Part 2 out of 6
They had passed but a short distance to the rear of Numa when the
boy caught the unpleasant odor of the carnivore. His face lighted
with a smile. Something told him that he would have known that
scent among a myriad of others even if Akut had not told him that
a lion lay near. There was a strange familiarity--a weird familiarity
in it that made the short hairs rise at the nape of his neck, and
brought his upper lip into an involuntary snarl that bared his
fighting fangs. There was a sense of stretching of the skin about
his ears, for all the world as though those members were flattening
back against his skull in preparation for deadly combat. His skin
tingled. He was aglow with a pleasurable sensation that he never
before had known. He was, upon the instant, another creature--wary,
alert, ready. Thus did the scent of Numa, the lion, transform the
boy into a beast.
He had never seen a lion--his mother had gone to great pains to
prevent it. But he had devoured countless pictures of them, and now
he was ravenous to feast his eyes upon the king of beasts in the
flesh. As he trailed Akut he kept an eye cocked over one shoulder,
rearward, in the hope that Numa might rise from his kill and reveal
himself. Thus it happened that he dropped some little way behind
Akut, and the next he knew he was recalled suddenly to a contemplation
of other matters than the hidden Numa by a shrill scream of warning
from the Ape. Turning his eyes quickly in the direction of his
companion, the boy saw that, standing in the path directly before
him, which sent tremors of excitement racing along every nerve of
his body. With body half-merging from a clump of bushes in which
she must have lain hidden stood a sleek and beautiful lioness.
Her yellow-green eyes were round and staring, boring straight into
the eyes of the boy. Not ten paces separated them. Twenty paces
behind the lioness stood the great ape, bellowing instructions to
the boy and hurling taunts at the lioness in an evident effort to
attract her attention from the lad while he gained the shelter of
a near-by tree.
But Sabor was not to be diverted. She had her eyes upon the lad.
He stood between her and her mate, between her and the kill. It
was suspicious. Probably he had ulterior designs upon her lord
and master or upon the fruits of their hunting. A lioness is short
tempered. Akut's bellowing annoyed her. She uttered a little
rumbling growl, taking a step toward the boy.
"The tree!" screamed Akut.
The boy turned and fled, and at the same instant the lioness charged.
The tree was but a few paces away. A limb hung ten feet from the
ground, and as the boy leaped for it the lioness leaped for him.
Like a monkey he pulled himself up and to one side. A great
forepaw caught him a glancing blow at the hips--just grazing him.
One curved talon hooked itself into the waist band of his pajama
trousers, ripping them from him as the lioness sped by. Half-naked
the lad drew himself to safety as the beast turned and leaped for
him once more.
Akut, from a near-by tree, jabbered and scolded, calling the lioness
all manner of foul names. The boy, patterning his conduct after
that of his preceptor, unstoppered the vials of his invective upon
the head of the enemy, until in realization of the futility of
words as weapons he bethought himself of something heavier to hurl.
There was nothing but dead twigs and branches at hand, but these
he flung at the upturned, snarling face of Sabor just as his father
had before him twenty years ago, when as a boy he too had taunted
and tantalized the great cats of the jungle.
The lioness fretted about the bole of the tree for a short time;
but finally, either realizing the uselessness of her vigil, or
prompted by the pangs of hunger, she stalked majestically away and
disappeared in the brush that hid her lord, who had not once shown
himself during the altercation.
Freed from their retreats Akut and the boy came to the ground, to
take up their interrupted journey once more. The old ape scolded
the lad for his carelessness.
"Had you not been so intent upon the lion behind you you might have
discovered the lioness much sooner than you did,"
"But you passed right by her without seeing her," retorted the boy.
Akut was chagrined.
"It is thus," he said, "that jungle folk die. We go cautiously
for a lifetime, and then, just for an instant, we forget, and--"
he ground his teeth in mimicry of the crunching of great jaws in
flesh. "It is a lesson," he resumed. "You have learned that you
may not for too long keep your eyes and your ears and your nose
all bent in the same direction."
That night the son of Tarzan was colder than he ever had been in
all his life. The pajama trousers had not been heavy; but they
had been much heavier than nothing. And the next day he roasted in
the hot sun, for again their way led much across wide and treeless
It was still in the boy's mind to travel to the south, and circle
back to the coast in search of another outpost of civilization.
He had said nothing of this plan to Akut, for he knew that the old
ape would look with displeasure upon any suggestion that savored
For a month the two wandered on, the boy learning rapidly the laws
of the jungle; his muscles adapting themselves to the new mode of
life that had been thrust upon them. The thews of the sire had
been transmitted to the son--it needed only the hardening of use
to develop them. The lad found that it came quite naturally to him
to swing through the trees. Even at great heights he never felt
the slightest dizziness, and when he had caught the knack of the
swing and the release, he could hurl himself through space from
branch to branch with even greater agility than the heavier Akut.
And with exposure came a toughening and hardening of his smooth,
white skin, browning now beneath the sun and wind. He had removed
his pajama jacket one day to bathe in a little stream that was too
small to harbor crocodiles, and while he and Akut had been disporting
themselves in the cool waters a monkey had dropped down from the
over hanging trees, snatched up the boy's single remaining article
of civilized garmenture, and scampered away with it.
For a time Jack was angry; but when he had been without the jacket
for a short while he began to realize that being half-clothed
is infinitely more uncomfortable than being entirely naked. Soon
he did not miss his clothing in the least, and from that he came
to revel in the freedom of his unhampered state. Occasionally a
smile would cross his face as he tried to imagine the surprise of
his schoolmates could they but see him now. They would envy him.
Yes, how they would envy him. He felt sorry for them at such
times, and again as he thought of them amid luxuries and comforts
of their English homes, happy with their fathers and mothers, a
most uncomfortable lump would arise into the boy's throat, and he
would see a vision of his mother's face through a blur of mist that
came unbidden to his eyes. Then it was that he urged Akut onward,
for now they were headed westward toward the coast. The old ape
thought that they were searching for a tribe of his own kind, nor
did the boy disabuse his mind of this belief. It would do to tell
Akut of his real plans when they had come within sight of civilization.
One day as they were moving slowly along beside a river they came
unexpectedly upon a native village. Some children were playing
beside the water. The boy's heart leaped within his breast at
sight of them--for over a month he had seen no human being. What
if these were naked savages? What if their skins were black? Were
they not creatures fashioned in the mold of their Maker, as was
he? They were his brothers and sisters! He started toward them.
With a low warning Akut laid a hand upon his arm to hold him back.
The boy shook himself free, and with a shout of greeting ran forward
toward the ebon players.
The sound of his voice brought every head erect. Wide eyes viewed
him for an instant, and then, with screams of terror, the children
turned and fled toward the village. At their heels ran their
mothers, and from the village gate, in response to the alarm, came
a score of warriors, hastily snatched spears and shields ready in
At sight of the consternation he had wrought the boy halted. The
glad smile faded from his face as with wild shouts and menacing
gestures the warriors ran toward him. Akut was calling to him from
behind to turn and flee, telling him that the blacks would kill
him. For a moment he stood watching them coming, then he raised
his hand with the palm toward them in signal for them to halt,
calling out at the same time that he came as a friend--that he had
only wanted to play with their children. Of course they did not
understand a word that he addressed to them, and their answer was
what any naked creature who had run suddenly out of the jungle upon
their women and children might have expected--a shower of spears.
The missiles struck all about the boy, but none touched him. Again
his spine tingled and the short hairs lifted at the nape of his
neck and along the top of his scalp. His eyes narrowed. Sudden
hatred flared in them to wither the expression of glad friendliness
that had lighted them but an instant before. With a low snarl,
quite similar to that of a baffled beast, he turned and ran into
the jungle. There was Akut awaiting him in a tree. The ape urged
him to hasten in flight, for the wise old anthropoid knew that they
two, naked and unarmed, were no match for the sinewy black warriors
who would doubtless make some sort of search for them through the
But a new power moved the son of Tarzan. He had come with a boy's
glad and open heart to offer his friendship to these people who
were human beings like himself. He had been met with suspicion
and spears. They had not even listened to him. Rage and hatred
consumed him. When Akut urged speed he held back. He wanted to
fight, yet his reason made it all too plain that it would be but
a foolish sacrifice of his life to meet these armed men with his
naked hands and his teeth--already the boy thought of his teeth,
of his fighting fangs, when possibility of combat loomed close.
Moving slowly through the trees he kept his eyes over his shoulder,
though he no longer neglected the possibilities of other dangers
which might lurk on either hand or ahead--his experience with the
lioness did not need a repetition to insure the permanency of the
lesson it had taught. Behind he could hear the savages advancing
with shouts and cries. He lagged further behind until the pursuers
were in sight. They did not see him, for they were not looking
among the branches of the trees for human quarry. The lad kept
just ahead of them. For a mile perhaps they continued the search,
and then they turned back toward the village. Here was the boy's
opportunity, that for which he had been waiting, while the hot
blood of revenge coursed through his veins until he saw his pursuers
through a scarlet haze.
When they turned back he turned and followed them. Akut was no
longer in sight. Thinking that the boy followed he had gone on
further ahead. He had no wish to tempt fate within range of those
deadly spears. Slinking silently from tree to tree the boy dogged
the footsteps of the returning warriors. At last one dropped behind
his fellows as they followed a narrow path toward the village. A
grim smile lit the lad's face. Swiftly he hurried forward until he
moved almost above the unconscious black--stalking him as Sheeta,
the panther, stalked his prey, as the boy had seen Sheeta do on
Suddenly and silently he leaped forward and downward upon the broad
shoulders of his prey. In the instant of contact his fingers sought
and found the man's throat. The weight of the boy's body hurled
the black heavily to the ground, the knees in his back knocking the
breath from him as he struck. Then a set of strong, white teeth
fastened themselves in his neck, and muscular fingers closed tighter
upon his wind-pipe. For a time the warrior struggled frantically,
throwing himself about in an effort to dislodge his antagonist;
but all the while he was weakening and all the while the grim and
silent thing he could not see clung tenaciously to him, and dragged
him slowly into the bush to one side of the trail.
Hidden there at last, safe from the prying eyes of searchers,
should they miss their fellow and return for him, the lad choked
the life from the body of his victim. At last he knew by the sudden
struggle, followed by limp relaxation, that the warrior was dead.
Then a strange desire seized him. His whole being quivered and
thrilled. Involuntarily he leaped to his feet and placed one foot
upon the body of his kill. His chest expanded. He raised his face
toward the heavens and opened his mouth to voice a strange, weird
cry that seemed screaming within him for outward expression, but
no sound passed his lips--he just stood there for a full minute,
his face turned toward the sky, his breast heaving to the pent
emotion, like an animate statue of vengeance.
The silence which marked the first great kill of the son of Tarzan
was to typify all his future kills, just as the hideous victory
cry of the bull ape had marked the kills of his mighty sire.
