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Volume 7877
Roburac the Invincible
Emilio Salgari

Translated by Ward Orndoff
Originally written in Italian by Emilio Salgari (1862-1911).  As of this writing, I have not been able to locate a copy of the original Italian text, or the original publication date.
The present English version is a translation of the 1936 Spanish edition, published by Casa Editorial Araluce, Barcelona, Spain. It may possibly have been adapted by Casa Editorial Araluce for younger readers.  (The publisher is known to have published adaptations of other classical works for younger readers, although the present story is not included in their list of such works that I have found.)   All illustrations are from the 1936 edition as well. – Translator
All contents are believed to be in the public domain.

    A small detachment  of men marched through the dense forests of Mindanao, hacking their way through with their axes.

    The Spanish explorer Nevada, accompanied by five stalwart natives, was entering that area driven by a lively desire for adventure, continually excited by the idea of verifying the existence of the mysterious being that everyone feared and that he, in contrast, believed the son of the fearful fantasy of his companions.  Indeed, they were advancing through the forest with more and more hesitation as they approached the zone they called “the kingdom of ‘The Invincible.’”

    Nevada had become aware of that fear and did his best to encourage the hesitant natives, laughing at their fears and questioning them about the wonders of the colossus.
        “Which of you have seen this famous ‘Invincible’?” he asked.
        “None… but several have seen him and have been abducted by him.”


    “And immediately devoured….”
    “No….  ‘The Invincible’ is not a cannibal.”
    “Then what does he do with his prisoners?”
    “He treats them very strangely.”
    “He ties them to a tree for a week or two, releasing their hands only so that they can eat the food that he brings them himself.  During the entire time of their captivity, he puts an old piece of cloth in front of them.”
    “For what purpose?”
    “There are mysterious symbols drawn on that piece of cloth.  ‘The Invincible’ makes his captives understand with threatening gestures that he demands an explanation for those symbols.”
    “And of course he never obtains such an explanation.  What does ‘The Invincible’ do then?”
    “A strange anger takes him over.”
    “And he kills them?”
    “No.  But he beats them until they lose consciousness, then carries them away and abandons them in a dead faint near the village.”
    “This curious chap interests me greatly and, assuming he exists, I am going to try to capture him with your help.”
The faces of the five natives reflected terror.
    “Many have attempted to capture him,” said one of them, “but they always return remorseful.  ‘The Invincible’ is not even afraid of firearms.”
    “What does he fight with, then?” asked the explorer.
    “’The Invincible’ is armed with some sort of saber and he waves it with such dizzying speed he is able to deflect the enemy projectiles….”
    “That is a wonder that I beg you to reserve for Europeans more credulous than I am,” said the explorer with a laugh.
Nevertheless, Nevada listened attentively to all those explanations, as he had become convinced that among all those exaggerations and fantasies there was some truth.

The patrol reached a clearing in the forest around which several trails fed. The natives looked at one another with expressions that indicated their desire to turn back; they had reached the limits of the fabled “kingdom of ‘The Invincible’.”


    “Do you perhaps perceive the scent of this prodigious man who deflects the projectiles by making pinwheels with his Kampilan ?” asked Nevada ironically.  “Forward.  I pay you to guide me in the forest, not to observe your faces contorted with fear.”

He had barely finished speaking those words when one of the natives uttered a cry of alarm, at the same time pointing to an area of undergrowth.
    “The Invincible!” shouted everyone, and the five took off, fleeing from ambush with the speed that terror lends.
Nevada shouted:
    “Cowards!  What are you doing?”

But he was unable to continue his invectives.

An enormous mass had fallen from above, uttering a hoarse cry.  Nevada found himself seized from behind by two formidable arms of steel that immobilized him and then carried him on his back in a swift race along one of the side trails.

The bold Spanish explorer was the prisoner of “The Invincible,” and he could no longer doubt that the latter possessed some of the qualities that the natives attributed to him.


After having traveled some four hundred and fifty paces, “The Invincible” stopped in front of a tree with a huge trunk, in which there was a hole leading into the interior.  It was the room of the mysterious forest giant!
    “The Invincible” placed him on a wall of his plant cave and with dizzying speed tied him securely, making use of cords made of vines, notwithstanding the desperate efforts of the explorer.

By the light entering through the opening, Nevada was able to observe his abductor, whose existence he had doubted shortly before.

He was a man of gigantic proportions.  His face was covered by a long black beard, in which his thick lips protruded.  From his blue eyes, which reflected intelligence, came a look that was sweet at times, and at times fierce.

