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Chapter 2 Tarzan: The Lost Adventure by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Four days passed. The Hansons soon ran out of their meaner rations, and had eaten some fruit and nuts, such as they had seen the monkeys eat with evident impunity. But they were half-starved. The future looked grim. They had trekked back in the direction from which they had come, but covered little distance due to their failing strength and the delays necessitated by the need for building platforms in the trees to escape the lions who prowled incessantly at night. Hanson couldn't help but think one change of the wind might carry their scent below, and if it did, the lions might easily climb to their not-so-elevated height and take them for dinner. Certainly a leopard might. It was not a thought that allowed deep, comfortable sleep.

It was day now, however, and Hanson's spirits were lifted somewhat, though they weren't the sort of spirits one might proudly write home about. He was sitting on a fallen log by Jean, slapping at biting insects, considering all this. They had found it necessary to rest more often as they seemed to tire more easily each mile.

"I was a stupid fool to bring you along," Hanson said. "It was dangerous if we hadn't met up with those thieving bastards. We may never get out of here."

"Sure, we will," Jean said. "And don't blame yourself. I made you miserable until you gave in. I knew the dangers as well as you. And there's Hunt and Small. We'll meet up with them soon enough."

Hunt and Small were head of the party they hoped to join soon, but at the moment, they might as well have been on the other side of the world. And furthermore, Jean was merely trying to lift his spirits. She had no in either Hunt or Small-especially Hunt, and that was probably because she had grown up with the boy and he was madly in love with her. Hanson knew for a fact she thought Hunt and Small incompetent, and together, doubly incompetent, and in his darkest moments, Hanson feared she might be right. He realized he should have chosen his teammates more on ability to traverse the jungle than an understanding of the nature of anthropoids or the culture of lost civilizations. Pact was, just one man or woman with expertise in simple woodcraft and a knowledge of directions might have been a wiser pick.

But it was of no significance now. Nothing could be changed. They were in bad shape, no matter how you sliced it, Hanson tried to smile at Jean, but she looked past him and blanched.

Hanson swung around, saw an almost-naked giant approaching them. A bow and a quiver of arrows were slung to his back across his right shoulder. A wicked-looking knife hung at one hip, and he carried a spear with a leather loop at its hilt. Across his left shoulder and under his right arm a crude rope was coiled. He wore a breechcloth of the soft skin of an antelope. His black hair was long and shaggy and his skin was deeply tanned and crisscrossed with numerous thin, white scars.

Hanson stood up, tried to position himself in front of Jean. The man watched him, but neither slowed nor sped up. He finally came to a stop ten feet in front of them. His keen eyes appraised Hanson and the girl. "Where is your safari? How did you come to be alone here, without food and weapons?"

Hanson relaxed slightly. He thought the man had a commanding, nonbelligerent attitude. His English, though good, was odd. Not quite American or British. Formal and stiff. Accented, but with no influence Hanson could name. Perhaps here was some kind of help. Someone who could guide them to safety. His manner, his voice, even his appearance aroused confidence. And besides, there was nothing to lose. Hanson dropped his guard but stayed mentally alert while he explained who they were and what had happened to them.

"I have seen those men," said the giant. "I thought they might be dangerous. Stay here and I will get you food, then I will go after your safari."

"They've got guns," Hanson said.

"I know," said the man, and betook the leather loop on the spear, fitted it around his neck, grabbed the low limb of a tree, swung into its leafy denseness, and disappeared. Treetops rustled ahead and beyond where Hanson and Jean stood, and in a moment the man was consumed by foliage. He was gone.

"Well," Jean said. "I've gone whole weeks without seeing anything like that."

Hanson, stunned, nodded. "Kind of short on words, isn't he?"

"Do you think he can get food out here?" Jean said.

"I hate to say it," Hanson said, "but I think we've seen the last of him. A man who goes through the trees like that, he's bound to have fallen on his head a time or two. Probably one of those slightly 'teched' characters you read about-a wild man of the woods."

"Isn't that what we're looking for?" Jean said. "Wild men of the woods?"

"The ones with fur, Jean. The ones with fur. Did you see how he looked when I mentioned what we were doing? I think he was amused. Or amazed. I got the feeling he thought we were a couple of dopes."
"Well," Jean said, "considering we're standing out here without our safari and little more than the clothes on our backs, he might be right."


"Did you see how he took to the trees?" Jean said. "Nimble as a monkey . . . and he's certainly a handsome devil, and he doesn't look 'teched' to me. And those weapons he was carrying, they didn't appear to be window dressing."

"I'll give you that," Hanson said. "But what now? Do we trust him? Do we try to move on or stay?"

"I say we rest awhile, see if he comes back," Jean said. "If he doesn't, then I think we should build a platform for the night and move out tomorrow."

"I'm not sure I have the strength to build a platform," Hanson said.

"We can do it," Jean said, "with or without help."

Hanson put his arm around his daughter, smiled. "That's right, baby. Don't pay me any mind. I'm just tired. Be strong. We'll make it."

Tarzan, traversing the middle terrace of the forest, caught the scent spoor of Wappi the antelope, and presently saw it below him standing tense and alert. Then the ape-man saw what had alerted the little animal-a leopard, on its belly, was creeping stealthily toward it.

