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TARZAN AT THE EARTH’S CORE
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
“Gonna find her, gonna find her,
Well now if I have to swim a river, you know I will,
And if I have to climb a mountain, you know I will,
And if she’s hiding up on Blueberry Hill,
I’m gonna find her, child, you know I will,
Cause I’ve been searchin’, oh yeah, searchin’,
My goodness, searchin’ every which a-way, yeah-yeah,
But I’m like the Northwest Mounties,
You know I’ll bring her in some day...”
– The Coasters, “Searchin’”
For some reason as I reviewed the situation of the 0-220 crew that song kept popping into my head. And for good reason. David Innes needs to be rescued from the dark dungeons of the Korsars in Pellucidar, the inner world 500 miles below the earth’s surface. Tarzan, leading an expedition to rescue him, needs to be rescued himself from the jaws of a saber-tooth tiger. And now the search party led by Jason Gridley to find Tarzan has been attacked by hundreds of saber-tooth tigers who have just slaughtered thousands of animals of all sizes in a vast killing field. Yes, this is a novel of successive cliff-hangers, one of the best adventure novels in the world. It is equal to anything Jules Verne or H.G. Wells has to offer.
Searching for people in Pellucidar is almost three times as hard as it is in the normal world on the surface. In the first Pellucidar novel, At the Earth’s Core, David Innes made friends with a slave girl, Dian the Beautiful, and then she was kidnapped and disappeared. In Chapter 5, David wanted to search for her, but Abner Perry made him understand how impossible this would be since there was so much more land mass in Pellucidar than on the surface of the outer world. Innes disagrees, calling Pellucidar a “diminutive world”, until Perry sets him straight:“Diminutive world!” he scoffed. “You don’t know what you are talking about, my boy,” and then he showed me a map of Pellucidar which he had recently discovered among the manuscripts he was arranging.Now you see what an impossible task confronts any search party. I erred in Part One when I said the area 250 miles below the surface of the outer world must have been quite hot since all of the magma of volcanic activity would have to be contained there, but I was wrong. Reviewing the history of the first Iron Mole journey, we learned that one hot spot is at 125 miles below the surface, whereas at the 250 mile point the crust is not hot, but quite cold, since it is composed of solid ice. The crust doesn’t get hot again until 325 miles below the outer crust, which would be 125 miles below the surface of Pellucidar. What could be more clear.
“Look!” he cried, pointing to it, “this is evidently water, and all this land. Do you notice the general configuration of the two areas? Where the oceans are upon the outer crust, is land here. These relatively small areas of ocean follow the general lines of the continents of the outer world.
We know that the crust of the globe is 500 miles in thickness; then the inside diameter of Pellucidar must be 7,000 miles, and the superficial area 165,480,000 square miles. Three-fourths of this is land. Think of it! A land area of 124,110,000 square miles! Our own world contains but 53,000,000 square miles of land, the balance of its surface being covered by water. Just as we often compare nations by their relative land areas, so if we compare these two worlds in the same way we have the strange anomaly of a larger world within a smaller one!
So, where are we headed in Chapter 4? Mercifully, ERB takes us back to Tarzan’s hair-raising situation:
IV. THE SAGOTHS
As the great cat slunk toward him, Tarzan of the Apes realized that at last he faced an inevitable death, yet even in that last moment of life the emotion which dominated him was one of admiration for the magnificent beast drawing angrily toward him.Amen to that, brother. It is this enlightened view – which ERB humorously calls primitive – that makes me believe that atheist absolutists need to admit that they know nothing about such matters either. I like to think the God in whom I believe is a personal God and that I will live again, but I also know that this is more likely wishful thinking since if the materialists are correct, all of our perception and consciousness are nothing but electrical impulses generated by physical matter – a projection of a hologram inside the cerebral cortex of my brain, ergo, reality is entirely inside my head. But in light of this grim reality of the materialists, maybe what I would like to believe is more than wishful thinking...maybe that is what will and faith are all about.
