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Chapter 19 Tarzan and the City of Gold by Edgar Rice Burroughs


After the first involuntary cries of surprise and rage, an ominous silence fell upon the barbaric scene. Now all eyes were centred upon the queen, whose ordinarily beautiful countenance was almost hideous from rage, a rage which, after her single angry cry, choked further utterance for the moment. But at length she found her voice and turned furiously upon Tomos.

'What means this?' she demanded, her voice now controlled and as cold as the steel in the sheath at her side.

Tomos, who was as much astounded as she, stammered as he trembled in his sandals of elephant hide. 'There are traitors even in the temple of Thoos !' he cried. 'I chose Erot to prepare the girl for the embraces of Xarator because I knew that his loyalty to his queen would ensure the work being well done. I did not know, O gracious Nemone, that this vile crime had been committed or that the body of Erot had been substituted for that of the daughter of Thudos until this very instant.'

With an expression of disgust the queen commanded the priests to hurl the body of Erot into the crater, and, as it was swallowed by the fiery pit, she ordered an immediate return to Cathne.

In morose and gloomy silence she rode down the winding mountain trail and out onto the Field of the Lions, and often her eyes were upon the bronzed giant striding beside her chariot.

At last she broke her silence. 'Two of your enemies are gone now,' she said. 'I destroyed one; whome do you think destroyed the other?'

'Perhaps I did,' suggested Tarzan with a 'I had been thinking of that possibility,' replied Nemone, but she did not smile.

'Whoever did it performed a service for Cathne.'

'Perhaps,' she half agreed, 'but it is not the killing of Erot that annoys me. It is the effrontery that dared interfere with the plans of Nemone.'

Tarzan shrugged his broad shoulders, but remained silent.

The tedious journey back to Cathne ended at last, an with flaring torches lighting the way, the queen's procession crossed the bridge of gold and entered the city. Here she immediately ordered a thorough search to be made for Doria.

Thudos and Gemnon, happy but mystified, were returned to their cell to await the new doom that Nemone would fix for them. Tarzan was commanded to accompany Nemone into the palace and dine with her. Tomos had been dismissed with a curt injunction to find Doria or prepare for the worst.

Tarzan and the queen ate alone in a small dining room attended only by slaves, and when the meal was over Nemone conducted him to the now all too familiar ivory room, where he was greeted by the angry growls of Belthar 'Erot and M'duze are dead,' said the queen, 'and I have sent Tomos away. There will be none to disturb us tonight.'

The ape-man sat with his eyes fixed upon her, studying her. It seemed incredible that this sweet and lovely woman could be the cruel tyrant that was Nemone the queen.

But then, as the Lord of the Jungle looked at her, the spell that had held him vanished. Beneath the beautiful exterior he saw the crazed mind of a mad woman. He saw the creature that cast defenceless men to will beasts that disfigured or destroyed women who might be more beautiful than she, and all that was fine in him revolted.

With a half growl he arose to his feet. Nemone gazed for a moment questioningly at the man above her; then she seemed to realize what he was thinking, and the mad, cruel light of rage blazed in her eyes. She sprang to one side of the room where a metal gong depended from the ceiling and seizing the striker smote it three times.

The brazen notes rang through the chamber mingling with the roars of the infuriated lion Belthar.

Tarzan stood watching her; she seemed wholly irresponsible, quite mad. It would be useless to attempt to reason with her. He moved slowly toward the door, but before he reached it, it swung open, and a score of warriors accompanied by two nobles rushed in.

'Take this man!' ordered Nemone. 'Throw him into the cell with the other enemies of the queen!'

Tarzan was unarmed. He had worn only a sword when he entered the ivory room and that he had unbuckled and laid upon a stand near the doorway. There were twenty spears levelled at him, twenty spears that entirely encircled him. With a shrug he surrendered. It was that or death. In prison he might find the means to escape; at least he would see Gemnon again, and there was something that he very much wished to tell Gemnon and Thudos.

