From Ape to Savage
The noise of their battle with puma had drawn an excied
horde of savages from the nearby village, and a moment
after the lion's death the two men were surrounded by
lithe, ebon warriors, gesticulating and jabbering--a
thousand questions that drowned each ventured reply.
And then the women came, and the children--eager, curious,
and, at sight of Tarzan, more questioning than ever.
The ape-man's new friend finally succeeded in making
himself heard, and when he had done talking the men and
women of the village vied with one another in doing honor
to the strange creature who had saved their fellow and
battled single-handed with fierce Numa.
At last they led him back to their village, where they
brought him gifts of fowl, and goats, and cooked food.
When he pointed to their weapons the warriors hastened
to fetch spear, shield, arrows, and a bow. His friend of the
encounter presented him with the knife with which he had
killed Numa. There was nothing in all the village he could
not have had for the asking.
How much easier this was, thought Tarzan, than murder
and robbery to supply his wants. How close he had been to
killing this man whom he never had seen before, and who
now was manifesting by every primitive means at his
command friendship and affection for his would-be slayer.
Tarzan of the Apes was ashamed. Hereafter he would at least wait
until he knew men deserved it before he thought of killing them.
The idea recalled Rokoff to his mind. He wished that he
might have the Russian to himself in the dark jungle for a
few minutes. There was a man who deserved killing if ever
any one did. And if he could have seen Rokoff at that moment
as he assiduously bent every endeavor to the pleasant task
of ingratiating himself into the affections of the beautiful
Miss Strong, he would have longed more than ever to mete
out to the man the fate he deserved.
Tarzan's first night with the savages was devoted to a wild
orgy in his honor. There was feasting, for the hunters had
brought in an antelope and a zebra as trophies of their skill,
and gallons of the weak native beer were consumed. As the
warriors danced in the firelight, Tarzan was again impressed
by the symmetry of their figures and the regularity of their
features--the flat noses and thick lips of the typical West
Coast savage were entirely missing. In repose the faces of the
men were intelligent and dignified, those of the women
It was during this dance that the ape-man first noticed
that some of the men and many of the women wore ornaments
of gold--principally anklets and armlets of great weight,
apparently beaten out of the solid metal. When he
expressed a wish to examine one of these, the owner removed
it from her person and insisted, through the medium of signs,
that Tarzan accept it as a gift. A close scrutiny of the
bauble convinced the ape-man that the article was of
virgin gold, and he was surprised, for it was the first time
that he had ever seen golden ornaments among the savages
of Africa, other than the trifling baubles those near the
coast had purchased or stolen from Europeans. He tried
to ask them from whence the metal came, but he could not
make them understand.
When the dance was done Tarzan signified his intention
to leave them, but they almost implored him to accept the
hospitality of a great hut which the chief set apart for his
sole use. He tried to explain that he would return in the
morning, but they could not understand. When he finally
walked away from them toward the side of the village opposite
the gate, they were still further mystified as to his intentions.
Tarzan, however, knew just what he was about. In the
past he had had experience with the rodents and vermin
that infest every native village, and, while he was not
overscrupulous about such matters, he much preferred the
fresh air of the swaying trees to the fetid atmosphere of a hut.
The natives followed him to where a great tree overhung
the palisade, and as Tarzan leaped for a lower branch
and disappeared into the foliage above, precisely after the
manner of Manu, the monkey, there were loud exclamations
of surprise and astonishment. For half an hour they called
to him to return, but as he did not answer them they at
last desisted, and sought the sleeping-mats within their huts.
Tarzan went back into the forest a short distance until
he had found a tree suited to his primitive requirements,
and then, curling himself in a great crotch, he fell
immediately into a deep sleep.
The following morning he dropped into the village street
as suddenly as he had disappeared the preceding night.
For a moment the natives were startled and afraid, but when
they recognized their guest of the night before they
welcomed him with shouts and laughter. That day he
accompanied a party of warriors to the nearby plains on a
great hunt, and so dexterous did they find this white man
with their own crude weapons that another bond of respect
and admiration was thereby wrought.
For weeks Tarzan lived with his savage friends, hunting
buffalo, antelope, and zebra for meat, and elephant for ivory.
