CHAPTER III: BLACK JOHN PLOTS
Frantically, desperately, Mary clutched at the tangle of vines again. This time it gave a little, but it held and she pulled herself safely up the bank ust missing the ravening jaws of the foremost of the crocodiles by inches.
Still a-tremble like an aspen leaf in the wind she ran through the brush and with shaking fingers donified her scant garment of leopard skin, fastening it as she peered through the tangle at the handsome and heroic figure of a man as he struggled, waited his chance, then overcame the infuriated leader of the crocodiles, flung him back and with powerful strokes made the edge of the pool and drew his powerful form glistening with the water up to safety also.
He stood looking about for her, caught a glimpse of her as she drew back in the shadows. She started to run in sudden fear as he advanced toward her. He stopped, raised his hand and called.
"Fear not! Tarzan will not harm you!"
Mary hesitated. There was something at once commanding and reassuring in the tone. A smile, half-frightened, flitted over her face. She was tempted to wait, then her fears overwhelmed her. She waved her hand at him -- and ran on toward the stockade.
Tarzan checked himself. A long time he gazed after her with a wondering, entranced expression on his fact, then turned back again to his jungle -- but not the same Tarzan he had been a scant half hour ago. A new purpose had come into his life.
Mary, too, at the entrance to the stockade paused to look back, with a smile at the memory of Tarzan. Perhaps she should have stayed. But then there was Bobbie. She turned.
Black John was glaring at her suspiciously.
"You've been outside the stockade again! Haven't I warned you enough of this Tarzan beast that's roaming around?"
Mary hid a sudden start at the uncanny mention of Tarzan. But she could not check the peculiar smile on her lips nor the shrug of her defiant shoulders even by her non-committal answer.
A gloating smile spread over the face of Black John. "This Tarzan ape is no match for Black John!" he boasted. "Even now I am waiting for word that he has been caught!'
Mary suppressed a reply and hastened to the hut and to Bobby.
Deep in the jungle two of the cleverest of the natives had finished placing a trap cage and lay hidden in the brush watching it. They crouched entirely hidden as they heard the approach of something.
It was Taug making his way through, cautiously after his defeat by Tarzan in his attempt to gain the title of king of the jungle. Taug paused and stared curiously. Just before him he caught sight of a tempting bunch of jungle fruit left unguarded by someone.
He moved forward for it, reached out to grasp it -- and the door of the trap sprang shut as the ape lashed his way back and forth in futile effort now to free himself.
Instantly the two natives were on their feet., "Tarzan is caught!" cried one. "The Witch Doctor is mightier than Tarzan the Mighty! Run and tell him while I guard the trap."
From a-far now Tarzan himself could hear the raging of Taug. Something was wrong -- was it with this interloper or with some new claimant for the title of jungle king? Quickly Tarzan swung himself along in the direction of the cries.
Soon he was peering down from his eyrie in a tree whence he had swung himself by his grass rope. Below he could see the native in a dance of triumph about the cage-trap. A cunning expression overspread Tarzan's features as he set himself for a long swing.
As though from the sky above Tarzan swung down upon the native guarding the trap. A look of frantic fear came to the native's face. It was as if by a miracle the supposed captive was free. IN desperation he closed with Tarzan. But it was an unequal flight. A moment and Tarzan had picked him up bodily and flung him toward the cage.
The native lay there, still. Tarzan darted to the cage and peered in. It was Taug. "So," he muttered as he tore at the trap, "you would be king of the jungle!" Tarzan smiled, "Yet Tarzan is glad to help Taug."
Tarzan at last laid his hand on the catch of the trap. He unfastened the door, lifted it, and Taug sprang out.
It was no longer the sullen Taug. "Taug will fight Tarzan no more!" he chattered. "Tarzan is Tarzan the Mighty, mightier than Taug!"
Tarzan was an easy master. "Come!' he ordered. "When our enemies come they shall not find their trap empty!"
He picked up the unconscious native, carried him to the door of the trap, flung him in and closed it. He motioned to Taug to disappear, then Tarzan himself swung back by his grass rope into the crotch of the tree and settled himself, unseen, to watch.
Into the stockade of the Lost Village dashed the breathless native runner calling at the top of his voice.
"Tarzan-- Tarzan, the Mighty is caught!"
Instantly the village was in an uproar. Within the hut Mary and Bobby heard. Mary drew Bobby close to her as they peered out at the excitement.
There was Black John surrounded by the admiring villagers. "Come on!" he harangued. "We will get this Tarzan who has been leading the beasts of the jungle against us! You shall see that I am mightier than this Tarzan the Mighty!"
"Tarzan!" whispered Bobby. "Why, Mary, that's the one saved you from the crocodile, isn't it?"
Heading the natives Black John was leading off the rabble.
"Yes, Bobbie. Let us go, too." Mary was worried.
They overtook the crowd just as Black John rushed up to the trap. Black John started to open it, posting the others ready to attack, capture and kill Tarzan. But it was only a moment before Black John's triumph changed to cries of baffled rage. No one came out. Black John reached in, dragging out now only the half conscious native.
"Why, it's one of the tribe!" exclaimed Bobby in surprise.
Mary was unable to restrain the relief she felt after her anxiety. "It --- it ws Tarzan -- with the strength of a million devils!" chattered the frightened native.
Black John hurled him away from himself and glared at the superstitious natives. He turned suddenly and an ugly scowl spread over his face as he caught the smile of Mary and Bobby's grin. Her smile changed quickly to alarm. Bobby shrank by her side.
"Laugh, will you?" Black John gripped Mary's wrists, glaring at her. "Mark this -- no wild beast of the jungle can trick Black John!"