The muscles of the colossus appeared to be powerful under a skin blackened by the sun and weather, but which must have been almost white originally.  By way of clothing, he only wore a deerskin that hugged his hips.

Nevada contemplated his gigantic abductor in silence, and even though he was in a situation that was not conducive to indulging in admiration, he could not help but think that he had before him a magnificent example of the human race.

Otherwise, “The Invincible” did not exhibit a threatening air.

The colossus, in turn, was examining the prisoner as if he wished to study him and assess his worth.  After a few moments he went to the opposite side of his room and returned with a split coconut that contained a liquid and raised it to the lips of the explorer who, without hesitating, took a long sip.

It was a delicious liquor that had the effect of spreading a sensation of wellbeing throughout his body.  Afterwards, the strange inhabitant of the forest got the famous piece of cloth out from under a stone and placed it in front of Nevada’s eyes, taking care that the light illuminated it clearly.

On it Nevada discovered some symbols that at first seemed to be lacking in meaning: a cross, a circle, a square and a triangle followed by a series of Roman numerals.

    “The Invincible” had his eyes fixed on the prisoner who, absorbed in deep meditation, was trying to extract a ray of light from those symbols that would illuminate him.

Meanwhile, he had become convinced that if the giant attributed such great importance to that rectangle of fabric, it was because he was hoping to find an explanation of his unknown origin in it.

Out of the blue, Nevada uttered an exclamation of pleasure; that piece of cloth was no doubt part of a shirt that the savage was wearing when he was abandoned, almost a child, in the forest.

Yes, there could be no doubt.  His features, his intelligent look, everything about him, indicated that “The Invincible” belonged to a family of a civilized race.

After a few more moments of reflection, a sudden inspiration flashed through the mind of Nevada, who was amazed he had not understood the meaning of those apparently cabalistic symbols before.

The Roman numerals corresponded simply to the letters of the Indian alphabet, a language with which the explorer had some knowledge, having been in said country for a long time.

Nevada was able to form the words without much work:  “Ieipore….  Thrown….  Jealousy….  Rajah….  Abandoned….”

The rest of the symbols remained incomprehensible to him, but those words were enough for Nevada’s creative imagination to establish that “The Invincible” came from Ieipore and that, quite probably, the wild man of Mindanao was linked in some way to the Rajah of said region of India.

    “The Invincible” continued to contemplate his prisoner’s face, as if to read in it the meanings that he was translating little by little, and when he saw him light up with joy, he understood that the white man had been able to decipher what the precious piece of cloth said.  Then he exhaled a hoarse cry of pleasure and his enormous hands hastily released the prisoner.

*        *        *

The white man understood the symbols that had tormented his avid curiosity for years, during which time he had been driven to catch many men with the hope, until then unfulfilled, of capturing one who knew how to interpret the symbols in which, his intuition told him, his origin was revealed.

The white man seemed to him like his savior, like the being he should consider superior to all the others who were not able to see anything in the piece of fabric, and therefore he did not want to keep the white man bound; from that moment on, he had gained his complete trust.


The explorer did not even remotely consider taking advantage of the situation to undertake to escape from the kingdom of “The Invincible,” who inspired so much fear in the natives.
Nevada decided to stay with the strange giant to try to completely clarify what the mysterious document revealed and, by means of gestures, convinced “The Invincible” of his sympathy and his intention to help him.

The giant, on his part, was touched by this offer and proved it by offering his guest a meal consisting of wild fruit, for which Nevada repaid him in the form of a roasted duck, which had been killed by him and was an exquisite delicacy.

The explorer prepared himself a bed of leaves in “The Invincible’s” house and the next day set about beginning the education of the colossus, whose gaze denoted lively intelligence.
Within a few days the experiment yielded excellent results.

Nevada discovered an astonishing ability to learn in the man.

In three months he already knew how to talk, and thus it was possible for the two, with the help of gestures, to exchange thoughts.  At the end of five months “The Invincible” knew how to express the ideas that came to his mind with relative clarity.

That was how Nevada learned that his companion had always lived with a single desire that had become a true obsession: to discover his origin, to know why he was in that forest.
Although he strained his memory to relive the past, he was never able to remember how he had come to that place.

He only recalled that one day, long ago, his attention was caught by the shirt, of which there were only rags left….  A strange intuition had given rise to the thought of preserving one of those shreds on which some symbols had been drawn; symbols that exercised a powerful fascination over him.

