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Chapter 10 Tarzan: The Lost Adventure by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Hanson's safari began to run. They ran after Billy with his flashlight bouncing ahead, but there was little to see but the light. Hanson hoped Billy knew where he was going. Behind them came the bearers, carrying only a few basic supplies.

Billy's light dipped down and the safari dipped with it. The land sloped dramatically. Hanson's feet went out from under him, and Jean tugged his arm and helped him up. And away they went again, charging downhill.

The storm was at their back and it came over them and howled, and Billy yelled, "Hit dirt!" then gave the same command in his own language to the bearers.

Hanson and his group dove facedown and the wind screamed above them, beat their backs with rain. Hanson could actually feel the wind sucking at him, lifting him off the ground, trying to pull him up. He locked a leg over Jean's leg to hold her down and pushed a hand behind her head, forcing her face close to the earth. He pushed his own face into the damp soil, and prayed.

The storm pummeled them and pulled at them and seemed to last forever, but it finally moved on-or at least the worst of it. Behind it came a fury of rain.

Eventually, Hanson and his party stood up and spat out the dirt and checked the results by flashlights. Two of the bearers were missing. They had been the last in the group, perhaps being at the summit of the rise when the storm struck. It was concluded that the twister had snatched them.

The rain battered them and exhausted them as they made their way back to camp. In the glow of the flashlights, they could see the twister had ripped a swath through the jungle thirty feet wide and no telling how deep. The trees had been clipped so close to the ground, it looked as if loggers had been working there.

When they arrived at camp, the wind was still high, so it was decided to leave the tents pegged, except for making enough room to crawl under them, out of the rain. Hanson and Jean squirmed beneath his tent, arranged themselves as best they could on the ground, and tried to sleep.

The night seemed interminable, an eternity of suffering and terror. Hanson and Jean cowered beneath the tent in dumb misery. Hanson thought about the lost bearers, torn away by the storm and taken who knows where. Hanson realized he did not even know their names. He realized too, had it not been for his persistence in finding the lost city, those men would still be alive. He wondered about Tarzan, but worried about him least of all. If there was someone who could take care of himself, it was Tarzan.

An hour before dawn, the storm ended as suddenly as it had begun. The clouds rolled away and the moon shone. Hanson pulled himself out from under the tent and Jean crawled out after him .

When Jean rose to her feet, she said, "My legs have gone stiff as wire."

"Shake them out," Hanson said. "Get the circulation going. Then let's put up the tent, get to our dry clothes."

Jean flexed her knees a few times and stamped her feet. "Wow, that hurts. It helps, but it hurts."

"My God," Hanson said. "Will you look at the moon?"

The moon stood full and gold and bright. Easy to see because the twister had torn down the trees that might have blocked it from easy view.

"After that horrible storm," Jean said, "there's something that beautiful."

"We'll take it as a good omen," Hanson said. "There's been enough bad, we need some good."

Hanson shook out his legs, then shouted for Billy. Billy scuttled out from under his tent and trotted over to Hanson.

"One hell of a wind whip, Bwana," Billy said to Hanson.

"I'll say," Hanson said. "The men who were lost. I'll provide something for their families, of course."

"That's good, Bwana. But they knew their job. They knew it was risky. It's not your fault."

"Get the men to put up the tents. We'll dry out a bit."

"That good, Bwana, but I say we move on."

"Shouldn't we wait for Tarzan?" Jean said.

"I think he find us easy," Billy said. "I think we move on. I don't like staying here. Makes me itchy."

"Itchy?" Jean said.

"Think them bad ones might come back," Billy said.

"I believe Tarzan took care of them," Hanson said. "If those scoundrels headed for the coast as Tarzan ordered, we haven't anything to worry about."

"If," Billy said. "I give you an if. If Tarzan had cut their guts out and fed them to lions, then they be taken care of. I think Tarzan been away from jungle little much. Lion attacks you, you don't slap him. You kill ^him, or you get way away. I say we get way away."

"Certainly, without weapons, those men are of little consequence," Jean said.

"Weapons, or no weapons," Billy said. "A bad man is a bad man. We do not want to be around when they decide to be bad. Don't have a gun to shoot you, they put your eye out with a pointed stick. Bad is bad."

"All right," Hanson said. "We'll eat, pack up, start moving when it's light."

"Thanks, Bwana," Billy said.

"Dad," Jean said, "we can't just go off and leave Tarzan."

"Billy said Tarzan could catch up with us," Hanson said.

"Catch up or get ahead," Billy said, "it's all the same to him."

Hanson considered for a long moment, said, "Billy's right. I really must move on. We are running low on supplies, and a bit of hunting for game wouldn't be a bad idea. I'm sick of hardtack and jerky. I came here to find a lost city, and that's what I'm going to do. Tarzan can certainly take care of himself."

"I don't like it, Dad."

"It'll be okay, baby. Really."

"Worry about Tarzan is no good," Billy said. "Worry about us. We need some worry."

"Get the men together," Hanson said. "We're moving out."

