The Ivory Raiders
Waziri's warriors marched at a rapid trot through the
jungle in the direction of the village. For a few minutes,
the sharp cracking of guns ahead warned them to haste,
but finally the reports dwindled to an occasional shot,
presently ceasing altogether. Nor was this less ominous
than the rattle of musketry, for it suggested but a single
solution to the little band of rescuers--that the illy
garrisoned village had already succumbed to the onslaught
of a superior force.
The returning hunters had covered a little more than
three miles of the five that had separated them from the
village when they met the first of the fugitives who had
escaped the bullets and clutches of the foe. There were a
dozen women, youths, and girls in the party, and so excited
were they that they could scarce make themselves understood
as they tried to relate to Waziri the calamity that had
befallen his people.
"They are as many as the leaves of the forest," cried one
of the women, in attempting to explain the enemy's force.
"There are many Arabs and countless Manyuema, and they
all have guns. They crept close to the village before we
knew that they were about, and then, with many shouts,
they rushed in upon us, shooting down men, and women,
and children. Those of us who could fled in all directions
into the jungle, but more were killed. I do not know whether
they took any prisoners or not--they seemed only bent
upon killing us all. The Manyuema called us many names,
saying that they would eat us all before they left our
country--that this was our punishment for killing their
friends last year. I did not hear much, for I ran away quickly."
The march toward the village was now resumed, more
slowly and with greater stealth, for Waziri knew that it was
too late to rescue--their only mission could be one of revenge.
Inside the next mile a hundred more fugitives were met.
There were many men among these, and so the fighting
strength of the party was augmented.
Now a dozen warriors were sent creeping ahead to reconnoiter.
Waziri remained with the main body, which advanced in a thin
line that spread in a great crescent through the forest.
By the chief's side walked Tarzan.
Presently one of the scouts returned. He had come within
sight of the village.
"They are all within the palisade," he whispered.
"Good!" said Waziri. "We shall rush in upon them and
slay them all," and he made ready to send word along the
line that they were to halt at the edge of the clearing until
they saw him rush toward the village--then all were to follow.
"Wait!" cautioned Tarzan. "If there are even fifty guns
within the palisade we shall be repulsed and slaughtered.
Let me go alone through the trees, so that I may look down
upon them from above, and see just how many there be, and
what chance we might have were we to charge. It were foolish
to lose a single man needlessly if there be no hope of success.
I have an idea that we can accomplish more by cunning than
by force. Will you wait, Waziri?"
"Yes," said the old chief. "Go!"
So Tarzan sprang into the trees and disappeared in the
direction of the village. He moved more cautiously than was
his wont, for he knew that men with guns could reach him
quite as easily in the treetops as on the ground. And when
Tarzan of the Apes elected to adopt stealth, no creature in
all the jungle could move so silently or so completely efface
himself from the sight of an enemy.
In five minutes he had wormed his way to the great tree
that overhung the palisade at one end of the village, and
from his point of vantage looked down upon the savage
horde beneath. He counted fifty Arabs and estimated that
there were five times as many Manyuema. The latter were
gorging themselves upon food and, under the very noses of
their white masters, preparing the gruesome feast which is the
PIECE DE RESISTANCE that follows a victory in which the
bodies of their slain enemies fall into their horrid hands.
The ape-man saw that to charge that wild horde, armed
as they were with guns, and barricaded behind the locked
gates of the village, would be a futile task, and so he
returned to Waziri and advised him to wait; that he, Tarzan,
had a better plan.
But a moment before one of the fugitives had related to
Waziri the story of the atrocious murder of the old chief's
wife, and so crazed with rage was the old man that he cast
discretion to the winds. Calling his warriors about him, he
commanded them to charge, and, with brandishing spears
and savage yells, the little force of scarcely more than a
hundred dashed madly toward the village gates. Before the
clearing had been half crossed the Arabs opened up a
withering fire from behind the palisade.
With the first volley Waziri fell. The speed of the
chargers slackened. Another volley brought down a half
dozen more. A few reached the barred gates, only to be shot
in their tracks, without the ghost of a chance to gain the
inside of the palisade, and then the whole attack crumpled,
and the remaining warriors scampered back into the forest.
As they ran the raiders opened the gates, rushing after them,
to complete the day's work with the utter extermination of
the tribe. Tarzan had been among the last to turn back toward
the forest, and now, as he ran slowly, he turned from time to
time to speed a well-aimed arrow into the body of a pursuer.
Once within the jungle, he found a little knot of determined
blacks waiting to give battle to the oncoming horde,
but Tarzan cried to them to scatter, keeping out of
harm's way until they could gather in force after dark.
"Do as I tell you," he urged, "and I will lead you to
victory over these enemies of yours. Scatter through the
forest, picking up as many stragglers as you can find, and at
night, if you think that you have been followed, come by
roundabout ways to the spot where we killed the elephants today.
Then I will explain my plan, and you will find that it is good.
You cannot hope to pit your puny strength and simple weapons
against the numbers and the guns of the Arabs and the Manyuema."
