Table of content

Chapter 1 Tarzan: The Lost Adventure by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Numa the lion padded silently along the trail of the man-thing he was stalking. Numa was getting old. Resiliency had gone from his muscles. When he sprang to seize his prey, he was too slow now, and often he went hungry. Pacco the zebra eluded him with ease, and so did Bara the deer. Only the slowest and weakest of creatures fell prey to his charges. And thus Numa became a man-eater. But he was still a powerful engine of destruction.

The man, naked but for a loincloth and his weapons- spear, bow and arrow, knife, and rope-moved as silently through the forest as did the maneater behind him. He was moving upwind, and the scent spoor of the carnivore was carried away from him. But he had another keen sense always on guard to warn him of approaching danger, and when one of Numa's padded paws snapped a little twig, the man wheeled and faced the lion. He dropped the rope, bow, and quiver from his shoulder, let go of the spear he was carrying, and drew his great knife.

With only a knife, the man faced the king of beasts, and at this close range, that was the way he preferred it.

Discovered, Numa roared and charged. As he rose upon his hind feet to seize his prey, the man leapt to one side, turned and sprang upon Numa's back. The man's right arm encircled the beast's neck, and his legs locked around the small of its body, all with the speed of light.

Roaring in rage, Numa reared erect as the tong-bladed knife sank to the hilt behind his left shoulder. Again and again the man struck, and Numa's rich red blood leapt in the sunlight. The lion threw himself from side to side, leaping and bounding in futile efforts to dislodge the creature from its back. And constantly the knife rose and fell, the man clinging to Numa as tight as an entwined ivy vine.

The lion buried itself on its side and rolled about the Jungle floor, tossing up dried leaves and leaf mold, trying to press its attacker into the dirt and dislodge him, but the man held and the knife struck repeatedly.

Suddenly, the lion went limp and sank lifeless to the ground. The man, gore-covered from the spray of Numa's life's blood, leapt erect, and, placing a foot on the body of his kill, lifted his face to the heavens and voiced a long and hideous scream that sent monkeys chattering in fear through the treetops. After five years, Tarzan of the Apes had returned to his jungle.

He was ranging the vast domain that had been his stamping ground since childhood. Here he had foraged with the tribe of Kerchak the king ape. Here the she-ape Kala, his foster mother, had been killed by Kulonga the warrior-son of Mbonga the chief. And here Tarzan had slain Kulonga.

These and many other memories, sweet and bitter-sweet, passed through Tarzan's mind as he paused to wipe the blood from his body and blade with leaves.

In most of this area, far off the beaten track, there were only the animals and the native tribes-savage and primitive, living as their forebears had for ages. The wilderness teemed with game. On the plains, the herbivore grazed; and there the carnivores hunted them by night, which was according to the laws of Nature.

But Tarzan had caught the scent spoor of creatures notorious as destroyers of peace and tranquility, the one thing that stupidly upsets die balance of Nature, To his sensitive nostrils, Usha the wind carried the effluvium of humanity. And Tarzan was going to investigate.

Tarzan was always suspicious of humans in this district, as there were far more accessible hunting grounds elsewhere; and, too, several of the native tribes here were dangerous, having learned from past experience that outsiders, or at least those they had encountered, had little or no respect for their way of life or for the natural laws of the Jungle.

Tarzan could not imagine any reputable guide leading a safari into such dangers; any reliable guide or hunter would know that outsiders had not earned the respect of the natives here, and that to bring foreigners into this realm was to court death.

As the scent of the intruders grew stronger, indicating that he was approaching his quarry, Tarzan took to the trees, swinging through the middle terrace. So gently and naturally did he move amongst the limbs and vines of the great forest, the birds remained undisturbed. This silent, arboreal approach gave him an advantage when his quarry was man, as man is far less likely to detect danger approaching from above than at his own level.

Presently, he reached a point from which he could see those he sought. He looked down on a small, poor safari encamped in a jungle clearing. Tarzan's quick eyes and keen mind took in every important detail of the camp and its occupants.

