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TARZAN of the Apes
by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Chapter 10

The Fear-Phantom

From a lofty perch Tarzan viewed the village of thatched

huts across the intervening plantation.

He saw that at one point the forest touched the village, and

to this spot he made his way, lured by a fever of curiosity

to behold animals of his own kind, and to learn more of

their ways and view the strange lairs in which they lived.

His savage life among the fierce wild brutes of the jungle

left no opening for any thought that these could be aught else

than enemies. Similarity of form led him into no erroneous

conception of the welcome that would be accorded him

should he be discovered by these, the first of his own kind he

had ever seen.

Tarzan of the Apes was no sentimentalist. He knew nothing

of the brotherhood of man. All things outside his own

tribe were his deadly enemies, with the few exceptions of

which Tantor, the elephant, was a marked example.

And he realized all this without malice or hatred. To kill

was the law of the wild world he knew. Few were his primitive

pleasures, but the greatest of these was to hunt and kill,

and so he accorded to others the right to cherish the same

desires as he, even though he himself might be the object of

their hunt.

His strange life had left him neither morose nor bloodthirsty.

That he joyed in killing, and that he killed with a joyous

laugh upon his handsome lips betokened no innate cruelty.

He killed for food most often, but, being a man, he sometimes

killed for pleasure, a thing which no other animal does;

for it has remained for man alone among all creatures to kill

senselessly and wantonly for the mere pleasure of inflicting

suffering and death.

And when he killed for revenge, or in self-defense, he did

that also without hysteria, for it was a very businesslike

proceeding which admitted of no levity.

So it was that now, as he cautiously approached the village of

Mbonga, he was quite prepared either to kill or be killed should

he be discovered. He proceeded with unwonted stealth, for Kulonga

had taught him great respect for the little sharp splinters of

wood which dealt death so swiftly and unerringly.

At length he came to a great tree, heavy laden with thick

foliage and loaded with pendant loops of giant creepers.

From this almost impenetrable bower above the village he

crouched, looking down upon the scene below him, wondering

over every feature of this new, strange life.

There were naked children running and playing in the village

street. There were women grinding dried plantain in

crude stone mortars, while others were fashioning cakes from

the powdered flour. Out in the fields he could see still other

women hoeing, weeding, or gathering.

All wore strange protruding girdles of dried grass about

their hips and many were loaded with brass and copper

anklets, armlets and bracelets. Around many a dusky neck hung

curiously coiled strands of wire, while several were further

ornamented by huge nose rings.

Tarzan of the Apes looked with growing wonder at these

strange creatures. Dozing in the shade he saw several men,

while at the extreme outskirts of the clearing he occasionally

caught glimpses of armed warriors apparently guarding the

village against surprise from an attacking enemy.

He noticed that the women alone worked. Nowhere was

there evidence of a man tilling the fields or performing

any of the homely duties of the village.

Finally his eyes rested upon a woman directly beneath him.

Before her was a small cauldron standing over a low fire

and in it bubbled a thick, reddish, tarry mass. On one side of

her lay a quantity of wooden arrows the points of which she

dipped into the seething substance, then laying them upon a

narrow rack of boughs which stood upon her other side.

Tarzan of the Apes was fascinated. Here was the secret of

the terrible destructiveness of The Archer's tiny missiles.

He noted the extreme care which the woman took that none of

the matter should touch her hands, and once when a particle

spattered upon one of her fingers he saw her plunge the

member into a vessel of water and quickly rub the tiny stain

away with a handful of leaves.

Tarzan knew nothing of poison, but his shrewd reasoning

told him that it was this deadly stuff that killed, and not the

little arrow, which was merely the messenger that carried it

into the body of its victim.

How he should like to have more of those little death-dealing

slivers. If the woman would only leave her work for an

instant he could drop down, gather up a handful, and be

back in the tree again before she drew three breaths.

As he was trying to think out some plan to distract her

attention he heard a wild cry from across the clearing. He

looked and saw a black warrior standing beneath the very

tree in which he had killed the murderer of Kala an hour before.

The fellow was shouting and waving his spear above his

head. Now and again he would point to something on the

ground before him.

