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Chapter 10 Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins with Jad-bal-ja the Golden Lion by Edgar Rice Burroughs

A Haggard white man, accompanied by a score of blacks, plodded doggedly along a jungle trail. His clothing was torn and soiled; his flesh scored by many a relentless thorn. Great dark circles were beneath his eyes—eyes that were filled with the anguish of spiritual torture and hopelessness.

Two blacks, who moved in advance of the balance of the party, halted for a momentary rest, and the others, closing up, joined them.

"Are there no signs, Natando?" asked the white man of one of the blacks who had been in the lead of the long procession.

"No, Bwana," replied Natando, "since the great rain we have seen no tracks."

"Up until then we followed them easily," said the white man. "During the rain they must have turned in a new direction. Perhaps we had better retrace our steps until we come upon the tracks again. We cannot go through this jungle aimlessly."

"Look!" whispered one of the Negroes in a low, affrighted voice.

He was pointing his arm ahead of them along the trail.

All eyes turned in the direction indicated by the trembling forefinger of the black.

Just ahead of them, majestically conspicuous in a frame of leafy verdure, where the trail turned from view, they saw a great black-maned forest lion surveying them.

The white man and four or five of the others who were armed with rifles cocked them. In the jungle, one has to be always prepared.

"Do not shoot," said the white, "unless he comes toward us. If we wound him, he will charge, but if we do not fire, he may go away."

They stood thus for a moment, the lion watching them intently, and then, to the amazement of the little party, an almost naked white man appeared from beyond the turn in the trail and stopped at the lion's shoulder.

The man, too, eyed them in silence for a moment, and then he raised his hand with its palm toward them and addressed them in one of the more common Bantu dialects.

"Put down your rifles," he said, "I am Tarzan of the Apes."

With a sigh of relief, the white man and his followers lowered their weapons as Tarzan, with Jad-bal-ja at heel, approached them.

"Who are you?" he asked, stopping in front of the white man.

"I am Doctor Karl von Harben, a missionary from the Urambi country," replied the white man. "I am a man of peace."

"I have heard of you, Doctor," said Tarzan, "and of the good work you are doing among your people. What brings you to my country?"

"A great misfortune," replied von Harben. "Two months ago my daughter was abducted. At first we thought that she had wandered into the forest and been killed by some wild beasts, but after days of searching we found her trail and saw that she was in the company of a band of men, or at least I assume that they are men, though their footprints slightly resemble those of gorillas. However, we know that they made fires and cooked their food, and so I assume that they are members of some race lower in the scale of evolution than are true men. You can imagine my fears."

Tarzan nodded and listened silently as the man went on with his story.

"It was some time after the abduction that we found their trail and as they moved quite as rapidly as we were able to, we could not overtake them, and then a great storm obliterated all signs of their spoor, nor have we been able to pick it up since," the missionary concluded.

"We are on similar missions then," said Tarzan, "for I am searching for two boys who are lost in the jungle. Two days ago I left them, to investigate a scent spoor that had aroused the suspicions of my lion, leaving him to guard the boys. Before I discovered the cause of his nervousness, the storm broke and when I returned to the spot at which I had left the boys, they had disappeared, nor have we been able to pick up their spoor since, as they must have moved off through the trees while it was still raining. It is very possible that the scent spoor that disturbed Jad-bal-ja came from the party that abducted your daughter, since it was obvious to me that he scented some creature whose spoor was entirely unfamiliar, or else that of an enemy. He would not have reacted as he did to the scent spoor of any creature native to this part of the jungle."

"Perhaps it was us whose scent he caught," suggested von Harben.

"That is possible," replied Tarzan; "yet I rather doubt it, since we have been cognizant of your presence for some time and have been coming up wind along your spoor, yet at no time has he shown the nervous excitability that he did two days ago when he first caught the scent that aroused him."

"Let us join forces," said von Harben, "and search together for the two boys and my little girl."

"If Jad-bal-ja and I cannot find them," replied Tarzan, "They cannot be found. I can see from your appearance that you are upon the verge of exhaustion. A mile from here there is an open grove in the forest through which runs a small stream. Go there then with your people and make camp and rest while Jad-bal-ja and Tarzan search for your daughter."

"But can we not help?" insisted von Harben.

Tarzan shook his head.