Quickly he learned their simple speech, their native customs,
and the ethics of their wild, primitive tribal life.
He found that they were not cannibals--that they looked
with loathing and contempt upon men who ate men.
Busuli, the warrior whom he had stalked to the village,
told him many of the tribal legends--how, many years
before, his people had come many long marches from the
north; how once they had been a great and powerful tribe;
and how the slave raiders had wrought such havoc among
them with their death-dealing guns that they had been
reduced to a mere remnant of their former numbers and power.
"They hunted us down as one hunts a fierce beast," said Busuli.
"There was no mercy in them. When it was not slaves they
sought it was ivory, but usually it was both. Our men were
killed and our women driven away like sheep. We fought
against them for many years, but our arrows and spears
could not prevail against the sticks which spit fire
and lead and death to many times the distance that our
mightiest warrior could place an arrow. At last, when my
father was a young man, the Arabs came again, but our
warriors saw them a long way off, and Chowambi, who was
chief then, told his people to gather up their belongings
and come away with him--that he would lead them far to
the south until they found a spot to which the Arab raiders
did not come.
"And they did as he bid, carrying all their belongings,
including many tusks of ivory. For months they wandered,
suffering untold hardships and privations, for much of the
way was through dense jungle, and across mighty mountains,
but finally they came to this spot, and although they sent
parties farther on to search for an even better location,
none has ever been found."
"And the raiders have never found you here?" asked Tarzan.
"About a year ago a small party of Arabs and Manyuema
stumbled upon us, but we drove them off, killing many.
For days we followed them, stalking them for the wild beasts
they are, picking them off one by one, until but a handful
remained, but these escaped us."
As Busuli talked he fingered a heavy gold armlet that
encircled the glossy hide of his left arm. Tarzan's eyes
had been upon the ornament, but his thoughts were elsewhere.
Presently he recalled the question he had tried to ask when
he first came to the tribe--the question he could not at that
time make them understand. For weeks he had forgotten so trivial
a thing as gold, for he had been for the time a truly
primeval man with no thought beyond today. But of a sudden
the sight of gold awakened the sleeping civilization that was
in him, and with it came the lust for wealth. That lesson
Tarzan had learned well in his brief experience of the ways
of civilized man. He knew that gold meant power and pleasure.
He pointed to the bauble.
"From whence came the yellow metal, Busuli?" he asked.
The black pointed toward the southeast.
"A moon's march away--maybe more," he replied.
"Have you been there?" asked Tarzan.
"No, but some of our people were there years ago, when
my father was yet a young man. One of the parties that
searched farther for a location for the tribe when first they
settled here came upon a strange people who wore many
ornaments of yellow metal. Their spears were tipped with it,
as were their arrows, and they cooked in vessels made all
of solid metal like my armlet.
"They lived in a great village in huts that were built of
stone and surrounded by a great wall. They were very fierce,
rushing out and falling upon our warriors before ever they
learned that their errand was a peaceful one. Our men were
few in number, but they held their own at the top of a little
rocky hill, until the fierce people went back at sunset into their
wicked city. Then our warriors came down from their hill,
and, after taking many ornaments of yellow metal from the
bodies of those they had slain, they marched back out of
the valley, nor have any of us ever returned.
"They are wicked people--neither white like you nor black
like me, but covered with hair as is Bolgani, the gorilla.
Yes, they are very bad people indeed, and Chowambi was
glad to get out of their country."
"And are none of those alive who were with Chowambi, and saw
these strange people and their wonderful city?" asked Tarzan.
"Waziri, our chief, was there," replied Busuli. "He was
a very young man then, but he accompanied Chowambi,
who was his father."
So that night Tarzan asked Waziri about it, and Waziri, who
was now an old man, said that it was a long march, but that
the way was not difficult to follow. He remembered it well.
"For ten days we followed this river which runs beside
our village. Up toward its source we traveled until on the
tenth day we came to a little spring far up upon the side of a
lofty mountain range. In this little spring our river is born.