They finally assented. "When you scatter," explained Tarzan,
in conclusion, "your foes will have to scatter to follow you,
and so it may happen that if you are watchful you can drop
many a Manyuema with your arrows from behind some great trees."
They had barely time to hasten away farther into the forest
before the first of the raiders had crossed the clearing and
entered it in pursuit of them.
Tarzan ran a short distance along the ground before he
took to the trees. Then he raced quickly to the upper terrace,
there doubling on his tracks and making his way rapidly
back toward the village. Here he found that every Arab and
Manyuema had joined in the pursuit, leaving the village
deserted except for the chained prisoners and a single guard.
The sentry stood at the open gate, looking in the direction
of the forest, so that he did not see the agile giant that
dropped to the ground at the far end of the village street.
With drawn bow the ape-man crept stealthily toward his
unsuspecting victim. The prisoners had already discovered
him, and with wide eyes filled with wonder and with hope
they watched their would-be rescuer. Now he halted not ten
paces from the unconscious Manyuema. The shaft was
drawn back its full length at the height of the keen gray
eye that sighted along its polished surface. There was a
sudden twang as the brown fingers released their hold, and
without a sound the raider sank forward upon his face, a
wooden shaft transfixing his heart and protruding a foot
from his black chest.
Then Tarzan turned his attention to the fifty women and
youths chained neck to neck on the long slave chain.
There was no releasing of the ancient padlocks in the time that
was left him, so the ape-man called to them to follow him as
they were, and, snatching the gun and cartridge belt from the
dead sentry, he led the now happy band out through the village
gate and into the forest upon the far side of the clearing.
It was a slow and arduous march, for the slave chain was new
to these people, and there were many delays as one of their
number would stumble and fall, dragging others down with her.
Then, too, Tarzan had been forced to make a wide detour to
avoid any possibility of meeting with returning raiders.
He was partially guided by occasional shots which
indicated that the Arab horde was still in touch with the
villagers; but he knew that if they would but follow his
advice there would be but few casualties other than on the
side of the marauders.
Toward dusk the firing ceased entirely, and Tarzan knew
that the Arabs had all returned to the village. He could
scarce repress a smile of triumph as he thought of their rage
on discovering that their guard had been killed and their
prisoners taken away. Tarzan had wished that he might have
taken some of the great store of ivory the village contained,
solely for the purpose of still further augmenting the wrath
of his enemies; but he knew that that was not necessary for
its salvation, since he already had a plan mapped out which
would effectually prevent the Arabs leaving the country with
a single tusk. And it would have been cruel to have needlessly
burdened these poor, overwrought women with the extra
weight of the heavy ivory.
It was after midnight when Tarzan, with his slow-moving
caravan, approached the spot where the elephants lay.
Long before they reached it they had been guided by the
huge fire the natives had built in the center of a hastily
improvised BOMA, partially for warmth and partially to
keep off chance lions.
When they had come close to the encampment Tarzan
called aloud to let them know that friends were coming.
It was a joyous reception the little party received when the
blacks within the BOMA saw the long file of fettered friends
and relatives enter the firelight. These had all been given up
as lost forever, as had Tarzan as well, so that the happy blacks
would have remained awake all night to feast on elephant
meat and celebrate the return of their fellows, had not
Tarzan insisted that they take what sleep they could, against
the work of the coming day.
At that, sleep was no easy matter, for the women who
had lost their men or their children in the day's massacre
and battle made night hideous with their continued wailing
and howling. Finally, however, Tarzan succeeded in silencing
them, on the plea that their noise would attract the Arabs to
their hiding-place, when all would be slaughtered.
When dawn came Tarzan explained his plan of battle to
the warriors, and without demur one and all agreed that it
was the safest and surest way in which to rid themselves of
their unwelcome visitors and be revenged for the murder of
First the women and children, with a guard of some
twenty old warriors and youths, were started southward, to
be entirely out of the zone of danger. They had instructions
to erect temporary shelter and construct a protecting BOMA
of thorn bush; for the plan of campaign which Tarzan had
chosen was one which might stretch out over many days,
or even weeks, during which time the warriors would not
return to the new camp.
Two hours after daylight a thin circle of black warriors
surrounded the village. At intervals one was perched high
in the branches of a tree which could overlook the palisade.
Presently a Manyuema within the village fell, pierced by a
single arrow. There had been no sound of attack--none of
the hideous war-cries or vainglorious waving of menacing
spears that ordinarily marks the attack of savages--just a
silent messenger of death from out of the silent forest.
The Arabs and their followers were thrown into a fine
rage at this unprecedented occurrence. They ran for the
gates, to wreak dire vengeance upon the foolhardy perpetrator
of the outrage; but they suddenly realized that they did
not know which way to turn to find the foe. As they stood
debating with many angry shouts and much gesticulating,
one of the Arabs sank silently to the ground in their very
midst--a thin arrow protruding from his heart.
