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Volume 0309

Chattering From The Shoulder #8
March 31, 2000
By Nkima

Tarzan and the Castaways

The first story in Tarzan and the Castaways  is a solid little Tarzan story beside which the other two in this book are mere bagatelles.  We can't credit or blame Burroughs for this grouping because it was Richard A. Lupoff who gathered these late stories this way for his Canaveral Press Edition, 1965.  (The stories are:  Tarzan and the Castaways, Tarzan and the Champion, and Tarzan and the Jungle Murders.)

Tarzan and the Castaways is a two-part story.  The first part takes place on the high seas.  It is a tale of prisoners in iron cages on the deck of a ship that reminds one of The Lad and the Lion, but it is a wonderful little story filled with humor.  The second part takes place in a lost city of the Mayans in the middle of the South Seas.  Here is a chapter summary of the whole.

Chapter 1
In a brief frame, a mysterious person tells of Mayan history -- how an island of Uxmal in the South Pacific was named after Uxmal in Yucatan. A nasty German animal dealer, Fritz Krause, makes a deal with Abdullah, the Arab, to capture a wild man who suffers from loss of speech -- aphasia.

The wild man is captured and held in a cage for a sea transfer to the animal collector's steamer, the Saigon.  Abdullah's dhow is destroyed during the transfer, so he is forced to go to America with Krause and the wild man.

Chapter 2
Pretty Janette does not like the fact that a white man is held in a cage; neither does first mate, Hans de Groote, a Dutchman.  They transfer the wild man to an iron cage and Janette cuts his bonds.  They feed him raw meat, and he eats it, growling like a lion.  Abdullah says he is called "Tarzan of the Apes."

Chapter 3
The second mate, Schmidt, plans a mutiny.  Germany and England have gone to war (WWII) and they plan to take this English ship as a prize of war. Tarzan knows who he is -- he just can't talk.  He knows he can easily bend the bars of his cage, but he is biding his time. The Chinaman, Lum Kip, tells de Groote that Abdullah and Schmidt along with the evil Lascars (East Indian native sailors) plan to take over the ship, but it is too late.  The deed is done.

Chapter 4
Schmidt, a psychopath with an inferiority complex, pokes at Tarzan with a harpoon, and Tarzan takes it.  Now he is armed. Janette is put in a wooden cage on deck next to de Groote and Krause, who are put in an iron cage.  Schmidt tries to have some "fun" by forcing Janette into Tarzan's cage.  Tarzan hands her his harpoon, which angers Schmidt.  (Tarzan not only cannot speak, but he cannot understand any language!)

Chapter 5
Overnight Tarzan regains his speech and understanding!  Tarzan converses with Janette in French.  He manages to get a pistol from Schmidt, but he is shot by Jabu Singh, one of the Lascars. An English yacht happens to pass by, and the pirates take it as well.

Chapter 6
Tarzan's head was merely grazed by the bullet.  Schmidt puts seven English men and women in two more cages on the deck of the Saigon.  They are fed, and Tarzan plays the beast, growling and eating raw meat shocking the English ladies and gentlemen.  Tarzan pretends to be a cannibal at the suggestion of Janette.

Chapter 7
Tarzan talks with Patricia Leigh-Burden, a young English woman prisoner.  Col. William Cecil Hugh Percival Leigh (Patricia's uncle) was inspired to go to the South Seas by reading Beebe's "Arcturus Adventure."  They suffer the elements without food in a three-day storm.  In the night Tarzan spreads the bars of his cage and steps out.

Chapter 8
Tarzan takes the keys from their keeper and frees everyone.  Tarzan and de Groote retake the ship and cage the villains (Schmidt and his Lascars).  Abdullah tries to shoot Tarzan.

Chapter 9
Tarzan overpowers Abdullah and throws him in the cage with Krause and Schmidt.  The storm returns.  A bunch of Lascars take to a life boat as they approach an island.  They make it ashore, so one group is separated form the other.  Just before the ship strikes the reef, Tarzan frees the prisoners.

Chapter 10
The ship hangs on the reef a moment, "a bally old tub full of wild animals sitting high and dry on top of Mount Ararat." Tarzan saves both the people and the animals.  He saves Orangutans, elephants, lions and tigers, but lets the snakes drown.  "Histah the snake, has always been by enemy; him we shall destroy."  They set up camp by a stream observed by a dozen strange men.

Chapter 11
Tarzan sends the villains away to set up their own camp. The Communist, Oubanovich, makes a speech about Tarzan the bourgeoisie.  Tarzan goes hunting with the orangutans and talks to the elephants his has set on the island.

Chapter 12
Tarzan saves Thak Chan, a Mayan hunter from one of the lions he has just placed on the island by killing it!