Akut, discovering that the boy was not close behind him, turned back
to search for him. He had gone but a short distance in return when
he was brought to a sudden and startled halt by sight of a strange
figure moving through the trees toward him. It was the boy, yet
could it be? In his hand was a long spear, down his back hung an
oblong shield such as the black warriors who had attacked them had
worn, and upon ankle and arm were bands of iron and brass, while
a loin cloth was twisted about the youth's middle. A knife was
thrust through its folds.
When the boy saw the ape he hastened forward to exhibit his trophies.
Proudly he called attention to each of his newly won possessions.
Boastfully he recounted the details of his exploit.
"With my bare hands and my teeth I killed him," he said. "I would
have made friends with them but they chose to be my enemies. And
now that I have a spear I shall show Numa, too, what it means to
have me for a foe. Only the white men and the great apes, Akut,
are our friends. Them we shall seek, all others must we avoid or
kill. This have I learned of the jungle."
They made a detour about the hostile village, and resumed their
journey toward the coast. The boy took much pride in his new weapons
and ornaments. He practiced continually with the spear, throwing
it at some object ahead hour by hour as they traveled their loitering
way, until he gained a proficiency such as only youthful muscles
may attain to speedily. All the while his training went on under
the guidance of Akut. No longer was there a single jungle spoor
but was an open book to the keen eyes of the lad, and those other
indefinite spoor that elude the senses of civilized man and are
only partially appreciable to his savage cousin came to be familiar
friends of the eager boy. He could differentiate the innumerable
species of the herbivora by scent, and he could tell, too, whether
an animal was approaching or departing merely by the waxing or
waning strength of its effluvium. Nor did he need the evidence
of his eyes to tell him whether there were two lions or four up
wind,--a hundred yards away or half a mile.
Much of this had Akut taught him, but far more was instinctive
knowledge--a species of strange intuition inherited from his father.
He had come to love the jungle life. The constant battle of wits
and senses against the many deadly foes that lurked by day and by
night along the pathway of the wary and the unwary appealed to the
spirit of adventure which breathes strong in the heart of every
red-blooded son of primordial Adam. Yet, though he loved it, he
had not let his selfish desires outweigh the sense of duty that had
brought him to a realization of the moral wrong which lay beneath
the adventurous escapade that had brought him to Africa. His love
of father and mother was strong within him, too strong to permit
unalloyed happiness which was undoubtedly causing them days of
sorrow. And so he held tight to his determination to find a port
upon the coast where he might communicate with them and receive
funds for his return to London. There he felt sure that he could
now persuade his parents to let him spend at least a portion
of his time upon those African estates which from little careless
remarks dropped at home he knew his father possessed. That would
be something, better at least than a lifetime of the cramped and
cloying restrictions of civilization.
And so he was rather contented than otherwise as he made his way
in the direction of the coast, for while he enjoyed the liberty
and the savage pleasures of the wild his conscience was at the
same time clear, for he knew that he was doing all that lay in his
power to return to his parents. He rather looked forward, too, to
meeting white men again--creatures of his own kind--for there had
been many occasions upon which he had longed for other companionship
than that of the old ape. The affair with the blacks still rankled
in his heart. He had approached them in such innocent good fellowship
and with such childlike assurance of a hospitable welcome that
the reception which had been accorded him had proved a shock to
his boyish ideals. He no longer looked upon the black man as his
brother; but rather as only another of the innumerable foes of the
bloodthirsty jungle--a beast of prey which walked upon two feet
instead of four.
But if the blacks were his enemies there were those in the world
who were not. There were those who always would welcome him with
open arms; who would accept him as a friend and brother, and with
whom he might find sanctuary from every enemy. Yes, there were
always white men. Somewhere along the coast or even in the depths
of the jungle itself there were white men. To them he would be
a welcome visitor. They would befriend him. And there were also
the great apes--the friends of his father and of Akut. How glad
they would be to receive the son of Tarzan of the Apes! He hoped
that he could come upon them before he found a trading post upon the
coast. He wanted to be able to tell his father that he had known
his old friends of the jungle, that he had hunted with them, that
he had joined with them in their savage life, and their fierce,
primeval ceremonies--the strange ceremonies of which Akut had tried
to tell him. It cheered him immensely to dwell upon these happy
meetings. Often he rehearsed the long speech which he would make
to the apes, in which he would tell them of the life of their former
king since he had left them.
At other times he would play at meeting with white men. Then
he would enjoy their consternation at sight of a naked white boy
trapped in the war togs of a black warrior and roaming the jungle
with only a great ape as his companion.
And so the days passed, and with the traveling and the hunting and
the climbing the boy's muscles developed and his agility increased
until even phlegmatic Akut marvelled at the prowess of his pupil.
And the boy, realizing his great strength and revelling in it,
became careless. He strode through the jungle, his proud head
erect, defying danger. Where Akut took to the trees at the first
scent of Numa, the lad laughed in the face of the king of beasts
and walked boldly past him. Good fortune was with him for a long
time. The lions he met were well-fed, perhaps, or the very boldness
of the strange creature which invaded their domain so filled them
with surprise that thoughts of attack were banished from their minds
as they stood, round-eyed, watching his approach and his departure.
Whatever the cause, however, the fact remains that on many occasions
the boy passed within a few paces of some great lion without arousing
more than a warning growl.
But no two lions are necessarily alike in character or temper. They
differ as greatly as do individuals of the human family. Because
ten lions act similarly under similar conditions one cannot say
that the eleventh lion will do likewise--the chances are that he
will not. The lion is a creature of high nervous development. He
thinks, therefore he reasons. Having a nervous system and brains
he is the possessor of temperament, which is affected variously
by extraneous causes. One day the boy met the eleventh lion. The
former was walking across a small plain upon which grew little
clumps of bushes. Akut was a few yards to the left of the lad who
was the first to discover the presence of Numa.
"Run, Akut," called the boy, laughing. "Numa lies hid in the bushes
to my right. Take to the trees. Akut! I, the son of Tarzan,
will protect you," and the boy, laughing, kept straight along his
way which led close beside the brush in which Numa lay concealed.
The ape shouted to him to come away, but the lad only flourished
his spear and executed an improvised war dance to show his contempt
for the king of beasts. Closer and closer to the dread destroyer
he came, until, with a sudden, angry growl, the lion rose from his
bed not ten paces from the youth. A huge fellow he was, this lord
of the jungle and the desert. A shaggy mane clothed his shoulders.
Cruel fangs armed his great jaws. His yellow-green eyes blazed
with hatred and challenge.
The boy, with his pitifully inadequate spear ready in his hand,
realized quickly that this lion was different from the others he
had met; but he had gone too far now to retreat. The nearest tree
lay several yards to his left--the lion could be upon him before
he had covered half the distance, and that the beast intended to
charge none could doubt who looked upon him now. Beyond the lion
was a thorn tree--only a few feet beyond him. It was the nearest
sanctuary but Numa stood between it and his prey.
The feel of the long spear shaft in his hand and the sight of the
tree beyond the lion gave the lad an idea--a preposterous idea--a
ridiculous, forlorn hope of an idea; but there was no time now
to weigh chances--there was but a single chance, and that was the
thorn tree. If the lion charged it would be too late--the lad must
charge first, and to the astonishment of Akut and none the less of
Numa, the boy leaped swiftly toward the beast. Just for a second
was the lion motionless with surprise and in that second Jack Clayton
put to the crucial test an accomplishment which he had practiced
Straight for the savage brute he ran, his spear held butt foremost
across his body. Akut shrieked in terror and amazement. The lion
stood with wide, round eyes awaiting the attack, ready to rear
upon his hind feet and receive this rash creature with blows that
could crush the skull of a buffalo.
Just in front of the lion the boy placed the butt of his spear
upon the ground, gave a mighty spring, and, before the bewildered
beast could guess the trick that had been played upon him, sailed
over the lion's head into the rending embrace of the thorn tree--safe
Akut had never before seen a pole-vault. Now he leaped up and
down within the safety of his own tree, screaming taunts and boasts
at the discomfited Numa, while the boy, torn and bleeding, sought
some position in his thorny retreat in which he might find the
least agony. He had saved his life; but at considerable cost in
suffering. It seemed to him that the lion would never leave, and
it was a full hour before the angry brute gave up his vigil and
strode majestically away across the plain. When he was at a safe
distance the boy extricated himself from the thorn tree; but not
without inflicting new wounds upon his already tortured flesh.
It was many days before the outward evidence of the lesson he had
learned had left him; while the impression upon his mind was one
that was to remain with him for life. Never again did he uselessly
He took long chances often in his after life; but only when the
taking of chances might further the attainment of some cherished
end--and, always thereafter, he practiced pole-vaulting.
For several days the boy and the ape lay up while the former recovered
from the painful wounds inflicted by the sharp thorns. The great
anthropoid licked the wounds of his human friend, nor, aside from
this, did they receive other treatment, but they soon healed, for
healthy flesh quickly replaces itself.
When the lad felt fit again the two continued their journey toward
the coast, and once more the boy's mind was filled with pleasurable
And at last the much dreamed of moment came. They were passing
through a tangled forest when the boy's sharp eyes discovered
from the lower branches through which he was traveling an old but
well-marked spoor--a spoor that set his heart to leaping--the spoor
of man, of white men, for among the prints of naked feet were the
well defined outlines of European made boots. The trail, which
marked the passage of a good-sized company, pointed north at right
angles to the course the boy and the ape were taking toward the
Doubtless these white men knew the nearest coast settlement. They
might even be headed for it now. At any rate it would be worth
while overtaking them if even only for the pleasure of meeting again
creatures of his own kind. The lad was all excitement; palpitant
with eagerness to be off in pursuit. Akut demurred. He wanted
nothing of men. To him the lad was a fellow ape, for he was the
son of the king of apes. He tried to dissuade the boy, telling
him that soon they should come upon a tribe of their own folk where
some day when he was older the boy should be king as his father had
before him. But Jack was obdurate. He insisted that he wanted to
see white men again. He wanted to send a message to his parents.
Akut listened and as he listened the intuition of the beast suggested
the truth to him--the boy was planning to return to his own kind.
The thought filled the old ape with sorrow. He loved the boy as
he had loved the father, with the loyalty and faithfulness of a
hound for its master. In his ape brain and his ape heart he had
nursed the hope that he and the lad would never be separated. He
saw all his fondly cherished plans fading away, and yet he remained
loyal to the lad and to his wishes. Though disconsolate he gave in
to the boy's determination to pursue the safari of the white men,
accompanying him upon what he believed would be their last journey
The spoor was but a couple of days old when the two discovered
it, which meant that the slow-moving caravan was but a few hours
distant from them whose trained and agile muscles could carry their
bodies swiftly through the branches above the tangled undergrowth
which had impeded the progress of the laden carriers of the white
The boy was in the lead, excitement and anticipation carrying him
ahead of his companion to whom the attainment of their goal meant
only sorrow. And it was the boy who first saw the rear guard of
the caravan and the white men he had been so anxious to overtake.
