Table of content

Chapter 16 Tarzan: The Lost Adventure by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Just befor nighfall, Usha the wind gave Tarzan a gift.

Small did not notice it, of course, and it is unlikely that any man alive would have smelled what Tarzan smelled. The scent of many humans, some of them Hanson's bearers, and most important to Tarzan, the scent of the woman, Jean.

She had been taken far away from where he expected the safari to be, and there was no scent of Hanson or Billy. The scent of those she was with was different, tinged by smells unlike those of the bearers. Tarzan instantly concluded Jean had been taken from the safari by force.

Tarzan stopped and sniffed.

Small said, "What is it?"

Small sniffed too, but smelled nothing other than what he had been smelling. His own body odor.

"Come on," Small said. "What is it?"


"You've found them?"

"No. I have found her. And she's not nearby. The wind has carried her smell to me, and it's an old scent. The wind is carrying her passing to me."

"Moved on. Passed on. You don't mean ... dead ... do you?"

"She was alive when the wind stole her smell, but it is a fading smell. She was in this area, two, three hours ago."

"Are you sure?"

"I am sure."

"How far away then?"

"A few miles to where the scent is originating."

"What about the others?"

"I do not know, but if Jean is no longer with them, it is possible they are dead."

Tarzan started to run through the jungle, and Small tried to keep up. Tarzan kept having to pause so as not to lose him. Exasperated, Tarzan stopped, waited for Small to catch up.

"Listen," Tarzan said. "I must hurry. I am going to leave you here, in this tree." Tarzan pointed to a large with many low branches. "You stay here and I will come back for you. If I am not here by nightfall, do not come down. I will come for you in the morning. If I do not come back, you are on your own. That is the way it is."

"I'd rather come along."

"I cannot wait. Do as you choose, but I have warned you"

With that, Tarzan raced off. Small followed him for a while, but the ape-man outdistanced him within moments. Small felt miserable; once again he was left alone in the jungle. He didn't know if he ought to be mad at Tarzan or grateful he was willing to help Jean.

He supposed he should be grateful. She was in more immediate danger than himself, but he had wanted to be there to help. Boy, wouldn't that be nice. He could show up in his socks, shoes, and underwear, bare-hand any problems, then fight his way out of the jungle, eating birds' eggs and grub worms all the way to the coast.

Small found a tree similar to the one Tarzan had pointed out, climbed high as he could, and looked out over the jungle.

Tarzan would realize late, when it was over, that Usha the wind bad given him a gift, but it had betrayed him as well.

The wind carried the scent of Jean, Hanson's bearers, and their captors to Tarzan, but there were warriors from Ur behind him and their scent was being pushed away, not carried to him by the wind.

They were part of a small party ordered to roam the game trails. If fate was good to the Urs, the trails were traversed not only by game searching for the next meal or water hole, but by humans who could provide the city with slaves, gladiators, and sacrifices.

There were four of the warriors, and they had rambled the trails all day, taking in a wild pig and an antelope They were excited as they returned to Ur. They had been part of the group of warriors who had helped capture Jean and Hanson's bearers. They knew that in the next day or two there would be great sport in the arena. Sacrifices to The Stick That Walks.

Just thinking of The Stick That Walks gave the men cold chills. They had seen it from time to time, when there was an appropriate sacrifice, but no matter how many times they saw it, the next time was as fascinating as the first.

The Stick That Walks was the Undying God of Ur.

The warriors were discussing this as they went along They talked about the number of times they had seen the god, about how it moved, its strange postures. The warriors paused to demonstrate certain postures to one another They put aside their kills, and playfully, imitating The Stick That Walks, clashed and hooked each other with their arms and wrists, kicked short snap kicks at one another's knees.

After a bit, they quit laughing and gathered up, the animal carcasses and started walking faster. It was almost dark. They came to the edge of the jungle and is he clearing where the great road lay. They had a cart parked there, zebras hobbled out, eating grass. And as fate would have it, with the way the wind was blowing, the fact that they had grown silent and Tarzan was preoccupied with following the spoor of Jean and the warriors, he did not notice them at first.

