Using this translation turn the pages a bit odd - sorry




The Son of the PHANTOM

a novel by Dale Robertson, Withman Publishing Company 1944

The last of the grappling hooks were cast loose and slowly the two ships drifted apart. As the pirate craft got under way, catching a stiff breeze in its billowing canvas, the deck of the derelict merchantman glowed red in the flickering light of a licking tongue of flame reaching up from the open hold. That threatening spot of light grew as the darkness descended upon the surrounding waters. There was no one to see the still unconscious figure that was Eric Nelson, son of an English knight, sprawled on the evilly illuminated deck of the doomed ship afloat on the night-darkened waters of the eastern sea.

Eric Nelson regained consciousness shortly after the pirate craft had glided away in the darkness. Getting to his feet, he retreated to the prow of the merchantman, away from the flames now beginning to spread along the deck. A moment later, he returned to half carry, half drag the body of his murdered father to the bow of the boat with him. He crouched, watching the slow progress of the flames. Soon he would either have to jump overboard or give himself up to a terrible fate. He strained his eyes ahead for a glimpse of the land which the Adventurer had been nearing when she was attacked, but his vision could not penetrate the darkness. He waited, his thoughts in turmoil.

An hour later, half the deck was a roaring inferno, and the heat pressed in upon him relentlessly. The moon had just risen. Anxiously, his gaze swept over the waters. At last he made out the land mass, now to starboard of the drifting ship.

What dangers lay waiting on that unknown shore? Surely, none to compare with the certain death that faced him on his poor dead father's illfated vessel! Without a moment's hesitation, he mounted to the low rail, cast one last farewell glance at the still form on the foredeck, wordlessly consigned it to the advancing flames, and dived into the water.

That night the sea was calm, and the boy swam steadily with little fatigue for an hour before he rested himself. From then on, however, he gave his superb muscles respite more frequently. He lost all track of time, but by the light of the fortunately full moon, he managed to keep the beckoning shore before him. Gradually he realized that his strength was ebbing -his rest periods became as long as the stretches in which he swam. He dared not give up to despair, but even his strong heart was losing hope when he heard the roar of surf ahead. He felt renewed strength surge through all his young body as he struck out again -no rest periods now as his strokes carried him nearer, ever nearer, to the shore.

Suddenly he felt his feet touch bottom. Then a great rolling wave lifted him high, broke, and tumbled him through racing water. He struggled to his feet, lurched ahead through shallow water, went down as another breaker hit him from behind. Once more he regained his feet and staggered on. Finally he was aware that he was walking on dry sand. He sank to his knees, but crawled farther yet before he dared lie down and let his weary eyelids close in the sleep of exhaustion. Even then, though he did not know it, his arms and legs moved automatically for some moments to carry him forward a little farther from the sea before he sank into a limp heap on the sandy beach.

It was there that on the next day, fourteen hours later, he was found by Kabor, a sub-chief of the Bandar. Bandar, as a little-known, proud tribe of miniature people called themselves, were called the Pygmy Poison People by all of the outside world who knew of them and shunned them.

Kabor was far from his own accustomed jungle haunts, but his curiosity and his sense of mercy were stirred by this strange, unconscious, white-skinned youth. So he took the time to feed and nurse Eric Nelson back to health. Two days later, in the company of the brown little man whom he was already beginning to love as well as respect, the English lad started the long trip into the jungle to meet Kabor's friends and kinsmen, little knowing that it was to be the beginning of a lifelong association of mutual benefit and comradeship.

For four years, Eric Nelson made his home with the Bandar, learned their strange customs and their jungle lore, grew to respect their fierce devotion to their tribe, their love of freedom, their bravery and their simple courtesy. The memory of his murdered father and of his homeland were still strong, however. The longing to see again the shores of England and to talk to his compatriots and kinsmen at last caused him to start out on the long trek to the ocean shore. He felt that, once in the teeming port where many ships came and went daily, he might meet an Englishman to whom he could tell his story, and with whose aid he could return to his country.