Four tough-looking men moved about the camp with an assurance that told Tarzan they were bwanas of this safari. Two of the men were white, two were black. All four wore .45 on their hips. Each of them wore a battered military uniform, probably the French Foreign Legion, though they were in such bad condition, it was impossible to tell at a glance. From that fact, Tarzan deduced that they were probably deserters. They seemed an impoverished and ill-equipped company, probably straggling through the jungle on their way to the coast.

Besides the four uniformed men, there were ten bearers, and two askaris-head bearers. Tarzan noted particularly that there was no ivory in the camp. That exonerated them from any suspicion of ivory poaching, which, with the needless slaughter of game, was a crime he constantly sought to prevent by any means or measure.

He watched them trudge along for a moment, then left them, but with the intention of keeping an eye on them from time to time until they were out of his domain.

Unaware that Tarzan had hovered above teem and passed on, the four bwanas, who were preparing to break camp, uncorked a canteen and passed it around. The askaris and bearers behind them watched them intently, ready to take up their packs at a moment's notice.

When the canteen had made two rounds, one of the white men, a small, wiry man with a face that bad seen it all and not liked any of it, tuned to the large black man walking beside him, said, "There's only two of 'em, Wilson. And they're picture-takers, and one's a girl. They got lots of food, and we ain't got none."

The other white man, large and sweaty, great moons of sweat swelling beneath his armpits and where his shirt fit tight over the mound of his belly, nodded, said, "Gromvitch is right, Wilson. Another thing. They got plenty of-ammunition. We ain't got none. We could use it."

Wilson Jones, whose black face looked to have been at one time a great avid collector of blows, said, "Yeah, they got food, and they got ammunition, Cannon, but they also got what shoots the ammunition. Get my drift?"

"I get it," said Cannon, "but we don't get what they got, well, we're meat for the worms out here. We got to have ammunition and food to survive."

Wilson looked to the other Negro, Charles Talent. He was a tall man in a ragged uniform with too-short sleeves and too-short pants. The sides of his boots were starting to burst He was leaning just off the trail against a tree. He didn't look like much, but Wilson knew he was amazingly fast and much stronger than his leanness suggested.

As always. Talent wouldn't look directly at Wilson, of anyone for that matter. He once confided to Wilson it was because his old man had beat him with sticks of sugar cane when he was young; he beat him every day and made Charles look him in the eye and say what the beating was for, even if he didn't know what it was for, other than the fact his old man enjoyed doing it.

Old man Talent had gone through a number of canes when Charles was growing up, but the last one he cut was the last time he did anything. Charles put a cane knife in him, spilled his guts in the cane field, happily kicked his innards around in the dirt, and departed and never looked back.

From that time on, Charles had never been able to took a man directly in the eye. Unless he was killing him.
Wilson studied Charles's slumped posture, his bowed head, and said, "You got somethin' to say, Charles?"

It was slow in coming, but finally. "I ain't got nothin' against doin' what needs to be done. We should have done it then, when we come up on 'em. But then or now it's all the same. That's all I got to say."

Wilson knew what that meant. Charles loved killing. For Charles, that was what always needed to be done. It was the only time he felt strong, in control.

The other two, they weren't much better. Gromvitch, though a bully, maybe didn't enjoy killing as much as Talent, didn't accept it as quickly as Cannon, but he didn't mind it. And Wilson knew he himself was only a hair's breadth better than any of them. He liked to think that difference made him slightly superior, but in fact he felt bad about how he lived, the choices he had made.

Cannon said, "We got ammunition, we don't need the food so bad. We can hunt game then. We don't get it, we won't last long. Anyone finds us, even, there won't be enough left to pack a snuffbox. Some chewed bones. I say we got to do something, even if it's wrong."

Wilson grinned some damaged teeth. "Hell, boys, wrong is all we ever done, ain't it?"

"That's the truth," said Cannon, "but now we got to do some right for ourselves, even if it is wrong for them pilgrims."

"They've talked to us and gone on," Gromvitch said. "I don't think they suspect nothin', and if they do, they don't care. They're just glad to be shed of us. See how nervous they was? 'Specially that gal."

