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Title: Juju
Author: Leinster, Murray
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Juju" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


                            Murray Leinster

             [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced
               from The Thrill Book, October 15, 1919.]



From the juju house the witch doctor emerged, bedaubed with colored
earths and bright ashes. The drums renewed their frantic, resounding
thunder. The torchbearers capered more actively, and yelled more
excitedly. The drumming had gone on all day and its hypnotic effect
had culminated in a species of ecstasy in which the blacks yelled and
capered, and capered and yelled, without any clear notion of why or
what they yelled.

With great solemnity, the witch doctor led forward a young native girl,
her face bedaubed with high juju signs. She was in the last stage of
panic. If she did not flee, it was because she believed a worse fate
awaited her flight than if she submitted to whatever was in store for
her now.

Two men stepped forward and threw necklaces of magic import about her
neck. Two other men who upon occasion acted as the assistants of the
chief witch doctor seized the girl's hands. The shouting mass of blacks
formed themselves into a sort of column.

At the front were the drums, those incredible native drums hollowed
out of a single log, and which come from the yet unknown fastnesses
of the darkest interior, far back of Lake Tchad. Behind them came
the torchbearers, yelling a rhythmic chant and capering in almost
unbelievable attitudes as they passed along. Next came the witch
doctor, important and mysterious. Behind him came more torchbearers,
yelling hysterically at the surrounding darkness. Then came the two
assistants, dragging the young girl who was almost paralyzed with
terror. And the entire population of the village followed in their
wake, carrying flaming lights and yelling, yelling, yelling at the
eternally unamazed African forest.

The tall, dank tree trunks loomed mysteriously above the band of
vociferous natives, with their thumping, rumbling, booming drums
sounding hollowly from the front of the procession. The lights wound
into the forest, deep into the unknown and unknowable bush. The yelling
became fainter, but the drums continued to boom out monotonously
through the throbbing silence of the African night. Boom, boom, boom,
boom! Never a variation from the steady beat, though the sound was
muted by the distance it had to travel before reaching us.

I glanced across to where Evan Graham sat smoking. We were on the
veranda of the casa on his plantation, four weeks' march from the city
of Ticao, in the province of Ticao, Portuguese West Africa. From the
veranda we could see through the cleared way to the village, a half
mile away, and the whole scene of the juju procession had been spread
before our eyes like a play.

It puzzled me. I knew Evan made no faintest attempt to Christianize his
slaves--and the villagers were surely his slaves--and yet, white men do
not often allow witch doctors to flourish in their slave quarters. And
the girl who had been led away--I had no idea what might become of her.
Voodoo still puts out its head in strange forms in strange places. It
might well be that some hellish ceremony would take place far back in
the bush that night.

Whatever was to happen had been planned long before, because I had
arrived some four hours previously from a trip up beyond the Hungry
Country, and the drums were beating then. I looked curiously at Evan to
see what he thought of the open practice of juju by his slaves under
their master's eyes. His expression was inscrutable. I knew better than
to ask questions, but I could not help wondering what it all meant.
Evan was a queer sort, at best, but to allow his natives to practice
black magic--as was evidently the case here--before his very nose was
queerer than anything he had done before.

He was not taken by surprise, I know. I had heard the drums that
afternoon, long before I entered the village. They were beating
with the rhythmic monotony that is so typical of the African when
he is disturbed in spirit and wants to be comforted, or when he is
comfortable and wants excitement. Either way will do.

My "boys," wandering along in a more or less listless fashion with the
conventional forty-five pounds on their backs, had heard the drumming
and became more interested. My caravan did not close up, however. It
was spread out over anywhere from a mile to a mile and a half of the
old slave trail that goes down to Venghela, and those in the rear
hastened by precisely the same degree as those in front.

According to instructions, the foremost pair halted while still half a
mile away from the village and waited for the rest of us to come up.
For three months I had been back inland, a part of the time back even
of the Hungry Country, where the grass is bitter to the taste, and all
the world is half mad for salt. For three months I had been moving
quickly and constantly.

Having quit the country--I fervently hope for good--it will do no
harm to admit that my constant moving was due less to the demands of
business than to a desire to be elsewhere when the Belgian officials
arrived. The Belgian Kongo is just north of the province of Ticao,
and I had been skimming its edges, buying ivory and rubber from the
natives across the line. The colonial government does not encourage
independent traders, and it would not have been pleasant for me had
I been caught. In Ticao, of course, I was not molested. A small
honorarium to the governor of the province made him my friend, and my
conscience did not bother me. I paid ten times the prices the natives
usually got and I imposed no fines or contributions on the villages.
If you know anything about the Kongo, you will regard me as I regarded
myself--as more or less of a benefactor.

After three months of that, though, and two or three close shaves
from a choice of fighting or capture, I was glad to get back to
civilization, even such civilization as Evan Graham's casa. Away from
Ticao, Evan Graham would have been shunned for the sort of man he was.
In Ticao, one is not particular. There are few enough Anglo-Saxon white
men of any sort--the two consuls, half a dozen missionaries, and about
three men like myself, who take chances in the interior. The rest of
the population is either Portuguese or black, preponderatingly black,
with a blending layer of half- and quarter-breeds.

Evan was a cad and several different kinds of an animal, but he was
a white man, he talked English such as one hears at home, and he had
a pool table and civilized drinks all of four weeks' march from the
city of Ticao. I always stopped overnight with him on my way back from
the interior. I knew that he had bribed the governor to overlook the
law which prescribes that no white man shall settle more than forty
kilometers from a fort, because he wanted to have a free hand with
his natives. I knew, too, that he had no shred of title to the land
he tilled, or to the services of the natives he forced to work in his
fields. He had come out there with four or five of the dingy-brown
half-castes that are overseers for half the rocas in Ticao, had
frightened or coerced the inhabitants of three villages into signing
the silly little contracts that bind them to work for a white man for
so many years at ridiculous wage, and now had a plantation that was
tremendously profitable.

I never had understood just how he made the blacks serve him so well.
He seemed to have them frightened nearly to death. Most plantations
have the slave quarters--the blacks are officially "_contrahidos_," or
contract laborers, but in practice they are slaves--most plantations
have the slave quarters surrounded by a barbed-wire fence, and let
savage dogs loose outside the fence at night, but Graham allowed his
natives to live in the villages they had occupied before his coming and
seemed to take no precautions against their running away.

This open practice of juju before his eyes and apparently with his
consent was of a piece with the rest of his queerness. My own boys
always seemed to be glad to get away from the neighborhood of his
plantation. I had heard a word or two passed among them that seemed to
hint at a juju house in some secret clearing near the village. I had
thought it possible that it was by means of some mummery in that temple
that he kept his natives in hand, but juju is a dangerous thing for a
white man to meddle with.

In any event it was none of my business. I was sitting on his porch,
one of his drinks at my elbow, smoking one of his cigarettes especially
imported from London, and it behooved me to display no curiosity unless
he should choose to speak. He looked over at me and smiled quizzically.

"I wonder what those poor devils think they get by all that juju
palaver," he said ruminatively.

"I don't know," I admitted. "My own boys are constantly at it, of
course. There's a witch doctor just outside of Venghela who'll be rich
when my caravan gets there, for his services in bringing my bearers
back without falling into the tender hands of our neighbors."

My carriers were free men, whom I hired and paid. It would have been
cheaper to adopt the _servaçal_ system and buy contract slaves for
carriers, but being free men they served my purpose better. For one
thing, they gave the Kongo natives more confidence in me, and for
another, they traveled faster when there was danger of pursuit. A slave
would merely have changed masters if I had been caught, but these men
had something to lose.

"I'm going to stop this juju sooner or later," said Graham lazily.
"My brother Arthur has come out and is up after a gorilla in the
Kongo--probably around where you've been--and he's been asking me to
hold on to a real juju doctor for him to interview. When he's through,
I think I'll stop all that. Queer old duck of a witch doctor here."

He clapped his hands and one of the house servants came out with a
siphon and bottle of gin. The man was trembling as he stood beside his
master's chair. Graham snapped two or three words in the local dialect
and the man's knees threatened to give way. He fled precipitately into
the house and came out again--trembling more violently--with limes.

"Never can train blacks properly," Graham grumbled, as he sliced a lime
in half and squeezed it into his tumbler. "Now, a Japanese servant is

He poured his gin and the seltzer fizzed into the glass. He lifted it
to his lips and drained it.

"Japan?" I asked. "I've never been there."

"I have," said Graham morosely. "Been everywhere. England, America,
Japan, India. All rotten places."

"No rottener than this," I said disgustedly. "I had three weeks of
fever up in the Kongo, with a Belgian Kongo Company agent after me the
whole time. I'm still shaky from it. When I can go back to white man's
country again----"

I stopped. Graham was lighting a cigarette, and I noticed that the
flame wavered as he held the match. There are some men who are cold
sober up to a certain point, and then what they have drunk takes hold
of them all at once. Graham was such a person. When he spoke again his
words were slurred and sluggish.

"White man's country," he repeated uncertainly, and then made an effort
to speak clearly. "I'm goin' back some day. Got dear old home, family
servants, broad lawn--everything. Not mine though. Younger son. Had to
win hearth an' saddle of m'own. Arthur's got it all, damn him. Always
was lucky beggar. Got all family estates, all income, I got nothing.
Then I liked girl. Second cousin. Arthur got her, or goin' to. Engaged.
Damn lucky beggar. Always was lucky chap. Steady and dependable. Damn
stodgy, I think. Told him so. Called him a ---- ---- an' he kicked me
out. All because I got into trouble and signed his name to somethin',
to get out."

"Easy there, Graham," I warned. "I don't want to hear anything, you

"You better not," he said suddenly, in a clear voice. He turned
beastlike eyes on me. "If anybody tries to pry into my affairs, they
don't get far."

I blew a cloud of smoke over the railing of the veranda and said
nothing. Through the moonlit night the throbbing of the drums came
clearly to us sitting there. They beat on steadily, monotonously,
hypnotically. There was something strangely menacing in the rhythmic,
pulsing rumble. The cries of night birds and insects, and occasionally
an animal sound, seemed natural and normal, but the muttering of those
drums with that indescribable hollow tone they possess, seemed to
portend a strange event.

"Juju," said Graham abruptly, "is the key to the African mind. I don't
give a damn for the natives. All I care about is what I can get out of
this country, but I say that juju is the key to the African mind."

I smoked on a moment in silence. "I'd rather not meddle with it," I
remarked. "Sooner or later it means ground glass in your coffee of a
morning. Just before I left Ticao, Da Cunha found some in his. He shot
his cook and then found it was another boy entirely."

"I'd have whipped him to death with a _chiboka_," said Graham viciously.

"That's what Da Cunha did," I informed him mildly. "But the governor's
made him leave Ticao for six months. He's over in Mozambique."

"My boys'll never dare try to poison me," declared Graham. He leaned
toward me in drunken confidence. "They believe that if they did----"

"The procession has started again," I said, interrupting him. "I hear
the yelling."

It was so. The drums still beat monotonously and rhythmically, but
beneath their deep bass muttering, a faint, high, continuous sound
could be heard. The procession seemed to be making its way back to the

"I'm goin' to bed," announced Graham sharply. "You go t' bed too. Don't
sit out here an' smoke. Go to bed."

He stood up and waited for me to enter the house. Puzzled, and rather
annoyed, I went inside. I heard Graham walk heavily and uncertainly
through to the rear and heard him speak to several of the servants. The
contrast between his rasping, harsh tones and the frightened voices of
his servants was complete. They were very evidently in deadly fear of

The sound of the procession grew louder and louder. Something about it
perplexed me for a moment, but then I realized that it was not making
direct for the village. It was coming toward the house. I frowned a
moment, and looked to make sure that my automatic was handy and in
proper working order.

The procession was very near. I looked out of the window and saw the
twinkling lights of the torches through the bush. The drums were
thunderous now, but the beat was not the war beat. It was purely
ceremonial. The yelling was high-pitched and continuous.

The head of the procession emerged from the bush and advanced across
the clearing about the house. It swung and headed for the rear of the
house, and the long line of capering, torch-bearing humanity followed

The witch doctor came into view, and the girl. Her panic had reached
its pitch now. I have never seen such ultimate fear as was expressed on
that girl's face, outlined by the flickering light of the torches. The
procession moved until the end had passed beyond the rear corner of the
casa, then turned, and evidently turned again.

I saw it moving back toward the village. A pregnant fact impressed
me. The native girl was missing. She had evidently been left behind
somewhere about the rear of the house. The yelling mass of black
humanity capered and shrilled its way down the cleared way to the
village and gathered in front of the juju house.

Then some dance or ceremony seemed to begin. What it was, I do not
know. I was very tired and presently I went to sleep. But the drums
beat steadily, all night long. They entered the fabric of my dreams and
made my rest uneasy. It could not have been long before morning when I
awoke with a start and found myself sitting up with every nerve tense.
There was no sound, but I had a feeling as if I had been awakened by a
scream, somewhere about the house.



The consul listened gravely while I told him about it. He had asked me
to give all the information I could about Graham. We were on the porch
of the consulate and the whole city of Ticao was spread out before us.
The sea pounded restlessly against the low bluffs upon which the city
was built, and surged angrily about the peninsula on which the fort is

"I woke in the middle of the night," I concluded, "feeling that there
had been a scream somewhere in the house, but not another sound came. I
couldn't get to sleep again, and in the morning I noticed that the girl
who had seemed to be the center of interest in the juju procession had
been installed as a servant at the house. Another one of the servants
had vanished. The new girl looked pitifully scared, perpetually
panic-stricken, though the rest of the servants look frightened enough,
in all conscience. That's all I know."

The consul tugged thoughtfully at his mustache.

"Now why----" he began, and stopped. "The mail boat dropped two
Englishwomen here on her last trip, a Mrs. Braymore and a Miss
Dalforth. Charming women, both of them. They are calling on the
governor's wife this afternoon. They came to me and asked me to assist
them in getting up to Graham's plantation. They told me he was Miss
Dalforth's cousin."

I nodded, frowning. "He said that his cousin--second cousin--would
possibly turn up. His brother is up in the Kongo somewhere trying to
bag gorillas and is going to come from there on through and stop at
his place. Miss Dalforth is probably the second cousin and is engaged
to the brother who is hunting."

"Hm." The consul looked somewhat relieved. "I see. But why on earth
should two women want to go up there? Do you think they'd be safe?"

"I don't know," I said dubiously. "There's no fort anywhere near, and
the natives are scared stiff. They might bolt, but Graham seems to have
them thoroughly in hand. If the ladies once reached the plantation,
they'd probably be safe enough, and Graham's brother could bring them
down to the coast again. The plantation is a queer place, though. I
think there's juju in the air. I'd discourage them from going, if I

"I've tried," said the consul. "I've informed them what sort the
Portuguese traders are, and told them I simply wouldn't let them go up
alone, or with one of those chaps as escort. I didn't know anything
about Graham. They inquired around for an escort, and one of the
missionaries mentioned you."

