deliberate — then he settled himself back in the seat 
of his own manufacture. 

"The little one of the black monkey is ill," he 
explained. "If it was in the jungle it would die. 
Here it will live, I think. But we will get back 
to Lesohn, the smart Frenchman who should have 
stayed in Paris. He pasted that picture of the man- 
ape over his cot, and he looked at it every day. It 
got between him and his sleep. 

"'Two hundred pounds a week,' he would cry 
out. ' Think of that, you old, squareheaded Dutch- 
man. That is nearly five thousand francs ! That is 
four thousand marks! Could we not train one 
too?' 

"'Not me,' I said. 'I like the orang-outang just 
as he is. He suits me like that. If he got so clever 
that he could smoke my cigars and read my letters 
I would not like him one bit. He would be out of 
the place that God gave him in the animal kingdom.' 

" I annoyed Lesohn by telling him that. I annoyed 
him very much. Three days afterward a Dyak 
trapped an orang-outang that was just getting out 
of its babyhood, and the Frenchman bought it 
quick. 

" ' It is just the size I want,' he said to Fogelberg 

and me. ' I want to train it as quick as I can. Ho, 

ho! you two fools, just wait. There is a little girl 

whose father keeps the Cafe des Primroses — wait, 

[92] 



A Jungle Graduate 



Dutchman, and see things. Professor Pierre Lesohn 
and his wonderful trained orang-outang! Five 
thousand francs a week ! Is it not good ? ' 

"But Fogelberg and I said nothing. We knew 
the status of the orang-outang in the animal king- 
dom, and we were content to leave him on his proper 
plane. Mother Nature fixes the grades, and she 
knows that the orang is not the fellow that shall 
send notes to his sweetheart or puflf cigars when 
he is sitting in tight boots that squeeze his toes that 
have been made for swinging him through the palm 
trees. From the ant-eating manis with his horn 
armor, right up to Pierre Lesohn, Mother Nature 
has settled things very properly and very quietly. 

"Lesohn was not the man for the wilderness. 
No, my friend. He was all bubble, all nerves, and 
he wanted to feed on excitement ten times a day. 
And there is no excitement here. Not a bit. People 
in the cities think that there is, but they are mis- 
taken. This is a cradle where you get a rest if 
you sit quiet. Do you understand? The French- 
man could not sit quiet. His imagination made 
him a milhonaire after he had that orang-outang 
two days. It did so. It bought him a house at 
Passy, and a carriage and pair, and the smiles of 
the ballet-girls at the Grand Casino. Some men 
are like that. They make their imaginations into 
gas-wagons and ride to the devil. And Lesohn was 

[93] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



taking something that didn't improve things. He 
kept a square bottle under his cot, and he toasted 
the monkey and the good times that he was going 
to have in Paris — toasted them much too often for 
my liking. 

"That monkey learned things mighty fast. He 
was a great mimic, a very great mimic. Every 
time Fogelberg and I pulled down to Lesohn's place, 
the Frenchman trotted the damn hairy brute out to 
do things for our approval. Fogelberg didn't like 
it. I didn't like it. Nein! We told Lesohn and he 
laughed and made fun of us. 

"'Oh, you two old Dutchmen!' he cried out. 
'Oh, you two old monkey-snarers ! You wait! 
Professor Pierre Lesohn and his trained orang- 
outang at five thousand francs a week ! Five thou- 
sand francs! Think of it! In the Cafe des Prim- 
roses I will think sometimes of you two fools on 
the stinking mud banks of the Samarahan.' 

"He was going mad thinking of the good times 
he would have on the boulevards. He drank — 
Gott in Himmel! how he drank. He saw himself 
strutting in Europe with the monkey bringing in the 
money. He was mad, all right. And I think that 
orang-outang began to think that he was mad. He 
would sit alongside Lesohn and puzzle his old head 
to know what the Frenchman was so excited about. 
The brute didn't know of the dreams of Monsieur 
[94l 



A Jungle Graduate 



Pierre Lesohn. No, my friend. He didn't know 
that the Frenchman was going to make a pedestal 
of his wisdom upon which he could climb and kiss 
his fingers to the Milky Way. Oh, no! He was 
only an orang-outang and he didn't know that people 
would pay four thousand marks a week to see him 
stick his blue nose into a stein and puff at a cigarette. 
Ach! it sickens me. 

" Then one day the monkey got sulky and would 
not do a single thing. I think Lesohn was drunk 
that day. He must have been. The brute was sulky 
and the Frenchman was drunk. Pierre told me of 
it afterward. The mias knocked over the specimen 
cases and went cranky. Lesohn went cranky, too. 
He saw the boulevards and the house at Passy and 
the ballet-girls and the Cafe des Primroses floating 
away on the monkey's tantrums, and he got sick. 
He got very sick. He swigged away at the flat 
bottle till he went nearly mad, and then he done 
something." 

The bluey depths of the jungle appeared to pul- 
sate as Schreiber halted in his story to listen again 
to the sounds that came from within. There was 
witchery in the soft night. It touched one with 
mysterious fingers. It watched outside the lonely 
bungalow, wondering, inquisitive, wide-eyed. 

"He must have been mad," continued the Ger- 
man, " mad or very drunk. The Samarahan flowed 

[95] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



right by Lesohn's bungalow, and the Samarahan 
was ahve at that place. Dirty, ugly, scaly-backed 
crocodiles slept in the mud there all day long. Ugh ! I 
hate crocodiles. They turn me sick. The French- 
man he was mad, though — mad with drink and 
mad because he thought the orang-outang was turn- 
ing stupid." 

"Well?" I gasped, "what happened?" The 
night was listening to the story. The buzzing 
noise from the prisoners died down to the faintest 
murmur. 

" Well," repeated the naturalist, " Pierre Lesohn 
taught that orang-outang a lesson in obedience. He 
tied the animal to the trunk of a tree near the mud 
banks — yes, near the stinking, slimy mud banks 
that smell like assafoetida and then he, Pierre, laid 
himself down on the veranda of his bungalow with 
his Winchester rifle in his lap. 

"The orang-outang whimpered, and Lesohn 
laughed. He told me of this afterward. The orang 
whimpered again and again. Then he cried out 
with fear. A bit of the mud started to move, and 
the big mias was afraid, very much afraid. You 
know the cold eye of the crocodile? It is the icicle 
eye. It is the eye of the monte sharp. No animal 
has such a cold eye. The shark? Nein! The shark 
has a fighting eye. The crocodile doesn't fight. He 
waits till all the cards are his way. He is a devil. 
[96] 



A Jungle Graduate 



That tied-up pet of Lesohn's attracted the dirty 
brute in the mud, and the orang-outang had been 
fool enough to tell him by that whimper that he 
was helpless. See? 

"The crocodile watched him for one hour — for 
two hours — for three hours. He thought it might 
be a trap. Lesohn watched, too. He was teaching 
the monkey what mighty smart fellows come out of 
Paris. 

"The crocodile knocked the mud off his back to 
get a better view, and the orang screame4 put to 
Pierre to save him. He screamed mighty hard. He 
chattered of the things he would learn if Lesohn 
came to his aid quick, but Lesohn smiled to himself 
and sat quiet. 

" The crocodile dug himself out of the mud and 
looked at the mias, and the mias shivered in every 
bit of his body. Lesohn told me all about it after- 
ward. He said the monkey cursed him when the 
cropodile flicked the water out of his eye and moved 
a little farther up the bank. That icicle eye had 
the orang-outang fascinated. He lost his nerve. He 
shrieked and he prayed in monkey gibberish, and 
that gave the crocodile plenty heart. Ach yes ! He 
thought that he held four aces in the little game 
with the orang, and he thinks it good to take a 
chance. He made a big rush at the tree, but Pierre 
was waiting for that rush. He threw the rifle for- 

[97] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



ward quick, the bullet took the brute in the eye, and 
he flopped back into the stinking mud with a grunt 
of disgust. 

" You see what Lesohn was ? He was a madman. 
Next day when Fogelberg and I went down there 
he told us all about it, and he laughed a lot. The 
orang-outang was so mighty afraid that Lesohn 
would repeat the stunt that he was hopping round 
doing everything that he could. Gott! he was much 
afraid, was that monkey. I bet he dreamed of 
nights of that icicle eye of that crocodile. Every 
time Lesohn looked at him he shivered as if he was 
going to take a fit, and he whimpered like a baby. 
That crocodile had watched him for three hours. 
See? 

" ' Look at him ! ' screamed the Frenchman. ' No 
more sulks from him! I tamed him! Here!' he 
yelled to the orang, ' bring me my bottle ! ' 

"Didn't that monkey rush to get it? You bet 
he did. He went as if it was a matter of life and 
death to him, and I suppose it was, to his thinking. 
And Lesohn shrieked with laughter till you could 
hear him at Brunei. He reckoned that the cold eye 
of a crocodile was the very best thing in the wcffld 
to bring a monkey to his senses. 

" ' I will_ take him over to Singapore next week,' 
said Lesohn, 'and from there I will get a boat to 
Colombo, and then ship by the Messageries Mari- 
[98] 



A Jungle Graduate 



time to Paris. Five thousand francs a week, Dutch- 
man! You will read of me. Mon Dieu! Yes! 
You will read of Pierre Lesohn — Professor Pierre 
Lesohn and his trained orang-outang.' " 

Schreiber halted in his recital. A wind came out 
of the China Sea, charged down upon the jungle 
and slashed the fronds of the big palms like a regi- 
ment of cuirassiers thundering through space. It 
died away suddenly, leaving an atmosphere of weird 
expectancy that put one's nerves on a tension. The 
night seemed to listen for something that it knew 
was coming. 

"Go on!" I cried, excitedly. "Tell me! Tell 
me what happened ! " 

"Four days after that night," said Schreiber, 
quietly, "I pulled down the Samarahan. When I 
came in front of Lesohn's bungalow I called out 
to him, but I got no answer. ' He is in the forest,' 
I said to myself ; ' I will go up to the hut and get 
a drink.' It was a mighty hot day, and the Samara- 
han is not a summer resort. Nein! It is not. 

" Did you ever feel that a silence can be too much 
a silence? Sometimes in the jungle I feel a hush 
that is not nice. It was here tonight when the ver- 
milion snake escaped. Often in the forest it chokes 
the whistle of the cicada and it seems to stop the 
little blades of grass from vraving. Jah! It is 
strange. Whenever I feel that silence I am careful. 

[99l 



Breath of the Jungle" 



I am not afraid, but I know that other things that 
can feel in a way that I cannot feel are much afraid. 

" It was that kind of a silence that I feel when I 
was going up the path to Lesohn's bungalow. It 
was like ice upon my spine. It came around me and 
touched me like ten thousand cold hands. I am 
not imaginative, no, but in the jungle one gets a skin 
that feels and sees and hears. And my skin was 
working overtime just then. It was telling my brain 
something that my brain could not understand. 

"I walked on my toes through the mangrove 
bushes at the top of that path. I know not why, but 
I did. I was near to making a discovery. I knew 
that. I stopped and peeped through the branches 
and I saw something. Gott! Yes! I saw some- 
thing that made me reach out for the news that my 
skin was trying to tell me. I knew, and I did not 
know. Do you understand? I chased that thing 
all around in my brain and I was getting closer to 
it each minu<^p The things I thought of made it 
come closer, ?:id my lips got dry. I thought of what 
Lesohn had done to that orang, how he had tied 
him to the tree and frightened him into a fit with 
the cold stare of that scaly-backed crocodile, and 
while I thought of that I watched the veranda of 
the bungalow. I seemed to see that monkey tied 
to the tree and that icicle eye looking at him from 
the mud, and then — why, I knew ! It came on me 
[ loo] 



A Jungle Graduate 



like a flash. I felt as if I was hit with a sandbag. 

"For three minutes I could not move, then I 
staggered toward the veranda. Do you know what 
was there? That big ugly brute of a mias was 
fumbling with the Frenchman's rifle, and he was 
crying like a human. 

"'Where is Lesohn?' I cried out. 'Where is 
he?' And then I laughed like a madman at my 
own question. My skin, that was all eyes and ears, 
had told me where Lesohn was. Jah! It was so. 

" The big mias sprang up on his feet and he looked 
at me just as if he understood every word I said. 
My legs were as weak as two blades of grass. I 
had not seen the thing done. Ach! It was strange. 
I thought I had dreamed about it, but then I knew 
I hadn't. It was the silence, and the crying mias, 
and something inside me which told me it is not good 
to teach a brute too much. 'Where is he?' I cried 
out again. ' Show me where he is ? ' 

"The orang wiped the tears from his ugly blue 
nose and touched me with his big, hairy arm, and 
then he started to shamble toward the mud banks 
where the Frenchman had tied him to give him 
that little lesson in obedience. 

"I was sick then. That atmosphere turned me 
all upside down. I knew what had happened. Yes, 
I knew. My mind had pieced things together like 
the pieces of a picture puzzle. I knew what Lesohn 

[lOl] 



'Breath of the Jtingle' 



had done to the brute, I knew the imitative ways of 
the mias, and I knew that Pierre was often drunk 
— very often drunk. And then there was the knowl- 
edge which my skin had strained out of the silence. 
A cold sweat ran from me as I followed the orang, 
and I clutched the rifle tight as I got near the mud 
bank and looked around for something to confirm 
the horror that my soul had sensed. And the proof 
was there. It was a coat sleeve tied to the tree 
where the Frenchman had tied the mias a week 
before, and the sleeve wasn't empty. Nein! The 
cords had been tied around the wrist of Pierre 
Lesohn, and the cords were very strong. They had 
stood the strain of the pull, and — and it was there 
as a proof of what had happened. 

" It was all so plain to me. Lesohn must have 
been drunk, see? Well, while he was drunk it had 
come into the ugly head of that brute to let Pierre 
get a thrill from the icicle eyes of the scaly-backed 
devils in the mud. He had tied Lesohn to the tree, 
and then he got the rifle and copied the French- 
man by sitting on the veranda to watch for the first 
one of those things that would find out that Pierre 
was helpless. It was plain — oh, so plain to me. 
But the Frenchman, in educating that orang, had 
forgotten to teach him how to load a rifle. It was 
unfortunate, was it not? The rifle was empty, and 
when the dirty brutes came out of the mud, the 
[102] 



A Jungle Graduate 



mias could do nothing. Gottl no 1 He just fumbled 
with the breech and cried like a human being till I 
came along, and then it was too late." 

"What did you do then?" I cried, as the Ger- 
man's heavy bass tones were pursued and throttled 
by the palpitating silence. 

" I did nothing," said Schreiber, quietly. " Lesohn 
had told me what he had done to that brute. Fate 

— Nemesis — call it what you will — has funny 
ways. I looked at the orang-outang, and he backed 
away from me, crying. And he looked back a dozen 
times, still crying, till the jungle swallowed him up. 
Somewhere out there " — the Grerman waved a hand 
at the dark forest that was watching and listening 

— "there is an orang-outang with a tragedy on 
his mind." 



[103I 



The Phantom Ship of Dirk 
Van Tromp 



THE PHANTOM SHIP OF DIRK VAN 
TROMP 

npHE tropic sun, looking like a flaming truck- 
-*- wheel, lurched behind the blue smear of jungle 
that marked the horizon, and the heat-smitten trees 
waved their tops languidly, as if congratulating each 
other on the fact that the bla,zing afternoon had 
come to an end. A soft purring note came from the 
underbrush where the panting birds felt the first 
breath of cool air from the ocean. The purple 
haze of the dusk filmed the landscape, softening the 
outline of the distant hills that the rays of the 
westering sun had made wonderfully distinct. 

Ford, the tall American, lifted himself upon one 
elbow and looked across the clearing. He called 
Hochdorf, the naturalist, by name, and, receiving 
no answer, sprang from the hammock and ran to the 
end of the veranda that extended the full length of 
the lonely bungalow. Here he stopped with a grunt 
of astonishment and gazed toward a clump of mohor 
trees to the right of the little dwelling. Hochdorf 
was kneeling in front of the clump, his rifle pointed 
at the shadows beneath the great trimks, and Ford 
[107] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



watched him intently. Three times the German 
naturalist removed the rifle from his shoulder, and 
three times whipped it sharply back into place. The 
American was puzzled. He could see nothing, and 
he muttered to himself as he watched the kneeling 
marksman. 

" It must be a wild boar," he breathed. " There's 
nothing — Gee ! did you get it Hochdorf ? " 

Ford had sprung from the veranda as the German 
fired, and the curiosity with which he had viewed 
the actions of the naturalist was increased a thou- 
sand times as he raced across the clearing. Hoch- 
dorf had dropped the rifle on the grass the moment 
he had fired, and when the American reached his 
side he was mopping the perspiration from his fore- 
head with a large bandanna. He was pale and sick 
looking, and his deep-simken blue eyes were fixed 
on the spot he had fired at. 

'^What is it?" cried Ford. "What did you 
shoot at?" 

The German pointed at the underbrush with a 
shaking forefinger. "See, did I — I get him?" he 
cried. "Do not show him to me! I cannot look 
at such a thing!" 

Wondering much, Ford approached the bushes, 
kicked them aside with the point of his shoe and 
disclosed a huge black rat, vainly attempting to drag 
its mutilated carcass to safety. 
[io8] 



The Phantom Ship 



" Why, it's a rat ! " he cried. " A rat as big as a 
prairie dog ! " 

" Ja, I know!" gasped the German. "Do not 
bring it out! Himmel! no! I cannot look at a rat 
without being sick. I am sick as the devil now ! " 

Ford dispatched the injured rodent and followed 
the big naturalist to the veranda of the bungalow. 
Hochdorf called for a glass of gin, and when the 
Dyak boy had brought a stiff nobbier, he drained 
it hastily and sank back in the big desk chair as if 
exhausted by the happening. For a few minutes he 
did not speak, then he turned to the wondering 
American. 

"A rat is the only living thing that I cannot 
handle," he said slowly. " I would sooner handle a 
king cobra or one of those little poisonous kraits 
tha^ can put you in Charon's ferryboat inside three 
hours. I have been made sick by that rat. Ach! 
yes! Did I ever tell you of the Phantom Ship of 
Dirk Van Tromp? Nein? Well, it is hot indoors, 
and if you like I will tell it to you now. There is a 
countryman of yours in that story, and it might 
interest you." 

Ford pulled his chair closer, and the German con- 
tinued. 

" He was a fine fellow was that American. His 
name was Delnard, and I owe him my life. He 
thinks I have paid him back, but I am not sure. 
[109] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



"Delnard and I were going from Trengganu to 
Pathia, and we had a passage on the Lost Peri, a 
schooner owned by a Singapore pearl buyer. The 
mate of that schooner was as much like me as one 
mangosteen is like another, and that was unlucky. 
It was mighty unlucky. The Malay boatswain had 
a grudge against the mate, and one evening when I 
was looking over the rail something fell on the back 
of my head, and before my knees had time to sag 
I was lifted up and tipped overboard. Before I lost 
my senses I had come to the conclusion that it was 
the mast that had fallen on my head. I did so! 

"When I got my wits back I found that the 
schooner had waddled off into the night, leaving 
me and the man who had rescued me to look after 
ourselves. And I knew that it was Delnard, the 
American, who had rescued me. Fill up your glass 
and we will drink to him. By the bones of St. 
Philip of Neri, he was a brave man ! 

"After awhile we struck a fringe of mangrove 
trees, and Delnard hauled me ashore. 

" ' How are you ? ' he asked. 

"'My head aches,' I said. 'Did the mast fall 
on me ? ' 

"Delnard laughed when I asked that question. 
' That Malay boatswain thought that you were the 
mate,' he said. ' He walloped you on the head with 
a jack-block and hoisted you overboard.' 
[no] 



The Phantom Ship 



"I started to thank Delnard, but he clapped his 
hand over my mouth, and I was quiet. I was mighty 
quiet. 

" ' There is someone talking on the other side of 
this clump of trees,' he whispered. ' Don't make a 
noise till we see who it is.' 

" That American started to climb through the 
slimy trunks of the mangrove trees, and I followed 
him. For about ten yards we crawled on our hands 
and knees, then we peered out through the branches. 
The moon was full and immediately in front of us 
was a patch of white sand that glittered like diamond 
dust. 

" It was then that we saw the Green-eyed Woman 
and the monk. I shall always call her the Green- 
eyed Woman, J a. I will! As we peered through 
the bushes her face was turned toward us, and her 
eyes shone like the two emeralds in the face of the 
cat-eyed goddess, Pasht, that they worshiped at 
Bubastis thousands of years ago. Himmel! they 
were wonderful eyes! When I saw them shining 
like that I thought of the stories that the Shans 
tell of the Queen of the Leopards who takes the 
shape of a beautiful woman so that she can torture 
the men who hunt the leopard folk. For that 
woman was beautiful. She looked like a naiad tak- 
ing a rest on that strip of white sand, and Delnard 
and I stared with all our eyes. 
[ "1 ] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



" She wore the most wondrous sarong that we had 
ever seen. It was the most wonderful sarong that 
ever was made. It was purple — the peculiar wicked 
purple that they can make at Srinagerand Saharan- 
pur, and it suited that woman. She was wicked- 
looking. She was so. She was lithe and tigerish, 
and those green eyes and that mane of gold that 
fell down over her breasts, made her look unreal. 
Many a day have I wondered how she came by those 
green eyes and that golden hair. I have seen nearly 
every breed of woman between Blair Harbor and 
Okhotsk, but I have never seen one like her. Never ! 

" ' Look at the man,' whispered Delnard. ' Look 
at him!' 

" I tore my eyes away from the woman and looked 
at her companion. He was a monk, a long, lean, 
bare-polled monk, wrapped in a yellow robe, and he 
stood in the center of that sand patch with one arm 
stuck out like the statue of Friedrich Wilhelm in 
the Konigstrasse. And he was talking. It was 
his voice that we heard when we were on the other 
side of the mangrove clump, but we could not hear 
him speaking when we were looking at the Green- 
eyed Woman. Her beauty had made us deaf to 
noises. It had so. 

" But when we had wrenched our eyes away from 
the purple sarong and the curtain of golden hair, 
our ears got a chance to listen to what the monk was 

[112] 



The Phantom Ship 



saying. He had some leaves of the talipot palm in 
his hand, and he was reading that woman a story. 
He was reading her a story, my friend, a story that 
was more wonderful than any that Scherezade told 
to the sultan. He would read a little and then he 
would explain it to her, and we listened to that story 
with every fiber of our beings. We could follow him 
in what he said, and we listened like two hill tigers 
waiting for the deer to come down to the watering 
place. 

" Have you ever heard anything of the Phantom 
Ship? J a, you have heard a little; I know. You 
have heard the stories that the old maids tell on the 
veranda of the Minto Mansions Hotel at Rangoon. 
I heard those stories when I first came to the East. 
They will tell you of the phantom ship that beats 
up and down the China Sea from Pulo Tiuman to 
Koh Pennan, but that bare-polled monk knew more 
than those old women. He knew why that ship 
was kept in the South China Sea. Ay, he did so. 
He knew the history of the whole business, and he 
was telling it to the Green-eyed Woman when Del- 
nard and I found them on the sand patch. My 
friend, there are things happening in the Orient 
today that are just as wonderful as the things that 
took place in the reigns of Omar and Osman and the 
gay old Haroun. 

"That was a wonderful story that we heard. 

[113] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



Dirk Van Tromp, a bigf-nosed Dutchman from 
Amsterdam, rocked round the Cape of Good Hope 
in his old- high-pooped ship and came up to the 
China Sea with his nose sniffing the south wind to 
get the scent of gold. That was a few days ago. 
It was before Buxar, and before Plassey. The 
Dutch were great rovers in those days, and Dirk 
Van Tromp and his bunch were the toughest that 
ever crept out of the fogs of the Zuyder Zee. 

"That Dutchman had a nose for gold that was 
sharper than the snout of a Colombo Chetty. He 
could smell a piece of treasure a hundred leagues 
away, and once he got a whiff of the yellow metal 
he would circle round like a vulture swinging over 
carrion till he got his big hands on the stuff. 

" Van Tromp heard that there was much treasure 
in an old gray monastery that was tucked away 
in the hills above Tahkechi, and he swore an oath 
on his big flat blade that the treasure would be his 
'in a mighty short time. He was a determined gen- 
tleman was Mynheer Van Tromp. Delnard and I 
lay in the shadow of thos^ mangrove trees, and we 
listened to the bare-polled monk telling the Green- 
eyed Woman how the Dutchman went backward 
and forward in his old high-pooped ship trying to 
think out a plan to get at that hoard. And the 
monks in that monastery knew that the big-nosed 
pirate was waiting to get a chance at the gold and 

[114] 



The Phantom Ship 



jewels in the vaults. You bet they did. They 
looked out from their towers and saw that Dutch 
ship go up and down like a big white-winged bird 
of prey, and they didn't say any prayers for Myn- 
heer Van Tromp. Not any prayers that would do 
him good. 

"Now the keeper of the keys of the treasure 
vault was a young monk who had never seen a 
woman. Never! Mind you, this is the story that 
the bare-polled monk read from the leaves of the 
talipot palm. He told her that the treasure keeper 
had been found in a paddy-field by the monks of 
the monastery when he was a little baby, and they 
had reared him inside the walls till he grew up and 
became one of them. He had never seen a woman at 
a distance even. That place was quite some dis- 
tance from a village, and that youngster was not 
allowed to stray. But the monks liked him, and 
when he grew up they gave him the keys of the 
vault and made him the guardian of all the wealth 
that was stored there from the time of Tamerlane. 

" For three months that thieving Dutchman rolled 
up and down the coast, and the monks stayed inside 
their walls and waited. The head priest gave an 
order that the big gate should not be opened while 
Van Tromp was on the coast, and, to make matters 
more secure, he asked that young monk to stay in his 
cell and keep the keys with him. They were afraid 

I "5] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



of the Dutchman, and they had good reason to be. 
He was a fiend. He waited for an idea to get into 
his big, round head, and at the end of three months 
that idea came. And it was a devil of an idea. 
Ja, it was. 

"Can you guess what that Dutchman did? He 
went down to Sebah, and he got a temple dancing 
girl who was as beautiful as the singing houris in 
the seventh heaven. She was more beautiful than 
Mura, whose loveliness killed the seven Nubians 
who dared to look upon her. She had eyes that 
she stole from Helen of Troy, and hair that was 
of the bronze tint that you see on the wing of the 
bird of paradise. That was what the monk told the 
Green-eyed Woman. Her little feet were so small 
that the children's slippers in the bazaar fell from 
them, and her hands were like the petals of a 
flower. 

"When the bare-polled monk was telling of her 
hands and feet, the woman with the green eyes 
stopped him and put a question. 

" ' Was she more lovely than I ? ' she asked. 

" ' I am only reading what is written on the palm 
leaves,' said the monk. 

" ' But was she ? ' persisted the woman. ' Tell me 
at once.' 

"'No,' stammered the monk, 'she was lovely, 
but not as lovely as you ! ' 

[ii6] 



The Phantom Ship 



" When he said that to the woman she laughed in 
a way that chilled my blood. She gave Delnard a 
chill too. It was a devil of a laugh. It was a 
laugh of scorn, a laugh of contempt. If a man 
laughed in the same way you would have killed him 
with the nearest thing you could get your hands on. 
Ach! I have never heard anyone laugh in the way 
that woman laughed. 

" The monk went on with his story, and Delnard 
and I listened in the shadows. Dirk Van Tromp 
and his crew took that girl up to the monastery one 
night when the moon was at the full, and I choked 
with temper as I listened. The window of the cell 
in which the young guardian of the treasure slept 
looked out over the wall, and when that young monk 
got up from his prayers on that night he looked out 
on the moonlit hillside. Gott in Himmel! It was 
a dirty trick to play on that youngster. Wlien he 
looked through the bars of his cell window he saw 
that temple dancing girl pirouetting in the middle 
of that grassy patch, and she looked like a silvered 
houri ! 

"That Dutchman was a cunning devil, was he 
not? He was hiding with his men in the bushes, 
and that girl was dancing the Dance of the Seven 
Delights before the eyes of that monk who had 
never seen a woman till that moment. He pressed 
his lean face against the bars and watched with 

[117] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



eyes of astonishment. She was the first woman that 
he had ever seen, and she was one of the loveliest 
of her kind. It was not a fair trick, my friend. It 
w£is not! 

" That girl danced and danced. That bare-polled 
monk described that dance to the Green-eyed 
Woman, and he described it so well that I could 
picture everything. I saw that moonlit hillside, and 
I saw the girl dancing that intoxicating dance to the 
poor devil in the cell, and I saw Dirk Van Tromp 
and his crew waiting in the shadows for the climax 
of that little performance. I never felt like smash- 
ing the bones of a dead man as I did on that night 
when we listened to that yarn. 

" And the climax came to that affair. The danc- 
ing girl stopped dancing after she had driven that 
young monk half crazy, and she beckoned to him to 
come out to her. BeckoneH to that poor devil who 
was wondering if she was a spirit from another 
world. He forgot all the orders of the head priest 
when she did that. He forgot everything. He only 
knew that someone more beautiful than the white 
orchids of the valley was waiting for him outside the 
walls, and he rushed madly into the corridor. 

" It was then that the Lord Buddha took pity on 
that poor fool. He performed a miracle by stretch- 
ing a silver wire across the corridor as the treasure 
guardian was hurrying along. A silver wire, my 
["8] 



The Phantom Ship 



friend. But that monk was not in a fit state to see 
a miracle when it was performed right under his 
nose. His brain and his blood were aflame with the 
sight of the vision that he had seen in the moonlight, 
and he hacked that wire through with his knife. 
That is how the monk read it from the palm leaves 
to that witch-woman lying on the sand. 

" The treasure guardian dropped his knife in his 
hurry, and he did not wait to pick it up. He ran on 
like a madman. But it was clean love that was 
drawing him to that girl, my friend. Ay, it was! 
And just because his love was good and sweet, 
Buddha performed another miracle. The Great 
One stretched a gold wire that blazed like a flaming 
thread across that corridor. The treasure guardian 
had no knife, but he had his two hands. He gripped 
that thread of gold and snapped it. Then he rushed 
down the dark passage. 

"The blood pounded through my head as I lis- 
tened to that part of the story. I believed that 
yarn ! If you had heard that bare-polled monk read 
it to the woman you would have believed it, too. It 
was one of those stories where the truth shines 
through the little places between the words. 

" The treasure guardian ran across the courtyard 
towafd the big gates that the High priest had ordered 
to be closed while Dirk Van Tromp was on the 
coast, and as he raced across the yard, Buddha 

[119] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



made another attempt to save him. The Holy One 
flung a rope in front of that youngster, a rope whose 
ends went up into the clouds, but that monk could 
not be stopped by anything just then. Nein! He 
had no knife, and he could not break that rope with 
his hands, so what do you think he did ? He gnawed 
that rope through with his teeth, then he opened 
the big gates and rushed out to the dancing girl who 
was standing like a silver statue of Aphrodite in 
the moonlight! 

"In the morning the monks of the monastery 
found the treasure guardian trussed up like a capon, 
and they also found that the treasure chamber was 
empty. Dirk Van Tromp and his crew of cut- 
throats did not leave an ounce of gold behind them, 
and you can just guess what sort of a temper the 
head priest was in. The treasure guardian told him 
of the dancing girl in the moonlight, and the old 
ancient went crazy with temper. He sentenced that 
young monk to be buried up to the neck in the sand 
at the point where the girl stood, and when that was 
done they left him there, bareheaded, and the sun 
licked at him like the hot tongue of a dragon. 

"Every morning for six mornings the monks 
paraded past that poor devil who was buried in the 
sand. His tongue and his lips were black and 
swollen, but they could see that he was praying for 
forgiveness. They could see that. He was sorry 
[120] 



The Phantom Ship 



for what he had done, but he blamed himself. He 
did not blame the girl that had lured him outside 
so that the Dutch pirates could pounce on him. 

"On the morning of the seventh day the head 
priest and the rest of the monks got a surprise. Ay, 
a big surprise. When they went out to look at that 
poor wretch they found the temple dancing girl lying 
on the sand close to the spot where he was buried, 
and she was dead. Dead and cold. She had become 
sorry for what she had done in bringing him to his 
ruin and death. She knew that it was love and not 
lust that had brought him out to her, and she had 
come back to tell him that she was sorry. But it 
was too late to tell him that. She found him dying 
in the sand, and when he would not let her dig him 
out of that pit she killed herself beside him. 

" The young monk was still alive, and as he looked 
as if he wished to say something they put water on 
his swollen tongue so that he was able to speak a 
little. Then he told them something that made their 
flesh creep. He said that Buddha had appeared to 
him in the night, and that the Great One had told 
him that Dirk Van Tromp would never take the 
treasure out of the China Sea. Never! He said 
that it was written that the Dutchman's ship would 
beat up and down between Pulo Tiuman and Koh 
Pennan for all time. At every full moon it would 
rock past the monastery, and if there was a monk in 

[121] 



Breath of the Jungle" 



that place who was brave enough to swim out to the 
ship and recover the treasure, the souls of the 
treasure guardian and the temple dancing girl would 
find peace. When the young monk told them that 
he uttered a little prayer to Buddha and died. 

"That was a strange story to listen to in the 
moonlight, was it not ? The bare-polled monk looked 
at the Green-eyed Woman when he had read all 
that was on the palm leaves, ancl the woman looked 
at the big moon that was swinging over the hills. 
Delnard and I watched her green eyes flash, and 
we thought things. All the wonder of the East was 
in those eyes. They were as cold as the icicle eye 
of a crocodile at times, and then they would soften 
suddenly so that one felt that he was being dragged 
toward that witch on the sand. 

" ' And you believe that the Dutchman's ship goes 
up and down the coast to this day?' asked the 
woman. 

" ' It is written here,' said the monk, tapping the 
palm leaves. ' They say that it goes by on the night 
of the full moon. The monks of the monastery 
looked out many times after that happening, and 
they saw that ship go rocking by, the moonlight 
flashing on her gilt figurehead.' 

"'And now?' she questioned. 

'"I have waited for eight nights,' answered the 
monk, ' and I am certain that she will go by tonight.' 
[122] 



The Phantom Ship 



"'And you will swim out?' queried the witch- 
woman. 

" ' If you go with me,' muttered the monk. ' My 
heart would turn to water if you were not near 
me.' 

"She laughed again, that cursed sneering laugh 
that made one wish she was a man so that one 
could strike her dead, and just as she laughed I 
did something that caused a sensation. A mighty 
big sensation. There were some wild capsicum 
bushes under those mangrove trees, and those bushes 
made me sneeze. Ja! I sneezed loud enough to 
wake the dead, and before I had stopped sneezing, 
Delnard was out in the clearing explaining to the 
woman and the monk how we came to be there. 

" That American had a smooth tongue. You bet 
he had. The monk looked right mad, but the Green- 
eyed Woman was not disturbed one bit. She lis- 
tened to Delnard's story with a smile on her face, 
and when he finished she started to question him. 

'"So you heard the story that he read to me?' 
she said, pointing to the monk as she spoke. 

" ' Yes, I heard,' said Delnard. ' It was a mighty 
good story, too.' 

"'Do you think the ship will come?' she asked. 

" ' I do not know,' said Delnard, grinning at her, 
'but if it does come along I'd like to go out with 
you when you board it' 

[123] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



" She smiled when he said that, but I cursed him 
for a fool. That was not our business at all, and 
there was something in the night that I. did not 
like. I had that sort of gooseflesh feeling that makes 
people say that someone has jumped over their 
grave. 'You can come with us,' said the woman. 
'Sit down and wait.' 

"Delnard and I sat down on the white sand, 
and I kept thinking of that story as I watched the 
woman with the emerald eyes. I was afraid of her. 
I was so. She had the appearance of a sphinx, a 
sphinx that had just come to life, and who would 
laugh as she crushed one beneath her feet. 

" ' Why do you want to stay here ? ' I asked Del- 
nard. ' It is foolishness.' 