Tarzan of the Apes would have preferred to die fighting, if he must die; yet he felt a certain thrill as he contemplated the magnificence of the great beast that Fate had chosen to terminate his earthly career. He felt no fear, but a certain sense of anticipation of what would follow after death. The Lord of the Jungle subscribed to no creed. Tarzan of the Apes was not a church man; yet like the majority of those who have always lived close to nature he was, in a sense, intensely religious. His intimate knowledge of the stupendous forces of nature, of her wonders and her miracles had impressed him with the fact that their ultimate origin lay far beyond the conception of the finite mind of man, and thus incalculably remote from the farthest bounds of science. When he thought of God he liked to think of Him primitively, as a personal God. And while he realized that he knew nothing of such matters, he liked to believe that after death he would live again.
Many thoughts passed quickly through his mind as the saber-tooth advanced upon him. He was watching the long, glistening fangs that so soon were to be buried in his flesh when his attention was attracted by a sound among the trees about him. That the great cat had heard too was evident, for it stopped in its tracks and gazed up into the foliage of the trees above. And then Tarzan heard a rustling in the branches directly overhead, and looking up he saw what appeared to be a gorilla glaring down upon him.
Two more savage faces showed through the foliage above him and then in other trees about he caught glimpses of similar shaggy forms and fierce faces. He saw that they were like gorillas, and yet unlike them; that in some respects they were more man than gorilla, and in others more gorilla than man. He caught glimpses of great clubs, wielded by hairy hands, and when his eyes returned to the saber-tooth he saw that the great beast had hesitated in its advance and was snarling and growling angrily as its eyes roved upward and around at the savage creatures glaring down upon it.
It was only for a moment that the cat paused in its advance upon the ape-man. Snarling angrily, it moved forward again and as it did so, one of the creatures in the trees above Tarzan reached down, and, seizing the rope that held him dangling in mid-air, drew him swiftly upward. Then several things occurred simultaneously – the saber-tooth leaped to retrieve its prey and a dozen heavy cudgels hurtled through the air from the surrounding trees, striking the great cat heavily upon head and body with the result that the talons that must have otherwise have inevitably been imbedded in the flesh of the ape-man grazed harmlessly by him, and an instant later he was drawn well up among the branches of the tree, where he was seized by three hairy brutes whose attitude suggested that he might have been as well off had he been left to the tender mercies of the saber-tooth.
Two of them, one on either side, seized an arm and the third grasped him by the throat with one hand while he held his cudgel poised above his head in the other. And then from the lips of the creature facing him came a sound that fell as startlingly upon the ears of the ape-man as had the first unexpected roar of the saber-tooth, but with far different effect.
“Ka-goda!” said the creature facing Tarzan.
In the language of the apes of his own jungle, Ka-goda may be roughly interpreted according to its inflection as a command to surrender, or as an interrogation, “do you surrender?” or as a declaration of surrender.This word, coming from the lips of a hairy gorilla man of the inner world, suggested possibilities of the most startling nature. For years Tarzan had considered the language of the great apes as the primitive root language of created things. The great apes, the lesser apes, the gorillas, the baboons and the monkeys utilized this with various degrees of refinement and many of its words were understood by jungle animals of other species and by many of the birds; but, perhaps, after the fashion that our domestic animals have learned many of the words in our vocabulary, with this difference that the language of the great apes has doubtless persisted unchanged for countless ages.I interrupt this scientific speculation to give Abner Perry’s theory of the formation of Pellucidar inside the earth in order to further our education. This theory is postulated in Chapter 3 of At the Earth’s Core, in response to a question from David Innes regarding the existence of the eternal noonday sun at the Earth’s Core:
That these gorilla men of the inner world used even one word of this language suggested one of two possibilities – either they held an origin in common with the creatures of the outer crust, or else that the laws of evolution and progress were so constant that this was the only form of primitive language that could have been possible to any creatures emerging from the lower orders toward the estate of man. But the suggestion that impressed Tarzan most vividly was that this single word, uttered by the creature grasping him by the throat, postulated familiarity on the part of his fierce captors with the entire ape language that he had used since boyhood.“And withal it is very simple, David. The earth was once a nebulous mass. It cooled, and as it cooled it shrank. At length a thin crust of solid matter formed upon its outer surface – a sort of shell; but within it was partially molten matter and highly expanded gases. As it continued to cool, what happened? Centrifugal force hurled the particles of the nebulous center toward the crust as rapidly as they approached a solid state. You have seen the same principle practically applied in the modern cream separator. Presently there was only a small superheated core of gaseous matter remaining with a huge vacant interior left by the contraction of the cooling gases. The equal attraction of the solid crust from all directions maintained this luminous core in the exact center of the hollow globe. What remains of it is the sun you saw today – a relatively tiny thing at the exact center of the earth. Equally to every part of this inner world it diffuses its perpetual noonday light and torrid heat.The creatures being discussed were more monkey than man, with long tails and hands and feet built for tree climbing. Just a little later in the story, these monkeys are overpowered by a more organized gorilla man army, called Sagoths, who are described as:
“This inner world must have cooled sufficiently to support animal life long ages after life appeared on the outer crust, but that the same agencies were at work here is evident from the similar forms of both animal and vegetable creation which we have already seen. Take the great beast which attacked us, for example. Unquestionably a counterpart of the Megatherium of the post-Pliocene period in the outer crust, whose fossilized skeleton has been found in South America.”