Tarzan was by what remained of an old shed. The shed bad been built as a shade for the warriors of Ur. A place where they might rest before returning to the city after a raid, or a hunting party, but the thatched covering to the shed had long since worn away, and now there were only the posts. Out in a natural meadow of wild grasses, Tarzan observed hobbled zebras eating grass. He con! tell immediately by the way they ignored him that the were domesticated. He knew, too, that this area must not attract many wild animals. Man's spoor was too strong here even if animals like the zebras were easy picking That meant this road was well traveled by humans, an therefore Tarzan concluded there must be a large gathering of humans nearby. It stood to reason that would be the city the Hansons sought. Ur.

Tarzan saw something sticking out of the tall grass near where the zebras grazed. It was a stone fragment, and he went to examine it. It was part of what had once been a wall. At one point, perhaps the city of Ur extended all the way to this point. Or perhaps the city had been moved to a more convenient locale. Perhaps when watering source dried up.

On the stone were strange hieroglyphics. At first glance Tarzan thought they represented men, but on closer examination he saw they showed some sort a sticklike creature in various postures. The postures were familiar to Tarzan. He had seen poses like them When he studied the Chinese fighting arts on the outskirts of Peking under the tutelage of a former Shaolin priest. They were not the exact moves Tarzan had learned, but the hieroglyphics certainly had more than a passing resemblance to the Seven Star Praying Mantis system. Tarzan found this baffling. There were a number of African fighting systems, so why would people in Africa adopt a Chinese system? Could the Chinese have brought their methods here to Africa in ancient times? Possible. but...

Well, now that he studied the stone closer, he realized the system was not quite Chinese. The moves were reminiscent of Chinese movements, but many of the stances did not appear possible for a human being to form; the human anatomy did not function in that manner.

Tarzan marked the stone up as a mystery that perhaps he could investigate later. Just as he turned from the stone, one of the four warriors took Tarzan into sights and fired an arrow. The arrow shot straight true, traveling so fast it was inevitable that it would find its mark.

Or such would have been the case had Tarzan been any ordinary man, but in the moment the arrow was flung from its bow, the wind shifted, and on it rode the snap of the bowstring, and the scent of the warriors. Tarzan, his ears stuffed with the sound, his nostrils full of the smell of the warriors, turned. Even as the arrow sped to its mark, the ape-man, as if snatching a horsefly, seized the arrow in flight, whipped it about in his hand, flung it with all his might back at the warrior who had fired it.

The warrior was not as quick as Tarzan. The arrow struck him in the right eye and came out the back of his head with such ferocity it sent a jagged chunk of skull flying before a stream of blood and gray matter.

The remaining warriors let out yells of surprise, fear, and anger. Clutching their spears, they charged Tarzan.

Tarzan turned sideways, went into a shallow crouch. As the first of his assailants reached him, the warrior leapt high into the air and tossed the spear. Tarzan dodged. The spear slammed deep into the earth beside the ape-man, and as the warrior landed on his feet an tried to draw his sword, Tarzan sprang forward, grabbed the back of the warrior's head with one hand, and slammed his other into the warrior's chin. The motion of jerking and striking broke the man's neck. The bone snapped like a pottery shard beneath a jackboot.
The two remaining warriors attacked simultaneously. They were fast, trained, and very good. But they were not as good as Tarzan. He moved to the outside, letting them run past him. He stuck out his foot and tripped one. The other raced past, perplexed. Where had the man gone? How could he move that fast? Nothing moved that fast.

Tarzan was suddenly behind the confused warrior. His arms locked around the man's throat, and by dropping to one knee, jerking, he snapped the man's neck and back as easily as an ordinary man might snap a pencil.

The warrior he had tripped was on his feet now, and even though he had not lost his spear, he broke off running. He ran toward the old shed. Tarzan picked up on the warrior's spears, took a deep breath, and tossed the weapon.

It was a good toss, but Tarzan's target stumbled slightly, and was saved by luck The spear soared just over his head and smote the ground in front of him. The warrior regained his footing, reached one of the upright shed posts just as Tarzan took hold of another spear.