" ' We will stay for the fun of the thing,' he said, 
and he laughed because he saw that I was nervous 
of the woman. 'We will have to stay till dawn 
to find our way from this place, so we might as well 
stay close to a mystery.' 

" ' You are a fool,' I said. ' That woman's eyes 
remind me of the eyes of the hamadryad.' 

" The night was a silent night, one of those nights 
when you feel that the lieber Gott has slowed up the 
wheels of the planet before doing something that 
will make you sit up and take notice. The silence 
came around us like a cloak, and the longer we 
waited the more annoyed I was with Delnard. I 
[124] 



The Phantom Ship 



did not believe in phantom ships, but I thought as 
I sat there on the sand that it was the kind of night 
that you would expect ghostly things of that class 
to go wandering around. 

" A wispy fog came creeping in from the Gulf of 
Siam, a creeping, low-lying fog that was wet and 
cold like the hand of a corpse. It swept over us, 
touching our faces as if it had a million invisible 
fingers, and it surged up the estuary. I was shiver- 
ing then with cold and suspense, and I cursed under 
my breath. 

'"This is foolishness,' I said to Delnard. 'It is 
nonsense to wait here any longer.' 

"That woman with the emerald eyes turned her 
head as if to listen to what I said, and then she 
gave a little suppressed scream that made my blood 
run cold. It was not a scream of fear. Nein! It 
was a scream of amazement and wonder. 

"'Look!' she cried. 'Look!' 

" She was pointing up the estuary, and we looked. 
Ja, we looked. We stared with our eyes popping 
out. That fog was thin and broken, and through 
a break in that curtain we saw something that 
startled us. The monk and Delnard, the Green-eyed 
Woman and I saw, my friend. Now you can laugh 
when I tell you what we saw, but I did not laugh 
that night. Waddling down through that rent in 
the fog, her broken masts thrust up like black fingers, 

[125] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



and her high poop tilted up like the tail of a Muscovy 
drake, was a ship that was out of fashion a hundred 
years before! 

" Himmel, didn't we stare! I rubbed my eyes 
and I looked and looked, thinking that it was a 
mirage, but it was no mirage. It was an old Dutch 
ship that was of the same type that Van Edels and 
Pelsart and Dampier and Van Deiman used when 
they first stirred the foam of the Eastern seas with 
bull-snouted craft that were built at Antwerp! 

"'Aie! Aid' gurgled the monk, as he climbed 
to his feet and stared at the old ship that was head- 
ing for the open sea. 'It is she! It is she!' he 
cried. 

"That monk was a mighty scared man at that 
minute. It was all right to read about the phantom 
ship, but it was a different business to watch that 
black hulk breaking through the wispy fog. You 
bet it was. That bare-polled storyteller looked as 
if he was inclined to sneak away into the man- 
grove trees, but the Green-eyed Woman looked him 
up and down, and he seemed to stiffen under her 
eyes. 

"'Shades of Csesar!' cried Delnard. 'Did you 
ever see the like of that ? ' 

" ' I did not,' I snapped, and my lips were dry as 
I spoke to him. 

" That woman was the only one of us who did not 
[126] 



The Phantom Ship 



lose their wits. While we were staring at the appari- 
tion that was drifting down toward the point where 
we were standing, she was calculating the distance 
and thinking which would be the best place to inter- 
cept that ship. That woman had nerves of steel. 
She was like that jade who was married to Menelaus 
of Sparta; she could stand by and see battle and 
bloody murder without turning a hair. She could 
do anything. 

" ' We'll swim out from here,' she said, pointing 
to the water. ' Get ready or we will miss her.' 

" Delnard looked at me, and I glared back at him. 
I was mighty mad with him at that moment. 

"'What will we do?' he asked. 

"'Do? 'I snapped. ' We will do nothing ! What 
has this fool business to do with us ? ' 

" That woman was standing in front of me when 
I said that. She was twisting that purple sarong 
around her hips, and she heard what I said. Ja, she 
heard. She took three steps into the water, and then 
she turned her head and laughed at Delnard and 
me. Laughed that cursed sneering laugh that she 
had turned on the monk when he was telling the 
story. Holy St. Catherine! I have never heard a 
laugh in all my life like that! It was like a whip 
of scorn. It would drive men to their death quicker 
than anything I know of. She called us curs with 
that laugh ! Do you understand ? It was a lash that 
[127] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



made us feel like worms, and the next moment we 
were in the water, swimming beside her and the bare- 
polled monk. 

"We were swimming in a line, the four of us. 
I guess we were mad, my friend. It is foolish 
to sit out on the sand on moonlight nights and 
listen to stories of the kind that we had listened to 
that night. There is witchery in the air of this 
Orient, and one does foolish things under its in- 
fluence. 

"The fog closed in on us and blotted out the 
black shape of the ship, and I stopped swimming. 
I had what you call cold feet just then, but that 
laugh was ringing in my ears. I was tired of that 
business, and my head was aching from the blow 
that the Malay boatswain of the Lost Peri had given 
me. I could not see Delnard just then, and I shouted 
out to him. 

" ' Where are you, Delnard ? ' I cried. 

"'Here,' he answered, speaking out of the fog, 
and just as he spoke, that thick curtain was split 
apart and I saw the black hulk of the old Dutch 
ship rolling down on us. Ach! I can see her now 
as I saw her that night. There was a little smother 
of foam at her forefoot, and she had a coating of 
barnacles that the Kiel shipyards could not peel off 
in a week. Then the fog closed in again, and 1 
heard the voice of the Green-eyed Woman calling 
[128] 



The Phantom Ship 



from above me. That witch-woman had got a grip 
on the side of that craft and she was calling the 
three of us to her. 

"I made a clutch at the rotten timbers as the 
ship lurched past me, but my fingers slipped on the 
slime. I made another grab at her, and this time I 
caught the rotten timbers of a porthole, and I clawed 
myself up out of the water. That woman was call- 
ing out to us, and I knew by the shouts that came 
from the fog that Delnard and the monk had got a 
footing on the old hulk as she slewed by. Driving 
my toes into those barnacles and scratching with my 
fingers at the rotten wood I climbed higher, and 
presently that woman's fingers gripped my shoulder 
and dragged me over the side. Delnard and the 
monk were close behind me, and when we hauled 
them aboard we stood a moment to get our breath. 

"It was just as we stood there near the rotten 
bulwarks that the old boat drove out of the bank 
of fog. She lurched out of it suddenly, and the 
moon washed us in a bath of silver. That was 
when the monk gave the yell. He gave a yell that 
you could hear down at Sebah where the temple 
dancing girl came from, and he pointed to the deck 
in front of us. For a moment we did not see what 
he pointed at, then our throats went dry like as if 
we had been swallowing lime. That deck was alive ! 
It was alive with rats! 

[129] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



" That is the reason why that rat turned me 
sick a few minutes ago. I think of those rats on 
the Dutch ship every time I see one. And those 
rats on that hulk were the biggest rats I have ever 
seen. The Paris sewer rats, the gray rats of the 
Orinoco, and the big black rats you see on the canals 
at Bangkok were small things compared to those 
devils on the rotten deck of that old craft. They 
were huge brutes, and there were thousands of 
them. Thousands! They were crawling up from 
the hold in armies that moved across the deck so 
that we could not see an inch of the rotten boards! 
" ' Look out ! ' I cried. ' They are attacking us ! ' 
"I made a movement to drop over the side of 
the ship, but that woman was too quick for me. 
She was too quick for me. Nein, she did not block 
me with her hands. She laughed at me. I tried to 
fight against the feeling that came over me, but I 
could not. I would not have been a man if I ran 
when she laughed as she did. It would take a 
mighty good coward to run away when that sneer 
came from her red lips. You bet it would. Delnard 
had turned to the rail when I turned, but she 
stopped both of us. I do not know how the piece 
of wood got into my hands, but I guess she gave it 
to me. She was the only one who could think and 
act. She thrust that stick into my hands, and then 
I struck at the army that was circling toward us. 
[130] 



The Phantom Ship 



"Have you ever seen rats attack men? Once 
before I had seen it, but I had never seen anything 
like the charge I saw on that deck. Those rats were 
mad with hunger. That old boat had been stranded 
up that estuary for a century, and she had become 
a castle for those big rats. I do not know how the 
tide had shifted her, perhaps she had broken loose 
from the trunks of the mangrove trees, but that rat 
army had come with her, and when we boarded her 
they were hungry. They were mighty hungry. 
There were thousands of them there, and they 
were eating each other when that witch-woman 
brought three fools aboard, Gott! The sight of that 
brute brought it all back this afternoon, and I am 
sick yet. I will be sick for a week. I know I will. 
" ' Fight them ! ' cried the woman. ' Fight them ! ' 
" It was our only hope, my friend. We had to 
fight like demons to hold those squeaking things 
off. The deck was covered with them, yet they 
were stUl crawling up through the rotten planks 
from below. It was a nightmare, and a terror struck 
into my bones. As I swung that stick I thought that 
the whole business was some devilish plan to get us 
on board that hulk, and I fought like a madman. 
So did Delnard. So did the monk, and the Green- 
eyed Woman. As I watched her for a few seconds 
I knew that I was wrong in thinking that it was a 
plot against Delnard and myself. She was a crazy 

[131] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



woman. She had become possessed with the idea 
that the old hulk was really the ship that Dirk Van 
Tromp had sailed in, and that monk was of the 
same opinion. 

" ' Fight them back ! ' screamed the woman. ' The 
treasure will be on the lower deck.' 

" ' We are insane,' I cried to Delnard, but he did 
not hear me. That laugh had made him lose con- 
trol of himself, and he was slaughtering rats with 
a plank that it would take a Samson to lift. 

"The rats broke before us, and the woman led 
us on. Led us on across the rotten deck where the 
cross beams had crumbled beneath the three-inch 
planks of oak. You can hardly believe it, can you? 
I was sweating with fear, but I could not turn and 
run as I wanted to. There was a squeaking in the 
bowels of the ship that made me feel sure that any- 
one that ventured down there would go to his death, 
yet every time that woman gave one of her steely 
laughs I swung that lump of wood harder than 
ever. She was a witch, I am sure she was. 

" ' Take a rest ! ' she cried, and we stopped for a 
moment to get our breath. 

" But those rats were waiting for us to take that 
rest. They swept over the deck in one thick mass, 
and we were at it again. I stuck my foot in a hole 
and fell down, but Delnard lifted me to my feet 
again. Lifted me to my feet after three score of 

[132] 



The Biantom Ship 



those things had rushed over me. And she laughed 
and rushed us forward against the swarms that 
were pouring out of the holes in the planks. 

" It was then that the Almighty heard the prayer 
that I was making. Ja, he heard me then. As I 
picked my club from the deck after I slipped, my 
hand clutched some oakum, and when I stumbled 
on after that mad jade I got an idea. I got an idea 
that meant salvation to Delnard and me. You can- 
not guess what that idea was ? I stuffed that oakum 
in my ears, my friend. I stuffed it in with one 
hand while I fought with the other. Ja! Ja! I 
knew that I could not turn back while that jade was 
laughing her laugh of scorn, so I made myself so 
that I could not hear her laugh. I fixed myself in 
just the same way that old Ulysses fixed his sailors 
a few thousand years before. I plugged my ears 
so that I could not hear the squeaking of the rats 
or her laugh, and then I dropped my stick and rushed 
at Delnard. I ran him to the side of the ship, and 
when he fought with me I hit him a crack on the 
jaw and toppled him overboard as the Malay 
boatswain had toppled me some hours before. 

" I had luck then. I sprang over and found him 
in the shadow of the hulk, and, grabbing him by 
the hair of the head I struck out for shore. Once 
I looked back, and I saw that old black ship moving 
towards the open sea and I swam faster. Fear was 
[133] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



in my marrow just then. My teeth were chattering 
together, and I could hardly speak when I pulled 
Delnard ashore. 

"'Where is she?' he asked. 

" ' She has gone to sea with the rats and the mad 
monk,' I said. 

" ' Glory be to God ! ' he said and then he broke 
down and cried. And my nerves were that bad that 
I cried with him. I have been in a thousand tight 
places, but I was never in one that made me feel 
so queer as I felt/ on that night. 

"We fell asleep on the sand, and we slept there 
till the sun climbed out of the sea and pricked our 
faces and hands. There was not a sign of a hulk. 
We stared at the sea for ten minutes or more, then 
Delnard got to his feet and shook himself. 

" ' We had better strike toward the south,' he said, 
and I went with him without making any protest. 

"We walked about two miles without speaking, 
and then we found her. The Green-eyed Woman. 
Ja! We found her on the beach, her mane of gold 
covering her face as if the sea had tried to hide the 
staring eyes. In her left hand she had a tiny statue 
of Siva that had a Mogok ruby in its breast, and 
I wanted badly to get that little statue. But Del- 
nard would not let me take it from her hand. He 
would not. We made a grave on the beach, and 
we buried her there." 

[134] 



The White Tentacles 



VI 

THE WHITE TENTACLES 

Her eyes were blue, and her soul was white; 

His soul had sunk to the soul of a beast. 
Yet her love was so great that she found him at last 

In the sun-smitten, sin-stricken East. 

TTOCHDORF, the German naturalist, sat with 
■'■ •*• Ford, the tall American, upon the veranda 
of the little bungalow in which the German lived, 
and they looked down at the stretch of rice-white 
sand upon which the rollers of the China Sea flung 
themselves incessantly. 

Along the white sand walked a slim Dyak girl, 
and Ford, nodding towards her, put a question to the 
naturalist. 

" What is wrong with her ? " asked the American. 
"I have been watching her for days, and I have 
noticed her stoop down occasionally as if she was 
listening when an extra big roller sweeps up the 
beach." 

" She is listening' — listening to the voice of a dead 
man," replied Hochdorf . " Five years ago a Dyak 
boy whom she loved was snapped up by a shark 
out beyond the reef, and since that time she has 

[137] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



been listening to the waves because she thinks they 
bring messages to her." 

" By Jove, that's sad," muttered Ford. 

"Yes, it is sad," said the naturalist slowly. 
" Today you said something about dollars ruling the 
world. You are wrong, my friend. It is love that 
rules the world. Would you like me to tell you a 
story to prove what I say? It is a story that is a 
little bigger than the story of that girl whom you see 
walking along the beach listening to the messages 
from a boy that a tiger shark gobbled up five years 
ago." 

Hochdorf took his big meerschaum from his 
mouth and nodded towards the beach. The slim 
native girl was stooping down, her head upon one 
side, as a giant wave came bounding from the China 
Sea to sprawl upon the silvery sands. 

"I will tell you this story from the start," said 
the naturalist. "About seven years ago I was col- 
lecting specimens in the Malay Peninsula. Some 
crazy fool at Berlin had given a big order for differ- 
ent breeds of monkeys to my house at Amsterdam, 
and I was kept busy. I was after those monkeys 
night and day. And those things that I was hunting 
were the means of bringing me in contact with the 
girl whom I am going to tell you of. 

" A French naturalist at Hue told me of a Shan 
who knew the jungle so well that he could sit in a 
[138] 



The White Tentacles 



clearing and make a noise with his mouth that would 
bring those monkeys that I was seeking to him. 
So I went one night into a place that was not a 
nice place, looking for that Shan. It was a place 
that had only a tissue paper between it and hell. 
It was a place where the foulest brutes on the coast 
congregated, and you were sucking in big mouthfuls 
of soul-poison every time you drew a breath. 

" I was sitting there in that reek of opium when 
the door of the place opened and someone came in 
out of the velvety night. Someone came in from 
the alley and walked up the middle of the room, and 
it seemed to me that the Almighty had sent a breath 
from heaven into that place. 

"The visitor was a girl. She was wondrously 
beautiful. For five-and-twenty years I never re- 
member seeing any woman who did such credit 
to her Maker. My pipe dropped from my mouth, 
•and I sat and looked at her as she walked slowly up 
the center of the room, where four score eyes that 
showed lust and devilry were looking at her. All 
the fires of hell were in the eyes of those devils as 
they gazed at her in a silence so great that the little 
noises of the night came into that room where three 
minutes before there was a chatter of tongues that 
made my ears ache. 

" Did you ever see a person walking in their sleep ? 
Well, that girl looked as if she was walking in her 

[139] 



'Breath of the Jxingle' 



sleep. But she had her eyes open, and there was a 
look in those eyes that made me think that her soul 
was peering out of them, as if seeking something 
that she desired with a great desire. Those eyes 
were searching that room for someone, someone 
whom she thought to find amongst the brutes that 
leered and stared at her. She was not aware of the 
eyes of lust and devilry that were turned on her 
like flames. She walked as if she was in a trance, 
and I clutched the table and looked at her. 

"I got upon my feet and I gripped the revolver 
that I carried in my pocket. A Malay whose nose 
was flattened all over his face was walking towards 
the girl with his arms outstretched, and I went mad 
as I looked at the brute. I went crazy because I was 
afraid that he would put his fingers on her. 

" ' Keep off,' I yelled. ' Keep away.' 

" The brute looked at me and laughed. 

"'Why?' he cried. 

"'Keep off, you dog!' I roared. And then I 
drew my revolver and pointed it at him. 

" Himmel! It was a crazy business to draw a 
gun in a place like that. But I was not myself then. 
My common sense had been swept away the moment 
I saw her face show up through a rift in the opium 
smoke, when the night wind that followed her into 
that room swept away the yellow cloud as if to 
purify the place for her presence. 
[140] 



The White Tentacles 



" But the Malay with the flat face saw nothing of 
a miracle in the coming of the girl into that vile 
place. He walked right up to her and I upset the 
table in front of me in rushing to prevent him 
touching her. 

" I struck at the brute as his hands reached out to 
the girl. I struck at him like a madman, and he went 
down upon the floor. I must have gone mad. Some- 
thing snapped within my skull, and I was a fighting 
lunatic. 

"Those yellow and brown devils rushed at me, 
and I kicked and fought and yelled. I was trying 
to balk them of a prize which they thought their 
respective little gods had sent into that place of sin. 
They came at me like a wave. My interference mad- 
dened them, and they were willing to tear me to 
pieces and toss me out to the dogs that were in the 
alley. 

"I fought and kicked and emptied my pistol at 
the mob that rushed me. Afterwards, when I had 
time to think, I had a feeling that I was as strong 
as ten men as I fought with those devils. 

"After what seemed a century, I found myself 
running down a side alley away from that den, and 
on one side of me was the girl who had come into 
that place, and on the other side of me was the Shan 
whom I have told yOu of — the Shan who could 
sit in the jungle and talk to those monkeys that 

[141] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



made me tired chasing them. I wanted to pull up, 
but the Shan, who knew a little about wild animals, 
and who knew what that crowd behind me would 
do if they caught me, urged me forward. 

" ' Go ahead,' he cried, speaking in his own tongue. 
'They are after us!' 

" And the girl tried to keep me running, too. 

" ' Run ! ' she murmured. ' They are coming after 
us! Listen to them!' ■ 

"I looked at her face as we passed beneath a 
lamp, and I saw a change in her. The trance-Hke 
look that had been in her eyes when she entered that 
little hell had disappeared, and there was a look 
of fear there that tore at my heart. It made me 
wonder as I ran. 

" ' Don't stop,' she gasped. ' Run ! Run ! ' 

"And I knew when she cried out in that way 
that she had awakened out of her trance in time to 
see the looks of devilry on the faces of those brutes. 

" Their yells came down on the night wind, and 
we ran on. I was faint with the loss of blood. I had 
a cut over my eye and I was blinded with the blood 
that came from it. I staggered as I ran, and the 
girl put out her hand and gripped my arm, and 
urged me to run faster. 

" We raced down little alleys and dodged through 
places that were like by-ways in hell. And all the 
time we seemed to hear the yells of that mob pur- 
[142] 



The White Tentacles 



suing us — that mob of brutes who were cursing 
their little gods and josses for taking away the prize 
that had drifted into that den of filth. 

"After a long run we came out on a street that 
was clean and well lighted, and we stopped to get 
our breath. The Shan left us there. He thought 
that he was not wanted any more, and he disap- 
peared up a side street before the girl had time to 
thank him. 

"Then the girl found a street fountain and she 
wet her handkerchief and bathed the wound that I 
had over my eye. I protested, but she would do it, 
and all the time she' was babbling thanks for what 
I had done. 

" ' It was good of you,' she sobbed. ' It was very 
good of you.. You stopped those brutes froin touch- 
ing me. I came to my senses in time to see their 
awful faces.' 

"'Then you were not in your senses when you 
went into that place ? ' I asked. 

"'Yes, I was in my senses, but I did not know 
where I was going,' she answered. 

" I wondered much at what she told me, but I did 
not ask any more questions. She told me that she 
was staying with a missionary, and I took her to 
the missionary's house. And when I was leaving 
she asked me to call and see her the following 
morning. 

[143] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



"I called next morning, and now I will tell you 
the story she told me. It is a story that has made me 
think very much. When I think over it I laugh at 
the man who says that dollars rule the world as I 
heard you say not so very long ago. No, my friend, 
it is love that rules the world. 

" This is the story that she told me. Five years 
before, her lover had come out from America to 
make his fortune. He had sworn to her father that 
he would not come back till he had made it. Her 
father did not want him back. Do you understand ? 

" That young fellow was a dreamer who was not 
the sort of a man to make his fortune out here. I 
think the girl's father knew that much. Perhaps 
he knew what this country is. He had sized up the 
young fellow, and he thought he was not the person 
who would be able to fight himself clear of the 
tentacles of the Orient. Perhaps he laughed to him- 
self when the youngster started out for this spot to 
make the money with which to marry the girl with 
the blue eyes. 

"When the girl was telling me of the boy who 
had come out here, I pictured him. She told me 
what he was like, and she described him with the 
eyes of love so that she pointed out his weaknesses 
without knowing that they were weaknesses. 

"And it made me feel sick as I listened. My 
imagination pictured that young fellow coming out 
[144] 



The White Tentacles 



to this place. I pictured him with the face that was 
not the face of a fighter coming out here where 
the atmosphere and the century-old smells that come 
from the ground throttle a young man's morals and 
damn his soul. 

" I have seen hundreds go the path that my imagi- 
nation told me that young fellow had gone. For 
three years the young man wrote letters to the girl 
away over there in America. For three years he 
wrote letters to her, always telling her what he was 
going to do, for he was one of those men who dream 
of big jobs which they have not got the strength to 
do. She showed me his letters, and I read them 
through with a pain in my heart. She couldn't see 
what I saw. They were the letters of a man who 
was fighting a losing battle, and who was trying to 
make himself think that it was a winning one by 
putting foolish words on paper and looking at them. 

" I could not tell the girl what I thought. I could 
not fling a shadow on those blue eyes that were like 
little bits of the heavens on a May morning. I could 
only shake my head as she unfolded her story bit 
by bit. 

" ' You see he was always fighting to get on,' she 
said. 'That is why he went from place to place 
looking for an opening.' 

" For three years the young fellow wrote letters 
to her. Then his letters stopped. I wonder how 

[145] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



many mothers, and sisters, and sweethearts there 
are in the world who know the heart pain that comes 
when the letters of young men, like the letters of 
that girl's young man, stop all of a sudden. 

"For two years he did not write a single word. 
Then the girl's father died. He died, and his death 
gave the girl a surprise. She had thought that he 
was poor. He had told her that he was poor. He 
had told her that he could not give the boy a penny 
piece to start him in business in America. But she 
found that he had been wealthy, and she prayed 
that she might not remember him with bitterness for 
sending away from her the boy whom she had loved 
with all her soul. 

" Now, you will understand a little bit of what I 
want to tell you. She came to Calcutta, which was 
the last place from which the young man had 
written, and she sought him there. It makes my 
heart sick to think of it. She searched for him up 
and down, and after she had given up all hope of 
striking a trail, a curious thing happened to her. 
It is an unbelievable thing to a man who does not 
know the East. While she was hunting for that 
boy in the slums of Calcutta with her nerves upon 
a great strain, she passed one day a place where 
she thought he had once been. She had no proof 
that he had ever visited that place, but as she was 
going by the door, she had a desire to enter it to 
[146] 



The White Tentacles 



see if he was there. She had a great desire — a 
desire that was so great she could not overcome it. 

" She went in and searched for him. And after 
she came out, she was amazed at what she had 
done. She was amazed to think that she had ven- 
tured into that httle opium hell on the Chitpore 
Road. 

"She went from Calcutta to Rangoon, from 
which place he had written her some two and a half 
years before. And she had the same experience at 
Rangoon. She was attracted to a place, and she felt 
sure that the boy had been there at some time. And 
she was right on that occasion at Rangoon. She 
might have been right the first time, but she had no 
proof. But she got proof on the second occasion. 
Behind the bar of that samshu shop in Rangoon 
she found a fly-specked letter addressed to the boy 
whom she had not heard of for over two years. It 
had been waiting in that place for over eighteen 
months. 

" She left Rangoon and she came on to Singapore, 
following the trail left by his letters. She told me 
what happened at Singapore. She had two experi- 
ences that were similar to those I have just told 
you of. And when I questioned her on those two 
experiences I felt sick. If she was right in her 
belief that she had been drawn to places where he 
had been, I felt certain that he was a little lower 

[H7] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



than I had thought. I was certain that the tentacles 
of the Orient had caught him and throttled him. 

"In one of those places she had found a man 
who knew him. A man who was drugged with the 
black smoke twenty-three hours out of twenty-four. 
In the few minutes that he was in his senses he told 
her little things, and she told them to me. And she 
told them to me not thinking that there was any 
harm in wh^t was in them. Great love never sees 
a fault, my friend. That girl wdndered over those 
strange desires to visit places just as much as I 
wondered over them. 

"'Do you understand why I have entered those 
places ? ' she asked, when she had finished her story. 
'Can you explain it?' 

" ' No, I cannot explain it,' I said. ' There are 
many things here that I do not understand.' 

"'But you think he might have been in those 
places?' she asked. 

" ' I think \ie might have been,' I said. ' He might 
have gone into them/ 

" ' To look at them ? ' she said, and her blue eyes 
were upon my face. 

" ' To look at them,' I repeated. ' Just so.' 

"I was sick with a soul sickness when I said 

that. I am an old general, and I have been in this 

East so long that I am able to go to sleep at night 

without troubling myself over temptations that are 

[148] 



The White Tentacles 



in the atmosphere that you sniff, and in the silence 
of the night, and in the whispers of the trees. I 
am a German, and the feet of the Germans are 
screwed to the ground, so that we are not knocked 
over with temptations that upset men who have not 
our phlegmatic spirit. 

" When she had finished I spoke to her. 

" ' Go home and forget him,' I said. ' I am an 
old man and I know.' 

"The pain that showed upon her face hurt me. 
She looked at me as if I had struck her a blow. 
I could have kicked myself for saying those words. 

"'I cannot forget him!' she cried. 

" Then I steeled my heart and spoke again to her. 

"'You must forget him,' I said. 'I tell you 
that you must forget him.' 

"She shook her head and looked at me with 
those blue eyes as if she was trying to see into my 
soul to know if I really meant what I said. 

" ' I must find him 1 " she cried. 

"I was crazy then to end her search. 

" ' He might be dead,' I said. ' If a man does not 
write in two years from the Orient you must thinlc 
him dead.' 

"And there was truth in what I said. It is 
dangerous for a man to forget his relations and 
friends when he is living here. Letters are the 
little anchors. I have seen a man who was on the 

[149] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



verge of insanity made sane by a long letter which 
came to him from a girl he loved. 

" ' He is not dead ! ' she cried, and her eyes flamed 
at me till I thought I was being pricked by rapier 
points. 'I know that he is alive! I feel it every 
day. Sometimes I feel that I am very near to him, 
and there are times when I feel that he is far away, 
but never have I felt that he is dead.' 

"I left Hue that evening and she was the last 
one I spoke to. When I was going to the wharf, I 
called at the little house of the missionary, and the 
girl came out on the veranda to say good-by to me. 
She knew that I was troubled about her, and she 
tried to smile so" that I would think that she was 
all right. 

" ' You mustn't worry your head about me,' she 
said. 'I have caused you enough trouble already. 
You will always carry that mark over your eye to 
remember me by.' 

" ' I will remember you without a mark,' I said. 
'I will remember you always.' 

"I went up to Shanghai and from there I went 
up the Wusung hunting for specimens for my 
employers in Amsterdam. But the joy with which 
I had found things before did not come to me now 
that the face of the girl was before my mind. I 
could think of nothing but her, and her search for 
the man who had not written to her for two years. 
[150] 



The White Tentacles 



" I came back to Shanghai and from there I went 
to Canton and spent three months in catching things 
to ship to Amsterdam. I was very busy, but still 
I would think every day about that girl who was 
searching for the man who had been caught in the 
grip of this infernal Orient. 

" I went from Canton to Bangkok. Scheibel was 
at Bangkok, and I spent much of my time smoking 
with him in the hot evenings. And one night I told 
him of the girl, and how she had walked into that 
place at Hue where there were forty-seven first 
cousins of the devil watching her. Scheibel sat 
quiet for a minute and then turned to me. 

"'What is the man's name?' he asked. 

" ' His name is Falkner,' I said. ' Henry Falkner.' 

"He looked at me for a few minutes without 
speaking, and I knew that I had found someone 
who could tell me if my suspicions were true. 

" ' You know him ? ' I asked. 

" ' I knew him,' he said slowly. 

"'Is he dead then?' I questioned. 

"'He is worse than dead,' said Scheibel. 'You 
must write to her, Hochdorf, and tell her to go 
home. Send her home, man ! ' 

" ' I don't know where she is,' I snapped. ' She 
was staying with an American missionary at Hue, 
but she did not intend to stay long there. Tell me 
what you know.' 

[151] 



Breath of the Jvingle' 



'"I told you that he is worse than dead,' said 
Scheibel. 'Three years ago he was a clerk in my 
office, but I found out things as the days rolled by. 
When I found that he had been opium smoking I 
threw him out of my office. After that I would 
see him now and again. He was no longer a man. 
He was a thing' — a thing that yellow men and 
brown men looked at with contempt. They would 
pass him by on the street and laugh. 

"'And he would do things to get money that 
they would not do. He was the lowest of the low. 
Send her home, Hochdorf ! Send her home ! There 
is no hope for him. If he is not dead he is so near 
to it that it would not be nice for her to see him.' 

"I looked at Scheibel and I thought of the girl 
as I had seen her on that night. 

" ' She would not go back,' I said. ' She will 
not go back till she finds him.' 

" ' But she must not find him now,' said Scheibel. 
' She will not be able to do anything for him. Hoch- 
dorf, he is as low as it is possible for a man to get. 
I have never seen a thing like him since I have come 
to this country. It is- three months since I have 
seen him, and I bet he is now a hundred feet lower 
in sin and filth than he was the last time I put my 
eyes on him.' 

"That story made my heart sick. I could not 
tell the girl. I could only hope that she would get 
[152] 



The White Tentacles 



tired and would go back home to a clean country 
where there is no fierce sunshine and no curious 
odors that stir desires like there are in this land. 

" The fear that she might come across the wreck 
of a man that Scheibel had pictured became a horror 
to me. It kept me awake at night. I am little 
better than a pagan, but I prayed that she might 
never come face to face with the man she sought. 
I had not prayed for years, but I prayed that she 
might be spared that horror. It would be better for 
her to search for him for the rest of her days 
than to find him the wreck that I knew him to be. 

"I went up the Meinam and I trapped there for 
four months. I went back to Shanghai, and I sent 
a consignment of specimens to Amsterdam, and 
then I came back again on a bull-nosed lugger up the 
Gulf of Siam tp Bangkok. It was sixteen months 
since I had seen the girl, but I had not forgotten 
those eyes of blue that had a spiritual look in them 
that I have never seen in the eyes of a human being. 

" Now, I will tell you something that makes me 
feel sure that as many miracles take place today as 
in the days when they ran short of wine at the 
marriage feast in Canaan. One day I was walking 
along near the Golden Temple of Wat Sutat when 
I saw a white man coming towards me. He was 
nothing but skin and bone. He was shambling along 
by the temple wall, holding himself up by clutching 

[153] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



the rough stone when he stumbled. And the first 
glance which I gave him made me feel certain that 
I had found the man that the girl with the wonder- 
ful blue eyes was seeking. The thing that was 
coming towards me with the eyes that had gone back 
into the caverns of the skull, and the face drawn 
with all the lines that vice could put upon it, was 
Falkner I 

" He came up to me whining like a whipped cur. 

"'Give me money,' he cried. 'For the love of 
God give me money.' 

"'Who are you?' I asked. 'What is your 
name ? ' 

" He could not answer me. He could only mumble 
the word 'money,' and his mouth slobbered as I 
looked at him. 

" I caught him by the shoulder and I shook him 
gently. 

"'Your name is Falkner,' I said. 'Henry 
Falkner.' 

"A look of fear came into his face when I said 
that. He tried to wrench himself free from my grip, 
and when I would not let him, he clawed at me 
with his thin fingers and spat curses at me. 

"He fought me till he was exhausted. The 
opium-pipe had drained him of his strength, and 
he was like a baby in my grip. His thin hands were 
so transparent that you could nearly see through 

[154] 



The White Tentacles 



them, and he did not weigh more than a child of 
ten years. When he was too exhausted to struggle 
with me, -I took him in my arms and carried him to 
the room that I rented over the shop of a German 
who dealt in pearls and Burmese rubies. 

"After three days, when I had brought him a 
little to his senses, I told him about the girl who 
was going up and down the land looking for him. 
I told him how she had visited places because she 
thought he had been there, and I found when I told 
him the story, that although he had lost everything 
that a man prizes in gratifying his desire for the 
cursed opium, he had not lost shame. When I told 
him she had searched for him, he became mad with 
a fear lest she might find him. 

"It was a terrible fear. He would not go into 
the street, even when the desire for the drug was 
biting him with a million tongues. He would not 
go near the window to look out on the street. A 
step upon the stairs would send him like a whipped 
cur under the table for fear it was the step of the 
girl who was searching for him. It was terrible. 
He knew what he was, and what he would look like 
to that girl if she put her eyes upon him, but even 
then he did not have the power to fight against the 
craving. He was one of those dream persons who 
lack the power to fight. The drug was as necessary 
to him as the air he breathed, and after two months 

[iSS] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



of fighting I came to the conclusion that he would 
never throw off the tentacles that gripped him. I 
was certain that he could not. 

"Falkner's fight against those cravings was a 
mighty big fight. I would get him and hold him and 
tell him of that girl till he would cry like a child, 
but I had no sooner finished speaking, when up out 
of the back of his head would hop those cravings 
that had to be appeased. 

"I took him with me to Saigon, and there we 
continued that fight, he and I. We fought that 
thing night and day, but it was no use. The disease 
had a grip on him that I could not break. It had a 
grip on him that was so powerful that it would 
make him climb into the depths of hell to get to the 
drug he wanted. And I saw that it was no use to 
struggle with him, with the intention of bringing 
him near that girl. I am not a sentimental fool. I 
knew that he was too deep in the mud to be the 
proper company for a girl who was as pure as one 
of the angels who sit at the footstool of God. And 
he knew it! He knew that he had been bad clean 
through, and when I would tell him about the girl, 
he used to squirm in agony. 

" ' I could never look at her, Hochdorf,' he would 
say. *I could never look at her after what I have 
been.' 

"'Try,' I would say. 'You can never tell.' 
[156] 



The White Tentacles 



" ' But I can tell ! ' he would say again and again. 
'I might pull myself out of the mud, but it is not 
right that I should go before her to try and recover 
the place I have lost by tny own actions.' 

" Day after day as I talked with him I began to 
see that he was right. I began to see that no matter 
what that woman's love was for him, it would be 
wrong for him to marry her. Three years in the 
stew of wickedness in which he had been had made 
him a man who was not fit to marry her. 

"'Try and fight for your own sake,' I would 
say to him. 

