DR. BRACKEN suavely bowed his Florida cracker patient out of his
dispensary. It was in the smaller right wing of his rambling ancestral
home on a hummock in the Everglades, near the Gulf of Mexico and five
miles from Citrus Crossing.
The doctor cursed under his breath as a sudden uproar came from the
larger right wing of the house, directly behind him. This wing, a place
double-locked and forbidden even to his two old colored servants, had no
entrance save through a narrow passageway that connected it with his
private office in the smaller wing.
So far as his servants, Aunt Jenny and Uncle Henry, were concerned, a
lock was superfluous. The muffled animal-like sounds that came from it
were so strange and unearthly that they regarded them with superstitious
As he closed the door behind his patient it seemed that a mask suddenly
slipped from the doctor's face, so swift and horrible was the change
that came over his features. He had been smiling and suave, but as he
turned away from the door his demeanor was more like that of a frenzied
madman. His teeth, bared like those of a jungle beast at bay, gleamed
white and menacing against the iron-gray of his closely cropped Vandyke.
His small, deep-set eyes burned malevolently, madly.
Fishing a bunch of keys from his pocket, he opened the door to the
narrow passageway, pressed a switch that flooded it with light, and
entered, locking it behind him. The roars were louder now. At the end of
the passageway he used another key to open a second door, and stepped
into the room beyond, pressing a second switch as he did so. The yellow
rays of a bulb overhead revealed the stoutly barred cages that housed
his private menagerie within soundproofed walls.
In the cage at his elbow an African leopard snarled menacingly. Its
next-door neighbor, a South American jaguar, padded silently back and
forth with head hanging low and slavering jowls slightly parted. In the
adjacent cage, the bars of which had been reenforced with powerful wire
meshwork, a huge python was coiled complacently around a whitewashed
tree trunk, its shimmering folds resting on the shortened stumps of the
limbs. Beside this was the cage of Malik, the old and nearly toothless
The glittering eyes of the doctor swept the room, seeking the cause of
the disturbance. They paused for a moment at the cage of Tichuk, the
surly old male chimpanzee, who was squatting on his shelf, striving to
look innocent. But the Brazilian spider monkeys in the cage at Tichuk's
left were leaping and skipping about and chattering excitedly in a
manner that showed all too plainly where the trouble had centered.
In two cages which adjoined each other and that of Tichuk were two
creatures: Chicma, an old female chimpanzee, and a naked boy sixteen
years of age. He was a handsome, superbly muscled lad, with a straight,
athletic figure, broad shoulders, narrow hips, and the features of a
Greek god, crowned by a tumbled mass of auburn curls. Several bloody
scratches stood out against the white of his face and arms, and one hand
still clutched a tuft of chimpanzee hair which he made no effort to
"Fighting through the bars with Tichuk again," muttered the doctor. He
reached for a whip hanging on a near-by peg. Then withdrew his hand.
"Won't punish him this time," he growled to himself. "Tomorrow he must
perform the act of vengeance for which I have trained him. Then he will
leave this place forever. And I will be compensated for my years of
bitterness and suffering."
Glancing at his watch, the doctor saw that it was nearly feeding time.
He went into the cooler and emerged a moment later. Growls, snarls,
chatterings, and rending sounds marked his progress.
At last Chicma, the female chimpanzee, was given her ration of bread and
lettuce; but to the omnivorous manchild's ration a pound of raw beef was