The warrior peeked out from behind the post. Nearby, the zebras grazed He thought if he could reach one of them he might escape bareback, using his heels to guide the animal.

He paused to consider his plan a moment more, and that was his undoing. Tarzan launched the spear. The warrior, looking around the post, saw the launch, and ducked back out of sight.

The spear struck the post with such impact it shook and split, and the blade passed through the post and the warrior. This was done as neat and clean as if the spear were a hot knife cutting through butter. The man's knees folded and he hung there against the post, supported by the blade of the spear.

Tarzan dragged the bodies out of sight, chose one of the warriors' spears, recovered the bow and arrows from his first assailant, and set about nabbing one of the zebras.

In short time this was done. Using his knees to guide the beast, clutching the mane which he had plaited for a makeshift bridle, Tarzan started off down the road toward Ur, and Jean.

From his perch in the tree, Small could see much of the countryside by the dying red light of the afternoon sun, but he could not see Tarzan. He heard something down below, but he doubted it was Tarzan. Too much noise. It sounded like a hippo coming through the jungle. Birds took to the sky in a flurry, and in the distance monkeys fled through the trees.

Small climbed higher and looked out. Now and then he glimpsed the author of the noise, but couldn't quite make it out. It was moving through the bush and he could see it now and then, but never quite clearly. Whatever it was, it was moving in his direction.

Moments later, he realized what it was. Men. Four of them. The two in front were side by side, the two in back were side by side. He watched carefully. Soon he recognized one of the men. His boss, Hanson. A moment later, he recognized the other two.

"Uh-oh," Small said softly.

Small watched with amazement as the four men came directly toward his tree. It was obvious that Hanson and the black man- probably one of Hanson's bearers - were captive.

Wilson and Cannon had rifles and they were walking with that overbearing manner he had noticed the moment they first stepped into his and Hunt's camp. Self-righteous anger surged through him.

Small concluded that if they kept on the path - and at was likely as everywhere else the jungle was thick with undergrowth- within a few minutes they would ass beneath his tree. He could remain calm, let them go, wait on Tarzan for aid, or he could do something now.

What if Tarzan didn't come back? And there was another thing. If he let these four pass on, and something happened to Tarzan, he wouldn't have any chance, not out here by himself without a gun and supplies. He would be better off to stop Wilson and Cannon, kill them even, toss his lot with Hanson and the other.

And maybe, Small thought, I can borrow some pants here might be some clean clothes in one of the packs, and if not, well, one of the renegades could do without his.

But how could he take two armed men?

Small observed that neither Hanson nor the bearer was tied. Wilson and Cannon obviously felt their rifles were all were needed to keep Hanson and the other in line.

But what if he surprised Wilson and Cannon? They wouldn't expect an attack from above. What if, for a moment their guns were put out of commission? He fell certain that if this were so, if he could provide enough time, a distraction, Hanson and his partner would turn on

Wilson and Cannon and help him dispose of them. That would make it three against two, odds in their favor. Add in the element of surprise. . . well, that was like a whole other person.

Four against two.

Small looked about, found a liana he could cling to. It was perfect The path it would follow was perfect. All he had to do was swing on it. Wait until they were in the right spot, then swing.

Taking hold of the liana, freeing it from a limb, Small gave a tug. It felt firm, as if it could hold his weight.

He looked down at the four men.

Could he do it?

Sure, he told himself. Sure, I can.

But, man, what a drop that was. The vine didn't hold he caught a limb . . . bad business.

And the renegades, they've got guns and they don't mind using them in the least

Yeah, but they won't expect me, Small told himself Surprise is on my side.

And if you're off just a little bit...

Don't think about it, Small told himself. Don't think at all. Just do it.

Small took a deep breath and waited.




Three and a half...

Oh, goodness, Small thought. This will be something me swinging out of the trees in my underwear. Why have I got to be in my drawers?


Six ought to do it. I count to six, I'm going.


Got to do this just right.


Small clutched the vine, whispered a prayer, pushed off with his legs, and swung.

Table of content