As the soldiers conducted him from the room and the door closed behind them, Nemone threw herself among the cushions of her couch, her body racked by choking sobs. The great lion grumbled in the dusky corner of the room. Suddenly Nemone sat erect and her eyes blazed into the blazing eyes of the lion. For a moment she sat there thus, and then she arose and a peal of maniacal laughter broke from her lips.

Thudos and Gemnon sitting in their cell heard the tramp of marching men approaching the prison in which they were confined. 'Evidently Nemone cannot wait until tomorrow,' said Thudos.

'You think she is sending for us now?' asked Gemnon.

'What else?' demanded the older man. 'The lion pit can be illuminated.'

As they waited and listened, the steps stopped outside their cell, the door was pushed open, and a man entered. The warriors had carried no torches and neither neither Thudos nor Gemnon could discern the features of the newcomer. None of them spoke until the guard had departed out of earshot. 'Greetings, Thudos and Gemnon!' exclaimed the new prisoner cheerily.

'Tarzan!' exclaimed Gemnon.

'None other,' admitted the ape-man.

'What brings you here?' demanded Thudos.

'Twenty warriors and the whim of a woman, an insane woman,' replied Tarzan.

'So you have fallen from favour!' exclaimed Gemnon. 'I am sorry.'

'It was inevitable,' said Tarzan.

'And what will your punishment be?'

'I do not know, but I suspect that it will be quite sufficient. However, that is something that need not concern any of us until it happens. Maybe it won't happen at all.'

'There is no room in the dungeon of Nemone for optimism,' remarked Thudos with a grim laugh.

'Perhaps not,' agreed the ape-man, 'but I shall continue to indulge myself. Doubtless Doria felt hopeless in her prison in the temple last night, yet she escaped Xarator.'

'That is a miracle that I cannot fathom,' said Gemnon.
'It was quite simple,' Tarzan assured him. 'A loyal friend, whose identity you may guess, came and told me that she was a prisoner in the temple. I went at once to find her. Fortunately the trees of Cathne are old and large and numerous; one of them grows close to the rear of the temple, its branches almost brushing the window of the room in which Doria was confined. When I arrived there, I found Erot there with Doria. I also found the sack in which he had purposed tying her for the journey tc Xarator. What was simpler? I let Erot take the ride that had been planned for Doria.'

'You saved her! Where is she?' cried Thudos, his voice breaking in the first emotion he had displayed since he had learned of his daughter's plight.

'Come close,' cautioned Tarzan, 'lest the walls themselves be enemies.' The two men pressed close to the speaker who continued in a low whisper, 'Do you recall, Gemnon, that when we were at the gold mine I spoke aside to one of the slaves there?'

'I believe that I did notice it,' replied Gemnon. 'I thought you were asking questions about the operation of the mine.

'No; I was delivering a message from his brother, and so grateful was he that he begged that he be permitted to serve me if the opportunity arose. It was to arise much sooner than either of us could have expected; and so, when it was necessary to find a hiding place for Doria, I thought immediately of the isolated hut of Niaka, the headman of the black slaves at the gold mine.

'She is there now, and the man will protect her as long as is necessary. He has promised me that if he hears nothing from me for half a moon he is to understand that none of us three can come to her aid, and that then he will get word to the faithful slaves of the house of Thudos. He says that that will be difficult but not impossible.'

'Doria safe!' whispered Gemnon. 'Thudos and I may now die happy.'

For some time the three men sat in silence that was broken at last by Gemnon. 'How did it happen that you knew the brother of a slave well enough to carry a message from one to the other?' he asked, a note of puzzlement in his voice.

'Do you recall Xerstle's grand hunt?' asked Tarzan with a laugh.

'Of course, but what has that to do with it?' demanded Gemnon.

'Do you remember the quarry, the man we saw on the slave block in the market place?'


'He is the brother of Niaka,' explained Tarzan.

'But you never had an opportunity to speak to him,' objected the young noble.

'Oh, but I did. It was I who helped him escape. That was why his brother was so grateful to me.'

'I still do not understand,' said Gemnon.

'There is probably much connected with Xerstle's grand hunt that you do not understand,' suggested Tarzan. And he went on to tell his part in the hunt.

