Part 5 out of 6
lions, and the equal indifference of Numa to him. The fellow paused
for a moment as though appraising the ape-man and then pushed on
past the lions, brushing against the tawny hide as he passed him
in the trail.
About twenty feet from Tarzan the man stopped, addressing the former
in a strange jargon, no syllable of which was intelligible to the
Tarmangani. His gestures indicated numerous references to the lions
surrounding them, and once he touched his spear with the forefinger
of his left hand and twice he struck the saber at his hip.
While he spoke Tarzan studied the fellow closely, with the result
that there fastened itself upon his mind a strange conviction--that
the man who addressed him was what might only be described as a
rational maniac. As the thought came to the ape-man he could not
but smile, so paradoxical the description seemed. Yet a closer
study of the man's features, carriage, and the contour of his head
carried almost incontrovertibly the assurance that he was insane,
while the tones of his voice and his gestures resembled those of
a sane and intelligent mortal.
Presently the man had concluded his speech and appeared to be waiting
questioningly Tarzan's reply. The ape-man spoke to the other first
in the language of the great apes, but he soon saw that the words
carried no conviction to his listener. Then with equal futility
he tried several native dialects but to none of these did the man
By this time Tarzan began to lose patience. He had wasted sufficient
time by the road, and as he had never depended much upon speech in
the accomplishment of his ends, he now raised his spear and advanced
toward the other. This, evidently, was a language common to both,
for instantly the fellow raised his own weapon and at the same time
a low call broke from his lips, a call which instantly brought to
action every lion in the hitherto silent circle. A volley of roars
shattered the silence of the forest and simultaneously lions sprang
into view upon all sides as they closed in rapidly upon their
quarry. The man who had called them stepped back, his teeth bared
in a mirthless grin.
It was then that Tarzan first noticed that the fellow's upper canines
were unusually long and exceedingly sharp. It was just a flashing
glimpse he got of them as he leaped agilely from the ground and, to
the consternation of both the lions and their master, disappeared
in the foliage of the lower terrace, flinging back over his shoulder
as he swung rapidly away: "I am Tarzan of the Apes; mighty hunter;
mighty fighter! None in the jungle more powerful, none more cunning
A short distance beyond the point at which they had surrounded him,
Tarzan came to the trail again and sought for the spoor of Bertha
Kircher and Lieutenant Smith-Oldwick. He found them quickly and
continued upon his search for the two. The spoor lay directly along
the trail for another half-mile when the way suddenly debouched
from the forest into open land and there broke upon the astonished
view of the ape-man the domes and minarets of a walled city.
Directly before him in the wall nearest him Tarzan saw a low-arched
gateway to which a well-beaten trail led from that which he had
been following. In the open space between the forest and the city
walls, quantities of garden stuff was growing, while before him
at his feet, in an open man-made ditch, ran a stream of water! The
plants in the garden were laid out in well-spaced, symmetrical rows
and appeared to have been given excellent attention and cultivation.
Tiny streams were trickling between the rows from the main ditch
before him and at some distance to his right he could see people
at work among the plants.
The city wall appeared to be about thirty feet in height, its
plastered expanse unbroken except by occasional embrasures. Beyond
the wall rose the domes of several structures and numerous minarets
dotted the sky line of the city. The largest and central dome
appeared to be gilded, while others were red, or blue, or yellow.
The architecture of the wall itself was of uncompromising simplicity.
It was of a cream shade and appeared to be plastered and painted.
At its base was a line of well-tended shrubs and at some distance
towards its eastern extremity it was vine covered to the top.
As he stood in the shadow of the trail, his keen eyes taking in every
detail of the picture before him, he became aware of the approach
of a party in his rear and there was borne to him the scent of the
man and the lions whom he had so readily escaped. Taking to the
trees Tarzan moved a short distance to the west and, finding a
comfortable crotch at the edge of the forest where he could watch
the trail leading through the gardens to the city gate, he awaited
the return of his would-be captors. And soon they came--the strange
man followed by the pack of great lions. Like dogs they moved along
behind him down the trail among the gardens to the gate.
Here the man struck upon the panels of the door with the butt of
his spear, and when it opened in response to his signal he passed
in with his lions. Beyond the open door Tarzan, from his distant
perch, caught but a fleeting glimpse of life within the city, just
enough to indicate that there were other human creatures who abode
there, and then the door closed.
Through that door he knew that the girl and the man whom he sought
to succor had been taken into the city. What fate lay in store
for them or whether already it had been meted out to them he could
not even guess, nor where, within that forbidding wall, they were
incarcerated he could not know. But of one thing he was assured:
that if he were to aid them he could not do it from outside the
wall. He must gain entrance to the city first, nor did he doubt,
that once within, his keen senses would eventually reveal the
whereabouts of those whom he sought.
The low sun was casting long shadows across the gardens when Tarzan
saw the workers returning from the eastern field. A man came first,
and as he came he lowered little gates along the large ditch of
running water, shutting off the streams that had run between the rows
of growing plants; and behind him came other men carrying burdens
of fresh vegetables in great woven baskets upon their shoulders.
Tarzan had not realized that there had been so many men working in
the field, but now as he sat there at the close of the day he saw
a procession filing in from the east, bearing the tools and the
produce back into the city.
And then, to gain a better view, the ape-man ascended to the topmost
branches of a tall tree where he overlooked the nearer wall. From
this point of vantage he saw that the city was long and narrow, and
that while the outer walls formed a perfect rectangle, the streets
within were winding. Toward the center of the city there appeared
to be a low, white building around which the larger edifices of
the city had been built, and here, in the fast-waning light, Tarzan
thought that between two buildings he caught the glint of water,
but of that he was not sure. His experience of the centers of
civilization naturally inclined him to believe that this central
area was a plaza about which the larger buildings were grouped
and that there would be the most logical place to search first for
Bertha Kircher and her companion.
And then the sun went down and darkness quickly enveloped the
city--a darkness that was accentuated for the ape-man rather than
relieved by the artificial lights which immediately appeared in
many of the windows visible to him.
Tarzan had noticed that the roofs of most of the buildings were
flat, the few exceptions being those of what he imagined to be the
more pretentious public structures. How this city had come to exist
in this forgotten part of unexplored Africa the ape-man could not
conceive. Better than another, he realized something of the unsolved
secrets of the Great Dark Continent, enormous areas of which have
as yet been untouched by the foot of civilized man. Yet he could
scarce believe that a city of this size and apparently thus well
constructed could have existed for the generations that it must
have been there, without intercourse with the outer world. Even
though it was surrounded by a trackless desert waste, as he knew
it to be, he could not conceive that generation after generation
of men could be born and die there without attempting to solve the
mysteries of the world beyond the confines of their little valley.
And yet, here was the city surrounded by tilled land and filled
With the coming of night there arose throughout the jungle the cries
of the great cats, the voice of Numa blended with that of Sheeta,
and the thunderous roars of the great males reverberated through
the forest until the earth trembled, and from within the city came
the answering roars of other lions.
A simple plan for gaining entrance to the city had occurred to
Tarzan, and now that darkness had fallen he set about to put it
into effect. Its success hinged entirely upon the strength of the
vines he had seen surmounting the wall toward the east. In this
direction he made his way, while from out of the forest about him
the cries of the flesh-eaters increased in volume and ferocity. A
quarter of a mile intervened between the forest and the city wall--a
quarter of a mile of cultivated land unrelieved by a single tree.
Tarzan of the Apes realized his limitations and so he knew that
it would undoubtedly spell death for him to be caught in the open
space by one of the great black lions of the forest if, as he had
already surmised, Numa of the pit was a specimen of the forest lion
of the valley.
He must, therefore, depend entirely upon his cunning and his speed,
and upon the chance that the vine would sustain his weight.
He moved through the middle terrace, where the way is always
easiest, until he reached a point opposite the vine-clad portion
of the wall, and there he waited, listening and scenting, until he
might assure himself that there was no Numa within his immediate
vicinity, or, at least, none that sought him. And when he was quite
sure that there was no lion close by in the forest, and none in
the clearing between himself and the wall, he dropped lightly to
the ground and moved stealthily out into the open.
The rising moon, just topping the eastern cliffs, cast its bright
rays upon the long stretch of open garden beneath the wall. And, too,
it picked out in clear relief for any curious eyes that chanced to
be cast in that direction, the figure of the giant ape-man moving
across the clearing. It was only chance, of course, that a great
lion hunting at the edge of the forest saw the figure of the man
halfway between the forest and the wall. Suddenly there broke upon
Tarzan's ears a menacing sound. It was not the roar of a hungry
lion, but the roar of a lion in rage, and, as he glanced back in
the direction from which the sound came, he saw a huge beast moving
out from the shadow of the forest toward him.
Even in the moonlight and at a distance Tarzan saw that the lion
was huge; that it was indeed another of the black-maned monsters
similar to Numa of the pit. For an instant he was impelled to turn
and fight, but at the same time the thought of the helpless girl
imprisoned in the city flashed through his brain and, without an
instant's hesitation, Tarzan of the Apes wheeled and ran for the
wall. Then it was that Numa charged.
Numa, the lion, can run swiftly for a short distance, but he lacks
endurance. For the period of an ordinary charge he can cover the
ground with greater rapidity possibly than any other creature in
the world. Tarzan, on the other hand, could run at great speed for
long distances, though never as rapidly as Numa when the latter
The question of his fate, then, rested upon whether, with his start
he could elude Numa for a few seconds; and, if so, if the lion would
then have sufficient stamina remaining to pursue him at a reduced
gait for the balance of the distance to the wall.
Never before, perhaps, was staged a more thrilling race, and yet it
was run with only the moon and stars to see. Alone and in silence
the two beasts sped across the moonlit clearing. Numa gained with
appalling rapidity upon the fleeing man, yet at every bound Tarzan
was nearer to the vine-clad wall. Once the ape-man glanced back.
Numa was so close upon him that it seemed inevitable that at the
next bound he should drag him down; so close was he that the ape-man
drew his knife as he ran, that he might at least give a good account
of himself in the last moments of his life.
But Numa had reached the limit of his speed and endurance. Gradually
he dropped behind but he did not give up the pursuit, and now Tarzan
realized how much hinged upon the strength of the untested vines.
