The White Chief of the Waziri
When the eyes of the black Manyuema savage fell
upon the strange apparition that confronted him with
menacing knife they went wide in horror. He forgot
the gun within his hands; he even forgot to cry out--his
one thought was to escape this fearsome-looking white savage,
this giant of a man upon whose massive rolling muscles and
mighty chest the flickering firelight played.
But before he could turn Tarzan was upon him, and then
the sentry thought to scream for aid, but it was too late.
A great hand was upon his windpipe, and he was being borne
to the earth. He battled furiously but futilely--with the
grim tenacity of a bulldog those awful fingers were clinging
to his throat. Swiftly and surely life was being choked from him.
His eyes bulged, his tongue protruded, his face turned
to a ghastly purplish hue--there was a convulsive tremor of
the stiffening muscles, and the Manyuema sentry lay quite still.
The ape-man threw the body across one of his broad
shoulders and, gathering up the fellow's gun, trotted silently
up the sleeping village street toward the tree that gave him
such easy ingress to the palisaded village. He bore the dead
sentry into the midst of the leafy maze above.
First he stripped the body of cartridge belt and such
ornaments as he craved, wedging it into a convenient crotch
while his nimble fingers ran over it in search of the loot
he could not plainly see in the dark. When he had finished he
took the gun that had belonged to the man, and walked
far out upon a limb, from the end of which he could obtain
a better view of the huts. Drawing a careful bead on the
beehive structure in which he knew the chief Arabs to be,
he pulled the trigger. Almost instantly there was an
answering groan. Tarzan smiled. He had made another lucky hit.
Following the shot there was a moment's silence in the
camp, and then Manyuema and Arab came pouring from
the huts like a swarm of angry hornets; but if the truth were
known they were even more frightened than they were angry.
The strain of the preceding day had wrought upon the
fears of both black and white, and now this single shot in
the night conjured all manner of terrible conjectures in
their terrified minds.
When they discovered that their sentry had disappeared,
their fears were in no way allayed, and as though to bolster
their courage by warlike actions, they began to fire
rapidly at the barred gates of the village, although no enemy
was in sight. Tarzan took advantage of the deafening roar of
this fusillade to fire into the mob beneath him.
No one heard his shot above the din of rattling musketry
in the street, but some who were standing close saw one
of their number crumple suddenly to the earth. When they
leaned over him he was dead. They were panic-stricken, and
it took all the brutal authority of the Arabs to keep the
Manyuema from rushing helter-skelter into the jungle--anywhere
to escape from this terrible village.
After a time they commenced to quiet down, and as no
further mysterious deaths occurred among them they took
heart again. But it was a short-lived respite, for just as
they had concluded that they would not be disturbed again
Tarzan gave voice to a weird moan, and as the raiders looked
up in the direction from which the sound seemed to come,
the ape-man, who stood swinging the dead body of the sentry
gently to and fro, suddenly shot the corpse far out above
With howls of alarm the throng broke in all directions
to escape this new and terrible creature who seemed to be
springing upon them. To their fear-distorted imaginations the
body of the sentry, falling with wide-sprawled arms and
legs, assumed the likeness of a great beast of prey. In their
anxiety to escape, many of the blacks scaled the palisade,
while others tore down the bars from the gates and rushed
madly across the clearing toward the jungle.
For a time no one turned back toward the thing that had
frightened them, but Tarzan knew that they would in a moment,
and when they discovered that it was but the dead
body of their sentry, while they would doubtless be still
further terrified, he had a rather definite idea as to what
they would do, and so he faded silently away toward the
south, taking the moonlit upper terrace back toward the
camp of the Waziri.
Presently one of the Arabs turned and saw that the thing
that had leaped from the tree upon them lay still and quiet
where it had fallen in the center of the village street.
Cautiously he crept back toward it until he saw that it was
but a man. A moment later he was beside the figure, and in
another had recognized it as the corpse of the Manyuema
who had stood on guard at the village gate.
His companions rapidly gathered around at his call, and
after a moment's excited conversation they did precisely
what Tarzan had reasoned they would. Raising their guns to
their shoulders, they poured volley after volley into the tree
from which the corpse had been thrown--had Tarzan remained
there he would have been riddled by a hundred bullets.
