Tarzan the Untamed/Chapter VIII
Three days the ape-man spent in resting and recuperating, eatingfruits and nuts and the smaller animals that were most easilybagged, and upon the fourth he set out to explore the valley andsearch for the great apes. Time was a negligible factor in theequation of life--it was all the same to Tarzan if he reached thewest coast in a month or a year or three years. All time was his andall Africa. His was absolute freedom--the last tie that had boundhim to civilization and custom had been severed. He was alone buthe was not exactly lonely. The greater part of his life had beenspent thus, and though there was no other of his kind, he was atall times surrounded by the jungle peoples for whom familiarity hadbred no contempt within his breast. The least of them interestedhim, and, too, there were those with whom he always made friendseasily, and there were his hereditary enemies whose presence gave aspice to life that might otherwise have become humdrum and monotonous.
And so it was that on the fourth day he set out to explore thevalley and search for his fellow-apes. He had proceeded southwardfor a short distance when his nostrils were assailed by the scentof man, of Gomangani, the black man. There were many of them, andmixed with their scent was another-that of a she Tarmangani.
Swinging through the trees Tarzan approached the authors of thesedisturbing scents. He came warily from the flank, but paying noattention to the wind, for he knew that man with his dull sensescould apprehend him only through his eyes or ears and then onlywhen comparatively close. Had he been stalking Numa or Sheeta hewould have circled about until his quarry was upwind from him, thustaking practically all the advantage up to the very moment thathe came within sight or hearing; but in the stalking of the dullclod, man, he approached with almost contemptuous indifference,so that all the jungle about him knew that he was passing--all butthe men he stalked.
From the dense foliage of a great tree he watched them pass--adisreputable mob of blacks, some garbed in the uniform of GermanEast African native troops, others wearing a single garment of thesame uniform, while many had reverted to the simple dress of theirforbears--approximating nudity. There were many black women withthem, laughing and talking as they kept pace with the men, all ofwhom were armed with German rifles and equipped with German beltsand ammunition.
There were no white officers there, but it was none the less apparentto Tarzan that these men were from some German native command,and he guessed that they had slain their officers and taken to thejungle with their women, or had stolen some from native villagesthrough which they must have passed. It was evident that they wereputting as much ground between themselves and the coast as possibleand doubtless were seeking some impenetrable fastness of the vastinterior where they might inaugurate a reign of terror among theprimitively armed inhabitants and by raiding, looting, and rapegrow rich in goods and women at the expense of the district uponwhich they settled themselves.
Between two of the black women marched a slender white girl. Shewas hatless and with torn and disheveled clothing that had evidentlyonce been a trim riding habit. Her coat was gone and her waist halftorn from her body. Occasionally and without apparent provocationone or the other of the Negresses struck or pushed her roughly.Tarzan watched through half-closed eyes. His first impulse was toleap among them and bear the girl from their cruel clutches. He hadrecognized her immediately and it was because of this fact that hehesitated.
What was it to Tarzan of the Apes what fate befell this enemyspy? He had been unable to kill her himself because of an inherentweakness that would not permit him to lay hands upon a woman, allof which of course had no bearing upon what others might do toher. That her fate would now be infinitely more horrible than thequick and painless death that the ape-man would have meted to heronly interested Tarzan to the extent that the more frightful theend of a German the more in keeping it would be with what they alldeserved.
And so he let the blacks pass with Fraulein Bertha Kircher in theirmidst, or at least until the last straggling warrior suggested tohis mind the pleasures of black-baiting--an amusement and a sportin which he had grown ever more proficient since that long-gone daywhen Kulonga, the son of Mbonga, the chief, had cast his unfortunatespear at Kala, the ape-man's foster mother.
The last man, who must have stopped for some purpose, was fully aquarter of a mile in rear of the party. He was hurrying to catchup when Tarzan saw him, and as he passed beneath the tree in whichthe ape-man perched above the trail, a silent noose dropped deftlyabout his neck. The main body still was in plain sight, and as thefrightened man voiced a piercing shriek of terror, they looked backto see his body rise as though by magic straight into the air anddisappear amidst the leafy foliage above.
For a moment the blacks stood paralyzed by astonishment and fear;but presently the burly sergeant, Usanga, who led them, startedback along the trail at a run, calling to the others to followhim. Loading their guns as they came the blacks ran to succor theirfellow, and at Usanga's command they spread into a thin line thatpresently entirely surrounded the tree into which their comradehad vanished.
