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As published in Warne's Pleasure Book for Boys,
Frederick Warne & Co., London, 1934

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Version Date: 2022-12-02

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Warne's Pleasure Book for Boys, 1934, with "The Red Terror"



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Mark, flinging up his rifle, blazed straight at the rushing monster.

PHIL CAREY came bursting into the room which he shared with Mark Winter at the shabby little Hotel Florida.

"We've got it," he exclaimed in a tone of triumph.

"Got what?" asked Mark, looking up from the letter he was writing. Mark was a year older than Phil, a lean, competent rather grave-faced youngster.

"The concession, you old ass. What else?"

Mark's grey eyes widened.

"For the Pilgrim Mine, you mean?"

"Of course."

Mark shook his head.

"There's a catch somewhere," he said with a frown.

"There's no catch." Phil was almost angry. "Dad's seen to that. The agreement has been drawn up before Pedro Garcias, the public notary of San Lucar, and he declares it's all right. Dad's paid a thousand dollars of mining rights, and Señor Hernando is to have 15 per cent of the profits. What's more, Hernando is guaranteeing labour and transport."

Mark still looked doubtful.

"What's the matter with you?" demanded Phil sharply."Don't you want to come?"

"Of course I want to come, Phil. But I know Hernando better than you do. He's a grasping sort of scoundrel, and I can't believe he'd be satisfied with 15 per cent of the profits. There's a lot of gold in the old mine, if I'm not badly mistaken."

"Then why hasn't he worked it himself?" Phil asked.

"Just what's been puzzling me," said Mark.

"Well, I'll tell you," said Phil. "He hasn't the necessary knowledge or the energy. And I believe he'll be jolly glad to get his percentage."

"What about those chaps who went up last year," Mark asked "Hayden and Carroll? They never came back."

"They died of fever, Hernando told us. They didn't know the country, they hadn't a proper outfit, and they didn't take quinine." Phil paused. "Any more objections, Mark?"

"Lots," said Mark, with a faint smile. "When do we start?"

"Ah, that's more like it," cried Phil. "Dad thinks we could get off on Monday. It'll just be you and me, Mark. Dad's not fit enough to come."

"I know. All right. I can be ready by Monday."

THE Pilgrim Mine was a hundred miles up the river from San Lucar, a small Bolivian town. It was one of the many that had been worked by the Jesuits in the old times. When the Jesuits were driven out of Bolivia it had been abandoned, and the country around had gone back to jungle. Phil's father had heard of it and gone up to investigate, but before he had had time to look it over properly he had gone down with fever. Then these two, Hayden and Carroll, had gone up, but neither of them had come back.

Meanwhile, young Phil Carey and his cousin, Mark Winter, had come out from England. Phil had heard from his father of the riches of the old mine and had begged to be allowed to try his luck there. His father was very much against it, but Phil had persuaded him. The result was this concession from Señor Perez Hernando, the big landowner in the Segovia Valley, and the arrangement which Phil Carey had explained to Mark.

By Monday everything was ready. Hernando had sent down a batelone (a large canoe) with a crew of Indians and the boys started at dawn. They took with them two dogs, Airedales named Grip and Grump, both valiant fighters and splendid guards.

With every mile the jungle grew thicker, the country wilder. Then jagged hills rose above the matted forest, and the river grew narrower and swifter. On the fourth afternoon the Indians landed the two boys on a playa (a sand beach).

"You here now," said the headman. "We go on. Come back in one week."

"Yes, if Hernando lets you," growled Mark under his breath as he set to making camp.

Before the job was finished the batelone was out of sight, and the boys were alone—alone in as wild a spot as either had ever seen. On one side lay the swift river, on the other a wall of jungle so thick it looked as if nothing but a monkey could penetrate it. Above the matted forest rose a great horse-shoe of black cliffs towering hundreds of feet into the hot still air. It was the face of this cliff that was pierced by the tunnel driven by the Indian labourers of the Jesuits nearly two centuries ago.

"Nasty-looking place," Mark observed with a frown.

"It'll look better in the morning," said the cheery Phil. "Let's cook supper and then sleep."

Mark doubted if the morning light would make much difference, but he did not say so. Now that he was started on the job he meant to see it through. They lit a fire, cooked bacon and coffee, then fixed up their nets for protection against the ravenous mosquitoes and turned in.