If, at the inception of the race, only Goro and the stars had looked
down upon the contestants, such was not the case at its finish,
since from an embrasure near the summit of the wall two close-set
black eyes peered down upon the two. Tarzan was a dozen yards
ahead of Numa when he reached the wall. There was no time to stop
and institute a search for sturdy stems and safe handholds. His
fate was in the hands of chance and with the realization he gave a
final spurt and running catlike up the side of the wall among the
vines, sought with his hands for something that would sustain his
weight. Below him Numa leaped also.
Among the Maniacs
As the lions swarmed over her protectors, Bertha Kircher shrank
back in the cave in a momentary paralysis of fright super-induced,
perhaps, by the long days of terrific nerve strain which she had
Mingled with the roars of the lions had been the voices of men,
and presently out of the confusion and turmoil she felt the near
presence of a human being, and then hands reached forth and seized
her. It was dark and she could see but little, nor any sign of the
English officer or the ape-man. The man who seized her kept the
lions from her with what appeared to be a stout spear, the haft of
which he used to beat off the beasts. The fellow dragged her from
the cavern the while he shouted what appeared to be commands and
warnings to the lions.
Once out upon the light sands of the bottom of the gorge objects
became more distinguishable, and then she saw that there were
other men in the party and that two half led and half carried the
stumbling figure of a third, whom she guessed must be Smith-Oldwick.
For a time the lions made frenzied efforts to reach the two captives
but always the men with them succeeded in beating them off. The
fellows seemed utterly unafraid of the great beasts leaping and
snarling about them, handling them much the same as one might handle
a pack of obstreperous dogs. Along the bed of the old watercourse
that once ran through the gorge they made their way, and as the
first faint lightening of the eastern horizon presaged the coming
dawn, they paused for a moment upon the edge of a declivity, which
appeared to the girl in the strange light of the waning night as a
vast, bottomless pit; but, as their captors resumed their way and
the light of the new day became stronger, she saw that they were
moving downward toward a dense forest.
Once beneath the over-arching trees all was again Cimmerian darkness,
nor was the gloom relieved until the sun finally arose beyond the
eastern cliffs, when she saw that they were following what appeared
to be a broad and well-beaten game trail through a forest of great
trees. The ground was unusually dry for an African forest and
the underbrush, while heavily foliaged, was not nearly so rank
and impenetrable as that which she had been accustomed to find
in similar woods. It was as though the trees and the bushes grew
in a waterless country, nor was there the musty odor of decaying
vegetation or the myriads of tiny insects such as are bred in damp
As they proceeded and the sun rose higher, the voices of the
arboreal jungle life rose in discordant notes and loud chattering
about them. Innumerable monkeys scolded and screamed in the branches
overhead, while harsh-voiced birds of brilliant plumage darted
hither and thither. She noticed presently that their captors often
cast apprehensive glances in the direction of the birds and on
numerous occasions seemed to be addressing the winged denizens of
One incident made a marked impression on her. The man who immediately
preceded her was a fellow of powerful build, yet, when a brilliantly
colored parrot swooped downward toward him, he dropped upon his knees
and covering his face with his arms bent forward until his head
touched the ground. Some of the others looked at him and laughed
nervously. Presently the man glanced upward and seeing that the
bird had gone, rose to his feet and continued along the trail.
It was at this brief halt that Smith-Oldwick was brought to her
side by the men who had been supporting him. He had been rather
badly mauled by one of the lions; but was now able to walk alone,
though he was extremely weak from shock and loss of blood.
"Pretty mess, what?" he remarked with a wry smile, indicating his
bloody and disheveled state.
"It is terrible," said the girl. "I hope you are not suffering."
"Not as much as I should have expected," he replied, "but I feel
as weak as a fool. What sort of creatures are these beggars, anyway?"
"I don't know," she replied, "there is something terribly uncanny
about their appearance."
The man regarded one of their captors closely for a moment and
then, turning to the girl asked, "Did you ever visit a madhouse?"
She looked up at him in quick understanding and with a horrified
expression in her eyes. "That's it!" she cried.
"They have all the earmarks," he said. "Whites of the eyes showing
all around the irises, hair growing stiffly erect from the scalp
and low down upon the forehead--even their mannerisms and their
carriage are those of maniacs."
The girl shuddered.
"Another thing about them," continued the Englishman, "that doesn't
appear normal is that they are afraid of parrots and utterly fearless
"Yes," said the girl; "and did you notice that the birds seem utterly
fearless of them--really seem to hold them in contempt? Have you
any idea what language they speak?"
'No," said the man, "I have been trying to figure that out. It's not
like any of the few native dialects of which I have any knowledge."
"It doesn't sound at all like the native language," said the girl,
"but there is something familiar about it. You know, every now and
then I feel that I am just on the verge of understanding what they
are saying, or at least that somewhere I have heard their tongue
before, but final recognition always eludes me."
"I doubt if you ever heard their language spoken," said the man.
"These people must have lived in this out-of-the-way valley for
ages and even if they had retained the original language of their
ancestors without change, which is doubtful, it must be some tongue
that is no longer spoken in the outer world."
At one point where a stream of water crossed the trail the party
halted while the lions and the men drank. They motioned to their
captors to drink too, and as Bertha Kircher and Smith-Oldwick,
lying prone upon the ground drank from the clear, cool water of the
rivulet, they were suddenly startled by the thunderous roar of a
lion a short distance ahead of them. Instantly the lions with them
set up a hideous response, moving restlessly to and fro with their
eyes always either turned in the direction from which the roar had
come or toward their masters, against whom the tawny beasts slunk.
The men loosened the sabers in their scabbards, the weapons that
had aroused Smith-Oldwick's curiosity as they had Tarzan's, and
grasped their spears more firmly.
Evidently there were lions and lions, and while they evinced no
fear of the beasts which accompanied them, it was quite evident
that the voice of the newcomer had an entirely different effect
upon them, although the men seemed less terrified than the lions.
Neither, however, showed any indication of an inclination to flee;
on the contrary the entire party advanced along the trail in the
direction of the menacing roars, and presently there appeared in
the center of the path a black lion of gigantic proportions. To
Smith-Oldwick and the girl he appeared to be the same lion that
they had encountered at the plane and from which Tarzan had rescued
them. But it was not Numa of the pit, although he resembled him
The black beast stood directly in the center of the trail lashing
his tail and growling menacingly at the advancing party. The men
urged on their own beasts, who growled and whined but hesitated
to charge. Evidently becoming impatient, and in full consciousness
of his might the intruder raised his tail stiffly erect and shot
forward. Several of the defending lions made a half-hearted attempt to
obstruct his passage, but they might as well have placed themselves
in the path of an express train, as hurling them aside the great
beast leaped straight for one of the men. A dozen spears were
launched at him and a dozen sabers leaped from their scabbards;
gleaming, razor-edged weapons they were, but for the instant rendered
futile by the terrific speed of the charging beast.
Two of the spears entering his body but served to further enrage
him as, with demoniacal roars, he sprang upon the hapless man he
had singled out for his prey. Scarcely pausing in his charge he
seized the fellow by the shoulder and, turning quickly at right
angles, leaped into the concealing foliage that flanked the trail,
and was gone, bearing his victim with him.
So quickly had the whole occurrence transpired that the formation
of the little party was scarcely altered. There had been no
opportunity for flight, even if it had been contemplated; and now
that the lion was gone with his prey the men made no move to pursue
him. They paused only long enough to recall the two or three of
their lions that had scattered and then resumed the march along
"Might be an everyday occurrence from all the effect it has on
them," remarked Smith-Oldwick to the girl.
"Yes," she said. "They seem to be neither surprised nor disconcerted,
and evidently they are quite sure that the lion, having got what
he came for, will not molest them further."
"I had thought," said the Englishman, "that the lions of the Wamabo
country were about the most ferocious in existence, but they are
regular tabby cats by comparison with these big black fellows.
Did you ever see anything more utterly fearless or more terribly
irresistible than that charge?"
For a while, as they walked side by side, their thoughts and
conversation centered upon this latest experience, until the trail
emerging from the forest opened to their view a walled city and an
area of cultivated land. Neither could suppress an exclamation of
"Why, that wall is a regular engineering job," exclaimed Smith-Oldwick
"And look at the domes and minarets of the city beyond," cried the
girl. "There must be a civilized people beyond that wall. Possibly
we are fortunate to have fallen into their hands."
Smith-Oldwick shrugged his shoulders. "I hope so," he said, "though
I am not at all sure about people who travel about with lions and
are afraid of parrots. There must be something wrong with them."
The party followed the trail across the field to an arched gateway
which opened at the summons of one of their captors, who beat upon
the heavy wooden panels with his spear. Beyond, the gate opened
into a narrow street which seemed but a continuation of the jungle
trail leading from the forest. Buildings on either hand adjoined
the wall and fronted the narrow, winding street, which was only
visible for a short distance ahead. The houses were practically
all two-storied structures, the upper stories flush with the street
while the walls of the first story were set back some ten feet,
a series of simple columns and arches supporting the front of the
second story and forming an arcade on either side of the narrow
The pathway in the center of the street was unpaved, but the floors
of the arcades were cut stone of various shapes and sizes but all
carefully fitted and laid without mortar. These floors gave evidence
of great antiquity, there being a distinct depression down the
center as though the stone had been worn away by the passage of
countless sandaled feet during the ages that it had lain there.
There were few people astir at this early hour, and these were of
the same type as their captors. At first those whom they saw were
only men, but as they went deeper into the city they came upon a
few naked children playing in the soft dust of the roadway. Many
they passed showed the greatest surprise and curiosity in the
prisoners, and often made inquiries of the guards, which the two
assumed must have been in relation to themselves, while others
appeared not to notice them at all.
"I wish we could understand their bally language," exclaimed
"Yes," said the girl, "I would like to ask them what they are going
to do with us."
"That would be interesting," said the man. "I have been doing
considerable wondering along that line myself."
"I don't like the way their canine teeth are filed," said the girl.
"It's too suggestive of some of the cannibals I have seen."
"You don't really believe they are cannibals, do you?" asked the
man. "You don't think white people are ever cannibals, do you?"
"Are these people white?" asked the girl.
