Ken ward in the jungle, p.1
Produced by Al Haines.
THE JAGUAR OPENED HIS JAWS THREATENINGLY (see page 182)]
KEN WARD IN THE JUNGLE
AUTHOR OF THE YOUNG FORESTER, THE YOUNG PITCHER, THE YOUNG LION HUNTER, THE U. P. TRAIL, ETC.
NEW YORK GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS
Published by Arrangement with Harper & Brothers Made in the United States of America
COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY HARPER & BROTHERS
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
I. The Prize II. The Home of the Tarpon III. An Indian Boatman IV. At the Jungle River V. The First Camp VI. Wilderness Life VII. Running the Rapids VIII. The First Tiger-cat IX. In the White Water X. Lost! XI. An Army of Snakes XII. Catching Strange Fish XIII. A Turkey-Hunt XIV. A Fight with a Jaguar XV. The Vicious Garrapatoes XVI. Field Work of a Naturalist XVII. A Mixed-up Tiger-hunt XVIII. Watching a Runway XIX. Adventures with Crocodiles XX. Treed by Wild Pigs XXI. The Leaping Tarpon XXII. Stricken Down XXIII. Out of the Jungle
*KEN WARD IN THE JUNGLE*
"What a change from the Arizona desert!"
The words broke from the lips of Ken Ward as he leaned from the windowof the train which was bearing his brother and himself over the plateauto Tampico in Tamaulipas, the southeastern state of Mexico. He hadcaught sight of a river leaping out between heavily wooded slopes andplunging down in the most beautiful waterfall he had ever seen.
"Look, Hal," he cried.
The first fall was a long white streak, ending in a dark pool; belowcame cascade after cascade, fall after fall, some wide, others narrow,and all white and green against the yellow rock. Then the train curvedround a spur of the mountain, descended to a level, to be lost in aluxuriance of jungle growth.
It was indeed a change for Ken Ward, young forester, pitcher of thevarsity nine at school, and hunter of lions in the Arizona canons. Herehe was entering the jungle of the tropics. The rifles and the campoutfit on the seat beside his brother Hal and himself spoke of comingadventures. Before them lay an unknown wilderness--the semi-tropicaljungle. And the future was to show that the mystery of the jungle wasstranger even than their imaginings.
It was not love of adventure alone or interest in the strange new forestgrowths that had drawn Ken to the jungle. His uncle, the one who hadgotten Ken letters from the Forestry Department at Washington, had beenproud of Ken's Arizona achievements. This uncle was a member of theAmerican Geographical Society and a fellow of the New York Museum ofNatural History. He wanted Ken to try his hand at field work in thejungle of Mexico, and if that was successful, then to explore the ruinedcities of wild Yucatan. If Ken made good as an explorer his reward wasto be a trip to Equatorial Africa after big game. And of course thattrip meant opportunity to see England and France, and, what meant moreto Ken, a chance to see the great forests of Germany, where forestry hadbeen carried on for three hundred years.
In spite of the fact that the inducement was irresistible, and thatKen's father was as proud and eager as Ken's uncle to have him make aname for himself, and that Hal would be allowed to go with him, Ken hadhesitated. There was the responsibility for Hal and the absolutecertainty that Hal could not keep out of mischief. Still Ken simplycould not have gone to Mexico leaving his brother at homebroken-hearted.
At last the thing had been decided. It was Hal's ambition to be anaturalist and to collect specimens, and the uncle had held out possiblerecognition from the Smithsonian Institution at Washington. Perhaps hemight find a new variety of some animal to which the scientists wouldattach his name. Then the lad was passionately eager to see Ken winthat trip to Africa. There had been much study of maps and books oftravel, science, and natural history. There had been the most carefulinstruction and equipment for semi-tropical camp life. The uncle hadgiven Ken valuable lessons in map-drawing, in estimating distance andtopography, and he had indicated any one of several rivers in the junglebelt of Mexico. Traversing one hundred miles of unknown jungle river,with intelligent observation and accurate reports, would win the prizefor Ken Ward. Now the race was on. Would Ken win?