Phil slept well but Mark lay awake a long time, listening to the strange sounds that came from the depths of the jungle. But it was not the sounds that kept him awake; it was the mental picture of Hernando's dark face and greedy eyes.

"There's a catch in it somewhere," he said to himself, and then at last he dozed off.

A CATCH there might be, yet there was no sign of it when next morning the boys and the two dogs started for the mine. They soon found the trail of which they had been told and what was better found it in very fair order. It was a tunnel cut straight through the matted jungle, walled and roofed with thick vegetation. The heat was intense, and insects were a curse. Swarms of tiny, wingless bees crowded upon their hands and face, half smothering them, and fierce little ants bit them savagely, each bite raising a nasty blister.

Twice they saw snakes glide away into the undergrowth, but there was no sign of any larger animal. Yet the dogs were uneasy and followed close at heel. Mark noticed this but said nothing. Phil was too keen on reaching the mine to see it at all. A quarter of a mile up the trail they came to an opening, with a pool in the centre and another path leading away to the right. Mark would like to have stopped to look round, but Phil insisted on pushing straight on.

The ground rose; then quite suddenly they came upon the cliff towering like a wall in front. Steps cut in the living rock led up to a tunnel mouth.

"Here we are," said Phil joyfully. "Now let's see what luck we'll have.'

They scrambled up, lit their lantern, and leaving the dogs on guard in the mouth of the mine started inwards. Three hours later when the two returned to the mouth of the mine, Phil's eyes were shining.

"It's a fortune, Mark," he declared. "There's a fortune in sight to say nothing of what may lie farther in. I never saw such ore or so thick a vein."

"It's rich all right," agreed Mark quietly. "Too rich, if you ask me."

"What on earth do you mean?" Phil asked sharply.

"I mean," replied Mark, "that a man like Perez Hernando doesn't give fortunes away. As I've told you already, there's a crab somewhere."

Phil was mad to get their supplies up from the river and start cutting samples of the rich ore, but Mark put his foot down.

"I'm going to see what there is up that other path," he said firmly. "You can come or not, as you like."

"Oh, I'll come," Phil agreed. "I'm not going to let you wander round these woods alone," he added with a grin.

So leaving the pool to their right they walked up the side trail. Again Mark noticed that the dogs were uneasy. Twice Grip stopped and growled. The trail wound through the jungle, and ended in another clearing in which stood a small shark rooted with nipa palm leaves. Mark pulled up.

"Funny!" he muttered.

"What's funny?" asked Phil. "I suppose Hernando left a watchman here."

"Then why doesn't he come out to meet us?"

"Perhaps he's away. Anyhow we'll soon find out."

"Steady,"' said Mark sharply, "it may be a trap. Hello, what's that?"

The smile left Phil's face.

"It sounded like a groan," he said uncomfortably.

"It was a groan," Mark answered, as he unslung his rifle and saw that there was a cartridge in the breech.

The two went cautiously up to the hut and as they peered in the groan was heard again. It came from an Indian who lay on a heap of grass against the far wall. His thin brown face was twisted with pain, and he was muttering under his breath and now and then groaning.


An Indian lay on a heap of grass.

"Fever," said Phil.

But Mark shook his head.

"Hurt. Look at the blood," he answered as he went inside.

"Hurt," Phil repeated, in a shocked voice. "I should just about think he was. What brute has done this to him?"

Mark did not reply. He was examining the man's wounds. There was a dreadful gash in the left arm and another bad wound in the man's chest. The poor fellow had lost a lot of blood and was almost unconscious.

"What hurt you?" Mark asked in Spanish.

"El tigre," whispered the man and added two words in Indian.

"What did he say?" Phil asked.

"He says it was the Red Terror," Mark answered. "It sounds as if it was a jaguar, but they don't usually attack men. Take the dogs and fetch the medicine case from the beach. And keep your eyes open, Phil. There's something very ugly about."

"It'll be all right in daylight," Phil answered. "I'll bring some food too. We'll have to camp here until the poor chap's fit to be moved."

He hurried off, and Mark waited. It was nearly half an hour before Phil returned carrying a heavy load. His face was very white.

"Grip's gone," he told Mark. "There was something in the bushes, and he went after it. It got him. I heard just one crunch. I couldn't do anything. I had to hang on to Grump."