"They're not Negroes, that's certain," rejoined the man. "Their
skin is yellow, but yet it doesn't resemble the Chinese exactly,
nor are any of their features Chinese."
It was at this juncture that they caught their first glimpse of a
native woman. She was similar in most respects to the men though
her stature was smaller and her figure more symmetrical. Her face
was more repulsive than that of the men, possibly because of the fact
that she was a woman, which rather accentuated the idiosyncrasies
of eyes, pendulous lip, pointed tusks and stiff, low-growing hair.
The latter was longer than that of the men and much heavier. It
hung about her shoulders and was confined by a colored bit of some
lacy fabric. Her single garment appeared to be nothing more than
a filmy scarf which was wound tightly around her body from below
her naked breasts, being caught up some way at the bottom near her
ankles. Bits of shiny metal resembling gold, ornamented both the
headdress and the skirt. Otherwise the woman was entirely without
jewelry. Her bare arms were slender and shapely and her hands and
feet well proportioned and symmetrical.
She came close to the party as they passed her, jabbering to the
guards who paid no attention to her. The prisoners had an opportunity
to observe her closely as she followed at their side for a short
"The figure of a houri," remarked Smith-Oldwick, "with the face of
The street they followed was intersected at irregular intervals by
crossroads which, as they glanced down them, proved to be equally
as tortuous as that through which they were being conducted. The
houses varied but little in design. Occasionally there were bits
of color, or some attempt at other architectural ornamentation.
Through open windows and doors they could see that the walls of
the houses were very thick and that all apertures were quite small,
as though the people had built against extreme heat, which they
realized must have been necessary in this valley buried deep in an
Ahead they occasionally caught glimpses of larger structures, and
as they approached them, came upon what was evidently a part of
the business section of the city. There were numerous small shops
and bazaars interspersed among the residences, and over the doors
of these were signs painted in characters strongly suggesting Greek
origin and yet it was not Greek as both the Englishman and the girl
Smith-Oldwick was by this time beginning to feel more acutely the
pain of his wounds and the consequent weakness that was greatly
aggravated by loss of blood. He staggered now occasionally and the
girl, seeing his plight, offered him her arm.
"No," he expostulated, "you have passed through too much yourself
to have any extra burden imposed upon you." But though he made a
valiant effort to keep up with their captors he occasionally lagged,
and upon one such occasion the guards for the first time showed
any disposition toward brutality.
It was a big fellow who walked at Smith-Oldwick's left. Several
times he took hold of the Englishman's arm and pushed him forward
not ungently, but when the captive lagged again and again the
fellow suddenly, and certainly with no just provocation, flew into
a perfect frenzy of rage. He leaped upon the wounded man, striking
him viciously with his fists and, bearing him to the ground, grasped
his throat in his left hand while with his right he drew his long
sharp saber. Screaming terribly he waved the blade above his head.
The others stopped and turned to look upon the encounter with no
particular show of interest. It was as though one of the party had
paused to readjust a sandal and the others merely waited until he
was ready to march on again.
But if their captors were indifferent, Bertha Kircher was not. The
close-set blazing eyes, the snarling fanged face, and the frightful
screams filled her with horror, while the brutal and wanton attack
upon the wounded man aroused within her the spirit of protection
for the weak that is inherent in all women. Forgetful of everything
other than that a weak and defenseless man was being brutally murdered
before her eyes, the girl cast aside discretion and, rushing to
Smith-Oldwick's assistance, seized the uplifted sword arm of the
shrieking creature upon the prostrate Englishman.
Clinging desperately to the fellow she surged backward with all her
weight and strength with the result that she overbalanced him and
sent him sprawling to the pavement upon his back. In his efforts
to save himself he relaxed his grasp upon the grip of his saber
which had no sooner fallen to the ground than it was seized upon by
the girl. Standing erect beside the prostrate form of the English
officer Bertha Kircher, the razor-edged weapon grasped firmly in
her hand, faced their captors.
She was a brave figure; even her soiled and torn riding togs and
disheveled hair detracted nothing from her appearance. The creature
she had felled scrambled quickly to his feet and in the instant
his whole demeanor changed. From demoniacal rage he became suddenly
convulsed with hysterical laughter although it was a question in
the girl's mind as to which was the more terrifying. His companions
stood looking on with vacuous grins upon their countenances, while
he from whom the girl had wrested the weapon leaped up and down
shrieking with laughter. If Bertha Kircher had needed further
evidence to assure her that they were in the hands of a mentally
deranged people the man's present actions would have been sufficient
to convince her. The sudden uncontrolled rage and now the equally
uncontrolled and mirthless laughter but emphasized the facial
attributes of idiocy.
Suddenly realizing how helpless she was in the event any one of the
men should seek to overpower her, and moved by a sudden revulsion
of feeling that brought on almost a nausea of disgust, the girl
hurled the weapon upon the ground at the feet of the laughing maniac
and, turning, kneeled beside the Englishman.
"It was wonderful of you," he said, "but you shouldn't have done
it. Don't antagonize them: I believe that they are all mad and you
know they say that one should always humor a madman."
She shook her head. "I couldn't see him kill you," she said.
A sudden light sprang to the man's eyes as he reached out a hand and
grasped the girl's fingers. "Do you care a little now?" he asked.
"Can't you tell me that you do--just a bit?"
She did not withdraw her hand from his but she shook her head
sadly. "Please don't," she said. "I am sorry that I can only like
you very much."
The light died from his eyes and his fingers relaxed their grasp on
hers. "Please forgive me," he murmured. "I intended waiting until
we got out of this mess and you were safe among your own people.
It must have been the shock or something like that, and seeing you
defending me as you did. Anyway, I couldn't help it and really it
doesn't make much difference what I say now, does it?"
"What do you mean?" she asked quickly.
He shrugged and smiled ruefully. "I will never leave this city
alive," he said. "I wouldn't mention it except that I realize that
you must know it as well as I. I was pretty badly torn up by the
lion and this fellow here has about finished me. There might be
some hope if we were among civilized people, but here with these
frightful creatures what care could we get even if they were
Bertha Kircher knew that he spoke the truth, and yet she could not
bring herself to an admission that Smith-Oldwick would die. She
was very fond of him, in fact her great regret was that she did
not love him, but she knew that she did not.
It seemed to her that it could be such an easy thing for any girl
to love Lieutenant Harold Percy Smith-Oldwick--an English officer
and a gentleman, the scion of an old family and himself a man of
ample means, young, good-looking and affable. What more could a
girl ask for than to have such a man love her and that she possessed
Smith-Oldwick's love there was no doubt in Bertha Kircher's mind.
She sighed, and then, laying her hand impulsively on his forehead,
she whispered, "Do not give up hope, though. Try to live for my
sake and for your sake I will try to love you."
It was as though new life had suddenly been injected into the
man's veins. His face lightened instantly and with strength that
he himself did not know he possessed he rose slowly to his feet,
albeit somewhat unsteadily. The girl helped him and supported him
after he had arisen.
For the moment they had been entirely unconscious of their
surroundings and now as she looked at their captors she saw that
they had fallen again into their almost habitual manner of stolid
indifference, and at a gesture from one of them the march was
resumed as though no untoward incident had occurred.
Bertha Kircher experienced a sudden reaction from the momentary
exaltation of her recent promise to the Englishman. She knew that
she had spoken more for him than for herself but now that it was
over she realized, as she had realized the moment before she had
spoken, that it was unlikely she would ever care for him the way
he wished. But what had she promised? Only that she would try to
love him. "And now?" she asked herself.
She realized that there might be little hope of their ever returning
to civilization. Even if these people should prove friendly and
willing to let them depart in peace, how were they to find their
way back to the coast? With Tarzan dead, as she fully believed him
after having seen his body lying lifeless at the mouth of the cave
when she had been dragged forth by her captor, there seemed no
power at their command which could guide them safely.
The two had scarcely mentioned the ape-man since their capture, for
each realized fully what his loss meant to them. They had compared
notes relative to those few exciting moments of the final attack
and capture and had found that they agreed perfectly upon all that
had occurred. Smith-Oldwick had even seen the lion leap upon Tarzan
at the instant that the former was awakened by the roars of the
charging beasts, and though the night had been dark, he had been
able to see that the body of the savage ape-man had never moved
from the instant that it had come down beneath the beast.
And so, if at other times within the past few weeks Bertha Kircher
had felt that her situation was particularly hopeless, she was now
ready to admit that hope was absolutely extinct.
The streets were beginning to fill with the strange men and women
of this strange city. Sometimes individuals would notice them
and seem to take a great interest in them, and again others would
pass with vacant stares, seemingly unconscious of their immediate
surroundings and paying no attention whatsoever to the prisoners.
Once they heard hideous screams up a side street, and looking they
saw a man in the throes of a demoniacal outburst of rage, similar
to that which they had witnessed in the recent attack upon
Smith-Oldwick. This creature was venting his insane rage upon a
child which he repeatedly struck and bit, pausing only long enough
to shriek at frequent intervals. Finally, just before they passed
out of sight the creature raised the limp body of the child high
above his head and cast it down with all his strength upon the
pavement, and then, wheeling and screaming madly at the top of his
lungs, he dashed headlong up the winding street.
Two women and several men had stood looking on at the cruel attack.
They were at too great a distance for the Europeans to know whether
their facial expressions portrayed pity or rage, but be that as it
may, none offered to interfere.
A few yards farther on a hideous hag leaned from a second story
window where she laughed and jibbered and made horrid grimaces at
all who passed her. Others went their ways apparently attending to
whatever duties called them, as soberly as the inhabitants of any
"God," muttered Smith-Oldwick, "what an awful place!"
The girl turned suddenly toward him. "You still have your pistol?"
she asked him.
"Yes," he replied. "I tucked it inside my shirt. They did not
search me and it was too dark for them to see whether I carried any
weapons or not. So I hid it in the hope that I might get through
She moved closer to him and took hold of his hand. "Save one
cartridge for me, please?" she begged.
Smith-Oldwick looked down at her and blinked his eyes very rapidly.
An unfamiliar and disconcerting moisture had come into them. He
had realized, of course, how bad a plight was theirs but somehow
it had seemed to affect him only: it did not seem possible that
anyone could harm this sweet and beautiful girl.