“But the grotesque inhabitants of this forest?” I urged. “Surely they have no counterpart in the earth’s history.”
“Who can tell?” he rejoined. “They may constitute the link between ape and man, all traces which have been swallowed by the countless convulsions which have racked the outer crust, or they may be merely the result of evolution along slightly different lines – either is quite possible.”Our guards, whom I have already described as gorilla-like men, were rather lighter in build than a gorilla, but even so they were indeed mighty creatures. Their arms and legs were proportioned more in conformity with human standards, but their entire bodies were covered with shaggy, brown hair, and their faces were quite as brutal as those of the few studied specimens of the gorilla which I had seen in the museums at home.When first confronted by the Sagoths, Innes notes that they “were gorilla-like creatures armed with spears and hatchets, and bearing long, oval shields.” These Sagoths are the storm troopers of the ruling Mahars, a sentient species of prehistoric telepathic winged reptiles. The conquest of the Mahars by armies led by David Innes and Abner Perry provides the plot for this first story, with the establishment of the Empire of Pellucidar with David Innes as its first emperor. However, these Sagoths are from a tribe far more advanced than the ones Tarzan is currently encountering, suggesting that they are intelligent enough to be organized into an army, but untrained, they are barely past living in the trees.
Their only redeeming feature lay in the development of the head above and back of the ears. In this respect they were not whit less human than we. They were clothed in a sort of tunic of light cloth which reached to the knees. Beneath this they wore only a loin cloth of the same material, while their feet were shod with rather heavy sandals apparently made of the thick hide of some mammoth creature of this inner world.
Their arms and necks were encircled by many ornaments of metal – silver predominating – and on their tunics were sewn the heads of tiny reptiles in odd and rather artistic designs. They talked among themselves as they marched along on either side of us, but in a language which I perceived differed from that employed by our fellow prisoners.“Ka-goda?” inquired the bull.Okay, you can see for yourself in comparison what a civilizing effect the tyrant Mahars must have had on their Sagoth storm troopers. The Sagoth army had ornaments, clothing, sandals,and superior weapons: spears, hatchets, and oval shields; whereas the wild Sagoths are naked, barefoot, and have only crude clubs that show some signs of higher thought.
“Ka-goda,” said Tarzan of the Apes.
The brute, facing Tarzan, half lowered his cudgel as though he were surprised to hear the prisoner answer in his own tongue. “Who are you?” he demanded in the language of the great apes.
“I am Tarzan – mighty hunter, mighty fighter,” replied the ape-man.
“What are you doing in M’wa-lot’s country?” demanded the gorilla man.
“I come as a friend,” replied Tarzan. “I have no quarrel with your people.”
The fellow had lowered his club now, and from other trees had come a score more of the shaggy creatures until the surrounding limbs sagged beneath their weight.
“How did you learn the language of the Sagoths?” demanded the bull. “We have captured gilaks in the past, but you are the first one who ever spoke or understood our language.”
“It is the language of my people,” replied Tarzan. “As a little balu, I learned it from Kala and other apes of the tribe of Kerchak.”
“We never heard of the tribe of Kerchak,” said the bull.
“Perhaps he is not telling the truth,” said another. “Let us kill him; he is only a gilak.”
“No,” said a third. “Take him back to M’wa-lot that the whole tribe of M’wa-lot may join in the killing.”