Mark snatched up his rifle.

"It's no good, Mark. You'd never find the beast, whatever it is. The jungle's like a wall. Besides, we have to see to this chap. If we can pull him round he'll tell us about it. If he dies we shan't know what we are up against."

"You're right," said Mark. "You'd better tie up Grump."

He opened the medicine case and set to work. His Scout training had taught him how to dress wounds, and after washing and disinfecting the terrible gashes he bandaged them as well as he could. Meantime Phil lit a fire, boiled water, and made coffee which the injured man drank greedily. He was half dead with thirst. After a while he fell asleep, and Mark drew a deep breath of relief.

"He'll do now," he said.

"Yes, but what about us?" Phil asked. "This beast, whatever it is, is evidently laying for us."

"We'll build a big fire," Mark said. "One thing's sure. We can't move the Indian to-day."

"All right, I'll get wood," said Phil.

He had brought an axe and went out to cut wood. A few minutes later he was back.

"Mark,"' he said. "I've found the brute's pad marks. And if I didn't know this was South America I'd swear they were made by a Bengal tiger."

"Sounds healthy," replied Mark grimly. "But we'll be safe with a big fire."

HE was right. The night passed quietly, and next day the Indian was better and able to talk. His name, he told them, was Feliz, and he had been one of the workmen employed by Hayden and Carroll. He could speak a little English.

"They died of fever," Mark said.

"They no die of fever," retorted the Indian. "The Red Terror he kill them."

"The Red Terror—what is it?" Phil asked sharply.

Feliz explained that it was a jaguar of huge size, which had gone bad—that is turned man-killer. It was, he said, of an unusual red colour, and he added that it was possessed with an evil spirit so that no one could kill it. The boys exchanged glances.

"Now we're getting to it,"' said Mark. "Hernando sells options, and this brute wipes out the buyers."

Phil flared up.

"We'll kill it all right,"' he vowed.

"Wait," said Mark. "We must hear more. How have you escaped it all this time, Feliz?"

Feliz explained that, after the death of Hayden and Carroll, he had gone back to his people. But times were bad, there was no food in his village, and, hearing that the mine was to be worked again, he had returned, hoping that the Red Terror had left. On the previous night the fire had burned low and he was just mending it when, out of the darkness, the huge beast had leaped on him. Snatching up a burning brand, he had thrust it into the monster's face, and with a snarl it had dropped him and sprung away.

"But now it wait for me, and soon it get me," he added despairingly.

"Get you. Not much!" cried Phil. "We'll see to that. Mark, let's take him straight to the mine. We shall be safe enough there. Then we can plan how to finish the brute."

"Strikes me it will take a lot of planning," said Mark dryly.

They made a rough litter and carried Feliz to the mine where they left him in an adit blocked by rocks. Then they went back for their stores. The air was stagnant with heat and the forest silent under the blaze of the midday sun.

"One comfort," said Mark. "Jaguars lie up in the daytime."

Just then Phil stopped short.

"Do they?" he whispered and pointed.

IN front a huge tree, its roots torn out by some tropical storm, lay at a steep angle across the path, the top held firmly in the crotch of another tree, and crouched upon its sloping trunk was the monster. Its head with jaws parted showing crooked yellow fangs was turned sideways, and the green eyes glowing with hideous malice were fixed on the boys. Its huge size, its curious reddish coat dappled with black spots, marked it beyond any shadow of doubt as the Red Terror itself. So terrible was the creature's appearance that even level-headed Mark was struck for a moment with a kind of paralysis. Then, recovering, he quickly raised his rifle to his shoulder.


Mark raised his rifle to his shoulder.

But the Red Terror knew rifles. Swift and silent as a shadow, it bounded sideways and vanished like a flying bird into the thick tangle above.

"What a brute!" gasped Phil.

Mark bit his lip.

"I ought to have been quicker. Now we shan't get another chance."

"We must get him," said Phil gravely "If we don't he'll get us, and that brute Hernando will be another thousand dollars in pocket."

Mark shrugged. "It's going to be a job,"' he said. "I believe he was laying for us."

He was right. The Red Terror was certainly lying in wait for them. Though they never saw him again that day Grump's terror told them that the beast was following them the whole way down to the river and back. Since Grip's death the other dog seemed to have lost all his usual pluck. He slunk along at the heels of his masters, every now and then looking round and growling. Yet the boys got back to the mine safely and, by the advice of Feliz, piled rocks across the mouth.