And that she should have to be destroyed--destroyed by him! It
was too hideous: it was unbelievable, unthinkable! If he had been
filled with apprehension before, he was doubly perturbed now.
"I don't believe I could do it, Bertha," he said.
"Not even to save me from something worse?" she asked.
He shook his head dismally. "I could never do it," he replied.
The street that they were following suddenly opened upon a wide
avenue, and before them spread a broad and beautiful lagoon, the
quiet surface of which mirrored the clear cerulean of the sky. Here
the aspect of all their surroundings changed. The buildings were
higher and much more pretentious in design and ornamentation.
The street itself was paved in mosaics of barbaric but stunningly
beautiful design. In the ornamentation of the buildings there was
considerable color and a great deal of what appeared to be gold
leaf. In all the decorations there was utilized in various ways the
conventional figure of the parrot, and, to a lesser extent, that
of the lion and the monkey.
Their captors led them along the pavement beside the lagoon for a
short distance and then through an arched doorway into one of the
buildings facing the avenue. Here, directly within the entrance
was a large room furnished with massive benches and tables, many of
which were elaborately hand carved with the figures of the inevitable
parrot, the lion, or the monkey, the parrot always predominating.
Behind one of the tables sat a man who differed in no way that the
captives could discover from those who accompanied them. Before
this person the party halted, and one of the men who had brought
them made what seemed to be an oral report. Whether they were
before a judge, a military officer, or a civil dignitary they could
not know, but evidently he was a man of authority, for, after
listening to whatever recital was being made to him the while
he closely scrutinized the two captives, he made a single futile
attempt to converse with them and then issued some curt orders to
him who had made the report.
Almost immediately two of the men approached Bertha Kircher and
signaled her to accompany them. Smith-Oldwick started to follow her
but was intercepted by one of their guards. The girl stopped then
and turned back, at the same time looking at the man at the table
and making signs with her hands, indicating, as best she could,
that she wished Smith-Oldwick to remain with her, but the fellow
only shook his head negatively and motioned to the guards to remove
her. The Englishman again attempted to follow but was restrained.
He was too weak and helpless even to make an attempt to enforce
his wishes. He thought of the pistol inside his shirt and then of
the futility of attempting to overcome an entire city with the few
rounds of ammunition left to him.
So far, with the single exception of the attack made upon him, they
had no reason to believe that they might not receive fair treatment
from their captors, and so he reasoned that it might be wiser to
avoid antagonizing them until such a time as he became thoroughly
convinced that their intentions were entirely hostile. He saw the
girl led from the building and just before she disappeared from
his view she turned and waved her hand to him:
"Good luck!" she cried, and was gone.
The lions that had entered the building with the party had, during
their examination by the man at the table, been driven from the
apartment through a doorway behind him. Toward this same doorway
two of the men now led Smith-Oldwick. He found himself in a long
corridor from the sides of which other doorways opened, presumably
into other apartments of the building. At the far end of the corridor
he saw a heavy grating beyond which appeared an open courtyard.
Into this courtyard the prisoner was conducted, and as he entered
it with the two guards he found himself in an opening which was
bounded by the inner walls of the building. It was in the nature
of a garden in which a number of trees and flowering shrubs grew.
Beneath several of the trees were benches and there was a bench
along the south wall, but what aroused his most immediate attention
was the fact that the lions who had assisted in their capture and
who had accompanied them upon the return to the city, lay sprawled
about upon the ground or wandered restlessly to and fro.
Just inside the gate his guard halted. The two men exchanged a few
words and then turned and reentered the corridor. The Englishman
was horror-stricken as the full realization of his terrible plight
forced itself upon his tired brain. He turned and seized the grating
in an attempt to open it and gain the safety of the corridor, but
he found it securely locked against his every effort, and then he
called aloud to the retreating figure of the men within. The only
reply he received was a high-pitched, mirthless laugh, and then
the two passed through the doorway at the far end of the corridor
and he was alone with the lions.
The Queen's Story
In the meantime Bertha Kircher was conducted the length of the
plaza toward the largest and most pretentious of the buildings
surrounding it. This edifice covered the entire width of one end
of the plaza. It was several stories in height, the main entrance
being approached by a wide flight of stone steps, the bottom of
which was guarded by enormous stone lions, while at the top there
were two pedestals flanking the entrance and of the same height,
upon each of which was the stone image of a large parrot. As the
girl neared these latter images she saw that the capital of each
column was hewn into the semblance of a human skull upon which
the parrots perched. Above the arched doorway and upon the walls
of the building were the figures of other parrots, of lions, and
of monkeys. Some of these were carved in bas-relief; others were
delineated in mosaics, while still others appeared to have been
painted upon the surface of the wall.
The colorings of the last were apparently much subdued by age
with the result that the general effect was soft and beautiful.
The sculpturing and mosaic work were both finely executed, giving
evidence of a high degree of artistic skill. Unlike the first
building into which she had been conducted, the entrance to which
had been doorless, massive doors closed the entrance which she now
approached. In the niches formed by the columns which supported
the door's arch, and about the base of the pedestals of the stone
parrots, as well as in various other places on the broad stairway,
lolled some score of armed men. The tunics of these were all of a
vivid yellow and upon the breast and back of each was embroidered
the figure of a parrot.
As she was conducted up the stairway one of these yellow-coated
warriors approached and halted her guides at the top of the steps.
Here they exchanged a few words and while they were talking the
girl noticed that he who had halted them, as well as those whom
she could see of his companions, appeared to be, if possible, of
a lower mentality than her original captors.
Their coarse, bristling hair grew so low upon their foreheads as,
in some instances, to almost join their eyebrows, while the irises
were smaller, exposing more of the white of the eyeball.
After a short parley the man in charge of the doorway, for such
he seemed to be, turned and struck upon one of the panels with
the butt of his spear, at the same time calling to several of his
companions, who rose and came forward at his command. Soon the great
doors commenced slowly to swing creakingly open, and presently,
as they separated, the girl saw behind them the motive force which
operated the massive doors--to each door a half-dozen naked Negroes.
At the doorway her two guards were turned back and their places taken
by a half dozen of the yellow-coated soldiery. These conducted her
through the doorway which the blacks, pulling upon heavy chains,
closed behind them. And as the girl watched them she noted with
horror that the poor creatures were chained by the neck to the
Before her led a broad hallway in the center of which was a little
pool of clear water. Here again in floor and walls was repeated in
new and ever-changing combinations and designs, the parrots, the
monkeys, and the lions, but now many of the figures were of what
the girl was convinced must be gold. The walls of the corridor
consisted of a series of open archways through which, upon either
side, other spacious apartments were visible. The hallway was
entirely unfurnished, but the rooms on either side contained benches
and tables. Glimpses of some of the walls revealed the fact that
they were covered with hangings of some colored fabric, while upon
the floors were thick rugs of barbaric design and the skins of
black lions and beautifully marked leopards.
The room directly to the right of the entrance was filled with men
wearing the yellow tunics of her new guard while the walls were hung
with numerous spears and sabers. At the far end of the corridor a
low flight of steps led to another closed doorway. Here the guard
was again halted. One of the guards at this doorway, after receiving
the report of one of those who accompanied her, passed through the
door, leaving them standing outside. It was fully fifteen minutes
before he returned, when the guard was again changed and the girl
conducted into the chamber beyond.
Through three other chambers and past three more massive doors, at
each of which her guard was changed, the girl was conducted before
she was ushered into a comparatively small room, back and forth
across the floor of which paced a man in a scarlet tunic, upon the
front and back of which was embroidered an enormous parrot and upon
whose head was a barbaric headdress surmounted by a stuffed parrot.
The walls of this room were entirely hidden by hangings upon which
hundreds, even thousands, of parrots were embroidered. Inlaid in
the floor were golden parrots, while, as thickly as they could be
painted, upon the ceiling were brilliant-hued parrots with wings
outspread as though in the act of flying.
The man himself was larger of stature than any she had yet seen
within the city. His parchment-like skin was wrinkled with age and
he was much fatter than any other of his kind that she had seen.
His bared arms, however, gave evidence of great strength and his
gait was not that of an old man. His facial expression denoted almost
utter imbecility and he was quite the most repulsive creature that
ever Bertha Kircher had looked upon.
For several minutes after she was conducted into his presence
he appeared not to be aware that she was there but continued his
restless pacing to and fro. Suddenly, without the slightest warning,
and while he was at the far end of the room from her with his back
toward her, he wheeled and rushed madly at her. Involuntarily the
girl shrank back, extending her open palms toward the frightful
creature as though to hold him aloof but a man upon either side of
her, the two who had conducted her into the apartment, seized and
Although he rushed violently toward her the man stopped without
touching her. For a moment his horrid white-rimmed eyes glared
searchingly into her face, immediately following which he burst
into maniacal laughter. For two or three minutes the creature gave
himself over to merriment and then, stopping as suddenly as he
had commenced to laugh, he fell to examining the prisoner. He felt
of her hair, her skin, the texture of the garment she wore and by
means of signs made her understand she was to open her mouth. In
the latter he seemed much interested, calling the attention of one
of the guards to her canine teeth and then baring his own sharp
fangs for the prisoner to see.
Presently he resumed pacing to and fro across the floor, and it
was fully fifteen minutes before he again noticed the prisoner, and
then it was to issue a curt order to her guards, who immediately
conducted her from the apartment.
The guards now led the girl through a series of corridors and
apartments to a narrow stone stairway which led to the floor above,
finally stopping before a small door where stood a naked Negro armed
with a spear. At a word from one of her guards the Negro opened the
door and the party passed into a low-ceiled apartment, the windows
of which immediately caught the girl's attention through the fact
that they were heavily barred. The room was furnished similarly to
those that she had seen in other parts of the building, the same
carved tables and benches, the rugs upon the floor, the decorations
upon the walls, although in every respect it was simpler than
anything she had seen on the floor below. In one corner was a low
couch covered with a rug similar to those on the floor except that
it was of a lighter texture, and upon this sat a woman.
As Bertha Kircher's eyes alighted upon the occupant of the room
the girl gave a little gasp of astonishment, for she recognized
immediately that here was a creature more nearly of her own kind
than any she had seen within the city's walls. An old woman it was
who looked at her through faded blue eyes, sunken deep in a wrinkled
and toothless face. But the eyes were those of a sane and intelligent
creature, and the wrinkled face was the face of a white woman.
