Jungle Tales of TarzanEdgar Rice Burroughs / Fantasy
Produced by Judith Boss. HTML version by Al Haines.
Jungle Tales of Tarzan
Edgar Rice Burroughs
1 Tarzan's First Love 2 The Capture of Tarzan 3 The Fight for the Balu 4 The God of Tarzan 5 Tarzan and the Black Boy 6 The Witch-Doctor Seeks Vengeance 7 The End of Bukawai 8 The Lion 9 The Nightmare 10 The Battle for Teeka 11 A Jungle Joke 12 Tarzan Rescues the Moon
Tarzan's First Love
TEEKA, STRETCHED AT luxurious ease in the shade of the tropical forest,presented, unquestionably, a most alluring picture of young, feminineloveliness. Or at least so thought Tarzan of the Apes, who squattedupon a low-swinging branch in a near-by tree and looked down upon her.
Just to have seen him there, lolling upon the swaying bough of thejungle-forest giant, his brown skin mottled by the brilliant equatorialsunlight which percolated through the leafy canopy of green above him,his clean-limbed body relaxed in graceful ease, his shapely head partlyturned in contemplative absorption and his intelligent, gray eyesdreamily devouring the object of their devotion, you would have thoughthim the reincarnation of some demigod of old.
You would not have guessed that in infancy he had suckled at the breastof a hideous, hairy she-ape, nor that in all his conscious past sincehis parents had passed away in the little cabin by the landlockedharbor at the jungle's verge, he had known no other associates than thesullen bulls and the snarling cows of the tribe of Kerchak, the greatape.
Nor, could you have read the thoughts which passed through that active,healthy brain, the longings and desires and aspirations which the sightof Teeka inspired, would you have been any more inclined to givecredence to the reality of the origin of the ape-man. For, from histhoughts alone, you could never have gleaned the truth--that he hadbeen born to a gentle English lady or that his sire had been an Englishnobleman of time-honored lineage.
Lost to Tarzan of the Apes was the truth of his origin. That he wasJohn Clayton, Lord Greystoke, with a seat in the House of Lords, he didnot know, nor, knowing, would have understood.
Yes, Teeka was indeed beautiful!
Of course Kala had been beautiful--one's mother is always that--butTeeka was beautiful in a way all her own, an indescribable sort of waywhich Tarzan was just beginning to sense in a rather vague and hazymanner.
For years had Tarzan and Teeka been play-fellows, and Teeka stillcontinued to be playful while the young bulls of her own age wererapidly becoming surly and morose. Tarzan, if he gave the matter muchthought at all, probably reasoned that his growing attachment for theyoung female could be easily accounted for by the fact that of theformer playmates she and he alone retained any desire to frolic as ofold.
But today, as he sat gazing upon her, he found himself noting thebeauties of Teeka's form and features--something he never had donebefore, since none of them had aught to do with Teeka's ability to racenimbly through the lower terraces of the forest in the primitive gamesof tag and hide-and-go-seek which Tarzan's fertile brain evolved.Tarzan scratched his head, running his fingers deep into the shock ofblack hair which framed his shapely, boyish face--he scratched his headand sighed. Teeka's new-found beauty became as suddenly his despair.He envied her the handsome coat of hair which covered her body. Hisown smooth, brown hide he hated with a hatred born of disgust andcontempt. Years back he had harbored a hope that some day he, too,would be clothed in hair as were all his brothers and sisters; but oflate he had been forced to abandon the delectable dream.
Then there were Teeka's great teeth, not so large as the males, ofcourse, but still mighty, handsome things by comparison with Tarzan'sfeeble white ones. And her beetling brows, and broad, flat nose, andher mouth! Tarzan had often practiced making his mouth into a littleround circle and then puffing out his cheeks while he winked his eyesrapidly; but he felt that he could never do it in the same cute andirresistible way in which Teeka did it.