Usanga called but received no reply; then he advanced slowly withrifle at the ready, peering up into the tree. He could see noone--nothing. The circle closed in until fifty blacks were searchingamong the branches with their keen eyes. What had become of theirfellow? They had seen him rise into the tree and since then manyeyes had been fastened upon the spot, yet there was no sign of him.One, more venturesome than his fellows, volunteered to climb intothe tree and investigate. He was gone but a minute or two andwhen he dropped to earth again he swore that there was no sign ofa creature there.
Perplexed, and by this time a bit awed, the blacks drew slowlyaway from the spot and with many backward glances and less laughingcontinued upon their journey until, when about a mile beyond thespot at which their fellow had disappeared, those in the lead sawhim peering from behind a tree at one side of the trail just infront of them. With shouts to their companions that he had beenfound they ran forwards; but those who were first to reach thetree stopped suddenly and shrank back, their eyes rolling fearfullyfirst in one direction and then in another as though they expectedsome nameless horror to leap out upon them.
Nor was their terror without foundation. Impaled upon the end ofa broken branch the head of their companion was propped behind thetree so that it appeared to be looking out at them from the oppositeside of the bole.
It was then that many wished to turn back, arguing that theyhad offended some demon of the wood upon whose preserve they hadtrespassed; but Usanga refused to listen to them, assuring themthat inevitable torture and death awaited them should they returnand fall again into the hands of their cruel German masters. Atlast his reasoning prevailed to the end that a much-subdued andterrified band moved in a compact mass, like a drove of sheep,forward through the valley and there were no stragglers.
It is a happy characteristic of the Negro race, which they holdin common with little children, that their spirits seldom remaindepressed for a considerable length of time after the immediatecause of depression is removed, and so it was that in half an hourUsanga's band was again beginning to take on to some extent itsformer appearance of carefree lightheartedness. Thus were the heavyclouds of fear slowly dissipating when a turn in the trail broughtthem suddenly upon the headless body of their erstwhile companionlying directly in their path, and they were again plunged into thedepth of fear and gloomy forebodings.
So utterly inexplicable and uncanny had the entire occurrence beenthat there was not a one of them who could find a ray of comfortpenetrating the dead blackness of its ominous portent. What hadhappened to one of their number each conceived as being a whollypossible fate for himself--in fact quite his probable fate. If sucha thing could happen in broad daylight what frightful thing mightnot fall to their lot when night had enshrouded them in her mantleof darkness. They trembled in anticipation.
The white girl in their midst was no less mystified than they; butfar less moved, since sudden death was the most merciful fate towhich she might now look forward. So far she had been subjectedto nothing worse than the petty cruelties of the women, while, onthe other hand, it had alone been the presence of the women thathad saved her from worse treatment at the hands of some of themen--notably the brutal, black sergeant, Usanga. His own womanwas of the party--a veritable giantess, a virago of the firstmagnitude--and she was evidently the only thing in the world ofwhich Usanga stood in awe. Even though she was particularly cruelto the young woman, the latter believed that she was her soleprotection from the degraded black tyrant.
Late in the afternoon the band came upon a small palisaded villageof thatched huts set in a clearing in the jungle close besidea placid river. At their approach the villagers came pouring out,and Usanga advanced with two of his warriors to palaver with thechief. The experiences of the day had so shaken the nerves of theblack sergeant that he was ready to treat with these people ratherthan take their village by force of arms, as would ordinarily havebeen his preference; but now a vague conviction influenced himthat there watched over this part of the jungle a powerful demonwho wielded miraculous power for evil against those who offendedhim. First Usanga would learn how these villagers stood with thissavage god and if they had his good will Usanga would be mostcareful to treat them with kindness and respect.
At the palaver it developed that the village chief had food,goats, and fowl which he would be glad to dispose of for a properconsideration; but as the consideration would have meant partingwith precious rifles and ammunition, or the very clothing from theirbacks, Usanga began to see that after all it might be forced uponhim to wage war to obtain food.
