An earthquake has caused a rock to fall on Tarzan’s head, rendering him not only unconscious but without memory. In other words, it causes a severe amnesia. The result of this is the strange humor of this Tarzan adventure. So, let us join Tarzan and Werper in the gold vault.
It was at the moment that Tarzan turned from the closed door to pursue his way to the outer world. The thing came without warning. One instant all was quiet and stability – the next, and the world rocked, the tortured sides of the narrow passageway split and crumbled, great blocks of granite, dislodged from the ceiling, tumbled into the narrow way, choking it, and the walls bent inward upon the wreckage. Beneath the blow of a fragment of the roof, Tarzan staggered back against the door to the treasure room, his weight pushed it open and his body rolled inward upon the floor.
V: The Altar of the Flaming God
In the great apartment where the treasure lay less damage was wrought by the earthquake. A few ingots toppled from the highest tiers, a single piece of the rocky ceiling splintered off and crashed downward to the floor, and the walls cracked, though they did not collapse.
There was but the single shock, no other followed to complete the damage undertaken by the first. Werper, thrown to his length by the suddenness and violence of the disturbance, staggered to his feet when he found himself unhurt. Groping his way toward the far end of the chamber, he sought the candle which Tarzan had left stuck in its own wax upon the protruding end of an ingot.By striking numerous matches the Belgian at last found what he sought, and when a moment later, the sickly rays relieved the Stygian darkness about him, he breathed a nervous sigh of relief, for the impenetrable gloom had accentuated the terrors of his situation.
Oh, yeah, about the shape of those ingots. Each end was shaped as a bootjack. You can google this word and get a good definition as well as pictures of many of them. Wikipedia defines bootjack as thus:
“A boot jack, sometimes known as a boot pull, is a small tool that aids in the removal of boots. It consists of a U-shaped mouth that grips the heel of the boot, and a flat area to which weight can be applied. To operate it, the user places the heel in the mouth of the jack, stands on the back of the device with the other foot, and pulls his foot free of the front boot.”
Having this shape on either end strains the imagination as to what benefit they would have, unless it was somehow linked to stacking or carrying them, since these seem to me the most rational reasons I can think of. Now, back to the story.
As they became accustomed to the light the man turned his eyes toward the door – his one thought now was of escape from this frightful tomb – and as he did so he saw the body of the naked giant lying stretched upon the floor just within the doorway. Werper drew back in sudden fear of detection; but a second glance convinced him that the Englishman was dead. From a great gash in the man’s head a pool of blood had collected upon the concrete floor.
Quickly, the Belgian leaped over the prostrate form of his erstwhile host, and without a thought of succor for the man, in whom, for aught he knew, life still remained, he bolted for the passageway and safety.
But his renewed hopes were soon dashed. Just beyond the doorway he found the passage completely clogged and choked by the impenetrable masses of shattered rock. Once more he turned and re-entered the treasure vault. Taking the candle from its place he commenced a systematic search of the apartment, nor had he gone far before he discovered another door in the opposite end of the room, a door that gave upon creaking hinges to the weight of his body. Beyond the door lay another passageway. Along this Werper made his way, ascending a flight of stone steps to another corridor twenty feet above the level of the first. The flickering candle lighted the way before him, and a moment later he was thankful for the possession of this crude and antiquated luminate, which, a few hours before, he might have looked upon with contempt, for it showed him, just in time, a yawning pit, apparently terminating the tunnel he was traversing.
Before him was a circular shaft. He held the candle above it and peered downward. Below him, at a great distance, he saw the light reflected back from the surface of a pool of water. He had come upon a well. He raised the candle above his head and peered across the black void, and there upon the opposite side he saw the continuation of the tunnel; but how was he to span the gulf?
As he stood there measuring the distance to the opposite side and wondering if he dare venture so great a leap, there broke suddenly upon his startled ears a piercing scream which diminished gradually until it ended in a series of dismal moans. The voice seemed partly human, yet so hideous it might well have emanated from the tortured throat of a lost soul, writhing in the fires of hell.