Stumbling along the tangled trail of those ahead a dozen heavily
laden blacks who, from fatigue or sickness, had dropped behind
were being prodded by the black soldiers of the rear guard, kicked
when they fell, and then roughly jerked to their feet and hustled
onward. On either side walked a giant white man, heavy blonde beards
almost obliterating their countenances. The boy's lips formed a
glad cry of salutation as his eyes first discovered the whites--a
cry that was never uttered, for almost immediately he witnessed
that which turned his happiness to anger as he saw that both the
white men were wielding heavy whips brutally upon the naked backs
of the poor devils staggering along beneath loads that would have
overtaxed the strength and endurance of strong men at the beginning
of a new day.
Every now and then the rear guard and the white men cast apprehensive
glances rearward as though momentarily expecting the materialization
of some long expected danger from that quarter. The boy had paused
after his first sight of the caravan, and now was following slowly
in the wake of the sordid, brutal spectacle. Presently Akut came
up with him. To the beast there was less of horror in the sight
than to the lad, yet even the great ape growled beneath his breath
at useless torture being inflicted upon the helpless slaves. He
looked at the boy. Now that he had caught up with the creatures
of his own kind, why was it that he did not rush forward and greet
them? He put the question to his companion.
"They are fiends," muttered the boy. "I would not travel with
such as they, for if I did I should set upon them and kill them the
first time they beat their people as they are beating them now;
but," he added, after a moment's thought, "I can ask them the
whereabouts of the nearest port, and then, Akut, we can leave them."
The ape made no reply, and the boy swung to the ground and started
at a brisk walk toward the safari. He was a hundred yards away,
perhaps, when one of the whites caught sight of him. The man gave
a shout of alarm, instantly levelling his rifle upon the boy and
firing. The bullet struck just in front of its mark, scattering
turf and fallen leaves against the lad's legs. A second later the
other white and the black soldiers of the rear guard were firing
hysterically at the boy.
Jack leaped behind a tree, unhit. Days of panic ridden flight
through the jungle had filled Carl Jenssen and Sven Malbihn with
jangling nerves and their native boys with unreasoning terror.
Every new note from behind sounded to their frightened ears the
coming of The Sheik and his bloodthirsty entourage. They were
in a blue funk, and the sight of the naked white warrior stepping
silently out of the jungle through which they had just passed had
been sufficient shock to let loose in action all the pent nerve energy
of Malbihn, who had been the first to see the strange apparition.
And Malbihn's shout and shot had set the others going.
When their nervous energy had spent itself and they came to take
stock of what they had been fighting it developed that Malbihn
alone had seen anything clearly. Several of the blacks averred
that they too had obtained a good view of the creature but their
descriptions of it varied so greatly that Jenssen, who had seen
nothing himself, was inclined to be a trifle skeptical. One of
the blacks insisted that the thing had been eleven feet tall, with
a man's body and the head of an elephant. Another had seen THREE
immense Arabs with huge, black beards; but when, after conquering
their nervousness, the rear guard advanced upon the enemy's
position to investigate they found nothing, for Akut and the boy
had retreated out of range of the unfriendly guns.
Jack was disheartened and sad. He had not entirely recovered from
the depressing effect of the unfriendly reception he had received
at the hands of the blacks, and now he had found an even more
hostile one accorded him by men of his own color.
"The lesser beasts flee from me in terror," he murmured, half
to himself, "the greater beasts are ready to tear me to pieces at
sight. Black men would kill me with their spears or arrows. And
now white men, men of my own kind, have fired upon me and driven
me away. Are all the creatures of the world my enemies? Has the
son of Tarzan no friend other than Akut?"
The old ape drew closer to the boy.
"There are the great apes," he said. "They only will be the friends
of Akut's friend. Only the great apes will welcome the son of
Tarzan. You have seen that men want nothing of you. Let us go
now and continue our search for the great apes--our people."
The language of the great apes is a combination of monosyllabic
gutturals, amplified by gestures and signs. It may not be literally
translated into human speech; but as near as may be this is what
Akut said to the boy.
The two proceeded in silence for some time after Akut had spoken.
The boy was immersed in deep thought--bitter thoughts in which
hatred and revenge predominated. Finally he spoke: "Very well,
Akut," he said, "we will find our friends, the great apes."
The anthropoid was overjoyed; but he gave no outward demonstration
of his pleasure. A low grunt was his only response, and a moment
later he had leaped nimbly upon a small and unwary rodent that had
been surprised at a fatal distance from its burrow. Tearing the
unhappy creature in two Akut handed the lion's share to the lad.
A year had passed since the two Swedes had been driven in terror
from the savage country where The Sheik held sway. Little Meriem
still played with Geeka, lavishing all her childish love upon the
now almost hopeless ruin of what had never, even in its palmiest
days, possessed even a slight degree of loveliness. But to Meriem,
Geeka was all that was sweet and adorable. She carried to the deaf
ears of the battered ivory head all her sorrows all her hopes and
all her ambitions, for even in the face of hopelessness, in the
clutches of the dread authority from which there was no escape,
little Meriem yet cherished hopes and ambitions. It is true that
her ambitions were rather nebulous in form, consisting chiefly
of a desire to escape with Geeka to some remote and unknown spot
where there were no Sheiks, no Mabunus--where El Adrea could find
no entrance, and where she might play all day surrounded only by
flowers and birds and the harmless little monkeys playing in the
The Sheik had been away for a long time, conducting a caravan of
ivory, skins, and rubber far into the north. The interim had been
one of great peace for Meriem. It is true that Mabunu had still
been with her, to pinch or beat her as the mood seized the villainous
old hag; but Mabunu was only one. When The Sheik was there also
there were two of them, and The Sheik was stronger and more brutal
even than Mabunu. Little Meriem often wondered why the grim old
man hated her so. It is true that he was cruel and unjust to all
with whom he came in contact, but to Meriem he reserved his greatest
cruelties, his most studied injustices.
Today Meriem was squatting at the foot of a large tree which grew
inside the palisade close to the edge of the village. She was
fashioning a tent of leaves for Geeka. Before the tent were some
pieces of wood and small leaves and a few stones. These were the
household utensils. Geeka was cooking dinner. As the little girl
played she prattled continuously to her companion, propped in a
sitting position with a couple of twigs. She was totally absorbed
in the domestic duties of Geeka--so much so that she did not note
the gentle swaying of the branches of the tree above her as they
bent to the body of the creature that had entered them stealthily
from the jungle.
In happy ignorance the little girl played on, while from above two
steady eyes looked down upon her--unblinking, unwavering. There
was none other than the little girl in this part of the village,
which had been almost deserted since The Sheik had left long months
before upon his journey toward the north.
And out in the jungle, an hour's march from the village, The Sheik
was leading his returning caravan homeward.
A year had passed since the white men had fired upon the lad and
driven him back into the jungle to take up his search for the only
remaining creatures to whom he might look for companionship--the
great apes. For months the two had wandered eastward, deeper and
deeper into the jungle. The year had done much for the boy--turning
his already mighty muscles to thews of steel, developing his
woodcraft to a point where it verged upon the uncanny, perfecting
his arboreal instincts, and training him in the use of both natural
and artificial weapons.
He had become at last a creature of marvelous physical powers
and mental cunning. He was still but a boy, yet so great was his
strength that the powerful anthropoid with which he often engaged
in mimic battle was no match for him. Akut had taught him to fight
as the bull ape fights, nor ever was there a teacher better fitted
to instruct in the savage warfare of primordial man, or a pupil
better equipped to profit by the lessons of a master.
As the two searched for a band of the almost extinct species
of ape to which Akut belonged they lived upon the best the jungle
afforded. Antelope and zebra fell to the boy's spear, or were dragged
down by the two powerful beasts of prey who leaped upon them from
some overhanging limb or from the ambush of the undergrowth beside
the trail to the water hole or the ford.
The pelt of a leopard covered the nakedness of the youth; but the
wearing of it had not been dictated by any prompting of modesty.
With the rifle shots of the white men showering about him he had
reverted to the savagery of the beast that is inherent in each
of us, but that flamed more strongly in this boy whose father had
been raised a beast of prey. He wore his leopard skin at first
in response to a desire to parade a trophy of his prowess, for he
had slain the leopard with his knife in a hand-to-hand combat. He
saw that the skin was beautiful, which appealed to his barbaric
sense of ornamentation, and when it stiffened and later commenced
to decompose because of his having no knowledge of how to cure or
tan it was with sorrow and regret that he discarded it. Later,
when he chanced upon a lone, black warrior wearing the counterpart
of it, soft and clinging and beautiful from proper curing, it
required but an instant to leap from above upon the shoulders of
the unsuspecting black, sink a keen blade into his heart and possess
the rightly preserved hide.
There were no after-qualms of conscience. In the jungle might is
right, nor does it take long to inculcate this axiom in the mind
of a jungle dweller, regardless of what his past training may have
been. That the black would have killed him had he had the chance
the boy knew full well. Neither he nor the black were any more
sacred than the lion, or the buffalo, the zebra or the deer, or any
other of the countless creatures who roamed, or slunk, or flew,
or wriggled through the dark mazes of the forest. Each had but
a single life, which was sought by many. The greater number of
enemies slain the better chance to prolong that life. So the boy
smiled and donned the finery of the vanquished, and went his way
with Akut, searching, always searching for the elusive anthropoids
who were to welcome them with open arms. And at last they found
them. Deep in the jungle, buried far from sight of man, they came
upon such another little natural arena as had witnessed the wild
ceremony of the Dum-Dum in which the boy's father had taken part
long years before.
First, at a great distance, they heard the beating of the drum of
the great apes. They were sleeping in the safety of a huge tree
when the booming sound smote upon their ears. Both awoke at once.
Akut was the first to interpret the strange cadence.
"The great apes!" he growled. "They dance the Dum-Dum. Come,
Korak, son of Tarzan, let us go to our people."
Months before Akut had given the boy a name of his own choosing,
since he could not master the man given name of Jack. Korak is as
near as it may be interpreted into human speech. In the language
of the apes it means Killer. Now the Killer rose upon the branch
of the great tree where he had been sleeping with his back braced
against the stem. He stretched his lithe young muscles, the moonlight
filtering through the foliage from above dappling his brown skin
with little patches of light.
The ape, too, stood up, half squatting after the manner of his
kind. Low growls rumbled from the bottom of his deep chest--growls
of excited anticipation. The boy growled in harmony with the ape.
Then the anthropoid slid softly to the ground. Close by, in the
direction of the booming drum, lay a clearing which they must cross.
The moon flooded it with silvery light. Half-erect, the great ape
shuffled into the full glare of the moon. At his side, swinging
gracefully along in marked contrast to the awkwardness of his
companion, strode the boy, the dark, shaggy coat of the one brushing
against the smooth, clear hide of the other. The lad was humming
now, a music hall air that had found its way to the forms of the
great English public school that was to see him no more. He was
happy and expectant. The moment he had looked forward to for so
long was about to be realized. He was coming into his own. He was
coming home. As the months had dragged or flown along, retarded or
spurred on as privation or adventure predominated, thoughts of his
own home, while oft recurring, had become less vivid. The old life
had grown to seem more like a dream than a reality, and the balking
of his determination to reach the coast and return to London had
finally thrown the hope of realization so remotely into the future
that it too now seemed little more than a pleasant but hopeless
Now all thoughts of London and civilization were crowded so far
into the background of his brain that they might as well have been
non-existent. Except for form and mental development he was as
much an ape as the great, fierce creature at his side.
