The Jungle Tales of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part 3 out of 5
the Gomangani. Not since he had restored little Tibo to his
grief-stricken mother had the whim seized him to do so.
The incident of the adopted balu was a closed one to Tarzan.
He had sought to find something upon which to lavish such
an affection as Teeka lavished upon her balu, but a short
experience of the little black boy had made it quite plain
to the ape-man that no such sentiment could exist between them.
The fact that he had for a time treated the little black
as he might have treated a real balu of his own had
in no way altered the vengeful sentiments with which he
considered the murderers of Kala. The Gomangani were
his deadly enemies, nor could they ever be aught else.
Today he looked forward to some slight relief from
the monotony of his existence in such excitement as he
might derive from baiting the blacks.
It was not yet dark when he reached the village and took
his place in the great tree overhanging the palisade.
From beneath came a great wailing out of the depths
of a near-by hut. The noise fell disagreeably upon
Tarzan's ears--it jarred and grated. He did not like it,
so he decided to go away for a while in the hopes that it
might cease; but though he was gone for a couple of hours
the wailing still continued when he returned.
With the intention of putting a violent termination to the
annoying sound, Tarzan slipped silently from the tree into
the shadows beneath. Creeping stealthily and keeping well
in the cover of other huts, he approached that from which rose
the sounds of lamentation. A fire burned brightly before
the doorway as it did before other doorways in the village.
A few females squatted about, occasionally adding their
own mournful howlings to those of the master artist within.
The ape-man smiled a slow smile as he thought of the
which would follow the quick leap that would carry him
among the females and into the full light of the fire.
Then he would dart into the hut during the excitement,
throttle the chief screamer, and be gone into the jungle
before the blacks could gather their scattered nerves for an
Many times had Tarzan behaved similarly in the village
of Mbonga, the chief. His mysterious and unexpected
appearances always filled the breasts of the poor,
superstitious blacks with the panic of terror; never,
it seemed, could they accustom themselves to the sight
of him. It was this terror which lent to the adventures
the spice of interest and amusement which the human
mind of the ape-man craved. Merely to kill was not in
itself sufficient. Accustomed to the sight of death,
Tarzan found no great pleasure in it. Long since had he
avenged the death of Kala, but in the accomplishment of it,
he had learned the excitement and the pleasure to be derived
from the baiting of the blacks. Of this he never tired.
It was just as he was about to spring forward with a savage
roar that a figure appeared in the doorway of the hut.
It was the figure of the wailer whom he had come to still,
the figure of a young woman with a wooden skewer
through the split septum of her nose, with a heavy
metal ornament depending from her lower lip, which it
had dragged down to hideous and repulsive deformity,
with strange tattooing upon forehead, cheeks, and breasts,
and a wonderful coiffure built up with mud and wire.
A sudden flare of the fire threw the grotesque figure
into high relief, and Tarzan recognized her as Momaya,
the mother of Tibo. The fire also threw out a fitful
flame which carried to the shadows where Tarzan lurked,
picking out his light brown body from the surrounding darkness.
Momaya saw him and knew him. With a cry, she leaped
forward and Tarzan came to meet her. The other women,
turning, saw him, too; but they did not come toward him.
Instead they rose as one, shrieked as one, fled as one.
Momaya threw herself at Tarzan's feet, raising supplicating
hands toward him and pouring forth from her mutilated
lips a perfect cataract of words, not one of which
the ape-man comprehended. For a moment he looked
down upon the upturned, frightful face of the woman.
He had come to slay, but that overwhelming torrent
of speech filled him with consternation and with awe.
He glanced about him apprehensively, then back at the woman.
A revulsion of feeling seized him. He could not kill
little Tibo's mother, nor could he stand and face this
verbal geyser. With a quick gesture of impatience at
the spoiling of his evening's entertainment, he wheeled
and leaped away into the darkness. A moment later he
was swinging through the black jungle night, the cries
and lamentations of Momaya growing fainter in the distance.
It was with a sigh of relief that he finally reached
a point from which he could no longer hear them,
and finding a comfortable crotch high among the trees,
composed himself for a night of dreamless slumber,
while a prowling lion moaned and coughed beneath him,
and in far-off England the other Lord Greystoke,
with the assistance of a valet, disrobed and crawled
between spotless sheets, swearing irritably as a cat
meowed beneath his window.
As Tarzan followed the fresh spoor of Horta, the boar,
the following morning, he came upon the tracks of two Gomangani,
a large one and a small one. The ape-man, accustomed as he
was to questioning closely all that fell to his perceptions,
paused to read the story written in the soft mud of the
game trail. You or I would have seen little of interest
there, even if, by chance, we could have seen aught.
Perhaps had one been there to point them out to us,
we might have noted indentations in the mud, but there
were countless indentations, one overlapping another into
a confusion that would have been entirely meaningless to us.
To Tarzan each told its own story. Tantor, the elephant,
had passed that way as recently as three suns since.
Numa had hunted here the night just gone, and Horta,
the boar, had walked slowly along the trail within an hour;
but what held Tarzan's attention was the spoor tale of
the Gomangani. It told him that the day before an old man
had gone toward the north in company with a little boy,
and that with them had been two hyenas.
Tarzan scratched his head in puzzled incredulity.
He could see by the overlapping of the footprints that
the beasts had not been following the two, for sometimes
one was ahead of them and one behind, and again both were
in advance, or both were in the rear. It was very strange
and quite inexplicable, especially where the spoor showed
where the hyenas in the wider portions of the path had walked
one on either side of the human pair, quite close to them.
Then Tarzan read in the spoor of the smaller Gomangani
a shrinking terror of the beast that brushed his side,
but in that of the old man was no sign of fear.
At first Tarzan had been solely occupied by the remarkable
juxtaposition of the spoor of Dango and Gomangani,
but now his keen eyes caught something in the spoor of
the little Gomangani which brought him to a sudden stop.
It was as though, finding a letter in the road, you suddenly
had discovered in it the familiar handwriting of a friend.
"Go-bu-balu!" exclaimed the ape-man, and at once memory
flashed upon the screen of recollection the supplicating
attitude of Momaya as she had hurled herself before
him in the village of Mbonga the night before.
Instantly all was explained--the wailing and lamentation,
the pleading of the black mother, the sympathetic howling
of the shes about the fire. Little Go-bu-balu had been
stolen again, and this time by another than Tarzan.
Doubtless the mother had thought that he was again in the
power of Tarzan of the Apes, and she had been beseeching
him to return her balu to her.
Yes, it was all quite plain now; but who could have stolen
Go-bu-balu this time? Tarzan wondered, and he wondered,
too, about the presence of Dango. He would investigate.
The spoor was a day old and it ran toward the north.
Tarzan set out to follow it. In places it was totally
obliterated by the passage of many beasts, and where the way
was rocky, even Tarzan of the Apes was almost baffled;
but there was still the faint effluvium which clung to
the human spoor, appreciable only to such highly trained
perceptive powers as were Tarzan's.
It had all happened to little Tibo very suddenly and unexpectedly
within the brief span of two suns. First had come Bukawai,
the witch-doctor--Bukawai, the unclean--with the ragged
bit of flesh which still clung to his rotting face.
He had come alone and by day to the place at the river
where Momaya went daily to wash her body and that of Tibo,
her little boy. He had stepped out from behind a great
bush quite close to Momaya, frightening little Tibo
so that he ran screaming to his mother's protecting arms.
But Momaya, though startled, had wheeled to face the
fearsome thing with all the savage ferocity of a she-tiger
at bay. When she saw who it was, she breathed a sigh
of partial relief, though she still clung tightly to Tibo.
"I have come," said Bukawai without preliminary,
"for the three fat goats, the new sleeping mat,
and the bit of copper wire as long as a tall man's arm."
"I have no goats for you," snapped Momaya, "nor a sleeping mat,
nor any wire. Your medicine was never made. The white
jungle god gave me back my Tibo. You had nothing to do with it."
"But I did," mumbled Bukawai through his fleshless jaws.
"It was I who commanded the white jungle god to give back
Momaya laughed in his face. "Speaker of lies," she cried,
"go back to your foul den and your hyenas. Go back
and hide your stinking face in the belly of the mountain,
lest the sun, seeing it, cover his face with a black cloud."
"I have come," reiterated Bukawai, "for the three fat goats,
the new sleeping mat, and the bit of copper wire the length
of a tall man's arm, which you were to pay me for the return of
"It was to be the length of a man's forearm," corrected Momaya,
"but you shall have nothing, old thief. You would not
make medicine until I had brought the payment in advance,
and when I was returning to my village the great,
white jungle god gave me back my Tibo--gave him to me out
of the jaws of Numa. His medicine is true medicine-- yours
is the weak medicine of an old man with a hole in his face."
"I have come," repeated Bukawai patiently, "for the
three fat--" But Momaya had not waited to hear more
of what she already knew by heart. Clasping Tibo close
to her side, she was hurrying away toward the palisaded
village of Mbonga, the chief.
And the next day, when Momaya was working in the plantain
field with others of the women of the tribe, and little
Tibo had been playing at the edge of the jungle, casting a
small spear in anticipation of the distant day when he
should be a full-fledged warrior, Bukawai had come again.
Tibo had seen a squirrel scampering up the bole of a
great tree. His childish mind had transformed it into
the menacing figure of a hostile warrior. Little Tibo
had raised his tiny spear, his heart filled with the savage
blood lust of his race, as he pictured the night's orgy
when he should dance about the corpse of his human kill
as the women of his tribe prepared the meat for the feast to
But when he cast the spear, he missed both squirrel and tree,
losing his missile far among the tangled undergrowth of
the jungle. However, it could be but a few steps within
the forbidden labyrinth. The women were all about in
the field. There were warriors on guard within easy hail,
and so little Tibo boldly ventured into the dark place.