And as he watched her that afternoon, and wondered, a young bull apewho had been lazily foraging for food beneath the damp, matted carpetof decaying vegetation at the roots of a near-by tree lumberedawkwardly in Teeka's direction. The other apes of the tribe of Kerchakmoved listlessly about or lolled restfully in the midday heat of theequatorial jungle. From time to time one or another of them had passedclose to Teeka, and Tarzan had been uninterested. Why was it then thathis brows contracted and his muscles tensed as he saw Taug pause besidethe young she and then squat down close to her?
Tarzan always had liked Taug. Since childhood they had rompedtogether. Side by side they had squatted near the water, their quick,strong fingers ready to leap forth and seize Pisah, the fish, shouldthat wary denizen of the cool depths dart surfaceward to the lure ofthe insects Tarzan tossed upon the face of the pool.
Together they had baited Tublat and teased Numa, the lion. Why, then,should Tarzan feel the rise of the short hairs at the nape of his neckmerely because Taug sat close to Teeka?
It is true that Taug was no longer the frolicsome ape of yesterday.When his snarling-muscles bared his giant fangs no one could longerimagine that Taug was in as playful a mood as when he and Tarzan hadrolled upon the turf in mimic battle. The Taug of today was a huge,sullen bull ape, somber and forbidding. Yet he and Tarzan never hadquarreled.
For a few minutes the young ape-man watched Taug press closer to Teeka.He saw the rough caress of the huge paw as it stroked the sleekshoulder of the she, and then Tarzan of the Apes slipped catlike to theground and approached the two.
As he came his upper lip curled into a snarl, exposing his fightingfangs, and a deep growl rumbled from his cavernous chest. Taug lookedup, batting his blood-shot eyes. Teeka half raised herself and lookedat Tarzan. Did she guess the cause of his perturbation? Who may say?At any rate, she was feminine, and so she reached up and scratched Taugbehind one of his small, flat ears.
Tarzan saw, and in the instant that he saw, Teeka was no longer thelittle playmate of an hour ago; instead she was a wondrous thing--themost wondrous in the world--and a possession for which Tarzan wouldfight to the death against Taug or any other who dared question hisright of proprietorship.
Stooped, his muscles rigid and one great shoulder turned toward theyoung bull, Tarzan of the Apes sidled nearer and nearer. His face waspartly averted, but his keen gray eyes never left those of Taug, and ashe came, his growls increased in depth and volume.
Taug rose upon his short legs, bristling. His fighting fangs werebared. He, too, sidled, stiff-legged, and growled.
Teeka is Tarzan's, said the ape-man, in the low gutturals of thegreat anthropoids.
Teeka is Taug's, replied the bull ape.
Thaka and Numgo and Gunto, disturbed by the growlings of the two youngbulls, looked up half apathetic, half interested. They were sleepy,but they sensed a fight. It would break the monotony of the humdrumjungle life they led.
Coiled about his shoulders was Tarzan's long grass rope, in his handwas the hunting knife of the long-dead father he had never known. InTaug's little brain lay a great respect for the shiny bit of sharpmetal which the ape-boy knew so well how to use. With it had he slainTublat, his fierce foster father, and Bolgani, the gorilla. Taug knewthese things, and so he came warily, circling about Tarzan in search ofan opening. The latter, made cautious because of his lesser bulk andthe inferiority of his natural armament, followed similar tactics.
For a time it seemed that the altercation would follow the way of themajority of such differences between members of the tribe and that oneof them would finally lose interest and wander off to prosecute someother line of endeavor. Such might have been the end of it had theCASUS BELLI been other than it was; but Teeka was flattered at theattention that was being drawn to her and by the fact that these twoyoung bulls were contemplating battle on her account. Such a thingnever before had occurred in Teeka's brief life. She had seen otherbulls battling for other and older shes, and in the depth of her wildlittle heart she had longed for the day when the jungle grasses wouldbe reddened with the blood of mortal combat for her fair sake.
So now she squatted upon her haunches and insulted both her admirersimpartially. She hurled taunts at them for their cowardice, and calledthem vile names, such as Histah, the snake, and Dango, the hyena. Shethreatened to call Mumga to chastise them with a stick--Mumga, who wasso old that she could no longer climb and so toothless that she wasforced to confine her diet almost exclusively to bananas and grub-worms.