In the exuberance of his joy he slapped his companion roughly on
the side of the head. Half in anger, half in play the anthropoid
turned upon him, his fangs bared and glistening. Long, hairy arms
reached out to seize him, and, as they had done a thousand times
before, the two clinched in mimic battle, rolling upon the sward,
striking, growling and biting, though never closing their teeth in
more than a rough pinch. It was wondrous practice for them both.
The boy brought into play wrestling tricks that he had learned at
school, and many of these Akut learned to use and to foil. And
from the ape the boy learned the methods that had been handed down
to Akut from some common ancestor of them both, who had roamed the
teeming earth when ferns were trees and crocodiles were birds.
But there was one art the boy possessed which Akut could not master,
though he did achieve fair proficiency in it for an ape--boxing.
To have his bull-like charges stopped and crumpled with a suddenly
planted fist upon the end of his snout, or a painful jolt in the
short ribs, always surprised Akut. It angered him too, and at
such times his mighty jaws came nearer to closing in the soft flesh
of his friend than at any other, for he was still an ape, with an
ape's short temper and brutal instincts; but the difficulty was in
catching his tormentor while his rage lasted, for when he lost his
head and rushed madly into close quarters with the boy he discovered
that the stinging hail of blows released upon him always found
their mark and effectually stopped him--effectually and painfully.
Then he would withdraw growling viciously, backing away with grinning
jaws distended, to sulk for an hour or so.
Tonight they did not box. Just for a moment or two they wrestled
playfully, until the scent of Sheeta, the panther, brought them
to their feet, alert and wary. The great cat was passing through
the jungle in front of them. For a moment it paused, listening.
The boy and the ape growled menacingly in chorus and the carnivore
Then the two took up their journey toward the sound of the Dum-Dum.
Louder and louder came the beating of the drum. Now, at last, they
could hear the growling of the dancing apes, and strong to their
nostrils came the scent of their kind. The lad trembled with
excitement. The hair down Akut's spine stiffened--the symptoms of
happiness and anger are often similar.
Silently they crept through the jungle as they neared the meeting
place of the apes. Now they were in the trees, worming their way
forward, alert for sentinels. Presently through a break in the
foliage the scene burst upon the eager eyes of the boy. To Akut
it was a familiar one; but to Korak it was all new. His nerves
tingled at the savage sight. The great bulls were dancing in the
moonlight, leaping in an irregular circle about the flat-topped
earthen drum about which three old females sat beating its resounding
top with sticks worn smooth by long years of use.
Akut, knowing the temper and customs of his kind, was too wise to
make their presence known until the frenzy of the dance had passed.
After the drum was quiet and the bellies of the tribe well-filled
he would hail them. Then would come a parley, after which he and
Korak would be accepted into membership by the community. There
might be those who would object; but such could be overcome by brute
force, of which he and the lad had an ample surplus. For weeks,
possibly months, their presence might cause ever decreasing suspicion
among others of the tribe; but eventually they would become as born
brothers to these strange apes.
He hoped that they had been among those who had known Tarzan, for
that would help in the introduction of the lad and in the consummation
of Akut's dearest wish, that Korak should become king of the apes.
It was with difficulty, however, that Akut kept the boy from rushing
into the midst of the dancing anthropoids--an act that would have
meant the instant extermination of them both, since the hysterical
frenzy into which the great apes work themselves during the
performance of their strange rites is of such a nature that even
the most ferocious of the carnivora give them a wide berth at such
As the moon declined slowly toward the lofty, foliaged horizon of
the amphitheater the booming of the drum decreased and lessened
were the exertions of the dancers, until, at last, the final note
was struck and the huge beasts turned to fall upon the feast they
had dragged hither for the orgy.
From what he had seen and heard Akut was able to explain to Korak
that the rites proclaimed the choosing of a new king, and he
pointed out to the boy the massive figure of the shaggy monarch,
come into his kingship, no doubt, as many human rulers have come
into theirs--by the murder of his predecessor.
When the apes had filled their bellies and many of them had sought
the bases of the trees to curl up in sleep Akut plucked Korak by
"Come," he whispered. "Come slowly. Follow me. Do as Akut does."
Then he advanced slowly through the trees until he stood upon a
bough overhanging one side of the amphitheater. Here he stood in
silence for a moment. Then he uttered a low growl. Instantly a
score of apes leaped to their feet. There savage little eyes sped
quickly around the periphery of the clearing. The king ape was
the first to see the two figures upon the branch. He gave voice
to an ominous growl. Then he took a few lumbering steps in the
direction of the intruders. His hair was bristling. His legs were
stiff, imparting a halting, jerky motion to his gait. Behind him
pressed a number of bulls.
He stopped just a little before he came beneath the two--just far
enough to be beyond their spring. Wary king! Here he stood rocking
himself to and fro upon his short legs, baring his fangs in hideous
grinnings, rumbling out an ever increasing volume of growls, which
were slowly but steadily increasing to the proportions of roars.
Akut knew that he was planning an attack upon them. The old ape
did not wish to fight. He had come with the boy to cast his lot
with the tribe.
"I am Akut," he said. "This is Korak. Korak is the son of Tarzan
who was king of the apes. I, too, was king of the apes who dwelt
in the midst of the great waters. We have come to hunt with you,
to fight with you. We are great hunters. We are mighty fighters.
Let us come in peace."
The king ceased his rocking. He eyed the pair from beneath his
beetling brows. His bloodshot eyes were savage and crafty. His
kingship was very new and he was jealous of it. He feared the
encroachments of two strange apes. The sleek, brown, hairless body
of the lad spelled "man," and man he feared and hated.
"Go away!" he growled. "Go away, or I will kill you."
The eager lad, standing behind the great Akut, had been pulsing
with anticipation and happiness. He wanted to leap down among
these hairy monsters and show them that he was their friend, that
he was one of them. He had expected that they would receive him
with open arms, and now the words of the king ape filled him with
indignation and sorrow. The blacks had set upon him and driven
him away. Then he had turned to the white men--to those of his
own kind--only to hear the ping of bullets where he had expected
words of cordial welcome. The great apes had remained his final
hope. To them he looked for the companionship man had denied him.
Suddenly rage overwhelmed him.
The king ape was almost directly beneath him. The others were
formed in a half circle several yards behind the king. They were
watching events interestedly. Before Akut could guess his intention,
or prevent, the boy leaped to the ground directly in the path of
the king, who had now succeeded in stimulating himself to a frenzy
"I am Korak!" shouted the boy. "I am the Killer. I came to live
among you as a friend. You want to drive me away. Very well,
then, I shall go; but before I go I shall show you that the son
of Tarzan is your master, as his father was before him--that he is
not afraid of your king or you."
For an instant the king ape had stood motionless with surprise.
He had expected no such rash action upon the part of either of the
intruders. Akut was equally surprised. Now he shouted excitedly
for Korak to come back, for he knew that in the sacred arena the
other bulls might be expected to come to the assistance of their
king against an outsider, though there was small likelihood that
the king would need assistance. Once those mighty jaws closed
upon the boy's soft neck the end would come quickly. To leap to
his rescue would mean death for Akut, too; but the brave old ape
never hesitated. Bristling and growling, he dropped to the sward
just as the king ape charged.
The beast's hands clutched for their hold as the animal sprang upon
the lad. The fierce jaws were wide distended to bury the yellow
fangs deeply in the brown hide. Korak, too, leaped forward to meet
the attack; but leaped crouching, beneath the outstretched arms.
At the instant of contact the lad pivoted on one foot, and with
all the weight of his body and the strength of his trained muscles
drove a clenched fist into the bull's stomach. With a gasping
shriek the king ape collapsed, clutching futilely for the agile,
naked creature nimbly sidestepping from his grasp.
Howls of rage and dismay broke from the bull apes behind the fallen
king, as with murder in their savage little hearts they rushed
forward upon Korak and Akut; but the old ape was too wise to court
any such unequal encounter. To have counseled the boy to retreat now
would have been futile, and Akut knew it. To delay even a second
in argument would have sealed the death warrants of them both.
There was but a single hope and Akut seized it. Grasping the lad
around the waist he lifted him bodily from the ground, and turning
ran swiftly toward another tree which swung low branches above the
arena. Close upon their heels swarmed the hideous mob; but Akut,
old though he was and burdened by the weight of the struggling
Korak, was still fleeter than his pursuers.
With a bound he grasped a low limb, and with the agility of a little
monkey swung himself and the boy to temporary safety. Nor did he
hesitate even here; but raced on through the jungle night, bearing
his burden to safety. For a time the bulls pursued; but presently,
as the swifter outdistanced the slower and found themselves separated
from their fellows they abandoned the chase, standing roaring and
screaming until the jungle reverberated to their hideous noises.
Then they turned and retraced their way to the amphitheater.
When Akut felt assured that they were no longer pursued he stopped
and released Korak. The boy was furious.
"Why did you drag me away?" he cried. "I would have taught them!
I would have taught them all! Now they will think that I am afraid
"What they think cannot harm you," said Akut. "You are alive. If
I had not brought you away you would be dead now and so would I.
Do you not know that even Numa slinks from the path of the great
apes when there are many of them and they are mad?"
It was an unhappy Korak who wandered aimlessly through the jungle
the day following his inhospitable reception by the great apes.
His heart was heavy from disappointment. Unsatisfied vengeance
smoldered in his breast. He looked with hatred upon the denizens
of his jungle world, bearing his fighting fangs and growling at those
that came within radius of his senses. The mark of his father's
early life was strong upon him and enhanced by months of association
with beasts, from whom the imitative faculty of youth had absorbed
a countless number of little mannerisms of the predatory creatures
of the wild.
He bared his fangs now as naturally and upon as slight provocation
as Sheeta, the panther, bared his. He growled as ferociously as
Akut himself. When he came suddenly upon another beast his quick
crouch bore a strange resemblance to the arching of a cat's back.
Korak, the killer, was looking for trouble. In his heart of hearts
he hoped to meet the king ape who had driven him from the amphitheater.
To this end he insisted upon remaining in the vicinity; but the
exigencies of the perpetual search for food led them several miles
further away during day.
They were moving slowly down wind, and warily because the advantage
was with whatever beast might chance to be hunting ahead of them,
where their scent-spoor was being borne by the light breeze.
