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| Home | Reading Room TARZAN of the Apes

TARZAN of the Apes
by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Chapter 8

The Tree-top Hunter

The morning after the Dum-Dum the tribe started slowly

back through the forest toward the coast.

The body of Tublat lay where it had fallen, for the people

of Kerchak do not eat their own dead.

The march was but a leisurely search for food. Cabbage

palm and gray plum, pisang and scitamine they found in

abundance, with wild pineapple, and occasionally small mammals,

birds, eggs, reptiles, and insects. The nuts they cracked

between their powerful jaws, or, if too hard, broke by pounding

between stones.

Once old Sabor, crossing their path, sent them scurrying to

the safety of the higher branches, for if she respected their

number and their sharp fangs, they on their part held her

cruel and mighty ferocity in equal esteem.

Upon a low-hanging branch sat Tarzan directly above the

majestic, supple body as it forged silently through the thick

jungle. He hurled a pineapple at the ancient enemy of his

people. The great beast stopped and, turning, eyed the

taunting figure above her.

With an angry lash of her tail she bared her yellow fangs,

curling her great lips in a hideous snarl that wrinkled her

bristling snout in serried ridges and closed her wicked eyes to

two narrow slits of rage and hatred.

With back-laid ears she looked straight into the eyes of

Tarzan of the Apes and sounded her fierce, shrill challenge.

And from the safety of his overhanging limb the ape-child

sent back the fearsome answer of his kind.

For a moment the two eyed each other in silence, and then

the great cat turned into the jungle, which swallowed her as

the ocean engulfs a tossed pebble.

But into the mind of Tarzan a great plan sprang. He had

killed the fierce Tublat, so was he not therefore a mighty

fighter? Now would he track down the crafty Sabor and slay

her likewise. He would be a mighty hunter, also.

At the bottom of his little English heart beat the great desire

to cover his nakedness with CLOTHES for he had learned

from his picture books that all MEN were so covered, while

MONKEYS and APES and every other living thing went naked.

CLOTHES therefore, must be truly a badge of greatness; the

insignia of the superiority of MAN over all other animals, for

surely there could be no other reason for wearing the hideous


Many moons ago, when he had been much smaller, he had

desired the skin of Sabor, the lioness, or Numa, the lion, or

Sheeta, the leopard to cover his hairless body that he might

no longer resemble hideous Histah, the snake; but now he

was proud of his sleek skin for it betokened his descent from

a mighty race, and the conflicting desires to go naked in

prideful proof of his ancestry, or to conform to the customs

of his own kind and wear hideous and uncomfortable apparel

found first one and then the other in the ascendency.

As the tribe continued their slow way through the forest

after the passing of Sabor, Tarzan's head was filled with

his great scheme for slaying his enemy, and for many days

thereafter he thought of little else.

On this day, however, he presently had other and more

immediate interests to attract his attention.

Suddenly it became as midnight; the noises of the jungle

ceased; the trees stood motionless as though in paralyzed

expectancy of some great and imminent disaster. All nature

waited--but not for long.

Faintly, from a distance, came a low, sad moaning. Nearer

and nearer it approached, mounting louder and louder in volume.

The great trees bent in unison as though pressed earthward

by a mighty hand. Farther and farther toward the ground

they inclined, and still there was no sound save the deep and

awesome moaning of the wind.

Then, suddenly, the jungle giants whipped back, lashing

their mighty tops in angry and deafening protest. A vivid and

blinding light flashed from the whirling, inky clouds above.

The deep cannonade of roaring thunder belched forth its fearsome

challenge. The deluge came--all hell broke loose upon the jungle.

The tribe shivering from the cold rain, huddled at the bases

of great trees. The lightning, darting and flashing through the

blackness, showed wildly waving branches, whipping streamers

and bending trunks.

Now and again some ancient patriarch of the woods, rent

by a flashing bolt, would crash in a thousand pieces among

the surrounding trees, carrying down numberless branches

and many smaller neighbors to add to the tangled confusion

of the tropical jungle.

Branches, great and small, torn away by the ferocity of the

tornado, hurtled through the wildly waving verdure, carrying

death and destruction to countless unhappy denizens of the

thickly peopled world below.

For hours the fury of the storm continued without surcease,

and still the tribe huddled close in shivering fear.

In constant danger from falling trunks and branches and

paralyzed by the vivid flashing of lightning and the

bellowing of thunder they crouched in pitiful misery until

the storm passed.

The end was as sudden as the beginning. The wind ceased,

the sun shone forth--nature smiled once more.

The dripping leaves and branches, and the moist petals of

gorgeous flowers glistened in the splendor of the returning day.

