We open in a seaplane that has set down in a lake in Borneo. Similar to Servant of the Beast, there is an elderly professor, his hot niece, and a black guide, Batu. In this story, the 4th wheel is the girl’s husband — so I’m confident there will be no love triangle, this being 1919.
They have brought presents to pacify the Bamangani natives which should “keep them jabbering with delight for years.” Er, at this point, it seems that the titular Ape-Men are the natives. Awkward.
Dr. Dumont has come to Borneo to study the natives — he wants to see if any of them have . . . uh, tails. He does at least concede that they “used to be” headhunters and cannibals — so that’s progress. The young couple, Tom & Irene, are given no motivation other than “Borneo brought back memories of the days when they first met.”
After breakfast, Tom & Batu arm up and take a boat to the shore. As they explore the jungle, Batu spots the footprints of many feet and determines that they are moving toward the plane. They hear two shots ring out — the universal distress call of hot babes being attacked by natives. Although two shots in the noggins of their attackers might have been more effective. Making their way back to the plane, they see Dumont and Irene being perp-walked through the jungle.
Tom & Batu confront the group. Batu, speaking their language demands that his friends be released. The natives are taking them back for trial in the death of a man shot while boarding the plane. Surely this would be a kangaroo court — literally — so Tom & Batu let their “talking-sticks” speak for them and the four explorers make their escape.
After Dumont is hit by a spear, they hole up in a cave for a while. Under cover of darkness, they make their way back to the plane. Having learned nothing, Mike & Batu swim out to the plane, leaving Irene and her injured uncle behind. Naturally, they are again abducted. Tom dives into the water and storms the beach but is taken down by 10 of the tribe.
The three of them are taken to a hut near the volcano which has been rumbling. So I’m thinking sacrifice.
Fortunately, Batu saves the day.
Meh, pretty standard stuff.
- First published in Top-Notch Magazine, December 1919.
- Also that month: Not much of interest . . . dullest month ever.
- WTH? This story features the Bamangani; Tarzan fought the fictional Bolmangani, also a race of “gorilla men.”.