Suddenly the two halted simultaneously. Two heads were cocked upon
one side. Like creatures hewn from solid rock they stood immovable,
listening. Not a muscle quivered. For several seconds they remained
thus, then Korak advanced cautiously a few yards and leaped nimbly
into a tree. Akut followed close upon his heels. Neither had made
a noise that would have been appreciable to human ears at a dozen
Stopping often to listen they crept forward through the trees. That
both were greatly puzzled was apparent from the questioning looks
they cast at one another from time to time. Finally the lad caught
a glimpse of a palisade a hundred yards ahead, and beyond it the
tops of some goatskin tents and a number of thatched huts. His
lip upcurled in a savage snarl. Blacks! How he hated them. He
signed to Akut to remain where he was while he advanced to reconnoiter.
Woe betide the unfortunate villager whom The Killer came upon now.
Slinking through the lower branches of the trees, leaping lightly
from one jungle giant to its neighbor where the distance was not
too great, or swinging from one hand hold to another Korak came
silently toward the village. He heard a voice beyond the palisade and
toward that he made his way. A great tree overhung the enclosure
at the very point from which the voice came. Into this Korak crept.
His spear was ready in his hand. His ears told him of the proximity
of a human being. All that his eyes required was a single glance
to show him his target. Then, lightning like, the missile would
fly to its goal. With raised spear he crept among the branches of
the tree glaring narrowly downward in search of the owner of the
voice which rose to him from below.
At last he saw a human back. The spear hand flew to the limit of
the throwing position to gather the force that would send the iron
shod missile completely through the body of the unconscious victim.
And then The Killer paused. He leaned forward a little to get a
better view of the target. Was it to insure more perfect aim, or
had there been that in the graceful lines and the childish curves
of the little body below him that had held in check the spirit of
murder running riot in his veins?
He lowered his spear cautiously that it might make no noise by
scraping against foliage or branches. Quietly he crouched in a
comfortable position along a great limb and there he lay with wide
eyes looking down in wonder upon the creature he had crept upon to
kill--looking down upon a little girl, a little nut brown maiden.
The snarl had gone from his lip. His only expression was one of
interested attention--he was trying to discover what the girl was
doing. Suddenly a broad grin overspread his face, for a turn of the
girl's body had revealed Geeka of the ivory head and the rat skin
torso--Geeka of the splinter limbs and the disreputable appearance.
The little girl raised the marred face to hers and rocking herself
backward and forward crooned a plaintive Arab lullaby to the doll.
A softer light entered the eyes of The Killer. For a long hour
that passed very quickly to him Korak lay with gaze riveted upon
the playing child. Not once had he had a view of the girl's full
face. For the most part he saw only a mass of wavy, black hair, one
brown little shoulder exposed upon the side from where her single
robe was caught beneath her arm, and a shapely knee protruding
from beneath her garment as she sat cross legged upon the ground.
A tilt of the head as she emphasized some maternal admonition to the
passive Geeka revealed occasionally a rounded cheek or a piquant
little chin. Now she was shaking a slim finger at Geeka, reprovingly,
and again she crushed to her heart this only object upon which she
might lavish the untold wealth of her childish affections.
Korak, momentarily forgetful of his bloody mission, permitted the
fingers of his spear hand to relax a little their grasp upon the
shaft of his formidable weapon. It slipped, almost falling; but
the occurrence recalled The Killer to himself. It reminded him
of his purpose in slinking stealthily upon the owner of the voice
that had attracted his vengeful attention. He glanced at the spear,
with its well-worn grip and cruel, barbed head. Then he let his
eyes wander again to the dainty form below him. In imagination
he saw the heavy weapon shooting downward. He saw it pierce the
tender flesh, driving its way deep into the yielding body. He saw
the ridiculous doll drop from its owner's arms to lie sprawled and
pathetic beside the quivering body of the little girl. The Killer
shuddered, scowling at the inanimate iron and wood of the spear as
though they constituted a sentient being endowed with a malignant
Korak wondered what the girl would do were he to drop suddenly from
the tree to her side. Most likely she would scream and run away.
Then would come the men of the village with spears and guns and set
upon him. They would either kill him or drive him away. A lump
rose in the boy's throat. He craved the companionship of his own
kind, though he scarce realized how greatly. He would have liked
to slip down beside the little girl and talk with her, though
he knew from the words he had overheard that she spoke a language
with which he was unfamiliar. They could have talked by signs a
little. That would have been better than nothing. Too, he would
have been glad to see her face. What he had glimpsed assured him
that she was pretty; but her strongest appeal to him lay in the
affectionate nature revealed by her gentle mothering of the grotesque
At last he hit upon a plan. He would attract her attention, and
reassure her by a smiling greeting from a greater distance. Silently
he wormed his way back into the tree. It was his intention to hail
her from beyond the palisade, giving her the feeling of security
which he imagined the stout barricade would afford.
He had scarcely left his position in the tree when his attention
was attracted by a considerable noise upon the opposite side of
the village. By moving a little he could see the gate at the far
end of the main street. A number of men, women and children were
running toward it. It swung open, revealing the head of a caravan
upon the opposite side. In trooped the motley organization--black
slaves and dark hued Arabs of the northern deserts; cursing camel
drivers urging on their vicious charges; overburdened donkeys,
waving sadly pendulous ears while they endured with stoic patience
the brutalities of their masters; goats, sheep and horses. Into
the village they all trooped behind a tall, sour, old man, who rode
without greetings to those who shrunk from his path directly to a
large goatskin tent in the center of the village. Here he spoke
to a wrinkled hag.
Korak, from his vantage spot, could see it all. He saw the old
man asking questions of the black woman, and then he saw the latter
point toward a secluded corner of the village which was hidden
from the main street by the tents of the Arabs and the huts of the
natives in the direction of the tree beneath which the little girl
played. This was doubtless her father, thought Korak. He had
been away and his first thought upon returning was of his little
daughter. How glad she would be to see him! How she would run
and throw herself into his arms, to be crushed to his breast and
covered with his kisses. Korak sighed. He thought of his own
father and mother far away in london.
He returned to his place in the tree above the girl. If he couldn't
have happiness of this sort himself he wanted to enjoy the happiness
of others. Possibly if he made himself known to the old man he
might be permitted to come to the village occasionally as a friend.
It would be worth trying. He would wait until the old Arab had
greeted his daughter, then he would make his presence known with
signs of peace.
The Arab was striding softly toward the girl. In a moment he would
be beside her, and then how surprised and delighted she would be!
Korak's eyes sparkled in anticipation--and now the old man stood
behind the little girl. His stern old face was still unrelaxed.
The child was yet unconscious of his presence. She prattled on to
the unresponsive Geeka. Then the old man coughed. With a start
the child glanced quickly up over her shoulder. Korak could see
her full face now. It was very beautiful in its sweet and innocent
childishness--all soft and lovely curves. He could see her great,
dark eyes. He looked for the happy love light that would follow
recognition; but it did not come. Instead, terror, stark, paralyzing
terror, was mirrored in her eyes, in the expression of her mouth,
in the tense, cowering attitude of her body. A grim smile curved
the thin, cruel lip of the Arab. The child essayed to crawl away;
but before she could get out of his reach the old man kicked her
brutally, sending her sprawling upon the grass. Then he followed
her up to seize and strike her as was his custom.
Above them, in the tree, a beast crouched where a moment before
had been a boy--a beast with dilating nostrils and bared fangs--a
beast that trembled with rage.
The Sheik was stooping to reach for the girl when The Killer dropped
to the ground at his side. His spear was still in his left hand
but he had forgotten it. Instead his right fist was clenched
and as The Sheik took a backward step, astonished by the sudden
materialization of this strange apparition apparently out of clear
air, the heavy fist landed full upon his mouth backed by the weight
of the young giant and the terrific power of his more than human
Bleeding and senseless The Sheik sank to earth. Korak turned
toward the child. She had regained her feet and stood wide eyed
and frightened, looking first into his face and then, horror struck,
at the recumbent figure of The Sheik. In an involuntary gesture of
protection The Killer threw an arm about the girl's shoulders and
stood waiting for the Arab to regain consciousness. For a moment
they remained thus, when the girl spoke.
"When he regains his senses he will kill me," she said, in Arabic.
Korak could not understand her. He shook his head, speaking to
her first in English and then in the language of the great apes;
but neither of these was intelligible to her. She leaned forward
and touched the hilt of the long knife that the Arab wore. Then
she raised her clasped hand above her head and drove an imaginary
blade into her breast above her heart. Korak understood. The
old man would kill her. The girl came to his side again and stood
there trembling. She did not fear him. Why should she? He had
saved her from a terrible beating at the hands of The Sheik. Never,
in her memory, had another so befriended her. She looked up into
his face. It was a boyish, handsome face, nut-brown like her own.
She admired the spotted leopard skin that circled his lithe body
from one shoulder to his knees. The metal anklets and armlets
adorning him aroused her envy. Always had she coveted something
of the kind; but never had The Sheik permitted her more than the
single cotton garment that barely sufficed to cover her nakedness.
No furs or silks or jewelry had there ever been for little Meriem.
And Korak looked at the girl. He had always held girls in a
species of contempt. Boys who associated with them were, in his
estimation, mollycoddles. He wondered what he should do. Could he
leave her here to be abused, possibly murdered, by the villainous
old Arab? No! But, on the other hand, could he take her into the
jungle with him? What could he accomplish burdened by a weak and
frightened girl? She would scream at her own shadow when the moon
came out upon the jungle night and the great beasts roamed, moaning
and roaring, through the darkness.
He stood for several minutes buried in thought. The girl watched
his face, wondering what was passing in his mind. She, too,
was thinking of the future. She feared to remain and suffer the
vengeance of The Sheik. There was no one in all the world to whom
she might turn, other than this half-naked stranger who had dropped
miraculously from the clouds to save her from one of The Sheik's
accustomed beatings. Would her new friend leave her now? Wistfully
she gazed at his intent face. She moved a little closer to him,
laying a slim, brown hand upon his arm. The contact awakened the
lad from his absorption. He looked down at her, and then his arm
went about her shoulder once more, for he saw tears upon her lashes.
"Come," he said. "The jungle is kinder than man. You shall live
in the jungle and Korak and Akut will protect you."
She did not understand his words, but the pressure of his arm
drawing her away from the prostrate Arab and the tents was quite
intelligible. One little arm crept about his waist and together
they walked toward the palisade. Beneath the great tree that had
harbored Korak while he watched the girl at play he lifted her in
his arms and throwing her lightly across his shoulder leaped nimbly
into the lower branches. Her arms were about his neck and from
one little hand Geeka dangled down his straight youngback.
And so Meriem entered the jungle with Korak, trusting, in
her childish innocence, the stranger who had befriended her, and
perhaps influenced in her belief in him by that strange intuitive
power possessed by woman. She had no conception of what the future
might hold. She did not know, nor could she have guessed the manner
of life led by her protector. Possibly she pictured a distant
village similar to that of The Sheik in which lived other white
men like the stranger. That she was to be taken into the savage,
primeval life of a jungle beast could not have occurred to her.
Had it, her little heart would have palpitated with fear. Often
had she wished to run away from the cruelties of The Sheik and
Mabunu; but the dangers of the jungle always had deterred her.