At sight of the girl the woman rose and came forward, her gait so
feeble and unsteady that she was forced to support herself with a
long staff which she grasped in both her hands. One of the guards
spoke a few words to her and then the men turned and left the
apartment. The girl stood just within the door waiting in silence
for what might next befall her.
The old woman crossed the room and stopped before her, raising
her weak and watery eyes to the fresh young face of the newcomer.
Then she scanned her from head to foot and once again the old eyes
returned to the girl's face. Bertha Kircher on her part was not
less frank in her survey of the little old woman. It was the latter
who spoke first. In a thin, cracked voice she spoke, hesitatingly,
falteringly, as though she were using unfamiliar words and speaking
a strange tongue.
"You are from the outer world?" she asked in English. "God grant
that you may speak and understand this tongue."
"English?" the girl exclaimed, "Yes, of course, I speak English."
"Thank God!" cried the little old woman. "I did not know whether I
myself might speak it so that another could understand. For sixty
years I have spoken only their accursed gibberish. For sixty years
I have not heard a word in my native language. Poor creature! Poor
creature!" she mumbled. "What accursed misfortune threw you into
"You are an English woman?" asked Bertha Kircher. "Did I understand
you aright that you are an English woman and have been here for
The old woman nodded her head affirmatively. "For sixty years I
have never been outside of this palace. Come," she said, stretching
forth a bony hand. "I am very old and cannot stand long. Come and
sit with me on my couch."
The girl took the proffered hand and assisted the old lady back
to the opposite side of the room and when she was seated the girl
sat down beside her.
"Poor child! Poor child!" moaned the old woman. "Far better to have
died than to have let them bring you here. At first I might have
destroyed myself but there was always the hope that someone would
come who would take me away, but none ever comes. Tell me how they
Very briefly the girl narrated the principal incidents which led
up to her capture by some of the creatures of the city.
"Then there is a man with you in the city?" asked the old woman.
"Yes," said the girl, "but I do not know where he is nor what are
their intentions in regard to him. In fact, I do not know what
their intentions toward me are."
"No one might even guess," said the old woman. "They do not know
themselves from one minute to the next what their intentions are,
but I think you can rest assured, my poor child, that you will
never see your friend again."
"But they haven't slain you," the girl reminded her, "and you have
been their prisoner, you say, for sixty years."
"No," replied her companion, "they have not killed me, nor will
they kill you, though God knows before you have lived long in this
horrible place you will beg them to kill you."
"Who are they--" asked Bertha Kircher, "what kind of people? They
differ from any that I ever have seen. And tell me, too, how you
"It was long ago," said the old woman, rocking back and forth on
the couch. "It was long ago. Oh, how long it was! I was only twenty
then. Think of it, child! Look at me. I have no mirror other than
my bath, I cannot see what I look like for my eyes are old, but
with my fingers I can feel my old and wrinkled face, my sunken eyes,
and these flabby lips drawn in over toothless gums. I am old and
bent and hideous, but then I was young and they said that I was
beautiful. No, I will not be a hypocrite; I was beautiful. My glass
told me that.
"My father was a missionary in the interior and one day there came
a band of Arabian slave raiders. They took the men and women of
the little native village where my father labored, and they took
me, too. They did not know much about our part of the country so
they were compelled to rely upon the men of our village whom they
had captured to guide them. They told me that they never before
had been so far south and that they had heard there was a country
rich in ivory and slaves west of us. They wanted to go there and
from there they would take us north, where I was to be sold into
the harem of some black sultan.
"They often discussed the price I would bring, and that that price
might not lessen, they guarded me jealously from one another so
the journeys were made as little fatiguing for me as possible. I
was given the best food at their command and I was not harmed.
"But after a short time, when we had reached the confines of the
country with which the men of our village were familiar and had
entered upon a desolate and arid desert waste, the Arabs realized
at last that we were lost. But they still kept on, ever toward
the west, crossing hideous gorges and marching across the face of
a burning land beneath the pitiless sun. The poor slaves they had
captured were, of course, compelled to carry all the camp equipage
and loot and thus heavily burdened, half starved and without water,
they soon commenced to die like flies.
"We had not been in the desert land long before the Arabs were
forced to kill their horses for food, and when we reached the first
gorge, across which it would have been impossible to transport the
animals, the balance of them were slaughtered and the meat loaded
upon the poor staggering blacks who still survived.
"Thus we continued for two more days and now all but a handful of
blacks were dead, and the Arabs themselves had commenced to succumb
to hunger and thirst and the intense heat of the desert. As far as
the eye could reach back toward the land of plenty from whence we
had come, our route was marked by circling vultures in the sky and
by the bodies of the dead who lay down in the trackless waste for
the last time. The ivory had been abandoned tusk by tusk as the
blacks gave out, and along the trail of death was strewn the camp
equipage and the horse trappings of a hundred men.
"For some reason the Arab chief favored me to the last, possibly
with the idea that of all his other treasures I could be most easily
transported, for I was young and strong and after the horses were
killed I had walked and kept up with the best of the men. We English,
you know, are great walkers, while these Arabians had never walked
since they were old enough to ride a horse.
"I cannot tell you how much longer we kept on but at last, with
our strength almost gone, a handful of us reached the bottom of a
deep gorge. To scale the opposite side was out of the question and
so we kept on down along the sands of what must have been the bed
of an ancient river, until finally we came to a point where we
looked out upon what appeared to be a beautiful valley in which we
felt assured that we would find game in plenty.
"By then there were only two of us left--the chief and myself. I
do not need to tell you what the valley was, for you found it in
much the same way as I did. So quickly were we captured that it
seemed they must have been waiting for us, and I learned later that
such was the case, just as they were waiting for you.
"As you came through the forest you must have seen the monkeys
and parrots and since you have entered the palace, how constantly
these animals, and the lions, are used in the decorations. At home
we were all familiar with talking parrots who repeated the things
that they were taught to say, but these parrots are different
in that they all talk in the same language that the people of the
city use, and they say that the monkeys talk to the parrots and the
parrots fly to the city and tell the people what the monkeys say.
And, although it is hard to believe, I have learned that this is
so, for I have lived here among them for sixty years in the palace
of their king.
"They brought me, as they brought you, directly to the palace. The
Arabian chief was taken elsewhere. I never knew what became of him.
Ago XXV was king then. I have seen many kings since that day. He
was a terrible man; but then, they are all terrible."
"What is the matter with them?" asked the girl.
"They are a race of maniacs," replied the old woman. "Had you not
guessed it? Among them are excellent craftsmen and good farmers
and a certain amount of law and order, such as it is.
"They reverence all birds, but the parrot is their chief deity.
There is one who is held here in the palace in a very beautiful
apartment. He is their god of gods. He is a very old bird. If what
Ago told me when I came is true, he must be nearly three hundred
years old by now. Their religious rites are revolting in the
extreme, and I believe that it may be the practice of these rites
through ages that has brought the race to its present condition of
"And yet, as I said, they are not without some redeeming qualities.
If legend may be credited, their forebears--a little handful of
men and women who came from somewhere out of the north and became
lost in the wilderness of central Africa--found here only a barren
desert valley. To my own knowledge rain seldom, if ever, falls
here, and yet you have seen a great forest and luxuriant vegetation
outside of the city as well as within. This miracle is accomplished
by the utilization of natural springs which their ancestors developed,
and upon which they have improved to such an extent that the entire
valley receives an adequate amount of moisture at all times.
"Ago told me that many generations before his time the forest was
irrigated by changing the course of the streams which carried the
spring water to the city but that when the trees had sent their
roots down to the natural moisture of the soil and required no
further irrigation, the course of the stream was changed and other
trees were planted. And so the forest grew until today it covers
almost the entire floor of the valley except for the open space
where the city stands. I do not know that this is true. It may be
that the forest has always been here, but it is one of their legends
and it is borne out by the fact that there is not sufficient rainfall
here to support vegetation.
"They are peculiar people in many respects, not only in their form
of worship and religious rites but also in that they breed lions
as other people breed cattle. You have seen how they use some of
these lions but the majority of them they fatten and eat. At first,
I imagine, they ate lion meat as a part of their religious ceremony
but after many generations they came to crave it so that now it is
practically the only flesh they eat. They would, of course, rather
die than eat the flesh of a bird, nor will they eat monkey's meat,
while the herbivorous animals they raise only for milk, hides,
and flesh for the lions. Upon the south side of the city are the
corrals and pastures where the herbivorous animals are raised.
Boar, deer, and antelope are used principally for the lions, while
goats are kept for milk for the human inhabitants of the city."
"And you have lived here all these years," exclaimed the girl,
"without ever seeing one of your own kind?"
The old woman nodded affirmatively.
"For sixty years you have lived here," continued Bertha Kircher,
"and they have not harmed you!"
"I did not say they had not harmed me," said the old woman, "they
did not kill me, that is all."
"What"--the girl hesitated--"what," she continued at last, "was
your position among them? Pardon me," she added quickly, "I think
I know but I should like to hear from your own lips, for whatever
your position was, mine will doubtless be the same."
The old woman nodded. "Yes," she said, "doubtless; if they can keep
you away from the women."
"What do you mean?" asked the girl.
"For sixty years I have never been allowed near a woman. They would
kill me, even now, if they could reach me. The men are frightful,
God knows they are frightful! But heaven keep you from the women!"
"You mean," asked the girl, "that the men will not harm me?"
"Ago XXV made me his queen," said the old woman. "But he had many
other queens, nor were they all human. He was not murdered for ten
years after I came here. Then the next king took me, and so it has
been always. I am the oldest queen now. Very few of their women live
to a great age. Not only are they constantly liable to assassination
but, owing to their subnormal mentalities, they are subject to
periods of depression during which they are very likely to destroy
She turned suddenly and pointed to the barred windows. "You see
this room," she said, "with the black eunuch outside? Wherever
you see these you will know that there are women, for with very
few exceptions they are never allowed out of captivity. They are
considered and really are more violent than the men."
For several minutes the two sat in silence, and then the younger
woman turned to the older.
"Is there no way to escape?" she asked.