" ' I will, Hochdorf,' he said. ' I will, but do not 
mention her to me again. It will only bring my sins 
up before my eyes.' 

" So I did not speak of the girl again because I 
thought it would not be right. I took his view of 
it. Some people might think it would be nice for 
me to put a clean suit of clothes on him, and brush 
his hair and shave him, and lead him up before that 
girl and say : ' Here is your sweetheart back again.' 
But I am not that kind. I knew that I would be 
handing her a wreck that had been poisoned by the 
devils of the Orient. By those purple devils that 
are in the breezes, and the hot nights, and the 
silence I He was soaked through and through with 
the poison of that place, and it would take a life- 
time to free him of the desires and the cravings 

[157] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



that had come to him during the time that he had 
dalHed with the vice that had him in its clutch. 

" I had to go down to Singapore, and he cried to 
come with me. He was Hke a baby who dreaded to 
be left alone. 

" ' I want to be near you, Hochdorf ,' he cried. 

" ' All right,' I said. ' Come along with me.' 

"I paid his passage for her sake. I had seen 
that girl searching for him in a place where a brave 
man would think three times before walking into 
it. So I paid his fare to Singapore. I put him in 
my cabin and I locked the door. Then I went up 
on deck and watched the passengers come on board. 

" Now, I am going to tell you the strangest part 
of this story. Just at the last minute before that 
boat threw off her ropes, I saw something that 
made my heart stop. I happened to look down upon 
the gangway, and coming up it was the girl with 
the wonderful blue eyes and the pure face whom I 
had spoken to at Hue sixteen months before. It 
was she, and it was strange that when I looked at 
her, she had the same peculiar look in her eyes that 
she had when she walked into that den where the 
Malay tried to put his dirty hands upon her. 

"I was more afraid at that moment than I had 

ever been. I was telling myself that the Almighty 

had made me a buffer between that girl and the 

wreck that was in my cabin, and as I watched her 

[158] 



The White Tentacles 



coming up the gangway, I felt that all my plans 
would be overthrown. 

" A steward at the bottom of the gangway put out 
his hand as if he would stop her, but he dropped it 
quick and stared at her as if he had seen a ghost. 
And one or two others who were in her way got 
out of her path and looked at her as she went by. 

" I had a creepy feeling when I looked at her at 
close quarters. I. was thinking of the thing in the 
cabin that I had locked in there before I came on 
deck. ' HimmeU' I said to myself, 'she feels that 
he is near, and she will go to him!' And I was 
determined to shake her out of her trance lest she 
might find him. 

" I walked over to her and I spoke, and she came 
to herself with a start. A flush swept over her 
white face like the flush upon the snow of the 
Himalayas when the sun peeps up out of the China 
Sea. 

'"It is Mr. Hochdorf,' she said quietly. 'I had 
a strange feeling just now. I was drawn aboard 
this boat because — ' 

"I knew without being told that the girl had 
come aboard that boat without baggage or anything 
else solely because she had a feeling that the man 
she loved was on board. I asked her all sorts of 
questions, foolish questions, and she tried to answer 
me as the Ka Lang turned her nose southward. 

[159] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



" She said that she had been hunting up and down 
the coast since the day that I had left her at Hue. 
She had collected a thousand little bits of informa- 
tion, but she had not weakened one little bit. I 
could tell that by the way she told me of the places 
into which she had gone searching for him, places 
that would have brought ten million suspicions to 
the mind of a girl who did not love as she loved. 

'"And I — I do not know why I came aboard,' 
she murmured. 'I was drawn aboard. Oh, Mr. 
Hochdorf, I felt that he was dose! Could it be 
possible ? Could it be possible that he is on board ? ' 

"She looked at me with those wonderful blue 
eyes of hers till I thought that the lie which I stam- 
mered out was printed big across my face. 

"'I have just looked over the passenger list,' I 
stammered, 'and there are only five white people 
aboard. You and I and three missionaries.' 

"The tears trickled down her cheeks as she sat 
looking at me as the old tub ploughed through the 
waters that were smeared with gold from the after- 
noon sun. 

'"I shall go on searching till I find him,' she 
said simply. ' I shall surely find him, if it is only 
for the space of ten minutes before he dies. I am 
sure of it.' 

"I went back to the cabin and I told Falkner 
that she was aboard the Ka Lang, and he became a 
[i6o] 



The White Tentacles 



crazy man. He tried to climb under the berth for 
fear that she might pass by the cabin and see him. 
He wanted me to get hold of the passenger list and 
scratch his name off, and he made a dash at the 
door with the intention of springing overboard when 
I refused to do what he wanted me to do. He was 
not like the proud sinner who gets out on the street 
corners and tells of all the wickedness that he has 
done as if it was something to brag about. I had 
to lock that cabin door and fight with him to stop 
the fool from jumping into the waters of the China 
Sea. 

"I calmed him at last, and made him see that 
it was impossible for her to discover that he was 
on board. I told him that she would never know. 
But although he lay quiet, he had his eyes fixed on 
the door as if he was afraid that she might enter at 
any minute. He would not sleep. He just lay on 
the bunk and watched the door. And I watched it, 
too, because I had a feeling that something might 
happen that would upset my plans. 

"And something did happen. I think it must 
have been about two o'clock in the morning when 
I heard a cry of fire. I sprang from the berth and 
a chill crept over me as I thought of that old sun- 
bitten steamer with her dry planks, and how she 
would burn when once the fire got a grip of her. 

" And it had a grip on her when I rushed through 
[i6i] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



the saloon. Clouds of smoke were coming down the 
companionway, and when I fought my way on 
deck, I saw in one glance that the old Ka Lang was 
doomed. Little red snakes of fire were racing along 
the planks and biting at the rail, and there was a 
roaring hell gnawing at the stomach of that old 
craft. The purr of the fire went out into the silence 
of the night, and I was sick as I looked at the 
devilish little whips of flame that licked at the planks 
of the old tub. 

"I thought of that girl first. I forgot Falkner. 
I only thought of saving her. And I was mad 
with myself, although I did not know why I should 
be mad. I thought that it was my fault that she 
was aboard, but of course my thought was wrong. 

"I knew where the girl was sleeping, and I ran 
along the passage towards her cabin. But the fire 
that was eating up the timbers of the Ka Lang, beat 
me back. The smoke throttled me with a million 
fingers. I fell on my knees and tried to crawl for- 
ward but I could not. 

" I was rushing towards the companionway witli 
fear biting at my heart when I stumbled against 
Falkner. He caught me by the shoulders and thrust 
his face close to mine. He had the face of a devil 
at that moment. I have never seen anything like it. 
And he had grown stronger in a way that sur- 
prised me. 

[162] 



The White Tentacles 



" ' Where is she ? ' he roared. ' Quick, you fool ! 
Tell me where she is!' 

"I pointed to the passage out of which I had 
come in a hurry, and from which the smoke was 
rolling as if the passage was the funnel of a Bibby 
liner. 

" ' What is the number of her cabin? ' he shrieked. 

" ' Twenty-seven,' I roared. ' But you cannot get 
to it!' 

"The flames were singing their song with a 
throaty bass just then. The red snakes of fire 
seemed to know that it was impossible for anyone 
to save that old tub, and they sang a song of triumph 
as they ate her up. And those great masses of 
smoke rolled over the boat and clutched at our 
throats with the fingers of death. But Falkner did 
not care. He was a madman just then. He sprang 
into the smoke that rolled out of the passage, and 
I lost sight of him. He dived into the black clouds, 
and I stumbled up the companionway on to the 
deck. 

"All hell had been unloosed on that deck. The 
Ka Lang had a crew that had been raked together 
in places where a decent sailorman will take precious 
good care that he is not stranded. They were black, 
and brown, and yellow, and they were children of 
the devil, every one of them. 

"The English skipper had made an attempt to 

[163] 



Breath of the Jungle" 



stop those niggers, but he had failed. He was 
knocked down and trampled on, and when I 
stumbled on deck they were trying to launch the 
second boat of the Ka Lang. They had swamped 
the first in trying to get it into the water, and it 
looked as if they would swamp the second by the 
way they were going on. They were clawing, and 
shouting and screaming like lunatics. 

"I turned to run back to my cabin for my 
revolver, but as I turned I ran into Falkner. He 
plunged up the stairs, carrying in his arms some- 
thing — something that I knew to be the girl I had 
failed to rescue! He had her in his arms, and I 
knew that she was unconscious. 

"Falkner seemed to understand everything with 
the one glance he took at those devils who were 
struggling to launch the boat. He thrust the girl 
into my arms, and made a dash at them. There 
must have been thirty of those mad fiends, but he 
dashed at them without thinking of numbers. 

" Have you ever seen a fight where the fighting 
devil that was in one man went out and put the 
fear of God in the hearts of a score? That is what 
I saw then. That opium smoker who had sunk into 
the depths of hell was a madman who could beat 
five hundred. He picked up an oar and he swung 
it round his head with a strength that I would never 
have thought was in him. 

[164] 



The White Tentacles 



"The flames that were eating up the Ka Lang 
made the deck as Hght as day, and as I stood there 
looking with astonishment at Falkner dealing with 
those brutes, the girl came to her senses. And she 
saw! She saw the man for whom she had been 
searching through weary months, watched him with 
those wonderful eyes of hers that were brimming 
over with admiration and love. 

"I have seen men fight, men with big muscles 
and big bodies, but I have never seen a fighter like 
Falkner. There was something supernatural about 
him that made those niggers shrink back from him, 
and I looked at him in wonder as he swung that 
oar and kept them at bay. 

"The English captain and the half-caste mate 
got to their feet, and after one look at Falkner, 
they started in a hurry to get the boat into the water. 
I stood with the girl in my arms, but Falkner woke 
me up then. He screamed at me to put the girl 
into the boat, and when I did not move quick 
enough, he screamed at me again. 

"'The boat!' he cried. 'Get into the boat, you 
fool!' 

"And I obeyed, still holding the girl in my arms 
with her eyes watching him. 

" I do not know how I got into that boat, but I 
know that I did. The girl cried out to Falkner as 
I fell into the boat with her in my arms; and he 
[i6s] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



looked down at her then. He looked down at her 
for a single second, and I saw his face in that 
second. It was not the Falkner that I had talked 
with in my cabin the evening before. It was a new 
Falkner. His face was transfigured in a way that 
made me wonder about it for many a long day after- 
wards. I did not see the lines of vice upon it at that 
moment. It seemed good to look upon, and in those 
few seconds that they looked at each other I felt 
that I witnessed a miracle, yes, a miracle because of 
her great love. 

" A cloud of black smoke rolled over Falkner and 
blotted him from our view. That girl screamed 
again and again, and cried out to the captain to 
save Falkner, but the captain knew that the thing 
was impossible. He knew and I knew that the 
black smoke which had swept over Falkner would 
make those brown devils blind to the power which 
had held them off from him. As we pulled from 
the Ka Lang, I caught a glimpse through a rift in 
the smoke of that horde sweeping across the deck 
where he had held them at bay. 

"We had little time to puzzle over what had 
happened to Falkner. We had not pulled fifty yards 
from the Ka Lang when the old boat gave a sudden 
tilt forward, and plunged. And that was the last of 
her. She went down with a single plunge, and the 
darkness that had been thrust back by those snaky 
[i66] 



The White Tentacles 



flames came down upon us so thick and heavy that 
we felt we were being choked. 

"The whole business had happened so quickly 
that I wondered if I was dreaming. I shook myself, 
and then as I sat in the stern of the boat, listening 
to the sobbing of the girl, I blessed the lieber Gott 
for the way He had planned things. For two 
minutes He had transformed that wreck of a man 
into a demi-god, and the girl had in her mind a 
picture that was a good picture for her to keep — a 
picture of her lover fighting like a Viking against 
odds of thirty to one. 

" That is about all of my story. We were picked 
up at daybreak by a French steamer and carried 
down to Singapore. I wish you could have heard 
the girl describe to the mate of the steamer the way 
that Falkner had met his death. It made that mate 
cry, and he was not a tender-hearted person either. 

" I took her to the home of a missionary at Singa- 
pore and I left her there. She had made up her 
mind to take a boat up to Yokohama, where she 
would ship home. She said good-by to me without 
asking me any questions as to whether Falkner had 
accompanied me aboard the Ka Lang. And I was 
glad of it. I should have had to tell lies, and I was 
afraid her blue eyes would see the word 'liar' on 
my face. I am not a good liar. 

" Sometimes now as I sit and look at that Dyak 
[167] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



girl who puts her head down to the waves so that 
she can hear the messages which she thinks her dead 
lover is sending to her, I think that the Almighty 
has tried to ease her grief as he tried to ease the 
sorrow of the girl whom I met in that little hell at 
Hue, the girl with the eyes of blue." 



[i68] 



The Three Who Fled 



VII 

THE THREE WHO FLED 

TV/rONSIEUR DE TROLLE looked out of a little 
■'■"-'• window in the Hospital of The White Nuns. 
He looked out upon the sun-bitten desert. The hos- 
pital was built on the very fringe of the gray sand 
wastes that stretched away to El-Shafa. 

Monsieur De TroUe was puzzled. He had hurried 
to the hospital in response to an urgent message 
sent to him by the good nuns. A dying man wished 
to see him, a dying man who would not give his 
name. 

A soft-footed sister came hurrying along the 
corridor and bowed to De Trolle. De Trolle was 
the French consul, and the nuns treated him with 
the greatest respect. 

"I will take you to him now," murmured the 
sister. " It is dangerous for him to talk, but he says 
that he must speak to you." 

" Is he very ill ? " asked De Trolle. 

" Oui" she said sadly, " he is very ill. Dr. Huig- 
non has done everything but — " She shrugged 
her shoulders and turned to lead the way. 

The consul followed. The corridor was wonder- 

[171] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



fully cool. The thick stone walls kept out the hot 
blasts that swept across the great gray wastes. A 
score of palms that stood like sentinels on the 
eastern side of the building waved their fronds as 
if trying to ward off the sand-laden winds. The 
djinns of the desert warred against the long stone 
building. 

There was an atmosphere of repose within the 
hospital, an atmosphere which made the consul think 
that death might come easy to one within those 
walls. Clean odors came to the nostrils of De Trolle 
as he followed the nun, clean aseptic odors that 
fought with the century-old smells that drifted in 
through the windows. Here on the very fringe of 
the wastes the good sisters struggled to save the 
lives of those who fell in the battle with the desert. 

The nun opened the door of a room at the extreme 
end of the cool corridor, and motioned Monsieur De 
Trolle to enter. Another white-robed sister, the 
double of her who had acted as guide, stood beside 
a little iron bed in the center of the room, and she 
bowed low to the consul. Monsieur De Trolle 
bowed in return, then he fixed his small black eyes 
upon the man on the bed. 

Monsieur De Trolle moved toward the bed and 
addressed the occupant. 

" You wish to speak to me ? " he said gently. 

The sick man looked at the round good-natured 
[172] 



The Three Who Fled 



face of the consul. "I do," he said quietly. "I 
have a story to tell you. It is a long story, so you 
had better sit down." 

The nun who had been standing beside the little 
bed slipped out of the room, leaving the consul alone 
with the stranger who had begged for a visit. De 
Trolle, sitting beside the bed, studied the face of 
the sick man. It was a remarkable face. The man 
on the bed was in the prime of life, and De Trolle, 
observing him quietly, felt convinced that he had 
never seen a face which expressed such force. The 
nose was a fighting, imperious nose. The eyes were 
black and flashing, fearless eyes with a cruel hawk- 
like gleam in their depths. The month, although 
drawn with pain, was still possessed of a firmness 
that amazed De Trolle. The lips made a straight 
gray line, and the iron jaws were clamped as the 
sick man returned the quiet stare of the consul. 

De Trolle was fascinated by the face. The whole 
counteifance exhibited a strength which seemed to 
resent the approach of death. The mouth, the nose 
and eyes might have been those of an emperor, and 
the very nearness of the Reaper could not rob the 
features of their superb insolence. . 

De Trolle was interrupted in his study by a ques- 
tion which the sick man put to him, a question which 
made the consul thrust his face down close to that 
of the stranger. He had put a query in a soft voice. 

[173] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



"You don't remember me, Jean?" he asked. 

De Trolle opened his mouth, shut it again, thrust 
his head a little closer to the sick man, and then, 
as if he found within the flashing black eyes a light 
which lit up the dim records of the past, he said 
quietly : 

" It is — it is Pierre Lepre ! " 

The gray line of the mouth relaxed in a half 
smile. 

" It is Pierre Lepre," repeated the man upon the 
bed. " It is a long while since we met. Yesterday 
— yesterday the nun mentioned that you were con- 
sul here, and so I sent for you." 

De Trolle's hand reached out and touched the 
brown muscular fingers of the man upon the bed. 
And the consul winced as those iron fingers closed 
upon his white and somewhat flabby hand. The 
fingers were possessed of a remarkable strength, 
and the consul could hardly choke a cry of pain as 
they closed around his own. 

Pierre Lepre spoke after a moment's silence. 

"You have heard of me since our school days 
at Dijon?" he questioned. 

The consul nodded his head slowly. "I have 
heard a little of you," he said. "Now and then 
there have come to my ears interesting little stories 
about you." 

Again the gray lines of the mouth relaxed in a 
[174] 



The Three Who Fled 



smile. It was a smile that told De TroUe that 
Pierre Lepre was fully aware of the kind of stories 
which the consul had heard. And Monsieur De 
Trolle made no effort to alter the impression which 
the sick man had drawn from his answer. The 
stories which he had heard of Pierre Lepre were 
stories that men told in whispers in quiet places. 
From Tangier to Damietta the doings of Pierre 
Lepre, or Pierre the Devil as he was better known, 
were whispered of in little wine-shops and Arab 
cafes. Now as the consul's fingers recovered from 
the terrific grip, De Trolle wondered what mishap 
had brought the fighting daredevil to the door of 
death. 

The consul waited for Lepre to speak. The flash- 
ing, fearless eyes of the sick man were upon De 
Trolle's face, studying it as if doubtful whether the 
consul was really the person to hear the story which 
he desired to unburden himself of before death came 
to him. After a long pause he decided in De Trolle's 
favor. His hands gripped the bars at the head of 
the bed and he drew himself up till he rested upon 
his elbow. 

"I am going to tell you something, De Trolle," 
he said. " Something which I must tell before I die. 
Do you know that I am going to die?" 

The consul swallowed hurriedly. "Non, I do 
not," he answered. 

[175] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



"Well, you know now," said Pierre the Devil. 
"I am going to die before the night is out, and I 
want to tell you something before I go." 

Once again there came a hush upon the little room. 
A soothing silence was upon the place. De TroUe 
wondered if he had ever felt such an intense peace. 

"You have heard little stories of me, you say," 
said Lepre, breaking the silence, " and I know they 
were stories that were not to my credit. But they 
were true — too true. I am doing no death-bed 
repentance, and I am going to face the end without 
any regrets. I have not been a saint and I have not 
brought you here to contradict anything that you 
have ever heard of me. I have asked you to come 
so that I might tell you of one happening which 
you must listen to because I cannot die without 
telling it. It is the story of a miracle, De TroUe. 
A miracle, do you hear ? " 

" Oui I hear," said the consul. 

" I must tell you the story from the beginning," 
said Lepre, " right from the beginning. I have got 
to tell you everything. I have got to tell you of 
the girl, and of Galische, and of the old devil of a 
holy man who made my life a hell. I must tell you 
all and you must listen because I am going to die, 
De TroUe, and I cannot die with this on my mind. 
Last night I tried to die but I could not, and this 
morning I sent for you. 

[176] 



The Three Who Fled 



" This began at Sidi-Bel-Abbes, the headquarters 
of La Legion Etrangere. It began with a girl, De 
Trolle, a girl verging into womanhood. You have 
got to listen to what I tell you about that girl. I 
have got to tell you of her so that you will under- 
stand. She had eyes that would light a man's soul 
down to hell, eyes that at one moment flashed like 
the eyes of Antiope and at another moment had all 
the softness within them that we used to see in the 
eyes of the big picture of St. Agnes of Beaupriere 
in the church at Dijon. I have never seen such 
eyes. 

"The Kabyles tell of the Green Snake of Ain- 
Sefra that the dancing women pray to for the 
suppleness which is their charm. That girl had it. 
By the Bones of the Little Corsican, she had it! 
She was beautiful, De Trolle! She had hair that 
the devil could have plaited into a ladder to lower 
men's souls into the deepest depths. She had moist 
little lips the like of which I have never seen, and 
she had arms — lithe rounded arms, De Trolle, that, 
locked around a man's neck, would drag him to hell 
and further. Are you sick of this talk, mon ami? " 

De Trolle shook his head. " I will listen," he said 
quietly. " I will listen to anything you have got to 
tell me." 

"You must listen," said the sick man. "You 
must listen to this part of my story because it 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



explains the end. If I could have died without tell- 
ing it, I would have held my tongue, but I cannot 
die, I cannot. 

"A holy man — a Moslem — brought that girl to 
Sidi-Bel-Abbes, a holy man with a heart like a 
Gaboon viper. He brought her to Sidi-Bel-Abbes 
to sell her, to sell her for a monthly sum that would 
keep him in luxury. 

"He found a purchaser. You think I am bad, 
De TroUe, but let me tell you that le bon Dieii would 
not pause a moment in deciding between me and 
Lieutenant Galische. H ever the devil is over- 
thrown, it will be Galische who will head the insur- 
rection. Perhaps he has overthrown him now. Oui, 
he is in hell in front of me, De Trolle. 

" Galische bought her. His father was a banker 
on the Rue de Ferriol at Marseilles, and he had gold 
to throw away. He had killed a man on the Vieux 
Porte and he could not go back to prance up and 
down the Cannebiere. 

" He bought her for that old wrinkled devil who, 
while living on the money the girl earned, prayed 
for ten hours a day in the courtyard of the Mosque 
of the Green Tiles. Galische bought her and took 
her to the little house where he lived beneath the 
cluster of silver beech trees on the white road from 
the barracks. 

" De Trolle, I wanted that girl. I had an uncon- 
[178] 



The Three Who Fled 



querable longing to get possession of her. I thought 
that I had been waiting for years and years to meet 
her, and I went mad when I found that Galische 
had bought her. 

"Every night I would walk out on the sand- 
stretches beyond the white barracks and I would 
fling myself down Oii the sand and stare at the little 
house where she lived with Galische. I thought that 
my very desire for her would bring her to me. You 
know what the Arabs say ? They say that the little 
grains of sand talk to each other and that they carry 
a story for miles and miles. And I, Pierre the 
Devil, whispered of my love to the hot sand. I 
babbled nonsense to it, De Trolle. I told the sand 
of the mystery of her eyes, of the sheen upon her 
hair, of her red lips that were redder than the 
poinsettias in the colonel's garden, of the little teeth 
that were smaller and whiter than any teeth that 1 
had ever seen. I babbled of her arms, of her little 
henna-stained fingers, of her shapely feet. 

"You wonder how long I acted like this, De 
Trolle ? For three months ! Every night for three 
months I went out there on the sand and stared at 
the little house and whispered of my love to the hot 
sand — for three months during which I never spoke 
a word to her. Galische was too cunning to allow 
anyone to speak to her. 

"That old devil of a wrinkled holy man knew 

[179] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



that I was there night after night. It was there 
that he first made me wonder at his power. He 
found me there one evening when a big white- faced 
moon hung above the barracks, and when he spoke 
to me I cursed him. 

" ' Would you hke to see your end ? ' he asked. 
' Would you like to see what Allah has planned for 
you?' 

" ' Begone, you pig ! ' I cried, and my eyes were 
fixed upon the house as I spoke. Each night I 
craved her more than ever. The desire in my heart 
grew with each hour that she was in the possession 
of Galische. 

" That toothless devil of an Arab took up a hand- 
ful of dry sand and lifted his arm. 

"'Look!' he cried. 'Look and you will see a 
picture of the end that Allah plans for you, as the 
sand drifts between us and the moon ! ' 

" He tossed the sand into the air, De Trolle, and 
there, between me and the big moon, I saw a fleeting 
picture of a scaffold with a dead man swinging on' 
a rope. Sapristi! that is what I saw ! It was like a 
shadow picture, and it was gone in a second. 

" ' It is your end,' he said. ' It is what Allah has 
planned.' 

" I flung a knife at him but he dodged away and 
hobbled swiftly toward the town. 

"I did not miss a night, not one. The moment 
[i8o] 



The Three Who Fled 



the darkness came down upon the desert I would 
sneak out there and fling myself down on the sand. 
As far as I knew, that girl did not know of my exist- 
ence, and yet — " 

Pierre the Devil gripped the iron bars and drew 
himself up till his face was on a level with the face 
of the absorbed consul. His voice became a hoarse 
whisper. 

"And yet on one moonlit night she came out 
to me across the sand stretch," he gasped. " Lying 
there on the sand I watched her coming. That little 
house where Galische lived was a quarter of a mile 
from the spot where I lay each night, but on that 
evening the desert sands were whitened by a big 
moon so that I saw her from the moment she left 
the door. I lay and watched her as she came toward 
me. I lay and watched her, and my hands clawed 
the sand as she walked straight toward the spot as 
if she knew that I was there. As if she knew, De 
Trolle ! Listen, Monsieur Consul ! It is desire that 
brings everything to us. Do you hear? If our 
longing is great enough, we can bring the world to 
us. If our longing is big enough, we can bring 
heaven to our very door. Aye, and hell with it ! 

" She came across the sand straight toward the 

spot where I was lying, and when she was within a 

dozen yards of me she halted. Then I stood up and 

walked toward her. She stood as straight as a 

[i8i] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



Normandy poplar and in the moonlight she looked 
like something that was not of this world. 

" ' Why do you wait and watch ? ' she asked. 

"'Because I love,' I answered. 

" ' You are a patient lover,' she murmured. 

" ' Patient because I knew that you would come,' 
I answered. 

" I was close to her then. I was close enough to 
see the wonder in her eyes, the eyes that were made 
to fire men's souls. I saw the great mass of black 
hair that fell over her bosom, the hair in which I 
wanted to bury my face, and I forgot Galische. 
I forgot everyone. I was Pierre the Devil, and I 
reached out and took her in my arms. 

"It was a low cough that woke me out of the 
trance that was upon me. That girl pushed me 
from her and looked over my shoulder. And I 
turned. Standing not more than six feet away 
from us was Galische, Lieutenant Henri Galische, 
who was ten times a bigger devil than I am, De 
Trolle. 

" He could have killed me while my back was 
turned to him, but he would not. Galische was 
afraid of no man that ever walked. He was not a 
coward. Did you ever hear of the affair at Tizi- 
Ouzou ? That was the work of Galische. And the 
red job in the souk at Figuig? Galische again. He 
was a limb of Satan. 

[182] 



The Three Who Fled 



"'So,' he said, glaring at me, 'it is the little 
Kerre who is playing tricks on me. I am sorry. 
I will have to cut the little Pierre into pieces for 
the kites to eat ! ' 

" He drew his knife and I drew mine. That girl 
stepped back to give us room. I hate knives. I 
hate to kill a man with a knife. A sword, oui! A 
gun, oui! But a knife — sacre! a knife is a dog's 
weapon! But we had only knives and there could 
be no delay. Non, we had to fight. Nothing could 
stop us then. And as we circled round each other 
that girl crouched on the sand and watched us. I 
am wondering, De TroUe, how many thousand 
women since the world began have crouched as she 
crouched and watched men fight. 

"That was a fight! Mon Dieu! yes. Galische 
was a devil, but to my right arm there came a 
strength that startled me. Every minute that I had 
spent on the hot sand staring at that house had 
added strength to my arm. I fought with the whips 
of desire urging me on. Upon my lips were the 
kisses which she had given me, and I laughed like 
a wolf as I circled round Galische. He was going 
to cut me into little pieces and feed me to the kites. 
Me! De TroUe, I could have fought a regiment 
then. I could have fought a score of the greatest 
devils that La Legion ever enlisted. She knew it. 
That is why she sat like an image and watched me, 
[183] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



watched me with her flashing eyes as I closed in on 
Galische whose temper made him move clumsily 
over the sand. 

" We left Lieutenant Henri Galische there on the 
white sand, his blood making a stain that looked 
like a shadow patch when I glanced back after we 
were two hundred yards away. And it was then 
that I remembered what that old devil of a holy 
man had done with the handful of sand, and I shud- 
dered. I thought of that gallows, but the girl kissed 
me — kissed me on the lips, and I forgot Galische 
as we turned southward. 

"We fled to Saida. From there we went to 
Moufa. We had to keep moving, De Trolle. The 
arm of France is long. Oui, it is long. They 
wanted me. They wanted me for the murder of 
Galische. The sand that had told the girl of my 
love told them that I had committed the crime. And 
one must move swiftly to escape the clutch of the 
legionaries. 

" We moved on and on. And then during those 
first days of flight I knew that that old dog of a holy 
man was helping the bloodhounds. He had been 
robbed of his monthly income which Galische paid 
him, and he sent out the desert marconigrams that 
brought the arm of France reaching after us across 
the desert. 

" It was the old wrinkled holy man who brought 
[184] 



The Three Who Fled 



the legionaries on me at Naama. They caught me 
one night as we slept in the house of a coppersmith 
in the souk. The holy man was there to see the 
capture. They dragged me out at dawn and they 
started with me back to Sidi-Bel-Abbes. The arm 
of France is far-reaching and like the tentacle of an 
octopus. When it twists itself around its victim, it 
brings him with all speed to the spot where he must 
suffer. 

" That girl ran after me as we rode into the desert, 
out of which the hot sun leapt as if anxious to light 
the path that led me back to the gallows. And as 
they flogged my camel and jeered at me because they 
had caught me while I slept, I twisted my head and 
stared at her as she followed. She was running, De 
TroUe, running after me across the hot sand and 
behind her hobbled the holy man. Dieu! I went 
mad as I looked! My muscles swelled until the 
cords cut through my skin and the blood ran down 
my arms and chest. As I looked, I saw her fall and 
I saw him hobble faster to catch up with her. When 
his claws were reaching out to her, something hap- 
pened to my eyes and I could see nothing but a red 
mist — a red mist of murder! 

" That night I strangled the man who had jeered 
at me most during the day. Lying in the darkness 
I strained and strained till I burst the thongs of 
green hide that bound me, and I had my fingers on 

[i8s] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



his windpipe before he knew what had made the 
little clicking sound when the bonds snapped. 

" I killed him like I would kill a rat. I crept out 
of the camp, stole the fastest camel and rode back 
to Naama. I went up and down the souk hunting 
for information. They told me where that old man 
had taken her, and I crept into the house with a 
knife in my hand. He escaped me, De Trolle. My 
blade slashed his dirty robe as he dashed down an 
alley at the back of the souk. And she helped to 
save his life. Her arms were round my neck and 
her lips were clinging to mine as I tried to chase 
the old hound who wanted to send me to that gal- 
lows that he had pictured with the handful of sand 
which he tossed into the air. He ran faster that 
night than he ever ran in his life. 

" Those bloodhounds of France unnerved me. I 
took her that night and we went northward across 
the desert. We rode up across the great sandy 
stretches to Chellala, and from there to Boghar. 
Ours was a great love, De Trolle. I wanted her 
and she wanted me. Galische was a thing which 
Destiny had put between us and I had put him out 
of the way. Yet France could not see it in that 
light. They wanted to tear me away from that 
woman that I loved with all my body and soul. 

"I came up to Dellys and from there we took 
ship back to Algiers. We lived there in the Arab 
[i86] 



The Three Who Fled 



Kasbah, hiding like rats in a hole, and then we came 
on to Tripoli and from there to Alexandria. 

" I cursed my reputation as we fled. Her beauty 
I could cover, but I could not hide my own face. 
A veil hid her red lips and pearly teeth and the 
strange beauty of her blazing eyes, but I was Pierre 
Lepre, Pierre the Devil, out of whose way men 
dodged. A bumboat man at Tripoli knew me and 
he tried to sell my head at a price. Look ! He gave 
me this little memento in exchange for what I gave 
him." 

The sick man pulled up the linen sleeve that cov- 
ered his muscular arm. Across the magnificent 
biceps was a terrible scar some eighteen inches in 
length, and De TroUe shuddered as he looked at it. 
Pierre the Devil was well-named ! 

" I went mad with fear. I was not afraid to die. 
I had never been afraid of death, but I did not 
want them to drag me from her whom I loved. And 
always before me was the shadow picture which 
that old dog of a marabout pictured for me when 
he flung the handful of sand into the air as I lay 
on the white waste watching the house beneath the 
silver beech trees at Sidi-Bel-Abbes. 

"Do you know that I became afraid of the 
shadow picture, De TroUe? It haunted me. Oui! 
It came to me in my sleep. I saw myself dancing on 
air for the murder of Galische ! I began to be afraid 

[187] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



of every man who looked at me. I, Pierre Lepre, 
who had faced Galische with a laugh when he came 
at me; Galische whose hands were red with blood 
that ran at Tizi-Ouzou and at Figuig ! " 

Pierre Lepre paused to examine the face of the 
consul. De Trolle was watching the light in the 
eyes of the ex-legionnaire. Although not an imagi- 
native man, he understood what Lepre had suffered 
during that pursuit. 

"Now I must tell you of something else," con- 
tinued the sick man. "I had a strange feeling as 
we fled from place to place, De Trolle. I fancied 
that I could tell in what direction that old wrinkled 
holy man who sold that girl to Galische was coming. 
Do you understand ? 

" I felt that he was always upon my heels and 
that I had been given some peculiar power which 
told me the direction that he was coming from. It 
was strange. It was very strange. Sometimes in 
the morning, sometimes in the hot noons, and again 
in the velvety nights I would feel a cold breath 
which came to me from some point of the compass 
and I would fly in the opposite direction. 

"Afterwards I proved that this was no fancy, 
De Trolle. Days, weeks after I had that first belief 
regarding the direction he was coming in, I proved 
to my own satisfaction that it was not a foolish 
fancy on my part. I took notice of these peculiar 
[i88] 



The Three Who Fled 



warnings that came to me. I would run like a 
jackal whenever I felt that cold breath which told 
me he was coming. I knew that those premonitions 
were right. No matter where we were, no matter 
how secure I thought we were, I would take the 
girl by the arm and run. Sometimes I would spring 
up in the night, feeling certain that he was close to 
me, certain that his clawlike fingers were reaching 
out to hand me over to the jeering legionaries that 
I knew were still after us. The arm of France is 
long, De TroUe. I have been part of that arm when 
it went out after others, and I knew. This Africa 
is big, but it is not big enough to hide a soldier who 
has put a knife into the heart of a lieutenant. 

"Fear drove us out into the desert. We went 
out over the great sand-stretches far to the west. 
Out there, De TroUe, where the red sun is diving 
into the sand like a newly minted louis." 

Lepre nodded toward the little window of his 
bedroom. The sun was flaming down the western 
sky, bathing the dunes in a flood of crimson. 

" We fled out into the wastes to a little oasis miles 
away from Shual, and there she died. She died. 
What of? you ask. She died in childbirth, De 
Trolle. The Arab woman came too late, and — and 
she died. Mother of Mary ! — she died. She gave 
a little sigh, looked at me with her wonderful eyes, 
kissed me on the lips once and died. It was hard, 
[189] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



De TroUe. If I had been close to some place where 
I could have got a doctor I could have saved her, 
but I was miles away from a doctor. I had been 
driven out into the desert by that old fiend and the 
arm of France. 

" Now I am going to tell you of the miracle. As 
I stood there at the door of the tent looking toward 
the east, there came to me that cold feeling of 
danger which I always felt when the old wrinkled 
holy man was close to me. It came to me then as 
I stood there with her lying dead upon the little 
bed. It came to me out of the east and I laughed as 
I felt it. I walked back to her, kissed her dead lips 
and started out in the direction from which I felt 
sure he was coming. I was not afraid of him then. 
She was dead. She would not have to run after me 
across the desert when the legionaries started to 
drag me back to Sidi-Bel-Abbes. I was Pierre Lepre 
again, the Pierre Lepre that had faced Galische. I 
knew no fear on that night. 

