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Chapter 8 Tarzan: The Lost Adventure by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Tarzan, Nkima, and Jad-bal-ja had not traveled far when the storm hit. It hit with tremendous fury. Rain, high winds. Even Tarzan could not maintain the trail in weather like this, and he knew they would have to seek shelter and ride it out His only consolation was knowing the big black man and his partners would have to find shelter too, and that would keep them away from Hanson and Jean and their safari.

Suddenly, the brush crackled and there was movement, and Tarzan, without really thinking about it, spun in response to the sound and swung the leg he had ripped off Gorgo, struck a moving body with it, and knocked it backwards.

Tarzan leapt on the form and pinned it to the ground, a savage growl emitting from his throat. Realizing his prey was a man, Tarzan dropped the buffalo leg and his powerful hands found the man's throat.

"Don't kill me," Hunt said, but his voice was strained by the pressure of Tarzan's fingers around his neck.

It was too dark for Tarzan to recognize the man's features, and the voice was not familiar.

"Who are you?" Tarzan said, releasing his grip.

"You knocked out my wind," Hunt said. "My ribs ... they're killing me."

"Who are you?" Tarzan said again, and this time there was no room in his voice for delay.

"Hunt. You're the one they called the wild man."

Tarzan grunted, realizing who the man was now. He said, "You were with the ones who tied me to the tree. You and the young black man."

"Small," Hunt said. "But we didn't have anything to do with that. We didn't want it that way."

"I know," Tarzan said. "You are supposed to meet up with Hanson and Jean. They told me about you."

"That's right. Small and I. Listen, I didn't have anything to do with what happened back there. I didn't want it to happen."

"You said that."

"I just didn't know what to do. And if I had known, I don't know if I could have done anything to stop it. From listening to Wilson and the other two, I learned they'd had a run-in with you earlier. With Hanson and Jean. Oh, goodness. That's where they were going. To take the safari from Hanson. To kill him and the others and take Jean."

"I know," Tarzan said. "But I doubt they will go far in this. We must find shelter. And quick."

"We have to help Jean. And Small. Small and I got separated in the storm. I don't know if he's alive or not. Wilson and Cannon were trying to kill us."

"Shelter first. We are no good to anyone if we get ourselves killed."

"It's dark and it's rainy," Hunt said, "but that's no reason to give up on finding Jean."

"Suddenly you're brave."

"Just a little brave."

"It's not the rain," Tarzan said. "Though that will be bad enough. It will be a bad storm. A tornado. No one can withstand the force of Usha when he has gone berserk."

"Who did you say?"


"Who's he?"

"The wind," Tarzan said, as if speaking to one of great ignorance.

"They have tornadoes in Africa?" Hunt asked. "I thought that was in Texas."

"Surprise," Tarzan said.

Tarzan located the buffalo leg, grabbed Hunt, and yanked him to his feet. "You'll have to hold on to me, or you'll be lost."

"How did you get loose?" Hunt asked. "I figured you'd be dead by now. Choked to death by that drying leather."

"How does not matter. It only matters that I escaped." Tarzan turned to the lion, said, "Jad-bal-ja."

The lion roared back a response. Hunt said, "My God, there's a beast out there." He strained his eyes, just making out the great lion's form in the darkness.

"Have no fear," Tarzan said. "He will only eat you if I say so. And if you keep talking, I will say so."

"Mum's the word," Hunt said, gingerly feeling of his ribs to see if anything was broken.

Tarzan began to speak in the language of the jungle. He said to the lion: "Do you know a place?"

The lion growled softly and began to trot. Tarzan strained his nostrils for the lion's smell, perked his ears to hear the great beast's movement. He said to Hunt, "Put a hand on my shoulder and keep it there."

Hunt did that. Nkima, who had been cowering in a nearby tree, came down and leapt onto Tarzan's other shoulder and chattered.

"Hush, monkey," Tarzan said in the language of the apes.

Nkima went quiet. Hunt said. "You speak to lions and monkeys?"

"Yes," Tarzan said. "I find they have to be spoken to. Neither can read notes."

Tarzan began to trot, sniffing the air for the great lion. Hunt kept his hand tight on the ape-man's shoulder. Tarzan moved swiftly, yet Hunt knew the jungle man was traveling slower than normal so he could maintain his grip on the wild man's shoulder. Still it was difficult to keep up. The man never seemed to tire, and even in the dark, he was moving with self-assurance.

"Are we following the lion?" Hunt asked.

"Be quiet," Tarzan said. "I must hear."

Hunt listened. All he could hear was the confounded wind and rain. And the wild man had been right. The rain was coming faster and harder. The drops actually hurt when they struck him.

"We must move faster," Tarzan said.

"I can't keep up," Hunt said.

Tarzan stopped running and wheeled so fast Nkima went flying. Tarzan popped Hunt a solid one on the chin, knocking him cold. Before Hunt could fall, Tarzan scooped him up, flung him over one broad shoulder, and began to run. Nkima scurried angrily behind them, complaining loudly about the loss of his seat.