Presently the train crossed a bridge. Ken Ward had a brief glance atclear green water, at great cypress-trees, gray and graceful with long,silvery, waving moss, and at the tangled, colorful banks. A water-fowlblack as coal, with white-crested wings, skimmed the water in swift wildflight, to disappear up the shady river-lane. Then the train clatteredon, and, a mile or more beyond the bridge, stopped at a station calledValles. In the distance could be seen the thatched palm-leaf huts andred-tiled roofs of a hamlet.
The boys got out to stretch their legs. The warm, sweet, balmy air wasa new and novel thing to them. They strolled up and down the gravelwalk, watching the natives. Hal said he rather liked the looks of theirbrown bare feet and the thin cotton trousers and shirts, but he fanciedthe enormous sombreros were too heavy and unwieldy. Ken spoke toseveral pleasant-faced Mexicans, each of whom replied: "No sabe, Senor."
The ticket agent at the station was an American, and from the way hesmiled and spoke Ken knew he was more than glad to see one of his ownkind. So, after Ken had replied to many questions about the States, hebegan to ask some of his own.
"What's the name of the waterfall we passed?"
"Micas Falls," replied the agent.
"And the river?"
"It's called the Santa Rosa."
"Where does it go?"
The agent did not know, except that it disappeared in the jungle.Southward the country was wild. The villages were few and all along therailroad; and at Valles the river swung away to the southwest.
"But it must flow into the Panuco River," said Ken. He had studied mapsof Mexico and had learned all that it was possible to learn before heundertook the journey.
"Why, yes, it must find the Panuco somewhere down over the mountain,"answered the agent.
"Then there are rapids in this little river?" asked Ken, in growinginterest.
"Well, I guess. It's all rapids."
"How far to Tampico by rail?" went on Ken.
"Something over a hundred miles."
"Any game in the jungle hereabouts--or along the Santa Rosa?" continuedKen.
The man laughed, and laughed in such a way that Ken did not need hisassertion that it was not safe to go into the jungle.
Whereupon Ken Ward became so thoughtful that he did not hear the talkthat followed between the agent and Hal. The engine bell roused himinto action, and with Hal he hurried back to their seats. And then thetrain sped on. But the beauty of Micas Falls and the wildness of theSanta Rosa remained with Ken. Where did that river go? How manywaterfalls and rapids did it have? What teeming life must be along itsrich banks! It haunted Ken. He wanted to learn the mystery of thejungle. There was the same longing which had gotten him into the wildadventures in Penetier Forest and the Grand Canon country of Arizona.And all at once flashed over him the thought that here was the jungleriver for him to explore.
"Why, that's the very thing," he said, think
"What's wrong with you," asked Hal, "talking to yourself that way?"
Ken did not explain. The train clattered between green walls of jungle,and occasionally stopped at a station. But the thought of the junglehaunted him until the train arrived at Tampico.
Ken had the name of an American hotel, and that was all he knew aboutTampico. The station was crowded with natives. Man after man accostedthe boys, jabbering excitedly in Mexican. Some of these showed brassbadges bearing a number and the word _Cargodore_.
"Hal, I believe these fellows are porters or baggage-men," said Ken.And he showed his trunk check to one of them. The fellow jerked it outof Ken's hand and ran off. The boys ran after him. They were relievedto see him enter a shed full of baggage. And they were amazed to seehim kneel down and take their trunk on his back. It was a big trunk andheavy. The man was small and light.
"It 'll smash him!" cried Hal.
But the little _cargodore_ walked off with the trunk on his back. ThenKen and Hal saw other _cargodores_ packing trunks. The boys kept closeto their man and used their eyes with exceeding interest. The sun wassetting, and the square, colored buildings looked as if they were in apicture of Spain.
"Look at the boats--canoes!" cried Hal, as they crossed a canal.
Ken saw long narrow canoes that had been hollowed out from straighttree-trunks. They were of every size, and some of the paddles wereenormous. Crowds of natives were jabbering and jostling each other at arude wharf.
"Look back," called Hal, who seemed to have a hundred eyes.
Ken saw a wide, beautiful river, shining red in the sunset. Palm-treeson the distant shore showed black against the horizon.
"Hal, that's the Panuco. What a river!"
"Makes the Susquehanna look like a creek," was Hal's comment.
