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Chapter 6 Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins with Jad-bal-ja the Golden Lion by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Bending closer to Doc's ear Dick whispered his plan, and as Doc listened his face brightened, his lips stretching into a broad grin.

"Gee!" he said. "That's a great idea, but—do you suppose it will work?"

"Sure it will," Dick assured him; "but we got to hurry. Three of 'em went out to hunt for food—that's plain enough now—and we don't want one of the others to happen along before we get through. You sneak around into that big tree over there and I'll take the one just beyond. We've got to be on the other side of him so that he'll beat it toward his camp."

"If he doesn't beat it toward us," added Doc.

"He won't—you watch. Come on now, get busy," and as he spoke Dick turned and made his way quietly through the trees, skirting the clearing and keeping well out of sight of the enemy, as they now thought of the crooked man, until he had come to the tree he had selected for himself, while Doc took a position in another tree, both of which were on the far side of the sun worshipper in relation to the camp for which he was headed.

Immediately both were in position they fitted arrows to their bows and taking careful aim let the missiles fly. The astonished Oparian, who was about to lift the small antelope to his shoulders, saw an arrow suddenly bury itself in the carcass of his kill, while another passed near him and struck the ground a few feet beyond, quivering erect in the earth.

With a sudden snarl he turned quickly, his eyes searching in the direction from which the shafts had come.

Another arrow passed close to his side, making him move uneasily, and when he turned his eyes in the direction from which he thought it had come, from another direction came another arrow. He saw no enemies, he heard none—only the arrows—and then he did what Dick had been quite certain that he would do.

He ran toward his camp, leaving the antelope where it had fallen.

Dick and Doc waited until he was out of sight, assured themselves as best they might that no others were about and then swung to the ground and hastened to the body of the kill. Quickly they cut off as much of the meat as they could easily carry, gathered up their arrows and took to the trees again.

Following back along the trail that Doc had blazed they stopped at last in a huge tree that lifted its mighty top far above the surrounding jungle. Here Doc suggested that they eat, and climbing far above the floor of the jungle where they were hidden from chance eyes by the foliage beneath them they found a great crotch that would accommodate them both comfortably.

"Golly," exclaimed Dick, "that was easy enough, but—"

"But what?" asked Dick.

"I am terribly hungry and I feel right now as though I could eat anything, but at that I wish we could build a fire."

Dick laughed. "I thought you were the fellow who had wanted to tear the meat from his kill with his strong, white teeth," he reminded Doc.

"That reads all right in a book," said Doc with a sickly grin, "but somehow it is different now."

"Well," said Dick with a sigh, "If we want to live we must eat and we learned from Ukundo and Bulala that it does not pay to be too finicky, so here goes. Better follow my example!"

For a while the boys occupied themselves in silence, satisfying the cravings of ravenous hunger. All about them were the noises of the jungle; the raucous cries of birds of brilliant plumage, the chattering of monkeys, the buzzing and humming of insects. Faintly and from a distance, occasionally, there were borne to them other sounds as of larger animals moving through the underbrush, but from their aerie, screened by gently waving foliage, they saw little or nothing of the authors of these myriad noises, nor were they seen by other than an occasional monkey or bird.

"Gee," said Doc, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, "that wasn't so bad after all—it was just the idea of it."

"I sure feel stronger already," said Dick. "There is nothing like good old meat."

"It's going to get dark pretty soon," said Doc, "and if we are going to back trail to the camp of those gorilla-men, we had better get started."

Following the trail that Doc had blazed through the trees, the two boys moved cautiously and silently in the direction of the camp of the sun worshippers and their little prisoner.

The shadows of night were rapidly claiming the jungle as Dick and Doc halted, at last, in a tree that stood upon the edge of the clearing where Gulm had pitched his camp.