'Now I am doubly sorry that I must die,' said Gemnon.

'Why more so than before?' asked Thudos.

'I shall never have the opportunity to tell the story of Xerstle's grand hunt,' he explained. 'What a story that would make!'

The morning dawned bright and beautiful, just as though there was no misery or sorrow or cruelty in the world, but it did not change matters at all, other than to make the cell in which the three men were confined uncomfortably warm as the day progressed.

Shortly after noon a guard came and took Tarzan away. All three of the prisoners were acquainted with the officer who commanded it, a decent fellow who spoke sympathetically to them. 'Is he coming back?' asked Thudos, nodding toward Tarzan.

The officer shook his head. 'No. The queen hunts today.'

Thudos and Gemnon pressed the ape-man's shoulder.

No word was spoken, but that wordless farewell was more eloquent than words. They saw him go out, saw the door close behind him, but neither spoke, and so they sat for a long hour in silence.

In the guardroom, to which he had been conducted from his cell, Tarzan was heavily chained. A golden collar was placed about his neck, and a chain reaching from each side of it was held in the hands of a warrior.

'Why all the precautions?' demanded the ape-man.

'It is merely a custom,' explained the officer. 'It is always thus that the queen's quarry is led to the Field of the Lions.'

Once again Tarzan of the Apes walked near the chariot of the queen of Cathne, but this time he walked behind it, a chained prisoner between two stalwart warriors and surrounded by a score of others. Once again he crossed the bridge of gold out onto the Field of the Lions in the valley of Onthar .

The procession did not go far, scarcely more than a mile from the city. With scowling brows Nemone sat brooding in her chariot as it stopped at last at the point she had selected for the start of the hunt. She ordered the guard to fetch the prisoner to her. She was looking straight ahead as the ape-man halted by the wheel of her chariot.

'Send all away except the two warriors who hold him,' commanded Nemone.

'You may send them, too, if you wish,' said Tarzan. 'I give you my word not to harm you or try to escape while they are away.

Nemone, still looking straight ahead, was silent for a moment; then, 'You may all go. I would speak with the prisoner alone.'

When the guard had departed a number of paces, the queen turned her eyes toward Tarzan and found his smiling into her own. 'You are going to be very happy, Nemone,' he said in an easy, friendly voice.

'What do you mean?' she asked. 'How am I going to be happy?'

'You are going to see me die, that is if the lion catches me,' he laughed.

'You think that will give me pleasure? Well, I thought so myself, but now I am wondering if it will. Nothing in life is ever what I hope for.'

'Pфssibly you don't hope for the right things,' he suggested. 'Did you ever try hoping for something that would bring pleasure and happiness to someone beside yourself?'

'Why should I?' she asked. 'I hope for my own happiness; let others do the same. I strive for my own happiness…'

'And never have any,' interrupted the ape-man good-naturedly.

'Probably I should have less if I strove only for the happiness of others,' she insisted.

'There are people like that,' he assented. 'Perhaps you are one of them, so you might as well go on striving for happiness in your own way. Of course you won't get it, but you will at least have the pleasures of anticipation, and that is something.'

'I think I know myself and my own affairs well enough to determine for myself how to conduct my life,' she said with a note of asperity in her voice.

Tarzan shrugged. 'It was not in my thoughts to interfere,' he said. 'If you are determined to kill me and are quite sure that you will derive pleasure from it, why, I should be the last in the world to suggest that you abandon the idea.'

'You do not amuse me,' said Nemone haughtily. 'I do not care for irony that is aimed at myself.' She turned fiercely on him. 'Men have died for less!' she cried, and the Lord of the Jungle laughed in her face.

'How many times?' he asked.

'A moment ago,' said Nemone, 'I was beginning to regret the thing that is about to happen. Had you been different, I might have relented and returned you to faviour, but you do everything to antagonize me. You affront me, you insult me, you laugh at me.' Her voice was rising, a barometric indication, Tarzan had learned, of her mental state.

'You will go on killing people and being unhappy until it is your turn to be killed,' Tarzan said.