" A jackal howled out on the desert, and I howled 
back at him. I was an animal. I was a wolf, a wolf 
thirsting for blood. I howled as I ran, and I 
chanted the mad blood song that the hill tribes, of 
the Sagheru mountains chant as they charge down 
the slopes. Have you ever felt like that, De TroUe? 
You have not ! My fingers ached to grip the throat 
of an enemy, and I ran across the sands feeling 
[190] 



The Three Who Fled 



certain that coming toward me was a person I hated 
more than the devil himself." * 

Pierre Lepre paused for a few moments and 
gazed at his brown muscular fingers that crooked 
themselves as if to show the consul how they looked 
on that night of which Lepre spoke. The shadows 
of late afternoon invaded the Hospital of The 
White Nuns. The night started to spin its cob- 
webs of gloom in the corners of the little room. 

"Are you tired?" asked Lepre. "Are you tired 
of my story?" 

" Non, non! " cried the consul. " I am wondering 
what happened." 

The door of the bedroom opened softly as the 
consul answered the question put by Lepre, and the 
white face of the nursing sister looked into the 
room. Pierre Lepre's sharp eyes noticed her before 
she could draw back. 

"You may come in, sister," he said quietly. 
" You can hear the rest of the story that I am telling 
to our good friend, the consul. I — I told him 
much that I would not like you to hear; but this 
which I am going to tell is the story of a miracle 
and it will not offend. It will explain why I was 
found in the desert five days' march from here and 
brought to this little hospital of peace to die." 

The soft-footed sister entered the room and 
closed the door. She put pillows at the back of 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



Pierre Lepre to rest his shoulders and she stood 
behind him as he continued his story. 

" It was a moonlight night. A big scared-looking 
moon had come up in a hurry out of the sands, a 
moon that looked as if afraid of what it might see. 
I ran on and on toward the east, ran like a blood- 
hound that scents its quarry. And as I ran I knew 
that the quarry was close. My fingers felt that they 
were already upon the wrinkled throat of the old 
man. 

"Up out of the sand-stretches he came at last. 
I saw him with his hands outstretched as I saw 
him that morning when his grasping fingers reached 
out after the girl who tried to follow me when I 
was taken a prisoner from Naama. He was 
stumbling across the sands toward me, and I howled 
with delight as I caught sight of him. I had a desire 
to kill him, to break every little bone in his body, 
to tear him in pieces. The blood pounded in my 
head till the thumping of my arteries reminded me 
of the thud-thud of the condensing engine near the 
parade-ground at Sidi-Bel-Abbes. 

" He turned when he saw me, turned and tried-lo 
run. Dieu! I was on him in three leaps. I sprang 
upon his shoulders like a wolf and hurled him to 
the ground. I had him at last. But I had to drag 
my fingers away from his wrinkled throat. I did 
not want to kill him in a hurry. Non, I wanted to 
[192] 



The Three Who Fled 



make him suffer for a little while the damnable tor- 
ment that I had suffered as I fled before him. She 
was dead, and all the bottled hate of weeks flooded 
my brain and made me mad. 

"I think he fainted with fear when my fingers 
were at his throat. I know he could not speak when 
I dragged him into a sitting position and started to 
tell him what he had done. I started to tell that old 
fiend the torment he had brought to that girl and 
myself in his efforts to get her back to earn for him 
a few paltry francs which someone else like Galische 
would have willingly handed over. I screamed to 
him as he mumbled prayers in his beard. He knew 
that I was going to kill him. Ay, he knew! His 
old snake-like eyes, that glittered like the eyes of a 
horned viper, saw Death stalking toward him across 
the desert. He pleaded with me. He prayed to me. 
His teeth chattered as I held him with one hand 
and pinched his throat with my fingers, pinched him 
daintily with my fingers. 

"'Now,' I cried, 'now where is the gallows?' 

"'I was wrong,' he muttered. 'I was wrong. 
You will not die by the gallows.' 

"'And how will I die?' I cried. 

"'Allah knows,' he muttered. 'Allah alone 
knows. Blessed be Allah!' 

" I held him there wondering which would be the 
best method to kill him by. I wanted to get every 

[193] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



thrill I could from his death. I did. It was joy 
to me to hear him mumbling prayers and pleading to 
me as my fingers burrowed into his flesh. And it 
was while I pondered over the manner in which I 
should kill him that I asked him a question. Sacre! 
What a fool I was! I cursed myself for asking 
him that question. A million times have I cursed 
myself. Ay, with my fingers on his throat I ques- 
tioned him about that trick with the handful of sand 
which he had played on me at Sidi-Bel-Abbes. 

"'How is it done?' I asked. 

"'The sand knows everything,' he mumbled. 
' Upon the sand are the shadows of everything that 
has ever passed over it.' 

" ' Is that so ? ' I questioned. 

" ' Ay, it is so,' he answered. ' Allah has willed 
it. Here across this desert a million feet have passed, 
and the sands still hold the shadows of those people.' 

" I looked at him and I looked at the bare sands. 
A madness was on me then, a madness to find out 
how he worked his deviltry. I should have choked 
him without listening to him, but I was a fool. I, 
Pierre Lepre, was a fool! 

" ' Show me ! ' I cried. ' By the beard of Moham- 
med, if it is not true I will throttle you without 
letting you speak another word ! ' " 

Pierre Lepre stopped and drew a great breath into 
his lungs. The consul was leaning toward him, his 

[194] 



The Three Who Fled 



eyes fixed upon the face of the story teller. The 
white hand of the nun supported the shoulders of 
the sick man. 

" Now I will tell you of the miracle," said Lepre, 
speaking in a tense whisper. " Now I will tell you 
what that wrinkled fiend did out there in the desert. 
I am dying, and I must tell it before I die. He 
scooped up sand with his withered fingers and tossed 
that sand up against the big scared-looking moon 
that was watching us. He tossed it up in a shower 
and I saw. Mere de Dieu! I saw ! He said that 
the shadows of everything that had passed that way 
had fallen upon the sand and could be seen again 
when he flung the sand up against the big moon. 
He was right. I am dying, De TroUe, and I would 
not let my last words be false. I would not. There, 
as he tossed up handful after handful of the desert 
sand, I saw shadow pictures of those that had 
passed that way through the centuries ! 

" Do you think I am mad ? Non, you do not ! I 
am sane ! I am as sane as you or this good nun who 
has been kind to me. My brain is clearer today 
than it has been for months and months, and I am 
telling you the truth. 

" North and south across that desert they passed, 
and I saw them. I saw them, De Trolle ! Swords- 
men and spearsmen, traders and archers ! Caravans 
of endless length. I saw them go by, saw them go 

[ 195 ] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



by as I crouched on the sand and watched with fear 
in my eyes! I saw black-shawled men that I think 
must have been the shawled butchers of Feerish of 
the Bloody Face. I saw them! They rode at a 
gallop, their swords held high. Wow! what a sight 
it was ! I saw a brigade on swift-running Bisharin 
camels, a brigade that must have passed that way 
three thousand years before. Never have I seen 
such camels as those lean-flanked Bisharins. 

" Have you ever seen a moving shadow upon a 
white blind? Well, that procession was something 
like that. There was an endless procession of 
camels, traders, fighting men, slaves, pilgrims, every- 
thing. That wizard knew that he was prolonging 
his life by throwing up those pictures before my 
eyes and he worked magic as he had never worked 
it before. He had felt the grip of my fingers on 
his wind-pipe and he clawed at the sand and tossed 
it up so that it fell in an endless shower between 
me and the big moon, an endless shower of which, 
in falling, showed me the pictures of the past and 
chilled my blood as I watched. 

"Are you listening, De TroUe? He flung up 
those pictures for five minutes, ten, fifteen, and I 
watched like a crazy man. I saw sights that took 
my breath, sights that made me crouch in fear! 
Magic? What kind of magic? Tell me, De TroUe? 
Tell me what kind of magic he possessed to throw 
[196] 



The Three Who Fled 



up before me a shadow picture of spearsmen with 
the great big-shanked spears of a long-dead past. 
There were Syrian bow-men, long lean swarthy 
brutes, and tall brown men armed with Damascus 
blades that would take a giant to handle. What 
kind of magic did he possess to make me see all these 
things? What kind of magic, De Trolle?" 

The fingers of Pierre Lepre reached out and 
gripped the shoulder of the consul. The white- 
faced nun lowered her head as if she was afraid 
that she would miss a word of the strange story. 
There was a tensity in his voice that made his two 
listeners feel certain that the climax was near. 

" It was then that I saw the great wonder," con- 
tinued the sick man, speaking in a whisper that was 
so low that the nun's face was close to his as he 
spoke. "It was then — it was then that I saw 
God I" 

The white- faced sister gave a little cry of fear 
and put her two hands together. De Trolle, leaning 
forward, forgot the pain which the iron fingers of 
Lepre caused him as they clutched his shoulder. 

" In my little room at Dijon when I was a boy," 
whispered the sick man, " there was a picture, a little 
picture that hung above my cot. It was a picture 
of a woman and a child riding upon a donkey with 
a man walking by their side. It hung above my 
cot from the days of early childhood. It was the 

[197] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



first picture that I ever remember seeing. I would 
look at it each night as I said my prayers before 
going to bed, and I would look at it each morning 
when I said the 'Our Father' on awakening. I 
remember on the night when I packed my little 
bundle and ran away to become a drummer boy, 
that picture held me for a moment before I jumped 
out of the window into the rose garden at the back 
of the house. That picture was called the 'Flight 
into Egypt.'" 

De Trolle moistened his lips and gave a low gasp 
of wonder. The face of the nun was whiter than 
her spotless linen habit. 

Pierre Lepre continued. " They came before my 
eyes like a fleeting shadow," he whispered. "Out 
of the north they came, the woman and the child 
upon the donkey, the man hurrying by their side. 
They were alone, moving southward swiftly, ever 
so swiftly. I gave a cry of astonishment as I saw 
them. I thrust out my head and stared, stared like 
a madman. By the bones of great St. Pierre of 
Avignon who is my patron saint, I was stunned by 
the sight ! I forgot the wrinkled devil that I wanted 
to kill. I let go of his throat and thrust my hands 
out to those three and cried out as they passed 
hurriedly. I cried out to them. I screamed at 
them ! I got upon my feet and staggered after them 
like a drunken man as they fled southward. 
[198] 



The Three Who Fled 



" They had their backs turned to me, their backs, 
mind you! In the little picture over my cot at 
Dijon, the face of the child looked down on me, and 
there — there out on that desert, I, Pierre the Devil, 
who had not thought of that picture for a score of 
years, wanted to see the face of that child turned to 
me as I had seen it in the dream days of childhood. 
Do you understand me, De Trolle ? Do you under- 
stand what I mean? I wanted to look at his face, 
to look at the face that I had watched as I whispered 
my childish prayers beside the little cot in my 
mother's home. I forgot that wrinkled wretch I 
had sworn to kill. I forgot her who lay dead. I 
forgot everything. I was lifted out of myself and 
I ran like a madman across the desert after a 
shadow, De Trolle. I ran after a shadow that had 
overwhelmed me with a million memories of child- 
hood, memories that made me see that I was filthy 
and unclean in the sight of God ! " 

The startled nun put her arms around the 
shoulders of the dying man. The story had told 
upon the strength of Pierre Lepre. For full three 
minutes he remained gasping, unable to proceed, 
then once again he took up his wonder tale. 

" I ran on and on," he gasped. " I pursued them 
over the white sands. I screamed out to them. I 
screamed out to them as they fled. They would not 
stop! They fled from me! They fled from me, 

[199] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



Pierre Lepre, because — because I was a devil who 
had robbed and plundered and — and killed. I had 
killed the legionnaire who jeered at me at Naama 
and I had killed Galische and others ! My hands — 
these hands — have killed, and — and those three 
would not look. Do you hear me? They would 
not look, although — although in the little picture 
above my cot at Dijon He — He was always looking 
down upon me ! " 

Pierre the Devil fell back exhausted upon the 
bed. He had screamed out the last words of his 
story as if he wished every person in that silent 
hospital to hear what he had to say. The consul 
was on his feet now. The soft-voiced nun had her 
cool fingers upon the heated brow of the ex-legion- 
naire. She was whispering to him, and Lepre, with 
his eyes upon her, listened. 

"What did you say?" he breathed. 

"He never runs away from anyone who seeks 
Him," murmured the nun. " He never turns His 
head from those who are sorry for their sins." 

" But He turned His head from me ! " gasped the 
dying man. "He turned His face from me! I 
followed for hours. For hours, I tell you! I ran 
on and on till I fell exhausted. I fell exhausted 
and I lay there for three days before they found 
me and brought me here, but He — He turned His 
head away from me because — because I had the 
[200] 



The Three Who Fled 



blood of Galische and a dozen others upon my 
hands!" 

" But He never turns His head away from those 
who are sorry," repeated the sister softly. 

" I am sorry," whispered Pierre Lepre. " But it 
is too late." The faint tones strengthened with 
agony. 

The nun made a sudden gesture to De TroUe and 
stole from the room. Pierre the Devil lay breathing 
painfully in the silence. Then the door opened and 
the nun slipped in. She carried a small framed 
print of the " Flight into Egypt." 

Death was close to Pierre Lepre. De Trolle, 
bending over him, saw that the flashing insolence 
had left the black eyes. The nostrils of ^ the nose 
looked pinched. 

As the nun came to the bedside, Pierre Lepre 
spoke. 

"I am sorry," he said again. 

" Then He will turn to you," murmured the sister. 
" He will turn to you with forgiveness in His eyes." 

"It is too late," gasped Pierre the Devil. 

" No ! " cried the little nun with fervor. " He will 
turn His face to all who are sorry. He did not 
turn His face from you. Ah no, you are mistaken. 
You are His child now just the same as when you 
slept in your little cot at Dijon. He is looking at 
you now. See! He has forgiven you!" 

[201] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



The nun and consul bent over Pierre Lepre and 
the nun held the picture before his dying eyes. The 
level sun rays struck through the window and made 
the picture luminous. To the two who leaned above 
the little cot it seemed as if the face of the adven- 
turer underwent a marvelous change. All the fight- 
ing deviltry seemed to be gradually swept away 
by a smile of joy. 

" Say it again," murmured the dying man. 

" You are His child," murmured the nun. " You 
are His child now as well as when you lived with 
your good mother at Dijon." 

The last moments had come to the dying man. 
The lips of the white-faced nun were moving softly, 
ever so softly, and the consul's straining ears caught 
the prayer which she murmured. And he repeated 
that prayer with her. Softly, ever so softly, the 
nun and the consul repeated the prayer for the 
dying. 

The shadows in the comer of the room increased. 
The silence of the desert came over the Hospital of 
The White Nuns, a strange silence that throttled the 
slightest noise. But the two watchers repeated the 
prayers and, as they watched the sick man, the lips 
of Pierre Lepre moved softly as if there had come 
to him in the last few moments of life a boyhood 
prayer which he had forgotten for years and years. 

The white-faced nun lowered her head after 
[202 ] 



The Three Who Fled 



many minutes. The lips of Pierre Lepre were still. 
The calm of death was upon his face. Gently the 
nun folded his arms upon his broad chest. Her 
eyes were moist as she turned to the consul. 
" He is with God," she said softly. 



[203] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir 
Jehal 



VIII 

THE BLACK HORSEMEN OF MIR JEHAL 

T T OCHDORF, the German naturalist, sat in his 
*■ ■■■ big chair upon the veranda of the lonely 
bungalow, and peered at the narrow path that 
showed faintly in the gloom. A female monkey 
within the house was scolding her offspring, and the 
ceaseless chatter flowed out into the tropical dusk, 
a thin trickle of noise that was sucked up by the 
silence of the encompassing jungle. Down from 
Asia rolled the night, thick and oppressive, and the 
massed trees conjured up a vision of many-Umbed 
giants assisting at some mysterious ceremony. 

Presently Hochdorf spoke. "I am ten times 
a big fool," he growled. "I had a letter that I 
wanted Gung to take down the river to Brechmann, 
and I forgot to give it to him." 

Gung, the Malay with the withered arm, had left 
the bungalow some twenty minutes before Hoch- 
dorf spoke, and it was reasonable to suppose that he 
had placed considerable distance between himself 
and the home of the naturalist. 

" I suppose he would not hear us if we ran down 
to the river and shouted?" I questioned. 
[207] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



"No, no!" snapped the German. "He is out 
of hearing by this. There is only one chance of 
his coming back: he might feel that I want him." 

The mother monkey stopped her chatter at that 
moment, and the night seemed to be relieved. One 
pictured that noise as something that was wounding 
the all-embracing quiet. Jungle and sky were one, 
a^soft, deep black, and as I tried to make out the 
path down which the Malay had gone, my mental 
gizzard asked for some solvent to help along the 
digestion of the naturaUst's remark. He had coolly 
stated that Gung might " feel " that he was wanted, 
and the observation puzzled me. 

"Why, what do you mean?" I asked. "How 
will he know?" 

"I said that he might feel that I wanted him," 
said Hochdorf quietly. " Gung has got a marvelous 
skin. Ach! yes. He can feel things like a stalking 
leopard. I do not know how. I can only say what 
I think, and I do not want to be asked for proofs. I 
hate to give proofs. This jungle is not a court of 
law." 

He spoke irritably and I made no comment. 
When Hochdorf was in an ill humor it was wise 
to remain silent. And as we sat without speaking, 
the oppressive quiet of the place became more appar- 
ent. The silence seemed to rear up, a menacing, 
palpable thing that was ready to pounce down upon 
[208] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

human being or animal that dared to make a sound. 

But the sound came. From the direction of the 
river came the faint plut plut of bare feet; the 
rough steps creaked, and someone halted upon 
the veranda. Hochdorf struck a match, and the 
light revealed Gung, his withered arm hanging 
loosely by his side. 

He stood without moving, his brown body, with 
its chawat of bark cloth, fitting in with the back- 
ground. The jungle was old, old as the Blue Rocks 
of Bintulu, and the brown figure that had rippled 
the dark seemed part of it. 

Hochdorf broke the silence. He drew himself 
out of the depths of the big chair and spoke in an 
even, quiet voice. "There is a note on the table 
that you must take down the river to Brechmann," 
he said. "I forgot to give it to you before you 
left." 

The Malay gave a grunt and moved towards the 
door of the bungalow. A slush lamp faintly illumi- 
nated the big room that was filled with specimens. 
Near the door the native turned and spoke. 

" I had some nuts for the black monkey," he said, 
speaking in his own tongue. " I forgot to give them 
to her, so I came back." 

Hochdorf sank back in his chair without mak- 
ing any comment. Gung picked up the note, put a 
handful of nuts upon the pine table and faded 
[209] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



swiftly into the darkness. The plut plut of his feet 
became one with the soft breathing of the jungle. 

For a long time the naturalist remained silent; 
then he spoke. 

"He said that he came back to bring nuts to 
the black monkey," he growled. " Perhaps he did. 
I do not know. Sometimes I think that the greatest 
savant that ever came out of Leipsic is a child 
compared with Gung — that is, on some things. 
Listen, and I will tell you something. It concerns 
Gung. Ja. It concerns him very much. 

" Ten years ago I was on the Rejang River at a 
place that the lieber Gott made when he was in a 
temper; and to that place came a man named Her- 
riott and his wife. They were Americans who 
had come across Balabac Strait from Palawan. It 
was not a nice place to bring a woman to, but Her- 
riott's wife did not seem to mind. There are times 
in the lives of some of us when the big centers of 
the world do not look as nice as these spots on the 
outer rim. And the Rejang River did not seem 
lonely to Herriott and his wife. Not a bit of it! 
They loved each other with a love that was big, 
and where love is, there is no room for loneliness. 
This world is mighty small for lovers. They can 
look over space from their little hills of bliss. They 
can see Teheran on one side and see Papeete at the 
other, and they think a crowd is a big nuisance. 
[210] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

"Herriott was a big man in a place like this. 
I gave him work collecting specimens, and he was a 
mighty good collector. The fault with nine men out 
of ten in this infernal archipelago is their unre- 
liability, but Herriott was different. He had no 
desire to rush away to the big spots, and he would 
do things that he was told to do. 

"They had been here about seven months when 
I sent him up the river on a trip to get some speci- 
mens that I wanted, and he had been gone three 
days when his wife rushed into my bungalow 
screaming like mad. Gott! didn't she scream ! 

"'What is wrong?' I roared. 'Quick! Tell 
me!' 

"'Clinton!' she shrieked. Clinton was the first 
name of her husband, and when she said it she 
looked as if she had seen his ghost. 

'"What is wrong with him?' I asked. And I 
wondered how she could have got any word of him 
when he was away in the jungle. 

"'He is in danger!' she screamed, and when 
she had said that, she fell down in a faint. 

" It was an hour before I could get at the bottom 
of that business. Do you know what had startled 
her? One of the Malays had seen a strange white 
man going up the river, and the native had told her. 
That was all. Her husband was up the river, too. 
Do you see ? She felt danger. J a. I did not know 

[211] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



their history. This is not the place to cross examine 
anyone about his past, but that woman's fear was 
not nice to see. It was the essence of fear. All 
my arguments did nothing. A white man, who was 
a stranger to the natives, had been seen going up 
the river, and Herriott was up the river. I tried 
to prove to her that it was some trapper that we 
knew, but she brought Gung, and Gung said that 
the man was a stranger. So it was no use arguing. 
I had to go out and hunt for her husband or sit 
still and watch her going from one hysterical fit into 
another, and she was so good at that business that 
I thought it would be better to hunt for Herriott. 

"That woman would insist on coming with me, 
and that made more trouble. Taking a woman to 
her husband in this jungle is not like taking her 
from Wall Street to Harlem in one of those bur- 
rows that you have over there in the United States. 
Nein. That place on the Rejang River was a little 
annex to Sheol. You bet it was. I was as mad 
as a hungry cobra when I ordered the Dyaks to get 
out the boat, and she crying for her Clinton all the 
time they were getting it ready. I thought it was 
a nice piece of foolishness, and I damned Gung for 
telling her that he had met a stranger. 

" ' Why did you tell her about the man ? ' I asked. 

'"I do not know,' he snarled. 'I just told her 
and that is all.' 

[212] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

" Well, we started up the river in pursuit of Her- 
riott, and I was just bubbling with temper all the 
time. Six Dyaks, Gung, Mrs. Herriott and myself 
were in the boat — nine of us, and we were starting 
out to bring a man back from a collecting trip 
simply because his wife had got a nervous feeling 
about his safety ! It was enough to irritate any man, 
was it not ? Though sometimes when I was swear- 
ing quietly to myself I would look at that woman, 
and I would see again the terror in her eyes that I 
had noticed when she rushed into the bungalow. 
Once or twice I had seen terror like that, and it 
puzzled me to see it then. That fool Gung saw the 
fear too — you bet he did. When the Dyaks loafed, 
he walloped them with the flat of his oar, and all 
through the next three days we pulled up the 
Rejang, fighting our way through the nipa-palm 
growths in a heat that made us gasp. 

"We found out something in those three days. 
Ja. That strange man that Gung had seen was no 
one that I knew. He was not. The few men that 
were within a hundred miles of my camp were col- 
lectors and naturalists, but this man was neither. 
I was certain of that. The natives told me that 
they had shown him everything they had, but he 
was not interested. He wanted to keep right on. 
He had evidently something more attractive in sight 
than specimens, and that puzzled me some. I kept 

[213I 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



the result of my inquiries to myself, but that woman 
read the look of wonder on my face. The more I 
questioned the Dyaks about the matter, the more 
she urged haste, and the more that fool Gung wal- 
loped the boatmen when he looked at the terror in 
her eyes. I felt that there was a mystery in the 
business, but it was not for me to ask her questions 
about the reasons why a strange man should be 
hunting for her husband. Nein. I told you that it 
is a fool's business to question people who get out 
on the fringe of the earth. There are a lot of 
people in this infernal archipelago who chopped their 
family tree down the day they started for these 
islands. You can gamble mighty heavy on that. 

" On the fourth day we got out of the boat and 
found the trail of Herriott and the Kling guide 
that was with him, and we followed that trail into 
the jungle. And we found something else that made 
me mighty mad with the look of things. Yes, 
mighty mad ! We found that someone else had fol- 
lowed that trail, and that someone had shoes on. 
Of course that proved that the trailer was not a 
native, and that was news that upset my digestion. 

"I did not tell the woman about the follower. 
Not much ! She was nearly crazy with the danger 
that her instinct told her of, and I did not wish to 
send her clean off her head by telling her of the 
marks of the other pair of shoes. A woman is 
[214] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

a mighty unreasonable person, and I was sick of the 
hysterical stunts that she had played at my 
bungalow. 

" On the afternoon of the fifth day we lost Her- 
riott's track, and that was unfortunate. Somehow 
we had got away from it in a swamp patch where 
the black mud was so soft that it had filled up the 
tracks of himself and the Kling the moment they 
passed, and I got sick when I found that we could 
not find that trail again. That woman was mighty 
near insane with fear just then. Mein Gott! yes! 
Her nervousness about her husband's safety was 
getting bigger with each step that she took through 
that place, and she was all to pieces. I could not 
say anything that would do her good. Not a thing ! 
She felt that the danger to Herriott was big, and 
wh'jn I thought of those shoe prints I felt that 
she was right. But we could not find the trail, and 
we floundered about like fools. When the night 
came down upon us I was thinking that the best 
thing we could do was to make for the Rejang in the 
hope that Herriott would turn back, but I knew that 
the woman would never agree to return. Now I 
am going to tell you about Gung. I said that the 
greatest savant that ever came out of Leipsic would 
be a fool to him on some things. And it is true. 

"We camped that evening in the thickest bit of 
that infernal jungle. The trees wedged themselves 

[215 J 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



around us like the big grenadiers at Potsdam, and 
the lianas hung from limbs like the cobwebs of 
spiders. It was a nasty place. We managed to light 
a fire to keep off the sweaty dampness, and we were 
huddled aroimd that fire when something happened 
to Gung. J a. Something happened to Gung! Do 
you think that he came back here tonight to bring 
the nuts to the black monkey? Perhaps he did. I 
do not know. This is Borneo, and just when a man 
thinks that he knows something he finds that the 
bottom has been torn out of his knowledge knap- 
sack, and that everything has fallen out. 

" But to get back to Gung : He was sitting on his 
hams near the fire, and all of a sudden he pushed 
his head slowly forward and stared at the darkness 
as if he had seen the three-headed specter of Bak 
Trang. Have you ever seen a man look at a little 
square of blackness with his eyes popping out? It 
gives you a funny sensation, does it not? Well, 
Gung stared at the night as I had never seen anyone 
stare before. It is a fact. He stared at it as if he 
was trying to see something up in Singapore, five 
hundred miles away. He looked so hard that the 
Dyaks who were busy blowing the fire, and who had 
their backs turned to him, felt that he was doing 
something out of the common, and they lifted their 
heads to look at him. Shades of Friedrich Heinrich 
Humboldt — didn't he stare! 
[216] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

" It was quite a minute before I was able to fire 
a question at that idiot, but when I got my voice 
I fired one mighty loud. The way he was looking 
at the dark, and the way he was gurgling, gave me 
cold chills. 

"'Gott in HimmeW I roared. 'What is the 
matter with you ? ' 

" ' Wah! ' he groaned. ' Wahl ' He groaned just 
like a sick orang-outang. 

"'Speak!' I shouted. 'Speak!' I was that 
angry that I reached over and grabbed him by the 
neck and shook him till the shark teeth on his brace- 
lets played a tune. 

"I did not like the look on his face. I could 
not stand it. Not much! A little of that kind of 
poppy show went a mighty long way with me, and 
I could see that the woman and the six Dyaks had 
seventeen different kinds of nightmare from the 
stare that he was sending into the black patches 
between the kaladang trees. 

" ' I will choke you if you do not speak ! ' I yelled. 
'Tell me, Gung! Tell me!' 

" He opened his mouth and shut it again ; he could 
not get words. He wet his lips and tried again. 

"'The Black Horsemen!' he moaned. 'The 
Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal!' 

" I have never been as frightened as I was at that 
moment. Never! I have been in a few tight cor- 
[217] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



ners in my time, but I have never experienced the 
same kind of fear as the fear that gripped me then. 
It was devihsh fear. It seemed to me that a mil- 
lion cold hands were reaching out of the darkness 
to choke me. That is a fact. It might seem funny 
when I tell it to you now, but to me at that moment 
— Ach! I am sick now when I look back and 
think how I felt as I watched him. 

"Herriott's wife and those six Dyaks had the 
squirmy feeling mighty bad, too. And it was no 
wonder. The look on Gung's face would cool one's 
blood quicker than an ice chamber. I have never 
seen a man look like he did at that moment. And 
he looked at nothing, mind you. Nothing! 

"The woman sprang to her feet and stared at 
the trees, and those six Dyaks did the same. Those 
natives had heard something of those Horsemen 
that Gung had mentioned. This East is a peculiar 
place. These people have mystery in their blood, 
and the very look on the Malay's face told that half- 
dozen more than you and I could read out of a book 
in a month. 

"'Where are the Horsemen?' I stammered. 
'Where are they?' It was stupid to ask a fool 
question like that, but that little incident had 
stampeded my wits. 

" ' They are going by,' whispered Gung. ' They 
are passing by over there.' 
[218] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

" He spoke in the dialect, and he pointed into the 
thickest bit of that darkness as he spoke. And it 
was like looking into a pot of ink to stare at that 
patch. Himmel! Yes! All I could hear was the 
jungle breathing as it is breathing now, with every 
minute or so one of those queer little puffs of wind 
that seemed to say ' Ssh ! ' as it slipped through the 
leaves. 

" Herriott's wife clutched me by the arm, and the 
six Dyaks huddled together. We had little chills 
running races up and down our spines just then. 
Gung was still doing the pop-eyed stunt, and he 
was doing it with all the energy he had to spare. 

"'What does he see?' gasped Herriott's wife. 
'Tell me!' 

"'I do not know,' I said. 'I have heard much, 
but I know little.' I was mighty mad with the 
woman and with Gung and with everything. 

" That Malay was squatting on his hams, quiver- 
ing like a monkey when a snake is climbing up the 
limb of the tree it is sitting on, and he was listening 
with all his body. Not with his ears, mind you. 
He was strainihg the night with his skin. I would 
like to have a model of him in plaster as he sat 
thiere that night' — that is, if a sculptor could put the 
feeling into it. It could be exhibited as something 
t)rpical of this old world out here. 

"Those six Djraks had shuffled round till they 

[219] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



had their backs to each other, and their faces turned 
towards the night. They could not see or hear any- 
thing, but they were satisfied with the look on 
Gung's face. They read that look. Their ancestors 
must have looked like that when the ghost mias that 
the Kyans speak of, the big white orang-outang that 
has lived a thousand years, came crashing through 
the branches of the tapang trees. 

" ' Oh, what does he hear ? ' cried Herriott's wife. 
'What horsemen are passing?' 

"'He says that he hears The Black Horsemen,' 
I stammered, and I kept my eyes on Gung as I 
spoke to her. I had heard something of those same 
Horsemen, but I had kept what I heard to myself. 
It is stupid to talk of everything that you hear in 
a place like this. It is only the people with the 
sensitive cuticle that can believe properly. I would 
just as soon tell this story to some people as I would 
tell it to Jan Winklekop, who ran the little beer 
house in the Kaiserplatz at Frankfurt. And Jan 
Winklekop was as deaf as the statue of Friedrich 
Wilhelm. 

"Gung's muscles relaxed when I answered Her- 
riott's frau, and he looked up at us with a curious 
expression on his face. He looked as if he had 
been hit with a sandbag. 

" ' Tell me ! ' shrieked the woman. '-Tell me what 
you heard!' 

[220] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

" ' I heard The Black Horsemen,' whispered Gung. 
'They passed by in the trees over there.' 

"I tell you that the mystery that the Malay put 
into his answer took the breath from that woman. 
It took the breath from me, too. I have heard 
people say things, and the tone of their voice has 
given their assertions the lie, but with Gung — 
Ach! when he said that I got gooseflesh all over 
my body. 

" ' But what are they ? ' gurgled the woman. 

"'They are the appointed of Buddha,' breathed 
Gung. ' They collect the souls of the dead ! ' 

"That was a nice thing to tell to that woman, 
was it not? She was thinking of her husband and 
the danger he was in, and that fool Malay informs 
her in a whisper that The Black Horsemen of Mir 
Jehal, that had just ridden by, are Buddha's mes- 
sengers whose duty it is to collect the souls of the 
dead! It was terrible. I tried to kick that native 
so that he would hold his tongue, but the woman 
pushed me away. 

"'I want to know!' she screamed^ 'I must 
know!' 

" And that idiot Gung was only too ready to tell 
her. His breath had been shut off so long with 
the horror that had pinched his windpipe, that he 
wanted to see if he had got his speech back. That 
was the case. And the woman was crazy with fear 

[221] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



as she listened to him. There is no fear like the 
fear that comes from the things that you cannot 
see, and we were getting some of tliat just then. 

"Have you ever heard of The Black Horsemen 
of Mir Jehal? You have not? That is strange. 
You can hear of them from the gates of Kandahar 
to Bangkok, and from Cape Comorin to the Lanak 
Pass. I had heard the story before that night, but 
it had never impressed me as it impressed me then. 
My, no ! It bit into my body like acid when Gung 
started to tell it to Herriott's wife in that jimgle. 
It made my hair prickle. Right in the middle of the 
telling, a wet branch of a cinnamon tree touched my 
neck, and I, Hermann Hochdorf, who has lived iii 
this jungle till I have become a part of it — I felt 
inclined to yell out with terror. 

"Gung was the devil of a story-teller. He was 
an expert. Your Oriental can put in all the little 
shivery business that is beyond our art. He told 
that yam in a way that hit her in the emotional 
solar plexus. And it was a terrible story. He told 
her how The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal were 
the greatest butchers that India had ever known. 
They had made rivers out of the blood they had 
spilled. They were devils for slaughter. Down 
from the Karakoram Hills they had swept through 
Kashmir into the Punjab, and men, women, and 
children were killed without any cause. They 
[222] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

slashed and hacked with their crooked swords, and 
they galloped down the fugitives that tried to get 
away from them. They were fiends. The Red 
Butchers of Zafir Khan and the bodyguard of 
Tamerlane were so many greenhorns compared to 
Mir Jehal's batch — that is, if Gung's story was 
a true one. As he told it, he jumped from pigeon 
English into the Malay dialect, and from the Malay 
into the lingo of the Bugis, but the woman followed 
him. It was not hard to follow him. He was a 
master of all that fool wriggling business that 
Frenchman do when they are telling a story. He 
was telling half of it with his shoulders and eyes, 
and half with his tongue. 

"Then that Malay told what happened to The 
Black Horsemen. They fell in with a bunch of 
Pathans at Kabul River, and those Pathans were 
some fighters. You bet they were. They were big, 
hairy devils that would have taken on a batch from 
Sheol, and they went for Mir. Jehal's batch like 
hungry leopards at a bunch of mountain goats. I 
would have liked to see that fight. It must have 
been something like the charge of the cavalry of 
Prince Friederich Charles at Froschweiler. Himmel! 
Yes! Those Pathans had a blood thirst that did 
not cool till the last one of The Black Horsemen 
was wiped out. The Pathans didn't leave a single 
one of them to tell the story, so Gung said. 
[223] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



" The imagination of the East got busy after that 
little happening. A Yogi of Benares had a vision, 
and he must have had a newspaper man's eye for 
something sensational. Ja. In his dream he saw 
the Death Angel standing in front of Buddha, and 
he listened to the conversation. 

"'What can I do for you?' asked Buddha. 

" ' You can give me a rest,' said the Death Angel. 
'I have grown weary collecting the souls of those 
that The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal have 
butchered.' 

