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20th Phantom
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The Twentieth Phantom
It is the Twentieth Phantom, father of the Phantom of our day, who contributed the Chain of Patience to the Phantom lore. It was but one of many adventures in a life filled with incident, but one that made a deep impression on the Twenty-first.

That adventure was, in fact, the upshot of one of the most peculiar incidents in all of the Chronicles. The Twentieth went in search of a missing American archeologist, Dr. Thorne who, with his daughter, was seeking the lost city of Pheenix when they were abandoned by their bearers in the Bengalla jungle. The search took the Phantom into a region of the woods he'd never seen before, where he found the missing people unharmed. But before he could lead them to safety, ropes dropped down out of the high trees, lassoeing the three and lifting them far into the covering of branches, so high up that their campfire on the ground below seemed a tiny spark.

The Phantom knew nothing of the Rope People, but they recognized his costume immediately, and accused him of impersonating The Phantom. This mystified the Twentieth, but he did not question it, merely replied that he did not pretend, but he was indeed The Phantom. The Rope People did not believe him, since they knew him of old, but he claimed not to know them. They also reasoned that he could not be the same man, since The Phantom had visited them yeasr ago, and would now be much older. They showed him the pictures on their walls, clearly showing the Phantom performing four superhuman deeds that he had accomplished on his "previous visit." Gradually, the Twentieth realized that these people had encountered his father the Nineteenth, but did not know that he was supposed to be immortal.

To save himself and the other two captives, the Twentieth had to prove he was really The Phantom by performing the same four tasks his father had. The Twentieth was a tall, strong man, but not nearly as strong as his father, and it required considerable wit as well as strength to get him through these seemingly impossible trials.

He captured the elephant by leaping onto its back, jumping on and off as necessary to avoid the trunk of the enraged beast, until he was finally able to loop a length of vine across the elephant's tender mouth. With this bit in the great beast's mouth, he was able to bring it under his control and tied the vine to a tree. The rope people were impressed and delighted, and slid down from their high perches intent on feasting on the elephant's flesh. But before they could reach it, the Phantom released his captive. The tribe was furious, but the Phantom pointed out that he had agreed to capture the elephant, not to kill it, and angry though they were, his captors had to admit it was true.

The second task was to move a huge boulder, as big as a small house, that was partly buried in the side of a hill. The Rope People grinned, for they knew he could never lift it. But The Twentieth thought of a better strategy. After hours of digging at the downhill side of the boulder, he had uncovered its entire lower end. He then moved around to the other side, but was not able to push it. As his time was running out, he laid down on his back and pushed with his feet (knowing that a man's legs are stronger than his arms) until, bit by bit, the boulder began to move, finally rolling down the hill and crashing into a large tree.

The third challenge was to avert capture of an armed hunting part of Rope People. This was an arduous test of strength, endurance, and jungle survival, at all of which the Phantom excelled. But the Rope People were excellent hunters, too. The Twentieth managed to stay ahead of them for hours, but gradually, they closed in from all four sides. Sunset was nearing, but the Phantom found himself with no escape but a dark cave. He raced in, and the hunters thought they had him trapped. Then they heard a low growl. A male lion was in the cave. He smelled the humans, and charged at the Phantom, but the masked man leaped up and hung to a stalactite, and the lion charged past him into the ranks of the Rope People. The lion decimated the hunting party, and the Phantom escaped capture.

The final trial was a fight to the death with the jungle champion, a giant almost ten feet tall. He could uproot trees and had killed lions with his bare hands. He came at the Twentieth with a huge club. The Phantom dodged the first swing, and the club cracked a large tree trunk. The second swing missed too, and made a whole in the ground large enough for a boy to hide in. The Phantom agilely dodged the club until the giant hit a stone wall, and the club broke in his hands. Seeing his chance, the Phantom moved in close and hit the giant with all his might in the soft belly. The giant doubled over in pain, and the Phantom could finally reach his jaw to let loose on him with a storm of tremendous punches. Gradually, he wore down the enormous killer with endless blows to the jaw and the belly, until the giant fell on the ground senseless, staring at the sky. The Phantom then declared to his captors that he had defeated the champion, but they insisted that it was a fight to the death and he must kill the giant. The Phantom refused, for it is against his code to kill anything unnecessarily.