Just behind the screen of creepers and matted foliage lurked
three horrid figures--an old, old man, black as the pit,
with a face half eaten away by leprosy, his sharp-filed teeth,
the teeth of a cannibal, showing yellow and repulsive
through the great gaping hole where his mouth and nose
had been. And beside him, equally hideous, stood two
powerful hyenas--carrion-eaters consorting with carrion.
Tibo did not see them until, head down, he had forced
his way through the thickly growing vines in search of his
little spear, and then it was too late. As he looked up
into the face of Bukawai, the old witch-doctor seized him,
muffling his screams with a palm across his mouth.
Tibo struggled futilely.
A moment later he was being hustled away through the dark
and terrible jungle, the frightful old man still muffling
his screams, and the two hideous hyenas pacing now on
either side, now before, now behind, always prowling,
always growling, snapping, snarling, or, worst of all,
To little Tibo, who within his brief existence had passed
through such experiences as are given to few to pass
through in a lifetime, the northward journey was a nightmare
of terror. He thought now of the time that he had been
with the great, white jungle god, and he prayed with all
his little soul that he might be back again with the
white-skinned giant who consorted with the hairy tree men.
Terror-stricken he had been then, but his surroundings
had been nothing by comparison with those which he now endured.
The old man seldom addressed Tibo, though he kept up
an almost continuous mumbling throughout the long day.
Tibo caught repeated references to fat goats, sleeping mats,
and pieces of copper wire. "Ten fat goats, ten fat goats,"
the old Negro would croon over and over again. By this
little Tibo guessed that the price of his ransom had risen.
Ten fat goats? Where would his mother get ten fat goats,
or thin ones, either, for that matter, to buy back just
a poor little boy? Mbonga would never let her have them,
and Tibo knew that his father never had owned more than
three goats at the same time in all his life. Ten fat
goats! Tibo sniffled. The putrid old man would kill him
and eat him, for the goats would never be forthcoming.
Bukawai would throw his bones to the hyenas. The little
black boy shuddered and became so weak that he almost fell
in his tracks. Bukawai cuffed him on an ear and jerked
After what seemed an eternity to Tibo, they arrived at
the mouth of a cave between two rocky hills. The opening
was low and narrow. A few saplings bound together
with strips of rawhide closed it against stray beasts.
Bukawai removed the primitive door and pushed Tibo within.
The hyenas, snarling, rushed past him and were lost to
view in the blackness of the interior. Bukawai replaced
the saplings and seizing Tibo roughly by the arm,
dragged him along a narrow, rocky passage. The floor
was comparatively smooth, for the dirt which lay thick
upon it had been trodden and tramped by many feet until
few inequalities remained.
The passage was tortuous, and as it was very dark
and the walls rough and rocky, Tibo was scratched and
bruised from the many bumps he received. Bukawai walked
as rapidly through the winding gallery as one would
traverse a familiar lane by daylight. He knew every
twist and turn as a mother knows the face of her child,
and he seemed to be in a hurry. He jerked poor little
Tibo possibly a trifle more ruthlessly than necessary
even at the pace Bukawai set; but the old witch-doctor,
an outcast from the society of man, diseased, shunned,
hated, feared, was far from possessing an angelic temper.
Nature had given him few of the kindlier characteristics
of man, and these few Fate had eradicated entirely.
Shrewd, cunning, cruel, vindictive, was Bukawai, the
Frightful tales were whispered of the cruel tortures he
inflicted upon his victims. Children were frightened into
obedience by the threat of his name. Often had Tibo been
thus frightened, and now he was reaping a grisly harvest
of terror from the seeds his mother had innocently sown.
The darkness, the presence of the dreaded witch-doctor,
the pain of the contusions, with a haunting premonition
of the future, and the fear of the hyenas combined to
almost paralyze the child. He stumbled and reeled until
Bukawai was dragging rather than leading him.
Presently Tibo saw a faint lightness ahead of them,
and a moment later they emerged into a roughly circular
chamber to which a little daylight filtered through
a rift in the rocky ceiling. The hyenas were there
ahead of them, waiting. As Bukawai entered with Tibo,
the beasts slunk toward them, baring yellow fangs.
They were hungry. Toward Tibo they came, and one snapped
at his naked legs. Bukawai seized a stick from the floor
of the chamber and struck a vicious blow at the beast,
at the same time mumbling forth a volley of execrations.
The hyena dodged and ran to the side of the chamber, where he
stood growling. Bukawai took a step toward the creature,
which bristled with rage at his approach. Fear and hatred
shot from its evil eyes, but, fortunately for Bukawai,
Seeing that he was unnoticed, the second beast made a short,
quick rush for Tibo. The child screamed and darted after
the witch-doctor, who now turned his attention to the
second hyena. This one he reached with his heavy stick,
striking it repeatedly and driving it to the wall.
There the two carrion-eaters commenced to circle the chamber
while the human carrion, their master, now in a perfect
frenzy of demoniacal rage, ran to and fro in an effort
to intercept them, striking out with his cudgel and lashing
them with his tongue, calling down upon them the curses
of whatever gods and demons he could summon to memory,
and describing in lurid figures the ignominy of their ancestors.
Several times one or the other of the beasts would turn
to make a stand against the witch-doctor, and then Tibo
would hold his breath in agonized terror, for never in his
brief life had he seen such frightful hatred depicted upon
the countenance of man or beast; but always fear overcame
the rage of the savage creatures, so that they resumed
their flight, snarling and bare-fanged, just at the moment
that Tibo was certain they would spring at Bukawai's throat.
At last the witch-doctor tired of the futile chase.
With a snarl quite as bestial as those of the beast,
he turned toward Tibo. "I go to collect the ten fat goats,
the new sleeping mat, and the two pieces of copper wire
that your mother will pay for the medicine I shall make
to bring you back to her," he said. "You will stay here.
There," and he pointed toward the passage which they
had followed to the chamber, "I will leave the hyenas.
If you try to escape, they will eat you."
He cast aside the stick and called to the beasts.
They came, snarling and slinking, their tails between
their legs. Bukawai led them to the passage and drove
them into it. Then he dragged a rude lattice into
place before the opening after he, himself, had left
the chamber. "This will keep them from you," he said.
"If I do not get the ten fat goats and the other things,
they shall at least have a few bones after I am through."
And he left the boy to think over the meaning of his
When he was gone, Tibo threw himself upon the earth floor
and broke into childish sobs of terror and loneliness.
He knew that his mother had no ten fat goats to give
and that when Bukawai returned, little Tibo would
be killed and eaten. How long he lay there he did
not know, but presently he was aroused by the growling
of the hyenas. They had returned through the passage
and were glaring at him from beyond the lattice. He could
see their yellow eyes blazing through the darkness.
They reared up and clawed at the barrier. Tibo shivered
and withdrew to the opposite side of the chamber. He saw
the lattice sag and sway to the attacks of the beasts.
Momentarily he expected that it would fall inward,
letting the creatures upon him.
Wearily the horror-ridden hours dragged their slow way.
Night came, and for a time Tibo slept, but it seemed
that the hungry beasts never slept. Always they stood
just beyond the lattice growling their hideous growls
or laughing their hideous laughs. Through the narrow rift
in the rocky roof above him, Tibo could see a few stars,
and once the moon crossed. At last daylight came again.
Tibo was very hungry and thirsty, for he had not eaten
since the morning before, and only once upon the long march
had he been permitted to drink, but even hunger and thirst
were almost forgotten in the terror of his position.
It was after daylight that the child discovered a second
opening in the walls of the subterranean chamber,
almost opposite that at which the hyenas still stood
glaring hungrily at him. It was only a narrow slit
in the rocky wall. It might lead in but a few feet,
or it might lead to freedom! Tibo approached it and
looked within. He could see nothing. He extended his arm
into the blackness, but he dared not venture farther.
Bukawai never would have left open a way of escape,
Tibo reasoned, so this passage must lead either nowhere
or to some still more hideous danger.
To the boy's fear of the actual dangers which menaced
him--Bukawai and the two hyenas--his superstition added
countless others quite too horrible even to name,
for in the lives of the blacks, through the shadows of
the jungle day and the black horrors of the jungle night,
flit strange, fantastic shapes peopling the already
hideously peopled forests with menacing figures, as though
the lion and the leopard, the snake and the hyena,
and the countless poisonous insects were not quite
sufficient to strike terror to the hearts of the poor,
simple creatures whose lot is cast in earth's most fearsome spot.
And so it was that little Tibo cringed not only from
real menaces but from imaginary ones. He was afraid
even to venture upon a road that might lead to escape,
lest Bukawai had set to watch it some frightful demon
of the jungle.
But the real menaces suddenly drove the imaginary ones
from the boy's mind, for with the coming of daylight
the half-famished hyenas renewed their efforts to break
down the frail barrier which kept them from their prey.
Rearing upon their hind feet they clawed and struck at
the lattice. With wide eyes Tibo saw it sag and rock.
Not for long, he knew, could it withstand the assaults
of these two powerful and determined brutes. Already one
corner had been forced past the rocky protuberance of the
entrance way which had held it in place. A shaggy forearm
protruded into the chamber. Tibo trembled as with ague,
for he knew that the end was near.
Backing against the farther wall he stood flattened out
as far from the beasts as he could get. He saw the lattice
give still more. He saw a savage, snarling head forced
past it, and grinning jaws snapping and gaping toward him.
In another instant the pitiful fabric would fall inward,
and the two would be upon him, rending his flesh from
his bones, gnawing the bones themselves, fighting for
possession of his entrails.
* * *
Bukawai came upon Momaya outside the palisade of Mbonga,
the chief. At sight of him the woman drew back in revulsion,
then she flew at him, tooth and nail; but Bukawai
threatening her with a spear held her at a safe distance.
"Where is my baby?" she cried. "Where is my little Tibo?"
Bukawai opened his eyes in well-simulated amazement.
"Your baby!" he exclaimed. "What should I know of him,
other than that I rescued him from the white god
of the jungle and have not yet received my pay.