The old woman pointed again to the barred windows and then to the
door, saying: "And there is the armed eunuch. And if you should
pass him, how could you reach the street? And if you reached the
street, how could you pass through the city to the outer wall? And
even if, by some miracle, you should gain the outer wall, and, by
another miracle, you should be permitted to pass through the gate,
could you ever hope to traverse the forest where the great black
lions roam and feed upon men? No!" she exclaimed, answering her
own question, "there is no escape, for after one had escaped from
the palace and the city and the forest it would be but to invite
death in the frightful desert land beyond.
"In sixty years you are the first to find this buried city. In
a thousand no denizen of this valley has ever left it, and within
the memory of man, or even in their legends, none had found them
prior to my coming other than a single warlike giant, the story of
whom has been handed down from father to son.
"I think from the description that he must have been a Spaniard,
a giant of a man in buckler and helmet, who fought his way through
the terrible forest to the city gate, who fell upon those who were
sent out to capture him and slew them with his mighty sword. And
when he had eaten of the vegetables from the gardens, and the fruit
from the trees and drank of the water from the stream, he turned
about and fought his way back through the forest to the mouth of
the gorge. But though he escaped the city and the forest he did
not escape the desert. For a legend runs that the king, fearful
that he would bring others to attack them, sent a party after him
to slay him.
"For three weeks they did not find him, for they went in the wrong
direction, but at last they came upon his bones picked clean by
the vultures, lying a day's march up the same gorge through which
you and I entered the valley. I do not know," continued the old
woman, "that this is true. It is just one of their many legends."
"Yes," said the girl, "it is true. I am sure it is true, for I have
seen the skeleton and the corroded armor of this great giant."
At this juncture the door was thrown open without ceremony and a
Negro entered bearing two flat vessels in which were several smaller
ones. These he set down on one of the tables near the women, and,
without a word, turned and left. With the entrance of the man
with the vessels, a delightful odor of cooked food had aroused the
realization in the girl's mind that she was very hungry, and at
a word from the old woman she walked to the table to examine the
viands. The larger vessels which contained the smaller ones were
of pottery while those within them were quite evidently of hammered
gold. To her intense surprise she found lying between the smaller
vessels a spoon and a fork, which, while of quaint design, were quite
as serviceable as any she had seen in more civilized communities.
The tines of the fork were quite evidently of iron or steel, the
girl did not know which, while the handle and the spoon were of
the same material as the smaller vessels.
There was a highly seasoned stew with meat and vegetables, a dish
of fresh fruit, and a bowl of milk beside which was a little jug
containing something which resembled marmalade. So ravenous was she
that she did not even wait for her companion to reach the table,
and as she ate she could have sworn that never before had she tasted
more palatable food. The old woman came slowly and sat down on one
of the benches opposite her.
As she removed the smaller vessels from the larger and arranged
them before her on the table a crooked smile twisted her lips as
she watched the younger woman eat.
"Hunger is a great leveler," she said with a laugh.
"What do you mean?" asked the girl.
"I venture to say that a few weeks ago you would have been nauseated
at the idea of eating cat."
"Cat?" exclaimed the girl.
"Yes," said the old woman. "What is the difference--a lion is a
"You mean I am eating lion now?"
"Yes," said the old woman, "and as they prepare it, it is very
palatable. You will grow very fond of it."
Bertha Kircher smiled a trifle dubiously. "I could not tell it,"
she said, "from lamb or veal."
"No," said the woman, "it tastes as good to me. But these lions
are very carefully kept and very carefully fed and their flesh is
so seasoned and prepared that it might be anything so far as taste
And so Bertha Kircher broke her long fast upon strange fruits, lion
meat, and goat's milk.
Scarcely had she finished when again the door opened and there
entered a yellow-coated soldier. He spoke to the old woman.
"The king," she said, "has commanded that you be prepared and brought
to him. You are to share these apartments with me. The king knows
that I am not like his other women. He never would have dared to
put you with them. Herog XVI has occasional lucid intervals. You
must have been brought to him during one of these. Like the rest
of them he thinks that he alone of all the community is sane, but
more than once I have thought that the various men with whom I have
come in contact here, including the kings themselves, looked upon
me as, at least, less mad than the others. Yet how I have retained
my senses all these years is beyond me."
"What do you mean by prepare?" asked Bertha Kircher. "You said
that the king had commanded I be prepared and brought to him."
"You will be bathed and furnished with a robe similar to that which
"Is there no escape?" asked the girl. "Is there no way even in
which I can kill myself?"
The woman handed her the fork. "This is the only way," she said,
"and you will notice that the tines are very short and blunt."
The girl shuddered and the old woman laid a hand gently upon her
shoulder. "He may only look at you and send you away," she said.
"Ago XXV sent for me once, tried to talk with me, discovered
that I could not understand him and that he could not understand
me, ordered that I be taught the language of his people, and then
apparently forgot me for a year. Sometimes I do not see the king
for a long period. There was one king who ruled for five years
whom I never saw. There is always hope; even I whose very memory
has doubtless been forgotten beyond these palace walls still hope,
though none knows better how futilely."
The old woman led Bertha Kircher to an adjoining apartment in
the floor of which was a pool of water. Here the girl bathed and
afterward her companion brought her one of the clinging garments
of the native women and adjusted it about her figure. The material
of the robe was of a gauzy fabric which accentuated the rounded
beauty of the girlish form.
"There," said the old woman, as she gave a final pat to one of the
folds of the garment, "you are a queen indeed!"
The girl looked down at her naked breasts and but half-concealed
limbs in horror. "They are going to lead me into the presence of
men in this half-nude condition!" she exclaimed.
The old woman smiled her crooked smile. "It is nothing," she said.
"You will become accustomed to it as did I who was brought up in
the home of a minister of the gospel, where it was considered little
short of a crime for a woman to expose her stockinged ankle. By
comparison with what you will doubtless see and the things that
you may be called upon to undergo, this is but a trifle."
For what seemed hours to the distraught girl she paced the floor
of her apartment, awaiting the final summons to the presence of the
mad king. Darkness had fallen and the oil flares within the palace
had been lighted long before two messengers appeared with instructions
that Herog demanded her immediate presence and that the old woman,
whom they called Xanila, was to accompany her. The girl felt some
slight relief when she discovered that she was to have at least
one friend with her, however powerless to assist her the old woman
The messengers conducted the two to a small apartment on the floor
below. Xanila explained that this was one of the anterooms off
the main throneroom in which the king was accustomed to hold court
with his entire retinue. A number of yellow-tunicked warriors sat
about upon the benches within the room. For the most part their
eyes were bent upon the floor and their attitudes that of moody
dejection. As the two women entered several glanced indifferently
at them, but for the most part no attention was paid to them.
While they were waiting in the anteroom there entered from another
apartment a young man uniformed similarly to the others with the
exception that upon his head was a fillet of gold, in the front of
which a single parrot feather rose erectly above his forehead. As
he entered, the other soldiers in the room rose to their feet.
"That is Metak, one of the king's sons," Xanila whispered to the
The prince was crossing the room toward the audience chamber when
his glance happened to fall upon Bertha Kircher. He halted in his
tracks and stood looking at her for a full minute without speaking.
The girl, embarrassed by his bold stare and her scant attire, flushed
and, dropping her gaze to the floor, turned away. Metak suddenly
commenced to tremble from head to foot and then, without warning
other than a loud, hoarse scream he sprang forward and seized the
girl in his arms.
Instantly pandemonium ensued. The two messengers who had been charged
with the duty of conducting the girl to the king's presence danced,
shrieking, about the prince, waving their arms and gesticulating
wildly as though they would force him to relinquish her, the
while they dared not lay hands upon royalty. The other guardsmen,
as though suffering in sympathy the madness of their prince, ran
forward screaming and brandishing their sabers.
The girl fought to release herself from the horrid embrace of the
maniac, but with his left arm about her he held her as easily as
though she had been but a babe, while with his free hand he drew
his saber and struck viciously at those nearest him.
One of the messengers was the first to feel the keen edge of
Metak's blade. With a single fierce cut the prince drove through
the fellow's collar bone and downward to the center of his chest.
With a shrill shriek that rose above the screaming of the other
guardsmen the man dropped to the floor, and as the blood gushed
from the frightful wound he struggled to rise once more to his feet
and then sank back again and died in a great pool of his own blood.
In the meantime Metak, still clinging desperately to the girl,
had backed toward the opposite door. At the sight of the blood two
of the guardsmen, as though suddenly aroused to maniacal frenzy,
dropped their sabers to the floor and fell upon each other with
nails and teeth, while some sought to reach the prince and some
to defend him. In a corner of the room sat one of the guardsmen
laughing uproariously and just as Metak succeeded in reaching the
door and taking the girl through, she thought that she saw another
of the men spring upon the corpse of the dead messenger and bury
his teeth in its flesh.
During the orgy of madness Xanila had kept closely at the girl's
side but at the door of the room Metak had seen her and, wheeling
suddenly, cut viciously at her. Fortunately for Xanila she was
halfway through the door at the time, so that Metak's blade but
dented itself upon the stone arch of the portal, and then Xanila,
guided doubtless by the wisdom of sixty years of similar experiences,
fled down the corridor as fast as her old and tottering legs would
Metak, once outside the door, returned his saber to its scabbard
and lifting the girl bodily from the ground carried her off in the
opposite direction from that taken by Xanila.
Just before dark that evening, an almost exhausted flier entered
the headquarters of Colonel Capell of the Second Rhodesians and
"Well, Thompson," asked the superior, "what luck? The others have
all returned. Never saw a thing of Oldwick or his plane. I guess
we shall have to give it up unless you were more successful."
"I was," replied the young officer. "I found the plane."
"No!" ejaculated Colonel Capell. "Where was it? Any sign of Oldwick?"
"It is in the rottenest hole in the ground you ever saw, quite a
bit inland. Narrow gorge. Saw the plane all right but can't reach
it. There was a regular devil of a lion wandering around it. I
landed near the edge of the cliff and was going to climb down and
take a look at the plane. But this fellow hung around for an hour
or more and I finally had to give it up."
"Do you think the lions got Oldwick?" asked the colonel.
"I doubt it," replied Lieutenant Thompson, "from the fact that there
was no indication that the lion had fed anywhere about the plane.