Then, amazingly, the Rope People cheered and proclaimed that he was, indeed, their old friend the Phantom, The Ghost Who Walks, the Keeper of the Peace, for he had proved it by refusing to kill the giant, just as he had done before. Of all the great qualities he had shown, mercy was the rarest in the jungle. The Rope People freed their captives and feasted with them.

The Phantom fell in love with the archaeologist's daughter and she with him. She returned to America briefly, to take home her ailing father, then journeyed back to Bengalla via ocean liner intending to marry the Phantom. She was an uncommonly beautiful woman and attracted the attentions of a wealthy and mysterious stranger on board, a man with a hawk-like face and cold, reptilian eyes. He followed her all over the ship. He discouraged other men who were interested in her by intimidation and threats. He eventually proposed marriage to her, and when she told him that she was in love and to be married soon, he became enraged and violent. He had to be dragged away from her cabin door.

In Bengalla, she was escorted off the ship under the guard of all the ship's officers, and entrusted to the protection of the Jungle Patrol to take her to her rendezvous with The Phantom. She never arrived at the appointed place. The mysterious stranger from the ship was, in fact, Prince Hakon, the ruthless feudal lord of an isolated kingdom in the Misty Mountains. His forces ambushed her escort and kidnapped her.

When she arrived in the Misty Mountains, Hakon informed her that he wished her to be his wife, and would give her time to become accustomed to that idea. She resisted fiercely, and he had her locked in a tower to consider her choices. Hakon visited her day after day, but was continually rebuffed. Finally, he asked who was that distant lover that she clung to in her heart so fiercely. She told him it was the Phantom. Hakon, like all others in that part of the world, had heard stories of the Phantom, but had never known if he was a man or just a legend. Hakon let word drift out that the missing woman was a guest in his castle, and would soon be his bride.

When the Phantom heard this, he became furious, and rode off at breakneck speed into the Misty Mountains. His fury made him impatient and incautious, and he rode straight into Hakon's castle, into the throne room on horseback with pistol drawn. Hakon's guards immediately shot him down, but not fatally.

When the Phantom recovered from his wounds, Hakon had him chained to a huge millstone (taking the place of two oxen) located in the courtyard below the tower window. Hakon thought that if he degraded the Phantom within the woman's sight, she would lose interest in the Phantom and gradually give her heart to Hakon. He was, of course, completely wrong. It hardened her against Hakon irrevocably. Every day she watched as the Phantom was brought out from his cell and chained to the mill, and whipped to make him push the heavy stone around. She almost despaired completely.

But the Phantom had not lost hope. He noticed that one link of the chain scraped against the stone every time it went around. Each day from sunrise to sunset, for almost a year, he pushed the shaft of the mill, because every push grund the chain a little more. He watched and waited as the link was worn down bit by bit.

Finally, one day, Hakon had brought a party of lords and ladies into the courtyard to ridicule his captive "jungle beast." They had just returned from a hunt, and were having their lunch. Without warning, the Phantom raised up, snapped the worn-through link of the chain, and swung the broken chain in a mighty arc, mowing down a dozen guests and Hakon himself. He sprang upon Hakon, seized him by the throat, and put Hakon's own gun to the prince's head. The Phantom ordered his fiancee brought to him. She took one horse, and the Phantom mounted his own and pulled Hakon up with him, still holding him at gunpoint. They rode off, bringing the chain with them, back to the Deep Woods. Hakon was turned over to the Jungle Patrol, tried, and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The Phantom kept the chain, as a reminder of the value of patience and persistence, and hung it on the left skull of his throne.

One of the Twentieth's most caring acts was the creation of the Old Folks' Village, a special, enclosed town for elderly natives, so that they would not have to go out into the jungle to starve or be killed by wild animals. There they live peaceful and protected lives among their peers, with food supplied by neighboring tribes.

When his son, the present Phantom, was born, the Twentieth was delighted. An excellent father, he schooled his son in the lore of the jungle and all the arts that a Phantom needs to carry out his mission. He read to Kit from the Chronicles, and taught him the meaning of being the Phantom, and the burden his line bears for the good of all men.

The future Twenty-First Phantom was in school in the American midwest when the Twentieth went on his final adventure. He was seeking the ancient, secret headquarters of the Sengh pirates when he was stabbed in the back by a thug named Quill, who stole the Twentieth's gunbelt with its skull-head buckle, as proof that he had murdered the Man Who Cannot Die.

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