The Belgian shuddered and looked fearfully upward, for the scream had seemed to come from above him. As he looked he saw an opening far overhead, and a patch of sky pinked with brilliant stars.
His half-formed intention to call for help was expunged by the terrifying cry – where such a voice lived, no human creatures could dwell. He dare not reveal himself to whatever inhabitants dwelt in the place above him. He cursed himself for a fool that he had ever embarked upon such a mission. He wished himself safely back in the camp of Achmet Zek, and would almost have embraced an opportunity to give himself up to the military authorities of the Congo if by doing he might be rescued from the frightful predicament in which he now was.
He listened fearfully, but the cry was not repeated, and at last spurred to desperate means, he gathered himself for the leap across the chasm. Going back twenty paces, he took a running start, and at the edge of the well, leaped upward and outward in an attempt to gain the opposite side.
In his hand he clutched the sputtering candle, and as he took the leap the rush of air extinguished it. In utter darkness he flew through space, clutching outward for a hold should his feet miss the invisible ledge.
He struck the edge of the floor of the opposite terminus of the rocky tunnel with his knees, slipped backward, clutched desperately for a moment, and at last hung half within and half without the opening; but he was safe. For several minutes he dared not move; but clung, weak and sweating where he lay. At last, cautiously, he drew himself well within the tunnel, and again he lay at full length upon the floor, fighting to regain control of his shattered nerves.
When his knees struck the edge of the tunnel he had dropped the candle. Presently, hoping against hope that it had fallen upon the floor of the passageway, rather than back into the depths of the well, he rose upon all fours and commenced a diligent search for the little tallow cylinder, which now seemed infinitely more precious to him than all the fabulous wealth of the hoarded ingots of Opar.
And when, at last, he found it, he clasped it to him and sank back sobbing and exhausted. For many minutes he lay trembling and broken; but finally he drew himself to a sitting posture, and taking a match from his pocket, lighted the stump of the candle which remained to him. With the light he found it easier to regain control of his nerves, and presently he was again making his way along the tunnel in search of an avenue of escape. The horrid cry that had come down to him from above through the ancient well-shaft still haunted him, so that he trembled in terror at even the sounds of his own cautious advance.He had gone forward but a short distance, when, to his chagrin, a wall of masonry barred his farther progress, closing the tunnel completely from top to bottom and from side to side. What could it mean? Werper was an educated and intelligent man. His military training had taught him to use his mind for the purpose for which it was intended. A blind tunnel such as this was senseless. It must continue beyond the wall. Someone, at sometime in the past, had had it blocked for an unknown purpose of his own. The man fell to examining the masonry by the light of his candle. To his delight he discovered that the thin blocks of hewn stone of which it was constructed were fitted in loosely without mortar or cement. He tugged upon one of them, and to his joy found that it was easily removable. One after another he pulled out the blocks until he had opened an aperture large enough to admit his body, then he crawled through into a large, low chamber. Across this another door barred his way; but this, too, gave before his efforts, for it was not barred. A long, dark corridor showed before him; but before he had followed it far, his candle burned down until it scorched his fingers. With an oath he dropped it to the floor, where it sputtered for a moment and went out.
It seems obvious to me that ERB is having fun exploiting the sheer cowardice of Werper. Because he is such an evil man, ERB knew his audience wouldn’t mind. Comic relief in the face of terror, knowing the horror still to come. For those readers of The Return of Tarzan, the previous pursuit of Tarzan in reverse gives them inside knowledge of the key to this tunnel.
Now he was in total darkness, and again terror rode heavily astride his neck. What further pitfalls and dangers lay ahead he could not guess; but that he was as far as ever from liberty he was quite willing to believe, so depressing is utter absence of light to one in unfamiliar surroundings.