I arose after I found it was impossible to get down around the
plane and reconnoitered up and down the gorge. Several miles to the
south I found a small, wooded valley in the center of which--please
don't think me crazy, sir--is a regular city--streets, buildings,
a central plaza with a lagoon, good-sized buildings with domes and
minarets and all that sort of stuff."
The elder officer looked at the younger compassionately. "You're
all wrought up, Thompson," he said. "Go and take a good sleep. You
have been on this job now for a long while and it must have gotten
on your nerves."
The young man shook his head a bit irritably. "Pardon me, sir," he
said, "but I am telling you the truth. I am not mistaken. I circled
over the place several times. It may be that Oldwick has found his
way there--or has been captured by these people."
"Were there people in the city?" asked the colonel.
"Yes, I saw them in the streets."
"Do you think cavalry could reach the valley?" asked the colonel.
"No," replied Thompson, "the country is all cut up with these
deep gorges. Even infantry would have a devil of a time of it, and
there is absolutely no water that I could discover for at least a
two days' march."
It was at this juncture that a big Vauxhall drew up in front of the
headquarters of the Second Rhodesians and a moment later General
Smuts alighted and entered. Colonel Capell arose from his chair and
saluted his superior, and the young lieutenant saluted and stood
"I was passing," said the general, "and I thought I would stop for
a chat. By the way, how is the search for Lieutenant Smith-Oldwick
progressing? I see Thompson here and I believe he was one of those
detailed to the search."
"Yes," said Capell, "he was. He is the last to come in. He found the
lieutenant's ship," and then he repeated what Lieutenant Thompson
had reported to him. The general sat down at the table with Colonel
Capell, and together the two officers, with the assistance of the
flier, marked the approximate location of the city which Thompson
had reported he'd discovered.
"It's a mighty rough country," remarked Smuts, "but we can't leave
a stone unturned until we have exhausted every resource to find
that boy. We will send out a small force; a small one will be more
likely to succeed than a large one. About one company, Colonel,
or say two, with sufficient motor lorries for transport of rations
and water. Put a good man in command and let him establish a base
as far to the west as the motors can travel. You can leave one
company there and send the other forward. I am inclined to believe
you can establish your base within a day's march of the city and
if such is the case the force you send ahead should have no trouble
on the score of lack of water as there certainly must be water
in the valley where the city lies. Detail a couple of planes for
reconnaissance and messenger service so that the base can keep in
touch at all times with the advance party. When can your force move
"We can load the lorries tonight," replied Capell, "and march about
one o'clock tomorrow morning."
"Good," said the general, "keep me advised," and returning the
others' salutes he departed.
As Tarzan leaped for the vines he realized that the lion was
close upon him and that his life depended upon the strength of the
creepers clinging to the city walls; but to his intense relief he
found the stems as large around as a man's arm, and the tendrils
which had fastened themselves to the wall so firmly fixed, that his
weight upon the stem appeared to have no appreciable effect upon
He heard Numa's baffled roar as the lion slipped downward clawing
futilely at the leafy creepers, and then with the agility of the
apes who had reared him, Tarzan bounded nimbly aloft to the summit
of the wall.
A few feet below him was the flat roof of the adjoining building
and as he dropped to it his back was toward the niche from which
an embrasure looked out upon the gardens and the forest beyond, so
that he did not see the figure crouching there in the dark shadow.
But if he did not see he was not long in ignorance of the fact that
he was not alone, for scarcely had his feet touched the roof when
a heavy body leaped upon him from behind and brawny arms encircled
him about the waist.
Taken at a disadvantage and lifted from his feet, the ape-man was,
for the time being, helpless. Whatever the creature was that had
seized him, it apparently had a well-defined purpose in mind, for
it walked directly toward the edge of the roof so that it was soon
apparent to Tarzan that he was to be hurled to the pavement below--a
most efficacious manner of disposing of an intruder. That he would
be either maimed or killed the ape-man was confident; but he had
no intention of permitting his assailant to carry out the plan.
Tarzan's arms and legs were free but he was in such a disadvantageous
position that he could not use them to any good effect. His only
hope lay in throwing the creature off its balance, and to this end
Tarzan straightened his body and leaned as far back against his
captor as he could, and then suddenly lunged forward. The result was
as satisfactory as he could possibly have hoped. The great weight
of the ape-man thrown suddenly out from an erect position caused
the other also to lunge violently forward with the result that to
save himself he involuntarily released his grasp. Catlike in his
movements, the ape-man had no sooner touched the roof than he was
upon his feet again, facing his adversary, a man almost as large
as himself and armed with a saber which he now whipped from its
scabbard. Tarzan, however, had no mind to allow the use of this
formidable weapon and so he dove for the other's legs beneath the
vicious cut that was directed at him from the side, and as a football
player tackles an opposing runner, Tarzan tackled his antagonist,
carrying him backward several yards and throwing him heavily to
the roof upon his back.
No sooner had the man touched the roof than the ape-man was upon
his chest, one brawny hand sought and found the sword wrist and
the other the throat of the yellow-tunicked guardsman. Until then
the fellow had fought in silence but just as Tarzan's fingers
touched his throat he emitted a single piercing shriek that the
brown fingers cut off almost instantly. The fellow struggled to
escape the clutch of the naked creature upon his breast but equally
as well might he have fought to escape the talons of Numa, the
Gradually his struggles lessened, his pin-point eyes popped from
their sockets, rolling horribly upward, while from his foam-flecked
lips his swollen tongue protruded. As his struggles ceased Tarzan
arose, and placing a foot upon the carcass of his kill, was upon
the point of screaming forth his victory cry when the thought that
the work before him required the utmost caution sealed his lips.
Walking to the edge of the roof he looked down into the narrow,
winding street below. At intervals, apparently at each street
intersection, an oil flare sputtered dimly from brackets set
in the walls a trifle higher than a man's head. For the most part
the winding alleys were in dense shadow and even in the immediate
vicinity of the flares the illumination was far from brilliant.
In the restricted area of his vision he could see that there were
still a few of the strange inhabitants moving about the narrow
To prosecute his search for the young officer and the girl he must
be able to move about the city as freely as possible, but to pass
beneath one of the corner flares, naked as he was except for a
loin cloth, and in every other respect markedly different from the
inhabitants of the city, would be but to court almost immediate
discovery. As these thoughts flashed through his mind and he cast
about for some feasible plan of action, his eyes fell upon the
corpse upon the roof near him, and immediately there occurred to
him the possibility of disguising himself in the raiment of his
It required but a few moments for the ape-man to clothe himself
in the tights, sandals, and parrot emblazoned yellow tunic of the
dead soldier. Around his waist he buckled the saber belt but beneath
the tunic he retained the hunting knife of his dead father. His
other weapons he could not lightly discard, and so, in the hope
that he might eventually recover them, he carried them to the edge
of the wall and dropped them among the foliage at its base. At the
last moment he found it difficult to part with his rope, which,
with his knife, was his most accustomed weapon, and one which he
had used for the greatest length of time. He found that by removing
the saber belt he could wind the rope about his waist beneath his
tunic, and then replacing the belt still retain it entirely concealed
from chance observation.
At last, satisfactorily disguised, and with even his shock of black
hair adding to the verisimilitude of his likeness to the natives
of the city, he sought for some means of reaching the street below.
While he might have risked a drop from the eaves of the roof he
feared to do so lest he attract the attention of passers-by, and
probable discovery. The roofs of the buildings varied in height but
as the ceilings were all low he found that he could easily travel
along the roof tops and this he did for some little distance, until
he suddenly discovered just ahead of him several figures reclining
upon the roof of a near-by building.
He had noticed openings in each roof, evidently giving ingress to
the apartments below, and now, his advance cut off by those ahead
of him, he decided to risk the chance of reaching the street
through the interior of one of the buildings. Approaching one of
the openings he leaned over the black hole and, listened for sounds
of life in the apartment below. Neither his ears nor his nose
registered evidence of the presence of any living creature in the
immediate vicinity, and so without further hesitation the ape-man
lowered his body through the aperture and was about to drop
when his foot came in contact with the rung of a ladder, which he
immediately took advantage of to descend to the floor of the room
Here, all was almost total darkness until his eyes became accustomed
to the interior, the darkness of which was slightly alleviated
by the reflected light from a distant street flare which shone
intermittently through the narrow windows fronting the thoroughfare.
Finally, assured that the apartment was unoccupied, Tarzan sought
for a stairway to the ground floor. This he found in a dark hallway
upon which the room opened--a flight of narrow stone steps leading
downward toward the street. Chance favored him so that he reached
the shadows of the arcade without encountering any of the inmates
of the house.
Once on the street he was not at a loss as to the direction in which
he wished to go, for he had tracked the two Europeans practically
to the gate, which he felt assured must have given them entry to
the city. His keen sense of direction and location made it possible
for him to judge with considerable accuracy the point within the
city where he might hope to pick up the spoor of those whom he
The first need, however, was to discover a street paralleling the
northern wall along which he could make his way in the direction of
the gate he had seen from the forest. Realizing that his greatest
hope of success lay in the boldness of his operations he moved off
in the direction of the nearest street flare without making any
other attempt at concealment than keeping in the shadows of the
arcade, which he judged would draw no particular attention to him
in that he saw other pedestrians doing likewise. The few he passed
gave him no heed, and he had almost reached the nearest intersection
when he saw several men wearing yellow tunics identical to that
which he had taken from his prisoner.
They were coming directly toward him and the ape-man saw that should
he continue on he would meet them directly at the intersection
of the two streets in the full light of the flare. His first
inclination was to go steadily on, for personally he had no objection
to chancing a scrimmage with them; but a sudden recollection of the
girl, possibly a helpless prisoner in the hands of these people,
caused him to seek some other and less hazardous plan of action.
He had almost emerged from the shadow of the arcade into the full
light of the flare and the approaching men were but a few yards
from him, when he suddenly kneeled and pretended to adjust the
wrappings of his sandals--wrappings, which, by the way, he was
not at all sure that he had adjusted as their makers had intended
them to be adjusted. He was still kneeling when the soldiers came
abreast of him. Like the others he had passed they paid no attention
to him and the moment they were behind him he continued upon his
way, turning to the right at the intersection of the two streets.