I come for the goats and the sleeping mat and the piece
of copper wire the length of a tall man's arm from the
shoulder to the tips of his fingers." "Offal of a hyena!"
shrieked Momaya. "My child has been stolen, and you,
rotting fragment of a man, have taken him. Return him
to me or I shall tear your eyes from your head and feed
your heart to the wild hogs."
Bukawai shrugged his shoulders. "What do I know about
your child?" he asked. "I have not taken him. If he is
stolen again, what should Bukawai know of the matter? Did
Bukawai steal him before? No, the white jungle god stole him,
and if he stole him once he would steal him again.
It is nothing to me. I returned him to you before and I
have come for my pay. If he is gone and you would
have him returned, Bukawai will return him--for ten
fat goats, a new sleeping mat and two pieces of copper
wire the length of a tall man's arm from the shoulder
to the tips of his fingers, and Bukawai will say nothing
more about the goats and the sleeping mat and the copper
wire which you were to pay for the first medicine."
"Ten fat goats!" screamed Momaya. "I could not pay you
ten fat goats in as many years. Ten fat goats, indeed!"
"Ten fat goats," repeated Bukawai. "Ten fat goats,
the new sleeping mat and two pieces of copper wire
the length of--"
Momaya stopped him with an impatient gesture.
"Wait! she cried. "I have no goats. You waste your breath.
Stay here while I go to my man. He has but three goats,
yet something may be done. Wait!"
Bukawai sat down beneath a tree. He felt quite content,
for he knew that he should have either payment or revenge.
He did not fear harm at the hands of these people
of another tribe, although he well knew that they must
fear and hate him. His leprosy alone would prevent
their laying hands upon him, while his reputation as a
witch-doctor rendered him doubly immune from attack.
He was planning upon compelling them to drive the ten
goats to the mouth of his cave when Momaya returned.
With her were three warriors-- Mbonga, the chief, Rabba Kega,
the village witch-doctor, and Ibeto, Tibo's father.
They were not pretty men even under ordinary circumstances,
and now, with their faces marked by anger, they well
might have inspired terror in the heart of anyone;
but if Bukawai felt any fear, he did not betray it.
Instead he greeted them with an insolent stare, intended to
awe them, as they came and squatted in a semi-circle
"Where is Ibeto's son?" asked Mbonga.
"How should I know?" returned Bukawai. "Doubtless the
white devil-god has him. If I am paid I will make strong
medicine and then we shall know where is Ibeto's son,
and shall get him back again. It was my medicine which
got him back the last time, for which I got no pay."
"I have my own witch-doctor to make medicine,"
replied Mbonga with dignity.
Bukawai sneered and rose to his feet. "Very well,"
he said, "let him make his medicine and see if he
can bring Ibeto's son back." He took a few steps
away from them, and then he turned angrily back.
"His medicine will not bring the child back--that I know,
and I also know that when you find him it will be too late
for any medicine to bring him back, for he will be dead.
This have I just found out, the ghost of my father's
sister but now came to me and told me."
Now Mbonga and Rabba Kega might not take much stock
in their own magic, and they might even be skeptical
as to the magic of another; but there was always a chance
of SOMETHING being in it, especially if it were not
their own. Was it not well known that old Bukawai had
speech with the demons themselves and that two even lived
with him in the forms of hyenas! Still they must not
accede too hastily. There was the price to be considered,
and Mbonga had no intention of parting lightly with ten
goats to obtain the return of a single little boy who might
die of smallpox long before he reached a warrior's estate.
"Wait," said Mbonga. "Let us see some of your magic,
that we may know if it be good magic. Then we can talk
about payment. Rabba Kega will make some magic, too.
We will see who makes the best magic. Sit down, Bukawai."
"The payment will be ten goats--fat goats--a new sleeping
mat and two pieces of copper wire the length of a tall
man's arm from the shoulder to the ends of his fingers,
and it will be made in advance, the goats being driven
to my cave. Then will I make the medicine, and on
the second day the boy will be returned to his mother.
It cannot be done more quickly than that because it takes
time to make such strong medicine."
"Make us some medicine now," said Mbonga. "Let us see
what sort of medicine you make."
"Bring me fire," replied Bukawai, "and I will make you
a little magic."
Momaya was dispatched for the fire, and while she was away
Mbonga dickered with Bukawai about the price. Ten goats,
he said, was a high price for an able-bodied warrior.
He also called Bukawai's attention to the fact that he,
Mbonga, was very poor, that his people were very poor,
and that ten goats were at least eight too many,
to say nothing of a new sleeping mat and the copper wire;
but Bukawai was adamant. His medicine was very expensive
and he would have to give at least five goats to the gods
who helped him make it. They were still arguing when Momaya
returned with the fire.
Bukawai placed a little on the ground before him, took a
pinch of powder from a pouch at his side and sprinkled
it on the embers. A cloud of smoke rose with a puff.
Bukawai closed his eyes and rocked back and forth.
Then he made a few passes in the air and pretended
to swoon. Mbonga and the others were much impressed.
Rabba Kega grew nervous. He saw his reputation waning.
There was some fire left in the vessel which Momaya
had brought. He seized the vessel, dropped a handful
of dry leaves into it while no one was watching and then
uttered a frightful scream which drew the attention of
Bukawai's audience to him. It also brought Bukawai quite
miraculously out of his swoon, but when the old witch-doctor
saw the reason for the disturbance he quickly relapsed
into unconsciousness before anyone discovered his FAUX
Rabba Kega, seeing that he had the attention of Mbonga,
Ibeto, and Momaya, blew suddenly into the vessel,
with the result that the leaves commenced to smolder,
and smoke issued from the mouth of the receptacle.
Rabba Kega was careful to hold it so that none might see
the dry leaves. Their eyes opened wide at this remarkable
demonstration of the village witch-doctor's powers.
The latter, greatly elated, let himself out. He shouted,
jumped up and down, and made frightful grimaces; then he put
his face close over the mouth of the vessel and appeared
to be communing with the spirits within.
It was while he was thus engaged that Bukawai came out of
his trance, his curiosity finally having gotten the better
of him. No one was paying him the slightest attention.
He blinked his one eye angrily, then he, too, let out
a loud roar, and when he was sure that Mbonga had turned
toward him, he stiffened rigidly and made spasmodic
movements with his arms and legs.
"I see him!" he cried. "He is far away. The white
devil-god did not get him. He is alone and in great danger;
but," he added, "if the ten fat goats and the other
things are paid to me quickly there is yet time to save him."
Rabba Kega had paused to listen. Mbonga looked toward him.
The chief was in a quandary. He did not know which
medicine was the better. "What does your magic tell you?"
he asked of Rabba Kega.
"I, too, see him," screamed Rabba Kega; "but he is not
where Bukawai says he is. He is dead at the bottom
of the river."
At this Momaya commenced to howl loudly.
Tarzan had followed the spoor of the old man,
the two hyenas, and the little black boy to the mouth
of the cave in the rocky canon between the two hills.
Here he paused a moment before the sapling barrier which
Bukawai had set up, listening to the snarls and growls
which came faintly from the far recesses of the cavern.
Presently, mingled with the beastly cries, there came
faintly to the keen ears of the ape-man, the agonized
moan of a child. No longer did Tarzan hesitate.
Hurling the door aside, he sprang into the dark opening.
Narrow and black was the corridor; but long use of his
eyes in the Stygian blackness of the jungle nights had
given to the ape-man something of the nocturnal visionary
powers of the wild things with which he had consorted
He moved rapidly and yet with caution, for the place
was dark, unfamiliar and winding. As he advanced, he heard
more and more loudly the savage snarls of the two hyenas,
mingled with the scraping and scratching of their paws
upon wood. The moans of a child grew in volume,
and Tarzan recognized in them the voice of the little
black boy he once had sought to adopt as his balu.
There was no hysteria in the ape-man's advance.
Too accustomed was he to the passing of life in the
jungle to be greatly wrought even by the death of one
whom he knew; but the lust for battle spurred him on.
He was only a wild beast at heart and his wild beast's
heart beat high in anticipation of conflict.
In the rocky chamber of the hill's center, little Tibo
crouched low against the wall as far from the hunger-crazed
beasts as he could drag himself. He saw the lattice giving
to the frantic clawing of the hyenas. He knew that in a few
minutes his little life would flicker out horribly beneath
the rending, yellow fangs of these loathsome creatures.
Beneath the buffetings of the powerful bodies,
the lattice sagged inward, until, with a crash it
gave way, letting the carnivora in upon the boy.
Tibo cast one affrighted glance toward them, then closed
his eyes and buried his face in his arms, sobbing piteously.
For a moment the hyenas paused, caution and cowardice holding
them from their prey. They stood thus glaring at the lad,
then slowly, stealthily, crouching, they crept toward him.
It was thus that Tarzan came upon them, bursting into
the chamber swiftly and silently; but not so silently
that the keen-eared beasts did not note his coming.
With angry growls they turned from Tibo upon the ape-man, as,
with a smile upon his lips, he ran toward them.
For an instant one of the animals stood its ground;
but the ape-man did not deign even to draw his hunting
knife against despised Dango. Rushing in upon the brute he
grasped it by the scruff of the neck, just as it attempted
to dodge past him, and hurled it across the cavern after
its fellow which already was slinking into the corridor,
bent upon escape.
Then Tarzan picked Tibo from the floor, and when the
child felt human hands upon him instead of the paws
and fangs of the hyenas, he rolled his eyes upward in
surprise and incredulity, and as they fell upon Tarzan,
sobs of relief broke from the childish lips and his
hands clutched at his deliverer as though the white
devil-god was not the most feared of jungle creatures.
When Tarzan came to the cave mouth the hyenas were nowhere
in sight, and after permitting Tibo to quench his thirst
in the spring which rose near by, he lifted the boy to his
shoulders and set off toward the jungle at a rapid trot,
determined to still the annoying howlings of Momaya
as quickly as possible, for he shrewdly had guessed that
the absence of her balu was the cause of her lamentation.
"He is not dead at the bottom of the river," cried Bukawai.