Slowly he groped his way along, feeling with his hands upon the tunnel’s walls, and cautiously with his feet ahead of him upon the floor before he would take a single forward step. How long he crept on thus he could not guess; but at last, feeling that the tunnel’s length was interminable, and exhausted by his efforts, by terror, and loss of sleep, he determined to lie down and rest before proceeding farther.
When he awoke there was no change in the surrounding blackness. He might have slept a second or a day – he could not know; but that he had slept for some time was attested by the fact that he felt refreshed and hungry.
Again he commenced his groping advance; but this time he had gone but a short distance when he emerged into a room, which was lighted through an opening in the ceiling, from which a flight of concrete steps led downward to the floor of the chamber.
Above him, through the aperture, Werper could see sunlight glancing from massive columns, which were twined about by clinging vines. He listened; but heard no sound other than the soughing of the wind through leafy branches, the hoarse cries of birds, and the chattering of monkeys.
Boldly he ascended the stairway, to find himself in a circular court. Just before him stood a stone altar, stained with rusty-brown discolorations. At the time Werper gave no thought to an explanation of these stains – later their origin became all too hideously apparent to him.
Besides the opening in the floor, just behind the altar, through which he had entered the court from the subterranean chamber below, the Belgian discovered several doors leading from the enclosure upon the level of the floor. Above, and circling the courtyard, was a series of open balconies. Monkeys scampered about the deserted ruins, and gaily plumaged birds flitted in and out among the columns and the galleries far above; but no sign of human presence was discernable. Werper felt relieved. He sighed, as though a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He took a step toward one of the exits, and then he halted, wide-eyes in astonishment and terror, for almost at the same instant a dozen doors opened in the courtyard wall and a horde of frightful men rushed in upon him.
They were the priests of the Flaming God of Opar – the same, shaggy, knotted, hideous little men who had dragged Jane Clayton to the sacrificial altar at this very spot years before. Their long arms, their short and crooked legs, their close-set, evil eyes, and their low, receding foreheads gave them a bestial appearance that sent a qualm of paralyzing fright though the shaken nerves of the Belgian.
With a scream he turned to flee back into the lesser terrors of the gloomy corridors and apartments from which he had just emerged, but the frightful men anticipated his intentions. They blocked his way; they seized him, and though he fell, groveling upon his knees before them, begging for his life, they bound him and hurled him to the floor of the inner temple.
The rest was but a repetition of what Tarzan and Jane Clayton had passed through. The priestesses came, and with them La, the High Priestess. Werper was raised and laid across the altar. Cold sweat exuded from his every pore as La raised the cruel, sacrificial knife above him. The death chant fell upon his tortured ears. His staring eyes wandered to the golden goblets from which the hideous votaries would soon quench their inhuman thirst in his own, warm life-blood.
He wished that he might be granted the brief respite of unconsciousness before the final plunge of the keen blade – and then there was a frightful roar that sounded almost in his ears. The High Priestess lowered her dagger. Her eyes were wide in horror. The priestesses, her votaries, screamed and fled madly toward the exits. The priests roared out their rage and terror according to the temper of their courage. Werper strained his neck about to catch a sight of the cause of their panic, and when, at last he saw it, he too went cold in dread, for what his eyes beheld was the figure of a huge lion standing in the center of the temple, and already a single victim lay mangled beneath his cruel paws.
Again the lord of the wilderness roared, turning his baleful gaze upon the altar. La staggered forward, reeled, and fell across Werper in a swoon.“And then Bukawi, seeing the battle going against his forces, rushed forward from the cavern brandishing a his knob-stick. Tarzan saw him coming, and rising now to both feet, a hyena in each hand, he hurled one of the foaming beasts straight at the witch-doctor’s head. Down went the two in a snarling, biting heap. Tarzan tossed the second hyena across the crater, while the first gnawed at the rotting face of its master; but this did not suit the ape-man. With a kick he sent the beast howling after its companion, and swinging to the side of the prostrate witch-doctor, dragged him to his feet.