"As a respectable person?" I asked with a smile.

The consul nodded, matching my smile. "They have quite decided that
you are to escort them to Graham's plantation. I don't think you'll
refuse," he added, when I shook my head. "Miss Dalforth impressed me
as a young woman accustomed to having her way. She saw the governor
and smiled at him, and he agreed that you would be the best possible
person. In fact, he said he would ask you himself."

"I'm not leaving for a month," I told him. "I've had enough of the back
country for at least that long, and my carriers need a rest."

"We'll see," said the consul ruefully. "I'll wager she has you setting
out in a week."

He was nearly right at that. I was introduced to the two of them, and
Miss Dalforth was all that he had said. I had to give my bearers a
rest, however, and it was two weeks before we set out.

It was a hindrance, having women with me. They traveled in an ox
cart, and at nearly every stream the wheels had to be taken off and a
tarpaulin fixed about the body of the wagon to make it into a raftlike
float, in which they were ferried across. Had Miss Dalforth--or Alicia,
as I heard Mrs. Braymore call her--had Alicia been less charming, or
less anxious to cause as little trouble as possible, I would have
cursed them nearly the entire time. As it was, I bore the delays with

They were delighted the first day when we went up the trail to
Venghela. I showed them the street lamp at which the great slave trail
from the interior ended, and they looked dubious. When I showed them
the Padre Silvestre's mission, with its three villages of redeemed
slaves, they grew a little bit white and quiet.

The padre tried to persuade them not to go on, but as luck would have
it, a runner came in on his way to Ticao with a message from Graham.
His brother had arrived from the interior. That strengthened their
resolution. We continued the journey.

While on the trail I could not speak to them, being busily engaged in
the supervision of my caravan. At night, however, we conversed. It was
good to hear cultivated white women talk again and talk about something
besides the slave traffic, the missionary women's sole topic when they
find a listener who can be trusted not to repeat their views to the

The natives are kidnaped or captured far in the interior, brought down
to the coast, and frankly sold. Then they are interviewed and, after
making a mark upon a bit of printed paper, are considered to have made
a contract to serve a white man for four years at one milreis--about a
dollar--a month.

To call it slave traffic is highly insulting to the Portuguese, but
to call it the _servaçal_ system is inadequate. They are _servaçaes_,
or _contrahidos_, which means contract laborers, in theory, but in
practice they are slaves. They never see their native villages again.
The slave trail from the interior is littered with the manacles used to
confine them, and there are gruesome relics all along the way, of those
natives who were unable to bear the hardships of the journey.

I told them of these things. I told them of how the Padre Silvestre
sacrificed his very soul to keep his villagers from being sold again
as _servaçaes_, how the blacks rose on Da Vega's plantation and sacked
it, and all I knew of the whole disgusting system. I had no intention
of making myself a hero--and my conscience still hurts me when I think
of some of the things I grew absolutely accustomed to--but I did allow
myself to show my feelings on the subject of Portuguese government.

Alicia listened, and one night when I had explained to them precisely
what it means for a black to be sent to the island of San Felipe or
Gomé, she held out her hand to me very gravely.

"I think it is very brave of you," she said, "to stay here and do what
you can to help the poor blacks."

I stared at her, tempted to laugh. "My dear young lady," I told her,
"I am an outlaw, practically, who trades with the Kongo natives and
attempts to elude the Belgian officials as much as possible. I'm
tolerated here in Ticao because I bribe the Portuguese. I'm no hero. To
the Belgians I am practically what an I. D. B. is in the Transvaal. And
you know what an illicit diamond buyer is considered."

"I don't believe it," she said firmly. "I think you stay here to help
the poor natives."

She was so beautifully sincere in attributing the noblest motives to
me that I could not laugh at her. Her blessed incomprehension made me
forbear to kick Mboka, who is my official gun bearer and lieutenant,
when he lost the bolt of my best rifle and threw away the weapon to
conceal his misdoing. I had to kick him twice over the day following
for the lapse, when he took advantage of my lenience and stole half of
my jam.

She was a charming girl. Mrs. Braymore was suffering in the journeying
and stoically relapsed into silence to conceal her emotion, but Alicia
was perpetually lively and eager for new things of interest.

She soon grew to adopt a tone of frank friendliness with me, and I
had to remind myself more than once that she was engaged to Graham's
brother, and that it would not do for me to fall in love with her. It
was odd about her engagement, though. She spoke of her fiancé quite
simply, but without any excess of affection. In fact, she confessed
that she thought of him more as a brother than anything else. All three
of them, Graham, his brother and Alicia, had been raised together and
were very much like brothers and sister.

I told myself sternly that, no matter how she felt about her fiancé,
she was engaged to him, and I had better forget that she was delightful
to look upon and an amazingly good companion. I could not manage it,
however, and the last week of the trip was not easy for me. I had to be
friendly and no more.

In a way I was very glad when we saw two khaki sun helmets coming
toward us, though I was much depressed at the thought of parting from
Alicia. I had sent a runner on ahead, and Graham and his brother met
us some four miles down the trail. I was pleasantly surprised at the
sight of Graham's brother. Years before he had been at a little English
seaside resort where I was spending the summer and we had grown very
friendly. He kissed Alicia in a brotherly fashion and shook hands with

"I perpetrate a bromide," he said quizzically. "The world is a small

"Arthur Graham!" I exclaimed. "I knew you in Clovelly six years ago."

"You're right," he said cheerfully. "How are you now? Then you were
flirting mildly with a buxom Devon lassie."

"And now we meet in darkest Africa," I said, smiling. "Let's move on."

We went forward again, Alicia, in the ox cart, gayly retailing to the
two brothers our adventures on the trip up. I was rather surprised
to notice that both of them were heavily armed, and it bothered me a
little. It looked as if there were trouble with the natives. Each of
the two brothers carried a heavy repeating rifle besides an automatic
pistol in his belt, and Arthur looked decidedly worn, though I saw that
he was trying to conceal it from Alicia.

My suspicion was confirmed when I observed that, though he tried not to
let Alicia see it, he was keenly searching the way ahead of us with his
eyes. He seemed particularly worried when we passed near a tree and his
grasp on his rifle tightened. Even after we were well away from it, he
looked back nervously.

We passed around the village and reached the casa by another route,
Alicia chatting cheerfully with all of us from her seat in the cart.
Evan Graham seemed quite at ease and entered into her talk with real
interest, but Arthur--who as her fiancé should have been overjoyed to
see her--was nervous and preoccupied. His rifle was never far from a
position in readiness to fling it to his shoulder, and his eyes roved
restlessly about with a species of dread in them. I walked close to him.

"Arthur," I said in a low tone that Alicia would not catch. "You're
nervous. Natives?"

"They're acting queerly, but it's worse than that," he said in the same
low tone, glancing at Alicia to make sure her attention was elsewhere.
"I'd give anything I possess to have Alicia somewhere else. I'll tell
you later. Just keep your eyes open and, if you see anything, shoot

Evan did not seem to be worried. He was strolling leisurely along,
using his rifle as a walking stick, talking casually to Alicia. His
manners were very good and his voice was soft, very unlike the rasping
snarl I had heard him use to his servants. Looking closely at him, I
could see unmistakable signs that he had been drinking heavily of late.
He seemed quite sober to-day, though. The contrast between his careless
attitude and Arthur's worried air was striking. We saw one or two
natives on our way to the house, and they promptly hid themselves in
the bush. Arthur paid no attention to them. Whatever the trouble might
be, it was not the blacks that he feared, though he had said they were
acting queerly.

He led me aside almost as soon as we reached the casa. I told Mboka to
pile and count the loads, and sent the carriers to the quarters they
would find ready for them. Evan was inside the house, installing Alicia
and Mrs. Braymore in their rooms, and showing them the servants who
would wait on them. Arthur came over to me with a worried frown.

"I say, Murray," he told me nervously. "I'd ask you to take Alicia back
to the coast to-morrow if I dared, but she's here now, and it would be
just as dangerous for her to go back."

"What's the matter?" I demanded. "It isn't the natives. What _is_ the

He looked about anxiously. "I shot a female gorilla up in the Kongo,"
he said jerkily, "and her mate got away. He's followed my caravan ever
since, up to two weeks ago. Then I hit him with a lucky shot, but he
escaped. You know they will try to kill the slayer of their mate."

"I know," I replied. "One of them followed me for three weeks once,
until I bushwhacked and killed him."

"I shot this female," said Arthur quickly. "I shot her through the hip
and she screamed for her mate. She couldn't get away. He came crashing
through the trees, and I fired at him. I thought he'd vanished and went
up to the female. I finished her off, and then the male came for me. I
shot him through the arm and he made off. All that night he moaned and
shrieked around my camp. My boys were badly frightened. Next morning
he dropped from a tree inside the camp, knocked the heads of two of my
carriers together, and crushed in their skulls. I rushed out with a
gun and he disappeared. Three days later he dropped straight out of a
tree almost over my head and made for me. One of my boys was cleaning a
spear, directly in the path of the gorilla. He tried to run the beast
through, but it stopped long enough to break his neck and by that time
I'd got a gun. The gorilla disappeared again. From that time on it
haunted me. If one or two of my boys strayed from the camp, they didn't
come back. The beast has killed six of my best carriers and my gun
bearer. And I never got a fair shot at it! I fired at it two weeks ago
and I found blood where it had been, but no sign of the beast itself.
Since then I've been left in peace."

"The animal may have dropped the trail, or it may be dead," I commented
thoughtfully, "but I don't blame you for wanting to be careful."

"The thought of that huge ape perhaps lurking outside, perhaps about to
drop down at any moment, with Alicia here," said Arthur desperately,
"it's enough to drive a man insane. You know they carry off native
women sometimes. We've got to protect Alicia. If it kills me, it
doesn't matter. Evan won't believe it's around. He's going armed to
humor me, but the beast is near; it's somewhere about."

I felt myself growing pale. A monstrous ape, lingering about the place
with malignant intent, and Alicia laughing unconsciously inside the
house, was enough to make me feel squeamish. I unconsciously tightened
my grasp on my rifle. Alicia came out on the porch at that moment and
beckoned to us.

"We'll not mention this--yet," said Arthur, as we went up.

I nodded. Alicia was all enthusiasm about the comforts Evan had
managed to put into his house so far inland, and when we sat down to
dinner, the bright silver and white tablecloth did give an effect of
civilization. When one looked at the black faces of the servants who
waited on us, and at the tattooing and nose rings that disfigured them,
however, the illusion vanished at once.

I was a long time getting to sleep that night. The next morning would
see me going on my way into the interior, and I would in all likelihood
never see Alicia again. When I at last fell asleep, I was uneasy, and
when I woke, it was in a strangely silent house. Evan Graham's voice
aroused me. He was calling me to get up. His ease of manner and absence
of worry had vanished. Arthur, over his shoulder, looked even more
apprehensive than before.

"Get up," said Evan briefly. "The servants skipped out during the
night. Your boys have gone, too. There's juju business going on. And
the oxen that pulled Alicia's cart have been clubbed to death in their

The servants had fled from the house. There was not another white
man within a hundred and fifty miles. All about us were natives who
might fear Evan Graham but certainly hated him, and somewhere in the
woods, we had reason to believe, a monstrous ape lurked, awaiting an
opportunity to wreak his bestial vengeance upon the slayer of his mate.



We explored the house first and came upon a surprise. The native girl
I had seen conducted to the house by the juju procession two months
before crouched in one corner. She was too much frightened to give any
coherent account of the other servants' leaving.

They had simply gone, she said. No one had said anything to her, and
she had been left behind. The oxen lay in their stalls, their heads
beaten in with blows from a heavy iron bar that lay bent on the ground
beside them. Even my own boys had vanished. That struck me most
forcibly of all, because I had treated them well and had thought I
could count on as much loyalty from them as any white man can expect
from the average native.

Mboka's defection really bothered me. I had believed well of him and
was in a way genuinely fond of him. He had gone with the rest, though.
The loads of the carriers lay in a huge pile. Small and precious
possessions of my boys lay about them. That was perhaps the queerest
part of the whole affair. In leaving secretly in the middle of the
night, the servants had not stopped to steal, or even to take with
them what was their own. They had apparently risen and stolen away in
shivering fear.

We went back to the house from the servants' quarters full of rather
uneasy speculations. Juju was obviously at the bottom of whatever
was happening, and there is no telling what may enter the head of a
juju doctor. Passing through the rear rooms, Evan paused to order the
solitary native girl to prepare food for us. We went on to find Alicia
and Mrs. Braymore up and curious. They were on the front porch when
they heard us, and Alicia came inside to smile at all of us and ask

"Where are all the servants, Evan?" she demanded. "We had not a drop of
water this morning. And what's happened to the native village? On the
way up here we saw lots of villages, but none of them were quite like

We looked down at the squalid huts of the village. Not a sign of
life could be seen. Not one of the usually innumerable tiny fires of
a native village was burning, and the single street was absolutely

"We'll take a look at it," said Arthur grimly. "I don't like this
business. Murray, you'll come?"

I picked up my rifle and moved forward. As we walked across the
clearing before the casa, Arthur turned to me.

"Don't forget about that big ape, either. He's probably waiting for a
chance to drop out of a tree on top of us."

It was a pleasant prospect. If we went down the cleared way toward
the village, we would be perfect targets for bowmen or spear throwers
from the bush on either side. If we went through the bush, we ran
an amazingly good chance of running up against the gorilla. And the
gorilla had learned cunning, too, and would not expose himself to a
shot if he could help it. He would wait patiently until the chance
came for him to rush upon us and crack our skulls together without our
having time to raise a firearm, or else, until he could reach a hairy
arm down and seize us----

I have seen iron bars bent and twisted by the hands of those big apes.
A sudden thought came to me. The iron bar in the stables, with which
the oxen had been clubbed to death!

We made our way cautiously down to the center of the cleared space,
searching the bush on either side with our eyes, but affecting an
unconcerned air in case hidden watchers saw us. We came to the village
and strolled inside. It was absolutely deserted. Not one man, woman, or
child remained within it. Their possessions were undisturbed, save that
all their arms were gone, but cooking pots, carved stools, skin robes,
ornaments, minor fetishes, children's toys, everything else lay as it
had last been used by its owners. Only a few native dogs skulked around
the silent huts. There was not a single sign that gave a hint of the
reason for the mysterious exodus of the natives.

"I've not been out here long," said Arthur crisply, "but I've learned
that when natives do inexplicable things, juju is at the bottom of it.
What do you say?"

"I agree with you. I wish I could see some signs, though. I can read
some juju palaver. But there isn't a sign. No charms, no _spoor_
whatever. We'll go back to the house and talk it over with Evan."