The next day we crossed over the top of the mountain, and
upon the other side we came to a tiny rivulet which we
followed down into a great forest. For many days we
traveled along the winding banks of the rivulet that had now
become a river, until we came to a greater river, into which
it emptied, and which ran down the center of a mighty valley.
"Then we followed this large river toward its source, hoping
to come to more open land. After twenty days of marching
from the time we had crossed the mountains and passed out of
our own country we came again to another range of mountains.
Up their side we followed the great river, that had now
dwindled to a tiny rivulet, until we came to a little cave
near the mountain-top. In this cave was the mother of the river.
"I remember that we camped there that night, and that it
was very cold, for the mountains were high. The next day
we decided to ascend to the top of the mountains, and see
what the country upon the other side looked like, and if
it seemed no better than that which we had so far traversed
we would return to our village and tell them that they had
already found the best place in all the world to live.
"And so we clambered up the face of the rocky cliffs
until we reached the summit, and there from a flat
mountain-top we saw, not far beneath us, a shallow valley,
very narrow; and upon the far side of it was a great village
of stone, much of which had fallen and crumbled into decay."
The balance of Waziri's story was practically the same as
that which Busuli had told.
"I should like to go there and see this strange city," said
Tarzan, "and get some of their yellow metal from its fierce
"It is a long march," replied Waziri, "and I am an old
man, but if you will wait until the rainy season is over and
the rivers have gone down I will take some of my warriors
and go with you."
And Tarzan had to be contented with that arrangement,
though he would have liked it well enough to have set off the
next morning--he was as impatient as a child. Really Tarzan
of the Apes was but a child, or a primeval man, which is
the same thing in a way.
The next day but one a small party of hunters returned to
the village from the south to report a large herd of elephant
some miles away. By climbing trees they had had a fairly
good view of the herd, which they described as numbering
several large tuskers, a great many cows and calves,
and full-grown bulls whose ivory would be worth having.
The balance of the day and evening was filled with preparation
for a great hunt--spears were overhauled, quivers were
replenished, bows were restrung; and all the while the
village witch doctor passed through the busy throngs disposing
of various charms and amulets designed to protect the possessor
from hurt, or bring him good fortune in the morrow's hunt.
At dawn the hunters were off. There were fifty sleek, black
warriors, and in their midst, lithe and active as a young
forest God, strode Tarzan of the Apes, his brown skin
contrasting oddly with the ebony of his companions. Except for
color he was one of them. His ornaments and weapons were
the same as theirs--he spoke their language--he laughed
and joked with them, and leaped and shouted in the brief
wild dance that preceded their departure from the village, to
all intent and purpose a savage among savages. Nor, had he
questioned himself, is it to be doubted that he would have
admitted that he was far more closely allied to these people
and their life than to the Parisian friends whose ways,
apelike, he had successfully mimicked for a few short months.
But he did think of D'Arnot, and a grin of amusement
showed his strong white teeth as he pictured the immaculate
Frenchman's expression could he by some means see Tarzan
as he was that minute. Poor Paul, who had prided himself on
having eradicated from his friend the last traces of wild savagery.
"How quickly have I fallen!" thought Tarzan; but in his heart
he did not consider it a fall--rather, he pitied the poor
creatures of Paris, penned up like prisoners in their silly
clothes, and watched by policemen all their poor lives,
that they might do nothing that was not entirely artificial
A two hours' march brought them close to the vicinity in
which the elephants had been seen the previous day.
From there on they moved very quietly indeed searching for
the spoor of the great beasts. At length they found the
well-marked trail along which the herd had passed not many
hours before. In single file they followed it for about half
an hour. It was Tarzan who first raised his hand in signal
that the quarry was at hand--his sensitive nose had warned
him that the elephants were not far ahead of them.
The blacks were skeptical when he told them how he knew.
"Come with me," said Tarzan, "and we shall see."
With the agility of a squirrel he sprang into a tree and ran
nimbly to the top. One of the blacks followed more slowly
and carefully. When he had reached a lofty limb beside the
ape-man the latter pointed to the south, and there, some few
hundred yards away, the black saw a number of huge black
backs swaying back and forth above the top of the lofty
jungle grasses. He pointed the direction to the watchers below,
indicating with his fingers the number of beasts he could count.