"I figure if they thought we was gonna do somethin' we'd have done it," Cannon said. "This way, we can surprise 'em. Swoop down on 'em like hawks. . . 'sides. I'd like to have me a little visit with that gal. See she's put together right."

"Hist's good by me too," Gromvitch said, and be shook the canteen. "And they might have some whiskey somewheres. I'm sick of water."

Wilson thought a moment, studied his companions, and hated them as never before. He couldn't figure how he had ever got himself into such a mess. He wished he'd never left the boxing game. Throwing that fight had changed his life. He shouldn't have done it. Not for money. Not for any reason. He should have fought his best. He should have gone on to be a manager, even a cut man. He should have done a lot of things, but he hadn't done any of them.

Wilson thought, if I had it to do over . . . He caught himself. Yeah, if. And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Wilson turned to Gromvitch. "You stay here, we'll go."

"Me?" Gromvitch said. "Why me?"

"Because I said so," Wilson said. "That isn't good enough, maybe I ought to remind you who's boss here. Without me, you'd still be a Legionnaire eatin' desert"

"No," Gromvitch said. "I don't need no remindin'. But that girl-"

"Get it out of your mind," Wilson said. "I'm not in for that. We have to kill them, we do it quick, and we're out of there. We do what we got to do, not what's fun for you."

"Well," Gromvitch said. "Whiskey then."

"Just mind the camp," Wilson said, then turned to his confederates. "Come on, let's get goin'."

Eugene Hanson stood up from the camp chair, adjusted the camera strap around his neck, wiped the sweat from his face, placed his hands on his hips, stretched his back, and studied the jungle. It was dark and green and rich with the sounds of animals and the buzzing of insects. It was humid and uncomfortable. His feet hurt. He'd been bitten by insects on nearly every part of his body and he was weary and sore. Yet, he loved the jungle. His mission and the beauty of the jungle had driven him on his photographic expedition. He wanted photographs that had never been taken before. Photographs of the manlike apes that were reputed to live in this part of Africa.

Outside of legends, the evidence was thin, but Hanson was convinced these man-apes existed. Man-apes were most likely cousins to the Yeti and the Sasquatch. He had researched them for years. Made plaster casts of their footprints. Talked to eyewitnesses. But this trip to Africa, he was determined to prove their existence; determined to push into the interior where no white man he knew of had gone before, and finally, with his cameras, prove once and for all that the man-apes of Africa were more than legend and that they lived near the ruins of an ancient city-the remains of a once-great, black kingdom called Ur.

Hanson grinned to himself, thought: this is a hell of a lot better than a classroom. He had never felt like a Ph.D. anyway. And since he was interested in such things as Sasquatch, the Yeti, and the Great Man-Apes of Africa, his colleagues at the University of Texas were not always inclined to think of him as a Ph.D. either. He certainly didn't look. like one. A fact he was secretly proud of. He was a little less trim at forty than he had been just five years ago, but he was husky, strong, and he still had some of what had made him an excellent fullback on the Lumberjacks football team at Stephen F. Austin State University. And he could still throw a punch as well as when he was an amateur middleweight fighting out of San Antonio.

He turned to locate his daughter, Jean. She was nearby, directing the four askaris and the bearers, showing them where she wanted camp set up. She was like that. Always in charge. One of her anthropology professors-Hanson refused to have his own daughter in his class-Professor Chad Oliver, referred to her as having the head of a bull, if the bull's head was made of steel.

He studied her, thought: my God, she looks so much like her mother. Her shoulder-length blond hair was dark with sweat, and the back of her shirt at the small other back was stuck to her skin. Her baggy khaki pants were pocked with burs, thorns, and sticky little plants, the .38 revolver dangled Annie Oakley-style from the worn holster and ammunition belt at her hip, but still, even though a bit lean and gangly, she was beautiful.

When she had directed the bearers properly, and they were about their work, she turned and saw Hanson smiling at her. She strolled over to him, said, "You took happy. Dad. I'd hug you, but I'm so sweaty."

"It's just you remind me of your mother," he said.


"Oh, yeah. But I can't say you look happy. Sorry you came?"

"Oh, no. It's those men. I didn't like the looks of them. They made me nervous. They looked like criminals."