The two had gone but a short distance from the village when the girl
spied the huge proportions of the great Akut. With a half-stifled
scream she clung more closely to Korak, and pointed fearfully toward
Akut, thinking that The Killer was returning with a prisoner, came
growling toward them--a little girl aroused no more sympathy in the
beast's heart than would a full-grown bull ape. She was a stranger
and therefore to be killed. He bared his yellow fangs as he
approached, and to his surprise The Killer bared his likewise, but
he bared them at Akut, and snarled menacingly.
"Ah," thought Akut, "The Killer has taken a mate," and so, obedient to
the tribal laws of his kind, he left them alone, becoming suddenly
absorbed in a fuzzy caterpillar of peculiarly succulent appearance.
The larva disposed of, he glanced from the corner of an eye at
Korak. The youth had deposited his burden upon a large limb, where
she clung desperately to keep from falling.
"She will accompany us," said Korak to Akut, jerking a thumb in the
direction of the girl. "Do not harm her. We will protect her."
Akut shrugged. To be burdened by the young of man was in no way to
his liking. He could see from her evident fright at her position
on the branch, and from the terrified glances she cast in his
direction that she was hopelessly unfit. By all the ethics of
Akut's training and inheritance the unfit should be eliminated;
but if The Killer wished this there was nothing to be done about
it but to tolerate her. Akut certainly didn't want her--of that he
was quite positive. Her skin was too smooth and hairless. Quite
snake-like, in fact, and her face was most unattractive. Not at
all like that of a certain lovely she he had particularly noticed
among the apes in the amphitheater the previous night. Ah, there
was true feminine beauty for one!--a great, generous mouth; lovely,
yellow fangs, and the cutest, softest side whiskers! Akut sighed.
Then he rose, expanded his great chest and strutted back and forth
along a substantial branch, for even a puny thing like this she of
Korak's might admire his fine coat and his graceful carriage.
But poor little Meriem only shrank closer to Korak and almost wished
that she were back in the village of The Sheik where the terrors
of existence were of human origin, and so more or less familiar.
The hideous ape frightened her. He was so large and so ferocious
in appearance. His actions she could only interpret as a menace,
for how could she guess that he was parading to excite admiration?
Nor could she know of the bond of fellowship which existed between
this great brute and the godlike youth who had rescued her from
Meriem spent an evening and a night of unmitigated terror. Korak
and Akut led her along dizzy ways as they searched for food. Once
they hid her in the branches of a tree while they stalked a near-by
buck. Even her natural terror of being left alone in the awful
jungle was submerged in a greater horror as she saw the man and
the beast spring simultaneously upon their prey and drag it down,
as she saw the handsome face of her preserver contorted in a bestial
snarl; as she saw his strong, white teeth buried in the soft flesh
of the kill.
When he came back to her blood smeared his face and hands and breast
and she shrank from him as he offered her a huge hunk of hot, raw
meat. He was evidently much disturbed by her refusal to eat, and
when, a moment later, he scampered away into the forest to return
with fruit for her she was once more forced to alter her estimation
of him. This time she did not shrink, but acknowledged his gift
with a smile that, had she known it, was more than ample payment
to the affection starved boy.
The sleeping problem vexed Korak. He knew that the girl could not
balance herself in safety in a tree crotch while she slept, nor
would it be safe to permit her to sleep upon the ground open to
the attacks of prowling beasts of prey. There was but a single
solution that presented itself--he must hold her in his arms all
night. And that he did, with Akut braced upon one side of her and
he upon the other, so that she was warmed by the bodies of them
She did not sleep much until the night was half spent; but at last
Nature overcame her terrors of the black abyss beneath and the
hairy body of the wild beast at her side, and she fell into a deep
slumber which outlasted the darkness. When she opened her eyes the
sun was well up. At first she could not believe in the reality of
her position. Her head had rolled from Korak's shoulder so that
her eyes were directed upon the hairy back of the ape. At sight
of it she shrank away. Then she realized that someone was holding
her, and turning her head she saw the smiling eyes of the youth
regarding her. When he smiled she could not fear him, and now she
shrank closer against him in natural revulsion toward the rough
coat of the brute upon her other side.
Korak spoke to her in the language of the apes; but she shook her
head, and spoke to him in the language of the Arab, which was as
unintelligible to him as was ape speech to her. Akut sat up and
looked at them. He could understand what Korak said but the girl
made only foolish noises that were entirely unintelligible and
ridiculous. Akut could not understand what Korak saw in her to
attract him. He looked at her long and steadily, appraising her
carefully, then he scratched his head, rose and shook himself.
His movement gave the girl a little start--she had forgotten Akut
for the moment. Again she shrank from him. The beast saw that she
feared him, and being a brute enjoyed the evidence of the terror
his brutishness inspired. Crouching, he extended his huge hand
stealthily toward her, as though to seize her. She shrank still
further away. Akut's eyes were busy drinking in the humor of the
situation--he did not see the narrowing eyes of the boy upon him,
nor the shortening neck as the broad shoulders rose in a characteristic
attitude of preparation for attack. As the ape's fingers were
about to close upon the girl's arm the youth rose suddenly with a
short, vicious growl. A clenched fist flew before Meriem's eyes to
land full upon the snout of the astonished Akut. With an explosive
bellow the anthropoid reeled backward and tumbled from the tree.
Korak stood glaring down upon him when a sudden swish in the bushes
close by attracted his attention. The girl too was looking down;
but she saw nothing but the angry ape scrambling to his feet.
Then, like a bolt from a cross bow, a mass of spotted, yellow fur
shot into view straight for Akut's back. It was Sheeta, the leopard.
As the leopard leaped for the great ape Meriem gasped in surprise
and horror--not for the impending fate of the anthropoid, but at the
act of the youth who but for an instant before had angrily struck
his strange companion; for scarce had the carnivore burst into view
than with drawn knife the youth had leaped far out above him, so
that as Sheeta was almost in the act of sinking fangs and talons in
Akut's broad back The Killer landed full upon the leopard's shoulders.
The cat halted in mid air, missed the ape by but a hair's breadth,
and with horrid snarlings rolled over upon its back, clutching and
clawing in an effort to reach and dislodge the antagonist biting
at its neck and knifing it in the side.
Akut, startled by the sudden rush from his rear, and following hoary
instinct, was in the tree beside the girl with an agility little
short of marvelous in so heavy a beast. But the moment that he
turned to see what was going on below him brought him as quickly
to the ground again. Personal differences were quickly forgotten
in the danger which menaced his human companion, nor was he a whit
less eager to jeopardize his own safety in the service of his friend
than Korak had been to succor him.
The result was that Sheeta presently found two ferocious creatures
tearing him to ribbons. Shrieking, snarling and growling, the three
rolled hither and thither among the underbrush, while with staring
eyes the sole spectator of the battle royal crouched trembling in
the tree above them hugging Geeka frantically to her breast.
It was the boy's knife which eventually decided the battle, and as
the fierce feline shuddered convulsively and rolled over upon its
side the youth and the ape rose and faced one another across the
prostrate carcass. Korak jerked his head in the direction of the
little girl in the tree.
"Leave her alone," he said; "she is mine."
Akut grunted, blinked his blood-shot eyes, and turned toward the
body of Sheeta. Standing erect upon it he threw out his great chest,
raised his face toward the heavens and gave voice to so horrid a
scream that once again the little girl shuddered and shrank. It
was the victory cry of the bull ape that has made a kill. The boy
only looked on for a moment in silence; then he leaped into the
tree again to the girl's side. Akut presently rejoined them. For
a few minutes he busied himself licking his wounds, then he wandered
off to hunt his breakfast.
For many months the strange life of the three went on unmarked by
any unusual occurrences. At least without any occurrences that
seemed unusual to the youth or the ape; but to the little girl it
was a constant nightmare of horrors for days and weeks, until she
too became accustomed to gazing into the eyeless sockets of death
and to the feel of the icy wind of his shroud-like mantle. Slowly
she learned the rudiments of the only common medium of thought
exchange which her companions possessed--the language of the great
apes. More quickly she perfected herself in jungle craft, so that
the time soon came when she was an important factor in the chase,
watching while the others slept, or helping them to trace the spoor
of whatever prey they might be stalking. Akut accepted her on a
footing which bordered upon equality when it was necessary for them
to come into close contact; but for the most part he avoided her.
The youth always was kind to her, and if there were many occasions
upon which he felt the burden of her presence he hid it from her.
Finding that the night damp and chill caused her discomfort and
even suffering, Korak constructed a tight little shelter high among
the swaying branches of a giant tree. Here little Meriem slept in
comparative warmth and safety, while The Killer and the ape perched
upon near-by branches, the former always before the entrance to
the lofty domicile, where he best could guard its inmate from the
dangers of arboreal enemies. They were too high to feel much fear
of Sheeta; but there was always Histah, the snake, to strike terror
to one's soul, and the great baboons who lived near-by, and who,
while never attacking always bared their fangs and barked at any
of the trio when they passed near them.
After the construction of the shelter the activities of the three
became localized. They ranged less widely, for there was always
the necessity of returning to their own tree at nightfall. A river
flowed near by. Game and fruit were plentiful, as were fish also.
Existence had settled down to the daily humdrum of the wild--the
search for food and the sleeping upon full bellies. They looked
no further ahead than today. If the youth thought of his past and
of those who longed for him in the distant metropolis it was in
a detached and impersonal sort of way as though that other life
belonged to another creature than himself. He had given up hope
of returning to civilization, for since his various rebuffs at the
hands of those to whom he had looked for friendship he had wandered
so far inland as to realize that he was completely lost in the
mazes of the jungle.
Then, too, since the coming of Meriem he had found in her that
one thing which he had most missed before in his savage, jungle
life--human companionship. In his friendship for her there was
appreciable no trace of sex influence of which he was cognizant.
They were friends--companions--that was all. Both might have been
boys, except for the half tender and always masterful manifestation
of the protective instinct which was apparent in Korak's attitude.
The little girl idolized him as she might have idolized an indulgent
brother had she had one. Love was a thing unknown to either; but
as the youth neared manhood it was inevitable that it should come
to him as it did to every other savage, jungle male.
As Meriem became proficient in their common language the pleasures
of their companionship grew correspondingly, for now they could
converse and aided by the mental powers of their human heritage
they amplified the restricted vocabulary of the apes until talking
was transformed from a task into an enjoyable pastime. When Korak
hunted, Meriem usually accompanied him, for she had learned the
fine art of silence, when silence was desirable. She could pass
through the branches of the great trees now with all the agility
and stealth of The Killer himself. Great heights no longer appalled
her. She swung from limb to limb, or she raced through the mighty
branches, surefooted, lithe, and fearless. Korak was very proud
of her, and even old Akut grunted in approval where before he had
growled in contempt.
