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Devil Drums by Murray Leinster

Devil Drums – Three Stories of the Jungles

Three stories about how the jungles of the world are ever unaffected by human greed and lust for power.

Book Details

Book Details

Devil Drums – Three stories by Murray Leinster about how the jungles of the world are ever unaffected by human greed and lust for power.

When The Death Bird Sings (1921)
They stole the disk of beaten gold from the Temple of the Sun—and then the death birds came and chirped upon the breasts of dead men—
An eight chapter novelette.

Village Of The Devil-Devil Drums (1928)
A white man stalked by head hunters, fights primitive passions and hatreds in the village of the devil-devil drums.

Juju (1919)
Wherein African magic, witch doctors, jungle terrors, and the fortunes of three white men and two women are commingled in a Portuguese West African adventure.
Chapter I – An African Night.
Chapter II. – The Seeker Of Vengeance.
Chapter III. – Evan’s Sortie.
Chapter IV. – The First Victim.
Chapter V. – As By Magic.
Chapter VI. – The Form That Crept.
Chapter VII. – A Strange Ally.
Chapter VIII. – Unmasked.
Chapter IX. – The Gorilla’s Scream.
Chapter X. – At The Padre’s.

Murray Leinster (1896–1975) was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins. He wrote and published more than 1,500 short stories and articles, 14 movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays.

Devil Drums contains 3 illustrations.


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Excerpt: When the Death Bird Sings

Chapter I

COMPRESSING his lips grimly, Tommy Dorrance drew bead upon a spot where the undergrowth was a little darker than a plant should be.

He fired, and there was a yell of pain.

In another moment a queerly-barbed arrow slit through the air within a foot of his head, and a second passed just above him. Garrez tugged at his arm.

“Down!” he cried urgently. “You’re giving them a target!”

Tommy slumped abruptly and a moment later crawled from his lurking-place.

Arrows and cast spears were making it entirely too warm. However, he caught sight of a splendid mark, and fired again.

As he ducked from the spot, he heard Garrez fire twice, but a few paces away, and then Steve Bray’s repeating shotgun boomed.

In the jungles of Honduras, highly ethical notions of the impropriety of using buckshot against men are not popular.

The Indians from the Sun Temple seemed to draw back. For some moments only an occasional arrow was launched in deadly silence. Tommy heard the sharp crack of Coleman’s sporting rifle, followed by a yell of pain.

Tommy paused to wipe his forehead, and found Garrez close beside him. The latter was watching the little clear space before them with the keen intentness of a man to whom jungle fighting is no new thing.

“Where’s Anne?” demanded Tommy suddenly. “Where is she?”

Garrez did not look away from his alert survey of the clearing, rank with jungle grass, that lay between them and their pursuers.

“Safe enough,” he said softly. “She is with the mules and the treasure, on ahead.”

With a curiously graceful gesture, he thrust forward his rifle and fired. The shot was followed by a howl.

“I only winged him,” he said disgustedly. “Yes, Anne is with the treasure. The muleteers will guard her.”

“But a flanking party—” began Tommy, in quick alarm.

Garrez shook his head.

“These hombres are stupid,” he said scornfully. “They’ll never think of that. And there are five rifles with the treasure. We are only four here—and the Indios are getting ready to rush.”

Tommy made sure that the magazine of his rifle was full, and reached behind him— he was lying prone upon the ground—to loosen his revolver in its holster.

Five feet before him, the jungle ended for a space, and in that space tall grass grew straight and rank beside a little stream, which was barely an armsbreadth wide.

Beyond, the sheer wall of the tropic forest rose again, unspeakably beautiful and barbaric and gorgeous in its riotous foliage, but also unspeakably baleful in the hint of evil its very luxuriance gave.

The greens were too green, the horrible green of living things that feed upon death; the garish flowers were too blatantly alluring, and everywhere there were hanging long riatas of strangling vines and creeping plants that choked the massive trees upon which they grew.

THE jungle was an insane admixture of life and death, of living things growing terribly upon the rotting bodies of the fallen; of trees taking their food from the decaying trunks of still other trees, and themselves being slowly strangled by a caressing, traitorous vine.

Orchids showed themselves, here and there, blooming vividly in the festering warmth and humidity of the shadowed forest.

The jungle was doubly menacing to the four white men who waited, arms held in readiness and eyes keenly searching for a sign of an advance. Hiding among those trees and that eager, insistent undergrowth, there were savages, driven by fanatical hatred to brave their rifles and bullets in an attempt to take their lives.

The jungle was silent, now. All the wild things had fled at the sound of fire-arms, and not even bright-plumaged parrots fluttered and chattered in the trees.

The monkeys, shyest of shy creatures, had fled in panic-stricken silence through the tree-tops.

Only the crawling things that burrow in the earth and hide among dry leaves remained, and they had hidden themselves in humid hollows and unwholesome places, to wait until this strange disturbance should have passed.

The jungle lives its own life, an infinitely busy life, full of breath-taking dangers and heart-stopping terrors, but the jungle does not like even that perilous life of its own to be disturbed by the quarrels of two-legged beings with fire-sticks that wound at an inexplicable distance.

The four white men knew the silence for what it was. The Indians on the other side of the clearing would rush, presently. Members of a tribe but little known, they were not cowards, and they were fighting to avenge an insult to their god.

Excerpt From: Murray Leinster. “Devil Drums.”

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