" ' And who will fill your place ? ' asked Buddha. 

"'Give the work to The Black Horsemen now 
that they are dead,' answered the Death Angel. 
' Let them go out and collect the souls of the dead, 
because it has been their butcheries that have made 
me tired.' 

"Buddha saw the wisdom of the argument, 
according to the Yogi, and he gave the Death 
Angel's job to The Black Horsemen for all time. 
Now you will see how that stunt of Gung's affected 
us in the jungle near the Rejang. The Black Horse- 
men had to be on hand when anyone was dying so 
that they could collect the soul, and when they 
passed us by we were thinking of the danger that 
threatened Herriott. It was a nice story for a 
woman who was nearly crazy with fear to listen to, 
was it not? The Dyaks had no lost relations, but 
[224] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

their jawbones started to rattle; and I had no one 
that I thought was near death, and I was mighty 
scared; but that woman — By the wisdom of 
Cuvier ! she was in a nice state ! 

" ' What direction have they gone ? ' she screamed, 
when Gung had finished his story. ' Which way did 
they go?' 

" ' That way,' said Gung, and he pointed into the 
darkness towards the north. 

"'Then we'll go that way!' she shrieked, and 
she started to push that terrified Malay into the thick 
night. 

" Gung did not want to leave the fire just then. 
You bet he didn't. Your frightened native will 
cling to a live coal like a crocodile to a mudbank. 
But that woman of Herriott's was a determined 
woman. That story had made all her fears bubble 
over. Her imagination made her see Herriott's 
finish after that nigger had told her what The Black 
Horsemen went out for. She was insane. I tried 
to convince her that the fool Malay had been chew- 
ing opium, but she said that opium would not bring 
that look of fear to his face when he was staring 
at the night. And I guess she was right. I have 
never seen a look of terror like the one that was 
pasted on that native's face. 

"'Wait till morning,' I said. 'We cannot find 
any trail now.' 

[225] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



"'I will not wait!' she screamed. 'I will go 
now!' 

" She grabbed hold of Gung like a mad woman, 
and she pushed him towards the spot that he had 
been looking at. Gung did not like it one bit. He 
thought that he had enough of those Black Horse- 
men for one night without setting out on their trail, 
but he did not know what a woman who loves her 
husbcmd can do when she thinks that he is in danger. 
That woman had the strength of three men just at 
that moment. She took that husky native and 
rushed him forward as if he were a baby, and I 
followed them. Those six Dyaks followed too. 
They were too scared to stay behind. They snatched 
some lighted branches from the fire and scampered 
along behind us. 

" Belief, my friend, is just a question of present- 
ing the thing that you want a person to believe. 
That is all. You might be inclined to laugh at 
this story of The Black Horsemen, but you would 
not have laughed that night in the jungle. The 
thing would have bit through the coating of scepti- 
cism that you have put over your bump of credulity. 
I am an unbelieving person sometimes, but on that 
night I was different. 

" The woman started to cry out the name of her 
husband, and her shrieks went out into the silence. 
' Be quiet,' I said. ' You will stampede the niggers.' 
[ 226 ] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

" ' But The Black Horsemen ! ' she sobbed. ' My 
husband is dead or dying! Follow them! Follow 
them! Hurry!' 

"Sometimes now, on quiet evenings, I sit here 
and look back on that night. I try to analyze the 
feelings that gripped me. I am a German, and I 
am not easily excited, but on that night I flung 
my mental ballast overboard and did crazy things. 
I rushed along with the woman and Gung, plung- 
ing through the thick undergrowth, and behind me 
came the Dyaks, waving the fire sticks they had 
plucked from the fire. I was as scared as the Dyaks. 
I was frightened more than I can tell you. At 
Gravelotte, my friend, I did not get scared when the 
French were giving us something hot; but the 
French were flesh and blood, and they made mighty 
good marks to aim at. Those things that Gung was 
chattering about were somewhat different. 

"I cannot describe that night to you very well. 
I mean the part of it between the time we left the 
fire and the time that the dawn came out of the 
Celebes Sea. I am in doubt about little parts of 
it, and it annoys a scientific mind to find that things 
are a little hazy. It was a fiendish night — a ter- 
rible night! I thought that the darkness was a 
blanket that was wrapped around us, and out of 
which we were trying to claw ourselves. Claw our- 
selves, mind you! Did the night ever feel that 
[227] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



thick to you that you were certain you had a lump 
of it in your hand when you shut your fist? Well, 
that night was one of the thick kind. It smothered 
us. We choked in it. Sometimes, when an infernal 
snaky liana gripped my throat and nearly jerked 
me off my feet, I was in doubt if it was a creeper 
or an invisible hand. I was a confounded old fool 
that night. I was silly. That is why I say that 
belief is only a matter of presenting the thing that 
you want the person to believe in. 

"We must have been running about two hours 
when that fool Gung got another of his pop-eyed 
turns. He fell on his knees and started groaning 
like the devil, and when the woman shrieked a ques- 
tion at him, he said that they were right in front of 
us. He meant The Black Horsemen were just in 
front of us. You can smile, but you would not have 
smiled in that place. I would have given something 
to be back in my bungalow at that moment. I was 
full up of that circus. You bet I was. I got that 
mad that I kicked the Malay in my temper, and I 
dragged him to his feet and pushed him forward. 
I was as mad as the woman to see what was in front 
of us, and to find out if that fool could really hear 
something. All I could hear was the sighing of 
the jungle and those little puffs of wind that the 
Kyans call ' the breath of God.' Gung was nearly 
insane with fear, and those six Dyaks were mighty 
[228] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

crazy too. What with the woman calling for her 
husband, and the Malay gasping out the news of 
The Black Horsemen it was mighty tough. It was 
enough to send a man out of his head. 

" ' Gung/ I said, ' if you do not stop your tricks 
I will strap you to a tree and leave you there.' 

"'But they are here!' he moaned. 

" ' Shucks ! ' I roared. ' Do you think that I am 
an old fool?' 

"'But, master,' he cried, 'I heard them go by, 
and they are just ahead of us now ! ' 

" I gave that fool a bang in the ear ; and just as 
I did that, I fell over something and tripped on 
my face. 'HimmeU' I yelled. 'I will be mad 
before this business is finished. Bring me a light 
till I see what I have tripped over.' 

" One of the Dyaks ran up with a torch that he 
had carried from the fire, and I poked around in the 
jungle grass. I found that something pretty soon. 
It was the body of the Kling guide that had gone out 
with Herriott, and there was a little hole in the 
back of his head where a rifle bullet had caught up 
to him when he was running. And Herriott did not 
have a rifle. He had only a shot gun. 

"You can understand the row that Herriott's 

wife kicked up when she saw that dead Kling. You' 

can guess how she went on. She was a mad-woman 

for certain then. Someone had shot that nigger 

[229] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



from behind, and that satisfied me that the fellow 
who was following Herriott was not a friend of 
his. I knew then that he was an enemy who had 
probably trailed him from the United States to the 
Philippines, and from Palawan to the Rejang River. 

" It was too dark to see the trail of anyone lead- 
ing away from that body, and I implored the woman 
to wait until morning so that we could pick it up and 
follow it, but she was gambling on the intelligence 
of the Malay. She reckoned that the finding of 
the body proved that Gung had made good, and she 
would not wait. She was convinced that the fool 
nigger had seen or heard The Black Horsemen. 
My, yes! She was beseeching him to go on, and 
that shivering native was that scared that he didn't 
know whether he was going frontwards or back- 
wards. And I was an old fool too. I had not one 
ounce of sense at that minute. When she pushed 
Gung forward I followed, and away we went again, 
the Dyaks waving their fire sticks as we ran. 

" You know how you sense a danger in the dark. 
Well, once I thought that we were running along 
the edge of a precipice, and that chilled me too. 
I stooped and picked up a stone, and I jerked the 
stone into the darkness to the right. I did not 
hear the stone strike anything. It just went into 
the dark, and not a sound came to me. 

"'Gung!' I shouted. 'Where are you going? 
[230] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

Stop or I will kill you ! ' My nerves had gone to 
pieces then, and I was as mad as a crocodile that 
has lost its tail. 

" It was the woman that answered my question. 
She was insane, too; but it was a different kind 
of insanity. You bet it was. She was insane 
with the thoughts of the danger that threatened her 
husband, while I was crazy over my own danger. 
' Gung must not stop 1 ' she screamed. ' I feel that 
I am near Clinton ! ' 

"'You are mad!' I yelled back. 'That fool 
nigger will be the death of all of us ! ' 

"I could" not catch the answer she flung back 
at me. I think she called me a coward. I am not 
sure. 

"I threw another stone into that spongy dark- 
ness to my right as I raced along, and I could not 
hear that stone drop. It made me sweat good 
and plenty. And I threw one more stone, and it 
was the same thing. If I could have got my fingers 
on Gung at that moment I would have throttled him. 
I would so. 

"'Stop! Stop!' I screamed. 'We are running 
on the edge of a precipice ! ' 

"The terror that came to me out of the dark 
made me throw myself on my face then, and as I 
fell I heard Gung and the woman crashing on 
through the undergrowth. But I had enough of that 

[231] 



Breath of the Jungle" 



running business. Holy St. Anthony ! Yes ! I was 
determined I would not run another yard into that 
darkness. Not one yard. 

"'You old fool!' I said to myself. 'You have 
not lost your wits altogether. Stay right where you 
are till morning and then follow the trail of those 
two lunatics when the dawn comes.' 

" My knees knocked together every time I thought 
of those stones that I had thrown. If you jerk 
a rock into the dark and you do not hear it strike the 
ground, it gives you a chill. Is not that so ? 

"I stopped in my tracks, and I screamed out to 
the six Dyaks. I told them that I was going to 
stay where I was till the dawn, and those niggers 
were only too pleased to wait. They had enough 
of that insane run through the night, and from the 
way they chattered to each other I guess that they 
had sensed danger from that ravine. 

"Those Dyaks clustered round me in a little 
group, and after the sounds made by Gung and 
Mrs. Herriott had been eaten up by the night, a 
silence fell on that place that was damnable. It was 
so. It was worse than any silence I have ever 
known, and when I put a question to those natives 
they were that scared that they would not answer. 
I was wishing that Gung was within reach of my 
fingers as I stood there waiting. 

" I stood there till the darkness in the east became 
[232] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

a coppery tint, and then I started to creep forward 
again. You know the quiet of a tropical morning? 
It seemed as if the whole world was waiting for 
something — and into that terrific quiet came a 
sound that startled me. It was the report of a rifle, 
my friend. Yes, a rifle! I knew that Gung and 
Mrs. Herriott had no rifle, and as that sound came 
to my ears I called myself every kind of a fool 
far letting that pair get away from me. I damned 
myself for an idiot as I dashed forward with the 
Dyaks at my heels. A million questions were turn- 
ing handsprings in my brain. What had happened ? 
Who had fired the shot? What had Gung felt that 
had brought him in that direction? Himmel! 

"That coppery tint in the east turned into pearl 
and then into baby pink. Then we could see just 
a little. The ravine that I had sensed in the dark 
was there all right. My, yes! It was filled with, 
dawn mists that were like ghosts, and I wondered 
as I clawed myself along the edge how Gung and 
the woman had dodged it. And those Dyaks were 
wondering too. It was something to wonder about, 
I tell you. 

"The sun came up with a hop like he does here 
in the tropics, and as I clawed my way through 
a clump of rattans and reached a clearing on the 
edge of the ravine, there came the report of another 
shot. It came from the big gash in the ground, and 

[233] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



the place was so full of fog clouds that I could not 
see anything. Not a thing! The mist filled that 
chasm like big lumps of cotton batting, and I raced 
along the edge trying to peer down into it. There is 
nothing so mysterious as a big trench in the earth 
that is filled with fog — nothing. That place made 
me shiver. 

"Those Dyaks were running up and down too. 
They wanted to see what was going on down there 
in the banks of mist. Gottj yes ! And it was one of 
those natives that made the discovery. He had 
flung himself on his stomach, and he was peering 
down through the rifts of the fog bank. The heat 
of the sun was drawing the mist up, and when the 
Dyak made a soft noise and pointed with his hand, 
I dropped down beside him, I could see underneath 
that curtain. Ja. Down into the ravine I looked, 
and nearly three hundred yards down the bank I 
saw something that I thought was a bleached tapang 
log. Then I saw that I was wrong. The thing 
was moving, crawling along a ledge. It was going 
slow, very slow. It was creeping from one little 
clump of brush to another, and I held my breath 
as I looked. That crawling figure made me swallow 
with excitement, and as I stared I sensed who it 
was. You bet I knew. I could not see the face, 
but I felt who it was. It was Mrs. Herriott ! 

"Scxneone has said that imagination is but con- 
[234] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

centrated race experience. I think it is. Something 
in that woman's actions tied my tongue. My race 
experience stopped me from calling out to her. My 
ancestors had seen a person crawl like that, and 
I kept quiet. Every muscle in my body stiffened 
as I lay there and watched her. I clawed the ground 
till my fingers were bleeding. In the quiet of that 
place I seemed to feel the strain that she was under. 
I seemed to feel the hate that was sending her along 
that dizzy ledge. I knew everything, my friend. 
I looked at the big clump of bush about ten feet 
in front of her and I prayed. I knew she was mak- 
ing for that clump, and the Dyaks knew. They 
had flung themselves down and were staring at her 
with all their eyes. They had done a little stalk- 
ing in their time, and they were calculating the 
odds. 

"A puff of smoke came out of that clump that 
the woman was making for, and we heard the report 
of another shot. I nearly drove my nails through 
my palms then. Of course you know why? The 
man that had shot the Kling was in the clump, and 
he was sniping at Herriott, who was somewhere 
down in the ravine ! 

" The woman stopped for a second when the rifle 
popped; then she crawled hurriedly forward. I 
have seen a leopardess crawl like she crawled then. 
Yes, I have. She slipped over those few feet of 

[235] 



'•Breath of the Jungle" 



bare ground like a rock snake; then she gathered 
herself together and sprang! 

"The mist covered that place the next moment, 
and with a mad cry I sprang to my feet and started 
to slip and slide down into the ravine. I beat those 
natives at that game. I was crazy to get to the 
woman to see if she had been successful. Some- 
how I felt that she had, and yet I cursed myself 
for letting her get away from me in the night. 

" It was nearly twenty minutes before we reached 
that spot, and then we saw her. And we saw Her- 
riott too. She was trying to lift him to his feet, 
but he had got a bullet in the hip and he could 
not stand. I looked at the woman and she looked 
at me. I think the wife of the primitive man must 
have looked like her when she helped her mate to 
kill the she bear that had invaded their cave. I 
think so. There was a look on her face that was 
new to me, and Gung's knife was stuck into her 
belt, and it had blood on it. When she saw me 
look at that knife, she dropped her eyes and kissed 
Herriott. 

" That is all I have to tell you. I doctored Her- 
riott, and we carried him back to the Rejang. I 
didn't ask questions. Not one ! Mrs. Herriott gave 
Gung about five hundred dollars worth of presents, 
and when Herriott got on his feet they packed up 
their things and went back to the Philippines. 
[236] 



The Black Horsemen of Mir Jehal 

" But it was peculiar about Gung and The Black 
Horsemen of Mir Jehal, was it not? I wish I had 
a plaster cast of him as he squatted in that jungle 
when he said that he heard them riding by. I would 
think a lot of it. Never have I seen a man listen 
like he listened then. Never!" 



[237] 



The Orang-Outang Fight on 
the Papuan Queen 



IX 

THE ORANG-OUTANG FIGHT ON THE 
PAPUAN QUEEN 

The Story of a Fourteen Day and Night Vigil 

npHERE is a guarantee behind this story. You 
^ will read of it at the end, and the Amsterdam 
address of Herr Scheibel will be furnished on appli- 
cation. It is Scheibel's story, and he told it one 
night in a little cafe chantant at Port Kennedy, 
when the peculiar purple twilight of the tropics was 
washing out the sharp outlines of the pearling boats 
in the harbor. 

Scheibel was a stooped German naturalist, and he 
had spent the greater part of his life in those ports 
of the outer fringe above which Dame Adventure 
still waves her golden flag. He chattered in all 
the lingoes of the Archipelago, and Kyan and 
Kling, Orang Laut and Malay swore by his knowl- 
edge. In the nipa-palm hut clusters between Ban- 
guey and Mabudauan he was always welcome, and 
his knowledge of the lower creation was extensive. 
He was familiar with the habits of the green water 
snake, and he understood the family relations of 
1 241] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



every other living creature between that reptile and 
the Simla wurmbii, the big, hairy orang-outang of 
Borneo. 

Letters from his employers at Amsterdam fol- 
lowed him up and down the islands, and he carried 
out the orders which those letters contained. 
Implicit obedience brought him a yearly salary of 
eight thousand marks. He gathered everything 
from the jumping mudfish to the human heads 
which the genial Kyan tied up neatly with rattan 
fiber and smoked over his family fireplace, and 
occasionally he shipped his loads in bullnosed tramps 
that went cargo hunting up and down the tracks of 
the outer rim. 

Delnard, once captain of a B. I. boat, who lost his 
certificate when he ran the Prince of India aground 
in Sunda Strait, had been speaking of the length 
of time a man could keep awake in the face of 
great danger, and he was telling of a sleepless 
watch of six days and nights when the naturalist 
interrupted. 

"Dot was noddings," he grunted. "Dot was 
what you call one easy stunt. But of course der 
man you tell of had nodding to keep him awake. 
I mean he had no big stake, no grade incentive, an' 
derefore we may call it goodt. It is not a question 
of a man's strength, it is a question of what he 
will lose by going to sleep." 
[242] 



The Orang-Outang Fight 



"Well, this fellow would have lost his life," 
growled Delnard. 

"His life?" repeated the German. "Of course 
he would! But what of dot? Puf! What does 
a man care for his life when he is very tired? Nod- 
dings. It is somedings greater dan life dot makes 
men do big deeds. But speaking of sleep I will 
tell you a story of a man. It is shust a leedle story 
but it will show what I mean. 

"Dis man, we will call him Adolph, he was a 
naturalist, an' he loved his work. He went after 
der big orang-outangs of Borneo, der wurmbii an' 
der satyrusj an' for a whole year he trap dem on der 
Simujan River. It was der devil of a place. Der 
mist hung over der river like der fogs on der Ger- 
man Ocean, an' he drank quinine like I drink beer. 
He took it mit each meal, an' he nip at it in between. 
Hell is shust one degree worse dan dot river. But 
dere were orang-outangs dere, an' he trap, trap, 
trap for one year. He was shust obeying orders. 
He was what you call it, one tall private, eh?" 

" A high private," murmured Merrin. 

"Dot is it! He was shust a high private. Der 
•generals were over in Amsterdam. Dey got letters 
from all der zoological beeple in der world telling 
dem what was wanted, an' den dey tell Adolph 
an' a hundred odder men scattered all over der 
earth what der zoological beeples ask for. Der gen- 

[243] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



erals didn't know of dot Simujan River. Dey didn't 
know about der fog. Dey didn't know dot Adolph 
haf to drink so much quinine, or dey did not know 
how he haf to wade droo der mud under der screw 
palms an' risk der chance of losing his leg when 
he poked his toe in der eye of a crocodile taking der 
mud bath treatment. Dey would not haf cared if 
dey did know, so he did not write about it. Oh, no ! 
Dey told him to get somedings an' he got dem. His 
peezness was shust to do as he was told." 

"But we were talking about sleep," grumbled 
Delnard. 

" Shust so, but I was spik to you first of der 
causes dot keep a man awake. You talk of life. 
Do de men dot get dere livings in der islands tink 
of dere lives? No, mine friendt. But dis Adolph 
haf somedings else. He was told to trap alive ten 
of der finest specimends of der Simia wurmbii, 
an' he did it. Dey were der very finest specimends. 
You never saw such orang-outangs as dose. No 
one ever did. Gott in himmel! No! Dey was 
grade hairy devils mit chests on dem like beer bar- 
rels. Dey was glorious specimends. Adolph drink 
dere health efery night in quinine, an' he was feel 
mighty proud of himself. He had done what no 
one else haf done. He shust sit an' talk to dose 
orang-outangs an' wish dot der boat would come 
along to take dem over to Singapore. 

[244] 



The Orang-Outang Fight 



" Der Papuan Queen was der first boat to come 
along, an' Adolph was in such a hurry dot he makes 
an agreement mit der captain to take dose orangs 
over to der Peninsula. Der Papuan Queen was 
shust one rotten ship. She haf all der Simia wurmbii 
seasick der moment der China Sea get under her 
and gif her a bounce. Efery one of der timbers 
cry out an' groan, an' der orangs chatter one to 
anodder an' say dey was not in a bretty safe place. 
Dey was rather intelligent, mine friendts. Efery 
time one of dose big waves slapped himself over 
der side dey would yell an' scream jus' like der 
women, an' dot captain laugh an' tink it funny. 
Adolph ask him did his ship always rock like dot, 
an' den he fall down mit laughing. ' She is chronic,' 
he was say ; ' we stop once for a year in Santander 
in der Bay of Biscay an' she contract der habit.' 

"Adolph tried to tell der Simia wurmbii dot 
tings were not as bad as dey look, but der orangs 
were not fools. Not much. Dey tink different. 
Der boat was buckshumping like a mad broncho, an' 
dose grade hairy devils watch her an' say tings 
to each odder dot was not complimentary to der 
owners an' captain. 

"An' dose missing links was bretty right. Dot 
old sailing tub starts in to drink up der China Sea 
droo some cracks in her bottom on der second morn- 
ing out from der Simujan, an' der captain stopped 

[24S] 



'Breath of the Jiingle' 



laughing mighty sudden. Der Simia wurmbii listen 
to him yelling out orders an' dey guess he was 
afraid. Dey is bretty observant, dose hairy devils. 
Dey screamed an' chattered a lot when dey see how 
tings were going, an' der captain got mad. 'Keep 
it up, you pigs,' he said to dem, ' if you do not scream 
now you will not get anodder chance,' an' dey seem 
to understand. He was order out der boats an' 
dey guess at tings mighty quick. Den Adolph start 
to cry, an' dose orangs cry mit him all together." 

" Huh ! " grunted a greasy beachcomber, " What 
was he yelping about ? " 

"Not from fear, mine friendt!" snapped the 
naturalist. " Mein Gott! No! I tell you he was 
one high private. Well? He had not finished 
doing shust what he was told to do. Dot was all. 
See? He was told to get ten mias chappin, as der 
Malay call dem, but instead of going to Singapore 
dey was going to der bottom of der China Sea. 
An' dere was never such specimends of the Simia 
wttrmbii as he haf on de deck of dot rotten tub. 
Dey was der kings of dere beeples, an' dey haf hair 
hanging from der shoulders eighteen inches long. 
Never was dere such specimends in captivity. 

"Der captain caught hold of Adolph when der 
boats were ready. ' Come on, you poor, blubbering 
Dutchman,' he say, 'we was haf to leave der me- 
nagerie.' But Adolph cursed him an' got away. Den 
[246] 



The Orang-Outang Fight 



der captain shout out to der men. ' Der Dutchman 
is gone mad cause we won't take his monkeys,' he 
says ; ' lend a hand here.' Den some of der sailors 
grip hold of der naturalist an' dump him into der 
boat, an' der Simia wurmbii scream when dey see 
him go over der side. 

" Dot scream did somedings. Der Irish mate was 
der last to come down der rope, an' dot scream of 
dose orang-outangs was touch his heart. He picked 
up der axe, an' he ran along in front of der cages 
an' smash off der locks ; den he spring for der rope. 
'I do not know if dey can swim,' he gasps, 'but, 
by jiminy I gif dem a chance!' 

" Shust at dot moment Adolph got away from der 
captain who was holding him in der bottom of der 
boat. I told you dot he was one high private. 
Very goodt. He grab der rope down which der 
Irish mate was swing himself, an' he went up it 
shust as der first orang got out of his cage an' 
look over der side of der ship to see how deep der 
water was. Der captain tink dot fellow was going 
to shump. He yells out to pull like der devil, an' 
dey did, an' dey leave Adolph clutching der side 
of der Papuan Queen which was haf ten mias chap- 
pin walking round her deck." 

" Served the blame fool right," growled Delnard. 

" Shust so ! Served der blame fool right," echoed 
Scheibel. "But he could not help himself. His 
[247] 



'Breath of the Jimgle' 



life he did not tink of. Ach! No! He was tink 
of dose ten. Dey were der gradest specimends der 
world haf ever seen, an' he haf written his employers 
to say dot he was ship dem from Singapore. Dot 
was why he come back on dot tub. Dose ten was 
so splendid dot he never tink the lieber Gott would 
take dem from him again after he trap dem, dot 
was all. An' he was born to do as he was told, an' 
dose men who are born so do not tink of life." 

"Well? What happened then?" asked Merrin, 
as the naturalist remained silent. 

" Now I come to der sleep question," said Scheibel 
slowly. "Dere was no chance of getting dose 
Simla wurmbii into dere cages again. Dot Irish 
mate was a goodt man mit der axe. Adolph did 
not know what to do shust for a minute, but he do 
one ting dot was bretty lucky. He got der wheel, 
an' he keep der Papuan Queen before der wind, an' 
der wind was blowing to der west. Singapore was 
in der west. He know dot an' no more. He was 
not a sailor ; he was study der lower creation. Der 
ship was bretty low in der water den, but she was 
still afloat, an' Adolph haf been trained to hang on 
mit his teeth skins while dere was a chance of 
somedings turning up. 

" Dose Simia wurmbii was stand an' look at hira 
after dey see dot dere was no land near dem. Dey 
was not fools. Dey know dot Borneo was in der 
[248] 



The Orang-Outang Fight 



east, an* dey know dey was going in der wrong 
direction. Dey smell der Simujan River on der 
breeze dot was come across der ocean, an' dey talk 
a lot in monkey gibberish. Dey sniff der pandanus 
palms, an' der durians, an' der mangosteens an' 
dey was sad, mine friendts. Dey hold a consulta- 
tion an' dey decide dot der leedle steermg wheel 
dot Adolph was turning was der cause of all der 
trouble, an' a big hairy devil was make a sugges- 
tion. He was tell dem to take der leedle wheel an' 
break it up an' drop it over der side, an' dey scream 
out an' clap him. 

" Dot was quite a little fight shust den. Adolph 
was lash der wheel an' go to meet dem at der ladder. 
He was haf a revolver but he did not want to shoot. 
Oh, no! Dey was der finest specimends dot der 
world ever see. He shust wanted to give dem a 
leedle bit of discouragement, an' he do it mit a bar 
of iron. He banged dem on der head an' der arms, 
an' dey clawed at him mit dere big arms an' bit 
mit dere teeth. But dey was haf no discipline. Dey 
was not come together, but one after der odder an' 
dey get dot big crowbar on der head efery time. 
But it was quite a leedle fight. Dose missing links 
spend der rest of der day feeling der lumps upon 
themselves, an' Adolph was do a bit of doctoring on 
himself. One of dose orangs was tear his leg open 
mit his big hand, an' anodder had nearly knocked 

[249] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



out his eye mit a piece of wood. Dey wanted dot 
wheel bretty bad. 

" Now I was talk about sleep. Ach! I was talk 
it blenty now. Dose orang-outangs know dot 
Adolph was take a leedle snooze some time, an' dey 
wait. Der Papuan Queen she was lay down bretty 
low in der water, but some timber in der hold keep 
her from sinking. Der Simia wurmbii pick der big 
hairy devil as dere leader, an' dey rush on Adolph 
in der dark. He had been Wanning for dot rush, an' 
dey got a surprise or two. He laid a leedle powder 
train in dere track, an' der fireworks upset dem 
mooch. But dey fought game. He laid one sense- 
less an' broke der hand of anodder mit a shot from 
his revolver. He cried when he see dot fellow mit 
der broken arm next morning, but he had to do it. 
Dey wanted der wheel, an' it was his peezness to 
see dot dey get it not. Dis is where I simplify my 
argument. Dis is where I show dot it requires 
somedings more dan love of life to keep awake for 
der very long time. An' Adolph haf dot some- 
dings. He haf to get der ten finest specimends of 
der Simia wurmbii to Singapore, an he was trying 
to do it. Dot is why he was haf to keep awake. 

"Der Papuan Queen was shust a water-logged 

hulk der next day, but Adolph keep her nose to der 

west, an' der mias chappin cry when dey smell 

Borneo on der wind. A lot of dem haf wives an' 

[250] 



The Orang-Outang Fight 



children on der bank of der Simujan River, an' dey 
feel bretty bad rolling along der top of der China 
Sea. All der day dey prowl round der ship an' 
cry out at him an' make faces at him. 

"Dot night dere was a devil of a fight. Dey 
would haf won if dey haf any system, Sut dey haf 
not. Adolph fought like der devil, an' when he haf 
dem on der run he chase dem down past der cook's 
galley, an' he grabbed some biscuits an' water before 
dey turn round. But dey use him bretty bad dot 
night. He was haf a wound in der chest dot was 
bleeding mooch, an he tinks dey win in der end. 

"Der next day one of der mias, a grade ugly 
devil mit black teeth, climb up der mast mit haf der 
carpenter's kit in his hands. He fling der hammer 
at Adolph, an' Adolph dodge it. He fling der saw, 
an' der end of it was take a leedle bit out of Adolph's 
ear. Der orang-outang grin, an' he cry out to his 
mates dot he was doing peezness up on der mast. 
Den dose devils toss him up everydings dey could 
find, an' he bombard Adolph mit der speed of a 
Catling gun. Adolph was cry. He saw dot he could 
not engourage such tricks, , an' he sacrificed der 
animal as a warning to der others. Dot stopped 
dot trick mit dem. Dey pull der dead orang up to 
der front of der ship an' dey cry over him an' make 
faces at Adolph, den dey dump him overboard." 

Scheibel stopped and pufifed vigorously at his 

[251] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



pipe. A Lascar yelled a boat song as he walked 
down towards the water, and the naturalist seemed 
to be listening. 

" Do I want to tell you all dot happened on der 
Papuan Queen?" he asked, when the sound of the 
Lascar's song had died away. "Dose devils take 
turn an' turn about to watch Adolph to see dot he 
do not sleep. Do you tink he did? You was not 
know der Simla wurmbii if you tink so. Ach! No ! 
Der man dot Delnard tell you of shust now he could 
doze for der leedle while now an' den, but Adolph 
could not. Once he shut his eyes for one second, 
an' der axe go by his head like dot. It was fierce. 
An' it keep up day an' night for — How long do 
you tink?" 

" Gee! "gasped Delnard, "I couldn't guess." 
" Fourteen days," murmured Scheibel. " Dot was 
not Adolph's reckoning, mine friendt. Adolph did 
not reckon der days mooch. He was too busy keep- 
ing dem devils away. But it was der difference in 
der date dot der skipper of der Papuan Queen gif 
as der day der old tub went down, an' der time der 
French steamer Montlucon picked her up near 
Chantabun in der Gulf of Siam. Adolph was shust 
doing his ninedeenth fight mit der Simia wurmbii, 
an' he was shust one mass of blood an' bruises. 
You can picture dose odder fights dot I haf not told 
you of. Ninedeen dere was; Adolph haf cut der 
[252] 



The Orang-Outang Fight 



notches on der wheel. But he shipped nine of der 
finest specimends of der big orang from Singapore 
der week after, an' den he was go back to Borneo 
to trap another one to take der blace of der one who 
was too fresh mit der hammer an' der saw. Dot is 
what I mean by der cause dot keeps a man awake. 
His hfe? Puff! His life was noddings gompared 
to dose specimends. No one efer saw der like of 
dem. Mein Gott! No!" 

Scheibel drained his glass and stood up. 

"I was wish you all goodt night," he said, and 
then he turned to the door. 

"Say!" cried Merrin. "If you ever meet your 
friend, Adolph, tell him that I think he's a very 
picturesque liar. Don't forget the word. Pictur- 
esque." 

The naturalist turned with a snort of fury. 

"Den you are a fool!" he screamed. "See!" 
He tore the thin tropical shirt from his bosom and 
exposed a tremendous scar extending from the 
throat to the waist. He turned himself around to 
the light, and his eyes blazed. "Look here! An' 
here! An' dis! An' dis!" 

He dragged up the legs of his moleskin trousers, 
and a cry of horror went through the room. He 
had evidently been terribly mangled at some period 
of his life. 

"I am like dot all over!" he cried, as Merrin 

[253] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



muttered an apology. "Do you want to see more? 
No, it is not nice. My middle name is Adolph. 
I say goodt night again." 

He kicked the baize door open and passed out into 
the darkness. 



[254] 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 



X 

THE BLIND DOG OF EL CORIB 

A BOSTON Sunday newspaper had arrived in 
the mail of Harrison, the tall New Englander, 
and Hochdorf, the greatest naturalist in the Malay 
Archipelago, sniffed suspiciously as he glanced over 
its pages by the light of the slush lamp. 

"It is wonderful how interesting some small 
things are to your people," he said slowly. 

"Small things?" snapped Harrison. "Why, 
what do you mean?" 

"This," said the German, tapping the sheet. 
"Here are five big articles on this page, and what 
do you think they are about? They are written on 
buried treasure, my friend." 

" Thunderation ! " cried the New Englander. 
" Isn't that sort of thing interesting to any sane 
person? I could read that stuff for a month on 
end." 

Hochdorf tossed the paper to the floor, and the 
soft breeze that came out of the jungle played with 
its tattered pages. 

"Did I ever tell you of the Blind Dog of El 
Corib?" he asked. "No, I did not. Throw some- 

[257] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



thing at that whining mias and I will tell it to you 
now. It is a story of gold, and you might like it." 

Harrison jerked a piece of wood at the ourang- 
outang that cried in the darkness of the hut, and the 
naturalist began. 

"This happened before I came to this infernal 
archipelago. A Peninsula and Orient liner dropped 
me at Aden one day, and from Aden I wandered 
down the east coast of Africa on stinking Italian 
passenger boats. I was at that age when a man does 
not care which way he goes as long as it is a new 
way. That is the golden age of life. Ja. Those 
skies of brass, and those soft, tropical nights, and 
that oily water, that was like ten million colored 
snakes wriggling out of the way of the steamer's 
blunt nose, was good to me. You bet it was. I had 
been cursing the smallness of the Kaiserstrasse for 
many years, and when those big combers of the 
Indian walloped the blistering sides of those old 
coasting trollops, I yelled with joy. 

" At Mombasa I thought I would rest for a while, 
and in that dirty hole I went to work for a Greek, 
who was trading in ivory and other things. There 
I met Lenford and Hardmann, two Americans, who 
were also working for that trader, and they were 
both at the age when the honk of a wild goose or 
the sniff of a spring wind would send them off on a 
new trail. Himmel! Yes. They were a pair of 
[2581 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 

devils. They said that the lieber Gott had given 
them a world to see; and if they did not see it He 
might be angry with them when they had run their 
little race. They were good fellows. Mombasa is 
not a place where you can find many people that you 
would like to speak to, and I blessed my stars for 
bringing me to the same place as those two boys. 

"That Greek trader was dealing with country- 
men of his, that lived up and down the coast, and 
it was one of those little trades that roused the 
curiosity of those two Americans and myself. You 
do not know El Corib? It is a section of filth and 
fever and poverty about fifty miles from Mombasa, 
and a countryman of the man that employed us 
lived at that patch of iniquity. And that country- 
man was handing us a surprise once a week. A 
mighty big surprise, too. He was sending up to 
Mombasa a weekly packet of something that we did 
not think could be found at El Corib. 

"You would not expect elephant tusks to come 
from New York, would you? Or you would not 
think it likely that crude rubber would come from 
Chicago ? Well, that Greek at El Corib — his name 
was Poulogos, and I shall never forget that name' — 
he was sending up gold, and gold was something 
that El Corib was not famed for. Nein! We did 
not think that there was an ounce of gold in that 
village till Poulogos got busy with his weekly ship- 

[259] 



Breath o£ the Jtmgle' 



ments. And they were not little bits of gold he 
was sending, my friend. They were big cakes of 
it : twenty-five, thirty, and thirty-five ounce lumps of 
gold. The stuff had been melted in a pot, and melted 
mighty roughly. 