By the time breakfast was prepared, Jean and Hanson had changed into dry clothes. Vapor rose from the steaming verdure, birds sang, and monkeys chattered. All was well with the world. When the gear was packed, Hanson gave orders to Billy, and Billy shouted to the carriers, and the column was on the move again. The path they were following was an easy one, as a large swath had been cut through the jungle by the storm.

As they proceeded, Billy walked next to Hanson and Jean. "Feel a lot better moving on. Every time we stop, bad things seem to happen. Tarzan here, would not be so worried. He knock a knot on a hippo's head, it needs it. But without him, we move on."

"It's all right, Billy," Hanson said. "I'm convinced."

"You, missy?" Billy asked Jean.

"I don't like it," Jean said. "But I'm walking ... Dad, I keep thinking about Tarzan and those apes. Could he actually have been raised by them?"

"Unless you think he's a liar," Hanson said.

"No," Jean said. "But it's so fantastic."

"First of all," Hanson said, "they are not truly apes. That's merely a convenient handle. They are considerably more hominoid than gorilla. Closer to Australopithecus. I presume they have rudimentary language. If not, Tarzan would never have learned to speak. If after a certain point in a child's development he or she does not learn to speak, the child never will."

"I know all that," Jean said. "You know I do. It's just so hard to accept."

"What I think," Hanson said, smiling, "is you are very interested in this Tarzan, and not just his background."


Shortly after dawn, the sun shone bright and the jungle steamed as the heat increased and the rain evaporated. Birds began to chirp in the trees and monkeys fussed and made noise in the branches. Billy suggested shooting one of the monkeys for a meal, but neither Jean nor Hanson would have it. They thought they were too cute.
"They cute, all right," said Billy, "but they cook up nice you put a stick through them. That Tarzan's monkey. He sure look good. Nice and fat. I would like to put him on a stick."

"I don't think Tarzan would like that idea," Jean said.

"You right," Billy said. "We will not say I said that. But I tell you, you get hungry enough, monkey starts to look less cute and more plump."

Soon the carriers, who had been silent all night, commenced to joke and laugh. They told stories of the two dead men. Stories of their lives and exploits. They told all they could tell that would honor them, and in their honor, they tried not to be sad. The dead men had lived their lives as best they could, and now they were gone to the other side, where all men eventually go.

Midday they came upon a wild hog and Billy shot it. They made camp shortly thereafter and roasted the pig on a spit over a large fire. The meat was good and sweet, and soon they began to feel rested and refreshed.

Hanson, a belly full of roasted pork, felt the worse had been done, and that it was smooth sailing from here on out.

Of course, he was wrong.

In the camp of the renegades, all was not so well. In fact, there wasn't a camp anymore, and as Wilson and Cannon approached it, they found Gromvitch.

Part of him anyway. The head actually. It was lodged between low tree branches at about their head-height. The rest of him was nowhere in sight.

Cannon grunted. "Gromvitch seems to have lost his head."

"Your sentimentality overwhelms me," Wilson said.

"Lookee here," Cannon said, removing his knife, from its sheath and poking it into Gromvitch's mouth. "He ain't got but a couple teeth left here, and they got gold in them."

Cannon used the point of his knife to pop the teeth loose. He put them in his pocket.

"Sure you don't want to boil his head down," Wilson said, "save it for a souvenir?"

"I knew how and had the time," Cannon said, "I would."

"You're somethin', Cannon. And ain't none of that somethin' any good."

"What I'm worried about is practical stuff," Cannon said. "Like is mere still supplies enough for us? Ammunition. Guns. Look at it this way, Wilson. Gromvitch dead has its good side. Now we just got to divide what we get two ways."

Cannon ducked under the limbs that held Gromvitch's head, proceeded toward the campsite.

"Hey," Wilson said. "It was Gromvitch, our heads were hanging up there, he'd bury us. Don't you think?"

Cannon turned and looked at Wilson. "Yeah. He'd slit a throat for a dollar, but he was like that. Way I see it though, what Gromvitch would do is one thing. What I'll do is another. You dig a hole, you're feeling Christian. My point of view is he don't deserve nothing no more than Talent got, and Talent didn't get nothing, and you didn't want to give him nothing. You're gettin' dewy-eyed all of a sudden, ain't you?"

"Just sayin' what Gromvitch would do is all."

"Bury his noggin, you want. Me, I say let the bugs take care of him."

With that, Cannon proceeded into what was left of the camp.

Wilson took a long hard look at Gromvitch's head. "There was a look of surprise on Gromvitch's face. Not horror. Just surprise. His nearly toothless mouth hung open as if in idiotic satisfaction. It was as if he had just opened a present and found it to be exactly what he wanted.

Wilson ducked under the limbs and followed Cannon toward the campsite. He realized he was losing his control over Cannon. Cannon was gradually starting to see himself as the big dog of the pair, and Wilson felt certain he would have to eliminate Cannon at some point, or at least teach him some manners. He needed him right now, at least until he found the city, found the treasure that was there. Then, when Cannon helped him carry it out, he'd kill him. Quick and painless. A shot in the back o the head.

Might as well. He knew for a fact, if he didn't kill Cannon, Cannon would kill him.

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