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
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,
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.
At last Tarzan tired of the 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
Tarzan of the Apes Chapter 7
... Tarzan of the Apes Chapter 9