"What does this fellow know about making magic? Who
is he, anyway, that he dare say Bukawai's magic is not
good magic? Bukawai sees Momaya's son. He is far away
and alone and in great danger. Hasten then with the ten
fat goats, the--"
But he got no further. There was a sudden interruption
from above, from the branches of the very tree beneath
which they squatted, and as the five blacks looked up
they almost swooned in fright as they saw the great,
white devil-god looking down upon them; but before they could
flee they saw another face, that of the lost little Tibo,
and his face was laughing and very happy.
And then Tarzan dropped fearlessly among them, the boy
still upon his back, and deposited him before his mother.
Momaya, Ibeto, Rabba Kega, and Mbonga were all crowding
around the lad trying to question him at the same time.
Suddenly Momaya turned ferociously to fall upon Bukawai,
for the boy had told her all that he had suffered at
the hands of the cruel old man; but Bukawai was no longer
there--he had required no recourse to black art to assure
him that the vicinity of Momaya would be no healthful
place for him after Tibo had told his story, and now he
was running through the jungle as fast as his old legs
would carry him toward the distant lair where he knew no
black would dare pursue him.
Tarzan, too, had vanished, as he had a way of doing,
to the mystification of the blacks. Then Momaya's eyes
lighted upon Rabba Kega. The village witch-doctor saw
something in those eyes of hers which boded no good to him,
and backed away.
"So my Tibo is dead at the bottom of the river, is he?"
the woman shrieked. "And he's far away and alone and in
great danger, is he? Magic!" The scorn which Momaya crowded
into that single word would have done credit to a Thespian
of the first magnitude. "Magic, indeed!" she screamed.
"Momaya will show you some magic of her own," and with that
she seized upon a broken limb and struck Rabba Kega across
the head. With a howl of pain, the man turned and fled,
Momaya pursuing him and beating him across the shoulders,
through the gateway and up the length of the village street,
to the intense amusement of the warriors, the women,
and the children who were so fortunate as to witness
the spectacle, for one and all feared Rabba Kega, and to fear
is to hate.
Thus it was that to his host of passive enemies, Tarzan of
the Apes added that day two active foes, both of whom
remained awake long into the night planning means of revenge
upon the white devil-god who had brought them into ridicule
and disrepute, but with their most malevolent schemings
was mingled a vein of real fear and awe that would not down.
Young Lord Greystoke did not know that they planned
against him, nor, knowing, would have cared. He slept
as well that night as he did on any other night,
and though there was no roof above him, and no doors
to lock against intruders, he slept much better than
his noble relative in England, who had eaten altogether
too much lobster and drank too much wine at dinner that night.
The End of Bukawai
WHEN TARZAN OF the Apes was still but a boy he had learned,
among other things, to fashion pliant ropes of fibrous
jungle grass. Strong and tough were the ropes of Tarzan,
the little Tarmangani. Tublat, his foster father,
would have told you this much and more. Had you tempted
him with a handful of fat caterpillars he even might have
sufficiently unbended to narrate to you a few stories
of the many indignities which Tarzan had heaped upon
him by means of his hated rope; but then Tublat always
worked himself into such a frightful rage when he devoted
any considerable thought either to the rope or to Tarzan,
that it might not have proved comfortable for you to have
remained close enough to him to hear what he had to say.
So often had that snakelike noose settled unexpectedly over
Tublat's head, so often had he been jerked ridiculously
and painfully from his feet when he was least looking
for such an occurrence, that there is little wonder he
found scant space in his savage heart for love of his
white-skinned foster child, or the inventions thereof.
There had been other times, too, when Tublat had swung
helplessly in midair, the noose tightening about his neck,
death staring him in the face, and little Tarzan dancing upon
a near-by limb, taunting him and making unseemly grimaces.
Then there had been another occasion in which the rope
had figured prominently--an occasion, and the only
one connected with the rope, which Tublat recalled
with pleasure. Tarzan, as active in brain as he was
in body, was always inventing new ways in which to play.
It was through the medium of play that he learned much
during his childhood. This day he learned something,
and that he did not lose his life in the learning of it,
was a matter of great surprise to Tarzan, and the fly
in the ointment, to Tublat.
The man-child had, in throwing his noose at a playmate
in a tree above him, caught a projecting branch instead.
When he tried to shake it loose it but drew the tighter.
Then Tarzan started to climb the rope to remove it
from the branch. When he was part way up a frolicsome
playmate seized that part of the rope which lay upon
the ground and ran off with it as far as he could go.
When Tarzan screamed at him to desist, the young ape
released the rope a little and then drew it tight again.
The result was to impart a swinging motion to Tarzan's
body which the ape-boy suddenly realized was a new and
pleasurable form of play. He urged the ape to continue
until Tarzan was swinging to and fro as far as the short
length of rope would permit, but the distance was not
great enough, and, too, he was not far enough above the
ground to give the necessary thrills which add so greatly
to the pastimes of the young.
So he clambered to the branch where the noose was caught
and after removing it carried the rope far aloft and out upon
a long and powerful branch. Here he again made it fast,
and taking the loose end in his hand, clambered quickly
down among the branches as far as the rope would permit
him to go; then he swung out upon the end of it,
his lithe, young body turning and twisting--a human bob
upon a pendulum of grass--thirty feet above the ground.
Ah, how delectable! This was indeed a new play of the
first magnitude. Tarzan was entranced. Soon he discovered
that by wriggling his body in just the right way at the
proper time he could diminish or accelerate his oscillation,
and, being a boy, he chose, naturally, to accelerate.
Presently he was swinging far and wide, while below him,
the apes of the tribe of Kerchak looked on in mild amaze.
Had it been you or I swinging there at the end of that
grass rope, the thing which presently happened would
not have happened, for we could not have hung on so long
as to have made it possible; but Tarzan was quite as much
at home swinging by his hands as he was standing upon
his feet, or, at least, almost. At any rate he felt no
fatigue long after the time that an ordinary mortal would
have been numb with the strain of the physical exertion.
And this was his undoing.
Tublat was watching him as were others of the tribe.
Of all the creatures of the wild, there was none Tublat
so cordially hated as he did this hideous, hairless,
white-skinned, caricature of an ape. But for Tarzan's
and the zealous watchfulness of savage Kala's mother love,
Tublat would long since have rid himself of this stain upon
his family escutcheon. So long had it been since Tarzan
became a member of the tribe, that Tublat had forgotten
the circumstances surrounding the entrance of the jungle
waif into his family, with the result that he now imagined
that Tarzan was his own offspring, adding greatly to his chagrin.
Wide and far swung Tarzan of the Apes, until at last,
as he reached the highest point of the arc the rope,
which rapidly had frayed on the rough bark of the tree limb,
parted suddenly. The watching apes saw the smooth,
brown body shoot outward, and down, plummet-like. Tublat
leaped high in the air, emitting what in a human being
would have been an exclamation of delight. This would
be the end of Tarzan and most of Tublat's troubles.
From now on he could lead his life in peace and security.
Tarzan fell quite forty feet, alighting on his back in a thick
Kala was the first to reach his side--ferocious, hideous,
loving Kala. She had seen the life crushed from her own
balu in just such a fall years before. Was she to lose
this one too in the same way? Tarzan was lying quite
still when she found him, embedded deeply in the bush.
It took Kala several minutes to disentangle him and drag
him forth; but he was not killed. He was not even
badly injured. The bush had broken the force of the fall.
A cut upon the back of his head showed where he had struck
the tough stem of the shrub and explained his unconsciousness.
In a few minutes he was as active as ever. Tublat was furious.
In his rage he snapped at a fellow-ape without first
discovering the identity of his victim, and was badly mauled
for his ill temper, having chosen to vent his spite upon
a husky and belligerent young bull in the full prime of his
But Tarzan had learned something new. He had learned that
continued friction would wear through the strands of his rope,
though it was many years before this knowledge did more
for him than merely to keep him from swinging too long
at a time, or too far above the ground at the end of his rope.
The day came, however, when the very thing that had once
all but killed him proved the means of saving his life.
He was no longer a child, but a mighty jungle male.
There was none now to watch over him, solicitously, nor did
he need such. Kala was dead. Dead, too, was Tublat,
and though with Kala passed the one creature that ever
really had loved him, there were still many who hated
him after Tublat departed unto the arms of his fathers.
It was not that he was more cruel or more savage than they
that they hated him, for though he was both cruel and savage
as were the beasts, his fellows, yet too was he often tender,
which they never were. No, the thing which brought Tarzan
most into disrepute with those who did not like him,
was the possession and practice of a characteristic
which they had not and could not understand-- the human
sense of humor. In Tarzan it was a trifle broad, perhaps,
manifesting itself in rough and painful practical jokes
upon his friends and cruel baiting of his enemies.
But to neither of these did he owe the enmity of Bukawai,
the witch-doctor, who dwelt in the cave between the two
hills far to the north of the village of Mbonga, the chief.
Bukawai was jealous of Tarzan, and Bukawai it was who came
near proving the undoing of the ape-man. For months Bukawai
had nursed his hatred while revenge seemed remote indeed,
since Tarzan of the Apes frequented another part
of the jungle, miles away from the lair of Bukawai.
Only once had the black witch-doctor seen the devil-god,
as he was most often called among the blacks, and upon
that occasion Tarzan had robbed him of a fat fee,
at the same time putting the lie in the mouth of Bukawai,
and making his medicine seem poor medicine. All this
Bukawai never could forgive, though it seemed unlikely
that the opportunity would come to be revenged.
Yet it did come, and quite unexpectedly. Tarzan was hunting
far to the north. He had wandered away from the tribe,
as he did more and more often as he approached maturity,
to hunt alone for a few days. As a child he had enjoyed
romping and playing with the young apes, his companions;
but now these play-fellows of his had grown to surly,
lowering bulls, or to touchy, suspicious mothers,
jealously guarding helpless balus. So Tarzan found in his
own man-mind a greater and a truer companionship than any
or all of the apes of Kerchak could afford him.
This day, as Tarzan hunted, the sky slowly became overcast.