"Those two Americans lived with me in a big 
room, over the shop of an Arab who dealt in per- 
fumes. We wanted some perfumes to keep out 
the smells of the street. Ach, yes! Those smells 
were terrible, and in the hot nights, when we would 
sit and swear at Mombasa, we would wonder over 
those packets of gold that the Greek, Poulogos, was 
sending up from El Corib. Those packets puzzled 
us. Poulogos was finding gold, and it seemed that 
Poulogos was the only one that was finding it. You 
can guess how that annoyed those two Americans. 
They had no great respect for Greeks, and yet a 
Greek was beating them to it. And they belonged 
to a nation that generally gets to the tape before 
the others when gold is the prize. 

" ' The greasy brute must have struck a treasure 
box,' said Lenford one night, as we sat cursing those 
smells that came up from the narrow streets. 

'"And he is a confounded Levantine fish ped- 
dler,' said Hardmann. 'How far away is the 
place ? ' 

" ' Only about fifty miles,' said Lenford, ' and we 
might as well go south as north.' 
[260] 



The Blind Dog of Ei Corib 

"The next day something happened that made 
us mighty eager to get on the track. You have read 
the ' Arabian Nights,' my friend ? Well, I am think- 
ing that all those stories are true stories. They were 
scare-head yams down in Persia, when my ancestors 
were running around the Black Forest and fighting 
each other with the leg bones of the hairy Aurochs. 
Do you remember how Mrs. Cassim was worrying 
her head to find out what Mrs. Ali Baba was meas- 
uring, and how she rubbed the fat on the bottom 
of the measure? Well, we were like Mrs. Cassim; 
but we did not know how to solve the puzzle; and 
jiist because we did not know how, why. Fate took 
a hand. 

" I told you that those lumps of gold were melted 
roughly. Well, the one that came the morning after 
we had been discussing the distance had been melted 
more hurriedly than any of the others. A piece 
of mud was stuck to one side of the lump, and 
when I knocked that piece of mud off, before putting 
it in the scales, I saw that the clay had protected 
the design on a gold coin, so that it was still quite 
plain to the eye. And when I saw that design I 
nearly fell in a faint. It made me gasp and made 
my limbs weak. 

"You do not understand anything of the science 
of numismatics ? Well, I cannot brag over the little 
I know of the subject. When I was a boy I worked 
[261] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



for a money-changer at Sachsenhausen, and I picked 
up a little knowledge of coins — just enough to 
make me feel startled when I saw the design on 
that coin. That symbol was an archer, kneeling 
upon one knee ; and it struck me like a blow in the 
face. Do you know why? The coin w'as a Daric 
stater, named from Darius Hystaspes, the father of 
Xerxes. Darius ruled over Persia five hundred 
years before the birth of Christ. You might have 
heard of that gentleman. It was him that the 
Greeks defeated at Marathon when he was trying 
to get a footing in Europe. 

"You can guess how I felt when I saw that 
design. And you can guess what those two Ameri- 
cans thought when I told them of it in the evening. 
They wanted to start down the coast that night, 
which is the way of you Americans; but I made 
them wait till the next day. Then we resigned our 
positions, hired a native boat and set sail for El 
Corib. Mother o' me! they were two wild devils. 
That boat had holes in it that let the Indian Ocean 
in on us at the rate of a gallon a minute; but those 
two mad Americans would not delay by running for 
the shore. 

" It was hell. I baled till my arms were so stiff 

that I could not feel them, and we raced down 

the coast as if seven devils were after us. An 

American in a hurry is a nightmare to a German, 

[262] 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 

who has been brought up to go about business in a 
quiet manner. Gott! Yes. 

" We struck El Corib just as that boat was fall- 
ing to pieces, and El Corib was about the ugliest spot 
that I had ever seen. It was a devil of a place. 
You think that Borneo is not a place to be in, and 
you think that this Samarahan River is particularly 
bad; but this place is a section of heaven, if you 
compare it to that filthy spot below Mombasa. I 
dream of that place now. I dream of its stinks, and 
its slime and its rottenness. It was founded when 
the Phoenicians were the big noise, as you say, in 
the north of Africa, and it had started to rot from 
the first day. I know it was very old. There are 
the ruins there of a temple built to Astarte, whb was 
worshiped in Sidon some few centuries before 
Herod came to Judea. It was built on a little 
peninsula of sand, and those dirty houses seemed to 
be crouching in terror, lest the waves would leap 
over the big red wall on the seaward side. 

" Those two Americans were pleased to find that 
place so old and dirty. If it had been clean and 
new, they would have thought I had made a mis- 
take about the golden stater. To them it looked 
just the place where a buried treasure would be. 

'"It looks like a graveyard,' said Lenford; 'but 
it is just the sort of place to find buried bullion in.' 

" ' Sure,' gurgled Hardmann, and that boy was so 
[ 263 ] 



Breath of the Jimgle' 



overjoyed at the prospect of a treasure hunt that he 
whistled ' Yankee Doodle ' as we tramped across the 
sand stretch to the opening in the red wall. 

"We rented a little room that reeked of oil and 
fish, and then we started out to find what sort of a 
person was this Mr. Poulogos, who was melting 
down gold staters that were worth ten times their 
weight in Berlin or New York. Himmel! It made 
me hot when I thought of the ignorance of the man. 

"It was an easy hunt to find Poulogos, or, at 
least, to find out all about him. We did not want 
to speak to him. My, no! We only wanted to 
find his anchorage, so that we could follow him 
round and see where he found those yellow staters. 

" Poulogos was a fish peddler, and he lived in a 
dirty alley that was called the Passage of Thirteen 
Evil Winds. I guess those thirteen evil winds were 
always at home in that place, too. Our noses told 
us that much. Nine out of every ten people in El 
Corib had empty bellies, yet Poulogos was thought 
to be one of the poorest. It made us laugh to hear 
that story. He peddled rock fish for a living, and 
he was that thin and starved looking, that his eyes 
had burrowed back into his head as if they were 
afraid of seeing old Mynheer Death at one of the 
alley corners. 

"'He knows his business in bluffing this batch 
that he is a poor man,' said Hardmann. 
[264] 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 

"' Ja,' I said, 'if he told this mob that he was 
worth three marks they would tear him to pieces.' 

"They would, too. That mob fought for the 
scraps in the streets like dogs. I have seen famine- 
starved Hindus that were no worse than they. 

" We elected Lenford our leader in that little busi- 
ness of trailing Mr. Poulogos, and Lenford decided 
that we should work in three shifts, so that our 
friend, the stater melter, would always have a 
shadow on his heels. I did not like that spying 
business, but the thought of that design of the 
archer kneeling on one knee made me put my 
scruples aside. Those coins, I felt sure, did not 
come to Poulogos in the way of business; and I 
argued that if he had made a treasure find, it would 
not hurt him much if an honest German and two 
young Americans got a few of those ancient pieces. 

" Trailing Poulogos was the devil of a stunt. It 
was so. That Greek was playing the poverty game 
down to the ground. Every day he carried his 
cursed fish basket into the lowest quarters of that 
place. 

"'We mustn't leave him for a minute,' said 
Lenford. 'When he goes home we must sit near 
the doorstep till he comes out again.' 

" And that is what we did, my friend. There was 
no back door to that place in the Passage of Thirteen 
Evil Winds, and when Poulogos went inside we took 
[265] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



care that he did not come out without our knowl- 
edge. 

"We were crazy to get a share in the treasure. 
When I explained to Lenford and Hardmann that 
each one of those staters was worth about five dol- 
lars, just for their gold value, they could hardly 
sleep during their time off duty; and when I told 
them what they could get from collectors and from 
museums, they felt inclined to get hold of that greasy 
Greek and shake him till he led the way to his 
treasure chest. You bet they did. 

" We shadowed Poulogos night and day for seven 
weeks. Not for one minute did we let up. And it is 
not easy work, following a person. I would sooner 
skin crocodiles than do it. Ach, yes! And in a 
place where the smells rose up and hit you like 
clenched fists it was worse than it would be in a 
civilized spot. 

"'I think he is suspicious of us,' said Lenford. 
' What do you say if we pretend to go away and then 
slip back on him ? ' 

"'Ja,' I said; 'that is a good plan.' That young 
American was a pretty smart man. 

" That night we got into an old dhow that we had 
purchased and slipped down the coast; but we did 
not go far. We beached her about fifteen miles 
down the coast; then we took off our clothes, stained 
our faces, put on tattered burnooses and started 
[266] 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 

back to El Corib. We were going to try a sur- 
prise on Mynheer Poulogos. 

"It was a devil of a tramp to that place. The 
swamps along the coast made me think that it would 
be best to go back to the dhow and go up to Mom- 
basa, but those two Americans would not listen. 
They knew that Poulogos had a little secret of his 
own, and they had made up their minds to get that 
secret. The American, is a devil when he sets his 
mind on doing a thing. Now, the German is a 
philosopher. If he finds that the difficulties are too 
great, he will light his pipe and forget all about 
it. With the American it is different, much dif- 
ferent. 

"I was tired of treasure hunting, when we saw 
the lights of that stinking town show up through the 
fever mists that made my bones ache. I could not 
speak the Arab lingo, and I was thinking that I 
would get a knife in the ribs before I was finished 
with that business. You bet I did. But those boys 
were as merry as crickets, as they splashed through 
the mud. 

" ' I bet he makes for the plant as soon as he finds 
out that we have jumped the burg,' said Lenford. 
'We'll go down to his camp in the Passage of 
Thirteen Evil Winds and see if he is at home.' 

"It was midnight then, and it was so dark in 
those alleys that we felt that we were choking. 
[267] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



We were feeling our way with our hands and with 
our feet as well. All the filth of that place was 
tossed out into the middle of the alleys, and Hard- 
mann and I made some nice somersaults as we fol- 
lowed Lenford. And we could not swear. It is 
dangerous to swear in either English or German, 
when you have a burnoose over your head. Gott! 
Yes! 

"We had reached the top of the passage where 
the Greek lived, when Lenford, who was leading, 
sprang into a dark doorway, and we hurried after 
him. We moved mighty quick at that moment. 
Someone was coming up the alley, and a spear of 
light that came through the broken shutter of an 
Arab cafe had let Lenford see who that someone 
was. It was Poulogos the Greek. It was so. 

" He was hurrying like the devil, and the moment 
he passed us by, we turned and followed him. You 
can bet we did. We had the feeling that he was on 
some important business. We had — what is the 
word you Americans use? AchJ Yes! A hunch! 
Well, we had a hunch as we sneaked after that fish 
peddler. 

"That was some tracking business. In and out 
of that cursed network of lanes we went, till we 
were so tired that when we fell we hardly had the 
strength to get up again. It was a mad night. We 
went through all sorts of places. Once a big brute 
[268] 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 

of a negro jumped upon Lenfprd, but that youngster 
floored him with a punch on the chin, and went on 
after the Greek as if nothing had happened. 

"After a long time we came out on the strip of 
sand in front of the red stone wall. The Greek 
was in front of us, dodging in and out of the 
shadows. We were breathing mighty hard just 
then. The fish peddler was acting as if he wanted 
to make sure that no one was on his trail, and we 
were certain that he did not know we were behind. 

" Presently he dived into a patch of shadow near 
the wall, and we stopped and waited. We waited an 
hour, but he did not come out of that shadow. He 
did not. And we were certain that he did not climb 
the wall. He was somewhere in the dark near the 
wall, and we wondered what he was doing there. 

"'I'll go and see,' whispered Lenford. 'I will 
walk slowly by and he will think I am a fisherman 
from the shore.' 

"Lenford walked by the place that the Greek 
was hiding in; then he turned and rushed back to 
us in a hurry. ' He has gone ! ' he said. ' The greasy 
beggar has walked into the wall.' 

"That was about the only solution to that busi- 
ness. Poulogos had walked into the wall. Jat He 
could not have got over it, and we had watched to 
see that he did not come out of the patch of shadow. 
And we could find no opening in that wall. Not 
[269] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



one. Hardmann had a dark-lairtern that we had 
brought from Mombasa, and with it we examined 
that stone barrier. It was an old wall, but it had 
been well built. You bet it had. In one place there 
was an inscription in raised letters, and I puzzled 
those Arabic characters out by the light of the lamp. 
The two lines read something like this: 



Blessed be Allah I Remember his word. 

And the Blind Dog that watches will never be stirred. 



"'What does that mean}' asked Hardmann. 

" ' The Lord only knows,' growled Lenford. 
'We want to find that Greek instead of worrying 
our heads with riddles on the wall.' 

" We went up and down that red wall for about 
an hour, and just as we were beginning to think 
that Poulogos had slipped us, something happened. 
It did so. Hardmann pulled us back into the 
shadow, and when we stared at the point he pointed 
to, we saw that Greek walk out of the wall. Him- 
mel! It gave us a start. We had been examining 
that wall for an hour, and we could not find a hole 
big enough for a fat lizard to crawl into. Not one ! 

"I could feel Lenford's muscles stiffen as he 
watched Poulogos, who was standing still and look- 
ing around him to see if anyone was about. Those 
two Americans saw Broadway and the gay cafes 
[270] 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 

and the pretty women on the avenues when they saw 
Poulogos come out of the wall. 

"The Greek stood still for about a minute; then 
he seemed satisfied that he was not followed, and 
he slipped away into the night. We moved mighty 
quick the moment he disappeared. My, yes! We 
moved for the spot where he had appeared, but we 
got a disappointment when we got there. There 
was no opening! Not a sign of one. There was 
the red wall, and just at the spot where we thought 
Poulogos came through, was the inscription about 
Allah and the Blind Dog, that we had read a little 
while before. 

"'But there must be an opening,' whispered 
Lenford. * Let us feel for a spring- or a hinge.' 

" We started to feel that wall mighty good. We 
rubbed it up and down till our fingers were bleeding, 
and we damned that fish peddler as we rubbed. We 
knew that we were close to the secret place where 
those golden staters of Darius Hystaspes were hid- 
den, but we could not get in. And just then a 
wonderful thing took place. Yes, a mighty wonder- 
ful thing ! Lenford put his hand on the first Arabic 
character of the word Allah in that inscription, and 
we gave a gurgle when he did that. A slab of stone, 
about three feet square, swung back, and when 
Lenford thrust the lantern into the opening we 
looked with popping eyes. 

[271] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



"There were steps leading from that opening, 
steps that were wet and slimy. Do you know that 
the soles of my feet can feel those steps now, and 
it is some years since I went down them? Do you 
think that strange? You will not think so after 
I tell you what happened in that place. But they 
were so slimy that it was like treading on the oily 
body of a native or a snake. The centuries had 
covered those stones with wet moss that seemed to 
feel unclean under one's shoes. Yes, I can feel the 
sensation now in my feet as I think about the two 
hundred steps that led to the bottom. We were 
crazy as we raced down those steps. The seven 
weeks of waiting had made us mad, and we did not 
stop to think of anything. 

"We got to the bottom at last, and we found 
ourselves in a bare cavern that had stalactites hang- 
ing from the roof. And when Lenford held up the 
lantern to have a look at the roof we got our first 
glimpse of the Blind Dog of El Corib. Ja! Ja! I 
would give my year's salary, and that is ten thou- 
sand marks, if I could blot that beast out of my 
mind. I would so. 

" He was a monster dog, carved out of stone, and 
he was bigger than the elephants in front of the 
Temple of Bora. He was a tremendous size, and as 
we stared at the monster we saw why the inscription 
on the wall had alluded to him as the Blind Dog. 
[272] 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 

You have seen the picture of Justice with the 
bandage over her eyes ? Well, that dog had a stone 
bandage over his eyes. 

" The Blind Dog stood at one side of the cavern, 
and beneath one of its upraised paws there was a 
passage that led to an adjoining cave. And, as 
there was nothing in the cavern that we were in, 
we made for that passage. Lenford went through 
first; then Hardmann, and I crawled through last. 
I got to my feet, and then I looked — Gott! Some- 
times I think of that night and wonder if it was a 
dream. I wish it was, my friend. 

"In the HohenzoUern Museum at Berlin there 
is a gold stater — a Daric stater, in a glass case. 
The curator of that museum showed it to me. If 
I went back there tomorrow and told that old man 
that I had seen a million Daric staters, he would 
think that I was mad. He would laugh at me. But 
I saw them! A million? I saw five million of 
them! That curator would have me arrested if I 
told him that. He would so. The most exciting 
thing in his life is his Sunday walk in the Thier- 
garten, so he would not believe. He could not be 
expected to. Belief, my friend, is like a liking for 
caviar — one must be trained to it. 

"We fell on those piles of coins like wolves. 
There were a dozen sacks lying about, sacks made 
out of palm leaf fiber, and into those sacks we 
[273] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



scooped the coins that were over twenty centuries 
old. They were coined before Marathon, before 
Miltiades swept the Persians into the sea at Vrana ! 
I do not know how they came to that spot. The 
Phoenicians, and the Medes, and the Assyrians, 
went down that way after myrrh and balsam and 
jasper^ when they had few historians about. That 
is so. And I guess that some big man in those 
days had a little private bank in that wall. Himmel! 
It makes my eyes water to think now of that place 
and what was in it. 

" I don't think we spoke while we were scooping 
the coins into the sacks. We just made noises like 
beasts. Grold is the devil of a thing. It makes a 
man worse than the animals. 

"Hardmann got his sack full, and he lifted it 
up in his arms. Would you believe if I told you 
how much gold he had? Of course you would 
believe. I am not telling this story for fun. He 
had a hundred pounds or more! Yes! 

" ' I'm ready,' he said. ' Come on.' 

" Lenford stood up and picked up the lantern, and 
Hardmann staggered forward towards the opening 
beneath the paw of the Blind Dog. I see him in 
my dreams as I saw him then. I do. I see the big 
black shadows that danced around as Lenford 
swung the lantern ; I see the wet walls of the place 
and the piles of gold we were leaving. But I see 
[274 1 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 

Hardmann most of all. I shall see him in my 
dreams till I die. Mother o' me! Yes! 

"That boy stooped to go through that passage 
beneath the upraised paw of the Blind Dog. I saw 
him stoop; then — why, he was gone! Have you 
ever seen a fly crushed by a sledge? Well, that is 
what happened. That stone paw came down with 
a force that was tremendous, and before it had 
lifted again, we were listening to the noise made 
by the gold coins as they hit against the rock walls 
of the place. Hardmann's coins, mind you! The 
bag on his back had just missed the paw as it 
smashed against the body of the big carving. There 
was no Hardmann there. That is, there was nothing 
there that I would like to think was Hardmann. 
No, there was not ! 

"At the moment that the paw struck that boy 
I thought I heard a laugh that came from the other 
cavern, and Lenford thought so, too. He was para- 
lyzed for a minute; then he made a spring at the 
passage. But I gripped him by the shoulders. 

"'Stop!' I cried. 'Stop!' 

"'There is someone out there!' he screamed. 
'Let me go!' 

" ' Drop the gold ! ' I shouted. ' Drop the gold ! 
Don't you see that it is the extra weight on the 
stone beneath the paw that has caused Hardmann's 
death?' 

[275I 



"Breath of the Jiongle' 



" Have you ever noticed how a lot of small things 
will be welded together in an instant? In the 
instant that I witnessed that tremendous stone crash 
down on that boy, I understood why it was that the 
gold was sent up to Mombasa in small lumps. I 
understood the meaning of the inscription, too. You 
bet I did. The Blind Dog was the watcher of that 
gold. Poulogos, the Greek, knew that you could 
not steal a sackful of that metal, because the stone 
beneath the paw was so fixed that it would stand 
the weight of a man, but not the weight of a man 
and a bag of coin. That is why the Greek stole in 
small amounts. Perhaps some friend of that fish 
peddler had met such a death as Hardmann had met. 

'"Drop the gold!' I roared. 'Throw it on the 
floor!' 

" Lenford was so horrified at what had happened 
that he did not understand what I meant for a few 
seconds; then he flung the gold on the floor and 
sprang at the opening. He was game, game as the 
best of them. The paw was back in its old place 
then, and I watched him with staring eyes. I was 
wondering if my theory of the action of that mur- 
derous stone hammer was the right one. 

"I was right. The boy went through, and the 

next moment I heard his revolver in the outer cave ; 

and I dived through that passage and caught up to 

him. Up the wet, slimy steps we went side by 

[276] 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 

side, and in front of us in the darkness we heard 
someone running — running mighty fast. My skin 
told me who that someone was. Poulogos had 
come back again, and he had just reached the outer 
cave in time to see Hardmann killed. And the 
devil had laughed at that happening. Laughed at 
it! You can guess how Lenford felt as he blazed 
away with his gun. He was insane. He wanted to 
kill that Greek. And I wanted to kill him, too. I 
was sick from the sight I had seen, and I wanted to 
do something to get even with the stone thing in 
the cave. 

"Lenford got close to Poulogos as we reached 
the top of the stairs, and the boy fired again. That 
shot saved our life. It must have wounded the 
Greek. He let out a yell and bounded through the 
opening in the wall, and he was that scared that 
he would not stop to slam that slab on us. If he 
had fastened it we would have been prisoners with 
the Blind Dog and the staters and — and the memory 
of Hardmann. 

"Poulogos fled down the path leading to the 
marshes at the back of that cursed place, and we 
went after him. We were crazy men. My, yes! 
We ran through that thick night after the figure that 
was in front of us, and we thought of nothing else 
but the killing of that man. On and on we went. 
I don't know how far we ran. It must have been 
[277I 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



leagues. And always in front of us was a phantom 
we thought was Poulogos. Yes, it must have been 
a phantom. When the dawn sprang out of the 
east we found ourselves in a swamp miles away 
from El Corib, and there was no sign of the Greek. 
That hyena had dodged us in the darkness. Mind 
you, we did not think that Poulogos had anything 
to do with the death of Hardmann. Nein. But he 
had laughed when the paw of the Blind Dog crushed 
the boy, and you would have killed your own father 
if he had laughed at that moment. 

"We were three days Hghting our way back to 
El Corib. I don't remember what we lived on, and 
I don't remember what we said to each other. When 
we reached the hell-hole we were nearly insane with 
the want of food and with the bites of insects. And 
our clothes were in tatters. My, yes ! We were the 
two sorry looking specimens as we crawled back to 
that place. 

"We went round toward the wall, and Lenford 
held his revolver in his hand as we approached it. 
That boy had grown old in a night. His jaw stuck 
out, and his mouth was a gray line. 

" ' I will stand guard at the opening, and you will 
go down and see,' he said. 'I am going to bury 
Slim if I shoot the town up.' 

" I was going to tell the boy that there was little 
there to bury, but I said nothing. Side by side we 
[278] 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 

tramped along, and an occasional Arab that we 
passed would stand and look at us. We were the 
only two white men in that town, and we must 
have looked strange with our tattered burnooses. 

" We reached the wall at last, and then we stood 
and stared at each other. The inscription that men- 
tioned Allah and the Blind Dog had been chiseled 
off, and the wall had been covered with a coat of 
thick red paint so that it was impossible to find 
where it had been ! That was what met us in that 
fever-smitten place. Wasn't it enough to drive us 
mad? 

" All through that day we fingered the wall. We 
did so. Arabs and negroes came and stared at us, 
but we took no notice. Our fingers were bleeding, 
but we kept at it. 

"'Lenford,' I said, when the night came down 
on us thick and lonely, 'I am full up of it. I am 
going away from this cursed place. Come ; we will 
get a boat and go up the coast.' 

" ' Not me,' he snapped. ' I am going to get into 
that place if it takes me ten years.' 

'"Come; don't be a fool,' I said. 'Come with 
me.' 

" ' Go by yourself,' he shrieked. ' Do you think 
I would let a Greek beat me to it? I will stay till 
I get into this hole and do things that I want to do.' 

" I tried to dissuade him, but it was no use. And 

[279I 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



I was nearly insane. Himmel! Wasn't I sick of 
that place. I remember that I staggered down to 
the water, stole a boat and pulled into the night. I 
kept pulling till dawn, then an Italian freight 
steamer sighted me and picked me up. I was in bed 
for three days; then they put me ashore at 
Dar-es-Salam." 

Hochdorf stopped speaking, and the only sound 
that disturbed the silence was the rustling of the 
Boston newspaper as the breeze played with its 
tattered pages. 

Presently the tall New Englander spoke. "And 
Lenford?" he asked. "Did you — did you ever 
hear how he got on ? " 

The German naturalist stepped into the bungalow 
and returned with a small camphor-wood box in his 
hands. He dragged the slush lamp closer, trimmed 
the wick ; then he opened the lid of the box. Inside, 
reposing on a piece of cotton wool, were ten gold 
coins, and on the face of four we saw the design of 
the archer on bended knee. 

"Lenford sent me those fourteen months aftpr 
the night I left him in El Corib," said the naturalist 
gently. "He sent them in care of my father in 
Frankfort, and he sent them to me. They are my 
most treasured possessions, my friend. That boy 
made good. Gott! yes ! Every day I drink to his 
health. With those ten Daric staters was a little 
[280] 



The Blind Dog of El Corib 

note. It said: 'From Lenford, on his way to 
Broadway.' That was all. Wasn't he a hellfire 
boy? I don't know how much he got, but I bet he 
took his own share and the share that belonged to 
Hardmann. I bet he did. Fill up my glass and 1 
will drink his health again. He was a great boy." 



[281I 



The Golden Woman of 
Kelantan 



XI 

THE GOLDEN WOMAN OF KELANTAN 

T T OCHDORF, prince of animal collectors, 
■'■ ■'■ laughed softly when I put my question. I had 
asked for proof of a jungle story, and the query 
brought a chuckle that had the razor edge of a 
parong. 

"Proof?" he cried. "Why, you find proof in 
the atmosphere after you come through Bab-el- 
Mandeb. That is, if you have a receptive cuticle. 
Ja! Sometimes I am in want of proof myself, and 
then I use my skin. That is so. I ask of it a 
question, and it gives me all the proof I want in 
quick time. Don't you feel the night fingering your 
face? And are not the trees listening? And is 
there not something in the air that strips your soul 
so that your first love affair comes up before your 
eyes? That is the feel of Asia, my friend, and it 
proves a lot of things. There is no atmosphere in 
the world like this. Nein! And it is worse than 
the poppy habit — you cannot get away from it. 
Sixteen years ago I went back to Germany, and 
Borneo came after me in the nights. My, yes ! It 
fished for my soul in my dreams — fished for it with 
[285] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



a net that was all crimson and lilac, and shot-gold 
and peacock blue, and in the morning I would be 
weak from the fight. I could not stand that struggle. 
Not I. In six weeks from the day I landed in 
Amsterdam, I was pounding down the Red Sea on 
the old Valetta, of the Peninsula and Oriental line, 
and my nose was sniffing at the east wind. Ach! 
Yes." 

In the hot, punkah-lashed air of the nipa-palm 
thatched bungalow the odors fought for supremacy. 
The smell of the jungle rolled in boldly on the 
strange little puffs of air that the Orang-Laut calj 
" the breath of God ; " the sour stench of the black 
slime on the river bank formed an under stratum 
that advanced furtively, and to combat these two 
invaders, a penetrating odor came from the cages 
in the adjoining hut, where the German's prisoners, 
monkeys and tiger cats, ourang-outangs and ser- 
pents, snuffled and moaned, snarled and hissed in 
the velvety darkness. 

" Are you sleepy ? " asked Hochdorf . 

" Never less so," I answered. 

"Then I will tell you a story if you do not ask 
for proof," he said quietly. "Proof? Ho, ho! I 
have given up looking for proof. To the East 
everything is possible, and that is why the East 
will live. It expects, my friend, and expectation is 
soul. 

[286] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

"You have never heard of the False Buddha of 
Paknam? Well, there are thousands that lived 
within one hundred miles of him that never heard of 
him. But he was something out of the common. 
Much out of the common. He was a Laos priest 
from the head of the Me Ping River, and he took 
himself mighty seriously. He reckoned that he was 
the reincarnated Gautama, and he created a little 
flurry from Bangkok down to Singapore. A pretty 
big flurry when I come to think about it. The East 
is always waiting for something to happen, and 
that makes it easy for a fakir. Ja. He can get a 
following before their excitement wears down so 
thin that the knife analysis comes through. That 
is so. 

"I was gathering specimens on the Telubin 
River in the southern part of the Malay peninsula, 
and I wanted to go to Bangkok. And that is how 
I met Bruden. He owned The Red Spider, a bull- 
nosed schooner that was going up the Gulf of Siam, 
and I took a passage on her. If ever a fiend came 
on earth to cool his skin it was Bruden. You can 
laugh, but I mean it. He stood six-f eet-f our ; he 
weighed two hundred pounds, and he had no more 
morals than a hammerhead shark. And a hammer- 
head will bite the tail off its own mother. 

"Up to the day of sailing I was the only 
passenger. Then there was a rush. J a! There 
[287] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



was a big rush. Five score disciples of the False 
Buddha of Paknam had been gathered up along the 
coast, and Bruden gave them deck passage up the 
Gulf. When they came aboard I got my first look 
at the golden woman of Kelantan. She was the 
one who had gathered up the bunch. That is so. 
She was some relation to the False Buddha. Some 
said she was his sister, some said she was his 
daughter, but I think she was his wife. I am sure 
she was his wife. The Gautama stunt was one 
that she, being a woman, could not play, so she put 
him to the front. She was not the first woman of 
brains who has stood behind a mate who did not 
have a big share of gray matter in his skull. 

" Never have I seen a colored woman like her. 
Never! I could not make your eyes see her if I 
talked to you all night. There are some things that 
the brushes of imagination cannot paint, and that 
woman was beyond imagination. She was that. 
Just now I would give a thousand marks to know 
her breeding. And I would give a thousand marks 
to know where she had got her golden skin and 
her eyes that were deeper than the Tengpeng Well. 
I would so. She was not Malay or Negrito, Siamese 
or Shan Burman or Karen. She was something 
different. J a! very different. I have never seen a 
brown woman with a hundredth part of her beauty. 
She was like Van Eyck's Madonna del Lucca that 
[288] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

was in the Stadel at Frankfort when I was a boy. 
She was wrapped in a sarong of rose-colored silk 
that looked as if it had come out of the vat in which 
the dawn clouds are tinted. It was figured all over 
with the wanderings of Buddha that were worked 
in threads of silver and gold, and it was caught up 
with a brooch of Burmese jade. Her bare arras and 
ankles were ringed with bracelets of hammered 
silver, and these bracelets looked as if they had been 
old when Tamerlane came riding into the Punjab. 
Mein Gott! she was a wonder woman ! 

"Have you ever pigeon-holed people that you 
have met with people that you have never met? 
Well, I pigeon-holed that woman with her golden 
skin, and her rounded limbs and her ten-thousand- 
fathom-deep eyes. I put her with Sappho of Lesbos, 
with Helen, with Hypatia, and Saint Monica. She 
was a flame. That is so. She was a flame that 
could make that bunch of pilgrims blaze like the 
very devil when she got going. 

" Bruden came into collision with her before we 
had the anchor up. Himmel! Yes! He had not 
seen her when she came aboard, but just as The 
Red Spider started to butt her way into the open 
sea, he saw something of her that made him splutter. 
One of her five score recruits took it into his thick 
head to fall on his knees as Bruden was running 
across the deck, and the big skipper tripped over 
[289] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



him and nearly broke his neck. You can guess how 
that brute felt when he got to his feet. He was mad 
clean through. He sprang at that nigger and he 
kicked him till he jerked yells into space that were 
like hot wires. Bruden was a devil — a devil of 
devils. 

" The golden woman was at the other end of the 
ship when she heard the first yell, but she got to the 
spot before the other pilgrims had sensed what was 
wrong. She was an unleashed fury just then. You 
bet she was. But she was beautiful in her temper. 
Flames of Gehenna! Yes! Her eyes blazed like 
the eyes of a Bengal tiger, and her face was like a 
drawn blade. 

"As she faced Bruden I noticed her bare left 
foot, and I saw that the second toe was missing. 
Afterwards I learned that she had been bitten by 
a karait while recruiting that mob, and that she had 
coolly ordered one of the niggers to chop her toe 
off. I believe it. I would believe anything of her. 
But that little defect was the only blemish in her 
beauty. In her beauty, mind you. I have been out 
here six and twenty years come next October, and 
never have I seen a brown woman who was more 
beautiful. She had all the witchery of Asia, the 
witchery that you can sniff in the dawn air, and in 
the swooning noondays and the velvety nights — she 
had it in herself. 

[290] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

"Bruden looked at her when she came blazing 
down on him, and I could see that she had made an 
impression. You bet she had ! He opened his bleary 
eyes when she flung a shower of questions at him, 
and for quite two minutes he could not speak. 
Mission bred she was, and she spoke English without 
an accent. 

" ' What do you mean by kicking that man ? ' she 
cried. ' How dare you ? ' 

"'He dropped down in front of me and I fell 
over him,' snarled Bruden. 

" ' But you had no right to kick him ! ' screamed 
the woman. 

"'And he had no right to trip me,' roared 
Bruden. ' If he wants to kneel down and slam his 
wishbone to please old Budd he must not do it in 
front of me when I am running.' 

" ' You are a low brute ! ' said the golden woman. 

" I think it was the way she said it that pleased 
Bruden. I think so. It was seldom that anyone 
had enough grit in them to fire a verbal bomb at 
him. Not much. When he got mad he was like a 
hooded snake, and men and women got out of his 
way. If he kicked a nigger the nigger made for 
what you call the tall timber pretty damn quick, but 
that woman was different from all the people that 
Bruden had ever met. She did not care ten pfennigs 
for him, and she let him see she did not. 
[291] 



'Breath of the Jvingle" 



" ' I am a brute, am I ? ' he growled. 

" ' A low brute ! ' she hissed. ' You have maimed 
that man.' 

"'That is nothing,' snapped Bruden. 'I have 
maimed dozens, and I have forgotten about them 
ten minutes afterwards.' 

" ' You fiend ! ' cried the golden woman. ' It is a 
wonder that you are allowed to defile the sweet 
earth ! ' 

" She put her shining arms under that dirty 
Malay when she said that, and helped him up into 
the shadow of the galley, leaving that big brute of 
a skipper to stare after her as if he were hypnotized. 
She had handed him something that staggered him 
for a minute or two. Ho, ho, yes ! 

"Every time he came on deck after that he 
looked in her direction, and she glared back at him 
like a wounded mias. I wished myself on any other 
boat but The Red Spider when I saw that devil's 
face. My, yes ! He was as strong as ten men, and 
I told you that he had no more morals than a 
hammerhead shark. He had less. And he thought 
that his strength could get him anything. Do you 
understand ? There were no ten men on that boat 
that could fight with him. No, nor twenty men. 
There is an anchor at the Victoria Docks at Singa- 
pore that Bruden carried. Ja. No five men can 
move it. I heard of that anchor when I went down 
[292] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

to Pefiang from Bangkok. He was a big, fierce 
devil, and he looked at that woman with the eyes 
of a cheetah watching a muntjak. And every man 
on that boat understood his look. Out in this part 
of the world there is no need to tell people things. 
They feel them. That is, all people except the 
English. That is why the English rule. If they 
had the receptive cuticle they would have vacated 
India the day after they grabbed it. I tell you that 
because I have sat here for six and twenty years 
with this atmosphere feeling my face as it is doing 
tonight. 

" Those five score pilgrims felt what I felt. Mein 
Gott! Yes ! They saw the look on that brute's face, 
and they knew that the hate in the woman's eyes 
would only make him more determined. I could not 
tell you enough about Bruden to let you know what 
he was. I could not. There were no laws for 
him. Nein! He was one of those primitive brutes 
that you find on the rim of the earth. In a city 
he would have been hanged mighty quick, but out 
here — Well, Justice is a fat Frau, and the likes of 
Bruden are left to the judgment of the liebe Gott. 
That is all I know. 