The apes who were watching heard and laughed. Taug was infuriated. Hemade a sudden lunge for Tarzan, but the ape-boy leaped nimbly to oneside, eluding him, and with the quickness of a cat wheeled and leapedback again to close quarters. His hunting knife was raised above hishead as he came in, and he aimed a vicious blow at Taug's neck. Theape wheeled to dodge the weapon so that the keen blade struck him but aglancing blow upon the shoulder.
The spurt of red blood brought a shrill cry of delight from Teeka. Ah,but this was something worth while! She glanced about to see if othershad witnessed this evidence of her popularity. Helen of Troy was neverone whit more proud than was Teeka at that moment.
If Teeka had not been so absorbed in her own vaingloriousness she mighthave noted the rustling of leaves in the tree above her--a rustlingwhich was not caused by any movement of the wind, since there was nowind. And had she looked up she might have seen a sleek body crouchingalmost directly over her and wicked yellow eyes glaring hungrily downupon her, but Teeka did not look up.
With his wound Taug had backed off growling horribly. Tarzan hadfollowed him, screaming insults at him, and menacing him with hisbrandishing blade. Teeka moved from beneath the tree in an effort tokeep close to the duelists.
The branch above Teeka bent and swayed a trifle with the movement ofthe body of the watcher stretched along it. Taug had halted now andwas preparing to make a new stand. His lips were flecked with foam,and saliva drooled from his jowls. He stood with head lowered and armsoutstretched, preparing for a sudden charge to close quarters. Couldhe but lay his mighty hands upon that soft, brown skin the battle wouldbe his. Taug considered Tarzan's manner of fighting unfair. He wouldnot close. Instead, he leaped nimbly just beyond the reach of Taug'smuscular fingers.
The ape-boy had as yet never come to a real trial of strength with abull ape, other than in play, and so he was not at all sure that itwould be safe to put his muscles to the test in a life and deathstruggle. Not that he was afraid, for Tarzan knew nothing of fear.The instinct of self-preservation gave him caution--that was all. Hetook risks only when it seemed necessary, and then he would hesitate atnothing.
His own method of fighting seemed best fitted to his build and to hisarmament. His teeth, while strong and sharp, were, as weapons ofoffense, pitifully inadequate by comparison with the mighty fightingfangs of the anthropoids. By dancing about, just out of reach of anantagonist, Tarzan could do infinite injury with his long, sharphunting knife, and at the same time escape many of the painful anddangerous wounds which would be sure to follow his falling into theclutches of a bull ape.
And so Taug charged and bellowed like a bull, and Tarzan of the Apesdanced lightly to this side and that, hurling jungle billingsgate athis foe, the while he nicked him now and again with his knife.
There were lulls in the fighting when the two would stand panting forbreath, facing each other, mustering their wits and their forces for anew onslaught. It was during a pause such as this that Taug chanced tolet his eyes rove beyond his foeman. Instantly the entire aspect ofthe ape altered. Rage left his countenance to be supplanted by anexpression of fear.
With a cry that every ape there recognized, Taug turned and fled. Noneed to question him--his warning proclaimed the near presence of theirancient enemy.
Tarzan started to seek safety, as did the other members of the tribe,and as he did so he heard a panther's scream mingled with thefrightened cry of a she-ape. Taug heard, too; but he did not pause inhis flight.
With the ape-boy, however, it was different. He looked back to see ifany member of the tribe was close pressed by the beast of prey, and thesight that met his eyes filled them with an expression of horror.
Teeka it was who cried out in terror as she fled across a littleclearing toward the trees upon the opposite side, for after her leapedSheeta, the panther, in easy, graceful bounds. Sheeta appeared to bein no hurry. His meat was assured, since even though the ape reachedthe trees ahead of him she could not climb beyond his clutches beforehe could be upon her.