A distant village of blacks had furnished her with a mantle of fur
and feathers, with copper ornaments, and weapons, for Korak would
not permit her to go unarmed, or unversed in the use of the weapons
he stole for her. A leather thong over one shoulder supported the
ever present Geeka who was still the recipient of her most sacred
confidences. A light spear and a long knife were her weapons
of offense or defense. Her body, rounding into the fulness of an
early maturity, followed the lines of a Greek goddess; but there
the similarity ceased, for her face was beautiful.
As she grew more accustomed to the jungle and the ways of its wild
denizens fear left her. As time wore on she even hunted alone when
Korak and Akut were prowling at a great distance, as they were
sometimes forced to do when game was scarce in their immediate
vicinity. Upon these occasions she usually confined her endeavors
to the smaller animals though sometimes she brought down a deer,
and once even Horta, the boar--a great tusker that even Sheeta
might have thought twice before attacking.
In their stamping grounds in the jungle the three were familiar
figures. The little monkeys knew them well, often coming close to
chatter and frolic about them. When Akut was by, the small folk
kept their distance, but with Korak they were less shy and when
both the males were gone they would come close to Meriem, tugging
at her ornaments or playing with Geeka, who was a never ending
source of amusement to them. The girl played with them and fed
them, and when she was alone they helped her to pass the long hours
until Korak's return.
Nor were they worthless as friends. In the hunt they helped her
locate her quarry. Often they would come racing through the trees
to her side to announce the near presence of antelope or giraffe,
or with excited warnings of the proximity of Sheeta or Numa.
Luscious, sun-kissed fruits which hung far out upon the frail bough
of the jungle's waving crest were brought to her by these tiny,
nimble allies. Sometimes they played tricks upon her; but she
was always kind and gentle with them and in their wild, half-human
way they were kind to her and affectionate. Their language being
similar to that of the great apes Meriem could converse with them
though the poverty of their vocabulary rendered these exchanges
anything but feasts of reason. For familiar objects they had names,
as well as for those conditions which induced pain or pleasure,
joy, sorrow, or rage. These root words were so similar to those
in use among the great anthropoids as to suggest that the language
of the Manus was the mother tongue. Dreams, aspirations, hopes,
the past, the sordid exchange. Dreams, aspirations, hopes, the
past, the future held no place in the conversation of Manu, the
monkey. All was of the present--particularly of filling his belly
and catching lice.
Poor food was this to nourish the mental appetite of a girl just
upon the brink of womanhood. And so, finding Manu only amusing
as an occasional playfellow or pet, Meriem poured out her sweetest
soul thoughts into the deaf ears of Geeka's ivory head. To Geeka
she spoke in Arabic, knowing that Geeka, being but a doll, could
not understand the language of Korak and Akut, and that the language
of Korak and Akut being that of male apes contained nothing of
interest to an Arab doll.
Geeka had undergone a transformation since her little mother had
left the village of The Sheik. Her garmenture now reflected in
miniature that of Meriem. A tiny bit of leopard skin covered her
ratskin torso from shoulder to splinter knee. A band of braided
grasses about her brow held in place a few gaudy feathers from the
parakeet, while other bits of grass were fashioned into imitations
of arm and leg ornaments of metal. Geeka was a perfect little
savage; but at heart she was unchanged, being the same omnivorous
listener as of yore. An excellent trait in Geeka was that she
never interrupted in order to talk about herself. Today was no
exception. She had been listening attentively to Meriem for an
hour, propped against the bole of a tree while her lithe, young
mistress stretched catlike and luxurious along a swaying branch
"Little Geeka," said Meriem, "our Korak has been gone for a long
time today. We miss him, little Geeka, do we not? It is dull and
lonesome in the great jungle when our Korak is away. What will he
bring us this time, eh? Another shining band of metal for Meriem's
ankle? Or a soft, doeskin loin cloth from the body of a black she?
He tells me that it is harder to get the possessions of the shes,
for he will not kill them as he does the males, and they fight
savagely when he leaps upon them to wrest their ornaments from
them. Then come the males with spears and arrows and Korak takes
to the trees. Sometimes he takes the she with him and high among
the branches divests her of the things he wishes to bring home to
Meriem. He says that the blacks fear him now, and at first sight
of him the women and children run shrieking to their huts; but he
follows them within, and it is not often that he returns without
arrows for himself and a present for Meriem. Korak is mighty among
the jungle people--our Korak, Geeka--no, MY Korak!"
Meriem's conversation was interrupted by the sudden plunge of an
excited little monkey that landed upon her shoulders in a flying
leap from a neighboring tree.
"Climb!" he cried. "Climb! The Mangani are coming."
Meriem glanced lazily over her shoulder at the excited disturber
of her peace.
"Climb, yourself, little Manu," she said. "The only Mangani in
our jungle are Korak and Akut. It is they you have seen returning
from the hunt. Some day you will see your own shadow, little Manu,
and then you will be frightened to death."
But the monkey only screamed his warning more lustily before he
raced upward toward the safety of the high terrace where Mangani,
the great ape, could not follow. Presently Meriem heard the sound
of approaching bodies swinging through the trees. She listened
attentively. There were two and they were great apes--Korak and
Akut. To her Korak was an ape--a Mangani, for as such the three
always described themselves. Man was an enemy, so they did not
think of themselves as belonging any longer to the same genus.
Tarmangani, or great white ape, which described the white man in
their language, did not fit them all. Gomangani--great black ape,
or Negro--described none of them so they called themselves plain
Meriem decided that she would feign slumber and play a joke on
Korak. So she lay very still with eyes tightly closed. She heard
the two approaching closer and closer. They were in the adjoining
tree now and must have discovered her, for they had halted. Why
were they so quiet? Why did not Korak call out his customary
greeting? The quietness was ominous. It was followed presently
by a very stealthy sound--one of them was creeping upon her. Was
Korak planning a joke upon his own account? Well, she would fool
him. Cautiously she opened her eyes the tiniest bit, and as she
did so her heart stood still. Creeping silently toward her was
a huge bull ape that she never before had seen. Behind him was
another like him.
With the agility of a squirrel Meriem was upon her feet and at the
same instant the great bull lunged for her. Leaping from limb to
limb the girl fled through the jungle while close behind her came the
two great apes. Above them raced a bevy of screaming, chattering
monkeys, hurling taunts and insults at the Mangani, and encouragement
and advice to the girl.
From tree to tree swung Meriem working ever upward toward the
smaller branches which would not bear the weight of her pursuers.
Faster and faster came the bull apes after her. The clutching
fingers of the foremost were almost upon her again and again, but
she eluded them by sudden bursts of speed or reckless chances as
she threw herself across dizzy spaces.
Slowly she was gaining her way to the greater heights where safety
lay, when, after a particularly daring leap, the swaying branch
she grasped bent low beneath her weight, nor whipped upward again
as it should have done. Even before the rending sound which followed
Meriem knew that she had misjudged the strength of the limb. It
gave slowly at first. Then there was a ripping as it parted from
the trunk. Releasing her hold Meriem dropped among the foliage
beneath, clutching for a new support. She found it a dozen feet
below the broken limb. She had fallen thus many times before, so
that she had no particular terror of a fall--it was the delay which
appalled her most, and rightly, for scarce had she scrambled to a
place of safety than the body of the huge ape dropped at her side
and a great, hairy arm went about her waist.
Almost at once the other ape reached his companion's side. He made
a lunge at Meriem; but her captor swung her to one side, bared his
fighting fangs and growled ominously. Meriem struggled to escape.
She struck at the hairy breast and bearded cheek. She fastened
her strong, white teeth in one shaggy forearm. The ape cuffed her
viciously across the face, then he had to turn his attention to
his fellow who quite evidently desired the prize for his own.
The captor could not fight to advantage upon the swaying bough,
burdened as he was by a squirming, struggling captive, so he
dropped quickly to the ground beneath. The other followed him,
and here they fought, occasionally abandoning their duel to pursue
and recapture the girl who took every advantage of her captors'
preoccupation in battle to break away in attempted escape; but always
they overtook her, and first one and then the other possessed her
as they struggled to tear one another to pieces for the prize.
Often the girl came in for many blows that were intended for
a hairy foe, and once she was felled, lying unconscious while the
apes, relieved of the distraction of detaining her by force, tore
into one another in fierce and terrible combat.
Above them screamed the little monkeys, racing hither and thither
in a frenzy of hysterical excitement. Back and forth over the
battle field flew countless birds of gorgeous plumage, squawking
their hoarse cries of rage and defiance. In the distance a lion
The larger bull was slowly tearing his antagonist to pieces. They
rolled upon the ground biting and striking. Again, erect upon their
hind legs they pulled and tugged like human wrestlers; but always
the giant fangs found their bloody part to play until both combatants
and the ground about them were red with gore.
Meriem, through it all, lay still and unconscious upon the ground.
At last one found a permanent hold upon the jugular of the other
and thus they went down for the last time. For several minutes
they lay with scarce a struggle. It was the larger bull who arose
alone from the last embrace. He shook himself. A deep growl
rumbled from his hairy throat. He waddled back and forth between
the body of the girl and that of his vanquished foe. Then he stood
upon the latter and gave tongue to his hideous challenge. The
little monkeys broke, screaming, in all directions as the terrifying
noise broke upon their ears. The gorgeous birds took wing and
fled. Once again the lion roared, this time at a greater distance.
The great ape waddled once more to the girl's side. He turned
her over upon her back, and stooping commenced to sniff and listen
about her face and breast. She lived. The monkeys were returning.
They came in swarms, and from above hurled down insults upon the
The ape showed his displeasure by baring his teeth and growling
up at them. Then he stooped and lifting the girl to his shoulder
waddled off through the jungle. In his wake followed the angry
Korak, returning from the hunt, heard the jabbering of the excited
monkeys. He knew that something was seriously amiss. Histah,
the snake, had doubtless coiled his slimy folds about some careless
Manu. The youth hastened ahead. The monkeys were Meriem's friends.
He would help them if he could. He traveled rapidly along the
middle terrace. In the tree by Meriem's shelter he deposited his
trophies of the hunt and called aloud to her. There was no answer.
He dropped quickly to a lower level. She might be hiding from him.
Upon a great branch where Meriem often swung at indolent ease he
saw Geeka propped against the tree's great bole. What could it
mean? Meriem had never left Geeka thus alone before. Korak picked
up the doll and tucked it in his belt. He called again, more
loudly; but no Meriem answered his summons. In the distance the
jabbering of the excited Manus was growing less distinct.
Could their excitement be in any way connected with Meriem's
disappearance? The bare thought was enough. Without waiting for
Akut who was coming slowly along some distance in his rear, Korak
swung rapidly in the direction of the chattering mob. But a few
minutes sufficed to overtake the rearmost. At sight of him they
fell to screaming and pointing downward ahead of them, and a moment
later Korak came within sight of the cause of their rage.
The youth's heart stood still in terror as he saw the limp body of
the girl across the hairy shoulders of a great ape. That she was
dead he did not doubt, and in that instant there arose within him
a something which he did not try to interpret nor could have hade
he tried; but all at once the whole world seemed centered in that
tender, graceful body, that frail little body, hanging so pitifully
limp and helpless across the bulging shoulders of the brute.