We started slowly back toward the house. I was walking on ahead,
puzzling over the oddities of the situation and trying to piece
together a meaning in it all when Arthur stopped short. His voice
reached me, little more than a whisper.

"Murray," he said sharply, "that pongo is trailing us."

I listened, but could hear nothing. One would hardly expect a white
man's ears to detect a gorilla taking special pains to be quiet. Arthur
seemed to hear something, however. He quietly raised his rifle. I
followed the direction in which he was pointing, but could see nothing.
He fired. A branch swayed slightly where his bullet had grazed it, but
aside from that there was no sign.

"I didn't see a thing," I remarked.

Arthur shook his head. "It may be nerves," he said quietly. "That
damned beast has haunted me, but I think I saw it."

We went on up to the house slowly. Just before we reached the porch
Arthur looked at me pitifully.

"I heard it following us all the way," he told me. The perspiration was
standing out on his forehead. "It _is_ there, and it _is_ waiting for a
chance to revenge itself on me. And the beast has learned cunning! We
must look out for Alicia."

I nodded. Evan was waiting for us.

"Find anything?" he called down. "What did you shoot at?"

"The gorilla," said Arthur in a low tone. "It's there and it's
determined. We'd better warn Alicia and Mrs. Braymore."

Evan looked dubious. "Did Murray see it?"

I shook my head.

Evan frowned thoughtfully. "Arthur, old chap, it may be just nerves.
The women have enough to worry them with the way the natives are
acting, anyway. We'll keep a sharp lookout, of course. I'm going to
hunt up those natives, though."

"They're your natives," I said, "but I question whether that's a wise
move. If it's just native foolishness, they'll come back. If not,
they're liable to be pretty--well, reckless."

"They're my natives," said Evan angrily. "I don't intend to humor them.
I'll throw a scare into them that will last them ten years. If I know
anything of juju----"

"What?" I asked.

"They'll never dare breathe without permission hereafter," Evan said

He seemed to be in a cold fury. Remembering the abject fear in which
his slaves seemed to be all the time, I wondered what he might have
in store for them. I opened my mouth to protest against his trying to
look for his natives, but stopped. That juju house at which my boys had
hinted, concealed in some hidden clearing near the village, might hold
a secret by which he controlled them. In any event, he knew his own
natives best.

We went into the house and sat down to breakfast. We must have made a
queer sight, sitting there before that spotless table, our clothing
disheveled and hastily donned, our rifles leaning against our chairs.
Neither Arthur nor myself could eat more than a little, but Evan's
appetite seemed undiminished. The native girl waited on us, the lurking
panic in her eyes never very far from the surface. It seemed nearest
when she looked at Evan.

I was most worried about my own boys. It was decidedly queer that
they had deserted me, especially Mboka. He had been with me for all
of a year, and I had really grown to trust him. He had gone with the
others, though, and the very mystery of his disappearance seemed to add
somewhat to the menace of the silence that surrounded us.

When I thought of it, however, it was no less odd that Evan's overseers
had vanished. From the nature of their position, they would be hated by
the other and full-blooded natives, and it was singular in the extreme
that they had gone with them.

Then I remembered a tale I had once heard, of a mystic voodoo worship
that was spreading secretly over the whole of West Africa. The story
ran that an attempt was being made to band all the natives possible
together in this voodoo worship, and then at a given signal they were
all to rise. The Indian Mutiny would be repeated. Every white man on
the West Coast would be rushed by the nearest blacks, and the dominance
of the white race made a thing of the past, in Africa any rate.

I felt cold at the thought that the attempt--which I had thought dead
these many years--might have been secretly and insidiously winning
converts all this time, and that all the blacks between us and the
coast might be risen and only waiting for courage to attack us. We were
the only whites in a hundred and fifty miles anyway, and if the strange
behavior of the natives meant mischief, we were probably doomed as it
was. It gave me a sickish feeling to think that the other might be
true, though, that a second mutiny was in progress.

As if to confirm my belief, at just that moment, drums began to beat,
far off in the bush. To the south of us they began their monotonous,
rhythmic rumble. Boom, boom, boom, boom! Never a pause, never skipping
a beat, never altering in the slightest the hypnotic muttering. We
stopped eating and stared at each other. The drums throbbed on,
sullenly, far, far away. Evan grew angry at the insolence of his
slaves. I looked at Alicia and made a mental vow that my last cartridge
should be saved for her. Arthur listened with an air of detachment, and
then went on with his breakfast.

The first drums had been beating for perhaps fifteen minutes when, to
the northeast, more drums took up the rhythmic pounding. Evan's eyes
narrowed. He went to a window and looked out. As he moved, he passed
close to the native girl, and she shrank back fearfully. While he
stared out across the clearing, a third set of drums began to beat--to
the northwest, this time. We were ringed in.

Evan came to the table with a grim expression on his face. "The black
fools!" he said furiously. "They dared not come to me! I'll go to them
and put a stop to this!"

"Evan!" exclaimed Alicia, frightened. "You'll stay here with us!"

"This is no time for caution," said Evan grimly. "If we leave them
alone, they'll hold a juju palaver until they've gathered nerve to rush
us. I'll walk in on their council, and we'll see what happens."

"I'll go," said Arthur, quickly sensing the psychology of the move Evan
proposed to make. "I'd better go."

"It would be suicide!" Alicia exclaimed again. "One white man among all
those blacks. They could kill you in an instant."

"That is precisely why they would be afraid to," I interposed. "The
mere fact that a white man dared walk into their palaver and order them
about, would frighten them. No negro would dare do it, and they would
not understand how a white man could. It's quite possible that a sheer
bluff may win out. Of course we've got to do something. I think I'd
better go, though. My boys are in that crowd and they're rather fond of
me, I believe. I'll have some of them halfway with me at the start."

Evan shook his head. "Your boys are in that crowd," he said curtly,
"but the very fact that they're fond of you will make them kill you
that much quicker. You know natives. Now _my_ natives hate me like
poison, and there's not one of them but would kill me like a shot if he
dared. They'll be afraid when I drop in on them. I'm the one to go and
I'm going. Besides, I know the local dialect. You don't. You'll hear
one set of drums stop in half an hour."

He picked up his rifle and went out of the door. Alicia watched him
leave, her face utterly pale.

"He's going to his death!" she said in a whisper. "Stop him, oh, please
stop him!"

"We're all in just as much danger as he is, dear," said Arthur
tenderly. "He's taking the one chance that may bring us out of this
without fighting. He'll go into the middle of that bunch of natives and
by sheer nerve frighten them into doing as he says. If all three of us
went, we'd be rushed on sight."

Alicia's lips trembled, and Arthur tried to comfort her. I went to the
door and stood looking after Evan. It was illogical, but with all of us
very probably facing death, and certainly a siege, I was struck with a
pang of jealousy when I saw Arthur put his arms about Alicia's shoulder
to comfort her. Mrs. Braymore was white to the lips, but gamely tried
to be casual and cheerful. She came and stood by me as I looked out of
the door.

"Quite frankly," she asked me quietly, "what are our chances?"

"I don't know," I told her gloomily. "We don't even know what the
natives are up to yet. Those drums do not sound well. They may mean
anything and they may mean nothing."

Mrs. Braymore looked at me searchingly. Any one could see that she was
frightened, but she was doing her best not to show it.

"And if they mean--anything?"

"There is a Portuguese fort a hundred and fifty miles away," I answered
grimly. "They might send soldiers to lift the siege on us if they hear
about it. I'm assuming we'll be besieged. Things look that way. Evan
must have treated his slaves worse than usual. Usually they simply run
away. It's not often they try anything of this kind. I don't like the
sound of those drums. That means organization and purpose. All I can
say is that I hope Evan succeeds with the natives."

Mrs. Braymore blanched a little more, but smiled as bravely as she

"Well," she said quietly, "I know Alicia well enough to promise you
that we'll be as little of a drawback as possible. If you decide to try
anything drastic, such as attempting to escape through the bush, we'll
do our best to keep up. And I think both of us are fairly good shots."

"I'm hoping there'll be no need for anything on that order," I said
with more respect than before in my tone. "We'll try to stick it out
here. My boys are loyal, I think, at least they've been loyal up to
now, and even if we are besieged, one of them will probably take a
message to the fort."

I had little enough hope of that, Heaven knows, but I did not want Mrs.
Braymore to worry more than was necessary. She seemed to realize that I
was speaking more from my hopes than my beliefs, because she shrugged
her shoulders.

"There's really no need to soften things for me," she said, "Alicia and
I won't----"

She stopped and caught her breath. A shot had sounded, off in the bush
from the direction in which Evan had vanished. A second's interval, and
another shot. Then there was a horrid outcry, and a maniacal shrieking.

"The gorilla," I snapped, and started down the steps with my rifle at
full cock.

We heard a second outburst of the same beastlike sounds and a crashing
in the bushes. I raised my rifle. A figure showed dimly through the
bush. I fired vindictively. _Evan_ stumbled and fell in the clearing,
just out of the jungle!



In a second he was up again, and ran desperately until he reached my
side. Blood was flowing down his cheeks from five deep scratches.

"The pongo," he gasped. "Nearly did for me. Jumped me, but I got in
two shots. Then he grabbed for me but I got away. Stumbled just as you
fired. Damn lucky."

I stood still, facing the menacing jungle, but not a sound came from it
except the monotonous, rhythmic beating of the drums from three sides,
where juju priests worked their followers into a frenzy of hatred
against the white men. Evan went slowly up to the house, exhausted and
shaken by his narrow escape from death.

We held a council immediately. The drums on every side of us meant evil
brewing. So much was certain. For a white man to attempt to stop the
juju councils would be perilous in the extreme, but it was our only
chance. On the other hand, for one of us to get through the jungle
to take that desperate chance meant eluding the watchfulness of the
hate-mad gorilla, whose cunning was increasing.

"I don't know how he got to me," said Evan, still shaking from the
unexpectedness of the whole affair. "I heard a snarl, and he was coming
for me not ten paces away. Startled, I pulled the trigger without
aiming, and he came on. I got my rifle halfway to my shoulder, when he
reached me. One of his great, hairy paws grasped the muzzle as I fired
the second time, while the other reached for my throat. When the rifle
went off, he started back and burst out in his screaming. It must have
burned or injured his paw. I turned and ran, but he had done this to me
in the meantime."

His coat was half torn from him, and the deep scratches on his cheek
showed where the claws had just grazed his face.

"I don't mind facing natives," Evan admitted in conclusion, "but I'll
tell you frankly I don't care to go through that jungle again while
that beast is in it."

The eternal menace of the drums came to our ears, borne to us through
the open windows. Arthur began to pace up and down the room, cursing
under his breath. Alicia bit her lip and tapped nervously on the floor
with her foot. Mrs. Braymore carefully began to fold and refold her
handkerchief. Quite suddenly, I noticed that it was falling into shreds
beneath her fingers. Struggle as any of us would, our nerves were badly

The strain grew worse during the day. There were two or three dogs
about the place, and it was curious to see them puzzled over our
abstraction. They kept alertly out of Evan's way, but they were
obviously disconcerted by the absence of the servants who usually
attended to them, and they looked at us with perplexity in their
eyes. They could get no attention from the solitary native girl who
remained. She had withdrawn into panic-stricken silence, serving us
when necessary, but spending most of her time in the room to which she
had been assigned. We had ordered her to leave the servants' quarters
and stay in the house itself.

All the morning the drums beat rhythmically. During lunch they
continued their hypnotic muttering. And all afternoon they kept on,
kept on, until it seemed as if we would be crushed by their regular,
pulselike, ominous rumbling. Far off in the bush, where we could never
reach them, we knew juju councils were going on. Weirdly painted and
tattooed witch doctors whirled in their mystic dances and inflamed the
minds of the blacks against us.

Men beat upon the drums and yelled and yelled, closing their eyes
and surrendering themselves to the ecstasy of the rhythm until they
became all but unconscious of the words they reiterated. Slowly and
surely the blacks were nerving themselves to lift their hands against
their masters. Given time, a drum and a rhythmic phrase, a native can
convince himself of anything simply by pounding on the drum and yelling
over and over the phrase that contains the idea. He will luxuriate
in the rhythm, he will hypnotize himself by the monotony of the drum
beats. He will go into an ecstasy, simply yelling over and over the one

Dinner that night was a repetition of breakfast and lunch. We sat
down to the table, our rifles by our sides, our movements jerky and
uncertain from the strain of waiting for we knew not what. The dogs lay
about on the floor, watching us anxiously. The single servant waited
on us, her face dull with apathy, though flickers of panic lighted
her eyes from time to time. And always we heard the drums beating far
off in the bush. I caught myself sitting with a fork full of food in
mid-air, listening to their sullenly menacing rumble.

Arthur, Evan, and myself divided the night into watches. I took the
first, and waited tensely until after one o'clock. I heard nothing but
the muffled drumming to the northeast, northwest, and south. The moon
shone brightly down and made the clearing about the casa like a lake of
molten silver. I heard the noises of insects--the loud-voiced African
insects--and the cries of the night birds. I heard nothing else. The
night was quiet and peaceful, save for the ceaseless throbbing of the
drums all about.

Evan relieved me. He came out on the porch and lit a cigarette.

"That drumming gets monotonous." He yawned. "I wish they'd come on and
have the suspense over with."

"If they come," I remarked, "we're done for."

"Not necessarily. If we hold them off for a week and kill enough of
them, they'll get tired and go away."

"That wouldn't help us much. I hardly see how we could make a hundred
and fifty miles through the bush with two women and no carriers."

"We might try, anyway. Some of us would get through. You've heard

"No," I replied. "Just the drums."

I went indoors and lay down to sleep. When I surrendered myself to the
rhythm of the drumming, it put me quickly into a deep slumber. I knew
what the sound meant, that naked savages yelled and danced themselves
into a frenzy of hatred against us, but if one allowed it to become so,
it was very soothing.

At one time I half started from my sleep. Some sound within the house
aroused me, but a moment later I heard Evan's footstep on the veranda
and recognized the sound of his shoe soles on the flooring. He was
humming a little tune to himself. I was reassured and slept again.

I heard when Arthur relieved Evan, too. Their voices came clearly in to
me as they exchanged greetings.

"Nothing new?" asked Arthur nervously.

"No. I say, Arthur, the natives are taking a deuced long time to
get worked up to the sticking point. I had them pretty thoroughly
frightened. Perhaps they'll hold a big palaver for several days, yell
and dance themselves into exhaustion, and let it go at that. I've known
such things to happen. Our primitive ancestors used to hold hee-hee
councils and work off their surplus emotions in the same way. If this
juju festival lasts two days more, I think it will peter out and wind
up in a palm-wine debauch. Then they'll come back and be good!"