In the company of the faithful Kabor, who had expressed a desire to proceed with him to the vicinity of the port, there to say a last farewell, the lithe young jungle giant reached the seashore near the spot where, four years before, Kabor had discovered him asleep. Wordlessly, Eric Nelson placed his hand on the little man's shoulder and the two exchanged glances of affection. He owed so much to this brown-skinned pygmy, the young white man thought.

Then Kabor turned left and indicated the way toward the port where, two days from then, both thought, they were to part. Still without communicating orally, they began this last leg of their journey together.

Some hours later, they saw ahead upon the beach some strewn and scattered wreckage from a foundered ship. As they came nearer, they perceived what seemed to be human bodies. They hurried toward them. Then they saw that the ragged bits of clothing covered only skeletal remains of two long-dead men. Nevertheless these they approached, eying them curiously.

Of a sudden, Eric Nelson gasped and darted to the side of the closer one. His keen eyes had glimpsed upon a finger bone a familiar ruby ring. That ring four years before had adorned the finger of Captain James Allen, who had been robbed by the pirate chief. This meant that here, before him, lay all that remained of the Singh pirate chief who had beheaded Captain Allen, and was responsible for the death of his father, Sir Gerald! .

Silently, he dropped to his knees beside the skeleton, now become a symbol of a hated thing. He pulled the ring off the bony hand stretched forth from the faded, torn sleeve, and put it carefully in the pouch that hung suspended from his hunting belt. Then he rose and would have gone on, but he paused, not noticing how Kabor watched him.

He paused, for his ears had suddenly heard the words of his father, whispered long ago on the deck where he lay, his life fast ebbing: "Right such, wrongs, my son -remember me, right such wrongs."

Quickly, he turned to Kabor and asked him for his kili (the pygmies' heavy chopping knife) and with it severed the pirate's skull from the vertebrae with two sharp blows. Holding the skull in his hands, he gazed thoughtfully into the distance; then, his eyes fixed on some far point in space, he said slowly and with terrible intensity:

"I swear to devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed and injustice, and I pledge that my descendants will carry on after me."

After a long moment of silence, he said to Kabor, "Come -we return together to the village."

Kabor, still not understanding, but his eyes shining with joy, turned with him.

Thus; the first Phantom came to be, and the unbroken line of Phantoms which began on that fateful day on a desolate Oriental beach has continued down even to the present time. Generation after generation, the eldest son has carried on the tradition started by Eric Nelson four centuries ago. Having foregone the pleasure of a return to his homeland and foresworn the privileges of the genteel society in which he had been born and reared, the first Phantom thenceforth devoted his life and his efforts to the correction of injustice, the punishment of crime and the prevention of wrongdoing.

Dressed in the traditional garb of the Phantom, designed by himself and passed on to his son and thence through the years, consisting of a tight-fitting suit with helmet attached, striped breechclout, wide leather belt and high-topped boots, the masked giant figured in countless adventures. Always his opponents were men of evil -those who had made it their business in life to prey on their fellowmen.

As his feats of daring and his great achievements became widely known in the East, the natives came to believe that the succeeding generations of Phantoms, identical in dress and similar in build and facial characteristics, were always the same man.

Only the pygmy tribe -the Bandar -knew that the Phantom was not immortal, and they kept the secret well. After the first few years of his great career, the Bandar made the first Phantom their nominal ruler, although most of the actual details of governing the tribe he habitually left to trusted pygmy leaders. This position each succeeding Phantom likewise retained through the years.

It was a wise relationship, advantageous to both. The Bandar served the Phantom and his family well, being loyal and trusted servants and brave retainers and lieutenants in many a fierce fight. On his side, the Phantom gave them counsel of farsighted wisdom and acted as an impartial dispenser of justice when quarrels and disagreements arose among the members of the tribe. To a man, they loved the calm ruler who lived among them and they alone knew the truth behind the legends of the "Ghost Who Walks" and the "Man Who Cannot Die."

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Mandrake the Magican and the Phantom is copyright 2018 King Features Syndicate Inc., The Hearst Corporation