    “The Invincible” told his friend and teacher that he had always lived on fruit and game and that an irrepressible desire had taken possession of him: to get hold of someone who could interpret those symbols.  And it was then that he had devoted himself to hunting for men, always with the hope that one of them might be able to transform his desire into reality.  And at last he had found him.  Nevada!

The explorer had reflected on the precious document, and the conviction that that the key to the mystery of “The Invincible” would be found in Ieipore had asserted itself in him more and more strongly.

After nine months of intensive effort “The Invincible” had achieved the ability to express himself in a poor, but clear language.

One day Nevada told his gigantic protégé:
    “From now on I will call you Roburac; the word “roburac” means strength and vigor in a dead language. You are strong and this name fits you perfectly.”
    “It is good… I am Roburac,” said the colossus.
    “You are Roburac,” added the explorer, “but you should make use of your strength, not in this forest fighting with the four-legged beasts, but in the land to which I will take you, where you will have to fight with animals that are two-legged, but no less ferocious than those of the forest.”
    “Men?” said Roburac.
    “Yes, the men who abandoned you here so they could take what belonged to you,” added Nevada.
    “Explain yourself better,” said “The Invincible.”
    “I am convinced that you have been the victim of a diabolical plot,” proceeded the explorer.  “We will go to India, and in Ieipore I will make inquiries.  But if my deductions are correct, are you willing to use force to defend your rights?”
    “I am willing to do whatever you order me to,” answered Roburac, who regarded Nevada as his master and was willing to do whatever he ordered him to do.
    “Good!  Then as soon as it dawns, we will leave the forest, go to the village, where I will buy you a suit, and from there to the sea, through which we will sail for many days.  We will disembark in a place in the immense country where you were born, we will go to the city whose name is written on your precious document and then… we will see what we should do.”


Hearing those words, the eyes of the colossus shone with intense joy, reflecting a burning desire to get to know the country where he had been born.

The giant took his master’s hand between his own, expressing with this simple act his gratitude toward the man who had opened his mind to the wonders of thought and language, which had brought to the forefront of his fantasies the vision of a world he did not know existed, that made him entertain the hope that one day he would get to see the country of his birth.

Without anyone having taught him the gesture, Roburac brought his lips to Nevada’s hand and kissed it.

The explorer withdrew it immediately, exclaiming:

“Let us not get carried away, Roburac, and let us prepare to say goodbye to this your house and to this forest where a perverse hand abandoned you.”

*        *        *

A month later, the junk that Nevada had chartered from a Chinese man set sail towards India.  No native of Mindanao would have suspected the giant dressed in khaki, with a perfectly shaved face, who was talking with the Spanish explorer, leaning against the rail, of being the terrible, bearded inhabitant of the forest.

Roburac appeared to be an amazingly hefty young man, in whose eyes a domineering gaze sometimes flashed.

Nevada, looking at him, was more and more convinced that noble blood must run through the veins of the man who, a year ago, had been the epitome of a son of the jungle, was the terror of all, and expressed himself by means of hoarse cries similar to those of an anthropoid.


Now he had before him a man sufficiently educated to live in society and who displayed a tireless desire to learn, to open an ever vaster horizon before his eyes.

During the journey, Nevada continued to give him lessons and at every turn was astonished by the prodigious ease with which his colossal protégé assimilated everything.

They finally arrived at the Indian coast.

The explorer had occasion to observe the magical effect that the land produced on the giant’s spirit.  Roburac contemplated everything with a strange look; it appeared that the world of his childhood years was intensifying as they drew closer to Ieipore.

This made Nevada see that the scrap of fabric had not lied and that the interpretation he had given to the symbols was the right one.

They arrived at last in Ieipore and then the most difficult and delicate work commenced for Nevada.

The Spanish explorer possessed various academic titles that he had achieved in his numerous exploratory travels to Africa.  Through them it was easy for him to gain access to the palace of the Rajah and befriend the most important personages that surrounded the Indian Prince Goendaya.  Roburac was introduced as his secretary and confidant, and Nevada was happy to verify that his gigantic protégé knew how to win the sympathy of those around him.

The explorer skillfully questioned the older servants of the palace and enticed them by means of various gifts.

One of those workers, who was quite old and was named Mildewa, let a phrase slip one day that caught the attention of Nevada and Roburac.

Old Mildewa, referring to distant events, had said:
    “That day the Rajah was born….”

The phrase was spoken with a tone of voice that could not fail to interest Nevada, who constantly paid careful attention to what was said by the older personages of the palaces, who might be able to shed some light on the past.