“That is good,” said another. “Take him back to the tribe, and while we are killing him we shall dance.”
The language of the great apes is not like our language. It sounds to man like growling and barking and grunting, punctuated at times by shrill screams, and it is practically untranslatable to any tongue known to man; yet it carried to Tarzan and the Sagoths the sense that we have given it. It is a means of communicating thought and there its similarity to the language of men ceases.
Having decided upon the disposition of their prisoner, the Sagoths now turned their attention to the saber-tooth, who had returned to his kill, across the body of which he was lying. He was not feeding, but was gazing angrily up into the trees at his tormentors.
While three of the gorilla secured Tarzan’s wrists behind his back with a length of buckskin thong, the others renewed their attention to the tiger. Three or four of them would cast well-aimed cudgels at his face at intervals so nicely timed that the great beast could do nothing but fend off the missiles as they sped toward him. And while he was thus occupied, the other Sagoths, who had already cast their clubs, sprang to the ground and retrieved them with an agililty and celerity that would have done credit to the tiniest monkey of the jungle. The risk that they took bespoke great self-confidence and high courage since often they were compelled to snatch their cudgels from almost beneath the claws of the saber-tooth.
Battered and bruised, the great cat gave back inch by inch until, unable to stand the fusillade longer, it suddenly turned tail and bounded into the underbrush, where for some time the sound of its crashing retreat could be distinctly heard. And with the departure of the carnivore, the gorilla men leaped to the ground and fell upon the carcass of the thag. With heavy fangs they tore its flesh, oftentimes fighting among themselves like wild beasts for some particularly choice morsel; but unlike many of the lower orders of man upon similar occasions they did not gorge themselves, and having satisfied their hunger they left what remained to the jackals and wild dogs that had already gathered.
Tarzan of the Apes, silent spectator of this savage scene, had an opportunity during the feast to examine his captors more closely. He saw that they were rather lighter in build than the gorillas he had seen in his own native jungle, but even though they were not as heavy as Bolgani, they were yet mighty creatures. Their arms and legs were of more human conformation and proportion than those of a gorilla, but the shaggy brown hair covering their entire body increased their beast-like appearance, while their faces were even more brutal than of Bolgani himself, except that the development of the skull denoted a brain capacity seemingly as great as that of man.
They were entirely naked, nor was there among them any suggestion of ornamentation, while their only weapons were clubs. These, however, showed indications of having been shaped by some sharp instrument as though an effort had been made to insure a firm grip and a well-balanced weapon.Their feeding completed, the Sagoths turned back along the game trail in the same direction that Tarzan had been going when he had sprung the trigger of the snare. But before departing several of them reset the noose, covered it carefully with earth and leaves and set the trigger that it might be sprung by the first passing animal.I can’t help but think that Planet of the Apes was influenced by these kinds of descriptions in the Tarzan series. What do you think?
So sure were all their movements and so deft their fingers, Tarzan realized that though these creatures looked like beasts they had long since entered the estate of man. Perhaps they were still low in the scale of evolution, but unquestionably they were men with the brains of men and the faces and skins of gorillas.As the Sagoths moved along the jungle trail they walked erect as men walk, but in other ways they reminded Tarzan of the great apes who were his own people, for they were given neither to laughter nor song and their taciturnity suggested the speechlessness of the alili. That certain of their sense faculties were more highly developed than in man was evidenced by the greater dependence they placed upon their ears and noses than upon their eyes in their unremitting vigil against surprise by an enemy.Ah, aren’t you glad that Tarzan has anthropology in his blood? He can objectively study the creatures that are taking him to a gruesome death, finding nobility in their existence. I’d like to know one reader who has read more than seven Tarzan books that doesn’t believe he is one of the greatest – if not the greatest – character ever conceived by the mind of man.
While by human standards they might have been judged ugly and even hideous, they did not so impress Tarzan of the Apes, who recognized in them a certain primitive majesty of bearing and mien such as might well have been expected of pioneers upon the frontier of humanity.
