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Chapter 7 Tarzan: The Lost Adventure by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The moment Tarzan had been taken by surprise and Nkima had escaped, the little monkey raced through the trees searching for aid. He had thought of Hanson and Jean, but Nkima had no faith in the tarmangani who were so stupid they could not even understand him. He looked for another, and at last he found him-a great lion lying asleep beneath a tree at the edge of a clearing. Jad-bal-ja.

Screaming, Nkima dropped to the ground beside the great head, where, chattering loudly, he hopped up and down. Jad-bal-ja opened an eye and looked at Nkima, tried to decide why a meal had come to him voluntarily, then realized that this particular monkey was not a meal at all, but someone he knew. Not someone he liked particularly, but someone he knew. Someone who loved the one he loved, Tarzan. Except for that, he would have eaten him, and quickly. Monkey flesh was good.

Nkima continued to chatter and wave his arms and thrash his tail, then the lion understood, and sprang to his feet with a low growl. Nkima leapt to Jad-bal-ja's back and clung to the black mane, screaming directions as the lion trotted off. Jad-bal-ja did not run. Instinct told him that he could not maintain high speed except for short distances. Instinct and experience.

But all of this was too late. While Nkima and Jad-bal-ja attempted to come to the rescue, out on the veldt, the water buffalo, head bent, horns projected, was charging down on Tarzan.

The ape-man viewed his situation with the cold eye of the realist. The spittle flying from Gorgo's mouth, the dirt and grass spraying from beneath his hooves, every move of the great buffalo's body, Tarzan noted. He had but seconds before Gorgo was on him, and to struggle against his bonds was useless. He would choke himself to death, or break his own neck.

Even if the buffalo's horns missed his flesh, the sheer impact of its hard head would sandwich him against the tree to which he was tied with such force it would crush his insides. There was only one chance, and a slim one.

When Gorgo was less than a few feet away, Tarzan breathed deep, pressed his back tight against the tree, and pushed off with the balls of his feet. Tarzan threw his legs higher than Gorgo's lowered head. As he did, the leather thong about his neck tightened and cut into Tarzan's flesh. Blood ran down his neck and shoulders and chest, and in that same instant, as Tarzan's legs were airborne, Gorgo struck the tree with his hard head and the tree shook. The bull staggered back, dazed. Tarzan's legs came down on the top of Gorgo's horns and hooked and latched there.

Tarzan, groaning as loud as the buffalo bellowed, twisted his legs with all the power he could muster. Tarzan's great muscles strained and tightened. Tarzan felt as if his body would tear in half.

Tarzan called on every ounce of energy he could muster. He used his leverage to wrench Gorgo's head in such a manner that it forced the buffalo's legs to fly out from beneath it. Gorgo crashed to the ground on its side.

But its head did not drop. Tarzan had it locked in his viselike legs. Tarzan squeezed with all his might. The muscles in his brown legs coiled and twisted like ropes. The sound of Gorgo's neck cracking echoed across the veldt and made a number of hyenas lurking in the high grass dash for cover, thinking it was a bolt of lightning and that soon the dry grasses would blaze with that which they feared most. Fire.

Gorgo tried to bellow again, but the only sound the bull gave up was a cough. Tarzan continued to twist. He twisted until there was another snapping sound and the buffalo lay vibrating in its death throes at his feet.

Tarzan coughed, his mouth snapped at the air, trying to pull oxygen into his chest. The action he had taken had saved his life, but it had nearly caused him to choke to death. And now, with Gorgo dead, he was no better off. Maybe worse. The leather thong was tighter than before, and as the sun rose it would become tighter yet, as did the thong securing his arms behind his back. It might have been better to let Gorgo do his work, end it quickly, but it was not in Tarzan's nature. He would never quit, no matter what the circumstances. Not while he lived.

Moments later, Tarzan saw a comical and welcome sight. Coming out of the jungle, entering onto the veldt, was the great Jad-bal-ja with Nkima clinging to his mane. The monkey was chattering and riding the great lion like a jockey.
The great lion charged when it saw Tarzan, leapt on the dead buffalo and swatted it so hard the blow almost swung its head all the way around on its damaged neck.

So fast had Jad-bal-ja struck, Nkima lost his balance and was hurled from the back of the lion. Nkima went tumbling along the ground, chattering all the while.