When the Arabs and Manyuema discovered that the only
marks of violence upon the body of their dead comrade
were giant finger prints upon his swollen throat they were
again thrown into deeper apprehension and despair.
That they were not even safe within a palisaded village
at night came as a distinct shock to them. That an enemy
could enter into the midst of their camp and kill their
sentry with bare hands seemed outside the bounds of reason,
and so the superstitious Manyuema commenced to attribute
their ill luck to supernatural causes; nor were the Arabs
able to offer any better explanation.
With at least fifty of their number flying through the black
jungle, and without the slightest knowledge of when their
uncanny foemen might resume the cold-blooded slaughter
they had commenced, it was a desperate band of cut-throats
that waited sleeplessly for the dawn. Only on the
promise of the Arabs that they would leave the village at
daybreak, and hasten onward toward their own land, would
the remaining Manyuema consent to stay at the village a
moment longer. Not even fear of their cruel masters was
sufficient to overcome this new terror.
And so it was that when Tarzan and his warriors returned
to the attack the next morning they found the raiders
prepared to march out of the village. The Manyuema were
laden with stolen ivory. As Tarzan saw it he grinned, for he
knew that they would not carry it far. Then he saw something
which caused him anxiety--a number of the Manyuema
were lighting torches in the remnant of the camp-fire.
They were about to fire the village.
Tarzan was perched in a tall tree some hundred yards from
the palisade. Making a trumpet of his hands, he called loudly
in the Arab tongue: "Do not fire the huts, or we shall kill
you all! Do not fire the huts, or we shall kill you all!"
A dozen times he repeated it. The Manyuema hesitated,
then one of them flung his torch into the campfire.
The others were about to do the same when an Arab sprung
upon them with a stick, beating them toward the huts.
Tarzan could see that he was commanding them to fire the
little thatched dwellings. Then he stood erect upon the
swaying branch a hundred feet above the ground, and,
raising one of the Arab guns to his shoulder, took careful aim
and fired. With the report the Arab who was urging on his
men to burn the village fell in his tracks, and the
Manyuema threw away their torches and fled from the village.
The last Tarzan saw of them they were racing toward the jungle,
while their former masters knelt upon the ground and fired at them.
But however angry the Arabs might have been at the
insubordination of their slaves, they were at least convinced
that it would be the better part of wisdom to forego the
pleasure of firing the village that had given them two such
nasty receptions. In their hearts, however, they swore to
return again with such force as would enable them to sweep
the entire country for miles around, until no vestige of
human life remained.
They had looked in vain for the owner of the voice
which had frightened off the men who had been detailed
to put the torch to the huts, but not even the keenest eye
among them had been able to locate him. They had seen
the puff of smoke from the tree following the shot that
brought down the Arab, but, though a volley had immediately
been loosed into its foliage, there had been no indication
that it had been effective.
Tarzan was too intelligent to be caught in any such trap,
and so the report of his shot had scarcely died away before
the ape-man was on the ground and racing for another tree
a hundred yards away. Here he again found a suitable perch
from which he could watch the preparations of the raiders.
It occurred to him that he might have considerable more
fun with them, so again he called to them through
his improvised trumpet.
"Leave the ivory!" he cried. "Leave the ivory! dead men
have no use for ivory!"
Some of the Manyuema started to lay down their loads,
but this was altogether too much for the avaricious Arabs.
With loud shouts and curses they aimed their guns full
upon the bearers, threatening instant death to any who
might lay down his load. They could give up firing the
village, but the thought of abandoning this enormous
fortune in ivory was quite beyond their conception--better
death than that.
And so they marched out of the village of the Waziri, and
on the shoulders of their slaves was the ivory ransom of a
score of kings. Toward the north they marched, back toward
their savage settlement in the wild and unknown country
which lies back from the Kongo in the uttermost depths
of The Great Forest, and on either side of them traveled
an invisible and relentless foe.
Under Tarzan's guidance the black Waziri warriors stationed
themselves along the trail on either side in the densest underbrush.