In terror Mary shrank away. Would the arch villain vent his rage on her and her little brother? What could she do? There was no one to whom to appear -- none.
None? A protector was closer than either she or Black John realized. High overhead hid Tarzan himself in the leafy screen of the trees. He saw; also he saw the tribe, too many for him.
But Tarzan, king of the jungle, was never defeated, not in his own jungle. His face was suddenly convulsed with rage at the indignity to the fair white queen. He raised his head and uttered a loud roar. It was human yet like nothing human. It was the battle cry of the king of the jungle calling upon his followers.
The natives heard and they knew it. They fled in panic. Black John followed. Was he not their leader? In terror, too. Mary and Bobby fled.
Far and wide, through his jungle kingdom the call was heard. Tantor heard and started, trumpeting.
Tarzan swung himself down before Mary and Bobby, stood before them to awed admiration. Mary did not know whether to run or stay. Bobby stared in wide-eyed fear and admiration.
"Fear not!" Tarzan will never allow that Black John to harm the White Angel!"
Mary shivered at the thought of Black John. "You and good -- good as you are brave. But Black John has many men -- and you are alone."
Just then Tantor broke through the jungle. Tarzan smiled. "Tarzan is not alone! The beasts of the jungle are his friends! See!" Mary shrank back and Bobby cried out in fear. "Don't be afraid of Tantor. He is Tarzan's friend and will help the White Angel, even as Tarzan once helped him. ONce when I was a very little boy, with my knife I cut him loose from a trap."
Quickly in his curious English Tarzan told the story. "And now," he added to Mary, "learn this bird call. If Tarzan hears the bird call he will know the White Angel is in danger and will come."
Mary repeated the call until she got it perfect. But she was nervous. Her absence from the village would be noticed. She thanked Tarzan, turned toward the village, while Tarzan was swung up on his back by Tantor who started off, also.
In the thicket the jealous scowling, scheming eyes of Black John missed none of this meeting. Through his tortuous brain was evolving a dark scheme. He would use Tantor to capture Tarzan and nip his friendship in the bud.
No sooner did Black John have an idea than he put it in execution. In the fastness of the Jungle he set the tribe to work digging a pit. In the bottom of the pit he placed rows of long, sharp-pointed stakes. Over the pit they laid a flimsy false floor of jungle foliage.
It was impossible to keep secret such a plot in the village. The moment Mary learned it her first thought was to warn Tarzan. She looked helplessly at Bobby. Suddenly an idea flashed into her mind.
"They'll never suspect you, Bobby. Go-- give the bird call. Tarzan will hear it and come to you. Warn him."
There was not much time to act. Already the natives had been posted through the jungle, first to scare up and worry Tantor, then to drive him down the trail that passed over the pit.
It would have taken a far more clever plotter than Black John to keep Tarzan entirely in the dark. That he knew. What it was, was for im to find out. Swinging along from the ground to the tree tops where he might catch sight of what was going on. Tarzan's practiced eyes were arrested by something unnatural in the old trail. He descended to investigate. Treading gingerly he started to lift the ground foliage. It was wilted. In an instant he saw why. Underneath was hidden a pit trap.
Could it have been prepared for him? Tarzan smiled as he swung himself back into the tree. He would stick around and watch what happened. There was an atmosphere of something portentous impending int he jungle. The beasts seemed to scent it. They were restless, uncertain. Far-off, somewhere, he could hear the faint echo of Tantor, trumpeting.
Suddenly he heard the bird call. He sought quickly to place it. It was near. His eyes endeavored to penetrate the jungle screen. There was Bobbie, running along the old trail -- nearer and nearer the trap -- the very trap of which he had come to warn tarzan.
Tarzan shut out his coiled rope, caught another tree, pulled the rope taut, swung down on the end by one hand and with the free arm caught Bobbie, carried him on and up safe over the trap and landed on the limb of another tree over it.
There was no time for explanations. Tantor with a mob of the natives in full cry was now on the old trail, thundering down seeking escape and running closer and closer to capture and perhaps sudden death.
Tarzan shouted a warning. Tantor stopped, short, got it, turned and crashed through the jungle itself on another course.
Out on the limb Tarzan smiled to himself at the defeat of his enemies in the nick of time. The limb swayed and bent under him. At least he had caught the attention of Tantor just in time, and had saved him.
There was a cracking and rending.
Tarzan had just time to seize Bobbie as the limb of the tree tore itself loose and the two were dropped down straight below into the very trap that had been set for Tantor.
Tarzan recovers quickly from the fall into the elephant pit, but Bobby is stunned. With the boy in his arms he climbs out, takes the boy to his hut and revives him. Black John and the tribesmen return to the village. He tells Mary that he alone knows of Bobbie's whereabouts and if she wishes to save him she must consent to the immediate marriage. At Tarzan's hut Bobby tries to make Tarzan understand that he should return to the village, that Mary needs him. At the village Mary consents to marry Black John, as she sees not other way to save her little brother.
TARZAN THE MIGHTY
FILM SERIAL SUMMARY
From Universal Weekly 1928
Chapter Three: The Call of the Jungle
Night comes and with it the ceremony that gives Mary to Black John. After a weird dance he offers to fight any man in the tribe for her. None dare face him until Tarzan suddenly drops from a tree. The two men fight fiercely. Tarzan, who has vanquished Black John, finds himself surrounded. He gives his jungle cry. Tantor, the elephant, is the first to respond and tears through the jungle to the aid of Tarzan, who is bound fast and helpless to a stake. As Tantor breaks through the village wall, Black John hurls his spear at Tarzan.
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