Torn clouds, whipped to ragged streamers, fled low above
the tree tops. They reminded Tarzan of frightened antelope
fleeing the charge of a hungry lion. But though the light
clouds raced so swiftly, the jungle was motionless.
Not a leaf quivered and the silence was a great,
dead weight-- insupportable. Even the insects seemed
stilled by apprehension of some frightful thing impending,
and the larger things were soundless. Such a forest,
such a jungle might have stood there in the beginning
of that unthinkably far-gone age before God peopled the
world with life, when there were no sounds because there
were no ears to hear.
And over all lay a sickly, pallid ocher light through
which the scourged clouds raced. Tarzan had seen all
these conditions many times before, yet he never could
escape a strange feeling at each recurrence of them.
He knew no fear, but in the face of Nature's manifestations
of her cruel, immeasurable powers, he felt very small--very
small and very lonely.
Now he heard a low moaning, far away. "The lions seek
their prey," he murmured to himself, looking up once again
at the swift-flying clouds. The moaning rose to a great
volume of sound. "They come!" said Tarzan of the Apes,
and sought the shelter of a thickly foliaged tree.
Quite suddenly the trees bent their tops simultaneously
as though God had stretched a hand from the heavens and
pressed His flat palm down upon the world. "They pass!"
whispered Tarzan. "The lions pass." Then came a vivid
flash of lightning, followed by deafening thunder.
"The lions have sprung," cried Tarzan, "and now they roar
above the bodies of their kills."
The trees were waving wildly in all directions now,
a perfectly demoniacal wind threshed the jungle pitilessly.
In the midst of it the rain came--not as it comes upon us
of the northlands, but in a sudden, choking, blinding deluge.
"The blood of the kill," thought Tarzan, huddling himself
closer to the bole of the great tree beneath which he stood.
He was close to the edge of the jungle, and at a little
distance he had seen two hills before the storm broke;
but now he could see nothing. It amused him to look out
into the beating rain, searching for the two hills and
imagining that the torrents from above had washed them away,
yet he knew that presently the rain would cease, the sun
come out again and all be as it was before, except where
a few branches had fallen and here and there some old
and rotted patriarch had crashed back to enrich the soil
upon which he had fatted for, maybe, centuries. All about
him branches and leaves filled the air or fell to earth,
torn away by the strength of the tornado and the weight
of the water upon them. A gaunt corpse toppled and fell
a few yards away; but Tarzan was protected from all these
dangers by the wide-spreading branches of the sturdy young
giant beneath which his jungle craft had guided him.
Here there was but a single danger, and that a remote one.
Yet it came. Without warning the tree above him was riven
by lightning, and when the rain ceased and the sun came
out Tarzan lay stretched as he had fallen, upon his face
amidst the wreckage of the jungle giant that should have
Bukawai came to the entrance of his cave after the rain
and the storm had passed and looked out upon the scene.
From his one eye Bukawai could see; but had he had
a dozen eyes he could have found no beauty in the fresh
sweetness of the revivified jungle, for to such things,
in the chemistry of temperament, his brain failed
to react; nor, even had he had a nose, which he had not
for years, could he have found enjoyment or sweetness
in the clean-washed air.
At either side of the leper stood his sole and
constant companions, the two hyenas, sniffing the air.
Presently one of them uttered a low growl and with flattened
head started, sneaking and wary, toward the jungle.
The other followed. Bukawai, his curiosity aroused,
trailed after them, in his hand a heavy knob-stick.
The hyenas halted a few yards from the prostrate Tarzan,
sniffing and growling. Then came Bukawai, and at first he
could not believe the witness of his own eyes; but when he
did and saw that it was indeed the devil-god his rage knew
no bounds, for he thought him dead and himself cheated
of the revenge he had so long dreamed upon.
The hyenas approached the ape-man with bared fangs.
Bukawai, with an inarticulate scream, rushed upon them,
striking cruel and heavy blows with his knob-stick, for
there might still be life in the apparently lifeless form.
The beasts, snapping and snarling, half turned upon
their master and their tormentor, but long fear still
held them from his putrid throat. They slunk away a few
yards and squatted upon their haunches, hatred and baffled
hunger gleaming from their savage eyes.
Bukawai stooped and placed his ear above the ape-man's heart.
It still beat. As well as his sloughed features could
register pleasure they did so; but it was not a pretty sight.
At the ape-man's side lay his long, grass rope.
Quickly Bukawai bound the limp arms behind his prisoner's back,
then he raised him to one of his shoulders, for, though
Bukawai was old and diseased, he was still a strong man.
The hyenas fell in behind as the witch-doctor set off
toward the cave, and through the long black corridors
they followed as Bukawai bore his victim into the bowels
of the hills. Through subterranean chambers, connected by
winding passageways, Bukawai staggered with his load.
At a sudden turning of the corridor, daylight flooded
them and Bukawai stepped out into a small, circular basin
in the hill, apparently the crater of an ancient volcano,
one of those which never reached the dignity of a mountain
and are little more than lava-rimmed pits closed to the earth's
Steep walls rimmed the cavity. The only exit was
through the passageway by which Bukawai had entered.
A few stunted trees grew upon the rocky floor. A hundred
feet above could be seen the ragged lips of this cold,
dead mouth of hell.
Bukawai propped Tarzan against a tree and bound him there
with his own grass rope, leaving his hands free but securing
the knots in such a way that the ape-man could not reach them.
The hyenas slunk to and fro, growling. Bukawai hated them
and they hated him. He knew that they but waited for the time
when he should be helpless, or when their hatred should
rise to such a height as to submerge their cringing fear of him.
In his own heart was not a little fear of these repulsive
creatures, and because of that fear, Bukawai always kept
the beasts well fed, often hunting for them when their own
forages for food failed, but ever was he cruel to them
with the cruelty of a little brain, diseased, bestial, primitive.
He had had them since they were puppies. They had known
no other life than that with him, and though they went
abroad to hunt, always they returned. Of late Bukawai
had come to believe that they returned not so much
from habit as from a fiendish patience which would
submit to every indignity and pain rather than forego
the final vengeance, and Bukawai needed but little
imagination to picture what that vengeance would be.
Today he would see for himself what his end would be;
but another should impersonate Bukawai.
When he had trussed Tarzan securely, Bukawai went back
into the corridor, driving the hyenas ahead of him,
and pulling across the opening a lattice of laced branches,
which shut the pit from the cave during the night that
Bukawai might sleep in security, for then the hyenas
were penned in the crater that they might not sneak upon
a sleeping Bukawai in the darkness.
Bukawai returned to the outer cave mouth, filled a vessel
with water at the spring which rose in the little canon
close at hand and returned toward the pit. The hyenas
stood before the lattice looking hungrily toward Tarzan.
They had been fed in this manner before.
With his water, the witch-doctor approached Tarzan and threw
a portion of the contents of the vessel in the ape-man's face.
There was fluttering of the eyelids, and at the second
application Tarzan opened his eyes and looked about.
"Devil-god," cried Bukawai, "I am the great witch-doctor.
My medicine is strong. Yours is weak. If it is not,
why do you stay tied here like a goat that is bait
Tarzan understood nothing the witch-doctor said, therefore he
did not reply, but only stared straight at Bukawai with
cold and level gaze. The hyenas crept up behind him.
He heard them growl; but he did not even turn his head.
He was a beast with a man's brain. The beast in him refused
to show fear in the face of a death which the man-mind
already admitted to be inevitable.
Bukawai, not yet ready to give his victim to the beasts,
rushed upon the hyenas with his knob-stick. There
was a short scrimmage in which the brutes came off
second best, as they always did. Tarzan watched it.
He saw and realized the hatred which existed between
the two animals and the hideous semblance of a man.
With the hyenas subdued, Bukawai returned to the baiting
of Tarzan; but finding that the ape-man understood
nothing he said, the witch-doctor finally desisted.
Then he withdrew into the corridor and pulled the latticework
barrier across the opening. He went back into the cave
and got a sleeping mat, which he brought to the opening,
that he might lie down and watch the spectacle of his
revenge in comfort.
The hyenas were sneaking furtively around the ape-man.
Tarzan strained at his bonds for a moment, but soon
realized that the rope he had braided to hold Numa,
the lion, would hold him quite as successfully.
He did not wish to die; but he could look death in the
face now as he had many times before without a quaver.
As he pulled upon the rope he felt it rub against the
small tree about which it was passed. Like a flash of
the cinematograph upon the screen, a picture was flashed
before his mind's eye from the storehouse of his memory.
He saw a lithe, boyish figure swinging high above the
ground at the end of a rope. He saw many apes watching
from below, and then he saw the rope part and the boy
hurtle downward toward the ground. Tarzan smiled.
Immediately he commenced to draw the rope rapidly back
and forth across the tree trunk.
The hyenas, gaining courage, came closer. They sniffed
at his legs; but when he struck at them with his free arms
they slunk off. He knew that with the growth of hunger
they would attack. Coolly, methodically, without haste,
Tarzan drew the rope back and forth against the rough
trunk of the small tree.
In the entrance to the cavern Bukawai fell asleep.
He thought it would be some time before the beasts gained
sufficient courage or hunger to attack the captive.
Their growls and the cries of the victim would awaken him.
In the meantime he might as well rest, and he did.
Thus the day wore on, for the hyenas were not famished,
and the rope with which Tarzan was bound was a stronger
one than that of his boyhood, which had parted so quickly
to the chafing of the rough tree bark. Yet, all the
while hunger was growing upon the beasts and the strands
of the grass rope were wearing thinner and thinner.
It was late afternoon before one of the beasts,
irritated by the gnawing of appetite, made a quick,
growling dash at the ape-man. The noise awoke Bukawai.
He sat up quickly and watched what went on within
the crater. He saw the hungry hyena charge the man,
leaping for the unprotected throat. He saw Tarzan reach
out and seize the growling animal, and then he saw
the second beast spring for the devil-god's shoulder.
There was a mighty heave of the great, smooth-skinned body.
