EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS'
David Bruce Bozarth
Copyright © 2000
Susan Anne Prentice
Edgar Rice Burroughs penned a number of stories set in the (then) contemporary world. Jungle Girl, like The Mucker, The Monster Men, H.R.H. The Rider, The Mad King, The Girl from Hollywood, The Girl from Farris's, The Cave Girl, The Efficiency Expert, The Eternal Lover (Savage), The Lad and the Lion, The Man-Eater, The Oakdale Affair, and Pirate Blood were placed in the "real world" where ERB lived. These are tales of adventure and romance, but do not rely upon speculative fiction, such as the three tales of Caspak, the first Venus, the Barsoom series, and the Tarzan tales do. Barsoom and Venus are deliberate science fiction and Tarzan's Jungle is so often too far removed from "real life" that it is difficult to equate these tales as contemporary to ERB's contemporary world. Jungle Girl first appeared in The Blue Book Magazine, May-Sept 1931 as a five part serial. His original working title for the novel was The Dancing Girl of the Leper King. ERB Inc. published the novel in hard back in 1932.
Chapter I - THE JUNGLE
Gordon King, a young American doctor in Cambodia to study strange maladies, decided to explore, looking for Khmer ruins. He hired a guide to take him into the jungle. The guide, however, only took him to the edge of the jungle, fearing to go in himself. King entered the jungle alone, planning to explore until midday, and return to the guide by nightfall. When he turned back, he could not tell from which way he had come, so he depended on his compass to guide him. He rested on a flat stone, that turned out to be part of some ruins, in which he caught a glimpse of a tiger. He continued on, but fell and broke his compass. After travelling for several more hours, he rested on a flat stone, that turned out to be the same one he had rested on earlier.
Chapter II - THE DELIRIUM
King realized that he had traveled in a circle. He was physically exhausted, hungry, and almost out of water. He overcame his despair and set out to find a place to spend the night safe from tigers. Going to the ruins he had seen earlier, he climbed a tower in which he saw a window. Seeing no signs of panthers in the opening, he settled in for the night. He thought of his friend Susan Anne Prentice, and then listened to what he assumed to be the sounds of hunting tigers below. He dozed intermittently until morning. Still tired from the exertions of the day before, he set about trying to walk out of the jungle, walking downhill hoping to reach a stream. He shot game for food, and drank at a watering hole. On the eighth morning, he awoke with chills and fever. Delirious, he saw a caravan of that reminded him of the phrase "weeping queens on misty elephants." Later, saw an old man with a yellow cloak and a red umbrella. He assumed the old man and the tiger tracking him were hallucinations, but he shot the tiger anyway, and fainted.
Chapter III - THE HUNTER
Vay Thon, high priest of the temple of Siva in the city of Lodidhapura, was prone to wander when lost in mediation. With his yellow cloak and red parasol, he had used secret passages to get to the jingle unseen. After wandering for hours, his meditation was interrupted by a loud noise, and he turned to see a tiger in his death throes, and a wisp of smoke from the edge of the clearing. Gordon King awoke to see a man's face above him, and a woman and child nearby. The man, Che, and the woman, Kangrey, with their son Uda, took him to their home in some ruins. King was near death for days, and when the fever broke he was very weak. One day he was left alone, and some monkeys came and took his weapons and clothing. King learned the language of his hosts. He learned that his hosts were escaped slaves from Lodidhapura, and that the man he had saved was Vay Thon the high priest, who was a good man, though Lodivarman, the Leper King, wasn't. King learned to use the spear and the bow and went hunting. Returning, he saw a panther about to charge Uda.
Chapter IV - FOU-TAN
Che returned from the hunt to see Uda in the clearing, with a panther charging him. Then Gordon King's spear struck the panther, killing it. King went hunting alone a couple days later. While hunting, he heard what he thought was the sound of approaching men. They were soldiers in brass armor with swords, spears, and bows and arrows. The men wanted the officer to turn around. The officer pointed out that if they returned too soon without the girl, King Lodivarman would punish them. The soldiers continued on. King continued, too, until he came upon a clearing where a tiger and a girl faced each other. King distracted the tiger so the girl could escape, and threw his spear to kill the tiger. The girl was named Fou-tan, and was escaping from Lodidhapura. Also, it turned out that she was the girl on the elephant that King had seen while he was delirious.
Chapter V - THE CAPTURE
Fou-tan told King her story. She was from the city of Pnom Dhek. Bharata Rahon desired her, and she ran away to avoid marrying him. After being in the jungle for a while, she wanted to be found and taken back to Pnom Dhek, but the warriors who found her were from Lodidhapura. They placed her on an elephant and took her back to the city, where she became a dancing girl for the Leper King. Disgusted by the king's sores, she tried to hide her face from him to avoid notice. She failed, and was chosen to be the king's next concubine. She was given four days. At the next dance, she slipped into the crowd and escaped from the city. While taking her back to Che and Kangrey's home, they came upon Vama and his soldiers from Lodidhapura. They were captured, and proceeded to the city. On the way, Fou-tan told the soldiers that King had killed a tiger with a single spear cast. The soldiers treated King with more respect after that.