Chapter 13
Thak Chan thinks Tarzan is a god, Che, Lord Forest.  He thinks the orangs are gods too.  Thak Chan takes Tarzan to his city of Chichen Itza.  They show him to Chal Yip Xiu, the high priest who decides he is not a god but an excellent sacrifice to the true gods.

Chapter 14
Tarzan briefly escapes but is knocked unconscious by a stone from a sling.  He is placed in a wooden cage inside a cell made of blocks of lava. Tarzan quickly removes a bar from the cage and steps out.  When a guard enters the room, he kills him with the wooden bar club.  He sees a girl (Itzl Cha) about to be sacrificed on an altar and comes to her rescue, carrying her away.  They are chased by a howling mob, but they escape into the forest.

Chapter 15
The castaways under Colonel Leigh run a model camp.  Three of the men, Algernon Wright-Smith, Captain Bolton, and Dr. Crouch go hunting for food and are comically treed by a Bengal tiger.

Chapter 16
The party of villains argue amongst themselves over leadership.  Schmidt finally gets one of the Lascars (Chuldrup) to go and spy on the other castaways.  He decides to desert the villains and join the "good guys" but is eaten by the tiger who has treed the three men.

Chapter 17
Tarzan and Itzl Cha meet the orangutans.  She is convinced Tarzan is indeed Che, Lord Forest.  They ride an elephant back to the castaways.  He puts Patricia in charge of the girl.  Mrs. Leigh (Penelope) is offended by her nakedness, but Tarzan says, ""It is your evil mind that needs clothes."  He warns them of imminent attack from the Mayans. (The prudery of Penelope is a running commentary throughout this half of the story, sometimes bitter, sometimes comical.)

Chapter 18
Nothing happens for six weeks in which Itzl Cha learns English and Tarzan learns Mayan.  (Dr. Crouch mentions the possibility of solving the riddles of Mayan hieroglyphs.)  During his conversations with Itzl Cha, Tarzan discovers there are also native cannibals living on the island (a thread that is not developed further).  They decide to build a ship to escape the island.

Chapter 19
The villain's camp splits in two -- the 15 Lascars refuse to take any more orders from the white men.  Oubanovich, the Communist, is delighted  at this (comical) "uprising of the proletariat."  He wants to lead them, but they tell him to "Get Out!"  At night, one of the Lascars is eaten by a lion, then another one the next night.  Everyone builds sleeping platforms in the trees.  For safety's sake, the white men villains decide to join Tarzan's group.

Chapter 20
The Lascars follow them.  Tarzan decided to explore the island.  Patricia follow him after he has refused to take her along.  Itzl Cha is jealous. Finally the Mayans send 100 warriors to retrieve their sacrifice, Itzl Cha.  When Krause, Schmidt, Oubanovich, & Abdullah arrive at the camp, they are allowed to remain by Col Bolton (and Penelope's insistence)  despite Tarzan's previous orders.  Patricia is attacked by a tiger and she shoots her rifle at it.

Chapter 21
The men hear the shots and go to help Patricia.  The villains take advantage of the situation by taking guns, supplies, and abducting Janette. Xatl Din and his 100 warriors find Patricia and the dead tiger.  She is captured.  Col. Leigh's rescue party is attacked by the same warriors but are driven off.  The men get lost and arrive back at their own camp to discover the theft and abduction.  de Groote, Tibbet, and two other men go to her rescue.

Chapter 22
Tarzan hears the gun shots and goes to Schmidt's camp and finds the villains returning with the guns and the girl. Meanwhile, Patricia is brought to Cit Coh Xiu, King of Uxmal Island. He decides to "keep her awhile" instead of sacrificing her immediately.  Patricia claims she is the mate of Lord Forest and is remanded to The Temple of the Virgins. Tarzan kills Krause with an arrow through the heart.  Zip!  He tells them to release Janette and they do so.  Schmidt fires toward the jungle, and Tarzan shoots him also.  Zip!  Tarzan and Janette go back to Camp Saigon. de Groote's party arrives and they shoot Oubanovich and Abdullah. Bang!  Bang!  (Schmidt is still alive at this time, writhing and screaming in agony with an arrow sticking out of his chest.)  They also go back to Camp Saigon.

Chapter 23
Tarzan learns of Patricia's abduction by the Mayans.  He plans to rescue her by night, so jealous Itzl Cha runs away.  de Groote's party arrives back at camp, to Janette's delight.  They learn of the deaths of the other villains.  "I am glad, said Tarzan, "they were bad men." Out of jealousy, Itzl betrays Tarzan's planned rescue of Patricia.  They reward her by putting her in a cage to await sacrifice.  Thus betrayed, Tarzan is captured in a net in the Temple of the Virgins.  They take him along with Patricia and Itzl to an extinct volcano.  They throw Tarzan into the chasm.