"It's the gorilla I'm worried most about just now," said Arthur grimly.
"The natives are men, and you can anticipate their moves, but there's
no telling what an animal will do, particularly a pongo."

Evan laughed. "I had a start just now," he said. "I heard a queer
sound in Biheta's room." Biheta was the native girl. "She gave a queer
gurgle. I didn't know what was up, and I went and peered in the door.
She was lying there quite still, evidently sound asleep. She must have
had a nightmare, but it gave me the creeps for an instant."

Arthur seemed to pick up his rifle.

"Well, I'm going indoors to get some beauty sleep," said Evan with a
yawn. "Cheer up, Arthur. There's a damn good chance that the natives
will just yell themselves hoarse and come peaceably back to work. As
long as the drums stay at a distance, we're all right. But wake all of
us if they stop."

He came into the house and went into his own room. I dozed off again.
When I woke, it was well after daylight. Evan had stuck his head inside
my door and was grinning cheerfully.

"Get up," he ordered. "Breakfast will be ready in a minute or two."

I rolled out of bed and heard him go to the rear of the house. He
rasped out an order in the local dialect, but there was no reply. He
spoke again, harshly. There was still no reply. I heard him fling open
a door. Then he exclaimed aloud.

"Arthur! Murray! Come here!"

We went quickly, and into the room in which he was. It was the room
assigned to the native girl. Evan was standing over her couch, looking
grimly down at the figure lying there.

The dull features of the girl were twisted into an expression of the
most horrible fear. It was appalling that such ultimate terror could
show itself upon a human face. The eyes were wide and staring, the
mouth was drawn back in a voiceless shriek of utter, despairing
fright. The hands were clenched so that the nails bit into the flesh of
the palms, and the head was oddly askew. The girl was dead.

Evan lifted up her shoulders and the head fell back.

"Neck broken," he said laconically. "The gorilla!"

"Great Heaven!" said Arthur desperately, white as a sheet. "What next?
How did he get in here? Alicia!" He ran from the room and called

Alicia's voice answered instantly. "What's the matter?"

"The native girl's dead, killed by the gorilla during the night. Are
you safe?"

Alicia appeared in person and proved it. She was pale, but composed.

"Where? What----?"

I lost the rest of her question. Evan and myself were searching for the
gorilla's means of ingress and exit. The flimsily screened window was
intact. The door had been unlocked, but Evan remembered that he had
found it closed and had closed it again after peering into the room
during the night.

Was it possible that the monstrous animal possessed the cunning to
unlatch the door gently before entering, and then the diabolical
forethought to latch it again on leaving? It seemed impossible, but
what other explanation was there?

"He's been in the house," said Evan grimly. "Where is he now?"

I went out and got one of the dogs. We brought it into the room and
it sniffed at the dead body. Then we led it about the house. Once we
thought it showed some excitement. It sniffed at the door of a room
that was used as a storeroom.

With our rifles at the ready, we flung open the door. No sound
came from within. The dog, bristling, walked slowly into the room.
Cautiously, we followed. Boxes and bales were scattered all about, but
there was no sign of the animal that had killed the native girl. The
dog growled, and moved about, stiff-legged, but soon grew puzzled and
sniffed perplexedly all over the place. He could find nothing.

We explored the room thoroughly, though with our hearts in our mouths.
Three men and a gorilla in a small store room would be unpleasant for
the men, armed though they might be. We could find no niche in which
the beast might have hidden, nor any evidence of his presence. After
a time the dog gave it up, and lay down on the floor with his tongue
lolling out.

"Do you suppose it could be a black that killed her?" asked Arthur
suddenly. "A native would have known about the latch. One of them might
have crept into the house and killed the girl in punishment for her
having stayed behind when the rest left."

"If he did," I remarked grimly, "it's safe to say we'd better not touch
any of the food he could have got at. Those voodoo poisons are deadly
things, and you can bank on it he was prepared to use them."

"Hardly likely," said Evan.

"It must have been a native," insisted Arthur anxiously. "No animal
would have had the cunning to creep in, kill the poor girl silently,
and then creep out again. It must have been one of the blacks."

"Gorilla," said Evan, shaking his head.

Arthur suddenly looked up.

"I've got it! We'll take a photo of the girl's eyes. I saw a cloudy
form on the retina. I've got an insect camera in my luggage, and can
make sure what it was that frightened her that last moment of her life."

The expression on the girl's face had been one of terrible fear.
Whatever it was that had killed her, she had seen it before she
died--seen and known it for a deadly and horrible thing.

"Try it," I urged. "We can't be sure otherwise. If it was a native, our
food is poisoned for a certainty."

Arthur went to his room and presently appeared with the queer camera.
It was a long box, and evidently the lens was one of great focal
length. It took Arthur a long time to adjust it properly. He proposed
to take advantage of the fact that the eye of a dead person will retain
for from twenty-four to forty-eight hours the impression of what it saw
last while living. A great many people think that the shining image on
the outer surface of the eye retains that picture, and wonder at it. As
a matter of fact the picture is kept on the retina, in the inside of
the eyeball. It is extremely difficult to photograph the retina without
dissecting the eye, but it can be done--as Arthur proceeded to prove.

I went outside and searched around the house for possible footprints.
After a preliminary search, I got Evan to help me. We could find no
single sign of tracks leading toward or away from the house. There had
been a heavy dew, and the top layer of the earth was dark and damp.
Footprints would inevitably have been shown. When we had completed our
search, we stared at each other. Whatever or whoever had killed the
native girl must be still in the house. There were absolutely no signs
of his having left.

We went inside. Beast or man, _something_ had been in the house, moving
quietly and undiscovered despite our watching. It had entered the room
occupied by the native girl and had awakened her. She had seen it, and
it had been a thing she recognized as frightful. Her horror-stricken
face was proof of that. It had been cunning enough to latch the door
of the room after the killing. That meant a native. On the other hand,
it had broken the girl's neck, a feat that would require incredible
strength. That spoke of a monstrous animal. We heard Arthur shuffling
about in his improvised dark room, and the clink of the dishes in which
he had mixed his solutions.

How had the creature--man or beast--reached the house? How had it made
its way silently through the rooms at midnight, with one of us awake
and on guard? Could it be that one of the servants had remained, hidden
in some secret place while the others had left, and now prowled about
at night while the rest far off in the bush yelled and howled, drummed
and danced, and gradually became ripe to attack us?

Arthur came out of his dark room with a glass plate in his hand. His
face was pale.

"Look at this," he said quietly. "If you'll hold it so the light
strikes it diagonally, you'll see it in its proper lights and shades,
instead of reversed."

The plate was still wet, where he had just taken it from the fixing
bath. We looked. We saw, running aimlessly here and there, curiously
like the branches of a tree, little dark lines. Those were the blood
vessels that nourished the eye. We gave no heed to them, however. The
sight that made both Evan and myself gasp was the strange picture that
we saw amid all those little blood vessels.

There, distorted and hideous, menacing and terrible, we saw the cause
of the native girl's death, and of her terror. We saw the head of a
gorilla, with its horrible, discolored fangs protruding from blackened
lips in a grimace of unspeakable ferocity.



"And it's in the house," observed Evan grimly. "A full-grown beast
will weigh three hundred pounds, and he'd leave plenty of sign when
he walked. There are no tracks leading away from here. Murray and I

Arthur was ashen as he stared at us. I felt rather shaky myself. The
thought of a creature like that in the same house, with Alicia exposed
to its insane rage at any moment it might choose to emerge from its
hiding place, was appalling.

The two ladies were in the large front room. I went in and remained
with them, my rifle in my hand, while Arthur and Evan went over the
house again. They had the dogs with them, and they went into every room
and every corner, ready at any instant to face what is possibly the
most terrible of all wild beasts at close quarters.

A full-grown gorilla has easily the strength of six or eight men, and
in a confined space firearms would be almost useless. I heard the dogs
pattering all through the house, sniffing eagerly everywhere they were
taken, but finding nothing. Again they seemed excited at the door of
the storeroom, and again they gave up the search after they had entered.

Arthur rejoined me and Alicia with discouragement on every feature.

"He isn't here," he said wearily, "and he is here. He was here and he
wasn't here. I don't know where he is!"

Evan slumped into a chair, though it was noticeable that he kept his
rifle in his hands. Through the window came the menacing rumble of the
drums from all sides.

"I think," said Alicia, with a ghastly attempt at a smile, "I think a
fit of hysterics would be a relief."

She looked as if she meant it. All of us looked thoroughly on edge.
To have hostile drums beating all about you and to realize that a
hundred and fifty miles of jungle lie between you and the nearest help
is bad enough in itself. When you add to that the consciousness of
having hidden in the same house with you a beast almost human in its
cunning and fiendish in its hatred, with the face of the devil and the
strength of seven men, hysterics seem excusable. She did not give way,
however, though we all felt on the verge of hysteria from the strain.

That day was one of the most terrible I have ever spent. It was not
that anything happened to make it terrible. The strain came from the
fact that nothing happened. If the beast were hidden about the house,
it did not show itself, but we did not hear a board creak or a curtain
swish against the window without turning with a start, prepared to face
anything and to fire vengefully into a hideous, furry form.

The bush outside the casa seemed to take on a threatening aspect. The
house was built on a small elevation and we looked for miles over the
tops of trees, broken here and there by gaps which meant the existence
of clearings and open fields. The treetops were dancing from the heat.
The sun beat down with fierce intensity. Blasts of hot, humid wind blew
upon us and scorched us, but we paid no attention. And always, from the
mysterious, unknown and unknowable bush all around us, drums beat and
beat and beat tirelessly and ominously.

When one of us went back to get food for the rest, he went with an
automatic held ready in his hand, and the other two were prepared
at any instant to hear a shot or the snarl that would mean the
reappearance of the gorilla. We were doubly besieged, by the natives
without and by the gorilla within. For fear of the natives in the bush,
we kept to the house. For fear of the gorilla in the house, we kept to
the one room.

Toward evening insensibly we relaxed. No one could keep to such an
intensity of attention as we had maintained during the day. We ate a
sketchy meal at nightfall and dragged two cots into one of the rooms
adjoining the large front one in which we had stayed all day. We
explored the room thoroughly, and Alicia and Mrs. Braymore went in to
lie down.

None of us thought of taking off our clothes. We three men prepared
for a night-long vigil. One of us would keep thoroughly awake, and the
other two would snatch such sleep as they could.

Long hours passed. We felt sure that some time during the night the
beast would make his appearance. I sat alertly by a window, a dog at my
feet, listening to the night sounds outside and the ceaseless drumming
that meant the juju councils were debating whether the blacks were
sufficiently worked up to attempt an attack.

Arthur and Evan reclined in their chairs and tried to doze, but there
was little rest for any of us. We could think of nothing but the animal
we felt sure would make some attempt upon us during the night.

At one o'clock Evan took my place by the window with the dog at his
feet. I sat in one of the easier chairs and tried to relax, but it
was impossible. I was suddenly conscious of the overpowering heat and
humidity. I was bathed in perspiration.

"I've got to have a drink," I said abruptly. "I need it."

Arthur looked up wearily.

"We all need a drink," he said. "It's in the back of the house, isn't

We looked at each other uncertainly.

"I'll go," said Arthur quietly.

I interposed. "We'll both go. Here, in the light, Evan can see to shoot
if necessary. We'll use a flash lamp."

It was curious that neither of us cared to walk through three rooms
and a hallway inside a house we had been in for days. That animal had
fretted our nerves badly.

Slowly and cautiously we made our way through the dark rooms, searching
before us with the flash light. I can't speak for Arthur, but my breath
was coming quickly, and I heartily regretted having expressed a wish
for a drink. I would not back out now, though.

We went cautiously and slowly out to the rear of the house. I was in
the act of reaching for the siphon of seltzer when we heard the dog
scream in pain and a shout from Evan. We rushed madly for the front,
our hearts in our mouths, and cursing our absence at such a critical
time. When we burst into the room, Evan was dashing out on the veranda,
and Alicia was in the act of emerging from the room into which she and
Mrs. Braymore had retired. Alicia had an automatic in her hand and,
though her face was full of dread, she was evidently prepared to face

Arthur and myself were quickly by Evan's side and found him staring
about the darkness, his rifle half raised.

"What is it?" Arthur demanded quickly.

Evan's breath was coming in gasps. "I heard you two moving," he said
sharply, as one whose nerves are strained to the breaking point. "I
heard a noise from your direction. I turned to look at the door and
caught a movement at the window by my side. I jerked back and the dog
screamed. A long, hairy arm had reached in the window and seized him.
He was drawn through the window before I could lift my rifle, and the
arm vanished. It's the gorilla!"

We listened, but the house was still. A faint moan came from the
courtyard, and I flashed the lamp down. The dog, flung bodily from the
porch, stirred feebly and stiffened. Its neck was broken. There on the
shadowed veranda, with the bright African moon shining pitilessly down
upon the hot, dank, fevered earth, the three of us swore nervously
while we stood with our rifles pointing in as many directions, hoping,
even praying for that monstrous ape to rush upon us.

"He must have gone somewhere!" said Arthur despairingly. "Where _did_
the beast go?"

"Into the house, no," said Evan crisply. "Under the house, perhaps. The
roof, perhaps. We'll see."

My legs crawled as I descended the stairs to the ground. The house was
raised from the ground on piles, and I could look clear underneath it.
The moon was shining down whitely, and I saw the pillars silhouetted
against the brightness on the other side. Half a dozen steps convinced
me that the animal was not beneath. It would have shown as a dark
outline. I tried to see up, over the roof, but could not. The roof
slanted just a little and I could not see the center. The house being
on an elevation, moreover, prevented me from backing off and getting a
clear view of the top. I called up to the other two on the porch.

"He's not under the house, but I can't see the roof. He must be there."

The tree trunks of the forest all about us echoed my words strangely.
I could see dim white blurs where the faces of the two brothers showed
their position. One of them moved oddly, and in a moment I saw that
Evan was swinging himself up the pillar before him. He grasped the edge
of the roof and drew himself up. In a second he dropped down again. He
spoke quietly enough to Arthur, but I heard his voice.

"He's there, squatting on the ridge pole. Lord! What a monster he is!"

"We must get the women out of the house," said Arthur sharply. "He may
tear up the roof and come inside. Alicia!"

She had heard and came quickly out, Mrs. Braymore following her. We
built a small fire to keep insects away from them, and sat them on
chairs while we patroled the area about the house. The drums still beat
on all sides of us, but they had been relegated to a minor position
now. We subconsciously counted on their remaining a potential menace
only, until they stopped or drew nearer. The moon made the whole world
bright and shining. We could see clearly and distinctly. Nothing the
size of a rabbit could escape across that stretch of sward without our
observing it.

