Killers Kraal

James Anson Buck

Killer's Kraal
By James Anson Buck
Fierce and unswerving was the Jungle's allegiance to the wing-footed white goddess--all but Yamo Galagi, famed earth-shaker of the ancient Kalundas, who bowed to no law but his own insidious ju ju.
SHEENA dropped from the branches of a gigantic, spreading baobab and started to climb the rocky krantz, leaping lightly from boulder to boulder. She was so well balanced that she appeared to flow, without particularized motion, in whatever direction her energy proposed; and she moved with incredible swiftness, her bronzed limbs flashing in the sun, her golden hair streaming behind.
On the top of the hill she unslung her bow and quiver, looking around for a place to rest. She selected a spot where a mimosa grew out of a grassy cleft and, with feline grace, stretched out flat on her belly in the black pool of its shadow. With her chin cupped in her hand she looked toward the first bend in the river.
The jungle was the same, standing dark and endless across the river. The river was the same, sweeping its mass of reddish waters westward toward Sao Vincente and its final tryst with the Father-of-all-Rivers, as her people, the Abamas, called the Congo. Beyond the green expanse of the jungle Tula Mbogo, the Buffalo Mountain, lifted its horned peaks, and a cushion of white clouds made of it a seat for a lazy god. Truly, the jungle and the river were as they must have been for a thousand years. Only people changed, outwardly and inwardly, and these subtle changes made them see things differently, even act foolishly.
It must be so. If it were otherwise she would not be here, daydreaming beside the river. Why, when the drums had told her that Rick Thorne was on the river, had she come so far to meet him? Why had she not remained in her forest sanctuary and sent Ekoti, the Abama chief, to turn him back? Such had been her first impulse but she had not obeyed it. Why not?
Frowning, she communed with herself and soon found an answer less disturbing in its implications. She was here because she knew that he would not turn back at Ekoti's bidding. He was a reckless fool. He might even venture to set foot on the forbidden trail to her sanctuary, and pursue his folly to his death. Oh yes, it was because she felt sorry for him. It was a great pity that one so young and brave should waste his manhood in searching and straining for fruit beyond his reach. Somehow he had to be made to understand that, thought her skin was white, she belonged to the jungle and the Abamas; while he belonged to the mysterious world of white men which she had never seen, and had no wish to see. He must be made to understand that she was not for him. Her kiss was the kiss of death for any man who dared to defy the strong taboo of her foster-mother, Ebid Ela--a taboo made inviolate by a bristling boma of Abama spears.
So, here she was, listening to the drums--a pulsing now near and now far, but always articulate, incredibly accurate. But nothing now, just the gossip of the jungle. She let her mind idle. Her mood changed again, and her thoughts became less definite and merged with the blue haze. Across her line of vision birds flew with tails like a burst of flame; others, over-balanced by huge red beaks, flapped awkwardly from tree to tree. A tall, grey heron stood in the shallows and, when gorged, rose heavily to light on a bough above her head--only to rise again with a squawk of panic as Chim, her pet ape, sleeping on the bough, suddenly awoke to scold the intruder.
As the blue-toned view faded, and the sun melted into the clouds and brought them to a glow, the distance became more intimate, more revealing. She was vaguely aware of the tension building up within her.
It stirred up memories of her last meeting with Rick and suddenly she was re-living it all again, every work, every gesture as if it had happened yesterday. And with the vision came poignant yearnings which half expressed themselves to her awareness, and then were overwhelmed by the strong excitement which had been the core and magic of that hour.
And suddenly she was afraid. For her there was danger in this meeting. He would not listen to her. No! He would look at her with that disconcerting gleam in his eyes. He would smile that slow slow smile, and he would dare--. She would not stay! She would send Ekoti. She sprang to her feet.
And just then the booming notes of a drum broke the silence--"Boom-tack-tack-boom! Tack-tack-boom-tack--"
The Jungle Queen stood tense, listening, her expression changing rapidly
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