The twenty frightful men had succeeded in making a fire and the boys looked down with feelings of envy upon the grotesque creatures huddling about the friendly blaze. They saw the little girl seated upon the trunk of a fallen tree, watching the preparation of the meat that one of the hunters had brought into camp. She looked so much like a personification of hopelessness, misery and despair that the sight of her brought lumps into the throats of the two lads while it fortified their determination to rescue her, if it lay within their power to do so.

With the coming of night, there came also the chill of the damp jungle and then, indeed, did the boys envy the crooked men their warm fire, but they could only sit there, cold and miserable, watching and waiting endlessly.

A meal of the sun worshippers was in no sense a ceremonious function and for that the boys were grateful, since it was not lengthened unnecessarily by any formalities.

The raw flesh of the kill hacked off in strips or hunks by each individual in accordance with his own appetite or preference, was impaled upon sticks and held over the fire, which oft times leaped up and seized upon a cooking morsel so that the culinary result was, more often than not, an unappetizing-looking hunk of meat, raw in the center and in places burnt to a crisp on the outside. The portions thus prepared were torn apart by strong teeth and bolted without mastication.

The little girl was more dainty, using a knife that one of the men loaned her for this purpose. She cut strips of the meat into uniform sizes, which she grilled with far greater care than did her companions, and in the eating of her food, as well as in the cooking, she manifested a daintiness that alone would have differentiated her from her companions.

The boys dared not move around for the purpose of stimulating their circulation for fear of arousing the suspicion of the creatures below them, thus putting them upon their guard, and for the same reason they did not converse more than was absolutely necessary and then only in the lowest of whispers. But as all things must end, so eventually the sun worshippers had appeased their hunger, the little girl had crept into the crude shelter they had built for her and the other members of the party had lain down about the fire to sleep, with the exception of one, who sat upon the fallen log tending the fire that it evidently was their intention to keep burning brightly during the night for the purpose of discouraging the too close advances of the great man eaters of the jungle.

"Do you suppose that bozo is going to sit up all night?" Doc asked in a low whisper. "We didn't bargain for that!"

"If he does," replied Dick, "I can't see how in the world we are going to get into their camp and get the girl."

"We might go around on the other side and crawl up to the rear of her shelter," suggested Doc. "Maybe we could get her out that way."

"But suppose she thought we were some animal trying to get her," suggested Dick. "She would be frightened and raise an alarm."

"We could whisper very low to her," said Doc, "and tell her that we are her friends."

"What if she is not an English girl?"

"I never thought of that," said Doc.

"I can't imagine where she came from," mused Dick, "but, of course, among the few whites in this part of Africa there are Belgians, Germans, and French as well as other nationalities besides English, so she might be most anything."

"She doesn't look like an English girl," said Doc. "She might be German though."

"Yes," said Dick, "I thought of that."

"Well," said Doc, "I can talk a little German."

"Sure you can. You can say 'yes' and 'no' and 'good morning'."

"I know the word for 'friend'," said Doc.

"Then, we will have to wait for daylight," said Dick, "so that you can say, 'Good morning, friend!'"

"You think you are funny, don't you?" said Doc.

"I don't feel funny. I only feel cold. I wish that fellow would fall asleep. He sort of looks sleepy."

"I don't think you'd fall asleep if you thought a lion would walk in and grab you if you did," said Doc, "and so I am pretty sure that we can't bank on that fellow sleeping. Whatever we do has got to be done right under his nose while he is awake and if we cannot make the girl understand us in time to head her off from screaming for help, I don't see how we are going to accomplish much."

"The best chance we have," said Dick, after a moment of thoughtful silence, "is to speak to her in French. We each know enough French to get by fairly well and nearly all Europeans, who have had any education at all, have at least a smattering of French."

"I guess you are right at that," agreed Doc, "and now that we have settled that matter, why not get busy. It will not be any easier an hour from now, or two hours from now, or any other time than it is right this minute."

"That suits me," said Dick, "but let's plan the thing out carefully before we start," and for a few minutes the boys crouched in earnest, whispered conversation.

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