Alicia and Mrs. Braymore watched the fringe of jungle while we posted
ourselves so that not even a cat could escape from the house without
being seen. I leaned on my rifle near the two ladies, my eyes fixed on
the edge of the roof, straining to catch a glimpse of the beast that
squatted up there. When I thought of it, it seemed stupid of us not to
have suspected that as a hiding place before. True, it was in clear
view of the sky, but a beast cunning enough to creep about the casa at
midnight as he had done, might possess the intelligence to reason that
there was the ideal hiding place for him.

"Do you think there is any real danger from the natives?" Alicia
inquired hesitatingly.

"When natives do inexplicable things, it is usually juju," I said
grimly. "And where there is juju there is usually danger. There is one
thing that can be said, though. While a native is making a noise, he is
rarely dangerous in bulk. As Evan pointed out, they may simply exhaust
themselves in yelling and dancing. I do not think it would be wise to
count on that, however."

"Wouldn't it be the wisest thing to do, to simply try to make our way
secretly through the jungle to the nearest fort?"

"It would be impossible," I told her frankly. "You don't know African
undergrowth. We might make four or five miles a day, with luck. And at
any moment in the twenty-four the natives might trail us. We'd have to
make a new trail, or use the native ones. Making a new trail, we'd be
followed and probably speared, besides the fact that our animal friend
would be haunting the treetops overhead, waiting for a moment when one
of us would be off our guard."

Alicia shuddered. "But would you three try that if we weren't here?"
she insisted.

"I think we'd wade into one of those juju councils," I remarked
vindictively. "I know I'd gladly join such a party. We'd probably
appear as suddenly as we could and start shooting. We might stampede
them, and a show of boldness would be our best play in any event. Of
course, if they rushed us, we'd be out of luck."

"You mean----?"

"There would be four or five hundred of them, and we might get ten
or perhaps fifteen apiece. They'd overwhelm us if they tried, but
the psychology would probably make us win out. The fact that we were
hunting them, instead of their hunting us, would frighten them."

"Couldn't you do that now?"

I shook my head. "Not with our friend the gorilla about. And we
wouldn't expose you two to the possibility of our failing. There'd be
nothing left for you but your own pistols."

Alicia relapsed into silence. I saw her brow knitted as she tried
desperately to work out some plan by which we might fight the
incredible circumstances in which we found ourselves. Overhead,
the broad moon sailed serenely across the sky, shedding its rays
impartially down upon us, upon the shaggy, beastly ape squatting like
some demoniacal creature upon the ridgepole of the roof, and upon
yelling, capering blacks about the great fires they would have lit for
their juju ceremonies.

Behind us, the busy, secretive life of the bush went on--all the
feedings and drinkings and matings and killings, all the comedies and
all the tragedies of the jungle. Things went on, sublimely indifferent
to our petty frights and fancies. The jungle attended to its business,
ignoring alike our strained attitudes as we sat in the moonlight and
waited for the sun to rise that we might slay a malignant ape, and the
yelling of self-hypnotism of the blacks as they danced about their juju
fires, working themselves into a frenzy of hatred against the white man.

At last the moon dipped down toward the west, and the stars that had
watched our vigil in mild, blinking surprise grew pale at the signs
of dawn. The sky grew gray, then white. A high pallid veil hid the
deep-blue arch of the night, and turned slowly to golden yellow as the
sun rolled up.

The mist curled aloft from the treetops as the first rays of the
morning swept across the land. We became aware that we had been cold
and that we now were warm. We waited eagerly until we should see the
roof of the casa, and be able to pick off with our rifles the beast
that lurked there.

Morning had barely come when Evan clambered cautiously to the roof of
the servants' quarters behind the house itself. We had left several of
the dogs shut up in the house during the night. We knew that if the
beast came down into the place, they would make an outcry before all
were killed, at least. They had made no sound, but now one or two of
them came out on the veranda, wagging their tails amiably.

Evan clambered to the roof of the servants' quarters, and Arthur passed
up his rifle. Evan stood erect and raised the weapon. Then he stopped.
From the ground, we saw him looking blankly at the roof of the house.
From where he stood, he could see it clearly. His expression was at
once amazed and apprehensive.

The beast had not left the house, or we would have seen it. It had not
crossed the clearing. It had not entered the house, because the dogs
were unalarmed. It had not in any discoverable fashion escaped from its
position astride the ridge pole, but Evan told us and we immediately
verified the fact that it was no longer on the roof. It had not escaped
to the jungle. It had not secreted itself in the house; yet the
monstrous ape had vanished!



Again we searched the house from top to bottom. Again we led the
dogs into every nook and cranny. Again they sniffed anxiously in the
storeroom, but gave up the quest after a moment or so. In our search
of the greater part of the house the dogs had seemed more bored than
anything else. We had led them to the dog that had been killed, before
attempting to enter the house, and they smelled at his neck cautiously
and drew back with low growls. If the gorilla had been in the house,
they would surely have scented him and warned us. The only time they
gave any indication at all of interest, far less of excitement, was
when they sniffed at the storeroom door. Once inside, they moved about

We debated our next move. The gorilla simply could not be in the house.
With his ferocity, he would surely have made a move to attack one or
another of us during our searchings. At last Arthur found a sign that
reassured us as to his absence without lessening in the least the
mystery of his means of escape. Something had led him to scout around
the edge of the clearing surrounding the house. He straightened up with
a shout.

"Look here!"

We ran to him and looked where he pointed. There, on the earth, just
beneath the overhanging limb of the first of the jungle trees, were
the prints of strangely handlike toes.

"Here's where he jumped for the lowest limb there," said Evan
excitedly. "See?"

Directly above us a heavy limb spread out from the trunk of the tree.
Evidently the gorilla had leaped from that spot. How he had run across
the moonlit lawn under our very eyes remained inexplicable. Thinking
back, however, I remembered that once or twice wisps of infrequent
cloud had temporarily obscured the moon. Could he have seized one of
those moments of darkness? It seemed impossible, but there was no other
explanation that could be made.

Somewhat reassured, we entered the house again. One of us stayed out on
the veranda, however, and watched to make sure the beast would attempt
no daring daylight rush on our stronghold. We planned to tether several
of the dogs that night to the piles which raised the house from the

Evan was on the porch. He peered in at the window suddenly.

"I'm going to take a look in the servants' quarters," he said abruptly.
"It's just occurred to me that the beast may have hidden in there and
made his break for the jungle from there. That would shorten the run he
would have to make."

He moved away. I went back and tried to help Alicia prepare some food
for us all. We had had nothing since the night before and all were
ravenous. Arthur was sitting in the big front room, his head buried in
his hands, his rifle leaning on the arm of his chair. I put my rifle
against the wall and began to open the tins of preserved food, while
Alicia donned an apron and with a quaintly housewifely air lighted a
spirit lamp and heated water for our tea. Mrs. Braymore was gravely
tasting the tinned butter and making a wry face. It is poor stuff
until you get used to it.

As I worked, I watched Alicia appreciatively, and far back in my mind
a little germ of hope sprang up. It suddenly occurred to me that she
had never shown that intense affection for Arthur one expects a woman
to show for the man she is going to marry. She appeared fond enough of
him, but she seemed nearly as fond of Evan. I remembered what I had
been told, that the three of them had been raised together as children
so they were little less than brothers and sister.

That was Alicia's attitude. She treated Arthur as an elder brother of
whom she was immensely fond, but she did not treat him as a lover. It
was queer that, with drums beating rhythmically night and day in the
bush all around us, and in momentary danger from a monstrous gorilla, I
should stop and think of romance and the peculiarly trivial shades of
affection Alicia might show.

She turned and smiled at me just then.

"You look like a sword," she said mischievously, "a sword beaten into a
can opener."

Mrs. Braymore joined in her smile. I suppose I must have looked rather
queer. A heavy cartridge belt was slung about my waist, and two
dull-metal automatics were stuck rakishly into it. I had not shaved for
three days. Every moment was too full of suspense to allow for thinking
of such minor things as shaving.

"Well," I remarked amiably, "since it looks as if our friends in the
bush are going to do as Evan has suggested and yell themselves into
exhaustion without bothering us, and I shall soon revert to peaceable
pursuits, that doesn't matter. A sword is only useful on occasion, but
a can opener links us with civilization."

"It would seem odd," said Alicia, "to have some one bring one's mail
in the morning, or to use a telephone."

"There's a mail once in two weeks at Ticao," I said, "but it's four
weeks from England usually and often six."

Mrs. Braymore joined in the conversation. "I should like to receive an
invitation to tea," she said wistfully. "I should like to go somewhere
to tea and have people talk interestedly of poetry, and the approaching
marriage of somebody's daughter, and what the curate said about the
possibility of repairing the parish house."

We all laughed at the idea. I set down one of the tins of potted meat
and reached for another.

"For myself----" I began and stopped short, every muscle tense.

On the veranda outside the house I had heard a sound, the creaking of a
board as a heavy weight was put cautiously upon it. There was something
infinitely furtive in the sound. I listened and heard nothing more, but
was oppressed by a sense of danger. The sound had come from the front
of the house. I drew an automatic from my belt and silently passed it
to Alicia. She had heard nothing, but my expression warned her and she
took it quickly. Mrs. Braymore took the other. I picked up my rifle
from the side wall and tiptoed through the house toward the front. I
heard an almost unbelievable slight sound again from the porch. The
door into the front room was standing open. I slipped silently up to
the threshold.

Arthur had heard. He was still sitting in the chair, but he was alert
and ready. His eyes were fixed on the window some fifteen feet from
him, and he was slowly and carefully bringing his rifle to bear. The
sun was shining from without and struck upon the curtains that hung
inside. Evan had made his house ready for the visitors he expected, and
every window was curtained.

There was a moment of breath-taking suspense. Arthur, still seated lest
the sound of his rising alarm whoever or whatever was outside, was
bringing his rifle to his shoulder. I slipped into the room and came
to his side, my own rifle ready. Our eyes were fixed upon the window.
Then the slanting rays of the sun flung a shadow upon the curtain. The
thing was not yet before the window, but its shadow moved on before
it because of the position of the rising sun. We saw, cast in perfect
clearness upon the flimsy cloth, the silhouette of the head of the
gorilla! Its small ears lay back, its jaw protruded in that fearful
ferocity of the anthropoid tribe, and we saw it peering from right to
left in suspicious cunning. I held my breath, waiting for the moment
when we could fire.

The head turned sharply, and I thought I saw the nostrils quivering.
Then, abruptly, it vanished, and a dog burst into frantic barking and
hysterical yelping on the veranda. Another instant and the dog screamed
in terror. There was a crash against the wall of the house, and the
yelping became a moan.

Arthur and I had dashed for the door and now rushed down the veranda
with hearts thumping madly. One of the dogs was writhing in agony on
the floor. It had been flung against the house with terrific force and
now lay with broken ribs and backbone, dying. The gorilla had vanished.

Evan appeared with his rifle ready, out of breath. "What's up?" he
demanded. "The beast again?"

Arthur swore hysterically. "The damned beast is here!" he cried. "It's
_here_! It's hiding somewhere about!"

We were all thoroughly reckless by now. We went after the huge ape with
the temerity that would have made the blood of any of us run cold in
a sober moment. We penetrated every corner of the house. We went over
every bit of the grounds. We clambered upon the roof and searched
there in foolhardy indifference to the danger we might be in if we only
located the animal.

"I think it was hiding in the servants' quarters," said Evan grimly.
"I saw signs of its having been there. It must have grown shy when I
explored the place and it probably slipped off toward the house to
escape me. I don't see why it didn't make for the woods, though."

None of us understood, but we went about our search as before. We found
absolutely nothing. At last we stopped and stared at one another.

"We would have killed it in another moment," said Arthur despairingly,
"but the dog saw it and yelped. Then it ran."

"Could it have made the woods before we got outside?"

"Heaven only knows," said Arthur wearily. "I begin to believe the
natives have bewitched the thing to kill us all."

"How many dogs have we left?" asked Evan suddenly.

There were four or five of Evan's animals, and one or two of the
village dogs had begun to lurk about the house in hopes of food. There
was none left for them in the deserted village.

"We'll tie up the dogs," said Evan. "We'll fasten one on the veranda at
the front, and another in the rear of the house. We'll put two on the
ground below, tethered to the piles, and spread the others in the rooms
here. Then the beast will have to kill them before it can get at as,
and we'll have some warning."

We began to improvise collars for the native dogs and scattered the
others about as Evan had suggested. When we had finished, as far as
we could see there was absolutely no way for the gorilla to emerge
from his hiding place--if he were hiding in the house--without being
instantly detected by a dog. Certainly, he could not reach the house
from the bush without discovery and an alarm being given.

With a dog in every room, dogs on the veranda, and others underneath
the building, we should have felt safe, but did not. There was
something uncanny in the appearances and disappearances of the
monstrous ape that left us apprehensive even when we had taken every
possible precaution to provide for its instant discovery if it made
another attempt to reach us.

The pertinacity of the beast was appalling. To think of a colossal
anthropoid with the cunning of the devil himself, the strength of seven
men, and all the malignant hatred that possessed this one, to think of
such an animal lurking about seeking an opportunity to wreak vengeance
on one of our number was horrible. And it would not stop with one of
us if more than one were within its reach. Once in a killing rage, a
gorilla goes mad with blood lust. It would tear and rend, would crush
and utterly destroy.

We were white and nervous from the strain long before. Now we went
about with something akin to hysteria just beneath the surface. There
was nothing we could _do_! We had to wait for the beast to reappear,
knowing that when it did, its coming would be cautious and cunning, its
patience infinite, its strength colossal and its hatred fiendish. Any
or all of us might expect at any instant to be gripped by a hairy arm
of incredible power, to see the bestial face of that demoniacal animal
grimacing at us in utter malignance. And we had before us the picture
of the vision that would confront us in such a case. The picture taken
from the native girl's retina was warning. Little, evil eyes glittering
fiercely, flat, horrible nose above a terrible mouth parted in insane
rage, and discolored fangs showing above the blackened lips.

Action of any sort would have been a relief. We went through the
morning, making desperate efforts to stave off hysteria, and aware that
at any moment one of us might crack beneath the strain.

Noon came. We ate mechanically. Evan was standing up better than any of
the rest of us. Alicia was quiet and still. Her eyes alone showed the
tension she felt. We were all keyed up to an almost unbearable pitch.
Queerly enough, in our absorption in the threat of the gorilla, we had
almost forgotten the drums that resounded on every side of us from the
bush. It was Mrs. Braymore who called our attention to them.

"I wonder what's the matter with the drums?" she said wearily. "I've
been noticing them for the last ten minutes."

We listened. The monotonous rhythm was still going on, rolling through
the hot midday air in muffled waves of sound. The drums seemed louder
than they had been.

"They're beating more rapidly," Evan remarked in a puzzled tone. "They
were going along slowly. Now they're quite fast."