Yep, that is the end of this chapter; what one would call a cliff-hanger. It will be a couple of chapters before we return to the altar. But first we must retrace our steps back to Tarzan’s estate.
Oh, one last thing. I got the order between Jungle Tales of Tarzan and Jewels backwards. Jungle Tales was written after Jewels. I was troubled by the fact that the witch-doctor dies in both stories, which are years apart. If the old man died when Tarzan was a young man, then he couldn’t be the same one what years later proclaimed the unfinished prophecy. To me the solution seemed to be that ERB worked on the Jungle Tales for years before he published them together. For at the end of “The End of Bukawi,” the seventh tale, Tarzan leaves the witchdoctor to his fate. Bukawi, the witch-doctor, has bound Tarzan to a tree so that a pack of wild hyenas can devour him. They attack him but he puts up a vicious fight, slowly sawing the ropes that bind him against the bark of the tree, and eventually breaking free with a couple of hyenas trying to ravage his body:
Bukawi, still conscious, saw death, immediate and terrible, in the cold eyes of his captor, so he turned upon Tarzan with teeth and nails. The ape-man shuddered at the proximity of that raw face to his. The hyenas had had enough and disappeared through the small aperture leading into the cave. Tarzan had little difficulty in overpowering and binding Bukawi. Then he led him to the very tree to which he had been bound; but in binding Bukawi, Tarzan saw to it that escape after the same fashion that he had escaped would be out of the question; then he left him.
As he passed through the winding corridors and the subterranean apartments, Tarzan saw nothing of the hyenas.
“They will return,” he said to himself.
In the crater between the towering walls Bukawi, cold with terror, trembled as with ague.
“They will return!” he cried, his voice rising to a frighful shriek. And they did.
I believe that most readers would assume that Tarzan left him to die, but if he died he couldn’t have prophesied to Tarzan later in life. ERB must have assumed his readers would know that obviously Bukawi did not die by the hyenas and would thus know he was the same witch-doctor who later was killed by the lion.
Bill Hillman assured me that ERB began writing Jungle Tales almost a year after he wrote Jewels, stating:
“ERB began writing this collection of 12 short stories on March 17, 1916 and completed them a year later on March 18, 1917.”
Since now we know that Bukawi did not die when Tarzan was a young boy, his description in Jewels when Tarzan first sees him makes more sense:
“It was an old man that made his way alone through the gloomy jungle, a wrinkled, dried up, little old man hideously scarred and tattoed and strangely garbed, with the skin of a hyena about his shoulders and the dried head mounted upon his grey pate.”
When writing Jungle Tales, ERB probably felt like explaining why the witch-doctor in Jewels was so hideously scarred, giving him also a name, which by the time of Jewels Tarzan had forgotten. How else can you explain it? Let’s hope the unspoken second half of Bukawi’s his prophecy was something good, since he died before proclaiming it. It must have been good, right? Why else would he give it as a reward to Tarzan for attempting to save his life? We’ll just have to wait and see.
I stated that Jane was not the leading lady in this story; however, she still plays an important role as supporting actress. As I also stated sometime earlier, ERB got tired of his wife pretending that she was Jane in real life, and as their marriage began to fall apart, he sought ways of freeing his superman from her influence. In fact in a later book, Tarzan the Untamed, written mainly as anti-German propaganda after America entered the War to end all Wars, ERB attempted to kill Jane off by means of the Germans, but his editors talked him out of it. Too many of ERB’s readers were in love with Jane.
VI: The Arab Raid
After their first terror had subsided subsequent to the shock of the earthquake, Basuli and his warriors hastened back into the passageway in search of Tarzan and two of their own number who were also missing.
They found the way blocked by jammed and distorted rock. For two days they lingered to tear a way to their imprisoned friends; but when, after Herculean efforts, they had unearthed but a few yards of the choked passage, and discovered the mangled remains of one of their fellows they were forced to the conclusion that Tarzan and the second Waziri also lay dead beneath the rock mass farther in, beyond human aid, and no longer susceptible of it.