" He looked at that woman in a way that turned 
me sick. And it turned those pilgrims pretty sick, 
too. They found that they had shipped with a 
demon, and their eyes sent out hate sparks every 

[293] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



time Bruden crossed the deck. They looked to me 
like five score cobras that were waiting to sting a 
big, tawny tiger who treated them with contempt. 

"That golden woman held a prayer meeting 
when The Red Spider was well to sea, and the way 
she handled that batch was a revelation. My, yes I 
It was uncanny. She had psychic force. I told you 
that she was a flame. Well, she was. She worked 
on that batch till she slammed fire-crackers and 
rockets out of them. They were drunk with their 
own emotions, and when she chanted to them in 
the Malay dialect they saw scaling ladders going 
right up to the door of their own particular heaven. 
All your little revivalist speakers were small cakes 
compared to her. I know what I am saying. When 
she finished they would have jumped overboard if 
she held up one of her shapely fingers, and I got a 
creepy feeling in my skin. I did so. It did not 
require much intuition to smell trouble on that boat. 
No, it did not. 

"All the damn riffraflf of half-castes, beach- 
combers, and beach-bummers that Bruden had for 
a crew, were impressed by that performance, but 
it did not impress the big skipper. His skin was 
too thick. He only saw a woman who was more 
beautiful than the Lorelei, and he was not afraid. 
It is the fools who have not the antennae to feel 
danger who are considered brave. Somebody has 

[294] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

said that a coward is a man who sees a little farther 
than his fellows, and that is right. I was with 
Prince Friederich Charles at Spichern, and I know. 
Bruden could not feel danger. His skin was thicker 
than the pelt of a Ganges gavial. 

" After that prayer stunt he went up to the woman 
and tried to talk to her. Ach! If looks could have 
killed him she would have killed him ten times while 
he was walking towards her. She had bayonets in 
her eyes, but he laughed at her when she tried to 
glare him off. 

"'Am I still a fiend, pretty one?' he asked. 

"'1 do not wish to speak to you,' she answered. 

" ' Say that I am not a fiend,' he said, grinning at 
her like a baboon. 

" ' You are a fiend ! ' she cried. ' Go away. I do 
not wish to speak to you!' 

" ' But I wish to speak to you,' grinned Bruden. 
'This is my ship, and I guess I can speak to 
passengers if I Hke.' 

"That big brute, had no respect for man or 
woman. He had no respect for God. That is so. 
He was a cave-man who thought that muscles were 
everything. He turned me sick just then. That 
woman started to walk away, and he put out his 
big hand that was like the claw of a gorilla, and he 
gripped her bare arm. 

" ' I want to say a word to you,' he said. ' I have 

[29s] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



a little proposition to make that is better than chant- 
ing to old Budd.' 

" She turned with the swiftness of a rock snake 
and struck him in the face with her open hand, and 
then hell broke loose on that deck. That bunch of 
long-haired pilgrims came at Bruden like wolves. 
Himmel! Yes! They had been waiting for that 
moment, but they did not know what a devil they 
were up against. No, they did not. If they thought 
it was going to be an easy fight they were mistaken. 
J a! Bruden turned around in time to escape a drive 
from a kris that a lean Malay made at his back, and 
the next moment he had gripped the wrists of the 
kris man and was whirling him round and round his 
head. I told you that he was as strong as a bull 
elephant, did I not? Well, he used that skinny- 
legged nigger as a club, and he knocked down half 
a dozen of the mob every time he swung him around. 
I think that devil was itching for a fight like that 
Ja! He howled like a gray wolf as he twirled that 
Malay like a piece of teakwood. That is so. He 
was enjoying it like I would enjoy a glass of iced 
lager. That circle of insane niggers rushed round 
and round him, but every time that they tried to 
clinch with him it was smash, crash, bang. It was 
frightful. I am not a baby, but that deck made all 
my nerves as tight as the backstays. Not one of 
the crew made an attempt to help Bruden. That 
[296] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

demon did not want help. It was fun to him to 
smash up those poor wretches. It was great fun. 
When he was tired of it he just fought his way to 
the companion stairs, flung the senseless nigger at 
them with a laugh and went below to his cabin. 

"They did not make an attempt to follow him 
down. Not they. He had taken all the fight out of 
them at that moment. They stood around chattering 
like so many wah-wahs till the golden woman 
ordered them to look after the half score that 
Bruden had injured. It was nice, wasn't it? One 
has to stay with his color in the East, white with 
white, and black with black, but I fingered my 
revolver just then. Yes, I did so. I wondered 
what was coming in the days that lay between us 
and Bangkok. You bet I did. I knew that the 
business had only started as far as Bruden was 
concerned. 

" The mate of The Red Spider, a flat-faced ani- 
mal who had a Maori father and a white mother, 
thought the same as I did. He edged up close to 
me when the chatter of the niggers had stopped, 
and he told me his opinion. He smelt trouble — tons 
of trouble. He was half native, and his skin was 
helping his eyes. 

" ' Skipper better leave the woman alone,' he said. 
'Think mighty dangerous business.' 

"'Ja!' I said. 

[297] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



" ' She mighty smart witch-woman,' he grunted. 
' She put whole ship on the blink.' 

"I felt that she would put Bruden on the blink 
if he did not watch out. I did that same. I did 
not know how the danger would come, but I thought 
that the fool was playing with fire. That woman 
was not the sort that Bruden was in the habit of 
speaking to. Not much. She was as far removed 
from him as the Zuyder Zee is from the Run of 
Cutch. She was not an ordinary woman at all. I 
did not care if she was recruiting for a fakir; that 
was nothing to do with it. But I knew that she 
was a good woman, and that was enough for me 
to know. Ja, I knew that. She was a woman who 
could not be anything else but good. And that big, 
ugly fool thought that he could do what he liked 
just because he was the skipper of a blamed old bull- 
nosed schooner. I have seen others like him. They 
have thick skins and no imagination. They forget 
that this Asia is so old that it comes out against 
you like a clenched fist if you do anything that it 
disapproves of. It has a personality, my friend, 
that is what it has. I have seen fools knocked off 
their legs in this quarter. Mein Gott! Yes! I 
knew that I was a fool to take a passage with that 
pig of a skipper. You bet I did. 

"'They will kill him,' said the Maori mate. 

" ' I hope they do,' I snapped. 
[298] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

" I stood on the deck and watched the oily water 
that looked like a million colored snakes, and I 
sniffed the smell of Asia as it came out to me on 
the breeze. That golden woman seemed to be as 
old as Asia — not in years but in wisdom. She was 
something that seemed to be gifted with perpetual 
youth. That is so. She did not look to be more 
than five and twenty, but those eyes of hers were 
as old as the crystalline rocks of Cape Comorin. 

" Bruden came up on deck early in the afternoon, 
and he yawned and stretched himself like a lazy 
tiger. Half of that batch of pilgrims were lying 
full length on the deck, but the moment they saw 
him they moved towards the spot where the woman 
was sitting. And that made Bruden laugh. He 
took it to be a compliment to himself. That is so. 
He laughed so loud you could hear him a mile away. 
He was a stupid, big fool. 

" ' Ho, ho ! ' he cried^ ' Do not be afraid of me, 
my little brown pets. I will not hurt your beautiful 
princess. Not me. I am as gentle as a wood dove 
in the springtime.' 

"He walked across the deck to where they were 
gathered in a bunch that looked as ugly as a nest 
of scorpions. The golden woman was in the middle 
of them, and when Bruden came close she spoke. 

" ' Keep away,' she said to him quietly. ' I do not 
wish you to come near me.' 
[299] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



"'But I like you,' grinned Bruden. 'Holy St. 
Christopher ! can't the skipper of a boat flirt a little 
with his star passenger?' 

" ' Keep off,' she said. ' It will be better for you 
to go away and leave me alone.' 

"'Not it!' cried Bruden. 'I like you, woman. 
It's a fact! You're the loveliest brown woman 
between the Choi Bazar and Yellow Dick's at 
Hakodate.' 

" He tried to push in near her, and that batch 
sprang at him again. Ja! They came at him like 
mad dogs, and in a minute he was fighting again. 

"And the brute loved a fight. He did so. He 
laughed like a madman as his big fists, that were 
larger than the hams that come out of Westphalia, 
knocked down those rice-fed wretches like nine- 
pins. He was a fiend for sure. He battered them 
till they squealed, and they broke and ran from him 
like the cuirassiers did at Sadowa. 

"Suddenly Bruden stopped and glared around 
the deck. I looked around, too. You bet I did. 
The golden woman was not in sight. She had dis- 
appeared while he was fighting! 

"Bruden dashed across the deck and let out a 
yell. 'Where did she go?' he cried. 'Where the 
mischief has she got to?' 

"The pilgrims did not speak, and you can bet / 
did not. He turned to the Maori mate and roared 
[300] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

his question again, but the mate shook his woolly 
head. And I had not seen where she had gone, and 
neither did the mate. No, my friend. That woman 
seemed to have melted from in front of our eyes, 
and at first I thought she had dropped overboard. 
But I did not think that for long. The faces of 
those pilgrims put that notion out of my mind. 
They were watching Bruden, and they were very 
quiet. They would not have been so quiet if she 
had gone over. Not them. They would have 
clinched with that demon mighty quick. 

"Bruden turned to the mate and he cursed like 
an Afghan horse dealer. Gof^' didn't he curse ? He 
damned everything within sight, and he kicked like 
a madman at every nigger that came within range 
of his big sea boots. 

" ' Search the boat ! ' he yelled. ' I want to speak 
to her ! Find her, you hounds ! Find her ! ' 

"The mate set the rest of the crew hunting for 
that woman, and I waited with a pretty sick feeling 
in my insides. That is so. If I have ever seen a 
fiend it was Bruden. He was mad. He rushed 
around shouting out orders till he was hoarse. 
And all the time he rushed around and roared, 
those five score Malays crouched on the deck and 
sprayed him with their hate. That is it. They 
sprayed him with the hate that they had in their 
eyes. 

[301] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



" I could not tell if they were afraid that she 
would be found. No, I could not. There are not 
many hiding places on a schooner, but that mob 
had the stoicism of the East, and their faces told 
me only of the hate they felt for the big brute who 
was harrying the woman. That hate was mighty 
plain. Ach, yes ! 

" When the night rolled down on The Red Spider 
they were still searching for the woman. They had 
searched the schooner from end to end, and they 
had searched in vain. And that was a miracle. 
Don't you think so? I thought it was at the time, 
and I have been thinking so ever since. In some 
things the English are wise. They say that they do 
not want to understand the East. Goit in Himmel! 
They say that they only want to rule. It is funny, 
it it not? The East makes my brain dizzy when I 
think of making an attempt to understand it. I am 
blind and deaf before it. That is so. 

" But that search made me sick. To see that big 
brute rushing round the deck made my skin creep. 
Sometimes my fingers curled themselves around my 
revolver, and I would have to tear them away. The 
five score pilgrims in the white wrappers said 
nothing. Not a word. They just huddled them- 
selves together and used their eyes only. They were 
hating Bruden with every ounce of soul pressure. 
You could feel it well out from them. It came out 
[=302] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

like a wave, but that brute did not feel it. He had 
a thick skin, and he could not feel anything. 

"When the moon came up, one of the pilgrims 
stepped out from the bunch and handed Bruden a 
little wooden box. 

" ' What is this ? ' asked the skipper. 

" ' She sent it to you,' said the nigger, and then 
he slipped back amongst the others. 

" Bruden was going to open that little box, but he 
changed his mind. He might have felt the wave of 
hate at that moment. I do not know. It was curious 
for him to act as he did. He gave the box to a 
Dyak sailor to open. It was just a Httle box about 
three inches square, and it had a nick in the cover 
so that you could put your thumb nail in and draw 
back the sliding lid. 

"The Dyak put his nail in the little nick and 
pushed, and the lid flew open. But the Dyak 
dropped the box with a yell. My, yes ! A little steel 
point had curved up out of the box as the lid was 
drawn back, and the point of the steel pricked the 
sailor's hand. Down he flopped on the deck, and in 
five minutes he was dead. I guess that the fright 
helped the poison that was on the end of the point. 
The box is an old trick in the East, and the Dyak 
knew that he had drawn a ticket for the next world 
when it touched him. 

"That little incident maddened Bruden. He 

[303] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



went clean ofif his head. He could not find the 
man who had given him the box, so he jumped at 
the whole mob. Round and round the deck he 
chased that batch, howling like a wolf. It was 
terrible. At last he fell down from exhaustion, and 
the Maori mate and three of the crew carried the 
brute down to his cabin. That ended the search for 
the night, and I was mighty glad, too. My, yes! 
I watched those pilgrims after Bruden had been 
dragged below, and I felt a chill as I looked at 
them. You could gather up that atmosphere and 
analyze it, and it would assay ninety-nine per cent, 
pure hate. 

" It was about nine o'clock on the following morn- 
ing when I got a surprise. Much of a surprise. Ja. 
Bruden was below in his cabin, and just as I turned 
in my walk on the poop, that golden woman walked 
across the deck as cool as an iceberg and started to 
put that batch of niggers through their morning 
prayers as if nothing had happened. It made me 
cold right down to my heels. My spine was just 
like a little strip of ice. It seemed as if she had 
tumbled out of the skies. It did so. The Red Spider 
was not as big as a Bibby liner, and Bruden and his 
crew had overhauled every inch of the boat. And, 
the wonder of it was that she looked as fresh as a 
daisy. Her sarong of rose-colored silk had not a 
crease in it, and she had not the look of a person 

[304] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

who had been in a cramped space all night. Not a 
bit of it. Her hair was as glorious as ever, and her 
skin shone in the morning sunlight. It was wonder- 
ful to me, mighty wonderful. 

" She started those niggers praying, and no one 
ever prayed like they prayed. Gott! didn't they 
pray ! It was not that they made any noise. They 
prayed quietly. But the intensity — My, I cannot 
tell you of the feeling it gave me. You could feel 
them praying. That is a fact. They just wriggled 
and twisted their bodies as if they were in labor 
with the hate they wished to get out and fire at 
Bruden, and I felt sick as I watched them. And 
I am not easily made sick. I have lived out here 
a pretty long time, but never have I seen natives 
act like that batch on The Red Spider. They were 
so quiet that I wanted to yell out because the 
silence was choking me. That is so. 

" The praying business took the wind out of the 
Maori mate. He started to run down the stairs to 
tell Bruden that the woman had come back, but 
instead of doing so he stood with his mouth open 
till she had finished. Then he picked himself up and 
tumbled down into the cabin screaming out the 
news, and my fingers crawled around that revolver 
butt again. The subconscious mind is wonderful. 
It is that. 

" I could hear Bruden screaming out questions as 

[305] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



he raced up, and he sprang out on the deck with 
his bleary eyes blinking. 

"'Where is she?' he roared. 'Where did the 
cunning witch stow herself?' 

" I gripped my revolver when I saw his face. I 
was mighty mad just then. I am a German and 
I do not get mad at little things, but when I get 
mad I am — mad. And I was mad at that time. 
Himmel! Yes ! The way that big brute was going 
on would make an angel lose his temper. It would 
so. As he rushed towards the woman I pulled my 
revolver out of my pocket and stuck it in his ugly 
face. 

'"If you touch her I will put a hole in you!' I 
said, and I was mighty scared when I said it. He 
could have cracked my neck with two of his big 
fingers, and he looked at me like a big, hairy gorilla 
when he stopped for a minute in front of my gun. 

" ' Put it down ! ' he roared. 

" ' When you leave that woman alone,' I said. 

"He looked at me for a minute, and then he 
sprang. He was an animal all right. It was the 
leap of a mias. I fired while he was in the air, but 
I missed him, and the next moment he had cuffed 
me on the side of the head and I did not take much 
interest in affairs on that boat for the next five 
minutes. Not much. 

"When I came to my senses I fovmd that I had 
[306] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

been dragged into the scuppers, and I knew from 
the row and the rumpus that something had hap- 
pened that was not pleasing to the skipper. Bruden's 
voice rose above everything else, and as I pulled 
myself up I saw him dash across the deck yelling 
out instructions. 

" ' Hunt for her ! ' he screamed. ' Hunt for her, 
you blind-eyed bats ! She just walked away while 
you were gaping at her ! ' 

"I looked at the pilgrims, who were sitting like 
marble statues, and I knew what had happened. I 
did so. The golden woman had disappeared again ! 

" That second hunt made me wonder a bit. You 
bet it did. I lay there on the deck and watched them 
do everything but tear the schooner to pieces, but 
they could not find a trace of her. Not a trace. 
While all their eyes were watching Bruden spring 
at me, she had slipped away. It was enough to 
make one feel creepy, was it not ? Out there in the 
Gulf of Siam with not a sail in sight, that woman 
had disappeared like a ghost. It was wonderful. I 
do not think we will ever know anything about this 
place. I am sure we will not. 

" All through the morning that brute hunted for 
her. He was a lunatic then. The wonder of the 
thing had got into his thick head, and he was insane. 
Once he stopped in front of me and kicked me in 
the ribs like he had kicked the nigger. 

[307] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



'"Which way did she go?' he roared. 'You 
confounded Dutchman — you gave her the chance 
to slip from me!' 

" ' And you can go to the devil and find her ! ' I 
screamed, and he gave me another kick for my 
insolence as he rushed away. 

"I have never met such another fiend like him. 
Never ! All through the hot afternoon he kept the 
crew on the jump, but they could not find a trace of 
the woman. I have thought a lot of that since that 
day. She was on the boat, mind you, but where 
she hid herself is a mystery to me now. It is that. 
It was wonderful to think that she could find a place 
on that schooner that Bruden overlooked. 

" Night came down on us again, and a big moon 
came up out of Annam and silvered the Gulf. 
There was hardly a puff of air. The Red Spider 
was not making a knot an hour. And it was mighty 
lonesome on that boat. You can just imagine it 
was. Bruden was still hunting with his crew of 
scoundrels, and the pilgrims sat together and moved 
their lips in prayers that they offered up in the hope 
that the big bully would break his neck. 

"A fog came over the Gulf about midnight, a 
sort of luminous haze that made the things on the 
deck indistinct. I stayed on the deck, mind you. 
I did not want to go below. I could not go. I 
wanted to stay to see if anything would happen. 
[308] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

"And something did happen. J a! Just a little 
after midnight I heard a scream. It came up out 
of the cabin, and my blood ran cold. I had been 
expecting that scream all day. I had so. I knew 
that Bruden would not stop searching till he had 
found that woman, and the scream told me that she 
had been found. My, yes ! That cry went up into 
the mist like as if it was in a hurry to get to the 
door of heaven to let the good God know what had 
happened, and I made a dash for the companion 
stairs. The fog made it hard to see anything, but 
as I ran I heard those pilgrims. You bet I did. 
They were coming after me, running towards the 
companionway, and the pat-pat of their bare feet 
on the deck made me think of a pack of wolves. 
It made me shudder when my imagination pictured 
what would happen when they got near Bruden this 
time. I guessed there would be murder all right. 
My blood was as cold as the fog that had swept 
down on us. 

"Just as I reached the head of the stairs, the 
Maori mate who was on the poop, let out a yell to 
fool the niggers. 

" ' She's here ! ' he screamed. ' She's up here on 
the poop!' 

"The pattering of their bare feet stopped when 
they heard the mate's yell, and while they were de- 
bating which way to run, I dived down the stairs. 

[309] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



There was no lamp there, and as I felt my way, 
someone brushed by me. I could not see if it was 
man or woman, and when I cried out I got no 
answer. I kept straight on, but I was scared. There 
was only one scream. After that there was a silence 
that you could feel with your hands. It was terrible. 
The fog and the silence made me think that The Red 
Spider was a ghost ship and that all the wonders of 
the two days were dreams that had got into my 
brain. My, it was queer. 

" I started to run along the little passage towards 
Bruden's cabin, but I did not run far. It was dark 
there, mind you, and I had not taken a dozen steps 
when I tumbled over something on the floor, and 
Bruden's big hand gripped my ankle as I fell. 

"'I have you, you witch!' he roared. 'I have 
you!' 

" ' It is I, Hochdorf ! ' I yelled, and then he swore. 

"I nearly cried out to tell him that I was glad. 
I knew that the woman had got away from him 
again, and I was pleased. Ja, wasn't I pleased? 

'"Get a lamp!' he roared. 'Get a lamp. I'm 
wounded ! ' 

"I got a lamp out of the cabin, and when I 
rushed back with it Bruden was trying to get to 
his feet. The brute had a knife wound in the side 
of his throat, and he had bled a lot on the floor. 
She had nearly fixed him that time. 
[310] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

" He snatched the lamp from my hand when he 
got to his feet, and he held it close to the pool on 
the floor. Someone had put a bare foot in that 
blood, and when I saw the imprint of that foot 1 
knew that it was the golden woman. That is so. 
There was a small space between the print of the 
big toe and the third toe, and that small space 
showed that the second toe was missing. Yes ! She 
had knifed him and run. 

"'Where did she go?' screamed Bruden. 'Get 
out my way, you Dutch fool!' 

" He held the lantern close to the floor and rushed 
up the stairs to the deck. And I raced after him. 
He had taken my revolver from me when he 
knocked me down that morning, but I had bought a 
knife from a Lascar sailor, and I knew that I was 
going to kill him if he caught up with that woman. 
I felt that. 

"He reached the deck, and still holding the 
lantern low, he rushed to the rail. I got the creeps 
when I saw him do that. I knew that the faint 
imprint led to the side of the schooner, and I was 
frightened of what had happened. The Maori mate 
and the mob of pilgrims were charging down on us 
through the fog, and I stood like a frozen man and 
watched Bruden. I felt that she had gone over the 
side, and he felt it too. He brushed his big hand 
along the rail, and then he held it to the light of the 

[3"] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



lantern. There was a faint smear of blood on the 
palm that told me she had stood on the rail before 
leaping, and my heart came up in my mouth. I 
gripped the knife and took a step towards that brute. 
Then I stopped, and the blade dropped out of my 
hand. Do you know why? That big devil sprang 
upon the rail, balanced himself there for a moment 
as if he were listening to some sound that came out 
of the fog, and then dived into the water! 

" I yelled to the Maori mate. The mate knew his 
business. He had a boat in the water inside three 
minutes, and I found myself in that boat. Ja. 
There were three others of the crew in it, and as 
they started to row into the fog, I could hear those 
five score niggers on the deck screaming. It was 
terrible. They had discovered that the woman had 
gone over the side, and they were shrieking like 
fiends. 

" That fog was like cotton batting. It was thick 
and moved in lumps. And I hate a fog. It is a 
nuisance when you cannot see where you are going. 
And that fog that we struck that night in the Gulf 
of Siam seemed to be the most peculiar fog I had 
ever met. It was low on the water, and here and 
there we struck a clear patch where the moon's rays 
came down full on us. And it was moist and cold. 
Ach! It was as cold as a tomb. 

"The Maori mate was yelling out as we pulled 
[312] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

around in that white blanket, and every time he 
would yell out those niggers on the schooner would 
send a wail back to us. I tell you ifr-was mighty 
weird. And you know how a fog fools you. Some- 
times we would think that The Red Spider was in 
front of us, then we would think she was abreast 
of us, and then the yells of the niggers would make 
us think she was lip in the air above our heads. 
Every time I see a fog I think of that night, and 
I shiver like a sick Kyan. 

"Presently a cry came out of the mist, and the 
mate yelled back an answer to it. ' It is the skipper ! ' 
he cried. ' He's straight in front of us ! Pull, you 
riffraflf, pull!' 

" And just then another cry came from the same 
direction, and I got up and shouted to the three 
sailors. ' It is the woman,' I screamed. ' It is the 
golden woman. Pull, confound you, pull ! ' 

" My, that fog was queer. It was alive. It made 
my blood as cold as ice water as we burrowed into 
it. That is so. And every yard we went we could 
hear the cries of Bruden and the golden woman, but 
we did not seem to be getting nearer to them. And 
that was a mystery. The three niggers were pulling 
like mad, but we made no gain. It was the biggest 
mystery that I had ever struck. 

" Suddenly the Kling and the two Dyaks stopped 
rowing and let out a yell that you could have heard 

[313] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



five miles away. They had solved the mystery. 
We had been caught in a whirlpool, and the current 
was taking us along at a ten knot gait ! 

"You bet that those three sailors yelled. They 
thought it was all up with us at that moment. We 
were sure that we were in one. The boat was 
gcHng round in a circle that seemed to be half a 
mile or more around, and its speed was increasing 
every minute. It gave me a cold sweat. We were 
just off Koh Samuie, and we had never heard of 
such a thing there. Round and round that boat went 
like a merry-go-round, and we could not see an inch 
in front of us. Not an inch. It is not nice to be 
swished along like that. Every minute I expected 
the boat to take a dive into the middle of the earth, 
and I blessed Bruden. You can bet all you have got 
that I said some sweet prayers for him just then. 
That whirlpool had given me what you call cold feet. 

"Suddenly the mate jumped and let out a yell, 
and the Dyaks and the Kling yelled too. Ja. The 
fog broke for a minute to the right of us, and we 
saw something. We saw Bruden, and he was swim- 
ming like a madman. That is so. He was swim- 
ming in the opposite direction to the one we were 
moving in, and then we knew for sure that we were 
in a whirlpool. Bruden was nearer the center of 
the thing, and he was moving at a swifter rate than 
we were going. 

[314] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

" The Kling tried to turn the boat, and he mighty 
near upset us. You could not turn in that flood. 
You had to go with the current, and we went. We 
went like mad. Did we not?' Bruden was taken 
away from our eyes in three seconds, and we began 
to think of our prayers. At least I did. 

" We saw the big skipper about five minutes after, 
and he was still swimming. It puzzled us to know 
why he did swim. We thought that we were going 
to the other world at a speed that was fast enough, 
but Bruden was helping the current. It was curious. 
That water was as smooth as glass — I told you it 
was a calm night, and there wasn't a sound. It was 
mighty quiet just then. We had got away from the 
schooner and the screams of the pilgrims, and the 
swirl of the current on the boat was the only noise 
that came to our ears. 

"The Maori mate yelled out to Bruden, and the 
big giant answered him. 

"'Swim towards us!' yelled the mate. 'Make 
for the boat ! ' 

"What do you think Bruden answered? You 
would never guess. Nein. He yelled out : ' She — 
she — in front. Can't stop!' 

"That was all he said. The fog closed in on 
him again, and he was out of sight. We could not 
guess what he meant. And when we tried to guess 
it made our blood go cold. The circles that the 

[315] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



boat was making were getting smaller, and we 
guessed our end was mighty close. That was so. I 
pulled a few prayers out of the back of my head, 
and I said them quick, and those niggers chattered 
to their gods as hard as they could chatter. They 
knew that we were up against it good and plenty. 
When they tried to paddle against that mill race it 
whipped the oars out of their hands. 

"I guess we were going round and round for 
twenty minutes before we saw Bruden again. Per- 
haps it was twice twenty minutes. I do not know. 
The brain is not a good calculator at moments like 
that. But when we saw him again he was still 
swimming. Swimming, mind you. We could see 
his arm go up a'nd down, and this time he did not 
turn his head when the mate yelled out to him. 
He kept right on. He kept on as if he were swim- 
ming after something that was just ahead. 

" • He's mad,' I said. ' He's mad ! ' 

" ' Sure,' muttered the mate. ' Bruden ! Bruden ! 
Ahoy!' 

" The Kling gripped my arm at that moment, and 
he pointed to the thin fog bank into which the big 
skipper was swimming. 

"'Look!' he screamed. 'Look!' 

'"What is it?' I cried. 

" ' The witch ! ' he screamed. ' The golden witch ! ' 

" I felt inclined to scream too when he said that. 
[316] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

You bet I did. I looked but I could see nothing, 
only the fog. But those niggers guessed that they 
could see. They screamed out together, and then 
they fell down on their faces in the bottom of the 
boat and groaned like the mischief. It was a nice 
fix, was it not? And I had got myself into it on 
account of a mad brute. You can bet I was not 
praying for him at that minute. No, I was not. I 
kicked the Maori off my legs, and I said some mighty 
hot things about that ruffian of a skipper till my 
throat was sore. That boat was traveling as fast as 
a torpedo destroyer, and the niggers were smashing 
the silence into little pieces with their yells. It was 
terrible. 

" Now I come to tell you of the things of which 
I can give you no proof. Not one little bit. That 
is why I told you not to ask me for any. You may 
ask your skin, that is all I can say. That accursed 
whirlpool stopped whirling just as I thought I had 
flung my last curse at Bruden. It was so. It 
stopped like you would stop a roulette wheel, and I 
kicked those niggers till they got out their oars and 
started to pull. And then we saw Bruden again. 
He was not swimming this time. He was floating 
in a little eddy at what seemed to be the very core 
of that maelstrom, and we pulled towards him. 

"We dragged him in over the side of the boat 
and laid him on the bottom. He was not dead, but 

[317] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



it would have been fetter for him if he had been, 
That is so. He had hit his head against a rock or 
something, and he was paralyzed. He could not 
move hand or foot, and he babbled like a baby. And 
now I will tell you the most wonderful thing of all. 
That big skipper had something gripped tightly in 
his left hand, and you would not guess what it was 
in a thousand years — no, nor ten thousand years. 
It was one of the hammered silver anklets of the 
golden woman, and it had not been in his hand when 
he jumped from the rail of The Red Spider. 

" I do not know how he got it. I wish I did. But 
I could not pull it out of his grip, and he held on 
to it when we pulled back to the schooner as the fog 
swept away. 

" Mind you, / did not see that woman in the water. 
Those niggers said they did, but I could not, and 
yet — Well, the East is a big proposition, and it 
grows bigger the longer you stay with it." 

A monkey whimpered in the adjoining hut, and 
Hochdorf plunged into the darkness. In a few 
minutes he returned with a baby mias in his big 
arms. 

" And the golden woman ? " I asked. " Did she — 
was she ever heard of afterwards ? " 

" Ja. That is the greatest wonder of all. I would 
give my year's wages, and that is ten thousand 
marks, if I could have it all explained to me. When 
[318] 



The Golden Woman of Kelantan 

that Maori mate managed to navigate The Red 
Spider to Bangkok, I went ashore, and at the gate 
of the Temple of Wat Sutat I saw her speaking to 
a crowd. I was not astounded. Somehow I ex- 
pected it. When we lifted that paralyzed brute onto 
the deck of the schooner on the night of the fog. 
those niggers were as quiet as mice. And that made 
me wonder. 

" I went up to the golden woman, and when she 
had finished speaking I addressed her in English. 
What do you think she did ? She turned and spoke 
to a Shan priest that was at her side, and he spoke 
to me. He translated what she said. Ho, ho, yes ! 
He told me that she did not speak English, and that 
she was not allowed to speak to an unbeliever. And 
I laughed. I did so. I looked down at her left foot 
where there, was a toe missing. Ja. And I looked 
at her instep where there was a big scratch as if 
one of her silver anklets had been torn off by force, 
and then I laughed again. And she stared after 
me with those eyes that were deeper than the Teng- 
peng Well, as I walked down the street. I have 
tried to put it from my mind, but it will not go. 
It is foolish to think too much about a thing like 
that. It is so. Are you sleepy now? I will give 
the baby mias a drink, and then we will turn in." 



[319] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 



XII 

THE LITTLE GOLD EARS OF SLETH 

'T^ HIS is the story of Ulysses E. Slingsby, a one- 
-■- time resident of Hoboken, N. J., but now a 
permanent boarder at Al-Kasim's sour-smelling little 
boarding house in Pasaca Street, Port Said. It is 
a true story. The Arabs say that a lie has no legs, 
and if one pursues a falsehood it will collapse like 
the one-eyed robber who attempted to steal the 
wonderful emerald breastplate of Mohammed. A 
truth, however, has wings that can take it out of 
the reach of the incredulous ones who would strangle 
the wisdom-laden words of the Prophet himself. 
The story of Slingsby has lived through five years 
of bazaar gossip, and its wings grow stronger day 
by day. 

Ulysses E. Slingsby was an engineer in the employ 
of the Holworth, Hyde and Heppler Construction 
Company of New York City. Slingsby was a 
capable man and he was held in high esteem by the 
company. He was a conscientious, hard-working 
employee, and when the H. H. & H. Company 
gained the contract for the El-Nar Dam by under- 
bidding their great rival, the Malbar, Fincham Com- 

[323] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



pany, Holworth, the senior member of the firm, 
called Slingsby into his private office. 

" Slingsby," he said, " would you like to see the 
East?" 

"The East?" repeated Slingsby. 

" Yes, the East," said Holworth. " Would you 
like to see palm-trees Ifld elephants, flying" fish and 
— and things like that? Temple bells a-tinklin' 
while ybu work; suilny skies, Sarid, and the EI-Nar 
Dam?" 

Slittgsby took a great breath and looked at the 
senior partner. "Would you give tfie chance?" he 
cried. " Would you ? " 

" It's yours," answered Holworth. " It is a big 
thing, Slingsby. Every minute counts, and if we 
fall down on this stunt the Malbar, FinCham crowd 
will gather in everjrthitlg in that part of the World 
for the rteXt ten years. Pack your grip and get your 
instructions ; you will have to drive them night and 
day to get it through." 

Three weeks after that itttefview, UfySSes E. 
Slingsby, dressed in immaculate ducks, airid wearing 
a new topee, stood upon the hurricane deck of the 
Peninsula & Oriental Steamship Maloja, as tfiat 
vessel glided along the big breakwatei' and tied up 
to a buoy off the landing jetty at Port Said. 
Slingsby was impressed. Already he felt the 
glamour of the East, although he had not yet entered 
[324] 



The Little Oold £ars of Sleth 

the gateway. But from the moment he donned the 
white suit and magnificent topee he felt that he had 
sailed into the regions of Romance, and unexplain- 
able thrills came to him as he watched the statue 
of the great De Lesseps, who, with arm outstretched, 
points to the massive trench which he dug through 
the sands to Suez. 

"Gee! it's greati!" muttered Slingsby. "It's 
fine! Why, it is snowin' back in old New York, 
an' this burg is as warm as Atlantic City in the 
summer time." 

Slingsby went ashore by himself. Port Said 
nowadays is one of the best policed cities in the 
East. Lord Cromer has cleaned the town so that 
it is possible for a three-year-old child to walk in 
safety from the landing stage to the sand stretches 
beyond the Arab town — and Slingsby was a little 
mcs-e than three. 

Ulys5es E. did the usual tourist stunts. He 
visited the mosque, drove through the Arab quarter, 
and sipped cold drinks on the colonnade of tlie Con- 
tinental as he watched the jugglers do amazing 
tricks. He bought curios that had been imported 
from Birmingham, Yokohama, and other far-away 
places, and he posted three dozen cards to friends 
in Mew York. Each one of the three dozen cards 
carried the message : 

This is the greatest place ever. Me for the heat 
I 32s ] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



As the shades of evening fell upon the town he 
walked down to the jetty, and with the firm belief 
that he knew Port Said from title page to back 
cover, he stepped into a boat and pointed to the 
P. & O. steamer that lay a few hundred yards from 
the jetty. 

" Get a move on, Steve," was his jocular remark 
to the Arab boatman. "Let me see something 
lively in this burg before I shake its dust off my 
shoes." 

Slingsby's ducks and topee, so he assured himself, 
made him look like an experienced traveler, and he 
felt quite pleased with himself as he lolled back 
in the boat and listened to the soft chant of the 
Arab. 

"And it's snowing in old New York," he mut- 
tered. ""Gee whiz! Snowing? And here it's warm 
and comfortable, with nice soft breezes and odors 
that make you forget everything and everybody." 

It was just at the moment when Slingsby deliv- 
ered himself of this little romantic speech that 
something happened. 