Only one of the drums had quickened its beat, however. The others
thumped on monotonously. About four o'clock in the afternoon--allowing
the length of time necessary for a runner to get from the first village
to another--a second began to beat more furiously, and shortly after
dark, the third joined in the trilogy. Our dogs were moving restlessly
about, chafing because of being tied. We all were increasingly anxious,
but this new danger had, strangely enough, the effect of steadying us.

We waited a long time, and at last the two women lay down to try
to rest. Through the moonlight night the drums rolled and rumbled.
Standing out on the veranda with my rifle in my hands, I listened
intently. I saw with some disquiet that the night threatened to become
cloudy, but hoped that the dogs would give warning of any danger that
might impend. For an hour I stood there, looking and listening. There
was no mistaking the new note of the drums. They meant resolution,
renewed activity. Faintly, beneath their muttering, I caught a high,
sustained ululation. The yelling of the natives had not been audible
before. Evidently they were in perfect frenzy. That meant that an
attack was imminent.

Arthur came out on the veranda beside me. He listened as I was

"They'll attempt to rush us in the morning, I suppose," he remarked
grimly. "They'll hardly try it before dawn, though. Blacks don't like
the nighttime."

One of the dogs tied to a pile below the house growled softly. The dog
on the veranda echoed the growl. I glanced at him quickly. He had risen
and was standing tense, looking toward the edge of the bush. He growled

At just this moment, one of the little wisps of cloud overshadowed the
moon and left the courtyard in darkness. I moved quietly over beside
the dog and felt the hairs on his neck bristling. Finding him staring
steadfastly in one direction, I strained my eyes trying to pierce the
darkness. The cloud thinned a trifle and objects were dimly visible. I
saw a shape coming slowly and cautiously toward the house, a shape that
moved hesitatingly and furtively.

Arthur exclaimed softly. "Murray, it's the gorilla!"

The figure was hunched up and apelike. It moved awkwardly toward us.
The cloud thinned still more and we could distinguish its location
clearly, though it was still impossible for us to see distinctly.

"For the body," Arthur whispered.

We raised our rifles together and aimed carefully. Arthur's rifle
flashed, and mine an instant later. We heard a choking, beastlike cry,
and the figure toppled and fell.



Evan rushed out from the interior of the house, rifle in hand.

"What's up? The natives?"

"We've got the gorilla, I think," said Arthur quietly.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a flash light. The three of
us started down the steps and approached the fallen figure cautiously.
As we drew near, we could hear it moaning. The moans were curiously
human. I glanced up at the sky. The last wisp of the cloud was just
passing before the face of the moon, and when I looked down again, the
figure was outlined in the pitiless glare of the moonlight.

Evan uttered an exclamation. The moaning figure was not that of the
gorilla. It was a man, a black man, in the monkey skin of a juju
priest, with all the amulets and charms of his calling strung about
him. Evan started forward and shot out a string of questions in the
local dialect. I could not catch a word, but Evan's voice was stern and
angry. The moaning witch doctor spoke feebly, his voice growing weaker
and weaker, and his words interrupted by gasps of pain. At last he
choked and coughed weakly and was still.

Evan turned to us in a towering passion.

"Those damned natives are going to try to rush us at dawn! The witch
doctor came to put a spell on us so they'd succeed. Oh, when I get at
the black animals----"

He burst out into a string of profanity. The slave owner in him had
come uppermost, and the news that his blacks were going to attack us
aroused his anger at their presumption more than his fear that they
might succeed. He stirred the dead figure with his foot.

"They dare to threaten me!" he rasped. "I'll shoot one man in every
four of them! I'll whip the rest until they can't stand. I'll----"

My old dislike of the man returned, I could not doubt his courage, but
I had never been particularly fond of the _servaçal_ system and had
their effort not imperiled the lives of the four of us, I would have
had the best of wishes for the natives in their attempt to liberate

"We'd better decide how we're going to stand them off before we decide
how we're going to punish them," I remarked. "There are three of us.
There are at least six hundred of them."

Arthur suddenly turned with a start.

"Alicia's in the casa," he said sharply, "and the beast may come back."

He started for the house on a run. We heard his voice as he called
to Alicia and heard her answer. Evan and I followed more slowly,
discussing methods of protecting ourselves against the coming attack.

"There's one thing," I observed thoughtfully, "with the bush about the
clearing full of natives, the gorilla will either keep a safe distance
away--as is most likely--or else will have to fight his way through to
get to us."

"Perhaps," said Evan gloomily, his voice still full of anger toward the
blacks. "We'll worry about him when we have to. The important thing is
the siege we'll have to stand. If we can stop the first rush, I think
we'll be all right."

"We're all right for ammunition?" I asked.

He nodded. "I could outfit a small army from my gun chest and I've
ammunition to last a year."

We mounted the steps of the casa.

Alicia greeted us with a white face. "I can shoot," she told us both
bravely, "and I shan't mind shooting at these people."

"You shall shoot," said Evan grimly, "if they get a foothold in the
house. Otherwise there's no need. You know enough not to be taken

"I know," said Alicia quietly.

The last I saw of her for an hour or more, she was going through Evan's
assortment of firearms, picking out a light rifle for her own use and
another for Mrs. Braymore. She already had a small-caliber automatic
pistol hidden in her bosom.

For an hour or more we worked, moving the bundles Evan pointed out in
the storeroom to form a breastwork behind which the women would be
safe from stray shots. We tore up a section or so of flooring, too,
so we could fire down in case any of the blacks found a refuge from
our weapons beneath the house. Bars nailed across the openings at once
provided us with assurance that they could not climb up, and that we
would not accidentally fall through. We brought supplies of food and
water where they would be close at hand.

For close quarters, we were depending on repeating shotguns loaded with
buckshot. Three of us with those weapons should be able to stop almost
any number of blacks. These lay close beside us. We had our rifles and
our pistols in addition.

The drums were beating madly now. The high-pitched ululation that was
the blended note of all the frantic yelling came clearly to our ears.
When we had finished our preparations I went outside to listen. I
instantly realized that the drums were nearer, much nearer. The dogs
were excited and restless.

"We'd better get the dogs up from the ground," I suggested. "They'll
only be killed."

Evan went silently down and unleashed them. They were growling and
bristling, particularly those near the back. They seemed to realize the
imminence of danger.

I looked at my watch. It lacked two hours of dawn. The drums were
growing louder and louder, and the yelling more distinct and defiant.
From three sides the drums closed in on us, and from three sides
choruses of high-pitched yells informed us of the hatred of the blacks
for their masters. Evan interpreted as he caught some of the words.

"They say the juju has declared we are to be killed," he announced with
a faint smile. "We are to be slaughtered and our flesh boiled down
until the fat can be collected, when it will be used to light fires.
Pigs will feed upon us, and our bones will be scattered among the juju
priests of a thousand villages to tell them to rise and slay all white

The drums came up to the very edge of the clearing, and their
thunderous voices boomed with a full-throated bellow across the open
space in a deafening volume of sound. In the moonlight, we became
conscious of darker bodies moving among the bush. Evan sighted from an
open window and with compressed lips fired. There was a mocking yell.

"They say our guns have been bewitched so we cannot harm them," he
informed us a second later. "Give me a shotgun."

The load of buckshot gave better results. Two or three shrieks of pain
announced its arrival. Then the drums boomed forth more loudly. Evan
fired again and again. There was a yell of rage at the third shot, when
the resonant voice of the huge drum became muted and a mere shadow of

"I was trying for the drum," he remarked. "They were brought from a
thousand miles inland, and there's no way to tell what price was paid
for that one."

The two other drums hastily shifted their positions, and recommenced
their devil's tattoo. Emboldened by the fury of sound, one or two of
the more daring spirits ventured to advance a little way out in the
clearing to howl maledictions upon us.

Arthur's rifle cracked spitefully, and mine followed. Two bold spirits
ceased to yell.

From time to time, as we saw an opportunity and a target in the
moonlight, we shot vengefully into the bush, and several times cries of
different timbre from the hysterical yelling of the blacks followed our
shots. Once or twice, too, I had that curious feeling of certitude that
follows some shots, when one is confident he has hit his mark, though
no cry came to assure me.

Evan fired again and again with his heavy shotgun, almost every deep
explosion being followed by a cry. The range was hardly more than a
hundred yards, and the buckshot carried that distance easily. Spreading
as it did, it had a daunting effect.

Our object in taking the initiative was solely that of dampening the
blacks' enthusiasm. Allowed to cheer themselves with yells, they
would make a rush that would be formidable in the extreme, but if we
began to inflict losses before their attack began, the edge of their
determination would be taken off. They would no longer believe in the
efficacy of their juju to compass our destruction, and we would have
a fraction of that psychological superiority that the white man must
possess in order to handle natives, the complete possession of which
enables a single fever-ridden white man to cow and rule ten thousand

Evan made a tour of the house, to make sure that the natives were
equally reluctant to advance on all sides. We heard him fire twice
back there, and painful yells followed each shot. He rejoined us.

"I'm going to take the rear," he said briefly. "They're in the bush all
around. I'll hold them off easily. They'll make their main rush from
this side, so you two stay together."

Arthur's answer was a deliberate squeeze of his trigger. A yell

"At a hundred yards," he commented, looking up, "one can make good
practice in moonlight like this."

"Dawn soon," said Evan and went once more to the rear. We heard him
settling himself for the rush that we expected.

So far, there had been nothing but yells from the natives. We knew they
had some firearms, but ammunition is very valuable in the bush. Natives
are never supposed to have arms of precision, and when they possess
modern rifles, they have to keep them concealed lest they be taken away
by the Portuguese; but now and then a black boy will make off with a
rifle and a store of shells, and there are other sources of supply.

At that, though, rifles and ammunition are immensely valuable back in
the hill country. Up beyond the Hungry Country, I have known slaves to
be sold for three rifle cartridges apiece. In fact, my boy Mboka--now
run off in the bush with the rest of them--had cost me exactly six
.30-.30 shells. I had found him the slave of a portly Kuloga chieftain
who was about to sell him to a half-caste Arab for export to the Sudan.

I had wondered why the house servants did not clean out the gun chest
when they ran away in the middle of the night, but thanked my luck that
they failed to do so. Half a dozen rifles in the hands of the blacks
would have made matters awkward for us at close quarters. Off in the
bush we could have disregarded them, as the native custom is to fill
the barrel with slugs and fire from the hip. Anything like accuracy is
impossible to them, of course.

When the sky began to pale toward the east, however, they opened up. No
less than six firearms began to bellow at us, from an ancient fowling
piece of who knows what ancient lineage to a modern smokeless-powder
magazine rifle. The slugs and bullets tore through the flimsy walls of
the house, or else imbedded themselves with a thud in one of the posts
that supported the roof. Arthur and myself began to concentrate upon
those weapons. The black-powder arms showed their position at every
fire in the now growing dawnlight, and we fired vengefully at the puffs
of smoke.

The sky was growing lighter now. The stars above us were paling and
winking feebly in an attempt to outshine the sun. The first dim
grayness became nearly white. The east turned from pallid luminosity to
rich rose and then to gold. The gold, in its turn, faded to yellow, and
the first rays of the sun struck the tips of the highest trees about
the clearing. The drumming became fast and furious. The fires of the
guns in the bush ceased for a moment, and wild yelling began. We heard
Evan firing occasionally from the rear of the house. Now his shots came
more rapidly.

With a hideous yell, the fringe of bush about the casa erupted black
figures. Ancient spears, knobbed and gnarled war clubs, fiercely
pointed arrows, and occasional rusted and long-cherished firearms armed
the motley throng that ran yelling toward us.

Arthur dropped his rifle and took up the repeating shotgun by his side.
I took my stand at a window and opened on the advancing mob. In such a
mass it was impossible to miss, and the buckshot was deadly. If we had
had sawed-off shotguns, the loads would have spread more and inflicted
more damage, but as it was we had merely to pull the triggers to see
one or more figures crumple or spin half around and fall. In their
state of frenzy, that did not stop the blacks.

Evan's gun was booming from the rear of the house. Arthur's spoke with
a shattering roar. My own barked angrily. The drums in the bush were
pounding in a mad rhythm that made the universe a place of unbearable
sound. The yells, the shots, the cries, and the thunderous drumming
created an uproar in which I loaded my weapon and emptied it with a
sense of curious detachment. Alicia and Mrs. Braymore were behind the
breastwork we had made for them. I cannot speak for Mrs. Braymore, but
I glanced once at Alicia and saw her grimly holding her light rifle in

The blacks came on. The losses we inflicted went unnoticed. They
swarmed up the rise on which the house was built. We took heavy toll
of them, but from sheer weight of numbers their casualties seemed
insignificant. Their yells were deafening as they swept up the last
twenty yards. I emptied my shotgun and began to use my two automatics.

A mass of black humanity flowed up the steps, though a gap in the
stream widened for a moment as Arthur poured the last shells from
his shotgun into them. They clambered the pillars that supported the
veranda and made for the windows.

At that distance, barely ten feet, we could not miss. The veranda
was a shambles. They could not live there. Arthur and myself with an
automatic in each hand swept the place. I heard a shot and a yell
behind me. One of the openings in the floor showed the barrel of an
ancient musket that was just falling back. Alicia had fired down the
opening and undoubtedly saved my life. The musket was aimed directly
for my back, and would have torn my head from my body.

There was a crashing, and an antique blunderbuss appeared through
a hole smashed in the flimsy side wall of the house. Arthur fired
quickly. Then I heard Evan cry out at the rear of the house. Before we
could move, there was an outburst of demoniacal, bestial screamings of
rage. To one who had once heard that sound, the noise was unmistakable.
The gorilla had appeared in a killing fury and was going for the
blacks, as their panic testified. In a moment the clearing was dotted
with running natives. They dared face our weapons, but the gorilla----

Evan's rifle was silent. There was an instant of almost unbearable
quietness. Then came a triumphant, horrible outcry from the beast. It
had slain.



The quiet was deadly. Where five minutes before had been the yelling
of the natives and the roaring of the drums, the sharp cracks of our
rifles, and the bellowing of the native firearms, now there was not a

Arthur and I, shaken by the suddenness of the transition, waited in
cold apprehension. Would the door from the rear of the house burst open
and the shaggy beast rage into the room, its colossal arms crushing
whatever might come within its grasp? Would we, the four in that one
room, fire futilely into its barrellike chest, and then be rent and
tore in the huge ape's hairy arms, while its great discolored fangs
sank into our flesh?

The stillness was broken by a feeble sound, and we quivered, gripping
our rifles the more tightly. The tension was terrific. Another feeble
sound, a scraping sound. Then two or three faint jars, followed by an
uncertain, tottering footstep, and a second. We heard Evan's voice,
barely above a whisper, muttering pain-racked imprecations.

The door opened slowly and he limped weakly into the room. His clothes
were torn and gory. Blood dripped from a deep cut across the back of
his hand. He stared at us uncertainly, and a look of relief came across
his face.