Tarzan saw that Teeka must die. He cried to Taug and the other bullsto hasten to Teeka's assistance, and at the same time he ran toward thepursuing beast, taking down his rope as he came. Tarzan knew that oncethe great bulls were aroused none of the jungle, not even Numa, thelion, was anxious to measure fangs with them, and that if all those ofthe tribe who chanced to be present today would charge, Sheeta, thegreat cat, would doubtless turn tail and run for his life.
Taug heard, as did the others, but no one came to Tarzan's assistanceor Teeka's rescue, and Sheeta was rapidly closing up the distancebetween himself and his prey.
The ape-boy, leaping after the panther, cried aloud to the beast in aneffort to turn it from Teeka or otherwise distract its attention untilthe she-ape could gain the safety of the higher branches where Sheetadared not go. He called the panther every opprobrious name that fellto his tongue. He dared him to stop and do battle with him; but Sheetaonly loped on after the luscious titbit now almost within his reach.
Tarzan was not far behind and he was gaining, but the distance was soshort that he scarce hoped to overhaul the carnivore before it hadfelled Teeka. In his right hand the boy swung his grass rope above hishead as he ran. He hated to chance a miss, for the distance was muchgreater than he ever had cast before except in practice. It was thefull length of his grass rope which separated him from Sheeta, and yetthere was no other thing to do. He could not reach the brute's sidebefore it overhauled Teeka. He must chance a throw.
And just as Teeka sprang for the lower limb of a great tree, and Sheetarose behind her in a long, sinuous leap, the coils of the ape-boy'sgrass rope shot swiftly through the air, straightening into a long thinline as the open noose hovered for an instant above the savage head andthe snarling jaws. Then it settled--clean and true about the tawnyneck it settled, and Tarzan, with a quick twist of his rope-hand, drewthe noose taut, bracing himself for the shock when Sheeta should havetaken up the slack.
Just short of Teeka's glossy rump the cruel talons raked the air as therope tightened and Sheeta was brought to a sudden stop--a stop thatsnapped the big beast over upon his back. Instantly Sheeta wasup--with glaring eyes, and lashing tail, and gaping jaws, from whichissued hideous cries of rage and disappointment.
He saw the ape-boy, the cause of his discomfiture, scarce forty feetbefore him, and Sheeta charged.
Teeka was safe now; Tarzan saw to that by a quick glance into the treewhose safety she had gained not an instant too soon, and Sheeta wascharging. It was useless to risk his life in idle and unequal combatfrom which no good could come; but could he escape a battle with theenraged cat? And if he was forced to fight, what chance had he tosurvive? Tarzan was constrained to admit that his position was aughtbut a desirable one. The trees were too far to hope to reach in timeto elude the cat. Tarzan could but stand facing that hideous charge.In his right hand he grasped his hunting knife--a puny, futile thingindeed by comparison with the great rows of mighty teeth which linedSheeta's powerful jaws, and the sharp talons encased within his paddedpaws; yet the young Lord Greystoke faced it with the same courageousresignation with which some fearless ancestor went down to defeat anddeath on Senlac Hill by Hastings.
From safety points in the trees the great apes watched, screaminghatred at Sheeta and advice at Tarzan, for the progenitors of man have,naturally, many human traits. Teeka was frightened. She screamed atthe bulls to hasten to Tarzan's assistance; but the bulls wereotherwise engaged--principally in giving advice and making faces.Anyway, Tarzan was not a real Mangani, so why should they risk theirlives in an effort to protect him?
And now Sheeta was almost upon the lithe, naked body, and--the body wasnot there. Quick as was the great cat, the ape-boy was quicker. Heleaped to one side almost as the panther's talons were closing uponhim, and as Sheeta went hurtling to the ground beyond, Tarzan wasracing for the safety of the nearest tree.