Hanson hadn't liked their looks either. He had kept his hand near his .38 all the time they had been near. The words that had passed between him and them had been friendly enough, but he hadn't liked the way they studied him, his supplies, and especially the way that one man, the fat one, looked at Jean, as if she were a pork chop and he a starving wolf.

"They were a tough-looking bunch," he said. "Deserters, I presume. Foreign Legion most likely."

"I thought so too, "Jean said.

"Wise you didn't say as much," Hanson said. "They might have been trouble if you had. But they're behind us now and they were heading south."

"I know, "Jean said. "But I'm a worrier."

He patted her shoulder. "Yon needn't be."

The brush crashed. Hanson reeled. The two Negro deserters and the fat white man came out of the brush. Each carried a .45 service pistol in his hand.

"I believe die best way to put this is," Wilson said, "this is a stickup."

The lean black man walked over to the bearers. He pointed the gun at them without looking directly at them. He had an odd way of holding his head, like a dog, constantly listening for a sound.

"Tell those bearers not to pull any weapons," Wilson said, "otherwise, we'll have to put holes in them."

Hanson spoke to the askaris, who understood English, and they transferred the message to the bearers in their language. Hanson turned back to Wilson. "Just take it easy," he said. "We don't want trouble."

"Neither do we," said Wilson. "Trouble's the one thing I don't want. Get their guns. Cannon."
Cannon came toward them grinning. "Get your hands up, and no funny business." He removed their revolvers, taking far longer unbuckling Jean's ammunition belt and holster than was necessary.

"You and me, we could have some fun, baby," Cannon said, and he slipped an arm around Jean's waist and whispered something in her ear.

She slapped him. It was a fast, hard slap, and it left a huge red imprint on his face.

"You witch," he said, and drew back his hand to strike her. Hanson, oblivious to the guns covering him, stepped in and landed a short right on Cannon's chin that sent him down and caused him to drop his .45.

Cannon scrambled in the leaf mold for the .45, grabbed it, turned to point it at Hanson. "Good-bye, tough guy," he said.

Wilson stepped in and kicked Cannon's arm and the gun went off and sent a shell whistling through the trees. Monkeys screamed and chattered and leaves rained down on them like colorful snow.

"No killing necessary," Wilson said. "They hang people for murder even in Africa." Cannon stood up slowly, rubbing his wrist. The look he gave Wilson was incredulous. "We've done enough to get hung already. Two more, ten more, won't make a difference."

"Then don't do it because I say don't do it," Wilson said. Wilson turned back to Hanson and Jean. "We'll take your bearers, your supplies. Even those cameras. Things like that'll trade or sell good. I'll leave you with a little food and water."

"We ought to just go on an kill this bastard," Cannon said, waving his .45 at Hanson. "We could find use for the girl, though."

"No," Wilson said. "Leave 'em."

Wilson grinned at Hanson. "I'll tell you this, that wasn't a bad punch. I've seen some good ones, and that one wasn't bad."

"Yeah, well. I'm flattered," Hanson said.

"You go on and be tough," Wilson said. "It's no matter to me, but it was still a good punch."

Hanson didn't need a Ph.D. to size up these men, and he knew that nothing he might say would change things. Wilson seemed reluctant to kill them, but in a sense, he was doing just that, leaving them unarmed in the jungle. For them to make it out of this area of Africa, to safety, more than a bit of luck would have to be with them. Perhaps, the sentence Cannon wanted to pass would have been the best. At least death would have been immediate.

A few minutes later, Hanson and Jean stood side by side, a container of water and food at their feet, watching their stolen safari disappearing into the jungle.

"The beasts," Jean said.

"You malign the beasts." said Hanson.

After a moment of silence, Jean softly, "There was one bright in the whole affair."

Hanson stared at her. "And what could that be?"

"The big, black man was right. That was one pretty right you landed, Dad." It was the one bright spot in the whole, hideous affair."

Hanson rubbed his scraped knuckles. "Felt good, too," he said. "But I got to tell you, that slap you landed wasn't second-rate either. You rattled that ole boy's teeth."

"Good." Jean said.

Table of content