"But that no good," he informed them. "The Terror he get us all soon."

THE boys went back into the mine and began cutting samples. They felt safe enough for the present. But when night came they had reason to change their minds. It was out of the question to light a big fire in the mine because of the smoke. So they relied on an oil stove for their cooking. The sun had set, and the quick darkness of the tropical night had hardly fallen across the forest before Grump began to growl. Rifle in hand Mark went to the barricade. A hideous snarl broke the silence. It came from the trees opposite, yet Mark could see nothing.

"The brute's trying to scare us," grumbled Phil.

"He's doing that all right," said Mark grimly. "If you ask me, he's starting a siege."

And that, as it turned out, was exactly what the Red Terror was doing. All night it was close to the mouth of the mine, yet never once did the boys catch even the gleam of its green eyes. Neither of them got much sleep.

AFTER breakfast the boys went together to the pool to fetch water. They left Grump in the cave. When they came back the dog was gone. Feliz, lying behind his barrier of rocks, had heard nothing.

The two boys worked and slept by turns all day. Next night the siege began again. There was no longer any dog to warn them, and the jaguar seemed to know this. They heard him growling and snarling out in the hot darkness. Time and again Mark fired at the sound. Then there would be silence, but only for a little. Phil was growing white and worn.

"This is getting on my nerves," he told Mark.

"It's simply beastly," agreed Mark. "It's those trees. They're so thick you can't see anything."

"They're too big to cut and too green to burn," Phil said. "And there are four days more before the boat comes for us," he added, with a groan.

"Never mind," said Mark. "We can stick it, and we have some jolly fine samples of ore to take back."

Really, Mark was as badly worried as Phil, but he was trying to cheer his cousin. And it was true that they had wonderful samples. The mine was richer even than they had thought. The next night was worse than ever. Mark fired at least a dozen shots but with no result. One of them had to be on guard the whole time for once the Red Terror was actually just outside the barrier. Even then he never showed himself. Most of the time he seemed to be up in the tree-tops above the mine mouth. There was something diabolically clever in the way he kept out of sight. The boys and Feliz, who was now much better, talked over all kinds of plans for killing the brute. They spent a whole day building a dead fall trap only to find it ripped to pieces the following morning.

AT last the seventh day came, and they gathered their stores and their samples of ore and went down to the river to wait for the boat. The hours dragged by, but there was no sign of the batelone.

"Something must have gone wrong," snapped Phil at last.

Mark thought the time had come to speak plainly.

"I don't believe Hernando ever meant to send the boat back at all," he told Phil. "No doubt he thought we should be dead long ago."

A look of dismay crossed Phil's face; then suddenly Mark saw him start and point up to the top of the cliff.

"What's the matter?" Mark asked sharply. "What do you see?"

"A man," Phil answered. "There was a man up on the rim rock. He was watching us."

"A spy," snapped Mark. "Hernando wants to know whether we're dead or alive." He got up from the log on which he was sitting. "We shall be dead all right if we don't get back to the mine before dark. Come on."

The sun had set before they got their stuff back into the mine, and darkness brought their terrible enemy wailing like a lost soul in the matted jungle. Phil started firing, but Mark stopped him.

"We've less than a dozen cartridges left,"' he said.

Food too was running short, for there were three mouths to feed instead of two. Even with strict rationing, they had barely enough for three days. Neither of the boys said much, but they were both feeling pretty desperate. Without a boat they could not get away, and if they stayed they starved.

"And we've gold enough to buy out a shop," growled Phil.

Mark turned to Feliz.

"Can't you think of any way we could kill this beast?" he asked "If I could once get a sight of him I'd have him."

The Indian shrugged.

"You no see him," he answered.

"There's a moon," put in Phil. "Mark, if we could only get above the trees I believe we could spot him."

Mark shook his head.

"The cliff is sheer. Besides, if either of us ventured outside the brute would have him."

Feliz was listening. He roused from his usual gloom.

"I show you way up," he remarked.

"A way up!" exclaimed Mark. "Where?"

The Indian rose to his feet and taking the lighted lantern led them back into the mine. He turned into a cross cut which sloped steeply upwards. It was narrow, low-roofed, and here and there half blocked by roof falls; yet they were able to scramble through, and after a long struggle they reached another gallery wide and open. Feliz turned to the left, and presently the boys were looking out from another hole in the face of the cliff.