A happy solution was arrived at by a suggestion of one of hismen--that the soldiers go forth the following day and hunt for thevillagers, bringing them in so much fresh meat in return for theirhospitality. This the chief agreed to, stipulating the kind andquantity of game to be paid in return for flour, goats, and fowl,and a certain number of huts that were to be turned over to thevisitors. The details having been settled after an hour or moreof that bickering argument of which the native African is so fond,the newcomers entered the village where they were assigned to huts.
Bertha Kircher found herself alone in a small hut to the palisadeat the far end of the village street, and though she was neitherbound nor guarded, she was assured by Usanga that she could notescape the village without running into almost certain death in thejungle, which the villagers assured them was infested by lions ofgreat size and ferocity. "Be good to Usanga," he concluded, "andno harm will befall you. I will come again to see you after theothers are asleep. Let us be friends."
As the brute left her the girl's frame was racked by a convulsiveshudder as she sank to the floor of the hut and covered her facewith her hands. She realized now why the women had not been leftto guard her. It was the work of the cunning Usanga, but would nothis woman suspect something of his intentions? She was no fool and,further, being imbued with insane jealousy she was ever lookingfor some overt act upon the part of her ebon lord. Bertha Kircherfelt that only she might save her and that she would save her ifword could be but gotten to her. But how?
Left alone and away from the eyes of her captors for the first timesince the previous night, the girl immediately took advantage ofthe opportunity to assure herself that the papers she had takenfrom the body of Hauptmann Fritz Schneider were still safely sewninside one of her undergarments.
Alas! Of what value could they now ever be to her beloved country?But habit and loyalty were so strong within her that she still clungto the determined hope of eventually delivering the little packetto her chief.
The natives seemed to have forgotten her existence--no one camenear the hut, not even to bring her food. She could hear them atthe other end of the village laughing and yelling and knew thatthey were celebrating with food and native beer--knowledge whichonly increased her apprehension. To be prisoner in a native villagein the very heart of an unexplored region of Central Africa--theonly white woman among a band of drunken Negroes! The very thoughtappalled her. Yet there was a slight promise in the fact that shehad so far been unmolested--the promise that they might, indeed,have forgotten her and that soon they might become so hopelesslydrunk as to be harmless.
Darkness had fallen and still no one came. The girl wondered ifshe dared venture forth in search of Naratu, Usanga's woman, forUsanga might not forget that he had promised to return. No one wasnear as she stepped out of the hut and made her way toward the partof the village where the revelers were making merry about a fire.As she approached she saw the villagers and their guests squattingin a large circle about the blaze before which a half-dozen nakedwarriors leaped and bent and stamped in some grotesque dance.Pots of food and gourds of drink were being passed about amongthe audience. Dirty hands were plunged into the food pots and thecaptured portions devoured so greedily that one might have thoughtthe entire community had been upon the point of starvation. Thegourds they held to their lips until the beer ran down their chinsand the vessels were wrested from them by greedy neighbors. Thedrink had now begun to take noticeable effect upon most of them,with the result that they were beginning to give themselves up toutter and licentious abandon.
As the girl came nearer, keeping in the shadow of the huts, lookingfor Naratu she was suddenly discovered by one upon the edge of thecrowd--a huge woman, who rose, shrieking, and came toward her. Fromher aspect the white girl thought that the woman meant literallyto tear her to pieces. So utterly wanton and uncalled-for was theattack that it found the girl entirely unprepared, and what wouldhave happened had not a warrior interfered may only be guessed.And then Usanga, noting the interruption, came lurching forward toquestion her.
"What do you want," he cried, "food and drink? Come with me!" andhe threw an arm about her and dragged her toward the circle.
"No!" she cried, "I want Naratu. Where is Naratu?"
This seemed to sober the black for a moment as though hehad temporarily forgotten his better half. He cast quick, fearfulglances about, and then, evidently assured that Naratu had noticednothing, he ordered the warrior who was still holding the infuriatedblack woman from the white girl to take the latter back to her hutand to remain there on guard over her.
First appropriating a gourd of beer for himself the warriormotioned the girl to precede him, and thus guarded she returned toher hut, the fellow squatting down just outside the doorway, wherehe confined his attentions for some time to the gourd.
Bertha Kircher sat down at the far side of the hut awaiting sheknew not what impending fate. She could not sleep so filled was hermind with wild schemes of escape though each new one must always bediscarded as impractical. Half an hour after the warrior had returnedher to her prison he rose and entered the hut, where he tried toengage in conversation with her. Groping across the interior heleaned his short spear against the wall and sat down beside her,and as he talked he edged closer and closer until at last he couldreach out and touch her. Shrinking, she drew away.