"Well," he said slowly. "They've gone."

Alicia, for the first time, gave way. She burst into sobs, against
which she struggled bravely.

"The gorilla!" I snapped, fearful lest I too give way.

Evan shook his head. "The blacks had crept up to and filled the
servants' quarters during the night. I suppose that's why the dogs
were restless. When they made a rush, they dashed out from there and I
couldn't stop them. They were inside, and I was just about gone when
the gorilla appeared from nowhere. I dare say I shouted, and then the
beast made for the blacks. I suppose it was as frightened as they were,
but it charged them, screaming with rage, and they ran. It got one of
them. The poor devil is out there now. I'd been knocked down and one of
the blacks was just about to finish me off when the brute appeared."

"Where is it now?"

Evan shook his head again. "I don't know where it went. It was going
for the blacks."

Alicia stuffed her handkerchief into her mouth and tried desperately to
get a grip on herself again.

"We'll go and look out at the back," said Arthur grimly. "You stay
here, Evan."

We went cautiously out toward the rear. There lay one of the natives
with his neck broken, an expression of infinite horror on his face.
Others lay in twisted attitudes about the place, gaping wounds from
the buckshot at close range showing how desperately Evan had fought. Of
the gorilla there was no sign. We searched the place thoroughly, but
found nothing.

We returned to the others, a curious lethargy settling upon us. We had
been at such high tension for so long that it was impossible to keep
keyed up. I, for one, felt an almost-overpowering desire to sleep.
Alicia had recovered her composure by now and was trying to bandage
Evan's hand. He was indifferently submitting, but after she had
finished, he looked at it and took the bandage off, substituting a mere
strip of adhesive for the many turns of the cloth.

"I can handle my rifle like this," he said dully.

Mrs. Braymore made coffee and we drank it in silence. Presently Arthur
motioned to the women to leave the room and began to tug at the bodies
lying on the floor. It was absurd for us to think of trying to bury
them. He dragged them to the edge of the veranda and dropped them over
the edge to the ground below. He moved jerkily, almost like a man

"No need to do that," said Evan suddenly, a little while later.

Arthur stopped and looked at him questioningly.

"We'll have to start for the coast," Evan explained uninterestedly. "We
can't stick it out here. The natives won't bother us now. The fight's
taken out of them."

"But the gorilla?"

"Have to chance it," said Evan slowly. "There's nothing else to do."

"He'll get us within the first ten miles," I remarked, speaking with
difficulty because of the peculiar lethargy that affected us all. "You
know how he trailed Arthur."

There was a moment's silence, then Arthur automatically resumed his
task. Alicia came into the room and silently gave us something to eat.
Arthur stopped dumbly and began to chew on his food, forgetting the
grisly labor he had been performing but a moment before.

"We can't start to-day, anyway," he said after a little. "We've got
to rest. We're all in bad shape and we've two weeks' travel before we
reach another white man's house."

Evan made some reply, but I did not catch it. I fell asleep with food
in my hands and slept like a dead man for hours. Alicia waked me at
noon to eat again.

All that day we were possessed by a peculiar indifference, the result
of the reaction from the tension at which we had lived for so many
days. I woke with a start at three o'clock, hearing the dogs bark. Evan
came slowly into the room.

"I let the dogs loose," he said, noticing my expression. "They were

"We'll need them to-night, in case the beast comes back." I rose
stiffly and went back to douse my head with water. It roused me a
little and, after a cup of coffee, I joined the other two. We were all
languid and tired, but thoroughly awake now.

"Of course we can't stay on here," Arthur was admitting, "but we
wouldn't have one chance in a hundred to make it through the jungle
with that ape following us. You've seen how it manages to reach the
house here."

"I've figured," said Evan thoughtfully, "that it was in the fringe of
bush, and when the drums began to close in from three sides, it was
flushed out and came on to hide here in or about the house. It had
hidden here before."

"Probably," Arthur agreed. "But that doesn't say how we're going
to elude it during a journey of a hundred and fifty miles without

Evan threw out his hands. "But what are we going to do?" He appealed to
me. "What do you think, Murray?"

"If we stay here," I reasoned, "either we'll get him or he'll get us.
If we go, he'll probably get one or more of us and we may get him. But
we can't stay here. The only thing I can think of is that we had better
try for him to-night. With the dogs to warn us, we'll have a better
chance than before. If he doesn't come to-night, try to-morrow night.
Hang on here as long as we dare and then, if we must, try the trail. If
we could strike a caravan coming down from the Hungry Country, now----"

Evan shook his head. "I haven't been very hospitable to the Portuguese
traders," he remarked. "They steal my slaves and sell them in Ticao.
They don't turn off the main slave trail to my villages any more."

We were, silent for a moment or two.

"Are there any of the rest barricades any short distance away?" asked
Arthur. "We might reach one of them and wait for a caravan to come."

From time to time along the great slave trail from the interior, you
will find big inclosures made of tree trunks and filled with grass
huts. They were originally built for halting places for the caravans
that go up and down from beyond the Hungry Country. Of course they
are in ill repair because of the attacks of insects and rot upon dead
timber in that climate, but the carriers feel safer in them after
nightfall, and the slave traders find them convenient to avoid possible
attempts to escape off the part of the "voluntary labor recruits" they
are escorting to the coast.

"We might try," I said doubtfully. "Frankly, I think the beast would
have as much chance at us there as here. If we happened on a caravan
right away, though, it would help."

"Why doesn't the damned thing go away?" Arthur looked at us with
something of dread in his eyes. "I shot its mate four hundred miles
away, up in the Kongo. It trailed me those four hundred miles, making
attempt after attempt on me. I wounded it once, and got a fair shot at
it two weeks before Murray brought Alicia and Mrs. Braymore here. I
thought I had killed it then. It went off through the trees as if it
were badly injured. I'd made sure it was dead."

He began to pace up and down the room nervously.

"I've never known one so far from Kongo before," I said, in an attempt
to encourage him. "You know what animals are. They'll stick at a thing
for an amazing length of time and then will drop it like a shot. He may
get a touch of homesickness any day and swing off to the north again."

"If he only would!" Arthur burst out. "I'm beginning to feel that he's
going to get me yet. Something tells me he's going to get me."

"Nonsense," said Evan heartily. "Get a grip on yourself, old man."

"If he killed me," Arthur muttered morosely, "he'd be satisfied. I'm
the one he's after. If he killed me, he might go off and leave the rest
of you in peace."

"Don't be an ass, Arthur," I told him sharply. "The beast can't
distinguish between white men. He'd be just as apt to try to wipe out
the lot of us, and I have a strong objection to being wiped out."

Arthur walked out on the veranda and stood there, leaning against the
side of the house and staring moodily off into the bush. Evan looked at
me significantly.

"Nerves," he said quietly. "I feel the same way, but I'm trying not to
show it. I'll go and round up the dogs. I have a feeling that something
is due to happen to-night."

I went out to the back. Alicia saw me passing her door and joined me,
leaving Mrs. Braymore behind.

"Have you decided on your course?" she asked in a low voice. "You know
both of us are willing to do anything you think wise. You mustn't hold
back for fear we may not be able to stand hardships."

I shook my head. "The only thing we can do," I said wearily, "is hope
the beast turns up to-night and that we kill him."

Alicia put out her hand and let it rest on my shoulder in comradely

"Please don't be discouraged," she said urgently. "We've stood so much,
surely we can endure a little more."

I tried to smile. "We'll stick it out. It must be much harder for you
and Mrs. Braymore."

"Don't worry about us." Alicia shook her head decidedly. "It's
the waiting for the beast to come that worries you. We're growing
accustomed to grisly sights, but you'll never be used to just waiting.
Why, I've got so I can look at those poor natives and not even shiver."

My eyes followed her glance. I smiled wryly. "It isn't pleasant for
me to look at that particular native," I remarked. "He was one of my
carriers. I bought and freed him when he was to be used for food--a
tribe in the interior. All my boys joined Evan's blacks."

Alicia looked at me with her large eyes. "Let's go and talk to Arthur,"
she said suddenly. "He needs cheering as much as you do."

The veranda of the casa went all the way around it. Arthur, when I had
seen him, was leaning against the wall before the main door. Alicia and
I walked around the outside.

"I didn't thank you for shooting down the hole in the flooring----" I
began, then quickly snapped my hand to the pistol at my belt.

From inside the house had come a snarl! Before I could take another
step, I heard a queer, gurgling gasp and a sickening crack. In a second
I had bolted around the corner of the casa, rushing madly, my automatic
in my hand. Arthur had been leaning against the wall near one of the
windows. Now he was crumpling limply to the floor, while the curtains
behind him were still fluttering where the arms that had broken his
neck had beat jerked back. I dashed through the door, absolutely
desperate and utterly reckless. A dark form was bounding down the hall
that led to the rear. A frightened cry came from the room in which
Mrs. Braymore had been left. I ran down the passageway, furious and
desperate, I heard a door slam shut--the door of the storeroom! I made
for it, stumbled, and fell into the room on all fours.

Evan Graham was in the room, trying to stuff a furry something into an
open box! As I sprawled on the floor he whirled and saw me. From his
lips issued the identical snarl I had heard five seconds before, and he
raised his automatic pistol and fired!



I came slowly back to consciousness, feeling weak and giddy. I essayed
to move and found I could not. I opened my eyes. Despite the gathering
darkness, I discovered that I was seated in a chair in the large room
of the casa. A second attempt to move disclosed the fact that I was
tied tightly.

Alicia stared at me dumbly from an opposite chair, and Mrs. Braymore
sat in one corner, her face white and set and her eyes full of horror.
Evan was standing at his ease by the doorway, smoking with evident

In one of his hands he held a shaggy object that for some seconds held,
weakly, my half-focused attention. It was a baglike object, that yet
seemed to contain a framework. Not yet awake to full consciousness,
I saw that it was strangely animal. It was a mask in the perfect,
horrible likeness of a gorilla.

Evan turned and saw my eyes open. "Well, Murray, old top," he said
amiably. "You caught me, didn't you?"

My throat was dry and parched, and my shoulder ached abominably. "What
the devil?" I croaked weakly.

"Give him some water, Alicia," said Evan cheerfully. "He's thirsty."

Alicia gave me water. "He has my pistol," she whispered despairingly as
she bent over me.

Full consciousness returned with a jerk. Evan had shot me. Evan had
snarled at me as he fired. Evan--why Evan must have killed Arthur! He
grinned approvingly as he saw me straighten in an instinctive effort to
break my bonds.

"Ah, feeling better," he commented. "I'm sorry you caught me. I'd have
liked to take you back to Ticao and hear you tell the tale of this
week's work of ours. You always were a great one for telling tales,

He puffed luxuriously at his cigarette and looked at the gathering
darkness outside.

"You're a connoisseur of tales, Murray, so I think I'll tell you one.
I'm going off to get in touch with my natives in a little while, as
soon as it's dark, but I've a few minutes to spare and might as well
be pleasant during that little while. I'm afraid I'll have to be
unpleasant later on, you know."

"I didn't know."

I have never found that losing one's head is an advantage under any
circumstances, so I prepared to make an effort to keep mine. Evan waved
his hand airily.

"Oh, I'm going to be put to the unpleasant necessity of disposing of
you and Mrs. Braymore. No one could regret it more than I do, but the
necessity is there. You see, I was the gorilla." He indicated the
gorilla mask. "And it wouldn't do for you to tell that story about."

"I can believe it," I admitted. My head was spinning, but I tried to
follow what he was saying in the hope of finding something therein to
my own advantage.

"You understand, of course," said Evan cheerfully, "that I don't mean
that I was the beast whose mate Arthur so inconsiderately shot, or the
one who followed his caravan all the way here from the Kongo. That
was another gorilla altogether. I simply happen to be the one that
hung about the house here. Arthur shot the other one two weeks before
you came. It got away, but he must have wounded it fatally. Otherwise
it would have turned up long before. I'll admit that I was a little
nervous about the animal at first, but I soon realized that it must be
dead. I saw to it that Arthur was not similarly convinced, however. I
had already made more or less of a plan. You know about my slaves?"

"No," I said rather weakly. I had lost a lot of blood.

"I'd knocked about the West Coast for quite a while before I came
here." Evan stopped and drew up a chair. He sat down comfortably.
"I had learned the secret of controlling natives. As you know, that
secret is fear. I knew that if I could get, say, a village full of them
thoroughly afraid of me, they would be to all practical purposes my
slaves. Normal means of frightening them would have the disadvantage
of not frightening them too much to invoke juju to get rid of me. And
juju, invoked against a white man, means poison. The obvious solution
was to frighten them by means of the very juju they would use against

"Poison?" I asked. My head was spinning, but I tried not to show it.

"No." Evan puffed casually upon his cigarette. "Poison would be the
result of the juju. I went at the fountain head. Kongo natives are
deadly afraid of gorillas, but just a little way from gorilla country,
the natives fear them vastly more than where familiarity has had time
to breed, if not contempt, at least some measure of accustomedness. The
natives here would be horribly afraid of them. I made my preparations
accordingly. Having bribed his excellency the colonial governor, and
having had this mask made and learned how to imitate to a fair degree
of perfection the cries of the beasts, I came out here. Have you seen
my mask?"

He held it out for me to see, even going so far as to strike a light
so that I might examine the thing more closely. He held it before my
eyes and turned it about. It was an amazingly perfect bit of work,
perhaps larger than a normal skull of one of the beasts would be. For
all their size, their skulls are comparatively small. It was lifelike
to a surprising degree. The disgustingly human, and yet unhuman ears
stuck out against the skull. The jaw protruded in truly simian fashion,
and the caked, black lips were drawn back from discolored fangs in a
grimace of almost unimaginable ferocity. The broad, flat nostrils were
distended in rage, and the eyeholes of the mask sank deep back below
the low and beetling forehead. If small, glittering eyes had shone
evilly from those now blank holes, I would have been tempted to believe
that a live beast was before me.

"Good work, isn't it?" asked Evan. "I came out here with my four
overseers, wandered into the village, and metamorphosed myself before
the villagers' eyes into a gorilla clad as a man, which at one moment
spoke with the voice of a man, ordering them to obey, and the next
screamed at them in tones of one of the monstrous apes of which they
were in such dread. I built myself this casa, demanded tribute of gums
and produce, started a small juju house off in a small clearing, and in
a couple of weeks had established myself as a deity, demanding to be
worshiped and sacrificed to, exacting all sorts of tribute, and so on.
Very profitable, I assure you.

"They soon believed that I could change myself into a gorilla at will
and respected me immensely. I took care to throw a few scares into
them. In Japan, some years ago, I learned a small and very elemental
jujutsu trick which requires very little strength to break a man's
neck. A few broken necks, a few snarls, a scream or so of rage, and
they'd no more think of crossing my will than they'd think of jumping
into the fires of hell."