The village was in an uproar instantly. Armed men rushed

from the interior of many a hut and raced madly across the

clearing toward the excited sentry. After them trooped the

old men, and the women and children until, in a moment, the

village was deserted.

Tarzan of the Apes knew that they had found the body of

his victim, but that interested him far less than the fact that

no one remained in the village to prevent his taking a supply

of the arrows which lay below him.

Quickly and noiselessly he dropped to the ground beside

the cauldron of poison. For a moment he stood motionless,

his quick, bright eyes scanning the interior of the palisade.

No one was in sight. His eyes rested upon the open doorway

of a nearby hut. He would take a look within, thought Tarzan,

and so, cautiously, he approached the low thatched building.

For a moment he stood without, listening intently. There was

no sound, and he glided into the semi-darkness of the interior.

Weapons hung against the walls--long spears, strangely

shaped knives, a couple of narrow shields. In the center of

the room was a cooking pot, and at the far end a litter of dry

grasses covered by woven mats which evidently served the

owners as beds and bedding. Several human skulls lay upon

the floor.

Tarzan of the Apes felt of each article, hefted the spears,

smelled of them, for he "saw" largely through his sensitive

and highly trained nostrils. He determined to own one of

these long, pointed sticks, but he could not take one on this

trip because of the arrows he meant to carry.

As he took each article from the walls, he placed it in a

pile in the center of the room. On top of all he placed the

cooking pot, inverted, and on top of this he laid one of the

grinning skulls, upon which he fastened the headdress of the

dead Kulonga.

Then he stood back, surveyed his work, and grinned.

Tarzan of the Apes enjoyed a joke.

But now he heard, outside, the sounds of many voices, and

long mournful howls, and mighty wailing. He was startled.

Had he remained too long? Quickly he reached the doorway

and peered down the village street toward the village gate.

The natives were not yet in sight, though he could plainly

hear them approaching across the plantation. They must be

very near.

Like a flash he sprang across the opening to the pile of arrows.

Gathering up all he could carry under one arm, he overturned

the seething cauldron with a kick, and disappeared into

the foliage above just as the first of the returning natives

entered the gate at the far end of the village street. Then he

turned to watch the proceeding below, poised like some wild

bird ready to take swift wing at the first sign of danger.

The natives filed up the street, four of them bearing the

dead body of Kulonga. Behind trailed the women, uttering

strange cries and weird lamentation. On they came to the

portals of Kulonga's hut, the very one in which Tarzan had

wrought his depredations.

Scarcely had half a dozen entered the building ere they

came rushing out in wild, jabbering confusion. The others

hastened to gather about. There was much excited gesticulating,

pointing, and chattering; then several of the warriors

approached and peered within.

Finally an old fellow with many ornaments of metal about

his arms and legs, and a necklace of dried human hands

depending upon his chest, entered the hut.

It was Mbonga, the king, father of Kulonga.

For a few moments all was silent. Then Mbonga emerged,

a look of mingled wrath and superstitious fear writ upon his

hideous countenance. He spoke a few words to the assembled

warriors, and in an instant the men were flying through the

little village searching minutely every hut and corner within

the palisades.

Scarcely had the search commenced than the overturned

cauldron was discovered, and with it the theft of the poisoned

arrows. Nothing more they found, and it was a thoroughly

awed and frightened group of savages which huddled around

their king a few moments later.

Mbonga could explain nothing of the strange events that

had taken place. The finding of the still warm body of

Kulonga--on the very verge of their fields and within easy

earshot of the village--knifed and stripped at the door of

his father's home, was in itself sufficiently mysterious, but

these last awesome discoveries within the village, within the

dead Kulonga's own hut, filled their hearts with dismay, and

conjured in their poor brains only the most frightful of

superstitious explanations.

They stood in little groups, talking in low tones, and ever

casting affrighted glances behind them from their great

rolling eyes.

Tarzan of the Apes watched them for a while from his

lofty perch in the great tree. There was much in their

demeanor which he could not understand, for of superstition

he was ignorant, and of fear of any kind he had but a vague


The sun was high in the heavens. Tarzan had not broken

fast this day, and it was many miles to where lay the

toothsome remains of Horta the boar.

So he turned his back upon the village of Mbonga and

melted away into the leafy fastness of the forest.



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