"It's all right," said Tarzan in the language of the jungle, his voice weak and raspy. "It's the leather that holds me now, Jad-bal-ja. Loosen me. I can hardly breathe."

The lion stood on its hind legs, a paw on either side of Tarzan's head. Jad-bal-ja nuzzled Tarzan, licked his face, then used his teeth delicately, biting through the leather thong around Tarzan's neck.

When the thong broke, Tarzan fell forward with a gasp. Even as Jad-bal-ja moved to bite through the leather that held Tarzan's arms to the tree, Tarzan, no longer restricted by the throat strap, regained his strength, pushed the flats of his feet against the tree, expanded his chest, and with an angry jerk snapped his bonds.

As Tarzan peeled the remains of the leather from his wrists, Nkima, leaping up and down and gesturing wildly, was relaying a series of unpleasant things about Jad-bal-ja and his ancestry. Jad-bal-ja roared at the little monkey, and Nkima fled up the tree like a shot and continued scolding from behind a thick branch.

Tarzan stretched his neck slowly. He looked up at the angry Nkima and laughed. "Brave monkey," he said.

The lion growled. Tarzan looked at Jad-bal-ja. "I understand, old friend. I am hungry too. Eat."

Jad-bal-ja turned to the corpse of the buffalo. He grabbed it by the head with his great jaws and began to feed on the soft and sweet parts of its muzzle, turning soon to the soft underbelly, which he tore open and eviscerated with his sharp fangs.

Just before the sun fell into the jungle and night rose up like a demon, Tarzan sniffed the air. It smelled damp and forbidding. Tarzan turned his attention to the trees. The tops swayed and there were no animals visible. There was not even a bird.

A storm was coming. A bad one.

Tarzan decided to feed. He knelt beside Jad-bal-ja, scooped a handful of warm innards from the buffalo's open gut, and began to chew, savoring the warm blood. When he had eaten his fill, he put his foot on the corpse of Gorgo, grasped one of its legs, and started to pull and twist. It took some time, but eventually, the bone cracked and the sinew tore, and Tarzan jerked a leg of the beast loose. It was a crude, bloody weapon, but it would serve until he could do better. And there was always an added benefit. It was meat.

Tarzan sniffed the air again. The wet smell permeated the jungle, covering up much of the scent of Wilson and the others, but enough of it remained for Tarzan to deduce they were heading in the direction of the Hanson party.

"Come," Tarzan called to Nkima and Jad-bal-ja, and without confirming their response, Tarzan started off at a trot.

Jad-bal-ja tore a last morsel from the buffalo, then, snout red with blood, tongue flashing over his whiskers, followed. A moment later, Nkima came yammering after them, protesting that there was nothing for him to eat.

Wilson paused and pulled a flashlight from his pack. He shined it down the trail. "I don't like it," he said to Cannon. "It's too dark. Stormy. I think we've gotten off the path."

"Ain't no think about it," Cannon said. "We're lost as gooses."

"Geese," Wilson said.



Hunt and Small stood close to one another in the darkness, watching Wilson shine the flashlight around. Hunt thought now might be the time to jump Wilson and Cannon. If he could get Small to understand, maybe that's what they should do.

He thought back to earlier, to how easily Wilson had knocked him about with the .45. Even a surprise attack wasn't enough when the most difficult battle he had ever fought was on the tennis court. And he'd lost. As for Small, well, he wasn't much better, if he was better at all.

Perhaps fighting these brutes wasn't such a good plan after all.

Heavens, thought Hunt, life is hell when you live it as a weakling and a coward. What would Jean think of him?

Most likely she would be the one to jump them, win or lose. She was that way. Hardheaded. Overconfident. Beautiful.

And she thought he was an idiot.

He was glad she couldn't see him. He hung his head, resigned.

"If we're caught by the storm, so will they be," Cannon said. "I think we ought to go back to camp, batten down the hatches, and ride it out. We can visit with them clowns when we want. Besides, I ain't in the mood for that woman right now and I want to see her when I am. I'm hungry and tired and I don't like it wet, and it's gonna get wet. I ain't in no mood when I'm hungry and wet."

"You talk like you're goin' on a date," Wilson said.