They stood at far intervals, and, as the column passed,
a single arrow or a heavy spear, well aimed, would pierce
a Manyuema or an Arab. Then the Waziri would melt into the
distance and run ahead to take his stand farther on.
They did not strike unless success were sure and the
danger of detection almost nothing, and so the arrows
and the spears were few and far between, but so persistent
and inevitable that the slow-moving column of heavy-laden
raiders was in a constant state of panic--panic at
the uncertainty of who the next would be to fall, and when.
It was with the greatest difficulty that the Arabs prevented
their men a dozen times from throwing away their burdens and
fleeing like frightened rabbits up the trail toward the north.
And so the day wore on--a frightful nightmare of a day for the
raiders--a day of weary but well-repaid work for the Waziri.
At night the Arabs constructed a rude BOMA in a little
clearing by a river, and went into camp.
At intervals during the night a rifle would bark close
above their heads, and one of the dozen sentries which
they now had posted would tumble to the ground. Such a
condition was insupportable, for they saw that by means of
these hideous tactics they would be completely wiped out, one
by one, without inflicting a single death upon their enemy.
But yet, with the persistent avariciousness of the
white man, the Arabs clung to their loot, and when morning
came forced the demoralized Manyuema to take up their
burdens of death and stagger on into the jungle.
For three days the withering column kept up its frightful march.
Each hour was marked by its deadly arrow or cruel spear.
The nights were made hideous by the barking of the invisible
gun that made sentry duty equivalent to a death sentence.
On the morning of the fourth day the Arabs were compelled
to shoot two of their blacks before they could compel
the balance to take up the hated ivory, and as they did so a
voice rang out, clear and strong, from the jungle: "Today
you die, oh, Manyuema, unless you lay down the ivory.
Fall upon your cruel masters and kill them! You have guns,
why do you not use them? Kill the Arabs, and we will not
harm you. We will take you back to our village and feed
you, and lead you out of our country in safety and in peace.
Lay down the ivory, and fall upon your masters--we will
help you. Else you die!"
As the voice died down the raiders stood as though turned
to stone. The Arabs eyed their Manyuema slaves; the slaves
looked first at one of their fellows, and then at another--they
were but waiting for some one to take the initiative.
There were some thirty Arabs left, and about one hundred
and fifty blacks. All were armed--even those who were
acting as porters had their rifles slung across their backs.
The Arabs drew together. The sheik ordered the Manyuema
to take up the march, and as he spoke he cocked his rifle
and raised it. But at the same instant one of the blacks
threw down his load, and, snatching his rifle from his back,
fired point-black at the group of Arabs. In an instant the
camp was a cursing, howling mass of demons, fighting with
guns and knives and pistols. The Arabs stood together, and
defended their lives valiantly, but with the rain of lead
that poured upon them from their own slaves, and the shower
of arrows and spears which now leaped from the surrounding
jungle aimed solely at them, there was little question
from the first what the outcome would be. In ten minutes
from the time the first Porter had thrown down his load the
last of the Arabs lay dead.
When the firing had ceased Tarzan spoke again to the Manyuema:
"Take up our ivory, and return it to our village, from
whence you stole it. We shall not harm you."
For a moment the Manyuema hesitated. They had no
stomach to retrace that difficult three days' trail.
They talked together in low whispers, and one turned
toward the jungle, calling aloud to the voice that had
spoken to them from out of the foliage.
"How do we know that when you have us in your village you
will not kill us all?" he asked.
"You do not know," replied Tarzan, "other than that we
have promised not to harm you if you will return our
ivory to us. But this you do know, that it lies within our
power to kill you all if you do not return as we direct,
and are we not more likely to do so if you anger us than
if you do as we bid?"
"Who are you that speaks the tongue of our Arab masters?"
cried the Manyuema spokesman. "Let us see you, and then
we shall give you our answer."
Tarzan stepped out of the jungle a dozen paces from them.
"Look!" he said. When they saw that he was white they
were filled with awe, for never had they seen a white savage
before, and at his great muscles and giant frame they were
struck with wonder and admiration.
"You may trust me," said Tarzan. "So long as you do as
I tell you, and harm none of my people, we shall do you
no hurt. Will you take up our ivory and return in peace to
our village, or shall we follow along your trail toward the
north as we have followed for the past three days?"