The panther recovered himself almost immediately and, wheeling, toreafter his prey, the ape-boy's rope dragging along the ground behindhim. In doubling back after Tarzan, Sheeta had passed around a lowbush. It was a mere nothing in the path of any jungle creature of thesize and weight of Sheeta--provided it had no trailing rope danglingbehind. But Sheeta was handicapped by such a rope, and as he leapedonce again after Tarzan of the Apes the rope encircled the small bush,became tangled in it and brought the panther to a sudden stop. Aninstant later Tarzan was safe among the higher branches of a small treeinto which Sheeta could not follow him.
Here he perched, hurling twigs and epithets at the raging felinebeneath him. The other members of the tribe now took up thebombardment, using such hard-shelled fruits and dead branches as camewithin their reach, until Sheeta, goaded to frenzy and snapping at thegrass rope, finally succeeded in severing its strands. For a momentthe panther stood glaring first at one of his tormentors and then atanother, until, with a final scream of rage, he turned and slunk offinto the tangled mazes of the jungle.
A half hour later the tribe was again upon the ground, feeding asthough naught had occurred to interrupt the somber dullness of theirlives. Tarzan had recovered the greater part of his rope and was busyfashioning a new noose, while Teeka squatted close behind him, inevident token that her choice was made.
Taug eyed them sullenly. Once when he came close, Teeka bared herfangs and growled at him, and Tarzan showed his canines in an uglysnarl; but Taug did not provoke a quarrel. He seemed to accept afterthe manner of his kind the decision of the she as an indication that hehad been vanquished in his battle for her favors.
Later in the day, his rope repaired, Tarzan took to the trees in searchof game. More than his fellows he required meat, and so, while theywere satisfied with fruits and herbs and beetles, which could bediscovered without much effort upon their part, Tarzan spentconsiderable time hunting the game animals whose flesh alone satisfiedthe cravings of his stomach and furnished sustenance and strength tothe mighty thews which, day by day, were building beneath the soft,smooth texture of his brown hide.
Taug saw him depart, and then, quite casually, the big beast huntedcloser and closer to Teeka in his search for food. At last he waswithin a few feet of her, and when he shot a covert glance at her hesaw that she was appraising him and that there was no evidence of angerupon her face.
Taug expanded his great chest and rolled about on his short legs,making strange growlings in his throat. He raised his lips, baring hisfangs. My, but what great, beautiful fangs he had! Teeka could not butnotice them. She also let her eyes rest in admiration upon Taug'sbeetling brows and his short, powerful neck. What a beautiful creaturehe was indeed!
Taug, flattered by the unconcealed admiration in her eyes, struttedabout, as proud and as vain as a peacock. Presently he began toinventory his assets, mentally, and shortly he found himself comparingthem with those of his rival.
Taug grunted, for there was no comparison. How could one compare hisbeautiful coat with the smooth and naked hideousness of Tarzan's barehide? Who could see beauty in the stingy nose of the Tarmangani afterlooking at Taug's broad nostrils? And Tarzan's eyes! Hideous things,showing white about them, and entirely unrimmed with red. Taug knewthat his own blood-shot eyes were beautiful, for he had seen themreflected in the glassy surface of many a drinking pool.
The bull drew nearer to Teeka, finally squatting close against her.When Tarzan returned from his hunting a short time later it was to seeTeeka contentedly scratching the back of his rival.
Tarzan was disgusted. Neither Taug nor Teeka saw him as he swungthrough the trees into the glade. He paused a moment, looking at them;then, with a sorrowful grimace, he turned and faded away into thelabyrinth of leafy boughs and festooned moss out of which he had come.
Tarzan wished to be as far away from the cause of his heartache as hecould. He was suffering the first pangs of blighted love, and hedidn't quite know what was the matter with him. He thought that he wasangry with Taug, and so he couldn't understand why it was that he hadrun away instead of rushing into mortal combat with the destroyer ofhis happiness.
He also thought that he was angry with Teeka, yet a vision of her manybeauties persisted in haunting him, so that he could only see her inthe light of love as the most desirable thing in the world.
The ape-boy craved affection. From babyhood until the time of herdeath, when the poisoned arrow of Kulonga had pierced her savage heart,Kala had represented to the English boy the sole object of love whichhe had known.