It must have been nearly a hundred feet above the lower adit, for they found themselves above the tops of the great trees which lay like a green carpet beneath them. The moon, nearly full, lit the scene like electric light and showed the river and the whole curve of the surrounding cliffs. Mark's eyes brightened as he took it all in.

"This gives us a chance," he whispered eagerly, and turned to Feliz. "Why didn't you show us this before?"

"I not know," replied the Indian stolidly.

"Lie down then and keep quiet," Mark ordered. "You, too, Phil."

The three flattened out on the edge of the opening. Mosquitoes soon found them and bit savagely, but they did not stir. Presently they heard the Terror wailing down below, but not a sign of him could they see. Hours dragged by; they grew stiff, and their faces swelled from the poisonous bites. Yet nothing happened. The moon began to sink.

"I believe the brute knows," Phil whispered in Mark's ear.

"Shut up!"' was all Mark said, and again they waited.

The moon sink slowly; it was almost behind the cliffs, and Mark's spirits sank with it. He began to feel that all this long vigil had been in vain. Phil was right. The Terror must know of their move and would never show itself. When he thought of the future Mark felt almost desperate, for, even if the jaguar did not get them, they were doomed to a slow death from hunger. There was no escape without a canoe, for the jungle was impenetrable.

The lower disc of the moon touched the cliff; another two or three minutes and deep shadow would cover the forest. All was deathly still. Suddenly Phil touched Mark's arm and pointed. Some fifty yards away the top of a huge ceiba tree rose above the matted jungle, and Mark, watching, saw the top of a branch quiver slightly. Next moment a dark object showed, moving softly along the limb.

Mark raised his rifle to his shoulder. Then he paused. It was the Terror—not a doubt of it, but he could not see its head. On the success of his shot the lives of all three depended. Should he chance it or wait till he could see the beast more clearly?

The dark object was fading away, his chance was going; slowly his finger tightened on the trigger. A belch of flame and as the echoes of the shot crashed through the quiet night there came a hideous snarl, then the sound of a heavy body crashing downwards from limb to limb.

"You got him," yelled Phil. "Good man, Mark! You got him."

He sprang to his feet and would have dashed back down the gallery, but Mark stopped him.

"I hit him, but I doubt I killed him. And a wounded jaguar is poison. We must wait till daylight to look for him."

They went below. Tired as they were, they were too anxious to sleep, and they waited behind their barricade, listening. Twice they heard movements outside, but could not be sure what made them. Feliz made coffee, and they drank it in the coolness which came before dawn. The black began to give way to a grey glimmer, and they knew that up above the light was coming. Suddenly Phil dropped his mug.

"I heard him that time," he exclaimed, in a hissing whisper.

"Yes, I heard something too," Mark agreed, as he picked up his rifle.

They hardly breathed as they sat still as statues, listening intently. Something was moving outside. Had the Red Terror revived? Was he going to make a last savage attack? The suspense became almost unbearable, but it was still too dark down here, under the mighty canopy of leaves, to see anything clearly. Yet both felt sure that the jaguar was moving.

Suddenly came a savage snarl. Mark lifted his rifle, but before he could get it to his shoulder the snarl was followed by a high-pitched scream.

"A man. He's got a man," gasped Phil, and he and Mark together, forgetting their danger, vaulted over the barricade and dashed down the steep, narrow steps.

With a hideous roar the Terror charged, and Mark, flinging up his rifle, blazed straight at the rushing monster. Twice he fired, and at the second shot the huge beast reared up on his hind legs, then fell back kicking and sprawling. Quite coolly Mark fired again, and this time the huge carcass quivered and lay still.

"You've finished him, Mark," said Phil in a shaky voice, "but who—who was the man?"

Mark pulled a torch from his pocket and switched it on.

"We'll soon see," he answered.

The search was not a long one. A minute later the two boys were looking down on the blood-stained face of a man who lay flat on his back on a carpet of dead leaves.

"Hernando!" Phil gasped.

Mark nodded.

"He must have been watching from the cliff top," he said. "He saw me shoot the jaguar. He thought it was dead, and he was coming to make sure that we died too."

"And now he's dead," said Phil quietly.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.