Rounded muscles shot into great, tensed piles beneath
the brown hide--the ape-man surged forward with all his
weight and all his great strength--the bonds parted,
and the three were rolling upon the floor of the crater
snarling, snapping, and rending.
Bukawai leaped to his feet. Could it be that the devil-god
was to prevail against his servants? Impossible! The
creature was unarmed, and he was down with two hyenas
on top of him; but Bukawai did not know Tarzan.
The ape-man fastened his fingers upon the throat of one
of the hyenas and rose to one knee, though the other beast
tore at him frantically in an effort to pull him down.
With a single hand Tarzan held the one, and with the other
hand he reached forth and pulled toward him the second beast.
And then Bukawai, seeing the battle going against his forces,
rushed forward from the cavern brandishing his knob-stick.
Tarzan saw him coming, and rising now to both feet,
a hyena in each hand, he hurled one of the foaming beasts
straight at the witch-doctor's head. Down went the two
in a snarling, biting heap. Tarzan tossed the second hyena
across the crater, while the first gnawed at the rotting
face of its master; but this did not suit the ape-man.
With a kick he sent the beast howling after its companion,
and springing to the side of the prostrate witch-doctor,
dragged him to his feet.
Bukawai, still conscious, saw death, immediate and terrible,
in the cold eyes of his captor, so he turned upon Tarzan
with teeth and nails. The ape-man shuddered at the proximity
of that raw face to his. The hyenas had had enough
and disappeared through the small aperture leading into
the cave. Tarzan had little difficulty in overpowering
and binding Bukawai. Then he led him to the very tree
to which he had been bound; but in binding Bukawai,
Tarzan saw to it that escape after the same fashion that
he had escaped would be out of the question; then he left him.
As he passed through the winding corridors and the
subterranean apartments, Tarzan saw nothing of the hyenas.
"They will return," he said to himself.
In the crater between the towering walls Bukawai,
cold with terror, trembled, trembled as with ague.
"They will return!" he cried, his voice rising
to a fright-filled shriek.
And they did.
NUMA, THE LION, crouched behind a thorn bush close beside
the drinking pool where the river eddied just below the bend.
There was a ford there and on either bank a well-worn trail,
broadened far out at the river's brim, where, for countless
centuries, the wild things of the jungle and of the plains
beyond had come down to drink, the carnivora with bold
and fearless majesty, the herbivora timorous, hesitating,
Numa, the lion, was hungry, he was very hungry, and so he
was quite silent now. On his way to the drinking place
he had moaned often and roared not a little; but as he
neared the spot where he would lie in wait for Bara,
the deer, or Horta, the boar, or some other of the many
luscious-fleshed creatures who came hither to drink,
he was silent. It was a grim, a terrible silence,
shot through with yellow-green light of ferocious eyes,
punctuated with undulating tremors of sinuous tail.
It was Pacco, the zebra, who came first, and Numa, the lion,
could scarce restrain a roar of anger, for of all the
plains people, none are more wary than Pacco, the zebra.
Behind the black-striped stallion came a herd of thirty
or forty of the plump and vicious little horselike beasts.
As he neared the river, the leader paused often,
cocking his ears and raising his muzzle to sniff the
gentle breeze for the tell-tale scent spoor of the dread
Numa shifted uneasily, drawing his hind quarters far
beneath his tawny body, gathering himself for the sudden
charge and the savage assault. His eyes shot hungry fire.
His great muscles quivered to the excitement of the moment.
Pacco came a little nearer, halted, snorted, and wheeled.
There was a pattering of scurrying hoofs and the herd was gone;
but Numa, the lion, moved not. He was familiar with the
ways of Pacco, the zebra. He knew that he would return,
though many times he might wheel and fly before he
summoned the courage to lead his harem and his offspring
to the water. There was the chance that Pacco might be
frightened off entirely. Numa had seen this happen before,
and so he became almost rigid lest he be the one to send
them galloping, waterless, back to the plain.
Again and again came Pacco and his family, and again
and again did they turn and flee; but each time they came
closer to the river, until at last the plump stallion
dipped his velvet muzzle daintily into the water.
The others, stepping warily, approached their leader.
Numa selected a sleek, fat filly and his flaming eyes burned
greedily as they feasted upon her, for Numa, the lion,
loves scarce anything better than the meat of Pacco,
perhaps because Pacco is, of all the grass-eaters, the most
difficult to catch.
Slowly the lion rose, and as he rose, a twig snapped beneath
one of his great, padded paws. Like a shot from a rifle
he charged upon the filly; but the snapped twig had been
enough to startle the timorous quarry, so that they
were in instant flight simultaneously with Numa's charge.
The stallion was last, and with a prodigious leap,
the lion catapulted through the air to seize him;
but the snapping twig had robbed Numa of his dinner,
though his mighty talons raked the zebra's glossy rump,
leaving four crimson bars across the beautiful coat.
It was an angry Numa that quitted the river and prowled,
fierce, dangerous, and hungry, into the jungle.
Far from particular now was his appetite. Even Dango,
the hyena, would have seemed a tidbit to that ravenous maw.
And in this temper it was that the lion came upon the tribe
of Kerchak, the great ape.
One does not look for Numa, the lion, this late in the morning.
He should be lying up asleep beside his last night's
kill by now; but Numa had made no kill last night.
He was still hunting, hungrier than ever.
The anthropoids were idling about the clearing, the first
keen desire of the morning's hunger having been satisfied.
Numa scented them long before he saw them. Ordinarily he
would have turned away in search of other game, for even
Numa respected the mighty muscles and the sharp fangs
of the great bulls of the tribe of Kerchak, but today he
kept on steadily toward them, his bristled snout wrinkled
into a savage snarl.
Without an instant's hesitation, Numa charged the moment
he reached a point from where the apes were visible
to him. There were a dozen or more of the hairy,
manlike creatures upon the ground in a little glade.
In a tree at one side sat a brown-skinned youth.
He saw Numa's swift charge; he saw the apes turn and flee,
huge bulls trampling upon little balus; only a single she
held her ground to meet the charge, a young she inspired
by new motherhood to the great sacrifice that her balu
Tarzan leaped from his perch, screaming at the flying
bulls beneath and at those who squatted in the safety
of surrounding trees. Had the bulls stood their ground,
Numa would not have carried through that charge unless
goaded by great rage or the gnawing pangs of starvation.
Even then he would not have come off unscathed.
If the bulls heard, they were too slow in responding,
for Numa had seized the mother ape and dragged her into
the jungle before the males had sufficiently collected their
wits and their courage to rally in defense of their fellow.
Tarzan's angry voice aroused similar anger in the breasts
of the apes. Snarling and barking they followed Numa
into the dense labyrinth of foliage wherein he sought
to hide himself from them. The ape-man was in the lead,
moving rapidly and yet with caution, depending even more
upon his ears and nose than upon his eyes for information
of the lion's whereabouts.
The spoor was easy to follow, for the dragged body of the
victim left a plain trail, blood-spattered and scentful.
Even such dull creatures as you or I might easily have
followed it. To Tarzan and the apes of Kerchak it was
as obvious as a cement sidewalk.
Tarzan knew that they were nearing the great cat even
before he heard an angry growl of warning just ahead.
Calling to the apes to follow his example, he swung into
a tree and a moment later Numa was surrounded by a ring
of growling beasts, well out of reach of his fangs and talons
but within plain sight of him. The carnivore crouched
with his fore-quarters upon the she-ape. Tarzan could see
that the latter was already dead; but something within
him made it seem quite necessary to rescue the useless
body from the clutches of the enemy and to punish him.
He shrieked taunts and insults at Numa, and tearing
dead branches from the tree in which he danced,
hurled them at the lion. The apes followed his example.
Numa roared out in rage and vexation. He was hungry,
but under such conditions he could not feed.
The apes, if they had been left to themselves,
would doubtless soon have left the lion to peaceful
enjoyment of his feast, for was not the she dead? They
could not restore her to life by throwing sticks at Numa,
and they might even now be feeding in quiet themselves;
but Tarzan was of a different mind. Numa must be punished
and driven away. He must be taught that even though
he killed a Mangani, he would not be permitted to feed
upon his kill. The man-mind looked into the future,
while the apes perceived only the immediate present.
They would be content to escape today the menace of Numa,
while Tarzan saw the necessity, and the means as well,
of safeguarding the days to come.
So he urged the great anthropoids on until Numa was
showered with missiles that kept his head dodging
and his voice pealing forth its savage protest;
but still he clung desperately to his kill.
The twigs and branches hurled at Numa, Tarzan soon realized,
did not hurt him greatly even when they struck him,
and did not injure him at all, so the ape-man looked about
for more effective missiles, nor did he have to look long.
An out-cropping of decomposed granite not far from Numa
suggested ammunition of a much more painful nature.
Calling to the apes to watch him, Tarzan slipped to
the ground and gathered a handful of small fragments.
He knew that when once they had seen him carry out his
idea they would be much quicker to follow his lead than
to obey his instructions, were he to command them to
procure pieces of rock and hurl them at Numa, for Tarzan
was not then king of the apes of the tribe of Kerchak.
That came in later years. Now he was but a youth, though one
who already had wrested for himself a place in the councils
of the savage beasts among whom a strange fate had cast him.
The sullen bulls of the older generation still hated
him as beasts hate those of whom they are suspicious,
whose scent characteristic is the scent characteristic
of an alien order and, therefore, of an enemy order.
The younger bulls, those who had grown up through
childhood as his playmates, were as accustomed to Tarzan's
scent as to that of any other member of the tribe.
They felt no greater suspicion of him than of any other
bull of their acquaintance; yet they did not love him,
for they loved none outside the mating season, and the
animosities aroused by other bulls during that season lasted
well over until the next. They were a morose and peevish
band at best, though here and there were those among them
in whom germinated the primal seeds of humanity--reversions
to type, these, doubtless; reversions to the ancient
progenitor who took the first step out of ape-hood
toward humanness, when he walked more often upon his hind
feet and discovered other things for idle hands to do.