A hawser stretched between the stern of the 
Maloja and a snubbing-post ashore, caught the Arab 
boatman beneath the chin. The Arab made a brave 
effort to preserve his balance, but he found it im- 
possible. He fell against Slingsby, who had half 
risen from his seat when the wet hawser struck the 
[326] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

oarsman, and the next moment, Ulysses E. Slingsby 
was struggling in the somewhat dirty water of Port 
Said harbor. 

Slingsby could never explain what really hap- 
pened to him after the upset. He had a belief that 
the boatman was strangling him. He tried to fight 
himself free of the brown hands that gripped his 
throat, but he found it impossible. He felt that 
he was being carried down into watery depths, and 
during the seconds that elapsed before he became 
unconscious, he remembered that 'an inner self was 
protesting madly against his stupidity in leaving 
New York to come to a place where it was possible 
for an Arab boatman to strangle a saloon passenger 
within hail of the big steamer upon which he was 
voyaging. 

Ulysses E. Slingsby returned to consciousness at 
dawn on the following morning. For ten minutes, 
he lay with his eyes open, trying hard to recall the 
happenings of the previous evening. He remem- 
bered how the Arab had dragged him down, but he 
knew as he stared at the ceiling above his head that 
he had been rescued in time. He was alive, but 
where he was, he could not tell. 

Slingsby lifted himself upon his elbow and 
examined his surroundings. He was lying on a 
small white-enameled bed in a little room that was 

[327] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



furnished in Oriental fashion. There were rugs 
and cushions, tapestries and articles of curious 
workmanship that convinced Slingsby that he was 
in a house whose owner was not European. 

" Where the dickens am I ? " he muttered. " I'm 
not on the boat, but why the mischief didn't they — " 
He lifted himself up and sent a yell into the silence. 
"Waiter!" he screamed. "Steward! Is there 
anybody about? Hey, there! Waiter! Steward!" 

In response to Slingsby's wild yell, there was a 
quick pattering of feet along the passage leading 
from the door of the little room. The door was 
flung open and Slingsby stared at the wonderful 
apparition that appeared. Sling^y's own account 
of her looks, which he has retailed to four or five 
people, would lead one to believe that the woman 
who appeared in the doorway was more beautiful 
than Marna or the dark-eyed Zela whom the 
Prophet picked to welcome the faithful into the 
Seventh Heaven. Slingsby says that she was the 
most wonderful locddng creature in the whole world, 
and no one can contradict Slingsby. No person can 
be foiuid who saw the woman previous to that 
morning, and Slingsby has, since parting with her, 
spent five years at Al-Kasim's stuffy little boarding- 
house in an effort to locate her. 

"Where am I?" cried Slingsby, after he had 
stared for a few minutes at the glorious tinted face 
[328] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

———^ < 

turned towards hira. "Where the dickens am I? 
I'm not on the Maloja; where am I?" 

" You are safe," murmured the apparition. " You 
are perfectly safe." 

Shngsby asserts that the voice of the woman 
was as musical as the waters of the El-Nath water- 
fall which flows over a bed of smooth rock "way up 
beyond Temsal, and, once again, Siingsby's word 
must be taken because there is no one to contradict. 

"But the steamer?" cried the engineer. "The 
Maloja! Why am I not aboard the steamer?" 

" The steamer has sailed," murmured the woman. 
" She sailed last night." 

"But why wasn't I put aboard?" cried Slingsby. 
" Why didn't they take me aboard when they pulled 
me out of the water ? Why did the fools bring me 
here ? Who — who rescued me? " 

The dark-eyed woman came softly across the 
room, and her face was close to Siingsby's as she 
stood near. He was looking up into eyes in which 
all the mystery of the Orient lay concealed, and for 
a single moment, Slingsby of Hoboken felt strangely 
indififerent to the fate which had brought him to the 
little room. But that indifference was only momen- 
tary. Thoughts of Holworth and of the great dam 
flooded his mind, and he repeated his question in 
a touder tone. 

"Quick! Tell me! Who was it rescued me?" 

[329] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



The red lips moved ever so slightly. "I did," 
murmured the woman. "I saved your life when 
the boatman had nearly strangled you." 

Slingsby remained speechless for three minutes, 
and in that short space of time, the East placed its 
velvet fingers upon the engineer from New York 
City. It seemed as if soft little lariats were being 
plaited around the soul of Ulysses E. Slingsby. 

To his nostrils there came a whiff of strange per- 
fume which intoxicated him. His eyes feasted upon 
the beauty of the woman who stood close to him. 
He noted the strange j^ewelry on her rounded arms 
and finely modeled neck. A curious sense of delight 
at being left behind by the steamer fought with the 
loyalty which Slingsby had for the H. H. & H. 
Company which employed him. 

"But why did you bring me here?" he asked 
feebly. "I should have been put on the steamer. 
I'm — I'm a first saloon passenger. I am Ulysses 
E. Slingsby of Hoboken, New Jersey." 

" No one knew you," said the woman, slowly 
shaking her head. " No one knew your name, so I 
had you brought here. How do you say it ? " 

" Say what ? " asked Slingsby. 

" Your name," she murmured. 

" Ulysses E. Slingsby," repeated the engineer. 

"Isses E. Slingsby," said the woman. "I like 
your name, Isses." 

[330] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 



"Ulysses," said Slingsby. 

" Isses," said the soft lips that charmed Slingsby 
by the manner in which they endeavored to prp- 
nounce his name. " Isses. Yes, I understand." 

Slingsby gave up the attempt. It didn't much 
matter whether she called him "Isses" or 
" Ulysses," and, as she had rescued him from drown- 
ing, he could not be particular about little matters 
like the pronunciation of his name. 

Slingsby tried to collect his thoughts. Holworth 
would imagine that he was at that moment moving 
down the Suez Canal on his way to take charge of 
the great dam at El-Nar. Holworth, in his twen- 
tieth-story office back in New York, would have 
his finger upon the atlas, fully aware of the exact 
spot where his engineer was at any particular 
moment. Holworth had a wonderful mind for 
details, and Slingsby knew how important it was 
that he should reach El-Nar at the earliest possible 
moment. The great dam had to be pushed forward 
with the utmost speed to avoid the penalty clauses 
in the contract. 

"I must get there!" he cried. "I want to get 
to El-Nar as quickly as I can ! I must get there at 
once ! " 

"El-Nar?" repeated the woman, whose wonder- 
ful eyes were upon the engineer. 

"Yes, El-Nar!" cried Slingsby. "I am an 

[331] 



'Breath of the jungle*' 



engineer ! Do you understand ? I am the engineer 
in charge of the big dam, and I've got to get ^fliere 
as quickly as possible!" 

She nodded the shapely head upon which the 
raven black hair was piled in a fashion that made 
Slingsby marvel. "I understand, Isses," she said 
softly. "I understand. You want to go to El- 
Nar?" 

"You've got me," said Slingsby. "I want to 
get there as quickly as possible. Say, send in my 
clothes and I will dress. I must find out when the 
next boat will be along." 

The woman, who was as beautiful as Zela, disap- 
peared with a smile, and inside of three minutes, a 
Somali boy brought into the room the white duck 
suit which Slingsby had on when he was capsized 
from the boat in the harbor. The smt had been 
washed and ironed. The white silk sodcs also had 
been laundered, and the deck shoes dried and 
cleaned. It was only the topee that showed signs 
of the immersion. The topee was a crumpled mass, 
and Slingsby laughed grimly as the Somali boy held 
it up for inspection. 

" It's all right, my boy," said the engineer. " I'll 
buy another one. I guess my wallet — "Slingsby 
broke off and sprang for the white jacket. A hor- 
rible thought had come to him. Perhaps his wallet 
had dropped out of the coat pocket during his 
[332] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

struggle with the boatman, and he might even then 
be penniless in A stfange town. 

The chilling surmise turned out to be a certainty. 
Tbetre was no Wallet ift the pocket of the coat. 
Neither was there any news of its discovery. After 
Slingsby had dressed himself, the dark-eyed woman 
assured him that there was rid money or papers in 
his clothes when he was rescued from the water. 

Slingsby was fearfully excited. He was at a 
loss what to do. The steamer had gone on without 
him, and he had no money with which to pay his 
passage on another boat. He had not even the 
price of a cable that would inform Holworth of his 
position. 

"What shall I do?" he cried, turning upon the 
woman whose shapely hands had pulled him out 
of the water. "What the dickens will I do?" 

The black-eydd woman remained silent^ watctiifig 
Slingsby, whose face showed the consternation he 
felt at finding thait his wallet had disappeared. 

"What shall I do? I haven't got a dollar to 
caMe with." 

She understood then, and to Slingsb/s surprise, 
she produced two sovereigns and tendered them to 
him. 

"You caa use those," she cried. "Take them. 
I will loan them to you." 

SKng^by started to stammer out protests, but she 

[ 333 ] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



would not listen. She assured him that he was wel- 
come to the money, and, at last, he decided to accept 
her offer. 

"I want to cable my bosses," he said — "the 
Holworth, Hyde & Heppler Company, 'way over in 
the United States. I want to tell them how I am 
fixed. They will cable me money right here and 
then I will be able to repay you." 

The woman clapped her hands, and an aged Arab 
appeared to guide Slingsby to the oiBce of the 
Eastern Cable Company. Slingsby was much 
excited. In his hurry to send a cable he forgot to 
address one word of thanks to her for saving him 
from drowning. He could only think of the posi- 
tion in which the unforttmate accident placed his 
employers, who had carefully reckoned up every 
minute of the time it would take to construct the 
El-Nar Dam. Even with Slingsby pushing the 
work, they doubted if they could avoid the penalties 
which would be inflicted if the job was not finished 
by contract time; and Slingsby, in a mad fever of 
excitement, ran at a jog trot towards the ofEces of 
the Cable Company. 

He sent the cable, and then, somewhat soothed, 
it dawned upon him that he hadn't offered one word 
of thanks to the woman who had rescued him. He 
was relieved to find that the Arab guide was still 
with him, and he immediately turned back to the 
I 334] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

house to offer thanks and apologies for his some- 
what brusque departure. He told himself that she 
would understand when he explained that he was 
the engineer in charge of a great work which could 
not be delayed. 

And Slingsby was correct. The black-eyed lady 
understood and sympathized. Slingsby wondered 
at her powers of imderstanding. He wondered as 
he listened to her consoling words. In fact, at 
that moment she was to Slingsby a source of con- 
solation that made him truly thankful. Port Said 
was foreign to the engineer from Hoboken. The 
whole city was strange and unreal, yet his good 
fortune was wonderful. 

"Holworth will cable at once," said Slingsby. 
"He'll send me the coin the moment he gets the 
news. The dam has got to be pushed with all 
speed." 

When night came down upon Port Said, the dailc- 
eyed rescuer made a further loan. Slingsby refused 
the use of the room in which he had awakened that 
morning; and the woman, smiling at his refusal, 
advanced him the money to pay for a room at the 
Continental. 

" But you will come and see me ? " she murmured. 
"Tomorrow, Isses?" 

"Yes, tomorrow," said Slingsby. "I'll come to 
pay you back and say good-by tomorrow. The Ger- 

[335] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



man boat will be here by noon and I'll get a passage 
on her. Holworth will send the coin." 

But Holworth sent no coin. A long day passed 
without any cable from H. H. & H. Company, and 
Slingsby's nerves went to pieces. It was the soft 
voice of the dark-eyed woman that soothed him 
during that long day. She told him that every- 
thing would be all right, that he must be patient. 
The Company would surely send him the necessary 
funds, and, till then, she would think it a pleasure 
to advance him enough for board and lodging. 

Slingsby found it hard to accept the loan, but it 
was tendered in a manner that soothed the qualms 
he felt. Slingsby, thinking much of the El-Nar Dam 
and of the dilatory Holworth, tried now to form a 
proper estimate of the woman who had befriended 
him. He tried to guess at her nationality. There 
was color in her veins, but it was so slight that 
Slingsby fold himself it wasn't enough to make a 
fuss about. She told him that she was the widow 
of a French officer, and Slingsby believed. 

Slingsby borrowed another sovereign and sent 
another cable. He was angry with Holworth. He, 
Slingsby, was not to blame. He had been knocked 
overboard by the Arab boatman who had collided 
with the hawser in the dusk of the evening. He had 
nearly lost his life as well as his money, and he 
could not imderstand why Holworth refused to 
[336] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

send sufficient funds to hurry him on his way. 
"He's mad!" he repeated over and over again. 
"He's a lunatic to delay things like this! Every 
minute counts, and he knows how we will lose other 
contracts if we can't get through this in the time we 
promised." Slingsby was thinking of the Malbar, 
Fincham people, and how they would be over- 
joyed at hearing of any delay in connection with 
the contract for the big dam. 

It was on the third evening after his immersion 
that the dark-eyed woman told Slingsby the story 
of Sleth of the Wonderful Ears. Perhaps she did 
it with a view of diverting Slingsby's mind from his 
misfortunes. Anyhow, Slingsby was interested. 

It is an old story, the story of Sleth. It is told 
from Abulaba to Obok, and from Ain Hamad to 
Mesnah. It has been told for seventeen hundred 
years. It has come down through the centuries, a 
pathetic little tale concerning the waiting maid of 
the Princess Azra, whose hearing was so keen that 
she could hear a whisper uttered by a person miles 
and miles away. Her hearing was so acute that 
she could hear the whispers of desert lovers far 
out beyond the Bitter Waters; and the fame of 
Sleth went up and down the land. To her the little 
grains of sand spoke with soft voices. To her the 
night breezes carried the faintest murmurings. To 

[337] 



'Breath of the Jungle" 



her wonderful ears came everythiog; but Sleth, 
gifted with this power, was pot wise. She heard 
the Captain of the Guard whisper soft words to 
the Princess, and she was stupid enough to tell. The 
Princes was angry, very angry. She ordered the 
Captain of the Guard to cut off Sleth's wonderful 
ears, and the Captain of the Guard was only too 
willing to comply. 

It was then that Allah performed the miracle that 
gave Sleth undying fame. Two tiny gold ears were 
brought to Sleth by a winged peri who came from 
the Paradise of die Faithful, and with these delicate 
ears, which were wonderfully modeled, she could 
hear even more distinctly than she had heard with 
the ears of which she had been deprived. 

The whole world became a soundingboard to 
which she listened. The breezes that blew across 
from Mecca brought to her the chanting of pilgrims, 
the sounds of festivals and the songs of the desert 
shepherds. The winds tb_at came from the sea 
brought her the chanteys of sailor-men out on the 
deep waters, the songs of the pearl fishers from 
far-off Bahrein, and the fierce yells of the pirates 
who prowled up and down the Persian Gulf. 

It was all a wonderful story to Slingsby^ — 
Slingsby, who was upset and irritated by the delay. 
As he listened to it, he forgot Holworth. He for- 
got the dangers which threatened the H. H. & H. 

[338] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

Conjpany through bis misfortune. His miad built 
up a picture of the wonderful ears, as the woman 
with the voice that was as soft as the murmur of 
the El-Nath waterfall told him the story. The 
dark-haired woman was a wonderful story teller. 

" Gee, that's a yarn ! Reads like a yeUow-press 
Sunday story," he cried. 

" It is true," murmured the woman. 

"Sure," said Slingsby. "I bet if I doubted it 
that you could show me the little gold ears." 

The dark-eyed woman stared at Slingsby for a 
few minutes as if his remark caused her some sur- 
prise; then she stood up slowly and walked towards 
him. "I could show you the ears," she said, her 
voice Iceyed soft and low. " If you would help me, 
we could get them. See, I have the plans which 
tell me the exact spot where Sleth is buried. They 
were given to me by Zuphra the Wise, and no one 
else has the information. You are learned in such 
things, Isses, and you will be able to understand. 
It is somewhere within two days' journey of this 
place, but my poor little brain cannot grasp the 
details." 

She placed before Slingsby several rolls of parch- 
ment on which were many drawings and much writ- 
ing in Arabic; and Slingsby of Hoboken, flattered 
by her appeal to his intelligence, started to pore over 
the curious drawings which filled the sheets. 
[339] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



In the hours that followed, the woman with the 
soft, musical voice was at Slingsby's elbow as he 
pored over the chart. A strange, heady perfume 
came from her filmy garments ; her eyes shone with 
a light that had a peculiar effect upon Slingsby each 
time he glanced at her. 

"The little gold ears were buried with Sleth," 
she murmured. "All my life I have thought of 
finding them, Isses, but I have never found anyone 
who could read the chart." 

"It is something of a puzzle to read," said 
Slingsby. 

" But you can do it, Isses," she murmured. " You 
can do it." 

And Slingsby, fed with flattering words, stared 
at the chart and used his engineering skill in an 
effort to puzzle out the position of the tomb of 
Sleth. 

Next morning Slingsby sent another cable, the 
fourth. In the afternoon, he sent another. The 
dark-eyed woman paid. Slingsby felt that his 
indebtedness to her was mounting up. She advanced 
the money for his meals and his room. 

The following day, Slingsby sent two more cables, 
but no reply came from Holworth. Slingsby 
stormed. He looked towards New York and cursed 
Holworth and the H. H. & H. Company for refus- 
ing to answer his messages. Slingsby had an idea 
[340] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

that Holworth was so disgusted with him that he 
wouldn't honor him with a cable to say that his 
messages had been received. 

And during those days, when Slingsby's mind 
was in a ferment, the dark-eyed woman soothed it 
by telling him stories of the wonderful Sleth and 
inducing him to help her in her effort to locate the 
exact position of the tomb. And Slingsby became 
curiously interested in Sleth of the Wonderful 
Ears. Day after day, to divert his mind from the 
fix he was in, he would pore over the curious parch- 
ment charts, and he would listen with wonder to the 
stories the woman told. 

" If I cquld find the place, Isses ! " she would mur- 
mur softly. "If I could only find the tomb! Do 
you see what they have written here? It tells that 
the ears of Sleth, the little gold ears, Isses, were 
buried with her. They laid them on her breast 
when she died." 

And Slingsby, listening day after day, as he 
waited for the cable which never came, became 
more and more interested in the finding of the tomb 
of the wonderful Sleth. 

There came a morning, at last, when Slingsby 
cursed the H. H. & H. Company to the uttermost 
ends of perdition. He damned Holworth and 
Happier and Hyde, with their subchiefs and office 
staff. He damned the El-Nar work and prayed that 
[341] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



the penalty clauses in the contract would ruin tlie 
company by wrhom he was employed. Three weeks 
of waiting in Port Said had upset the mind of 
Ulysses E. Slingsby. The atmo^)liere of the place 
had a peculiar effect upon him. He was dazed 
and stupid. The inaction had brought upon him a 
mild form of insanity. And one morning he rode 
into the desert, side by side with the dark-eyed 
woman. 

"We will find the tomb, Isses," she murmured 
as they rode on into the white sunshine. " I know 
we will, Isses.'" 

"I think so," said Slingsby. "Why,. y«s, I 
believe we will." 

The desert swallowed up Sling^y and the woman, 
and the two Arab servants who rode with them. 
The great sand stretches unrolled before them, and 
the dunes, like the graves of gods, rose behind them 
in countless numbers. 

Slingsby forgot that he was Slingsby. The desert 
blotted out his individuality. Sometimes he felt 
certain that he had never seen New York; that no 
such company existed as the H. H. & H. and that 
the fat Holworth was but the figment of a dream. 

Men who see for the first time great stretches 
of smooth sand upon which the sun beats till it 
looks like a bed of crushed diamonds, often suffer 
from the strange form of aphasia which attacked 

[342] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

Slingsby. In those diays in the desert he forgot 
everything but the fact that he had promised the 
dark-eyed woman to locate the tomb of Sleth by 
means of the chart which she had given him. 

" We will find it, Isses," she would murmur again 
and again, her voice coming to Slingsby like sweet 
music from afar. 

"Yes, We shall find it," Slingsby would mutter. 
" I have calculated everything correctly and I know 
that we will strike the right place." 

And Ulysses E. Sling'sby v^as safe in making his 
boast. He had made his calculattions vfith care 
and precision. There came an afternoon when the 
little caValcade halted near an oasis, and Sling^y, 
slipping from his camel, turned to his companion. 

" If the tomb exists, it is within a hundred yards 
of where I am standing," he said. "I am certain' 
of that." 

" Oh ! Isses ! " murmured the woman. " Oh, if 
you are really right ! " 

Slingsby was right. Holworth had always said 
that Slingsby 's soul was composed of blue prints, 
and the manner in which he had gathered his in- 
formation from the parchment charts made one 
think that Holworth wias correct in his diagnosis. 
Slingsby had located the exact spot. Ten hours 
after their arrival at the little oasis in the^ desert, 
the two Arab servants were busy shoveling the sand 

[343] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



from a great slab of stone which Slingsby felt was 
the door of the tomb he sought. 

That was a wonderful morning for Slingsby and 
for his companion. With much trouble they dis- 
placed the stone which formed the entrance to the 
rock tomb, and side by side, they entered. The tomb 
was hewn out of the solid rock, and resting on the 
floor was a stone sarcophagus upon the lid of which 
were Arabic characters which the woman deciphered 
while Slingsby held a light for her to read. 

Slingsby thrilled as he listened. It was the tomb 
of Sleth that he had discovered. From the marble 
slab the dark-eyed woman read the story of the 
wonderful ears. Beneath the slab lay Sleth of the 
gold ears — Sleth, for whom Allah had worked a 
miracle when the anger of the Princess had deprived 
her of the organs which gathered the faintest 
whispers from the desert air. 

Slingsby rigged up a hoist, and with the aid of 
the two Arabs, he swung the great slab from the 
sarcophagus. Slingsby was drunk then, intoxicated 
by the sunshine and the desert and the stories which 
he had heard concerning the person whose mummi- 
fied figure lay before their eyes when the big slab 
had been dragged aside. He hadn't a thought of 
Holworth or the Construction Company. He was 
afire with the excitement produced by the discovery. 

Slingsby and the woman ordered the two Arabs 

[344] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

out of the chamber. Then they proceeded very care- 
fully to unwind the linen cloth which covered the 
mummied form. They did not speak. Their lips 
could not utter a sound, and Slingsby breathed 
heavily as he helped his rescuer to unwind the long 
strips which crumbled beneath their fingers. The 
woman was murmuring something which seemed to 
Slingsby to be a cross between a chant and a prayer, 
something which he took to be an invocation to the 
Lords of Death to protect them from any punish- 
ment which might come to them for desecrating the 
tomb of the dead. 

And then, halfway in the work of unrolling the 
mummy, the woman stopped with a shout of joy and 
gladness. She sprang forward with hands out- 
stretched, and Slingsby thrust his head close to view 
the object which had attracted her. A fold of linen 
which the engineer had turned, disclosed two tiny 
ears of beaten gold, and the dark-eyed woman 
clutched at them. They lay upon the breast of 
Sleth; and Slingsby, the blood pounding madly 
through his head, knelt and stared. The woman's 
face was alight with a great joy. The black eyes 
were flaming with excitement. Her face was won- 
derful to look upon as she took up the two little 
gold ears and held them close to her bosom. 

" They are the wonderful ears, Isses I " she cried. 
" The wonderful ears ! " 

t345] 



Breath of the Jungle' 



Slingsby turned again to the figure from which 
they had stripped the linen wrappings. For £i 
moment he stared at it; then he, in turn, gave a 
cry and stepped forward. In turning to look at the 
little ears, he had dragged aside a thick fold of cloth ; 
and now, as he looked, the light from the torch was 
gathered up by a shining mass and thrown back to 
hitn in beams of all the colors of the rainbow. 
Slingsby put out his hands and touched the glitter- 
ing mass. His lean fingers touched precious stones 
that flamed as he lifted them up. 

As he disturbed the heap, single stones of won- 
drous beauty rolled along the linen, yellow with 
age, making spots of colored fire as they rolled. 
They were wonderful gems, gems that seemed to 
flash now with extraordinary brilliancy as if th^ 
were hungry for the light that had been denied 
them for centuries and centuries. 

Slingsby couldn't tell how long he and the woman 
Stared at the precious stones. He thinks it must 
have been hours. He is sure it must have been 
hours. It was midday when they pulled the slab 
of stone from off the sarcophagus, and night had 
fallen upon the desert when they came to their 
senses. During these hours, they had done nothing 
else but fondle the magnificent gems and endeavor 
stupidly to calculate the worth of each. 

There were stones of every kind: great rubies 
[346] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

that resembled monster drops of congealed blood; 
emeralds more brilliant than the big' stone that was 
set in the turban of the Prophet; pearls that had 
come from the Arabian Sea when the pearl fisheries 
were new ; diamonds that threw out shafts of white 
light when they brought the torch near them. 

The great pile of gems held them spellbound, and 
it was only the coming of the night that brought 
them back to their senses. 

The dark-eyed woman, more practical than 
Slingsby, suggested that they cover up the stones 
lest the two Arab servants- should obtain a glimpse 
of them. Hurriedly she took oiT a silk scarf which 
she wore and placed upon it the glittering stones. 
Then, tying it carefully, she took it in her hand and 
led Slingsby out onto the sand that was still warm 
from the hot breath of the afternoon sun. 

It was then that the woman remembered the won- 
derful ears of Sleth. She had placed the little ears 
of beaten gold within her bosom when Slingsby had 
drawn her attention to the shining mass of gems ; 
and now as they stood outside the tomb, she took 
them out and lifted them to her ears. 

Slingsby was staring at the desert. Far across the 
sands, a great bar of light was traveling eastward, 
and Slingsby watched it. The shaft of light drew 
his attention, and he questioned his companion. 

"What is that?" he cried. 
[347] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



" It is the searchlight of the German mail-boat," 
answered the woman. "The canal is out there. 
And the big German boat is going down it from 
Port Said to Suez." 

For a moment Slingsby forgot the ears of Sleth. 
He was fascinated by the great beam of light which 
shone through the night. It seemed to drag him 
out of the stupor which had held him during the 
preceding hours. The searchlight seemed to be a 
great finger that threatened him as he stood and" 
watched it. It seemed to tell him that he was Ulysses 
E. Slingsby of Hoboken, and that he didn't belong 
to the desert. Somehow or other, it brought back 
to him his pride in the profession to which he be- 
longed. It made him think that he was kin to the 
great Frenchman who had dug that tremendous 
trench through four-score miles of shifting sand. 

The woman interrupted his thoughts. She was 
speaking to him and Slingsby turned towards her. 
She was holding to her ears the tiny pieces of beaten 
gold which she assured Slingsby were the wonderful 
ears of Sleth. " I can hear, Isses ! " she cried. " I 
can hear!" 

A madness came over Slingsby. He gripped her 
arm and pointed to the great beam of light which 
marked the slow passage of the mail-boat. 

"You can?" he asked hoarsely. 

"I can," she breathed. "Yes, Isses, I can hear 
[348] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

whispers from miles away across the desert." 

Slingsby's grip tightened on her arm. He was in 
great excitement. Hastily he calculated the time 
that had elapsed since the evening he was upset in 
the waters of Port Said. Three weeks and three 
days had gone by, and Slingsby wondered at that 
moment if there was not a possibility of someone 
connected with the H. H. & H. Company being 
aboard the big boat whose great electric eye swept 
the canal waters. Sufficient time had elapsed to 
allow the Construction Company to send out a suc- 
cessor to take his place upon the El-Nar Dam. 

Slingsby, in telling of this incident an hour later, 
took oath that he didn't mention his thoughts to the 
woman who stood beside him. He is certain of this. 
They were his own thoughts and he did not breathe 
them to her as he stood there. But his meditations 
were interrupted by words that thrilled him, and he 
turned fiercely upon the woman. 

"What is it?" he cried. 

'"Olworth!" she whispered. '"Olworth, Isses! 
He is aboard the boat ! " 

She was holding the two little gold ears close to 
her head, and Slingsby wet his dry lips and screamed 
at her. 

"How do you know?" he cried. 

" I can hear ! " she murmured, her eyes shining as 
Slingsby thrust the torch close to her face. " I can 

[349] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



hear, Isse§ ! I can hear the whispers on the boat ! " 

Slingsby flung another question at her. " What 
— what is he saying ? " he cried. 

"He is telling someone about you, Isses," she 
answered. " He is telling someone that you took 
money from someone else, and betrayed him. 
Wait ! Wait ! I will hear the name ! Yes, yes, Isses ! 
He is telling the other that you took money from the 
Malbar — Malbar -^ " 

" Yes, go on ! " shouted Slingsby. 

" From the Malbar, Fincham Company," she con- 
tinued. " He says that you took it as a bribe and 
that it ruined him on the El-Nar Dam." 

Slingsby gave a cry of rage as he turned towards 
the great bar of light which moved slowly across 
the desert. The engineer was making hurried calcu- 
lations. He knew that the steamers were compelled 
to steam slowly through the big trench, and he flung 
a question at his companion. 

"Which is the nearest track to the cajial?" he 
cried. "How far is it from here.'" 

The woman thrust her bare arm out towards the 
southeast. " Over there," she murmured, " the canal 
is only three miles away." 

Before she had finished speaking, Ulysses E. 
Slingsby, crazed with the belief that Holworth of 
the H. H. & H. Company considered him a traitor, 
dashed away across the sands. 
[350] 



The Littie Gold Ears of Sleth 

It was the quartermaster of the big German liner 
who heard the cry that came up out of the waters 
as the boat crept quietly forward, and who flung a 
buoy and a rope in the direction from which' the cry 
came. Passengers and stewards rushed from every 
part of the ship and the slowly turning screw stopped 
as the officer on the bridge heard the second yell 
which came from the dark waters. 

The quartermaster hauled upon the rope which 
he had thrown into the canal, and by the aid of will- 
ing hands, both of passengers and crew, who came 
to his assistance, a dripping figure was hauled upon 
the well-deck. The rescued one stood beneath an 
arc lamp and stared at the group that surrounded 
him. 

"Mr. Holworth!" he cried. "Where is Mr. 
Holworth?" 

For a moment no one answered ; then the assistant 
purser pushed his way to the front of the group. 
" Who is it you want ? " he asked. 

"Mr. Holworth!" answered the man who had 
come up out of the night. " Mr. Holworth, of the 
Holworth, Hyde & Heppler Company of New 
Yorkl " 

A young man with a clean-cut face and firm jaw 
took a cigar from his mouth the moment he heard 
the name and elbowed his way towards the half- 
drowned man who stood beneath the light. 

[351] 



'Breath of the Jungle' 



"Holworth isn't aboard," said the young man. 
" He's in New York. That's my Company, the H. 
H. & H. I am their engineer going out to the 
El-Nar Dam. What is it you wanted to see Hol- 
worth about ? Why, it's Slingsby ! " 

He sprang forward and' gripped the hand of the 
dripping Slingsby, and Slingsby, gasping weakly, 
blinked as he returned the handclasp. 

" And — and Holworth isn't on board? " he asked. 

" No," answered the young man. " He's in New 
York, Slingsby. What put that into your head? 
He sent me out to — to take your — you know, 
Slingsby. Something went wrong, didn't it ? Some- 
thing went wrong at Port Said ? " 

"Holworth wouldn't answer my cable," said 
Slingsby. 

" Wouldn't answer ? " cried the other. 

" Wouldn't answer," repeated Slingsby. " I sent 
seven cables and didn't get an answer." 

The young man gave a whistle of astonishment. 
" Why, there's some mess up somewhere," he cried. 
" Holworth sent you a score of cables. I know he 
did. I was in the office, Slingsby, and I know. 
He cabled you money and instructions, and why 
the devil you didn't get them, I cannot tell. Where 
did you come from now ? " 

Slingsby forgot the crowd. He forgot the circle 
of passengers and stewards. He saw only the 

[353] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

representative of the company for which he had 
worked for years, and to the young man with the 
strong jaw who was going out to do the work on the 
El-Nar Dam which he, Slingsby, should have done, 
he stammered out the story. In a high-pitched voice, 
he told of the upsetting of the boat in Port Said 
harbor, and of the dark-eyed woman who had 
advanced him the money for cables and for board 
and lodging. He told the story of Sleth of the 
Wonderful Ears, of the tomb that contained the 
treasure and the little ears of beaten gold; and last 
of all, he told how the dark-eyed woman, with the 
little ears pressed to the sides of her head, had 
told him that she heard remarks which she assured 
him were made by Holworth on board the big Ger- 
pian liner. 

"She said that Holworth said that I sold the 
H. H. & H. to the Malbar, Fincham crowd!" he 
cried. " She said she heard him ! I ran three miles 
across the desert to get here to tell him — to tell 
him that it was a lie ! " 

The young man stepped closer and gripped 
Slingsb/s hand. 

"Holworth didn't say it," he said. "I don't 
know what he thought, Slingsby, but he didn't say 
it. But the woman, Slingsby? What — what did 
she know of the Malbar, Fincham crowd? Eh? 
And those gems? Don't you think she wanted to 

[353] 



"Breath of the Jungle" 



get rid of you just now, Slingsby, and — faked up 
all that fool business about hearing Holworth's 
voice? Don't you — Stop him! Stop him!" 

Slingsby had made a mad rush for the rail, and 
three stewards flung themselves upon him. He tried 
to fight himself free, but his efforts were futile. 
Despite his kicking and struggling, they carried him 
into a cabin, with the young man of the H. H. & H. 
Company and the ship's doctor giving directions as 
they walked alongside. 

" I don't care, Slingsby," said his successor. " I 
don't care what you lose. You can't do another 
swimming stunt tonight. And you'd lose your way, 
you fool ! We'll be at Suez in the morning, and you 
can do what you like then." 

Slingsby, much excited, left the German boat at 
Suez and came back up the canal in an old tramp 
steamer bound for Alexandria. He induced the cap- 
tain of the tramp to put him ashore at the spot where 
he had boarded the German boat on the previous 
evening, and then Ulysses E. Slingsby started out 
across the desert. 

Slingsby found the tomb and the half unwrapped 
form which had been lifted from the sarcophagus 
on the previous day. But he found nothing else. 
The dark-eyed woman and the two Arab servants 
had disappeared, and with the dark-eyed woman 
went the mass of blazing gems which had stupefied 

[354] 



The Little Gold Ears of Sleth 

Slingsby through the long hours that passed after 
their discovery. 

SUngsby walked back to the canal and came up 
to Port Said on a dredge belonging to the company. 
He was a changed man. He was silent and bad- 
tempered, and answered in monosyllables the ques- 
tions that were put to him by the man aboard the 
dredge. 

Five years have passed since then, and Slingsby's 
story has drifted into the bazaar. He lives in the 
little dark room at Al-Kasim's smelly boarding 
house in Pasaca Street; and there, like an owl sit- 
ting in the semi-darkness, he passes the long day. 
But when night comes down upon the " Gateway of 
the East," Slingsby goes abroad. He goes up into 
the Arab quarter and walks through street after 
street till dawn. When Allah dips his fingers in 
living chrome and draws his hand across the Eastern 
sky, Slingsby returns to his room. The bazaar gos- 
sips say that he is looking always for the woman 
who robbed him of his share of the wonderful gems 
he found in the tomb of Sleth. 

The Holworth, Hyde & Heppler Company lost a 
considerable sum of money on the El-Nar Dam. 
The delay caused by the unfortunate happening to 
Slingsby when the hawser upset the boat brought 
innumerable penalties upon them, and the Malbar, 
[355] 



"Breath of the Jungle' 



Fincham Company have wrested from them a score 
of contracts since that time. Holworth, senior 
partner of the H. H. & H., snorted contemptuously 
when he read the story which Slingsby's successor 
wrote of the meeting on board the German liner. 

" Precious stones ! " growled Holworth, on read- 
ing the letter. " I know ! That woman was in the 
employ of the Malbar, Fincham crowd, and she bull- 
dozed the fool. Glory be! What idiots men are! " 

But Holworth may not be right. What is set 
down here is a story that has lived for five years, 
and the life of a lie, according to the Koran, is only 
as long as the life of one of the red cactus beetles 
that flit for an instant in the sunshine before 
they die. 



[356]