In her wild, fierce way Kala had loved her adopted son, and Tarzan hadreturned that love, though the outward demonstrations of it were nogreater than might have been expected from any other beast of thejungle. It was not until he was bereft of her that the boy realizedhow deep had been his attachment for his mother, for as such he lookedupon her.
In Teeka he had seen within the past few hours a substitute forKala--someone to fight for and to hunt for--someone to caress; but nowhis dream was shattered. Something hurt within his breast. He placedhis hand over his heart and wondered what had happened to him. Vaguelyhe attributed his pain to Teeka. The more he thought of Teeka as hehad last seen her, caressing Taug, the more the thing within his breasthurt him.
Tarzan shook his head and growled; then on and on through the jungle heswung, and the farther he traveled and the more he thought upon hiswrongs, the nearer he approached becoming an irreclaimable misogynist.
Two days later he was still hunting alone--very morose and veryunhappy; but he was determined never to return to the tribe. He couldnot bear the thought of seeing Taug and Teeka always together. As heswung upon a great limb Numa, the lion, and Sabor, the lioness, passedbeneath him, side by side, and Sabor leaned against the lion and bitplayfully at his cheek. It was a half-caress. Tarzan sighed and hurleda nut at them.
Later he came upon several of Mbonga's black warriors. He was upon thepoint of dropping his noose about the neck of one of them, who was alittle distance from his companions, when he became interested in thething which occupied the savages. They were building a cage in thetrail and covering it with leafy branches. When they had completedtheir work the structure was scarcely visible.
Tarzan wondered what the purpose of the thing might be, and why, whenthey had built it, they turned away and started back along the trail inthe direction of their village.
It had been some time since Tarzan had visited the blacks and lookeddown from the shelter of the great trees which overhung their palisadeupon the activities of his enemies, from among whom had come the slayerof Kala.
Although he hated them, Tarzan derived considerable entertainment inwatching them at their daily life within the village, and especially attheir dances, when the fires glared against their naked bodies as theyleaped and turned and twisted in mimic warfare. It was rather in thehope of witnessing something of the kind that he now followed thewarriors back toward their village, but in this he was disappointed,for there was no dance that night.
Instead, from the safe concealment of his tree, Tarzan saw littlegroups seated about tiny fires discussing the events of the day, and inthe darker corners of the village he descried isolated couples talkingand laughing together, and always one of each couple was a young manand the other a young woman.
Tarzan cocked his head upon one side and thought, and before he went tosleep that night, curled in the crotch of the great tree above thevillage, Teeka filled his mind, and afterward she filled hisdreams--she and the young black men laughing and talking with the youngblack women.
Taug, hunting alone, had wandered some distance from the balance of thetribe. He was making his way slowly along an elephant path when hediscovered that it was blocked with undergrowth. Now Taug, come intomaturity, was an evil-natured brute of an exceeding short temper. Whensomething thwarted him, his sole idea was to overcome it by brutestrength and ferocity, and so now when he found his way blocked, hetore angrily into the leafy screen and an instant later found himselfwithin a strange lair, his progress effectually blocked,notwithstanding his most violent efforts to forge ahead.
Biting and striking at the barrier, Taug finally worked himself into afrightful rage, but all to no avail; and at last he became convincedthat he must turn back. But when he would have done so, what was hischagrin to discover that another barrier had dropped behind him whilehe fought to break down the one before him! Taug was trapped. Untilexhaustion overcame him he fought frantically for his freedom; but allfor naught.
In the morning a party of blacks set out from the village of Mbonga inthe direction of the trap they had constructed the previous day, whileamong the branches of the trees above them hovered a naked young giantfilled with the curiosity of the wild things. Manu, the monkey,chattered and scolded as Tarzan passed, and though he was not afraid ofthe familiar figure of the ape-boy, he hugged closer to him the littlebrown body of his life's companion. Tarzan laughed as he saw it; butthe laugh was followed by a sudden clouding of his face and a deep sigh.