"All that you might do is to follow the trails and you do not know which trail to follow to find your daughter. If the scent spoor was strong in your nostrils, you could not recognize it, and then when Tarzan and Jad-bal-ja had found her they would have to search again for you. No, make camp as I have told you and remain there until you hear further from me. As Jad-bal-ja makes his way upon the ground through the underbrush where there are no trails, Tarzan of the Apes travels through the branches of the trees. No scent spoor, however faint, may escape them. We shall make a great circle, Jad-bal-ja going in one direction, Tarzan of the Apes in the other, and all that lies within that circle shall be known to one or the other. Thus in a day we shall cover a territory that you could not search carefully in weeks."

"Perhaps you are right," said von Harben. "I shall do as you say, but at least my prayers for your success shall accompany you."

The ape man turned to the great lion and spoke a few words that neither black men nor the white could understand. The great cat turned and with lowered head entered the underbrush, while Tarzan sprang to an overhanging limb and in an instant the two had vanished from the sight of von Harben's party quite as though they had dissolved into thin air.

Gulm wasted no time in further effort to capture Doc, but leaving the dead priest where he had fallen, pressed forward toward the new temple site which Blk, who was guiding them, assured him was now near at hand.

Gretchen and Dick, closely guarded, marched hopelessly with their captors.

"Golly," said Dick, presently, "we seem to have all the bad luck in the world."

"Nothing worse could have happened to you, Dick," said Gretchen.

"What do you mean?" he asked. "It is just as bad for you."

"Oh, Dick, you must escape. You must! You must!" she cried frantically.

"How about you?" he demanded.

"They will not kill me," she answered.

"You mean—!"

"I mean that you must escape before we reach the site of the new temple. No matter what happens, nor what risks you must run, you must not let them take you there."

"I think I understand," said Dick, "but if I get away from them you are coming with me."

"No," she said, "you will be fortunate if you can get away alone. You cannot do it at all if you have to think of me. Do not consider me. I am positive that they will not kill me and some day my father will find me. I know that he will never stop searching until he finds me. If you see the slightest chance, you must take advantage of it and get away."

Dick shook his head.

"What sort of a fellow do you think I am? What kind of man would I be," he asked, "if I ran away and left you with them? No, I could not do that."

The girl shook her head and sighed.

"Please understand what I am saying. I do not want to be left alone with them," she said, "but whether you run away or whether you let them take you to the temple site, it will be all the same for I shall be alone with them in either event and I would rather know that you are alive than to feel always that I was the cause of—of the thing that I know must follow if you are with us when we reach the spot where the new temple is built."

Moving cautiously through the trees behind them, Doc followed the frightful men and their captives. In his mind he was revolving many plans of rescue, but in the face of the superior numbers that opposed him, each plan seemed futile and absolutely foredoomed to failure.

He counted his arrows. There were sixteen of them and he knew that there were nineteen sun worshippers to be accounted for. The plan that this calculation suggested appeared to offer as reasonable a chance for success as any that had occurred to him after racking his brains to the utmost.

He had been moving very cautiously, keeping just out of sight of the rear-most member of Gulm's party, but now he moved forward more rapidly, risking detection that he might get closer to his quarry. There was nothing like trying!

Doc was becoming very proficient in the use of his bow and he moved through the trees now with so much greater ease than he did when he first attempted it that it was not difficult for him to fit an arrow as he moved through the branches of a particularly large tree that gave him excellent foothold. Below him, and but a few yards distant, walked the priest that brought up the rear of the procession. Doc halted and bent his bow.

The priest screamed and lunged forward upon his face, and in the same instant Doc sprang quickly back behind the foliage of the tree and moved swiftly off into the jungle for a hundred yards.

Gulm and the lesser priests turned back as the scream of their fellow startled them into a realization of their own danger.

They looked in horror at the arrow protruding between the shoulders of the fallen man.

"It is the other, the one who escaped," said Gulm angrily.

He turned to Ulp.

"The Flaming God came in the night, did he, and took Kla from us, did he?" he shouted. "You lied to me, Ulp, and you shall die for it."

"I did not lie, Gulm," said Ulp, sullenly. "I told you the truth. The Flaming God came and spoke to me and I have told you what He said. That He was pleased with us is proven by the fact that He not only gave us back our high priestess, but offered us two sacrifices in addition. Is it His fault that we captured but one of them? Is it my fault? If you had captured them both, Gulm, this would not have happened. The Flaming God is punishing us, not for what I did, but for what you did not do."

"Very well," said Gulm, "you shall walk behind the rest of us so that you may capture the other sacrifice, if he returns," and with a sudden growl, Gulm resumed the march.

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