So now Tarzan led where he could not yet command.
He had long since discovered the apish propensity for
mimicry and learned to make use of it. Having filled
his arms with fragments of rotted granite, he clambered
again into a tree, and it pleased him to see that the apes
had followed his example.
During the brief respite while they were gathering
their ammunition, Numa had settled himself to feed;
but scarce had he arranged himself and his kill when
a sharp piece of rock hurled by the practiced hand of
the ape-man struck him upon the cheek. His sudden roar
of pain and rage was smothered by a volley from the apes,
who had seen Tarzan's act. Numa shook his massive
head and glared upward at his tormentors. For a half
hour they pursued him with rocks and broken branches,
and though he dragged his kill into densest thickets,
yet they always found a way to reach him with their missiles,
giving him no opportunity to feed, and driving him on and on.
The hairless ape-thing with the man scent was worst of all,
for he had even the temerity to advance upon the ground
to within a few yards of the Lord of the Jungle, that he
might with greater accuracy and force hurl the sharp bits
of granite and the heavy sticks at him. Time and again
did Numa charge--sudden, vicious charges--but the lithe,
active tormentor always managed to elude him and with such
insolent ease that the lion forgot even his great hunger
in the consuming passion of his rage, leaving his meat
for considerable spaces of time in vain efforts to catch
The apes and Tarzan pursued the great beast to a natural
where Numa evidently determined to make a last stand,
taking up his position in the center of the open space,
which was far enough from any tree to render him practically
immune from the rather erratic throwing of the apes, though
Tarzan still found him with most persistent and aggravating
This, however, did not suit the ape-man, since Numa now
suffered an occasional missile with no more than a snarl,
while he settled himself to partake of his delayed feast.
Tarzan scratched his head, pondering some more effective
method of offense, for he had determined to prevent Numa
from profiting in any way through his attack upon the tribe.
The man-mind reasoned against the future, while the
shaggy apes thought only of their present hatred of this
ancestral enemy. Tarzan guessed that should Numa find it
an easy thing to snatch a meal from the tribe of Kerchak,
it would be but a short time before their existence would
be one living nightmare of hideous watchfulness and dread.
Numa must be taught that the killing of an ape brought
immediate punishment and no rewards. It would take but
a few lessons to insure the former safety of the tribe.
This must be some old lion whose failing strength and
agility had forced him to any prey that he could catch;
but even a single lion, undisputed, could exterminate
the tribe, or at least make its existence so precarious
and so terrifying that life would no longer be a
"Let him hunt among the Gomangani," thought Tarzan.
"He will find them easier prey. I will teach ferocious
Numa that he may not hunt the Mangani."
But how to wrest the body of his victim from the
feeding lion was the first question to be solved.
At last Tarzan hit upon a plan. To anyone but Tarzan
of the Apes it might have seemed rather a risky plan,
and perhaps it did even to him; but Tarzan rather liked
things that contained a considerable element of danger.
At any rate, I rather doubt that you or I would have chosen
a similar plan for foiling an angry and a hungry lion.
Tarzan required assistance in the scheme he had hit upon
and his assistant must be equally as brave and almost
as active as he. The ape-man's eyes fell upon Taug,
the playmate of his childhood, the rival in his first love
and now, of all the bulls of the tribe, the only one
that might be thought to hold in his savage brain any
such feeling toward Tarzan as we describe among ourselves
as friendship. At least, Tarzan knew, Taug was courageous,
and he was young and agile and wonderfully muscled.
"Taug!" cried the ape-man. The great ape looked up from a dead
limb he was attempting to tear from a lightning-blasted tree.
"Go close to Numa and worry him," said Tarzan. "Worry him
until he charges. Lead him away from the body of Mamka.
Keep him away as long as you can."
Taug nodded. He was across the clearing from Tarzan.
Wresting the limb at last from the tree he dropped to the
ground and advanced toward Numa, growling and barking out
his insults. The worried lion looked up and rose to his feet.
His tail went stiffly erect and Taug turned in flight,
for he knew that warming signal of the charge.
From behind the lion, Tarzan ran quickly toward the center
of the clearing and the body of Mamka. Numa, all his
eyes for Taug, did not see the ape-man. Instead he shot
forward after the fleeing bull, who had turned in flight
not an instant too soon, since he reached the nearest
tree but a yard or two ahead of the pursuing demon.
Like a cat the heavy anthropoid scampered up the bole
of his sanctuary. Numa's talons missed him by little
more than inches.
For a moment the lion paused beneath the tree, glaring up
at the ape and roaring until the earth trembled, then he
turned back again toward his kill, and as he did so,
his tail shot once more to rigid erectness and he
charged back even more ferociously than he had come,
for what he saw was the naked man-thing running toward
the farther trees with the bloody carcass of his prey
across a giant shoulder.
The apes, watching the grim race from the safety of
the trees, screamed taunts at Numa and warnings to Tarzan.
The high sun, hot and brilliant, fell like a spotlight
upon the actors in the little clearing, portraying them
in glaring relief to the audience in the leafy shadows
of the surrounding trees. The light-brown body of the
naked youth, all but hidden by the shaggy carcass of the
killed ape, the red blood streaking his smooth hide,
his muscles rolling, velvety, beneath. Behind him
the black-maned lion, head flattened, tail extended,
racing, a jungle thoroughbred, across the sunlit clearing.
Ah, but this was life! With death at his heels,
Tarzan thrilled with the joy of such living as this;
but would he reach the trees ahead of the rampant death
so close behind?
Gunto swung from a limb in a tree before him. Gunto was
screaming warnings and advice.
"Catch me!" cried Tarzan, and with his heavy burden leaped
straight for the big bull hanging there by his hind feet
and one forepaw. And Gunto caught them--the big ape-man
and the dead weight of the slain she-ape--caught them
with one great, hairy paw and whirled them upward until
Tarzan's fingers closed upon a near-by branch.
Beneath, Numa leaped; but Gunto, heavy and awkward as he
may have appeared, was as quick as Manu, the monkey,
so that the lion's talons but barely grazed him,
scratching a bloody streak beneath one hairy arm.
Tarzan carried Mamka's corpse to a high crotch, where even
Sheeta, the panther, could not get it. Numa paced angrily
back and forth beneath the tree, roaring frightfully.
He had been robbed of his kill and his revenge also.
He was very savage indeed; but his despoilers were
well out of his reach, and after hurling a few taunts
and missiles at him they swung away through the trees,
fiercely reviling him.
Tarzan thought much upon the little adventure of that day.
He foresaw what might happen should the great carnivora
of the jungle turn their serious attention upon the tribe
of Kerchak, the great ape, but equally he thought upon
the wild scramble of the apes for safety when Numa first
charged among them. There is little humor in the jungle
that is not grim and awful. The beasts have little
or no conception of humor; but the young Englishman saw
humor in many things which presented no humorous angle
to his associates.
Since earliest childhood he had been a searcher after fun,
much to the sorrow of his fellow-apes, and now he
saw the humor of the frightened panic of the apes
and the baffled rage of Numa even in this grim jungle
adventure which had robbed Mamka of life, and jeopardized
that of many members of the tribe.
It was but a few weeks later that Sheeta, the panther,
made a sudden rush among the tribe and snatched a little
balu from a tree where it had been hidden while its mother
sought food. Sheeta got away with his small prize unmolested.
Tarzan was very wroth. He spoke to the bulls of the ease
with which Numa and Sheeta, in a single moon, had slain
two members of the tribe.
"They will take us all for food," he cried. "We hunt
as we will through the jungle, paying no heed to
approaching enemies. Even Manu, the monkey, does not so.
He keeps two or three always watching for enemies.
Pacco, the zebra, and Wappi, the antelope, have those about
the herd who keep watch while the others feed, while we,
the great Mangani, let Numa, and Sabor, and Sheeta
come when they will and carry us off to feed their balus.
"Gr-r-rmph," said Numgo.
"What are we to do?" asked Taug.
"We, too, should have two or three always watching for the
approach of Numa, and Sabor, and Sheeta," replied Tarzan.
"No others need we fear, except Histah, the snake, and if
we watch for the others we will see Histah if he comes,
though gliding ever so silently."
And so it was that the great apes of the tribe of Kerchak
posted sentries thereafter, who watched upon three sides
while the tribe hunted, scattered less than had been
But Tarzan went abroad alone, for Tarzan was a man-thing
and sought amusement and adventure and such humor as the grim
and terrible jungle offers to those who know it and do not
fear it--a weird humor shot with blazing eyes and dappled
with the crimson of lifeblood. While others sought
only food and love, Tarzan of the Apes sought food and joy.
One day he hovered above the palisaded village of Mbonga,
the chief, the jet cannibal of the jungle primeval.
He saw, as he had seen many times before, the witch-doctor,
Rabba Kega, decked out in the head and hide of Gorgo,
the buffalo. It amused Tarzan to see a Gomangani parading
as Gorgo; but it suggested nothing in particular to him
until he chanced to see stretched against the side of
Mbonga's hut the skin of a lion with the head still on.
Then a broad grin widened the handsome face of the savage
Back into the jungle he went until chance, agility, strength,
and cunning backed by his marvelous powers of perception,
gave him an easy meal. If Tarzan felt that the world
owed him a living he also realized that it was for him
to collect it, nor was there ever a better collector than
this son of an English lord, who knew even less of the ways
of his forbears than he did of the forbears themselves,
which was nothing.
It was quite dark when Tarzan returned to the village
of Mbonga and took his now polished perch in the tree
which overhangs the palisade upon one side of the
walled enclosure. As there was nothing in particular
to feast upon in the village there was little life
in the single street, for only an orgy of flesh
and native beer could draw out the people of Mbonga.
Tonight they sat gossiping about their cooking fires,
the older members of the tribe; or, if they were young,
paired off in the shadows cast by the palm-thatched huts.