He knew then that little Meriem was his world--his sun, his moon,
his stars--with her going had gone all light and warmth and happiness.
A groan escaped his lips, and after that a series of hideous roars,
more bestial than the beasts', as he dropped plummet-like in mad
descent toward the perpetrator of this hideous crime.
The bull ape turned at the first note of this new and menacing
voice, and as he turned a new flame was added to the rage and
hatred of The Killer, for he saw that the creature before him was
none other than the king ape which had driven him away from the
great anthropoids to whom he had looked for friendship and asylum.
Dropping the body of the girl to the ground the bull turned to
battle anew for possession of his expensive prize; but this time
he looked for an easy conquest. He too recognized Korak. Had he
not chased him away from the amphitheater without even having to
lay a fang or paw upon him? With lowered head and bulging shoulders
he rushed headlong for the smooth-skinned creature who was daring
to question his right to his prey.
They met head on like two charging bulls, to go down together
tearing and striking. Korak forgot his knife. Rage and bloodlust
such as his could be satisfied only by the feel of hot flesh between
rending fangs, by the gush of new life blood against his bare skin,
for, though he did not realize it, Korak, The Killer, was fighting
for something more compelling than hate or revenge--he was a great
male fighting another male for a she of his own kind.
So impetuous was the attack of the man-ape that he found his hold
before the anthropoid could prevent him--a savage hold, with strong
jaws closed upon a pulsing jugular, and there he clung, with closed
eyes, while his fingers sought another hold upon the shaggy throat.
It was then that Meriem opened her eyes. At the sight before her
they went wide.
"Korak!" she cried. "Korak! My Korak! I knew that you would come.
Kill him, Korak! Kill him!" And with flashing eyes and heaving
bosom the girl, coming to her feet, ran to Korak's side to encourage
him. Nearby lay The Killer's spear, where he had flung it as he
charged the ape. The girl saw it and snatched it up. No faintness
overcame her in the face of this battle primeval at her feet. For
her there was no hysterical reaction from the nerve strain of her
own personal encounter with the bull. She was excited; but cool
and entirely unafraid. Her Korak was battling with another Mangani
that would have stolen her; but she did not seek the safety of an
overhanging bough there to watch the battle from afar, as would a
she Mangani. Instead she placed the point of Korak's spear against
the bull ape's side and plunged the sharp point deep into the savage
heart. Korak had not needed her aid, for the great bull had been
already as good as dead, with the blood gushing from his torn
jugular; but Korak rose smiling with a word of approbation for his
How tall and fine she was! Had she changed suddenly within the
few hours of his absence, or had his battle with the ape affected
his vision? He might have been looking at Meriem through new eyes
for the many startling and wonderful surprises his gaze revealed.
How long it had been since he had found her in her father's village,
a little Arab girl, he did not know, for time is of no import in
the jungle and so he had kept no track of the passing days. But
he realized, as he looked upon her now, that she was no longer such
a little girl as he had first seen playing with Geeka beneath the
great tree just within the palisade. The change must have been
very gradual to have eluded his notice until now. And what was it
that had caused him to realize it so suddenly? His gaze wandered
from the girl to the body of the dead bull. For the first time
there flashed to his understanding the explanation of the reason
for the girl's attempted abduction. Korak's eyes went wide and
then they closed to narrow slits of rage as he stood glaring down
upon the abysmal brute at his feet. When next his glance rose to
Meriem's face a slow flush suffused his own. Now, indeed, was he
looking upon her through new eyes--the eyes of a man looking upon
Akut had come up just as Meriem had speared Korak's antagonist.
The exultation of the old ape was keen. He strutted, stiff-legged
and truculent about the body of the fallen enemy. He growled and
upcurved his long, flexible lip. His hair bristled. He was paying
no attention to Meriem and Korak. Back in the uttermost recesses
of his little brain something was stirring--something which the sight
and smell of the great bull had aroused. The outward manifestation
of the germinating idea was one of bestial rage; but the inner
sensations were pleasurable in the extreme. The scent of the great
bull and the sight of his huge and hairy figure had wakened in the
heart of Akut a longing for the companionship of his own kind. So
Korak was not alone undergoing a change.
And Meriem? She was a woman. It is woman's divine right to love.
Always she had loved Korak. He was her big brother. Meriem alone
underwent no change. She was still happy in the companionship of
her Korak. She still loved him--as a sister loves an indulgent
brother--and she was very, very proud of him. In all the jungle
there was no other creature so strong, so handsome, or so brave.
Korak came close to her. There was a new light in his eyes as
she looked up into them; but she did not understand it. She did
not realize how close they were to maturity, nor aught of all the
difference in their lives the look in Korak's eyes might mean.
"Meriem," he whispered and his voice was husky as he laid a brown
hand upon her bare shoulder. "Meriem!" Suddenly he crushed her to
him. She looked up into his face, laughing, and then he bent and
kissed her full upon the mouth. Even then she did not understand.
She did not recall ever having been kissed before. It was very
nice. Meriem liked it. She thought it was Korak's way of showing
how glad he was that the great ape had not succeeded in running
away with her. She was glad too, so she put her arms about The
Killer's neck and kissed him again and again. Then, discovering
the doll in his belt she transferred it to her own possession,
kissing it as she had kissed Korak.
Korak wanted her to say something. He wanted to tell her how he
loved her; but the emotion of his love choked him and the vocabulary
of the Mangani was limited.
There came a sudden interruption. It was from Akut--a sudden, low
growl, no louder than those he had been giving vent to the while
he pranced about the dead bull, nor half so loud in fact; but of a
timbre that bore straight to the perceptive faculties of the jungle
beast ingrained in Korak. It was a warning. Korak looked quickly
up from the glorious vision of the sweet face so close to his.
Now his other faculties awoke. His ears, his nostrils were on the
alert. Something was coming!
The Killer moved to Akut's side. Meriem was just behind them. The
three stood like carved statues gazing into the leafy tangle of the
jungle. The noise that had attracted their attention increased,
and presently a great ape broke through the underbrush a few paces
from where they stood. The beast halted at sight of them. He gave
a warning grunt back over his shoulder, and a moment later coming
cautiously another bull appeared. He was followed by others--both
bulls and females with young, until two score hairy monsters stood
glaring at the three. It was the tribe of the dead king ape. Akut
was the first to speak. He pointed to the body of the dead bull.
"Korak, mighty fighter, has killed your king," he grunted. "There
is none greater in all the jungle than Korak, son of Tarzan. Now
Korak is king. What bull is greater than Korak?" It was a
challenge to any bull who might care to question Korak's right to
the kingship. The apes jabbered and chattered and growled among
themselves for a time. At last a young bull came slowly forward
rocking upon his short legs, bristling, growling, terrible.
The beast was enormous, and in the full prime of his strength. He
belonged to that almost extinct species for which white men have long
sought upon the information of the natives of the more inaccessible
jungles. Even the natives seldom see these great, hairy, primordial
Korak advanced to meet the monster. He, too, was growling. In his
mind a plan was revolving. To close with this powerful, untired
brute after having just passed through a terrific battle with
another of his kind would have been to tempt defeat. He must find
an easier way to victory. Crouching, he prepared to meet the charge
which he knew would soon come, nor did he have long to wait. His
antagonist paused only for sufficient time to permit him to recount
for the edification of the audience and the confounding of Korak a
brief resume of his former victories, of his prowess, and of what
he was about to do to this puny Tarmangani. Then he charged.
With clutching fingers and wide opened jaws he came down upon the
waiting Korak with the speed of an express train. Korak did not
move until the great arms swung to embrace him, then he dropped
low beneath them, swung a terrific right to the side of the beast's
jaw as he side-stepped his rushing body, and swinging quickly about
stood ready over the fallen ape where he sprawled upon the ground.
It was a surprised anthropoid that attempted to scramble to its
feet. Froth flecked its hideous lips. Red were the little eyes.
Blood curdling roars tumbled from the deep chest. But it did not
reach its feet. The Killer stood waiting above it, and the moment
that the hairy chin came upon the proper level another blow that
would have felled an ox sent the ape over backward.
Again and again the beast struggled to arise, but each time the
mighty Tarmangani stood waiting with ready fist and pile driver
blow to bowl him over. Weaker and weaker became the efforts of the
bull. Blood smeared his face and breast. A red stream trickled
from nose and mouth. The crowd that had cheered him on at first
with savage yells, now jeered him--their approbation was for the
"Kagoda?" inquired Korak, as he sent the bull down once more.
Again the stubborn bull essayed to scramble to his feet. Again
The Killer struck him a terrific blow. Again he put the question,
kagoda--have you had enough?
For a moment the bull lay motionless. Then from between battered
lips came the single word: "Kagoda!"
"Then rise and go back among your people," said Korak. "I do not
wish to be king among people who once drove me from them. Keep your
own ways, and we will keep ours. When we meet we may be friends,
but we shall not live together."
An old bull came slowly toward The Killer.
"You have killed our king," he said. "You have defeated him who
would have been king. You could have killed him had you wished.
What shall we do for a king?"
Korak turned toward Akut.
"There is your king," he said. But Akut did not want to be separated
from Korak, although he was anxious enough to remain with his own
kind. He wanted Korak to remain, too. He said as much.
The youth was thinking of Meriem--of what would be best and safest
for her. If Akut went away with the apes there would be but one
to watch over and protect her. On the other hand were they to join
the tribe he would never feel safe to leave Meriem behind when he
went out to hunt, for the passions of the ape-folk are not ever
well controlled. Even a female might develop an insane hatred for
the slender white girl and kill her during Korak's absence.
"We will live near you," he said, at last. "When you change your
hunting ground we will change ours, Meriem and I, and so remain
near you; but we shall not dwell among you."
Akut raised objections to this plan. He did not wish to be separated
from Korak. At first he refused to leave his human friend for
the companionship of his own kind; but when he saw the last of the
tribe wandering off into the jungle again and his glance rested
upon the lithe figure of the dead king's young mate as she cast
admiring glances at her lord's successor the call of blood would
not be denied. With a farewell glance toward his beloved Korak
he turned and followed the she ape into the labyrinthine mazes of
After Korak had left the village of the blacks following his last
thieving expedition, the screams of his victim and those of the
other women and children had brought the warriors in from the forest
and the river. Great was the excitement and hot was the rage of
the men when they learned that the white devil had again entered
their homes, frightened their women and stolen arrows and ornaments
Even their superstitious fear of this weird creature who hunted
with a huge bull ape was overcome in their desire to wreak vengeance
upon him and rid themselves for good and all of the menace of his
presence in the jungle.
And so it was that a score of the fleetest and most doughty warriors
of the tribe set out in pursuit of Korak and Akut but a few minutes
after they had left the scene of The Killer's many depredations.
The youth and the ape had traveled slowly and with no precautions
against a successful pursuit. Nor was their attitude of careless
indifference to the blacks at all remarkable. So many similar
raids had gone unpunished that the two had come to look upon the