Immediately the hunters started toward the elephants.
The black in the tree hastened down, but Tarzan stalked, after
his own fashion, along the leafy way of the middle terrace.
It is no child's play to hunt wild elephants with the crude
weapons of primitive man. Tarzan knew that few native
tribes ever attempted it, and the fact that his tribe did so
gave him no little pride--already he was commencing to
think of himself as a member of the little community.
As Tarzan moved silently through the trees he saw the
warriors below creeping in a half circle upon the still
unsuspecting elephants. Finally they were within sight of the
great beasts. Now they singled out two large tuskers, and at
a signal the fifty men rose from the ground where they had
lain concealed, and hurled their heavy war spears at the two
marked beasts. There was not a single miss; twenty-five
spears were embedded in the sides of each of the giant animals.
One never moved from the spot where it stood when the
avalanche of spears struck it, for two, perfectly aimed,
had penetrated its heart, and it lunged forward upon
its knees, rolling to the ground without a struggle.
The other, standing nearly head-on toward the hunters,
had not proved so good a mark, and though every spear
struck not one entered the great heart. For a moment the
huge bull stood trumpeting in rage and pain, casting about
with its little eyes for the author of its hurt. The blacks
had faded into the jungle before the weak eyes of the monster
had fallen upon any of them, but now he caught the sound of
their retreat, and, amid a terrific crashing of underbrush
and branches, he charged in the direction of the noise.
It so happened that chance sent him in the direction of
Busuli, whom he was overtaking so rapidly that it was as
though the black were standing still instead of racing at full
speed to escape the certain death which pursued him.
Tarzan had witnessed the entire performance from the branches
of a nearby tree, and now that he saw his friend's peril he
raced toward the infuriated beast with loud cries, hoping to
But it had been as well had he saved his breath, for the
brute was deaf and blind to all else save the particular
object of his rage that raced futilely before him.
And now Tarzan saw that only a miracle could save Busuli,
and with the same unconcern with which he had once hunted
this very man he hurled himself into the path of the elephant
to save the black warrior's life.
He still grasped his spear, and while Tantor was yet six
or eight paces behind his prey, a sinewy white warrior
dropped as from the heavens, almost directly in his path.
With a vicious lunge the elephant swerved to the right to
dispose of this temerarious foeman who dared intervene
between himself and his intended victim; but he had not
reckoned on the lightning quickness that could galvanize
those steel muscles into action so marvelously swift as to
baffle even a keener eyesight than Tantor's.
And so it happened that before the elephant realized that
his new enemy had leaped from his path Tarzan had driven
his iron-shod spear from behind the massive shoulder straight
into the fierce heart, and the colossal pachyderm had toppled
to his death at the feet of the ape-man.
Busuli had not beheld the manner of his deliverance, but
Waziri, the old chief, had seen, and several of the other
warriors, and they hailed Tarzan with delight as they swarmed
about him and his great kill. When he leaped upon the mighty
carcass, and gave voice to the weird challenge with which he
announced a great victory, the blacks shrank back in fear,
for to them it marked the brutal Bolgani, whom they feared
fully as much as they feared Numa, the lion; but with a fear
with which was mixed a certain uncanny awe of the manlike
thing to which they attributed supernatural powers.
But when Tarzan lowered his raised head and smiled upon
them they were reassured, though they did not understand.
Nor did they ever fully understand this strange creature
who ran through the trees as quickly as Manu, yet was even
more at home upon the ground than themselves; who was
except as to color like unto themselves, yet as powerful
as ten of them, and singlehanded a match for the fiercest
denizens of the fierce jungle.
When the remainder of the warriors had gathered, the
hunt was again taken up and the stalking of the retreating
herd once more begun; but they had covered a bare hundred
yards when from behind them, at a great distance,
sounded faintly a strange popping.
For an instant they stood like a group of statuary,
intently listening. Then Tarzan spoke.
"Guns!" he said. "The village is being attacked."
"Come!" cried Waziri. "The Arab raiders have returned
with their cannibal slaves for our ivory and our women!"
Return of Tarzan Chapter 14
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