She shuddered. 'Killed!' she repeated. 'Yes, they are all killed, the kings and queens of Cathne. But it is not my turn yet. While Belthar lives, Nemone lives.'

She was silent for a moment. 'You may live, too, Tarzan, if you kneel here, before my people, and beg for mercy. 'Bring on your lion,' said Tarzan. 'His mercy might be kinder than Nemone's.'

'You refuse?' she demanded angrily. 'You would kill me eventually,' he replied. 'There is a chance the lion may not be able to.'

'Not a chance!' she said. 'Have you seen the lion?'


Nemone turned and called a noble. 'Have the hunting lion brought to scent the quarry!'

Behind them there was a scattering of troops and nobles as they made an avenue for the hunting lion and his keepers, and along the avenue Tarzan saw a great lion straining at the golden leashes to which eight men clung. Growling and roaring, the beast sprang from side to side in an effort to seize a keeper or lay hold upon one of the warriors or nobles that lined the way; so that it was all that four stalwart men on either side of him could do to prevent his accomplishing his design.

He was still afar when Tarzan saw the tuft of white hair in the centre of his mane between his ears. It was Belthar!

Nemone was eyeing the man at her side as a cat might eye a mouse, but though the lion was close now she saw no change in the expression on Tarzan's face. 'Do you not recognize him?' she demanded.

'Of course I do,' he replied.

'And you are not afraid?'

'Of what?' he asked, looking at her wonderingly.

She stamped her foot in anger, thinking that he was trying to rob her of the satisfaction of witnessing his terror, for how could she know that Tarzan of the Apes could not understand the meaning of fear? 'Prepare for the grand hunt!' she commanded, turning to a noble standing with the guard.

The warriors who had held Tarzan in leash ran forward and picked up the golden chains that were attached to the golden collar about his neck, the guards took posts about the chariot of the queen, and Tarzan was led a few yards in advance of it. Then the keepers brought Belthar closer to him, holding him just out of reach but only with difficulty, for when the irascible beast recognized the ape-man he flew into a frenzy of rage that taxed the eight men to hold him at all.

A noble approached Tarzan. He was Phordos, the father of Gemnon, hereditary captain of the hunt for the rulers of Cathne. He came quite close to Tarzan and spoke to him in a low whisper. 'I am sorry that I must have a part in this,' he said, 'but my office requires it.' And then aloud, 'In the name of the queen, silence! These are the rules of the grand hunt of Nemone, queen of Cathne: the quarry shall move north down the centre of the lane of warriors; when he has proceeded a hundred paces the keepers shall unleash the hunting lion, Belthar. Let no man distract the lion from the chase or aid the quarry, under penalty of death.'

'What if I elude him and escape?' demanded the ape-man. 'Shall I have my freedom then?'

Phordos shook his head sadly. 'You will not escape him,' he said. Then he turned toward the queen and knelt. 'Allis in readiness, your majesty. Shall the hunt commence?'

'Let the lion scent the quarry once more; then the hunt may start,' she directed.

The keepers let Belthar move a little closer to the ape-man.

Nemone leaned forward eagerly, staring at the savage beast that was the pride of her stable; the light of insanity gleamed in her eyes now. 'It is enough!' she cried.

In a hollow near the river that runs past Cathne a lion lay asleep in dense brush, a mighty beast with a yellow coat and a great black mane. Strange sounds coming to him from the plain disturbed him and he rumbled complainmgly in his throat, but as yet he seemed only half awake.

His eyes were closed, but his half wakefulness was only seeming. Numa was awake, but he wanted to sleep and was angry with the men-things that were disturbing him. They were not too close as yet, but he knew that if they came closer he would have to get up and investigate. and that he did not want to do. He felt very lazy.

Out on the field Tarzan was striding along the spear bound lane. He counted his steps, knowing that at the hundredth Belthar would be loosed upon him. The ape-man had a plan. Across the river to the east was the forest in which he had hunted with Xerstle and Pindes and Gemnon; could he reach it, he would be safe. No lion or no man could hope ever to overtake the Lord of the Jungle once he swung to the branches of those towering old trees.