"Do not touch me!" she cried. "I will tell Usanga if you do notleave me alone, and you know what he will do to you."
The man only laughed drunkenly, and, reaching out his hand, grabbedher arm and dragged her toward him. She fought and cried aloud forUsanga and at the same instant the entrance to the hut was darkenedby the form of a man.
"What is the matter?" shouted the newcomer in the deep tones thatthe girl recognized as belonging to the black sergeant. He hadcome, but would she be any better off? She knew that she would notunless she could play upon Usanga's fear of his woman.
When Usanga found what had happened he kicked the warrior out ofthe hut and bade him begone, and when the fellow had disappeared,muttering and grumbling, the sergeant approached the white girl. Hewas very drunk, so drunk that several times she succeeded in eludinghim and twice she pushed him so violently away that he stumbledand fell.
Finally he became enraged and rushing upon her, seized her in hislong, apelike arms. Striking at his face with clenched fists shetried to protect herself and drive him away. She threatened himwith the wrath of Naratu, and at that he changed his tactics andbegan to plead, and as he argued with her, promising her safetyand eventual freedom, the warrior he had kicked out of the hut madehis staggering way to the hut occupied by Naratu.
Usanga finding that pleas and promises were as unavailing asthreats, at last lost both his patience and his head, seizing thegirl roughly, and simultaneously there burst into the hut a ragingdemon of jealousy. Naratu had come. Kicking, scratching, striking,biting, she routed the terrified Usanga in short order, andso obsessed was she by her desire to inflict punishment upon herunfaithful lord and master that she quite forgot the object of hisinfatuation.
Bertha Kircher heard her screaming down the village street at Usanga'sheels and trembled at the thought of what lay in store for her atthe hands of these two, for she knew that tomorrow at the latestNaratu would take out upon her the full measure of her jealoushatred after she had spent her first wrath upon Usanga.
The two had departed but a few minutes when the warrior guardreturned. He looked into the hut and then entered. "No one willstop me now, white woman," he growled as he stepped quickly acrossthe hut toward her.
Tarzan of the Apes, feasting well upon a juicy haunch from Bara,the deer, was vaguely conscious of a troubled mind. He shouldhave been at peace with himself and all the world, for was he notin his native element surrounded by game in plenty and rapidlyfilling his belly with the flesh he loved best? But Tarzan ofthe Apes was haunted by the picture of a slight, young girl beingshoved and struck by brutal Negresses, and in imagination couldsee her now camped in this savage country a prisoner among degradedblacks.
Why was it so difficult to remember that she was only a hated Germanand a spy? Why would the fact that she was a woman and white alwaysobtrude itself upon his consciousness? He hated her as he hatedall her kind, and the fate that was sure to be hers was no moreterrible than she in common with all her people deserved. The matterwas settled and Tarzan composed himself to think of other things,yet the picture would not die--it rose in all its details and annoyedhim. He began to wonder what they were doing to her and where theywere taking her. He was very much ashamed of himself as he had beenafter the episode in Wilhelmstal when his weakness had permittedhim to spare this spy's life. Was he to be thus weak again? No!
Night came and he settled himself in an ample tree to rest untilmorning; but sleep would not come. Instead came the vision of awhite girl being beaten by black women, and again of the same girlat the mercy of the warriors somewhere in that dark and forbiddingjungle.
With a growl of anger and self-contempt Tarzan arose, shook himself,and swung from his tree to that adjoining, and thus, through thelower terraces, he followed the trail that Usanga's party had takenearlier in the afternoon. He had little difficulty as the band hadfollowed a well-beaten path and when toward midnight the stenchof a native village assailed his delicate nostrils he guessed thathis goal was near and that presently he should find her whom hesought.
Prowling stealthily as prowls Numa, the lion, stalking a waryprey, Tarzan moved noiselessly about the palisade, listening andsniffing. At the rear of the village he discovered a tree whosebranches extended over the top of the palisade and a moment laterhe had dropped quietly into the village.