The _cargodore_ led the boys through a plaza, down a narrow street tothe hotel. Here they were made to feel at home. The proprietor was akindly American. The hotel was crowded, and many of the guests wereEnglishmen there for the tarpon-fishing, with sportsmen from the States,and settlers coming in to take up new lands. It was pleasant for Kenand Hal to hear their own language once more. After dinner they salliedforth to see the town. But the narrow dark streets and the blanketednatives stealing silently along were not particularly inviting. Theboys got no farther than the plaza, where they sat down on a bench. Itwas wholly different from any American town. Ken suspected that Hal wasgetting homesick, for the boy was quiet and inactive.
"I don't like this place," said Hal. "What 'd you ever want to drag meway down here for?"
"Humph! drag you? Say, you pestered the life out of me, and botheredDad till he was mad, and worried mother sick to let you come on thistrip."
Hal hung his head.
"Now, you're not going to show a streak of yellow?" asked Ken. He knewhow to stir his brother.
Hal rose to the attack and scornfully repudiated the insinuation. Kenreplied that they were in a new country and must not reach conclusionstoo hastily.
"I liked it back up there at the little village where we saw the greenriver and the big trees with the gray streamers on them," said Hal.
"Well, I liked that myself," rejoined Ken. "I'd like to go back thereand put a boat in the river and come all the way here."
Ken had almost unconsciously expressed the thought that had been formingin his mind. Hal turned slowly and looked at his brother.
"Ken, that 'd be great--that's what we came for!"
"I should say so," replied Ken.
"Well?" asked Hal, simply.
That question annoyed Ken. Had he not come south to go into the jungle?Had he come with any intention of shirking the danger of a wild trip?There was a subtle flattery in Hal's question.
"That Santa Rosa River runs through the jungle," went on Hal. "It flowsinto the Panuco somewhere. You know we figured out on the map that thePanuco's the only big river in this jungle. That's all we want to know.And, Ken, you know you're a born boatman. Why, look at the rapids we'veshot on the Susquehanna. Remember that trip we came down the Juniata?The water was high, too. Ken, you can take a boat down that SantaRosa!"
"By George! I believe I can," exclaimed Ken, and he thrilled at thethought.
"Ken, let's go. You'll win the prize, and I'll get specimens. Thinkwhat we'd have to tell Jim Williams and Dick Leslie when we go West nextsummer!"
"Oh, Hal, I know--but this idea of a trip seems too wild."
"Maybe it wouldn't be so wild."
In all fairness Ken could not deny this, so he kept silent.
"Ken, listen," went on Hal, and now he was quite cool. "If we'dpromised the Governor not to take a wild trip I wouldn't say anotherword. But we're absolutely free."
"That's why we ought to be more careful. Dad trusts me."
"He trusts you because he knows you can take care of yourself, and me,too. You're a wonder, Ken. Why, if you once made up your mind, you'dmake that Santa Rosa River look like a canal."
Ken began to fear that he would not be proof against the haunting callof that jungle river and the flattering persuasion of his brother andthe ever-present ambition to show his uncle what he could do.
"Hal, if I didn't have you with me I'd already have made up my mind totackle this river."
That appeared to insult Hal.
"All I've got to say is I'd be a help to you--not a drag," he said, withsome warmth.
"You're always a help, Hal. I can't say anything against yourwillingness. But you know your weakness. By George! you made troubleenough for me in Arizona. On a trip such as this you'd drive me crazy."
"Ken, I won't make any rash promises. I don't want to queer myself withyou. But I'm all right."
"Look here, Hal; let's wait. We've only got to Tampico. Maybe such atrip is impracticable--impossible. Let's find out more about thecountry."
Hal appeared to take this in good spirit. The boys returned to the hoteland went to bed. Hal promptly fell asleep. But Ken Ward lay awake along time thinking of the green Santa Rosa, with its magnificentmoss-festooned cypresses. And when he did go to sleep it was to dreamof the beautiful waterfowl with the white-crested wings, and he wasfollowing it on its wild flight down the dark, mysterious river-trailinto the jungle.
Ken Ward in the Jungle by Zane Grey / Young Adult have rating 3.4 out of 5 / Based on17 votes