"You got to have some romantic notions," Cannon said.

Listening to them talk, Hunt felt a fire go through him. They were discussing Jean like she was a piece of meat they were going to buy. The bastards!

Wilson considered for a moment, then said to Cannon, "All right, but which way is back?"

Cannon turned and studied the jungle. It was so dark he couldn't see his hand in front of his face. He got out his flashlight and moved the light around. That didn't help much. Trees. No trail.

"I knew we was goin' wrong," Cannon said.

"You didn't know nothing," Wilson said.

"Yeah, I did. I knew we was wrong."

"Shut up," Wilson said. "Shut up and let me think."

Rain began to blow through the trees. A crack of lightning rode through the sky and made everything bright, hit the top of a great tree and split it asunder. In that instant, spurred by his anger at what they had said about Jean, Hunt grabbed Small and pushed him toward the jungle, yelled, "Run."

Hunt took off hard and fast and Small raced after him and fell, stumbled to his feet and kept going. Wilson whipped the light around and spotted the two as they ran, but when he lowered the light to aim his rifle, he lost sight of them and fired blind. The shot tore through the collar of Small's shirt, but he was unaware. He only knew that the bullet came close. It buzzed by his head like a hornet with an agenda.

Small tripped, rolled, found himself tumbling downhill. He wanted to call out for Hunt, but knew that was suicide. He had some advantage here in the dark.

The air was cut by two more shots, fired wild, then the flashlight roamed the shadows and the trees, and Small pushed himself close to the ground and lay tight.

Off in the distance he could hear a crashing noise, and he knew it was Hunt. He could hear him grunting, cussing, as limbs struck him, tripped him, poked him. If Wilson and Cannon had a mind to, they could follow him by his trail of profanity.

As Small lay facedown, the smell of rotting leaves in his nostrils, he felt something move across the back of his legs. Instinctively, he knew it was a very large snake. A python most likely. Probably it had not taken shelter when it should have, or had been out hunting. Perhaps its belly was full of mice or monkey, and therefore it was moving slow.

And maybe the snake was so hungry it was shopping for its meal in the rain. Perhaps a stupid explorer would be just the thing for Mr. Python. That perfect hit-the-spot meal.

Small bit his hand to keep from screaming. He thought if, he jerked his leg up quickly and wheeled away from the direction the snake was going, he might be able to proceed downhill and find a new place to hide. He didn't want to do that, not with Wilson and Cannon nearby, but the waiting, the weight of that heavy snake crawling across his legs, was too much to bear.

As he was about to bolt, the beam of a flashlight danced above him. Small rolled his head to the side and looked up. Behind the light was a shape. Wilson. He was standing on the edge of the incline where Small had fallen, flashing the light out at the jungle.

God, don't look down, thought Small. Don't look down. The light bobbed down, then up. Small heard a crackling of brush, then Cannon's voice: "Anything?"
Small buried his face in the dirt.

"Hold the light," Wilson said.

They have me, thought Small. They've seen me.

"Look there," Wilson said.

"Oh, yeah," Cannon said. "Go on and shoot."

Small awaited the shot he would never hear. But he did hear it. The rifle cracked, he jerked slightly. Lay still. How in hell could they have missed from that distance?

"Biggest python I've seen in ages," Cannon said.

Yeah, but I got him."

"What about them idiots?"

"What about them?" Wilson said.

"I can hear one of 'em crashing along out there. He ain't so far."

"Yeah, well, he ain't so close neither. We might could find him easy, and might not. We could get hurt out there, dark as it is, storm coining. Jungle will take care of both of them, especially tonight. I got the main thing I wanted, that wild-man fella."

"And us?" Cannon asked. "What are we gonna do?"

"We're gonna find that trail and start back. That's what we're gonna do. Later, we'll get what we want from that safari."

"Like the girl," Cannon said.

"Yeah, I reckon," Wilson said. "You want her that bad, you and Gromvitch can divvy her up."

Small listened to them move away. He began to breathe again. They had missed seeing him by inches, had spotted the snake crawling away, and had focused on that.

Miracles did happen.

Small waited a while longer. Just as it began to rain big hard drops, he rose from his position and moved deeper into the jungle, trying to travel in the direction where he had last heard Hunt pushing his way through the foliage.

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