It is sometime the custom of theorists to picture our primordial progenitors as timid, fearful creatures, fleeing from the womb to the grave in constant terror of the countless, savage creatures that beset their entire existence. But as it does not seem reasonable that a creature so poorly equipped for offense and defense could have survived without courage, it seems far more consistent to assume with the dawning of reason came a certain superiority complex – a vast and at first stupid egotism – that knew caution, perhaps, but not fear; nor is any other theory tenable unless we are to suppose that from the loin of a rabbit-hearted creature sprang men who hunted the bison, the mammoth, and the cave bear with crude spears tipped with stone.
The Sagoths of Pellucidar may have been analogous in the scale of evolution to the Neanderthal men of the outer crust, or they may, indeed, have been even a step lower; yet in their bearing there was nothing to suggest to Tarzan that they had reached this stage in evolution through the expedience of flight. Their bearing as they trod the jungle trail bespoke assurance and even truculance, as though they were indeed the lords of creation, fearing nothing. Perhaps Tarzan understood their attitude better than another might have since it had been his own always in the jungle – unquestioning fearlessness – with which a certain intelligent caution was not inconsistent.They had come but a short distance from the scene of Tarzan’s capture when the Sagoths stopped beside a hollow log, the skeleton of a great tree that had fallen beside the trail. One of the creatures tapped upon the log with his club – one, two; one, two; one, two, three. And then after a moment’s pause, he repeated the same tapping. Three times the signal boomed through the jungle and then the signaler paused, listening, while others stooped and put their ears against the ground.According to the Great Ape – English Dictionary (ERBzine 0033), “M’wa” means “blue,” and “lot” means “face.” I couldn’t find any definitions for “to” or “yad,” so I am unable to provide any light on that name, but if I were to make a gross speculation, it would be something like: “to” = “ass,” and “yad” = “hole.” Don’t you agree?
Faintly through the air, more plainly through the ground, came an answering signal – one, two; one, two; one, two, three.
The creatures seemed satisfied and climbing into the surrounding trees, disposed themselves comfortably as though settling down to a wait. Two of them carried Tarzan easily aloft with them, as with his hands bound behind his back he could not climb unassisted.
Since they had started on the march Tarzan had not spoken, but now he turned to one of the Sagoths near him. “Remove the bonds from my wrists,” he said, “I am not an enemy.”
“Tar-gash,” said he whom Tarzan had addressed, “the gilak wants his bonds removed.”
Tar-gash, a large bull with noticeably long, white canine fangs, turned his savage eyes upon the ape-man. For a long time he glared unblinkingly at the prisoner and it seemed to Tarzan that the mind of the half-brute was struggling with a new idea. Presently he turned to the Sagoth who had repeated Tarzan’s request. “Take them off,” he said.
“Why?” demanded another of the bulls. The tone was challenging.
“Because I, Tar-gash, say, ‘take them off,’” growled the other.
“You are not M’wa-lot. He is king. If M’wa-lot says take them off, we will take them off.”
“I am not M’wa-lot, To-yad; I am Tar-gash, and Tar-gash says, ‘take them off.’”
To-yad swung to Tarzan’s side. “M’wa-lot will come soon,” he said. “If M’wa-lot says take them off, we shall take them off. We will not take orders from Tar-gash.”
Like a panther, quickly, silently Tar-gash sprang straight for the throat of To-yad. There was no warning, not even an instant of hesitation. In this Tarzan saw that Tar-gash differed from the great apes with whom the Lord of the Jungle had been familiar upon the outer crust, for among them two bulls ordinarily must need have gone through a long preliminary of stiff-legged strutting and grumbled invective before either one launched himself upon the other in deadly combat. But the mind of Tar-gash had functioned with man-like celerity, so much so that decision and action had appeared to be almost simultaneous.
The impact of the heavy body of Tar-gash toppled To-yad from the branch upon which he had been standing, but so naturally arboreal were the two great creatures that even as they fell they reached out and seized the same branch and still fighting, each with his free hand and his heavy fangs, they hung there a second breaking their fall, and then dropped to the ground. They fought almost silently except for low growls, Tar-gash seeking the jugular of To-yad with those sharp, white fangs that had given him his name. To-yad, his every faculty concentrated on defense, kept the grinning jaws from his flesh and suddenly twisting quickly around, tore loose from the powerful fingers of his opponent and sought safety in flight. But like a football player, Tar-gash launched himself through the air; his long hairy arms encircled the legs of the fleeing To-yad, bringing him heavily to the ground, and an instant later the powerful aggressor was on the back of his opponent and To-yad’s jugular was at the mercy of his foe, but the great jaws of Tar-gash did not close.