Again and again as they labored they called aloud the names of their master and their comrade; but no answering call rewarded their listening ears. At last they gave up the search. Tearfully they cast a last look at the shattered tomb of their master, shouldered the heavy burden of gold that would at least furnish comfort, if not happiness, to their bereaved and beloved mistress, and made their mournful way back across the desolate valley of Opar, and downward through the forests beyond toward the distant bungalow.
And as they marched what sorry fate was already drawing down upon that peaceful, happy home!
From the north came Achmet Zek, riding to the summons of his lieutenant’s letter. With him came his horde of renegade Arabs, outlawed marauders, these, and equally degraded blacks, garnered from the more debased and ignorant tribes of savage cannibals through whose countries the raider passed to and fro with perfect impunity.
Mugambi, the ebon Hercules, who had shared the dangers and vicissitudes of his beloved Bwana, from Jungle Island, almost to the headwaters of the Ugambi, was the first to note the bold approach of the sinister caravan.
He it was whom Tarzan had left in charge of the warriors who remained to guard Lady Greystoke, nor could a braver or more loyal guardian have been found in any clime or upon any soil. A giant in stature, a savage, fearless warrior, the huge black possessed also soul and judgment, in proportion to his bulk and his ferocity.
Not once since his master had departed had he been beyond sight or sound of the bungalow, except when Lady Greystoke chose to canter across the broad plain, or relieve the monotony of her loneliness by a brief hunting excursion. On such occasions Mugambi, riding upon a wiry Arab, had ridden close to her horse’s heels.
The raiders were still a long way off when the warrior’s keen eyes discovered them. For a time he stood scrutinizing the advancing party in silence, then he turned and ran rapidly in the direction of the native huts which lay a few hundred yards below the bungalow.
Here he called out to the lolling warriors. He issued orders rapidly. In compliance with them the men seized upon their weapons and their shields. Some ran to call in the workers from the fields and to warn the tenders of the flocks and herds. The majority followed Mugambi back toward the bungalow.
The dust of the raiders was still a long distance away. Mugambi could not know positively that it hid an enemy; but he had spent a lifetime of savage life in savage Africa, and he had seen parties before come thus unheralded. Sometimes they had come in peace and sometimes they had come in war – one could never tell. It was well to be prepared. Mugambi did not like the haste with which the strangers advanced.
The Greystoke bungalow was not adapted well for defense. No palisade surrounded it, for situated as it was, in the heart of loyal Waziri, his master anticipated no possibility of an attack in force by any enemy. Heavy, wooden shutters there were to close the window apertures against hostile arrows, and these Mugambi was engaged in lowering when Lady Greystoke appeared upon the veranda.“Why, Mugambi!” she exclaimed. “What has happened? Why are you lowering the shutters?”
It is likely that ERB wrote this story while he still resided in the Winslow House in Oak Park, a wealthy suburb of Chicago, between September and October 1915. This shows the success of ERB in real life, as well as the African bungalow and estate which demonstrate the financial success of the ape-man, also foreshadowing a life to come for ERB in California bungalows.
Mugambi pointed out across the plain to where a white-robed force of mounted men was now distinctly visible.
“Arabs,” he explained. “They come for no good purpose in the absence of the Great Bwana.”
Beyond the neat lawn and the flowering shrubs, Jane Clayton saw the glistening bodies of her Waziri. The sun glanced from the tips of their metal-shod spears, picked out the gorgeous colors in the feathers of their war bonnets, and reflected the high-lights from the glossy skins of their broad shoulders and high-cheek bones.
Jane Clayton surveyed them with unmixed feelings of pride and affection. What harm could befall her with such as these to protect her?