From hut to hut he went searching with keen ears and nostrils someconfirming evidence of the presence of the girl, and at last, faintand almost obliterated by the odor of the Gomangani, he found ithanging like a delicate vapor about a small hut. The village wasquiet now, for the last of the beer and the food had been disposedof and the blacks lay in their huts overcome by stupor, yet Tarzanmade no noise that even a sober man keenly alert might have heard.
He passed around to the entrance of the hut and listened. Fromwithin came no sound, not even the low breathing of one awake; yethe was sure that the girl had been here and perhaps was even now,and so he entered, slipping in as silently as a disembodied spirit.For a moment he stood motionless just within the entranceway,listening. No, there was no one here, of that he was sure, but hewould investigate. As his eyes became accustomed to the greaterdarkness within the hut an object began to take form that presentlyoutlined itself in a human form supine upon the floor.
Tarzan stepped closer and leaned over to examine it--it was the deadbody of a naked warrior from whose chest protruded a short spear.Then he searched carefully every square foot of the remaining floorspace and at last returned to the body again where he stooped andsmelled of the haft of the weapon that had slain the black. A slowsmile touched his lips--that and a slight movement of his headbetokened that he understood.
A rapid search of the balance of the village assured him that thegirl had escaped and a feeling of relief came over him that no harmhad befallen her. That her life was equally in jeopardy in thesavage jungle to which she must have flown did not impress himas it would have you or me, since to Tarzan the jungle was nota dangerous place--he considered one safer there than in Paris orLondon by night.
He had entered the trees again and was outside the palisade whenthere came faintly to his ears from far beyond the village an old,familiar sound. Balancing lightly upon a swaying branch he stood,a graceful statue of a forest god, listening intently. For a minutehe stood thus and then there broke from his lips the long, weirdcry of ape calling to ape and he was away through the jungle towardthe sound of the booming drum of the anthropoids leaving behind himan awakened and terrified village of cringing blacks, who wouldforever after connect that eerie cry with the disappearance oftheir white prisoner and the death of their fellow-warrior.
Bertha Kircher, hurrying through the jungle along a well-beatengame trail, thought only of putting as much distance as possiblebetween herself and the village before daylight could permit pursuitof her. Whither she was going she did not know, nor was it a matterof great moment since death must be her lot sooner or later.
Fortune favored her that night, for she passed unscathed throughas savage and lion-ridden an area as there is in all Africa--anatural hunting ground which the white man has not yet discovered,where deer and antelope and zebra, giraffe and elephant, buffalo,rhinoceros, and the other herbivorous animals of central Africaabound unmolested by none but their natural enemies, the greatcats which, lured here by easy prey and immunity from the riflesof big-game hunters, swarm the district.
She had fled for an hour or two, perhaps, when her attention wasarrested by the sound of animals moving about, muttering and growlingclose ahead. Assured that she had covered a sufficient distanceto insure her a good start in the morning before the blacks couldtake to her trail, and fearful of what the creatures might be,she climbed into a large tree with the intention of spending thebalance of the night there.
She had no sooner reached a safe and comfortable branch when shediscovered that the tree stood upon the edge of a small clearingthat had been hidden from her by the heavy undergrowth upon theground below, and simultaneously she discovered the identity ofthe beasts she had heard.
In the center of the clearing below her, clearly visible in thebright moonlight, she saw fully twenty huge, manlike apes--great,shaggy fellows who went upon their hind feet with only slightassistance from the knuckles of their hands. The moonlight glancedfrom their glossy coats, the numerous gray-tipped hairs impartinga sheen that made the hideous creatures almost magnificent in theirappearance.
The girl had watched them but a minute or two when the little bandwas joined by others, coming singly and in groups until there werefully fifty of the great brutes gathered there in the moonlight.Among them were young apes and several little ones clinging tightlyto their mothers' shaggy shoulders. Presently the group parted toform a circle about what appeared to be a small, flat-topped moundof earth in the center of the clearing. Squatting close about thismound were three old females armed with short, heavy clubs withwhich they presently began to pound upon the flat top of the earthmound which gave forth a dull, booming sound, and almost immediatelythe other apes commenced to move about restlessly, weaving in andout aimlessly until they carried the impression of a moving massof great, black maggots.