Chapter 24
Tarzan swims in a pool 70 feet below the rim of the volcano.  Patricia tells him he has to remain afloat until noon (an example of a Mayan "well sacrifice."  She also says that she loves him.  Tarzan swims until noon, so they send down a rope.  As the confirmed Lord Forest, he tells the priests to reform and walks away with Patricia.  He also demands the release of Itzl Cha the betrayer. Tarzan calls Tantor, and they ride away in peace. Penelope finds out that Tarzan is really Lord Greystoke, and she changes her mind about him and his nakedness.  Patricia learns of Tarzan's marriage, but she says she will always love him. A ship arrives and all are saved.  de Groote plans to marry Janette aboard the ship on their journey home.

Note:  There is a mysterious Captain Larsen, who is the real captain of the Saigon who is never seen in the story.  He lies sick in his cabin.  He is either dead or Burroughs forgot about him entirely. Perhaps Tarzan did eat him as suggested in chapter six.  (Wolf Larsen wolfed by the Ape-Man.)


Much of this novelette, especially the second half, is written as though it might be a detailed outline for a longer novel.  Burroughs had obviously researched the Mayan civilization and culture, but aside from interesting details, he allows the story to run through those old magical rings -- adventurous rounds of abductions and rescues.  Burroughs was much better at creating his own lost cities and cultures, and it seems like this adaptation of a real culture blocked some of his inventive powers.

The Mayas

The great age of the Mayas lasted from A.D. 300 to 900, and nowhere was it better exemplified than in their glittering ceremonial city of Tikal, at the base of the Yucatan Peninsula.  Other centers of the culture were in Palenque, Bonampak, Copan, Uxmal, and Chichen Itza.  The cities of Uxmal and Chichen Itza were developed in the Postclassical period after A.D. 900.  In the Burroughs story Uxmal was the name of the uncharted island, and the city on this island was named Chichen Itza after the Mayan city in Yucatan.  Like other Mayan cities, it featured paved streets and a central stepped pyramid.

The Mayans covered their limbs with ornaments of jade, their bodies were richly painted and tattooed, their teeth inlaid with semiprecious stones, and their heads were covered with bonnets of quetzal plumes. Lower class captives became servants and slaves, but captives of higher rank were tortured and killed -- perhaps as part of elaborate religious rites.  Perhaps there were even human sacrifices at the alters of the gods.  We are not certain that this was so, but certainly succeeding civilizations in Mexico made such offerings an important part of their religion.  Archeologists are baffled by the waning of Mayan culture.  As with the Olmecs, the Mayas may have experienced a major disaster because the peasants exhausted the land or because they rebelled against their masters.  Sometime about A.D. 900 the great Mayan ceremonial centers appear to have been suddenly abandoned though smaller centers continued to exist.  In the course of a year, or a decade, or half century, the sumptuous world the Mayas had built became little more than a relic.

(America's Fascinating Indian Heritage, Reader's Digest, 1978.)
More information on this topic can be found at

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Chichen Itza was the most sacred city for the Mayans.  Chichen Itza had seven major pyramids which featured feathered-serpent columns.  There was a pyramid called Temple of the Warriors.

It is quite obvious that Burroughs had done his homework when he wrote this story as his descriptions and events surrounding the Mayas ring true.  However, he sparingly used the wealth of information available.  Perhaps he was using notes and material he had developed in 1934 during the BTE production of his movie The New Adventures of Tarzan filmed in the Guatemalan jungles.

* See below.
Human Sacrifice
Despite the tentative note above on humansacrificeamong the Mayans, a look at
reveals that there were indeed three common practices:  The Arrow Sacrifice, The Heart Sacrifice, and The Well Sacrifice, which is employed in the last two chapters of this story. In the Well Sacrifice the victims were bound and thrown into deep natural wells.  If the victim was still alive after a certain amount of time, then he or she was rescued.  That person was said to have been spared by the gods.  Furthermore, that person was believed to have a message from the gods  Fortunately, Tarzan was not bound when he was cast into the pool.
Thor Heyerdahl

Thor Heyerdahl, world-renowned Norwegian explorer and archaeologist was born in 1914.  He and his bride Liv made their first expedition to Polynesia in 1937-38 where they were adopted by the supreme Polynesian Chief of Tahiti, Teriieroo .  During this time, he began to contemplate the existing theories of how the South Pacific inhabitants reached the islands.