The raiders had halted now, a hundred yards out upon the plain. Mugambi had hastened down to join his warriors. He advanced a few yards before them and raising his voice hailed the strangers. Achmet Zek sat straight in his saddle before his henchmen. “Arab!” cried Mugambi. “What do you here?’ “We come in peace,” Achmet Zek called back.
“Then turn and go in peace,” replied Mugambi. “We do not want you here. There can be no peace between Arab and Waziri.”
Mugambi, although not born a Waziri, had been adopted into the tribe, which now contained no member more jealous of its traditions and its prowess than him.
Achmet Zek drew to one side of his horde, speaking to his men in a low voice. A moment later, without warning, a ragged volley was poured into the ranks of the Waziri. A couple of the warriors fell, the others were for charging the attackers; but Mugambi was a cautious as well as a brave leader. He knew the futility of charging mounted men armed with muskets. He withdrew his force behind the shrubbery of the garden. Some he dispatched to various other parts of the grounds surrounding the bungalow. Half a dozen he sent to the bungalow itself with instructions to keep their mistress within doors, and to protect her with their lives.
Adopting the tactics of the desert fighters from which he had sprung, Achmet Zek led his followers at a gallop in a long, thin line, describing a great circle which drew closer and closer in toward the defenders.
At that part of the circle closest to the Waziri, a constant fusillade of shots was poured into the bushes behind which the black warriors had concealed themselves. The latter, on their part, loosed their slim shafts at the nearest of the enemy.
The Waziri, justly famed for their archery, found no cause to blush for their performance that day. Time and again some swarthy horseman threw their hands above his head and toppled from his saddle, pierced by a deadly arrow; but the contest was uneven. The Arabs outnumbered the Waziri; their bullets penetrated the shrubbery and found marks that the Arab riflemen had not even seen; and then Achmet Zek circled inward a half mile above the bungalow, tore down a section of the fence, and led his marauders within the grounds.
Across the fields they charged at a mad run. Not again did they pause to lower fences, instead, they drove their wild mounts straight for them, clearing the obstacles as lightly as winged gulls.
Mugambi saw them coming, and calling those of his warriors who remained, ran for the bungalow and the last stand. Upon the veranda Lady Greystoke stood, rifle in hand, more than a single raider had accounted to her steady nerves and cool aim for his outlawry; more than a single pony raced, riderless, in the wake of the charging horde.
Mugambi pushed his mistress back into the security of the interior, and with his depleted force prepared to make a last stand against the foe.
On came the Arabs, shouting and waving their long guns above their heads. Past the veranda they raced, pouring a deadly fire into the kneeling Waziri who discharged their volley of arrows from behind their long, oval shields – shields well adapted, perhaps, to stop a hostile arrow, or deflect a spear; but futile, quite, before the leaden missiles of the riflemen.
From beneath the half-raised shutters of the bungalow other bowmen did effective service in greater security, and after the first assault, Mugambi withdrew his entire force within the building.
Again and again the Arabs charged, at last forming a stationary circle about the little fortress, and outside the effective range of the defender’s arrows. From their new position they fired at will at the windows. One by one the Waziri fell. Fewer and fewer were the arrows that replied to the guns of the raiders, and at last Achmet Zek felt safe in ordering an assault.
Firing as they ran, the bloodthirsty horde raced for the veranda. A dozen of them fell to the arrows of the defenders; but the majority reached the door. Heavy gun butts fell upon it. The crash of splintered wood mingled with the report of a rifle as Jane Clayton fired through the panels upon the relentless foe.
Upon both sides of the door men fell; but at last the frail barrier gave to the vicious assaults of the maddened attackers; it crumpled inward and a dozen swarthy murderers leaped into the living-room. At the far end stood Jane Clayton surrounded by the remnant of her devoted guardians. The floor was covered by the bodies of those who already had given up their lives in her defense. In the forefront of her protectors stood the giant Mugambi. The Arabs raised their rifles to pour in the last volley that would effectually end all resistance; but Achmet Zek roared out a warning order that stayed their trigger fingers.
