CHAPTER I: JUNGLE KING
The girl, a gleaming blonde beauty, figure full, delicate, voluptuously formed, clad in a single leopard skin, drew away from the menace of the eyes and voice of the dark white man, reversion to the elemental, a thousand miles from civilization.
"Dance, I tell you!" hissed Black John through his wolfish teeth.
Her eyes, deeper and more blue than any lake of the Dark Continent, shot a quick glance tot he right. There lay the jungle, teeming with wild life, fascinating, mysterious with its keen, heartless struggle for existence crowned by the survival of the fittest. It was beautiful -- and relentless.
Another quick glance to the left. There was the stockade wrested by man from pitiless luxuriant nature. Mary Trevor saw the huts, the cabin to which she had been borne with their little brother Bobbie after the wreck of the liner "Empress, " sole survivors picked up Black John, the beachcomber. In a great semi-circle before the thatched huts in the stockade squatted the black-skinned natives, on one side their Patriarch, on the other the drummers with their outlandish hollowed logs covered taut with goat skins.
They were waiting for Black John to call on the spirit gods of their ancestral jungle, waiting for him to demonstrate again the power of the white man's witchcraft.
An instant her eyes turned heavenward as she wafted a prayer. Above swayed the tangle of tropical moss and rope-vines. It was a glorious wild picture of nature "where every prospect pleases -- and only man is vile."
Black John seized Mary in viselike grip by the wrists.
"Dance! Dance at this ceremony of the Curse of Tarzan! The next time, remember, it will be the ceremony of our wedding. Dance -- or I will call the priests and perform the ceremony -- now!"
With his other hand he waved. The weird sound of the native drums accompanied by the clatter of spears and aboriginal musical instruments burst forth in a pandemonium of barbaric tempo.
Black John advanced into the center of the group, descendants of a pirate crew that had settled in the jungle generations ago, inter-married, now reduced to the primitive state of superstitious savages -- a lost village. He himself, the wayward son of a noble British family, by his superior wit and shrewdness had made himself the leader of the tribe, pretending a mastery of witchcraft.
"Tarzan and his ape people are raiding our cattle!" he cried loudly. "They are destroying our fields. They most perish!" He hung on the word as if it alone would annihilate an enemy.
Still grasping Mary Trevor, the delicate, beautiful, high-strung American castaway, by the wriest, Black John continued to harangue and exhort the villagers.
He paused before a flat stone. Seizing a brand the council fire he applied it suddenly to a little pile on the stone. Instantly there was a blinding flash and a column of smoke shot high up in the air. It was Black John's magic by way casting a spell to set fire to some black gunpowder and overawe the villagers as a prelude.
"This will cast a spell of terror against Tarzan," he shouted boldly. "A curse on Tarzan and his tribe! He will not dare to come near us now!"
The beating of the native drums rose in sharp staccato, the clashing of musical instruments an d of spears, the weird music of native voices.
Black John pulled Mary forward by the wrist almost dislocating it by the savage force of his grasp. "Now," he whispered, "dance! Show them my power over the White Goddess who will win the favor of the Jungle Gods! Dance as you never danced before! Give it to them -- all!"
Mary felt herself catapulted into the midst of the wild assemblage with t he frenzied music. There was just time for one thought to flash through her mind in a split second. The dance of wild abandon was the least of many evils that might befall her. It would give her respite -- if even for a day -- and another day, what might another dawn bring forth?
Propelled by the force of Black John she caught herself, poised on one foot balanced, whirled and was off in a dance that was a stone-age exaggeration of classical dancing posturings of old dance halls of Frisco, the tango, the maxixe of South America and wound up in the negro movements that had captured the white dancers as she threw into them the spirit of native Africa itself.
Enthralled, the natives watched and followed the white goddess.
Far off in the jungle whence the eyes of Mary Trevor could not penetrate nor the echo of the curse reverberate, in a crotch of a great tree perched the figure of a man. In his hands he held a grass rope. About his neck hung a wonderful hunting knife in a sheath suspended by a thong.
He looped the rope and let it fly out. It caught on a limb of another tree with a peculiar loop that fastened itself. He pulled it tight, swung in a quick arc to the ground, slacked the rope and with a deft twist pulled it off the limb and down.
Handsome and erect he stood, every muscle playing smoothly as he gathered his grass rope, coiled it, and slung it over his shoulder.
Suddenly above the multitudinous sounds of the jungle he heard something that set him in a quick motion crashing through the tangle.
It was Teeka, the she-ape, belle o f the jungle, giving a call for help. The man parted the fronds of underbrush in time to catch a glimpse of Taug, an interloper, strange to that part of the jungle, as the powerful arms of the ape grasped Teeka about to bear her off. Teeka chattered and screamed in terror.
An instant and the man with incredible quickness and strength was between them, facing Taug.
"Go back whence you came I, Tarzan, command!"
He stretched forth his arm with an imperious gesture. But it was the voice that would have arrested and held attention. It was a human voice -- but these were no human words.
For of all the beasts he knew the language, knew their names and how to call them, knew their trials and all their dangers; helped them, played and lived and suffered.
This was Tarzan, the Mighty, King of the Jungle!
Tarzan (Frank Merrill), whose parents died in the heart of the jungle, was adopted by a she-ape. Spending his childhood among the wild beasts he understands their language and, grown to manhood, becomes king of the jungle Through the few books and pictures left in the hut of his dead parents he learns the rudiments of English. Deep in the jungle is a village inhabited by the descendants of pirates. Black John (Al Ferguson), a beach comber, has worked on the supertitions of these primitive people until he dominates them completely. He conducts a ceremony with incantations to set the evil spirits against Tarzan and his apes, who have raided their cattle.
TARZAN THE MIGHTY
FILM SERIAL SUMMARY
From Universal Weekly 1928
Chapter One: The Terror of Tarzan
Mary (Natalie Kingston) and Bob (Bobby Nelson), sister and brother castaways, are living among the tribe and Black John, despite Mary's protest, determines to make her his bride. One morning, as Mary is bathing in a forest pool, she is discovered by Tarzan, who is fascinated by this strange and beautiful creature. Suddenly he is horrified to see a swarm of crocodiles sliding into the pool from the opposite shore. His battle-cry acquaints Mary with her desperate situation. She swims frantically for the bank pursued by a monster crocodile. Death seems inevitable when Tarzan dives from a tree and tackles the beast with his bare hands.
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