But could he reach the wood before Belthar overtook him? Tarzan was swift, but there are few creatures as swift as Numa at the height of his charge. With a start of a hundred paces, the ape-man felt that he might outdistance an ordinary lion, but Belthar was no ordinary lion.

At the hundredth pace Tarzan leaped forward at top speed. Behind him he heard the frenzied roar of the hunting lion as his leashes were slipped and, mingling with it, the roar of the crowd.

Smoothly and low ran Belthar, the hunting lion, swiftly closing up the distance that separated him from the quarry. He looked neither to right nor to left; his fierce, blazing eves remained fixed upon the fleeing man ahead.

Belthar was gaining on the quarry when Tarzan turned suddenly to the east toward the river after he had passed the end of the gauntlet that had held him to a straight path at the beginning of his flight.

A scream of rage burst from the lips of Nemone as she saw and realized the purpose of the quarry. A sullen roar rose from the pursuing crowd. They had not thought that the hunted man had a chance, but now they understood that he might yet reach the river and the forest.

Tarzan, glancing back over a bronzed shoulder, realized that the end was near. The river was still two hundred yards away and the lion, steadily gaining on him, but fifty.

Then the ape-man turned and waited. He stood at ease, his arms hanging at his side, but he was alert and ready.

He knew precisely what Belthar would do, and he knew what he would do. No amount of training would have changed the lion's instinctive method of attack. He would rush at Tarzan, rear upon his hind feet when close, seize him with his taloned paws and drive his great fangs through his head or neck or shoulder. Then he would drag him down.

But Tarzan had met the charge of lions before. It would not be quite as easy for Belthar as Belthar and the screaming audience believed, yet the ape-man guessed that, without a knife, he could do no more than delay the inevitable. He would die fighting, however, and now, as Belthar charged growling upon him, he crouched slightly and answered the roaring challenge of the carnivore with a roar as savage as the lion's.

Suddenly he detected a new note in the voice of the crowd, a note of surprise and consternation. Belthar was almost upon him as a tawny body streaked past the ape-man, brushing his leg as it came from behind him, and, as Belthar rose upon his hind feet, fell upon him, a fury of talons and gleaming fangs, a great lion with a golden coat and a black mane-a mighty engine of rage and destruction.

Roaring and growling, the two great beasts rolled upon The ground as they tore at one another with teeth and claws while the astounded ape-man looked on and the chariot of the queen approached, and the breathless crowd pressed forward.

The strange lion was larger than Belthar and more powerful, a giant of a lion in the full prime of his strength and ferocity. Presently Belthar gave him an opening, and his great jaws closed upon the throat of the hunting lion of Nemone, jaws that drove mighty fangs through the thick mane of his adversary, through hide and flesh deep into the jugular of Belthar. Then he braced his feet and shook Belthar as a cat might shake a mouse.

Dropping Belthar to the ground, the victor faced the astonished Cathneans with snarling face. Then he slowly backed to where the ape-man stood and stopped beside him and Tarzan laid his hand upon the black mane of Jad- bal-ja, the Golden Lion.

For a long moment there was unbroken silence as the two faced the enemies of the Lord of the Jungle, and the awed Cathneans only stood and stared; then a woman s voice rose in a weird scream. It was Nemone. Slowly she stepped from her golden car and amidst utter silence walked toward the dead Belthar while her people watched her, motionless and wondering.

She stopped with her sandalled feet touching the bloody mane of the hunting lion and gazed down upon the dead carnivore.

'Belthar is dead!' she screamed, and whipping her dagger from its sheath drove its glittering point deep into her own heart.

As the moon rose, Tarzan placed a final rock upon a mound of earth beside the river that runs to Cathne through the valley of Onthar .

The warriors and the nobles and the people had followed Phordos to the city to empty the dungeons of Nemone and proclaim Alextar king, leaving their dead queen lying at the edge of the Field of the Lions with the dead Belthar.
The human service they had neglected, the beast-man had performed, and now beneath the soft radiance of an African moon he stood with bowed head beside the grave of a woman who had found happiness at last.

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