In 1947 he launched the Kon-Tiki Expedition to demonstrate that the inhabitants of the South Pacific could have come from Peru by sailing a balsa raft across the ocean.  He crossed 4300 miles in 101 days and reached Polynesia (Raroia atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago.)

Tarzan and the Castaways was written in November of 1940, so he anticipated Heyerdahl's voyage by seven years.  Heyerdahl had actually first published his theory of Polynesian migration in "International Science," New York in 1941, so unless he had talked to Heyerdahl himself, he anticipated even the theory.


Beebe,Charles William (1877-1962)

Col. William Cecil Hugh Percival Leigh's fascination with Beebe mentioned in chapter seven refers to the indefatigable American explorer and naturalist who wrote over 300 articles and books, among which were:  "Jungle Days" (1925)  "Beneath Tropic Seas" (1928)  and "Half Mile Down" (1943).

Tarzan and the Valley of Gold starring Mike Henry (1966)
Tangentially related because of Tarzan's adventures with New World jungle cultures, this American International movie was released in May 1966 with a novel adaptation by Fritz Leiber in the same year.  It takes place in Mexico and the jungles of Brazil in the haunts of an ancient Incan city.

(All of my film notes were found in David Fury's Kings of the Jungle, McFarland, 1994.)

Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966) by Fritz Leiber
Tarzan of the Apes, starring Elmo Lincoln (1918)
Parts of this film were shot in the jungle of Brazil (as well as on location in Louisiana.)
The New Adventures of Tarzan, starring Herman Brix (1935)

One of the most interesting of all Tarzan productions, it was filmed in the Guatemalan jungles.  This was made by the Burroughs-Tarzan Enterprises (BTE) composed of Ashton Dearholt*, George Stout, and Ben Cohen, "promoters" and ERB, "owner."  ERB himself roughed out an original story for this new Tarzan picture. 

The film crew met with tropical storms, rugged jungles, and angry Guatemalan Indians.  Locations included the Mayan ruins at Tikal and Guatemala City.  Eventually the whole convoluted mishmash was reedited into a second feature, "Tarzan and the Green Goddess," which was released in 1938.

You can read the whole story in David Fury's excellent book.

Herman Brix (Bruce Bennett)
*By 1934 Ed and Emma were separated and he continued to spend his time with Florence (Ashton Dearholt's former wife) and her relatives and friends.  Their divorce followed on December 6, 1934 in Las Vegas. Ed married Florence Dearholt on April 4, 1935.
Tarzan and the Great River, starring Mike Henry (1967)
Filmed in Brazil, the story takes place in South America.

Tarzan and the Jungle Boy, starring Mike Henry (1968)
Filmed in Brazil, although the story takes place in Africa.

The Quest of Tarzan

The first publication of Tarzan and the Castaways was under the title of "The Quest of Tarzan" in Argosy Weekly, August 23, 30; September 6, 1941.  Mike Conran reprinted this first magazine appearance as a free supplement to issue #34 of the fanzine Edgar Rice Burroughs News Dateline, May 1989.  The editor, Michael Conran, provides an interesting but brief analysis of the changes the Argosy editor made to ERB's original manuscript, and a summary of the differences between the first edition and the 1975 reprint by Canaveral Press.  (ERB: The Exhaustive Scholar's and Collector's Descriptive Bibliography by Robert B. Zeuschner)

The End

Quaesitum Dementis Hominum
(A Retelling of Tarzan and the Castaways)
by Nkima

A wild man is in an iron cage on the rolling deck of a leaking tub.  He is eating raw meat like a lion.  He is quite mad.

Next to his cage is another cage full of beautiful women who are longing to be thrust into the wild man's clutches.

Next to this cage is another cage full of snotty Englishmen and Englishwomen who make snide comments.

Below the decks there are orangutans, elephants, lions and tigers, snakes, and an odd assortment of other beasts.

The ship is being run by another madman who trusses up Chinamen and has them whipped in front of the cages.

Swarthy Lascars swarm over the decks with sharpened stakes that they poke at the caged ones.

Soon there is a mutiny and the wild man takes firm control of the women.

They are all shipwrecked on an uncharted island in the South Seas inhabited by ancient Mayans who practice human sacrifice as part of their national religion.

The wild man releases the animals from below deck, then kills a lion because it wants to eat a Mayan.

The women run around naked with the naked wild man, which causes more comment.

The wild man kills his former tormentors and a few stray Mayans who cross his path.

The Mayan priests throw the wild man into a volcano full of water, but he swims long enough to reform their religion and ride into the sunset on an elephant.

The women want to go with the wild man-man but he is promised to another.

Only the orangutans are sane.

The End


David Adams
David Adams
Nkima and his friend, David Adams, would like to hear from ERB fans

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