Tarzan had placed the finest marksmen of the tribe in the
surrounding trees, with directions never to reveal themselves
while the enemy was faced in their direction. As a black
released his messenger of death he would slink behind
the sheltering stem of the tree he had selected, nor would
he again aim until a watchful eye told him that none was
looking toward his tree.
Three times the Arabs started across the clearing in the
direction from which they thought the arrows came, but
each time another arrow would come from behind to take
its toll from among their number. Then they would turn and
charge in a new direction. Finally they set out upon a
determined search of the forest, but the blacks melted
before them, so that they saw no sign of an enemy.
But above them lurked a grim figure in the dense foliage
of the mighty trees--it was Tarzan of the Apes, hovering over
them as if he had been the shadow of death. Presently a
Manyuema forged ahead of his companions; there was none
to see from what direction death came, and so it came
quickly, and a moment later those behind stumbled over
the dead body of their comrade--the inevitable arrow piercing
the still heart.
It does not take a great deal of this manner of warfare to
get upon the nerves of white men, and so it is little to be
wondered at that the Manyuema were soon panic-stricken.
Did one forge ahead an arrow found his heart; did one lag
behind he never again was seen alive; did one stumble to
one side, even for a bare moment from the sight of his fellows,
he did not return--and always when they came upon
the bodies of their dead they found those terrible arrows
driven with the accuracy of superhuman power straight
through the victim's heart. But worse than all else was the
hideous fact that not once during the morning had they seen
or heard the slightest sign of an enemy other than the
When finally they returned to the village it was no better.
Every now and then, at varying intervals that were maddening
in the terrible suspense they caused, a man would plunge
forward dead. The blacks besought their masters to leave
this terrible place, but the Arabs feared to take up the march
through the grim and hostile forest beset by this new and
terrible enemy while laden with the great store of ivory they
had found within the village; but, worse yet, they hated to
leave the ivory behind.
Finally the entire expedition took refuge within the thatched
huts--here, at least, they would be free from the arrows.
Tarzan, from the tree above the village, had marked the hut
into which the chief Arabs had gone, and, balancing himself
upon an overhanging limb, he drove his heavy spear with
all the force of his giant muscles through the thatched roof.
A howl of pain told him that it had found a mark.
With this parting salute to convince them that there was no
safety for them anywhere within the country, Tarzan returned
to the forest, collected his warriors, and withdrew a mile
to the south to rest and eat. He kept sentries in several
trees that commanded a view of the trail toward the
village, but there was no pursuit.
An inspection of his force showed not a single casualty--not
even a minor wound; while rough estimates of the enemies'
loss convinced the blacks that no fewer than twenty
had fallen before their arrows. They were wild with elation,
and were for finishing the day in one glorious rush upon the
village, during which they would slaughter the last of
their foemen. They were even picturing the various tortures
they would inflict, and gloating over the suffering of the
Manyuema, for whom they entertained a peculiar hatred,
when Tarzan put his foot down flatly upon the plan.
"You are crazy!" he cried. "I have shown you the only
way to fight these people. Already you have killed twenty
of them without the loss of a single warrior, whereas,
yesterday, following your own tactics, which you would now
renew, you lost at least a dozen, and killed not a single
Arab or Manyuema. You will fight just as I tell you to fight,
or I shall leave you and go back to my own country."
They were frightened when he threatened this, and
promised to obey him scrupulously if he would but promise
not to desert them.
"Very well," he said. "We shall return to the elephant
BOMA for the night. I have a plan to give the Arabs a little
taste of what they may expect if they remain in our country,
but I shall need no help. Come! If they suffer no more for
the balance of the day they will feel reassured, and the
relapse into fear will be even more nerve-racking than as
though we continued to frighten them all afternoon."
So they marched back to their camp of the previous night, and,
lighting great fires, ate and recounted the adventures of the
day until long after dark. Tarzan slept until midnight, then
he arose and crept into the Cimmerian blackness of the forest.
An hour later he came to the edge of the clearing before
the village. There was a camp-fire burning within the palisade.
The ape-man crept across the clearing until he stood before
the barred gates. Through the interstices he saw a lone sentry
sitting before the fire.
Quietly Tarzan went to the tree at the end of the village street.
He climbed softly to his place, and fitted an arrow to his bow.
For several minutes he tried to sight fairly upon the sentry,
but the waving branches and flickering firelight convinced
him that the danger of a miss was too great--he must touch
the heart full in the center to bring the quiet and sudden
death his plan required.
He had brought, besides, his bow, arrows, and rope, the
gun he had taken the previous day from the other sentry he
had killed. Caching all these in a convenient crotch of the
tree, he dropped lightly to the ground within the palisade,
armed only with his long knife. The sentry's back was toward him.
Like a cat Tarzan crept upon the dozing man. He was within
two paces of him now--another instant and the knife would
slide silently into the fellow's heart.
Tarzan crouched for a spring, for that is ever the quickest
and surest attack of the jungle beast--when the man,
warned, by some subtle sense, sprang to his feet and faced
Return of Tarzan Chapter 15
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