Did you get that update on the language of the Great Apes (see, e.g., the Great Ape - English Dictionary at ERBzine 0033): “tar” means “white,” and “zan” means “skin,” thusTarzan means “White Skin.” As for Tar-gash, “tar” means “white” and “gash” means “tooth,” hence “White Tooth.” Don’t you find yourself kind of liking Tar-gash? I do. He’s quite the character.
“Ka-goda!” he inquired.
“Ka-goda,” growled To-yad, and instantly Tar-gash arose from the body of the other bull.
With the agility of a monkey the victor leaped back into the branches of the tree. “Remove the bonds from the wrists of the gilak,” he said, and at the same time he glared ferociously about him to see if there was another so mutinously minded as To-yad; but none spoke and none objected as one of the Sagoths who had dragged Tarzan up into the tree untied the bonds that secured his wrists.
“If he tries to run away from us,” said Tar-gash, “kill him.”
When his bonds were removed Tarzan expected that the Sagoths would take his knife away from him. He had lost his spear and bow and most of his arrows at the instant that the snare had snapped him from the ground, but though they had lain in plain view in the trail beneath the snare the Sagoths had paid no attention to them; nor did they now pay any attention to his knife. He was sure they must have seen it and he could not understand their lack of concern regarding it, unless they were ignorant of its purpose or held him in such contempt that they did not consider it worth the effort to disarm him.
Presently To-yad sneaked back into the tree, but he huddled sullenly to himself, apart from the others.
Faintly, from a distance, Tarzan heard something approaching. He heard it just a moment before the Sagoth’s heard it.
“They come!” announced Tar-gash.
“M’wa-lot comes,” said another, glancing at To-yad. Now Tarzan knew why the primitive drum had been sounded, but he wondered why they were gathering.
At last they arrived, nor was it difficult for Tarzan to recognize M’wa-lot, the king among the others. A great bull walked in front – a bull with so much gray among the hairs on his face that the latter had a slightly bluish complexion, and instantly the ape-man saw how the king had come by his name.And soon as the Sagoths with Tarzan were convinced of the identity of the approaching party, they descended from the trees to the ground and when M’wa-lot had approached within twenty paces of them, he halted. “I am “M’wa-lot,” he announced. “With me are the people of my tribe.”We’ll have to leave Tarzan there for awhile, under the overhead inner curvature of the earth, since the next chapter takes us back to the dramatic situation of Jason Gridley.
“I am Tar-gash,” replied the bull who seemed to be in charge of the other party. “With me are the other bulls of the tribe of M’wa-lot.”
This precautionary preliminary over, M’wa-lot advanced, followed by the bulls, the shes and the balus of the tribe.
“What is that?” demanded M’wa-lot, as his fierce eyes espied Tarzan.
“It is a gilak that we found caught in our snare,” replied Tar-gash.
“That is the feast that you called us to?” demanded M’wa-lot, angrily. “You should have brought it to the tribe. It can walk.”
“This is not the food of which the drum spoke,” replied Tar-gash. “Nearby is the body of a thag that was killed by a tarag close by the snare in which this gilak was caught.”
“Ugh!” grunted M’wa-lot. “We can eat the gilak later.”
“We can have a dance,” suggested one of Tarzan’s captors. “We have eaten and slept many times since we have danced, M’wa-lot.”
As the Sagoths, guided by Tar-gash, proceeded along the trail towards the body of the thag, the females with balus growled savagely when one of the little ones chanced to come near to Tarzan. The bulls eyes him suspiciously and all seemed uneasy because of his presence. In these and in other ways the Sagoths were reminiscent of the apes of the tribe of Kerchak and to such an extent was this true that Tarzan, although a prisoner among them, felt strangely at home in this new environment.
A short distance ahead of the ape-man walked M’wa-lot, king of the tribe, and at M’wa-lot’s elbow was To-yad. The two spoke in low tones and from the frequent glances they cast at Tarzan, who walked ahead of them, it was evident that he was the subject of their conversation, the effect of which on M’wa-lot seemed to be highly disturbing.