Tarzan dropped lightly into the village, and sneaking
stealthily in the concealment of the denser shadows,
approached the hut of the chief, Mbonga. Here he found
that which he sought. There were warriors all about him;
but they did not know that the feared devil-god slunk
noiselessly so near them, nor did they see him possess
himself of that which he coveted and depart from their
village as noiselessly as he had come.
Later that night, as Tarzan curled himself for sleep,
he lay for a long time looking up at the burning planets
and the twinkling stars and at Goro the moon, and he smiled.
He recalled how ludicrous the great bulls had appeared
in their mad scramble for safety that day when Numa
had charged among them and seized Mamka, and yet he knew
them to be fierce and courageous. It was the sudden
shock of surprise that always sent them into a panic;
but of this Tarzan was not as yet fully aware. That was
something he was to learn in the near future.
He fell asleep with a broad grin upon his face.
Manu, the monkey, awoke him in the morning by dropping
discarded bean pods upon his upturned face from a branch
a short distance above him. Tarzan looked up and smiled.
He had been awakened thus before many times. He and Manu
were fairly good friends, their friendship operating upon
a reciprocal basis. Sometimes Manu would come running early
in the morning to awaken Tarzan and tell him that Bara,
the deer, was feeding close at hand, or that Horta,
the boar, was asleep in a mudhole hard by, and in return
Tarzan broke open the shells of the harder nuts and fruits
for Manu, or frightened away Histah, the snake, and Sheeta,
The sun had been up for some time, and the tribe had
already wandered off in search of food. Manu indicated
the direction they had taken with a wave of his hand
and a few piping notes of his squeaky little voice.
"Come, Manu," said Tarzan, "and you will see that which
shall make you dance for joy and squeal your wrinkled
little head off. Come, follow Tarzan of the Apes."
With that he set off in the direction Manu had indicated
and above him, chattering, scolding and squealing,
skipped Manu, the monkey. Across Tarzan's shoulders
was the thing he had stolen from the village of Mbonga,
the chief, the evening before.
The tribe was feeding in the forest beside the clearing
where Gunto, and Taug, and Tarzan had so harassed Numa
and finally taken away from him the fruit of his kill.
Some of them were in the clearing itself. In peace
and content they fed, for were there not three sentries,
each watching upon a different side of the herd? Tarzan
had taught them this, and though he had been away for
several days hunting alone, as he often did, or visiting
at the cabin by the sea, they had not as yet forgotten
his admonitions, and if they continued for a short time
longer to post sentries, it would become a habit of their
tribal life and thus be perpetuated indefinitely.
But Tarzan, who knew them better than they knew themselves,
was confident that they had ceased to place the watchers about
them the moment that he had left them, and now he planned
not only to have a little fun at their expense but to teach
them a lesson in preparedness, which, by the way, is even
a more vital issue in the jungle than in civilized places.
That you and I exist today must be due to the preparedness
of some shaggy anthropoid of the Oligocene. Of course
the apes of Kerchak were always prepared, after their own
way--Tarzan had merely suggested a new and additional safeguard.
Gunto was posted today to the north of the clearing.
He squatted in the fork of a tree from where he might
view the jungle for quite a distance about him.
It was he who first discovered the enemy. A rustling
in the undergrowth attracted his attention, and a moment
later he had a partial view of a shaggy mane and tawny
yellow back. Just a glimpse it was through the matted
foliage beneath him; but it brought from Gunto's leathern
lungs a shrill "Kreeg-ah!" which is the ape for beware,
Instantly the tribe took up the cry until "Kreeg-ahs!" rang
through the jungle about the clearing as apes swung quickly
to places of safety among the lower branches of the trees
and the great bulls hastened in the direction of Gunto.
And then into the clearing strode Numa, the lion-- majestic
and mighty, and from a deep chest issued the moan and the
cough and the rumbling roar that set stiff hairs to bristling
from shaggy craniums down the length of mighty spines.
Inside the clearing, Numa paused and on the instant
there fell upon him from the trees near by a shower
of broken rock and dead limbs torn from age-old trees.
A dozen times he was hit, and then the apes ran down
and gathered other rocks, pelting him unmercifully.
Numa turned to flee, but his way was barred by a fusilade
of sharp-cornered missiles, and then, upon the edge
of the clearing, great Taug met him with a huge fragment
of rock as large as a man's head, and down went the Lord
of the Jungle beneath the stunning blow.
With shrieks and roars and loud barkings the great apes
of the tribe of Kerchak rushed upon the fallen lion.
Sticks and stones and yellow fangs menaced the still form.
In another moment, before he could regain consciousness,
Numa would be battered and torn until only a bloody mass
of broken bones and matted hair remained of what had once been
the most dreaded of jungle creatures.
But even as the sticks and stones were raised above him
and the great fangs bared to tear him, there descended
like a plummet from the trees above a diminutive
figure with long, white whiskers and a wrinkled face.
Square upon the body of Numa it alighted and there it
danced and screamed and shrieked out its challenge
against the bulls of Kerchak.
For an instant they paused, paralyzed by the wonder of
the thing. It was Manu, the monkey, Manu, the little coward,
and here he was daring the ferocity of the great Mangani,
hopping about upon the carcass of Numa, the lion,
and crying out that they must not strike it again.
And when the bulls paused, Manu reached down and seized a
tawny ear. With all his little might he tugged upon the heavy
head until slowly it turned back, revealing the tousled,
black head and clean-cut profile of Tarzan of the Apes.
Some of the older apes were for finishing what they had
but Taug, sullen, mighty Taug, sprang quickly to the
ape-man's side and straddling the unconscious form warned
back those who would have struck his childhood playmate.
And Teeka, his mate, came too, taking her place with bared
fangs at Taug's side. others followed their example,
until at last Tarzan was surrounded by a ring of hairy
champions who would permit no enemy to approach him.
It was a surprised and chastened Tarzan who opened
his eyes to consciousness a few minutes later.
He looked about him at the surrounding apes and slowly
there returned to him a realization of what had occurred.
Gradually a broad grin illuminated his features.
His bruises were many and they hurt; but the good that had
come from his adventure was worth all that it had cost.
He had learned, for instance, that the apes of Kerchak
had heeded his teaching, and he had learned that he
had good friends among the sullen beasts whom he had
thought without sentiment. He had discovered that Manu,
the monkey--even little, cowardly Manu--had risked his life
in his defense.
It made Tarzan very glad to know these things;
but at the other lesson he had been taught he reddened.
He had always been a joker, the only joker in the grim
and terrible company; but now as he lay there half dead
from his hurts, he almost swore a solemn oath forever
to forego practical joking--almost; but not quite.
THE BLACKS OF the village of Mbonga, the chief, were feasting,
while above them in a large tree sat Tarzan of the
Apes--grim, terrible, empty, and envious. Hunting had
proved poor that day, for there are lean days as well
as fat ones for even the greatest of the jungle hunters.
Oftentimes Tarzan went empty for more than a full sun,
and he had passed through entire moons during which he
had been but barely able to stave off starvation;
but such times were infrequent.
There once had been a period of sickness among the
grass-eaters which had left the plains almost bare of game
for several years, and again the great cats had increased
so rapidly and so overrun the country that their prey,
which was also Tarzan's, had been frightened off for a
But for the most part Tarzan had fed well always.
Today, though, he had gone empty, one misfortune following
another as rapidly as he raised new quarry, so that now,
as he sat perched in the tree above the feasting blacks,
he experienced all the pangs of famine and his hatred
for his lifelong enemies waxed strong in his breast.
It was tantalizing, indeed, to sit there hungry while
these Gomangani filled themselves so full of food that
their stomachs seemed almost upon the point of bursting,
and with elephant steaks at that!
It was true that Tarzan and Tantor were the best of friends,
and that Tarzan never yet had tasted of the flesh of
the elephant; but the Gomangani evidently had slain one,
and as they were eating of the flesh of their kill,
Tarzan was assailed by no doubts as to the ethics
of his doing likewise, should he have the opportunity.
Had he known that the elephant had died of sickness
several days before the blacks discovered the carcass,
he might not have been so keen to partake of the feast,
for Tarzan of the Apes was no carrion-eater. Hunger,
however, may blunt the most epicurean taste, and Tarzan
was not exactly an epicure.
What he was at this moment was a very hungry wild beast
whom caution was holding in leash, for the great cooking
pot in the center of the village was surrounded by
black warriors, through whom not even Tarzan of the Apes
might hope to pass unharmed. It would be necessary,
therefore, for the watcher to remain there hungry until
the blacks had gorged themselves to stupor, and then,
if they had left any scraps, to make the best meal he
could from such; but to the impatient Tarzan it seemed
that the greedy Gomangani would rather burst than leave
the feast before the last morsel had been devoured.
For a time they broke the monotony of eating by executing
portions of a hunting dance, a maneuver which sufficiently
stimulated digestion to permit them to fall to once more
with renewed vigor; but with the consumption of appalling
quantities of elephant meat and native beer they presently
became too loggy for physical exertion of any sort,
some reaching a stage where they no longer could rise
from the ground, but lay conveniently close to the great
cooking pot, stuffing themselves into unconsciousness.
It was well past midnight before Tarzan even could begin
to see the end of the orgy. The blacks were now falling
asleep rapidly; but a few still persisted. From before
their condition Tarzan had no doubt but that he easily
could enter the village and snatch a handful of meat from
before their noses; but a handful was not what he wanted.
Nothing less than a stomachful would allay the gnawing
craving of that great emptiness. He must therefore have
ample time to forage in peace.
At last but a single warrior remained true to his ideals--
an old fellow whose once wrinkled belly was now as smooth
and as tight as the head of a drum. With evidences
of great discomfort, and even pain, he would crawl toward
the pot and drag himself slowly to his knees, from which
position he could reach into the receptacle and seize
a piece of meat. Then he would roll over on his back
with a loud groan and lie there while he slowly forced
the food between his teeth and down into his gorged stomach.
It was evident to Tarzan that the old fellow would
eat until he died, or until there was no more meat.
The ape-man shook his head in disgust. What foul
creatures were these Gomangani? Yet of all the jungle
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