The beating of the drum was in a slow, ponderous cadence, at firstwithout time but presently settling into a heavy rhythm to whichthe apes kept time with measured tread and swaying bodies. Slowlythe mass separated into two rings, the outer of which was composedof shes and the very young, the inner of mature bulls. The formerceased to move and squatted upon their haunches, while the bullsnow moved slowly about in a circle the center of which was the drumand all now in the same direction.
It was then that there came faintly to the ears of the girl fromthe direction of the village she had recently quitted a weird andhigh-pitched cry. The effect upon the apes was electrical--theystopped their movements and stood in attitudes of intent listeningfor a moment, and then one fellow, huger than his companions, raisedhis face to the heavens and in a voice that sent the cold shuddersthrough the girl's slight frame answered the far-off cry.
Once again the beaters took up their drumming and the slow dancewent on. There was a certain fascination in the savage ceremonythat held the girl spellbound, and as there seemed little likelihoodof her being discovered, she felt that she might as well remainthe balance of the night in her tree and resume her flight by thecomparatively greater safety of daylight.
Assuring herself that her packet of papers was safe she sought ascomfortable a position as possible among the branches, and settledherself to watch the weird proceedings in the clearing below her.
A half-hour passed, during which the cadence of the drum increasedgradually. Now the great bull that had replied to the distant callleaped from the inner circle to dance alone between the drummersand the other bulls. He leaped and crouched and leaped again, nowgrowling and barking, again stopping to raise his hideous faceto Goro, the moon, and, beating upon his shaggy breast, uttereda piercing scream-the challenge of the bull ape, had the girl butknown it.
He stood thus in the full glare of the great moon, motionless afterscreaming forth his weird challenge, in the setting of the primevaljungle and the circling apes a picture of primitive savagery andpower--a mightily muscled Hercules out of the dawn of life--whenfrom close behind her the girl heard an answering scream, and aninstant later saw an almost naked white man drop from a near-bytree into the clearing.
Instantly the apes became a roaring, snarling pack of angry beasts.Bertha Kircher held her breath. What maniac was this who daredapproach these frightful creatures in their own haunts, alone againstfifty? She saw the brown-skinned figure bathed in moonlight walkstraight toward the snarling pack. She saw the symmetry and thebeauty of that perfect body--its grace, its strength, its wondrousproportioning, and then she recognized him. It was the same creaturewhom she had seen carry Major Schneider from General Kraut'sheadquarters, the same who had rescued her from Numa, the lion;the same whom she had struck down with the butt of her pistol andescaped when he would have returned her to her enemies, the samewho had slain Hauptmann Fritz Schneider and spared her life thatnight in Wilhelmstal.
Fear-filled and fascinated she watched him as he neared the apes.She heard sounds issue from his throat--sounds identical withthose uttered by the apes--and though she could scarce believe thetestimony of her own ears, she knew that this godlike creature wasconversing with the brutes in their own tongue.
Tarzan halted just before he reached the shes of the outer circle."I am Tarzan of the Apes!" he cried. "You do not know me becauseI am of another tribe, but Tarzan comes in peace or he comes tofight--which shall it be? Tarzan will talk with your king," and sosaying he pushed straight forward through the shes and the youngwho now gave way before him, making a narrow lane through which hepassed toward the inner circle.
Shes and balus growled and bristled as he passed closer, but nonehindered him and thus he came to the inner circle of bulls. Herebared fangs menaced him and growling faces hideously contorted. "Iam Tarzan," he repeated. "Tarzan comes to dance the Dum-Dum withhis brothers. Where is your king?" Again he pressed forward and thegirl in the tree clapped her palms to her cheeks as she watched,wide-eyed, this madman going to a frightful death. In another instantthey would be upon him, rending and tearing until that perfect formhad been ripped to shreds; but again the ring parted, and thoughthe apes roared and menaced him they did not attack, and at lasthe stood in the inner circle close to the drum and faced the greatking ape.
Again he spoke. "I am Tarzan of the Apes," he cried. "Tarzan comesto live with his brothers. He will come in peace and live in peaceor he will kill; but he has come and he will stay. Which--shallTarzan dance the Dum-Dum in peace with his brothers, or shall Tarzankill first?"
"I am Go-lat, King of the Apes," screamed the great bull. "I kill!I kill! I kill!" and with a sullen roar he charged the Tarmangani.