Chapter VI - THE LEPER KING
The group arrived at Lodidhapura. Gordon King was expecting a small collection of huts, so he was surprised by the grand city he saw. Fou-tan said that they would not see each other again, since the King would keep her for himself. Gordon King said he would rescue her. King and Fou-tan were brought before the Lodivarman, Leper King. King saw that the King was covered with sores. As he sat on his throne, the King constantly ate from a dish of mushrooms. The King told Fou-tan that she would be honored to be his. Vama told the King how Gordon King killed the tiger. The King made him one of the palace guards. King was assigned to Vama's unit of ten.
Chapter VII - A SOLDIER OF THE GUARD
Gordon King settled into the daily life of a soldier. He thought of home and friends, but before all he thought of Fou-tan. One day he saw Vay Thon, the old man with the red umbrella, who he thought had been part of his fevered delirium. Vay Thon was searching the faces of the soldiers, looking for King. He had spoken with Fou-tan, who had told him where King was. Vay Thon told King that the Leper King would send for Fou-tan that night. He warned King not to try and rescue her. After Vay Thon left, King bribed a guard so that he could go on guard duty at the palace that night. King was appointed to guard a luxurious apartment where a banquet with the Leper King was to be held. The banquet proceeded. With the King eating nothing but mushrooms. After dinner, the King summoned the aparases, among whom was Fou-tan. They danced for the King. When everyone left, Fou-tan was made to follow the King. After there was nobody left to see, Gordon King followed.
Chapter VIII - IN THE HOUSE OF THE KING
Fou-tan was led to the King's chambers. She was not given the customary three days of preparation, during which she had planned to kill herself. The King told her of the day he had become a leper. He had been on a successful tiger hunt. They had stopped at a village, and a native had given him mushrooms. He came to crave them so much that he had the native brought to Lodidhapura and ruled that only he could grow and serve mushrooms. So it was a day of great joy. But when they returned to Lodidhapura, a woman rushed to him and kissed him repeatedly. When she was pulled away, it was discovered that she was a leper. That same day, the sores appeared on the King. Because a woman had caused his leprosy, he sought to transmit the disease to young, beautiful women. As he grabbed Fou-tan, Gordon King arrived. He wrestled the King, getting a good view (from a doctor's perspective) of the sores. Overpowering the King, he tied him, so that he would not raise the alarm, and King and Fou-tan escaped through a private door into a garden. Since the King had left word not to be disturbed, they knew that they had until at least morning before their escape would be discovered.
Chapter IX - THE FLIGHT
Fou-tan and King scaled the wall of the city and dropped to the ground outside. To throw off pursuit, they did not head directly for Pnom Dhek. They stuck to the road, which narrowed to a trail, to avoid hunting cats in the night. When dawn came, they turned into the jungle to find a place to rest. They found a stream with a shallow cave next to it. King stood watch while Fou-tan slept, but he fell asleep, too. They both woke in mid afternoon. They went together to search for food, as Che and Kangrey had taught him. As they searched, a huge, hulking brute of a man, in a G-string, armed with spear and bow and arrows, followed them. The hulking man continued to follow them and watch as they returned to their camp and ate. Fou-tan said the she and Gordon King had one thing in common: leprosy. King replied that he was a doctor and knew they didn't have to worry, because Lodivarman the King was not a leper.
Chapter X - LOVE AND THE BRUTE
King built a fire. The watching brute didn't like fire, so he decided to wait until morning, and settled down to sleep. King and Fou-tan also settled down to sleep. The fire died down, and they heard a noise approaching. When King rebuilt the fire, they saw a tiger. The brute also heard the noise, and saw the tiger. Concerned that it would harm the girl he desired, the brute shot an arrow at the tiger. The enraged tiger charged King, who threw his spear, killing it. The brute admired King's calm action. King and Fou-tan sat by the fire, since she was too frightened to go back to sleep. They exchanged words of love, and kissed for the first time. King asked her to marry him. When she said yes, he said they couldn't return to Pnom Dhek, where she would be a slave. She said that she was only a slave in Lodidhapura. In Pnom Dhek she was free. In the morning, King found the arrow in the tiger, and thought it must have been there a while. He went to gather fruit while Fou-tan bathed. While he was away, the brute sneaked up and carried Fou-tan away. King returned, found that she was missing, and followed the brute's tracks. When they led through a herd of wild elephants, he tried to go through. When an elephant turned to him in rage, he realized he had made a mistake.
Chapter XI - WARRIORS FROM PNOM DHEK
Fou-tan decided that the man who had captured her was a Yaeck. The brute circled around a group of elephants. Concentrating on the elephants, he did not notice the Lodidhapuran soldiers. They captured Fou-tan, but the brute got away. Fou-tan, attempting to make them let her go, told them that she had been captured by Yaecks, who would come after her. Gordon King realized that the elephants were a real danger. Then the elephants turned and left, having scented the Lodidhapuran soldiers in the distance. King continued and found the brute trapped under a tree. King released him when the brute, named Prang, promised to lead him to the soldiers who had Fou-tan. Prang was an escaped slave from Pnom Dhek. They were discovered by some soldiers from Pnom Dhek who were looking for Fou-tan. Prang agreed to help the soldiers when they promised him his freedom.