And, so--as Nature forgot, her children forgot also. Busy life

went on as it had been before the darkness and the fright.

But to Tarzan a dawning light had come to explain the

mystery of CLOTHES. How snug he would have been beneath

the heavy coat of Sabor! And so was added a further incentive

to the adventure.

For several months the tribe hovered near the beach where

stood Tarzan's cabin, and his studies took up the greater

portion of his time, but always when journeying through the

forest he kept his rope in readiness, and many were the smaller

animals that fell into the snare of the quick thrown noose.

Once it fell about the short neck of Horta, the boar, and

his mad lunge for freedom toppled Tarzan from the overhanging

limb where he had lain in wait and from whence he

had launched his sinuous coil.

The mighty tusker turned at the sound of his falling body,

and, seeing only the easy prey of a young ape, he lowered his

head and charged madly at the surprised youth.

Tarzan, happily, was uninjured by the fall, alighting catlike

upon all fours far outspread to take up the shock. He was on

his feet in an instant and, leaping with the agility of the

monkey he was, he gained the safety of a low limb as Horta,

the boar, rushed futilely beneath.

Thus it was that Tarzan learned by experience the limitations

as well as the possibilities of his strange weapon.

He lost a long rope on this occasion, but he knew that had

it been Sabor who had thus dragged him from his perch the

outcome might have been very different, for he would have

lost his life, doubtless, into the bargain.

It took him many days to braid a new rope, but when,

finally, it was done he went forth purposely to hunt, and lie

in wait among the dense foliage of a great branch right above

the well-beaten trail that led to water.

Several small animals passed unharmed beneath him. He did

not want such insignificant game. It would take a strong

animal to test the efficacy of his new scheme.

At last came she whom Tarzan sought, with lithe sinews

rolling beneath shimmering hide; fat and glossy came Sabor,

the lioness.

Her great padded feet fell soft and noiseless on the narrow

trail. Her head was high in ever alert attention; her long tail

moved slowly in sinuous and graceful undulations.

Nearer and nearer she came to where Tarzan of the Apes

crouched upon his limb, the coils of his long rope poised

ready in his hand.

Like a thing of bronze, motionless as death, sat Tarzan.

Sabor passed beneath. One stride beyond she took--a second,

a third, and then the silent coil shot out above her.

For an instant the spreading noose hung above her head

like a great snake, and then, as she looked upward to detect

the origin of the swishing sound of the rope, it settled about

her neck. With a quick jerk Tarzan snapped the noose tight

about the glossy throat, and then he dropped the rope and

clung to his support with both hands.

Sabor was trapped.

With a bound the startled beast turned into the jungle, but

Tarzan was not to lose another rope through the same cause

as the first. He had learned from experience. The lioness had

taken but half her second bound when she felt the rope

tighten about her neck; her body turned completely over in

the air and she fell with a heavy crash upon her back. Tarzan

had fastened the end of the rope securely to the trunk of the

great tree on which he sat.

Thus far his plan had worked to perfection, but when he

grasped the rope, bracing himself behind a crotch of two

mighty branches, he found that dragging the mighty, struggling,

clawing, biting, screaming mass of iron-muscled fury up to

the tree and hanging her was a very different proposition.

The weight of old Sabor was immense, and when she braced

her huge paws nothing less than Tantor, the elephant,

himself, could have budged her.

The lioness was now back in the path where she could see

the author of the indignity which had been placed upon her.

Screaming with rage she suddenly charged, leaping high into

the air toward Tarzan, but when her huge body struck the

limb on which Tarzan had been, Tarzan was no longer there.

Instead he perched lightly upon a smaller branch twenty

feet above the raging captive. For a moment Sabor hung half

across the branch, while Tarzan mocked, and hurled twigs

and branches at her unprotected face.

Presently the beast dropped to the earth again and Tarzan

came quickly to seize the rope, but Sabor had now found that

it was only a slender cord that held her, and grasping it in

her huge jaws severed it before Tarzan could tighten the

strangling noose a second time.

Tarzan was much hurt. His well-laid plan had come to

naught, so he sat there screaming at the roaring creature

beneath him and making mocking grimaces at it.

Sabor paced back and forth beneath the tree for hours;

four times she crouched and sprang at the dancing sprite

above her, but might as well have clutched at the illusive

wind that murmured through the tree tops.

6/9he sport, and with a parting roar

of challenge and a well-aimed ripe fruit that spread soft and

sticky over the snarling face of his enemy, he swung rapidly

through the trees, a hundred feet above the ground, and in a

short time was among the members of his tribe.

Here he recounted the details of his adventure, with swelling

chest and so considerable swagger that he quite impressed

even his bitterest enemies, while Kala fairly danced for joy

and pride.



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