Then, as if a faucet had been turned off, the rain stopped. The wind stopped. It was deathly still. Even Nkima, who had finally caught up with the ape-man and perched himself on Tarzan's free shoulder, no longer fussed and scolded. One arm was around Tarzan's neck and he used the other to cover his eyes.

Presently, the silence was broken by a dismal soughing. The trees bent as though pushed down by a giant hand. Then, quite suddenly, all hell broke loose. Lightning flashed, thunder roared, and the wind howled like a wounded panther. Limbs of great trees tore loose and spun through the air, crashing into trees or smashing to the ground with terrific impact. Trees were uprooted, sucked upward, and hurled about.
A moment later, the jungle sloped down, the terrain became rough and rocky, and the trees were smaller and scragglier. Tarzan followed the scent of Jad-bal-ja until they came to a rocky, brush-covered hillock. At the summit of the hill was an outcropping of rock and there was a great slab of flint jutting out from the hill, and beneath the slab was the slanted opening to a cave.

Tarzan pulled Hunt off his shoulder and lowered him . to the ground. Nkima clung silent and wet to Tarzan's neck as the ape-man knelt and looked inside. Jad-bal-ja's scent was strong in the cave, so Tarzan knew there was no danger, or already they would hear the commotion of the lion in combat. Tarzan growled into the opening. Jad-bal-ja growled back.

Tarzan tossed the filthy hunk of buffalo leg in ahead of him, grabbed Hunt by the pant leg, and pulled him into the cave.

The cave was large and glowed with a greenish light. A little stream trickled through the center of it, and Tarzan could see a worn path next to the stream that led deeper into the cavern and around a series of strange rock formations that were filled with what looked like black glass and marbled stones. Apparently, eons of water seepage through limestone had left deposits of calcite, and the flint above the limestone had been broken off by erosion and had worked its way into the formations along with the black glass, which Tarzan deduced was most likely obsidian. All of this was coated with a sort of phosphorescent goo. Possibly crystals of calcium. Tarzan had never seen anything like this in Africa, and he had seen much.

Jad-bal-ja was lying against the cave wall beside the buffalo leg, eyeing it with a hungry intensity.

"Leave it be," Tarzan said. Jad-bal-ja let out a disgruntled rumble, moved away from the meat, and lay on the other side of the cavern wall. Nkima offered a squeak, went silent, and hung tightly to Tarzan. Outside, the wind screamed and moaned and tore at the jungle. Rain pounded the earth as if it were being whipped by the gods with a cat-of-nine-tails.

Hunt groaned and rolled over. He sat up slowly and felt his chin. "You hit me," he said.

"If you want to complain, I can do it again."

"No. No complaints. But why?"

"You talk too much."

"Where is this place?"

"A cave. An old lion's den. I assumed Jad-bal-ja would know a place."

Hunt noted the lion and became nervous. "You're sure that lion's safe."

"Safe enough."

"That's not the answer I was looking for."

"Life is full of disappointments, my young friend. Stay in the jungle awhile and there will be many more. What is, is."

"Man," Hunt said. "Listen to that wind. Usha. He is one hacked-off rascal ... Hey, I'm cold. I can't believe it. I'm in Africa, and I'm cold."

"Like I said, you talk too much. Stay where you are. Jad-bal-ja will protect you."

"The lion?"


"Are you certain he won't think you're leaving him a warm dinner? He could misunderstand, you know? You're gone, he thinks, oh, this fella's mine. Maybe I should go with you. Or you take the lion and leave me the monkey."

Tarzan did not answer. He spoke a word to the lion, picked up the buffalo leg, and with the unusually silent Nkima still clinging to his neck, followed the path by the creek.

Hunt squatted in his spot and looked at Jad-bal-ja. Jad-bal-ja put his head between his paws and looked at Hunt. Hunt thought he saw a sparkle in the lion's eyes. Or perhaps it was a glint of hunger.

"Easy, kitty," Hunt said.

The lion continued to stare, never taking his eyes off Hunt. Hunt decided not to look at the lion. He studied the cavern walls and the odd formations and wondered about Small. He felt guilty for running off and leaving Small like that, but it hadn't been intentional. He was merely running and had not meant for them to become separated. He hoped those two gorillas, Wilson and Cannon, had not caught Small. He had heard shots, but liked to think, like the shots that were fired at him, they had missed.

Then again, if the shots hadn't killed Small, the storm might be doing the job right now. The wild man had been right to flee before it, find shelter. Hunt rubbed his jaw where Tarzan had struck him. The wild man had been right to slug him. He had been close to panic.

Who was this wild man? He seemed to know the jungle as well as the animals, and he spoke to the animals. Was that possible? It certainly seemed to be.

Hunt eased a glance at Jad-bal-ja. He hoped, if the wild man truly spoke to the animals, his words carried some weight. What if the lion decided to disobey the wild man and eat him anyway?

Heavens, thought Hunt. Don't think that way. Don't think about that at all.

Exhaustion came over Hunt suddenly. He stretched out on the ground as far away from the lion as possible, and with the sound of the storm screaming outside, the soft breathing of the lion filling the cavern, Hunt fell asleep.

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