The street he now took was, at this point, so extremely winding
that, for the most part, it received no benefit from the flares at
either corner, so that he was forced practically to grope his way
in the dense shadows of the arcade. The street became a little
straighter just before he reached the next flare, and as he came
within sight of it he saw silhouetted against a patch of light the
figure of a lion. The beast was coming slowly down the street in
A woman crossed the way directly in front of it and the lion paid
no attention to her, nor she to the lion. An instant later a little
child ran after the woman and so close did he run before the lion
that the beast was forced to turn out of its way a step to avoid
colliding with the little one. The ape-man grinned and crossed
quickly to the opposite side of the street, for his delicate senses
indicated that at this point the breeze stirring through the city
streets and deflected by the opposite wall would now blow from the
lion toward him as the beast passed, whereas if he remained upon
the side of the street upon which he had been walking when he
discovered the carnivore, his scent would have been borne to the
nostrils of the animal, and Tarzan was sufficiently jungle-wise
to realize that while he might deceive the eyes of man and beast
he could not so easily disguise from the nostrils of one of the
great cats that he was a creature of a different species from the
inhabitants of the city, the only human beings, possibly, that Numa
was familiar with. In him the cat would recognize a stranger, and,
therefore, an enemy, and Tarzan had no desire to be delayed by an
encounter with a savage lion. His ruse worked successfully, the
lion passing him with not more than a side glance in his direction.
He had proceeded for some little distance and had about reached a
point where he judged he would find the street which led up from
the city gate when, at an intersection of two streets, his nostrils
caught the scent spoor of the girl. Out of a maze of other scent
spoors the ape-man picked the familiar odor of the girl and, a second
later, that of Smith-Oldwick. He had been forced to accomplish
it, however, by bending very low at each street intersection in
repeated attention to his sandal wrappings, bringing his nostrils
as close to the pavement as possible.
As he advanced along the street through which the two had been
conducted earlier in the day he noted, as had they, the change
in the type of buildings as he passed from a residence district
into that portion occupied by shops and bazaars. Here the number
of flares was increased so that they appeared not only at street
intersections but midway between as well, and there were many
more people abroad. The shops were open and lighted, for with the
setting of the sun the intense heat of the day had given place to
a pleasant coolness. Here also the number of lions, roaming loose
through the thoroughfares, increased, and also for the first time
Tarzan noted the idiosyncrasies of the people.
Once he was nearly upset by a naked man running rapidly through
the street screaming at the top of his voice. And again he nearly
stumbled over a woman who was making her way in the shadows of one
of the arcades upon all fours. At first the ape-man thought she was
hunting for something she had dropped, but as he drew to one side
to watch her, he saw that she was doing nothing of the kind--that
she had merely elected to walk upon her hands and knees rather
than erect upon her feet. In another block he saw two creatures
struggling upon the roof of an adjacent building until finally one
of them, wrenching himself free from the grasp of the other, gave
his adversary a mighty push which hurled him to the pavement below,
where he lay motionless upon the dusty road. For an instant a wild
shriek re-echoed through the city from the lungs of the victor and
then, without an instant's hesitation, the fellow leaped headfirst
to the street beside the body of his victim. A lion moved out from
the dense shadows of a doorway and approached the two bloody and
lifeless things before him. Tarzan wondered what effect the odor
of blood would have upon the beast and was surprised to see that
the animal only sniffed at the corpses and the hot red blood and
then lay down beside the two dead men.
He had passed the lion but a short distance when his attention was
called to the figure of a man lowering himself laboriously from the
roof of a building upon the east side of the thoroughfare. Tarzan's
curiosity was aroused.
In the Alcove
As Smith-Oldwick realized that he was alone and practically defenseless
in an enclosure filled with great lions he was, in his weakened
condition, almost in a state verging upon hysterical terror.
Clinging to the grating for support he dared not turn his head in
the direction of the beasts behind him. He felt his knees giving
weakly beneath him. Something within his head spun rapidly around.
He became very dizzy and nauseated and then suddenly all went
black before his eyes as his limp body collapsed at the foot of
How long he lay there unconscious he never knew; but as reason
slowly reasserted itself in his semi-conscious state he was aware
that he lay in a cool bed upon the whitest of linen in a bright
and cheery room, and that upon one side close to him was an open
window, the delicate hangings of which were fluttering in a soft
summer breeze which blew in from a sun-kissed orchard of ripening
fruit which he could see without--an old orchard in which soft,
green grass grew between the laden trees, and where the sun filtered
through the foliage; and upon the dappled greensward a little child
was playing with a frolicsome puppy.
"God," thought the man, "what a horrible nightmare I have passed
through!" and then he felt a hand stroking his brow and cheek--a
cool and gentle hand that smoothed away his troubled recollections.
For a long minute Smith-Oldwick lay in utter peace and content
until gradually there was forced upon his sensibilities the fact
that the hand had become rough, and that it was no longer cool but
hot and moist; and suddenly he opened his eyes and looked up into
the face of a huge lion.
Lieutenant Harold Percy Smith-Oldwick was not only an English
gentleman and an officer in name, he was also what these implied--a
brave man; but when he realized that the sweet picture he had looked
upon was but the figment of a dream, and that in reality he still
lay where he had fallen at the foot of the grating with a lion
standing over him licking his face, the tears sprang to his eyes
and ran down his cheeks. Never, he thought, had an unkind fate
played so cruel a joke upon a human being.
For some time he lay feigning death while the lion, having ceased
to lick him, sniffed about his body. There are some things than which
death is to be preferred; and there came at last to the Englishman
the realization that it would be better to die swiftly than to
lie in this horrible predicament until his mind broke beneath the
strain and he went mad.
And so, deliberately and without haste, he rose, clinging to the
grating for support. At his first move the lion growled, but after
that he paid no further attention to the man, and when at last
Smith-Oldwick had regained his feet the lion moved indifferently
away. Then it was that the man turned and looked about the enclosure.
Sprawled beneath the shade of the trees and lying upon the long bench
beside the south wall the great beasts rested, with the exception
of two or three who moved restlessly about. It was these that the
man feared and yet when two more of them had passed him by he began
to feel reassured, recalling the fact that they were accustomed to
the presence of man.
And yet he dared not move from the grating. As the man examined his
surroundings he noted that the branches of one of the trees near
the further wall spread close beneath an open window. If he could
reach that tree and had strength to do so, he could easily climb
out upon the branch and escape, at least, from the enclosure of the
lions. But in order to reach the tree he must pass the full length
of the enclosure, and at the very bole of the tree itself two lions
lay sprawled out in slumber.
For half an hour the man stood gazing longingly at this seeming
avenue of escape, and at last, with a muttered oath, he straightened
up and throwing back his shoulders in a gesture of defiance, he
walked slowly and deliberately down the center of the courtyard.
One of the prowling lions turned from the side wall and moved
toward the center directly in the man's path, but Smith-Oldwick was
committed to what he considered his one chance, for even temporary
safety, and so he kept on, ignoring the presence of the beast. The
lion slouched to his side and sniffed him and then, growling, he
bared his teeth.
Smith-Oldwick drew the pistol from his shirt. "If he has made up
his mind to kill me," he thought. "I can't see that it will make
any difference in the long run whether I infuriate him or not. The
beggar can't kill me any deader in one mood than another."
But with the man's movement in withdrawing the weapon from his shirt
the lion's attitude suddenly altered and though he still growled
he turned and sprang away, and then at last the Englishman stood
almost at the foot of the tree that was his goal, and between him
and safety sprawled a sleeping lion.
Above him was a limb that ordinarily he could have leaped for and
reached with ease; but weak from his wounds and loss of blood he
doubted his ability to do so now. There was even a question as to
whether he would be able to ascend the tree at all. There was just
one chance: the lowest branch left the bole within easy reach of a
man standing on the ground close to the tree's stem, but to reach
a position where the branch would be accessible he must step over
the body of a lion. Taking a deep breath he placed one foot between
the sprawled legs of the beast and gingerly raised the other to plant
it upon the opposite side of the tawny body. "What," he thought,
"if the beggar should happen to wake now?" The suggestion sent a
shudder through his frame but he did not hesitate or withdraw his
foot. Gingerly he planted it beyond the lion, threw his weight
forward upon it and cautiously brought his other foot to the side
of the first. He had passed and the lion had not awakened.
Smith-Oldwick was weak from loss of blood and the hardships he had
undergone, but the realization of his situation impelled him to a
show of agility and energy which he probably could scarcely have
equaled when in possession of his normal strength. With his life
depending upon the success of his efforts, he swung himself quickly
to the lower branches of the tree and scrambled upward out of reach
of possible harm from the lions below--though the sudden movement
in the branches above them awakened both the sleeping beasts. The
animals raised their heads and looked questioningly up for a moment
and then lay back again to resume their broken slumber.
So easily had the Englishman succeeded thus far that he suddenly
began to question as to whether he had at any time been in real
danger. The lions, as he knew, were accustomed to the presence of
men, but yet they were still lions and he was free to admit that
he breathed more easily now that he was safe above their clutches.
Before him lay the open window he had seen from the ground. He
was now on a level with it and could see an apparently unoccupied
chamber beyond, and toward this he made his way along a stout
branch that swung beneath the opening. It was not a difficult feat
to reach the window, and a moment later he drew himself over the
sill and dropped into the room.
He found himself in a rather spacious apartment, the floor of which
was covered with rugs of barbaric design, while the few pieces of
furniture were of a similar type to that which he had seen in the
room on the first floor into which he and Bertha Kircher had been
ushered at the conclusion of their journey. At one end of the room
was what appeared to be a curtained alcove, the heavy hangings of
which completely hid the interior. In the wall opposite the window
and near the alcove was a closed door, apparently the only exit
from the room.
He could see, in the waning light without, that the close of the
day was fast approaching, and he hesitated while he deliberated the
advisability of waiting until darkness had fallen, or of immediately
searching for some means of escape from the building and the city.
He at last decided that it would do no harm to investigate beyond
the room, that he might have some idea as how best to plan his
escape after dark. To this end he crossed the room toward the door
but he had taken only a few steps when the hangings before the
alcove separated and the figure of a woman appeared in the opening.
She was young and beautifully formed; the single drapery wound around
her body from below her breasts left no detail of her symmetrical