“Fire not upon the woman!” he cried. “Who harms her, dies. Take the woman alive!”
The Arabs rushed across the room; the Waziri met them with their heavy spears. Swords flashed, long-barreled pistols roared out their sullen death dooms. Mugambi launched his spear at the nearest of the enemy with a force that drove the heavy shaft completely through the Arab’s body, then he seized a pistol from another, and grasping it by the barrel brained all who forced their way too near his mistress.
Emulating his example the few warriors who remained to him fought like demons; but one by one they fell, until only Mugambi remained to defend the life and honor of the ape-man’s mate.
From across the room Achmet Zek watched the unequal struggle and urged on his minions. In his hands was a jeweled musket. Slowly he raised it to his shoulder, waiting until another move should place Mugambi at his mercy without endangering the lives of the woman or any of his own followers.
At last the moment came, and Achmet Zek pulled the trigger. Without a sound the brave Mugambi sank to the floor at the feet of Jane Clayton.An instant later she was surrounded and disarmed. Without a word they dragged her from the bungalow. A giant Negro lifted her to the pommel of his saddle, and while the raiders searched the bungalow and outhouses for plunder he rode beyond the gates and waited the coming of his master.
Oh, no, not Mugambi! We got to really like him in The Beasts of Tarzan, where, if you remember, he played a key roll in Tarzan’s animal army. It hurts to see him bite the dust, but defending Jane in the Last Stand of Tarzan’s Estate was a good death.Jane Clayton saw the raiders lead the horses from the corral, and drive the herds in from the fields. She saw her home plundered of all that represented intrinsic worth in the eyes of the Arabs, and she saw the torch applied, and the flames lick up what remained.
I guess, in these days of political correctness that would judge all Americans during this period as white supremacists, I want the modern reader to understand that it was generally regarded in white society that the most horrible thing a woman could imagine was to fall into the hands of a savage black man. ERB knew this and was playing it for all it was worth. Of course, in my opinion most white people that accepted black people in those days were not a part of the majority, so some of the judgment may be warranted, but each generation has its own values and ERB and many like him were progressive for their time.
And at last, when the raiders assembled after glutting their fury and their avarice, and rode away with her toward the north, she saw the smoke and the flames rising far into the heavens until the winding of the trail into the thick forests hid the sad view from her eyes.
As the flames worked their way into the living-room, reaching out forked tongues to lick up the bodies of the dead, one of that gruesome company whose bloody welterings had long since been stilled, moved again. It was a huge black who rolled over upon his side and opened bloodshot, suffering eyes. Mugambi, who the Arabs had left for dead, still lived. The hot flames were almost upon him as he raised himself painfully upon his hands and knees and crawled slowly toward the doorway.Again and again he sank weakly to the floor; but each time he rose again and continued his pitiful way toward safety. After what seemed to him an interminable time, during which the flames had become a veritable fiery furnace at the far side of the room, the great black managed to reach the veranda, roll down the steps, and crawl off into the cool safety of some nearby shrubbery.
Yay, Mugambi! He was too much of a character to waste on a silly Arab raid. Especially one led by the silly Achmet Zek. His musket might have looked good with jewels, but it was bad at killing people, because he had shot Mugambi almost at point blank range. Perhaps he could have made a larger mark in our times in modern society by being an Osama bin Laden mastermind of some modern terrorist organization. For after all, fighting for Allah’s jihad gives a person license to do anything. How silly this was, ERB will show us as Mugambi slowly becomes the Dirty Harry of the jungle.
All night he lay there, alternately unconscious and painfully sentient; and in the latter state watching with savage hatred the lurid flames which still rose from burning crib and hay cock. A prowling lion roared close at hand; but the giant black was unafraid. There was a place for but a single thought to his savage mind – revenge! revenge! revenge!
And of course, there we leave him until this new cliff-hanger is resolved in future chapters. But what, you may ask, has become of our ape-man? We’ll just have to wait until next time.
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