The recollection of the horrid days that had just passed
was the thing that finally decided the Manyuema, and so,
after a short conference, they took up their burdens and set
off to retrace their steps toward the village of the Waziri.
At the end of the third day they marched into the village gate,
and were greeted by the survivors of the recent massacre,
to whom Tarzan had sent a messenger in their temporary camp
to the south on the day that the raiders had quitted the
village, telling them that they might return in safety.
It took all the mastery and persuasion that Tarzan possessed
to prevent the Waziri falling on the Manyuema tooth
and nail, and tearing them to pieces, but when he had
explained that he had given his word that they would not be
molested if they carried the ivory back to the spot from
which they had stolen it, and had further impressed upon
his people that they owed their entire victory to him, they
finally acceded to his demands, and allowed the cannibals
to rest in peace within their palisade.
That night the village warriors held a big palaver to
celebrate their victories, and to choose a new chief.
Since old Waziri's death Tarzan had been directing the
warriors in battle, and the temporary command had been
tacitly conceded to him. There had been no time to choose
a new chief from among their own number, and, in fact,
so remarkably successful had they been under the ape-man's
generalship that they had had no wish to delegate the supreme
authority to another for fear that what they already had
gained might be lost. They had so recently seen the results
of running counter to this savage white man's advice in the
disastrous charge ordered by Waziri, in which he himself
had died, that it had not been difficult for them to accept
Tarzan's authority as final.
The principal warriors sat in a circle about a small fire
to discuss the relative merits of whomever might be suggested
as old Waziri's successor. It was Busuli who spoke first:
"Since Waziri is dead, leaving no son, there is but one
among us whom we know from experience is fitted to make
us a good king. There is only one who has proved that he
can successfully lead us against the guns of the white man,
and bring us easy victory without the loss of a single life.
There is only one, and that is the white man who has led
us for the past few days," and Busuli sprang to his feet, and
with uplifted spear and half-bent, crouching body commenced
to dance slowly about Tarzan, chanting in time to his steps:
"Waziri, king of the Waziri; Waziri, killer of Arabs;
Waziri, king of the Waziri."
One by one the other warriors signified their acceptance
of Tarzan as their king by joining in the solemn dance.
The women came and squatted about the rim of the circle,
beating upon tom-toms, clapping their hands in time to
the steps of the dancers, and joining in the chant of
the warriors. In the center of the circle sat Tarzan
of the Apes--Waziri, king of the Waziri, for, like his
predecessor, he was to take the name of his tribe as his own.
Faster and faster grew the pace of the dancers, louder and
louder their wild and savage shouts. The women rose and
fell in unison, shrieking now at the tops of their voices.
The spears were brandishing fiercely, and as the dancers stooped
down and beat their shields upon the hard-tramped earth of
the village street the whole sight was as terribly primeval
and savage as though it were being staged in the dim dawn
of humanity, countless ages in the past.
As the excitement waxed the ape-man sprang to his feet
and joined in the wild ceremony. In the center of the
circle of glittering black bodies he leaped and roared and
shook his heavy spear in the same mad abandon that enthralled
his fellow savages. The last remnant of his civilization was
forgotten--he was a primitive man to the fullest now; reveling
in the freedom of the fierce, wild life he loved, gloating in
his kingship among these wild blacks.
Ah, if Olga de Coude had but seen him then--could she
have recognized the well-dressed, quiet young man whose
well-bred face and irreproachable manners had so captivated
her but a few short months ago? And Jane Porter! Would
she have still loved this savage warrior chieftain, dancing
naked among his naked savage subjects? And D'Arnot!
Could D'Arnot have believed that this was the same man he
had introduced into half a dozen of the most select clubs
of Paris? What would his fellow peers in the House of
Lords have said had one pointed to this dancing giant, with
his barbaric headdress and his metal ornaments, and said:
"There, my lords, is John Clayton, Lord Greystoke."
And so Tarzan of the Apes came into a real kingship
among men--slowly but surely was he following the evolution
of his ancestors, for had he not started at the very bottom?
Return of Tarzan Chapter 16
... Return of Tarzan Chapter 18