A little farther on, a gaily feathered bird strutted about before theadmiring eyes of his somber-hued mate. It seemed to Tarzan thateverything in the jungle was combining to remind him that he had lostTeeka; yet every day of his life he had seen these same things andthought nothing of them.
When the blacks reached the trap, Taug set up a great commotion.Seizing the bars of his prison, he shook them frantically, and all thewhile he roared and growled terrifically. The blacks were elated, forwhile they had not built their trap for this hairy tree man, they weredelighted with their catch.
Tarzan pricked up his ears when he heard the voice of a great ape and,circling quickly until he was down wind from the trap, he sniffed atthe air in search of the scent spoor of the prisoner. Nor was it longbefore there came to those delicate nostrils the familiar odor thattold Tarzan the identity of the captive as unerringly as though he hadlooked upon Taug with his eyes. Yes, it was Taug, and he was alone.
Tarzan grinned as he approached to discover what the blacks would do totheir prisoner. Doubtless they would slay him at once. Again Tarzangrinned. Now he could have Teeka for his own, with none to dispute hisright to her. As he watched, he saw the black warriors strip thescreen from about the cage, fasten ropes to it and drag it away alongthe trail in the direction of their village.
Tarzan watched until his rival passed out of sight, still beating uponthe bars of his prison and growling out his anger and his threats.Then the ape-boy turned and swung rapidly off in search of the tribe,and Teeka.
Once, upon the journey, he surprised Sheeta and his family in a littleovergrown clearing. The great cat lay stretched upon the ground, whilehis mate, one paw across her lord's savage face, licked at the softwhite fur at his throat.
Tarzan increased his speed then until he fairly flew through theforest, nor was it long before he came upon the tribe. He saw thembefore they saw him, for of all the jungle creatures, none passed morequietly than Tarzan of the Apes. He saw Kamma and her mate feedingside by side, their hairy bodies rubbing against each other. And hesaw Teeka feeding by herself. Not for long would she feed thus inloneliness, thought Tarzan, as with a bound he landed amongst them.
There was a startled rush and a chorus of angry and frightened snarls,for Tarzan had surprised them; but there was more, too, than merenervous shock to account for the bristling neck hair which remainedstanding long after the apes had discovered the identity of thenewcomer.
Tarzan noticed this as he had noticed it many times in the past--thatalways his sudden coming among them left them nervous and unstrung fora considerable time, and that they one and all found it necessary tosatisfy themselves that he was indeed Tarzan by smelling about him ahalf dozen or more times before they calmed down.
Pushing through them, he made his way toward Teeka; but as heapproached her the ape drew away.
Teeka, he said, it is Tarzan. You belong to Tarzan. I have comefor you.
The ape drew closer, looking him over carefully. Finally she sniffedat him, as though to make assurance doubly sure.
Where is Taug? she asked.
The Gomangani have him, replied Tarzan. They will kill him.
In the eyes of the she, Tarzan saw a wistful expression and a troubledlook of sorrow as he told her of Taug's fate; but she came quite closeand snuggled against him, and Tarzan, Lord Greystoke, put his arm abouther.
As he did so he noticed, with a start, the strange incongruity of thatsmooth, brown arm against the black and hairy coat of his lady-love. Herecalled the paw of Sheeta's mate across Sheeta's face--no incongruitythere. He thought of little Manu hugging his she, and how the oneseemed to belong to the other. Even the proud male bird, with his gayplumage, bore a close resemblance to his quieter spouse, while Numa,but for his shaggy mane, was almost a counterpart of Sabor, thelioness. The males and the females differed, it was true; but not withsuch differences as existed between Tarzan and Teeka.
Tarzan was puzzled. There was something wrong. His arm dropped fromthe shoulder of Teeka. Very slowly he drew away from her. She lookedat him with her head cocked upon one side. Tarzan rose to his fullheight and beat upon his breast with his fists. He raised his headtoward the heavens and opened his mouth. From the depths of his lungsrose the fierce, weird challenge of the victorious bull ape. The tribeturned curiously to eye him. He had killed nothing, nor was there anyantagonist to be goaded to madness by the savage scream. No, there wasno excuse for it, and they turned back to their feeding, but with aneye upon the ape-man lest he be preparing to suddenly run amuck.