Tarzan seized his bow and fitted an arrow. It was just a matter of seconds before the heavy shaft drove into the antelope's heart, as, almost simultaneously, the ape-man dropped quickly to the ground between the carcass of his kill and the beast that would rob him of it.

With a coughing cry, the leopard charged. Tarzan sidestepped, grabbed the maddened leopard by the scruff of the neck and the tail, whirled about, and tossed the beast as if it were a stuffed toy. The leopard went spinning into the brush, landed tail over claw, rolled, slammed into a tree, and staggered to its feet The leopard crouched and studied Tarzan. The man stood sideways, low to the ground, as if he might take to it in the manner of Hista, the snake.

Never had the leopard seen anything so fast. And it was a man too, the weaklings of the jungle. The leopard let out a defiant yowl, and Tarzan laughed. "Run along, my friend," Tarzan said in the language of the great apes. "Spare me an arrow. This antelope is mine."

The leopard turned, ducked through the brush, and was gone.

Tarzan jerked the arrow from the carcass of the antelope, swung the animal to a shoulder, and took to the trees.

Hanson and Jean sat on the fallen tree, waiting, but with little expectation that the wild man with the stilted English would return.

"If he does come back," said Jean, "I suppose he'll bring us fruit and nuts. I'm fed up on fruit and nuts, even though we haven't had enough of those to keep a canary alive."

"He brings fruit and nuts," Hanson said, "I'll eat fruit and nuts. What I think is, he's probably forgotten about us."

"Maybe not," Jean said.

Hanson glanced up to see Tarzan swing from the branches of a tree with the carcass of his kill and land less than three feet from them. Hanson and Jean stood up. "That didn't take long," said Hanson.

Tarzan grunted and tossed the antelope on the ground. "After you have dressed it and cut off what you want to eat tonight, carry it up into a tree where the beasts won't get it. Can you make fire?"

"I have a few matches left," said Hanson.

"Keep them," said Tarzan. He unsheathed his hunting knife and removed the viscera from the carcass. Then he turned to them with a question. "How much can you eat tonight? I'll carve it, then start your fire."

"How about the whole thing?" Jean said. "I could eat it raw."

The suggestion of a smile moved the ape-man's lips, as he cut a generous portion from a flank. Then he gathered dry leaves and grasses, tinder, and larger pieces of wood, carried it some distance from the viscera.

"You'll have visitors tonight," he said, "but by morning all the antelope's innards will be gone. It will keep them busy. Less interested in you. I suppose I need not suggest you get into a tree early-and stay there."

Tarzan arranged the leaves, grasses, and tinder and made fire after the manner of the jungle people, then he straightened up.

"I will go after your safari now," he said. "Stay here until I come back."

"Why are you doing this?" Jean asked. "Not that I want to discourage you, but why?"

"Because it needs to be done," Tarzan said. "Here, keep this until you see me next," he said, and handed her his huge knife. Then he swung into a tree and disappeared.

"How in hell does he do that?" Hanson said. "I couldn't climb that tree with a ladder, let alone swing through it."

"Who is he?" demanded Jean.

"I don't know," said Hanson, "but God must have sent him."

"How can he recover our safari by himself?" said Jean.

Hanson shook his head. "He can't."

"That's what we thought about his getting food for us," Jean said.

"Dealing with those men, that's another thing. In fact, I feel awful that he might try. If something happened to him in the process, I'll feel responsible."

"There's nothing we can do about it one way or another now, Jean said. "Let's eat. I'm so hungry my stomach thinks my throat is cut."

"You cook the meat, I'll build a platform," Hanson said.

The meat was partially burned and almost raw, but they wolfed it down. Jean's fingers and face were covered with burned meat and grease as she looked up at her father and grinned. "We're just like the lions at feeding time in the zoo," she said, wiping her face on her sleeve.

"You're a sight," said Hanson. "Last time I saw your face like that, you were twelve or thirteen, and you'd stolen jam out of the pantry."

"All I know is, that's the best meal I've ever eaten."

The sun was low, and Hanson knew the brief equatorial twilight would come and go with startling swiftness. He banked the fire in the hope of preserving embers for breakfast. In the distance a lion roared.

Hanson and Jean climbed into the tree where Hanson had constructed a crude platform of limbs, vines, and leaves. They sat on the edge of it, dangling their legs, looking down into the growing darkness. There was a slight warm breeze and it smelled of the jungle foliage, and faintly of rotting leaves.

Again, a lion roared, but much closer now.

"Where do you suppose he lives?" said the girl.

"Who? The lion?" asked the man.

Jean laughed. "No, silly," she said, "our wild man."

"Oh, probably in a cave with his mate, and a half-dozen naked dirty brats and an ill-tempered, one-legged dog."

"And why would he have a one-legged dog?"

"Because he ate the other three."

"That's not very nice. Dad."

"Get your mind off the loincloth, dear."


"Good night, dear. Try not to think about your jungle man too much."

"I was just curious, was all."

"Of course," Hanson said, lying down on the platform. "Good night."

It was suddenly quite dark, and below there were a multitude of noises-rustlings, a growl, and then the weird, uncanny yapping of hyenas.

"They're fighting over the entrails of the antelope," said Hanson.

"It's nice to be up here where it's safe," said Jean.

Hanson thought of the python and the leopard, but he did not mention them. The lion roared again. He was very close now, almost directly beneath them. Then he moved on, growling. Hanson could hear the hyenas scattering.

The king had come.

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