The ape-man, as the girl watched him, seemed entirely unpreparedfor the charge and she looked to see him borne down and slain atthe first rush. The great bull was almost upon him with huge handsoutstretched to seize him before Tarzan made a move, but when hedid move his quickness would have put Ara, the lightning, to shame.As darts forward the head of Histah, the snake, so darted forwardthe left hand of the man-beast as he seized the left wrist of hisantagonist. A quick turn and the bull's right arm was locked beneaththe right arm of his foe in a jujutsu hold that Tarzan had learnedamong civilized men--a hold with which he might easily break thegreat bones, a hold that left the ape helpless.
"I am Tarzan of the Apes!" screamed the ape-man. "Shall Tarzandance in peace or shall Tarzan kill?
"I kill! I kill! I kill!" shrieked Go-lat.
With the quickness of a cat Tarzan swung the king ape over one hipand sent him sprawling to the ground. "I am Tarzan, King of allthe Apes!" he shouted. "Shall it be peace?"
Go-lat, infuriated, leaped to his feet and charged again, shoutinghis war cry: "I kill! I kill! I kill!" and again Tarzan met himwith a sudden hold that the stupid bull, being ignorant of, couldnot possibly avert--a hold and a throw that brought a scream ofdelight from the interested audience and suddenly filled the girlwith doubts as to the man's madness--evidently he was quite safeamong the apes, for she saw him swing Go-lat to his back and thencatapult him over his shoulder. The king ape fell upon his headand lay very still.
"I am Tarzan of the Apes!" cried the ape-man. "I come to dance theDum-Dum with my brothers," and he made a motion to the drummers,who immediately took up the cadence of the dance where they haddropped it to watch their king slay the foolish Tarmangani.
It was then that Go-lat raised his head and slowly crawled to hisfeet. Tarzan approached him. "I am Tarzan of the Apes," he cried."Shall Tarzan dance the Dum-Dum with his brothers now, or shall hekill first?"
Go-lat raised his bloodshot eyes to the face of the Tarmangani."Kagoda!" he cried "Tarzan of the Apes will dance the Dum-Dum withhis brothers and Go-lat will dance with him!"
And then the girl in the tree saw the savage man leaping, bending, andstamping with the savage apes in the ancient rite of the Dum-Dum.His roars and growls were more beastly than the beasts. Hishandsome face was distorted with savage ferocity. He beat upon hisgreat breast and screamed forth his challenge as his smooth, brownhide brushed the shaggy coats of his fellows. It was weird; itwas wonderful; and in its primitive savagery it was not withoutbeauty--the strange scene she looked upon, such a scene as no otherhuman being, probably, ever had witnessed--and yet, withal, it washorrible.
As she gazed, spell-bound, a stealthy movement in the tree behindher caused her to turn her head, and there, back of her, blazingin the reflected moonlight, shone two great, yellow-green eyes.Sheeta, the panther, had found her out.
The beast was so close that it might have reached out and touchedher with a great, taloned paw. There was no time to think, notime to weigh chances or to choose alternatives. Terror-inspiredimpulse was her guide as, with a loud scream, she leaped from thetree into the clearing.
Instantly the apes, now maddened by the effects of the dancing andthe moonlight, turned to note the cause of the interruption. Theysaw this she Tarmangani, helpless and alone and they started forher. Sheeta, the panther, knowing that not even Numa, the lion,unless maddened by starvation, dares meddle with the great apes attheir Dum-Dum, had silently vanished into the night, seeking hissupper elsewhere.
Tarzan, turning with the other apes toward the cause of theinterruption, saw the girl, recognized her and also her peril.Here again might she die at the hands of others; but why considerit! He knew that he could not permit it, and though the acknowledgmentshamed him, it had to be admitted.
The leading shes were almost upon the girl when Tarzan leaped amongthem, and with heavy blows scattered them to right and left; andthen as the bulls came to share in the kill they thought this newape-thing was about to make that he might steal all the flesh forhimself, they found him facing them with an arm thrown about thecreature as though to protect her.
"This is Tarzan's she," he said. "Do not harm her." It was the onlyway he could make them understand that they must not slay her. Hewas glad that she could not interpret the words. It was humiliatingenough to make such a statement to wild apes about this hated enemy.
So once again Tarzan of the Apes was forced to protect a Hun.Growling, he muttered to himself in extenuation:
"She is a woman and I am not a German, so it could not be otherwise!"