As they watched him they saw him swing into a near-by tree anddisappear from sight. Then they forgot him, even Teeka.
Mbonga's black warriors, sweating beneath their strenuous task, andresting often, made slow progress toward their village. Always thesavage beast in the primitive cage growled and roared when they movedhim. He beat upon the bars and slavered at the mouth. His noise washideous.
They had almost completed their journey and were making their finalrest before forging ahead to gain the clearing in which lay theirvillage. A few more minutes would have taken them out of the forest,and then, doubtless, the thing would not have happened which did happen.
A silent figure moved through the trees above them. Keen eyesinspected the cage and counted the number of warriors. An alert anddaring brain figured upon the chances of success when a certain planshould be put to the test.
Tarzan watched the blacks lolling in the shade. They were exhausted.Already several of them slept. He crept closer, pausing just abovethem. Not a leaf rustled before his stealthy advance. He waited inthe infinite patience of the beast of prey. Presently but two of thewarriors remained awake, and one of these was dozing.
Tarzan of the Apes gathered himself, and as he did so the black who didnot sleep arose and passed around to the rear of the cage. The ape-boyfollowed just above his head. Taug was eyeing the warrior and emittinglow growls. Tarzan feared that the anthropoid would awaken thesleepers.
In a whisper which was inaudible to the ears of the Negro, Tarzanwhispered Taug's name, cautioning the ape to silence, and Taug'sgrowling ceased.
The black approached the rear of the cage and examined the fasteningsof the door, and as he stood there the beast above him launched itselffrom the tree full upon his back. Steel fingers circled his throat,choking the cry which sprang to the lips of the terrified man. Strongteeth fastened themselves in his shoulder, and powerful legs woundthemselves about his torso.
The black in a frenzy of terror tried to dislodge the silent thingwhich clung to him. He threw himself to the ground and rolled about;but still those mighty fingers closed more and more tightly theirdeadly grip.
The man's mouth gaped wide, his swollen tongue protruded, his eyesstarted from their sockets; but the relentless fingers only increasedtheir pressure.
Taug was a silent witness of the struggle. In his fierce little brainhe doubtless wondered what purpose prompted Tarzan to attack the black.Taug had not forgotten his recent battle with the ape-boy, nor thecause of it. Now he saw the form of the Gomangani suddenly go limp.There was a convulsive shiver and the man lay still.
Tarzan sprang from his prey and ran to the door of the cage. Withnimble fingers he worked rapidly at the thongs which held the door inplace. Taug could only watch--he could not help. Presently Tarzanpushed the thing up a couple of feet and Taug crawled out. The apewould have turned upon the sleeping blacks that he might wreak his pentvengeance; but Tarzan would not permit it.
Instead, the ape-boy dragged the body of the black within the cage andpropped it against the side bars. Then he lowered the door and madefast the thongs as they had been before.
A happy smile lighted his features as he worked, for one of hisprincipal diversions was the baiting of the blacks of Mbonga's village.He could imagine their terror when they awoke and found the dead bodyof their comrade fast in the cage where they had left the great apesafely secured but a few minutes before.
Tarzan and Taug took to the trees together, the shaggy coat of thefierce ape brushing the sleek skin of the English lordling as theypassed through the primeval jungle side by side.
Go back to Teeka, said Tarzan. She is yours. Tarzan does not wanther.
Tarzan has found another she? asked Taug.
The ape-boy shrugged.
For the Gomangani there is another Gomangani, he said; for Numa, thelion, there is Sabor, the lioness; for Sheeta there is a she of his ownkind; for Bara, the deer; for Manu, the monkey; for all the beasts andthe birds of the jungle is there a mate. Only for Tarzan of the Apesis there none. Taug is an ape. Teeka is an ape. Go back to Teeka.Tarzan is a man. He will go alone.