"They attacked the house," I remarked, trying behind my back to wriggle
one of my hands free from the bonds that held it fast.

"They'll suffer for that." Evan was smiling, but there was something
in his tone that made me feel slightly cold. "They'll suffer for that.
I told my juju priests to take the people off into the woods and keep
them busy with a juju council until I had finished my business with
you. They forced your boys to go with them. They simply got out of
hand, that's all. The witch doctor you and Arthur shot was coming to
tell me that they were out of control. If I had gone and appeared among
them, wearing my gorilla mask, and snarled at them once, they would
have been like lambs. I simply couldn't, get away from you people
without making you suspicious."

"But what was the object of it all?" I demanded. I had found it
impossible to free even one hand.

"Arthur was my elder brother," said Evan amiably. "Consequently, being
English, he had all the money in the family. I do not like West Africa.
If I disposed of Arthur, I could go back to England and live with some
comfort. I thought of shooting him and calling it an accident, but
people would talk, you know. When he came here with his tale of being
followed by a gorilla, I saw the possibilities. When I heard you people
were coming up, I saw I would have witnesses. My idea was to convince
you of the presence of a gorilla, break Arthur's neck precisely as I
did this afternoon, and return to England. I rather thought I would be
able to comfort Alicia, in time."

Alicia shuddered. Evan grinned at her.

"I shall comfort you, Alicia, but presently. My people will return,
Murray and your estimable chaperon will be disposed of, and you and
I will escape precariously to Ticao, telling the tale of hairbreadth
escapes during the uprising of my natives and during the trip."

"Never!" said Alicia desperately.

"Oh, yes." Evan was polite, but there was evil determination in his
tone. "You never cared much for Arthur, and I more than suspect you're
in love with Murray. You'll do as I say for his sake."

There was mute interrogation in my expression.

"Not to save your life, of course, Murray," Evan hastened to assure
me. "I really can't allow you to spread tales of what happened up
here. She'll be pleasant to make sure that you depart this life,

Alicia looked at me in despair.

Evan glanced out the window. "Not time for me to start off yet," he
remarked. "They'll have to go down and worship me when I turn up in
this little fixing." He indicated the gorilla-head mask in his hand.
"Is there anything that isn't clear to you?"

"I don't understand anything," I said.

"I'll begin at the beginning, in your own fashion. Let's see. Biheta.
You remember you were here the night she was installed in the casa?
One of my servants had been insolent. I sent word to the village
that Biheta was to be sent here to take the other's place. She was
frightened, and the juju ceremony you saw was for the purpose of
heartening her for the time she would spend in proximity to my godlike
person. When the other servants left, by my orders, she was too stupid
to go with them. She was perpetually frightened, anyway. You see,
she saw me dispose of the servant that had been insolent. Jujutsu is
useful. I'll show you how to break a neck." He started to rise, then
sank back in his chair. "Come to think of it, I need you to convince
Alicia that she had better do as I tell her. You will depart this life
to-morrow. As I was saying, Biheta stayed behind when she should have
cleared out with the others. So, in the middle of the night, while on
guard, I went into her room, wearing my mask. I made a noise, she woke,
saw me--and that was the end of that. The photograph of the retina of
her eye showed the face of this mask. Rather clever idea, don't you

"Very," I admitted.

"Thanks." Evan smiled sarcastically. "Well, Arthur just imagined he
heard the beast following him through the trees. He shot at nothing,
when you and he went down to explore the village. My own 'encounter'
with the animal when I started off in the jungle alone was purely
imaginary. I scratched my own face and jabbered like the gorilla
myself. Like this----"

He emitted a succession of incredible sounds, so beastlike and
ferocious in their tones that I could hardly believe it was not an
animal uttering them. There was a peculiar echo from the bush outside.

"The dogs were excited in the storeroom," Evan went on easily, "because
they could smell the fur of the mask I kept in a small box in there.
When I told that wild tale of a hairy arm reaching in at the window
and dragging the dog out, to fling it with a broken neck into the
courtyard, I need not say that I had done the killing. And my 'seeing'
the gorilla on the roof was more fiction. Of course he wasn't there at
dawn. I was laughing in my sleeve at you people all night long, while
we patrolled the courtyard. The silhouette of the gorilla's head you
two saw on the window curtain was the shadow of your humble servant.
I had decided that the play had gone far enough. The presence of the
gorilla had been proved. The three of you, my present audience, would
corroborate my story of the gorilla's having killed Arthur. I was on my
way to break his neck. You nearly got me that time, and I had to kill
the dog to get away. Then the natives got out of hand. I could have
stopped them by a simple appearance, but you people would have missed
me. I waited until they were near the house, then rushed out in my
mask, snarling and raging at them, and they ran. After that I hid the
mask quickly and pretended to you that I had been knocked down. It was
really very simple. With the natives quieted for a few days, I simply
carried out my plans to dispose of Arthur. I'm sorry I'll have to put
you two out of the way, but Arthur's dead, I'm his heir, I'm going to
marry Alicia and become a country gentleman in England, and I can't let
you two people talk."

"You'll never dare take me to England," said Alicia, desperately white.

"You'll marry me, Alicia," said Evan coolly. "You won't split. When you
see the preparations my natives will make for the entertainment of
Murray and Mrs. Braymore, you'll swear to anything, and you'll marry me
when we get to Ticao. You'll corroborate my tales of a slave uprising,
too. You don't know what can be done to Murray, and will be done before
he dies, unless you do as I say."

Alicia moistened her lips. I saw her half close her eyes.

Evan laughed. "It's about time for me to call on my natives. This will
be our wedding night, Alicia. One of the local witch doctors will marry
us, and the ceremony will be repeated when we get to Ticao. Murray and
Mrs. Braymore will be kept alive until to-morrow lest you refuse to go
through with the ceremony. If you hesitate, I dare say I'll be able to
make up your mind for you. Too bad I'll have to kill the other two,
though." He strolled over to the door. "I'll call up my natives. You'll
hear the gorilla again."

Derisively he opened his lips and from them issued a strange cry, that
I had heard once before. It was the challenge of a bull ape to battle.
And--good Heaven! _It was answered!_

There was a snarl behind him. He turned with a gasp. There on the
veranda, leaping toward him, he saw, not a masquerading white man,
posing as a jungle god, but a colossal gorilla in actuality, gnashing
its teeth in rage, and with its huge, hairy arms outstretched.

I shall remember Evan's shriek when the beast seized him, to the end of
my days. Sometimes, even now, I start up at midnight with the echo of
it in my ears. For one instant the two figures were outlined against
the fading light of the sky. Then the ferocious fangs buried themselves
in Evan's throat and the beast leaped clumsily to the ground, bearing
the still-struggling body in its immensely muscled arms.

We heard the sounds from the courtyard, sounds at whose meaning I
do not wish to guess. And then our ears rang with the horrible,
incredible, terrifying scream of a gorilla that has made a kill.



We passed through the night somehow. Alicia, half dead with terror,
managed clumsily to release me, but weak as I was from loss of blood,
we dared attempt nothing that night.

In the morning the great ape was gone. I might as well say now that I
believe that it was the same animal that had trailed Arthur, and which
Arthur had gravely wounded some two weeks before our arrival.

For three weeks it had hidden while the wound healed, and then came
cautiously toward the casa again. It heard Evan's first beastlike
cries, and its response was probably the queer echo I had thought I
heard from the bush. It crept forward, and when Evan derisively uttered
the challenge cry of the monster anthropoids, it had leaped to the

Limited as is the intelligence of the creatures, it would never
distinguish between white men. A white man had killed its mate. It had
killed a white man. With the blood lust sated, by now the shaggy brute
was doubtless swinging rapidly through the treetops toward its Kongo
hunting grounds.

That is my explanation. I know I never saw any other sign of the huge
gorilla either then or at any later time. I have told the tale on
different occasions to many different people, and my surmise has always
been accepted as correct.

Our predicament was not entirely done away with by the disappearance
of the gorilla that had come to our deliverance so unexpectedly. We
were still a hundred and fifty miles from another white man or woman,
absolutely without carriers, and I was abominably weak from the wound
Evan had inflicted. Our chances looked slight indeed until nearly noon
of the next day.

A very much ashamed, and a very apologetic black figure emerged from
the bush on the side farthest from the village. It was followed
by about forty other similarly ashamed and apologetic figures. I
recognized Mboka, my gun-bearer in the lead and had to struggle to
restrain an impulse to jump up and shout aloud to Alicia that we were
all right at last.

Instead, I sat impassively on the veranda until Mboka stopped humbly
in the courtyard before me. I paid absolutely no attention, but smoked
indifferently as if his presence or absence were a matter in which
I had no concern. He waited and fidgeted, scraping his bare feet
embarrassedly on the ground, until at last I looked down and inspected
him impersonally. I looked away again. Presently, looking off through
the bush as if he were the most insignificant atom in the universe, I


Mboka beamed. It is the custom in West Africa for the lower in rank,
the inferior, to speak first, but Mboka was too ashamed to presume. He
stood there uneasily and tried to look apologetic while I informed him
that he had put me to some inconvenience, that he was to go and never
dare appear before me again. I added that I would see to it that no
other trader ever dreamed of employing him for any purpose whatever.

It does not do for a white man to admit himself in any degree dependent
on a black. I told him that he need never come to me again and resumed
my stare into the bush. He may have had some idea of trying to bargain
with me, but my attitude put him back. He hesitatingly and humbly told
me what I already knew quite well, that he and the others had been
forced to accompany Evan's natives off into the bush.

One or two of the carriers had been swept away by the fervor of the
juju council and had joined Evan's folk in their attack on us, but the
others had now fled to put themselves under my protection. They begged
that I would receive them again and assured me of their undivided
loyalty, if I would take them again into my service.

I kept them waiting for an hour while I went indoors and ate a
leisurely breakfast. When I came outside again, I seemed to have
forgotten them. My indifference completed their subjugation. They were
abject in their pleadings for me to take them back. When I finally
consented, it was with the scornful statement that I was going to take
them to Ticao and discharge them from my service forever.

They burdened themselves joyfully with the loads they had brought up
from Ticao and waited anxiously for me to announce my readiness to
start. Alicia and Mrs. Braymore would have to walk, as their ox-cart
was useless. I began the journey on foot, but could not keep up. I was
too weak.

The second day I had to be carried in an improvised hammock, and the
third or fourth day I found myself in a raging fever. Alicia worked
over me bravely, but I lapsed into semidelirious feverishness in which
I was of no use whatever.

I must credit Mboka with a great deal more faithfulness than I had
expected of him. He kept the carriers under an iron rule, and Alicia
told me later that the length of the journeys was stretched to the
greatest possible distance every day. With nothing but the scantiest
of medicines--as my own drug chest had been accidentally left behind
at Evan's deserted casa--she fought off the fever, but when we arrived
at the Padre Silvestre's mission, I was in very bad shape. The padre
doctored me, however, and in two weeks I had not only ceased my
delirium, but could move about a little. I remember the first evening I
was allowed to sit up.

The padre, Alicia, and Mrs. Braymore had celebrated my recovery at
dinner that night, the padre making one of his graceful little speeches
on the subject. I am not of the padre's faith, but we are great
friends, and after dinner he announced that I might sit up. With great
ceremony they got me into a chair and made a great to-do over me. Then
they helped me to a chair on the little screened-in veranda of the
padre's house, where I could look out at the perfect African night and
see the small mission church, and farther off the village in which the
padre's converts live.

Mrs. Braymore went back indoors to discuss with him some aid she
proposed to give the mission. She was an Episcopalian, but she had seen
the work the padre had done, and a difference of creed had long since
seemed unimportant. The main thing was that the natives needed aid.
Alicia and I on the veranda talked for a long time, disjointedly.

"What will happen to Evan's plantation?" she asked presently, naming
the place with reluctance.

"The natives will move away," I answered thoughtfully, "and a tradition
will grow up, making the casa the abode of a devil-god who will destroy
all comers. Slave caravans passing down the great slave trail will
make offerings to appease the evil spirits in the house, and a juju
house will appear, where the witch doctor will grow rich and fat on the
contributions he will exact. The casa itself will stand untenanted and
deserted, while tall grasses grow in the courtyard, and at last the
house will fall in shapeless ruins."

"It was terrible there," said Alicia with a shudder. "And Evan--it
is almost unbelievable that he should have done what he did. He was
always a black sheep, but that----"

I was silent for a moment. "He was planning to force you to marry him,"
I said presently. "Not thinking of how you might feel for Arthur."

"Arthur was like a brother," Alicia said sadly. "I was very, very fond
of him. We were engaged, but we had nearly agreed that we did not care
for each other enough to marry. I was very fond of him, though. I could
not have cared for him more if he had really been my brother."

The great white African moon was silvering the whole earth with its
pale rays. From the village came negro voices, singing the native words
to an old, old devotional melody. From within the house came the rustle
of papers. The padre and Mrs. Braymore were going over the details of
the small hospital she proposed to erect for the mission. The padre
is an old man, and more than forty years of his life have been spent
at his little mission station, trying to help the natives despite the
Portuguese and the _servaçal_. Now, at last, he was to have adequate
equipment through Mrs. Braymore's generosity.

She was going back to her beloved England, where she would go to her
five-o'clock teas and discuss the neighborhood gossip and hear the
curate talk about the possibility of repairing the parish house. I
knew she was glad that she could again sink into the pleasant rut of
well-to-do English country life. Alicia would go too, and I would see
her no more. It suddenly seemed unbearable that she should leave me.

"I shall be leaving Ticao soon," I said abruptly.

Alicia turned. Her face was grave and sweet in the half light.

"Why? I thought----"

"This is an evil country. White men denigrate and black men are like
beasts. I am sick of the place. I shall go back somewhere in the States
and see what I can find to do there."

"I'm glad you're leaving Ticao," she said slowly. "I should not like
to think I would never see you again. We have grown to be very good

I waited a moment or so and then said quietly:

"When Evan was explaining to us after he had shot me, he said that he
would force you to do as he said by threats of my death by torture. You

Alicia nodded silently.

"He said that he believed you cared a little for me. I have been hoping
very much that he was right. I'm more or less of a ne'er-do-well, but
if there's any hope for me, I'll try hard to change."

I waited breathlessly for her to answer. She looked out at the
moonlight for what seemed an age-long time. At last she turned again to
me. I had a moment of panic, and then I saw that she was smiling.

"Why, Murray," she said in a flash of mischief. "I may call on you to
change after a while, but for the present, say for the next ten or
twenty years, I think you're perfectly all right as you are."

I had not thought myself so strong, but when I saw her smiling at me
with her face close to my own, my fever weakness left me and I reached
out my arms. Alicia was quite considerate of me. She struggled only a
very little.

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