Mildewa, in turn, as if attracted by some mysterious suggestion, looked with great sympathy at Roburac.

One afternoon Nevada managed to take old Mildewa to the city and get him to drink a goodly amount of “arrack.”  And it was on that night that Nevada and Roburac heard the story that, his tongue loosened by the drink, Mildewa related to them in a choppy language, but one that was eloquent for the two eager listeners.

*        *        *

This is what they were able to learn:
    The predecessor of Goendawa, the present Rajah, was extremely jealous of his wife Nintayawa, a lovely woman who drove many men mad with desire.
    Someone, with his murmurings, made the Rajah doubt his wife’s fidelity.
    Nintayawa gave birth to a lovely child.  The Rajah, obsessed with jealousy, and convinced that the boy was not his, had him replaced by another. And in order that any trace of the true heir to the throne would be lost, he ordered one of his ministers to take him far away and make him disappear.
    Mildewa learned this without wanting to.  Enamored with Nintayawa’s maid, he sneaked into her room and hid behind a screen; but shortly afterwards the Rajah and his minister entered the chamber.

This tale served to clarify the mystery that tormented the two travelers.

The present Rajah, Goendaya, occupied the throne that rightfully belonged to the true son of the unfortunate Nintayawa….

But there still remained one obscure point.  Who had drawn the telltale symbols on the shirt?  The minister?  Still, there was no doubt that the inscription did not lie.  The one who had sketched the symbols on the cloth had done so in ortder to leave some proof that the boy who had been abandoned was the son of the lovely Nintayawa.

Perhaps the minister, when he abandoned him, felt remorse, or perhaps he had revealed the mystery to another who took it upon himself to draw those symbols on the boy’s shirt, a shirt that would soon become rags, of which “The Invincible” had kept a piece by a miracle.

After hearing old Mildewa’s tale, an impetuous ardor gripped Roburac.  His eyes shone and his imperial blood boiled with impatience.

The explorer realized he could no longer stop his protégé on his march toward his new destiny.
    “Roburac,” he said to him, “the time has come to justify the name I have given you.”
    “Yes, master.  The throne belongs to me and it will be mine.”

As he spoke those words, the young man cast a flashing look on the palace where the man who had usurped the Crown lived and with whose rule the people were not satisfied.  And in that look Nevada read all his racial pride and his irresistible determination to realize a grandiose dream….

One day the Rajah, who was at war with the English, to whom he did not want to surrender, went hunting in the forest of Ieipore.

Goendaya loved tiger hunting very much, and without taking into account the perils to which it exposed him, frequently drifted away from his minions.

That day the latter were surprised to see his horse return without a rider.

What had happened?  Had Goendaya been attacked and devoured by wild beasts?

As officials and soldiers scoured the bushes in search of the mysteriously missing Rajah, a giant on a magnificent thoroughbred horse, carrying a man with him, galloped toward the encampment of the English, who planned to assault Ieipore in order to quell Goendaya’s rebellion once and for all.

Another horseman followed him: Nevada.

Putting his tactics from Mindanao into practice once again, Roburac had waited for the Rajah, hidden in the forest, and as soon as he saw him, he threw himself on him and after dragging him from his saddle he carried him like a feather onto his horse.  Spurring the latter on furiously, he headed toward the English encampment, followed by his master.


Roburac introduced himself to the colonel, repeating the phrases that Nevada had taught him.
    “The Rajah has the honor of presenting his resignation.  Someone who has more right than he to the throne of Ieipore salutes you, English gentlemen.”  And leaving Goendaya on the ground, he turned his horse around quickly and headed back toward the forest, shouting:
    “To the palace, Nevada!”

With lightning speed, he set out at a gallop through the forest and after a few hours reached the city of Ieipore, shouting:
    “The crown belongs to Roburac!”

As soon as they reached Ieipore, Nevada realized that his hidden efforts to place the legitimate heir upon the throne had achieved complete success.

The giant was acclaimed by the crowd with the most lively enthusiasm upon his return.  The word that Roburac was the true Rajah had spread like lightning.

His herculean beauty aroused general admiration; the army, skillfully prepared by Nevada, welcomed him with frantic cheers, and the palace gates opened to “The Invincible” who, from the forests of Mindanao, was guided to the throne by the tenacity of a Spanish explorer.


  1.Kampilan: a type of single-edged sword traditionally used by various ethnic groups in the Philippine archipelago – Translator


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