Chapter XII - GUEST AND PRISONER
When the soldiers from Pnom Dhek found Fou-tan and her captors, the Lodidhapuran soldiers were convinced they were Yaecks and ran away. The officer from Pnom Dhek kneeled and kissed Fou-tan's hand, much to Gordon King's puzzlement. Prang was freed. Fou-tan asked King to keep their love a secret for the moment, so she could convince her father to accept him. When they came in sight of Pnom Dhek, a crowd of people and a file of elephants came out. The crowd shouted Fou-tan's name, calling her a princess, much to King's surprise. Beng Kher the King, Fou-tan's father, made King a guest at the palace. Bharata Rahon, an unlikable man who wanted to marry Fou-tan, escorted him to the palace. In his quarters, one of the slaves assigned to him was Hamar, who belonged to Fou-tan. Indra Sen, an officer, was assigned as his host. Indra Sen told King that Bharata Rahon was unliked, and his only hope to be King was to wed Fou-tan. On the fourth day, neither Indra Sen nor Hamar showed, and King's door was guarded. . King thought of escaping, but refused to do so without speaking with Fou-tan. That night, he noticed that someone was behind a curtain in his room.
Chapter XIII - FAREWELL FOR EVER!
Hamar, Fou-tan's slave, came from behind the curtains. When he was sure Gordon King was alone, Fou-tan followed him. She told King that her father the King was to have him destroyed the next day. She was there to help him escape. She would stay behind because it was her duty as a princess. Hamar and Indra Sen led him through a maze beneath the palace to a door opening on the jungle. King decided to return to Che and Kangrey's house instead of trying to get back to civilization. He hunted along the way. One morning he awoke to find himself surrounded by warriors of Lodidhapura. They took him prisoner, and asked him how he had escaped from the city. He didn't tell them. They assured him that the King would get the information from him. He was placed in a dungeon beneath Lodivarman's palace. Vama and his ten warriors were sent to take him to see the Leper King.
Chapter XIV - MY LORD THE TIGER
Lodivarman had a plate of mushrooms at hand as always. He scowled at King. King refused to tell how he had escaped, despite threats of torture. King spoke of God, higher than the gods of Lodivarman. As a test of his God, King was taken to the pit of My Lord the Tiger, and given a javelin. When the tiger came out, King threw the javelin, piercing its heart. The king was not appeased, and sent him to his cell. Vay Thon visited him to warn him that the king planned to have his guards kill King. When King was brought before Lodivarman, he asked to be heard before he was killed. He told the king that he could cure his leprosy. He would prepare medicine, and the king must stop eating mushrooms. King had secretly noticed that Lodivarman's "leprosy" was dermatitis caused by food poisoning.
Chapter XV - WAR
King gave Lodivarman the medicine, so that the king might believe that King was curing him. After three weeks, the sores were completely gone. Lodivarman made King a prince, and promised to assist him in winning Fou-tan. There was a great celebration. Then a messenger came with word that Beng Kher came with an army to avenge his daughter. King rode to war with the warriors of Lodidhapura. They met the enemy army at a clearing, and both sides charged. The enemy broke, and in the confusion, King pursued alone. He approached an elephant. He saw that the rider was Beng Kher, and that Bharata Rahon was with him. Bharata Rahon stabbed Beng Kher and shoved him to the ground. King went to Beng Kher's aid, and stopped the bleeding. He took Beng Kher to Che and Kangrey's hut and asked them to tend to him. Beng Kher awoke and recognized King. He gave King his ring to give him authority in Pnok Dhek, so he could save Fou-tan from Bharata Rahon.
Chapter XVI - IN THE PALACE OF BENG KHER
King returned to Lododhapura to seek help from Lodivarman. He asked for men and elephants to go to Pnom Dhek to rescue Fou-tan. Bharata Rahon returned to Pnom Dhek and summoned Fou-tan. He told her that her father was dead, and that his last request was for the two of them to wed. Fou-tan refused, and Bharata Rahon told her he would force her. She was placed under guard. King led his men to the secret door into the palace. He arrived at the audience chamber as the wedding ceremony was commencing. King swung his sword and clove through Bharata Rahon's brain. He told the people of Pnom Dhek that Bharata Rahon had stabbed Beng Kher, but that Beng Kher was still alive. King wed Fou-tan then and there.
Chapter XVII - CONCLUSION
Fou-tan and King, with a party from Pnom Dhek, went to Che and Kangrey's hut to fetch Beng Kher. They were told that he was not mending. Beng Kher declared King to be his new son, to rule when he died. Then he died. Gordon King was declared the new king of Beng Kher.