Tarzan could see that the shaggy chieftan was working himself into a frenzy of rage, the inciting cause of which was evidently the information that To-yad was imparting to him. The latter seemed to be attempting to goad him to greater fury, a fact which seemed to be now apparent to every member of the tribe with the exception of Tar-gash, who was walking in the lead, ahead of M’wa-lot and Tarzan, for practically every other eye was turned upon the king, whose evident excitement had imparted a certain fierce restlessness to the other members of his party. But it was not until they had come within sight of the body of the thag that the storm broke and then, without warning, M’wa-lot swung his heavy club and leaped forward toward Tar-gash with the very evident intention of braining him from behind.
If the life of the ape-man in his constant battle for survival had taught him to act quickly, it also had taught him to think quickly. He knew that in all this savage company he had no friends, but he also knew that Tar-gash, from very stubborness and to spite To-yad, might alone be expected to befriend him and now it appeared that Tar-gash himself might need a friend, for it was evident that no hand was to be raised in defense of him nor any voice in warning. And so, Tarzan of the Apes, prompted both by consideration of self-interest and fair play, took matters into his own hands with such suddenness that he had already acted before any hand could be raised to stop him.
“Kreeg-ah, Targash!” he cried, and at the same instant he sprang quickly forward, brushing To-yad aside with a single sweep of a giant arm that sent the Sagoth headlong into the underbrush bordering the trail.
At the warning cry of “Kreeg-ah,” which in the language of the great apes is synonomous to beware, Tar-gash wheeled about to see the infuriated M’wa-lot with upraised club almost upon him and then he saw something else which made his savage eyes widen in surprise. The strange gilak, whom he had taken prisoner, had leaped close to M’wa-lot from behind. A smooth, bronzed arm slipped quickly about the king’s neck and tightened. The gilak turned and stooped and surging forward with the king across his hip threw the great, hairy bull completely over his head and sent him sprawling at the feet of his astonished warriors. Then the gilak leaped to Tar-gash’s side and, wheeling, faced the tribe with Tar-gash.
Instantly a score of clubs were raised against the two.
“Shall we remain and fight, Tar-gash?” demanded the ape-man.
“They will kill us,” said Tar-gash. “If you were not a gilak, we might escape through the trees, but as you cannot escape we shall have to remain and fight.”
“Lead the way,” said Tarzan. “There is no Sagoth trail that Tarzan cannot follow.”
“Come then,” said Tar-gash, and as he spoke he hurled his club into the faces of the oncoming warriors and, turning, fled along the trail. A dozen mighty bounds he took and leaped to the branch of an overhanging tree, and close behind him came the hairless gilak.
M’wa-lot’s hairy warrior bulls pursued the two for a short distance and then gave up the chase as Tarzan was confident that they would, since among his own people it had usually considered sufficient to run a recalcitrant bull out of the tribe and, unless he insisted upon returning, no particular effort was made to molest him.
As soon as it became evident that pursuit had been abandoned the Sagoth halted among the branches of a huge tree. “I am Tar-gash,” he said, as Tarzan stopped near him.
“I am Tarzan,” replied the ape-man.
“Why did you warn me?” asked Tar-gash.
“I told you that I did not come among you as an enemy,” replied Tarzan, “and when I saw that To-yad had succeeded in urging M’wa-lot to kill you, I warned you because it was you that kept the bulls from killing me when I was captured.”
“What were you doing in the country of the Sagoths?” asked Tar-gash.
“I was hunting,” replied Tarzan.
“Where do you want to go now?” asked the Sagoth.
“I shall return to my people,” replied Tarzan.
“Where are they?”
Tarzan of the Apes hesitated. He looked upward toward the sun, whose rays were filtering down through the foliage of the forest. He looked about him – everywhere was the foliage. There was nothing in the foliage nor upon the boles or branches of the trees to indicate direction. Tarzan of the Apes was lost!
Until next time, then.
TARZAN AT THE EARTH'S CORE IN ERBzine C.H.A.S.E.R.
Tarzan at the Earth's Core :: TEXT
INTRODUCTORY AND CONTENTS PAGE FOR
THE EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS SERIES OF ARTICLES
BY WOODROW EDGAR NICHOLS, JR.
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