Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Web Pages in Archive
ERB’S BIBLE BLUES:
A Commentary By
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
It’s time for our erstwhile characters to reunite back at Tarzan’s camp. And what camp, you might ask? Well, that’s up to Tarzan to reveal.
Chapter Twenty-Six: The Last Knot is Tied
Lafayette Smith and Lady Barbara had been mystified witnesses to the sudden transformation of the peaceful scene in the camp of Lord Passmore. All day the warriors had remained in readiness, as though expecting a summons; and when night fell they still waited.
Evidences of restlessness were apparent; and there was no singing and little laughter in the camp, as there had been before. The last that the two whites saw, as they retired for the night, were the little groups of plumed warriors squatting about their fires, their rifles ready to their hands; and they were asleep when the summons came and the sleek, black fighting men melted silently in the dark shadows of the forest, leaving only four of their number to guard the camp and the two guests.
When Lady Barbara emerged from her tent in the morning she was astonished to find the camp all but deserted. The boy who acted in the capacity of personal servant and cook for her and Smith was there and three other blacks. All were constantly armed; but their attitude toward her had not changed, and she felt only curiosity relative to the other altered conditions, so obvious at first glance, rather than apprehension.
When Smith joined her a few minutes later he was equally at a loss to understand the strange metamorphosis that had transformed the laughing, joking porters and askiris into painted warriors and sent them out into the night so surrepititously, nor could they glean the slightest information from their boy, who, though still courteous and smiling, seemed by some strange trick of fate suddenly to have forgotten the very fair command of English that he had exhibited with evident pride on the previous day.
The long day dragged on until mid afternoon without sign of any change. Neither Lord Passmore nor the missing blacks returned, and the enigma was as baffling as before. The two whites, however, seemed to find much pleasure in one another’s company; and so, perhaps, the day passed more rapidly for them than it did for the four blacks, waiting and listening through the hot, drowsy hours.
But suddenly there was a change. Lady Barbara saw her boy rise and stand in an attitude of eager listening. “They come!” he said, in his own tongue, to his companions. Now they all stood and, though they may have expected only friends, their rifles were in readiness for enemies.
Gradually the sound of voices and of marching men became distinctly audible to the untrained ears of the two whites, and a little later they saw the head of a column filing through the forest toward them.
“Why there’s the ‘Gunner’!” exclaimed Lafayette Smith. “And Jezebel, too. How odd that they should be together.”
“With Tarzan of the Apes!” cried Lady Barbara. “He has saved them both.”
A slow smile touched the lips of the ape-man as he witnessed the reunion of Lady Barbara and Jezebel and that between Smith and the “Gunner”; and it broadened a little, when, after the first burst of greetings and explanations, Lady Barbara said, “It is unfortunate that our host, Lord Passmore, isn’t here.”
“He is,” said the ape-man.
“Where?” demanded Lafayette Smith, looking about the camp.
“I am Lord Passmore,” said Tarzan.
“You?” exclaimed Lady Barbara.
“Yes. I assumed this role when I came north to investigate the rumors I had heard concerning Capietro and his band, believing that they not only would expect no danger, but hoping, also, that they would seek to attack and plunder my safari as they have those of others.”
“Geeze,” said the “Gunner.” “What a jolt they would have got!”
“That is why we never saw Lord Passmore,” said Lady Barbara, laughing. “I thought him a most elusive host.”
“The first night I left you here,” explained Tarzan, “I walked into the jungle until I was out of sight, and then I came back from another direction and entered my tent from the rear. I slept there all night. The next morning, early, I left in search of your friends – and was captured myself. But everything has worked out well, and if you have no other immediate plans I hope that you will accompany me back to my home and remain a while as my guests while you recover from the rather rough experiences Africa has afforded you. Or, perhaps,” he added, “Professor Smith and his friend wish to continue their geological investigations.”
“I, ah, well, you see,” stammered Lafayette Smith; “I have about decided to abandon my work in Africa and devote my life to the geology of England. We, or, er – you see, Lady Barbara –”
“I am going to take him back to England and teach him to shoot before I let him return to Africa. Possibly we shall come back later, though.”
Wow, what happened overnight? I thought Lady Barbara didn’t want to talk about marriage as it would spoil their friendship. Well, score one for Smith. It is just as well for Lady Barbara because Jezebel is off limits now that she has fallen for the “Gunner.”
“And you, Patrick,” asked Tarzan, “are you remaining to hunt, perhaps?”
“Nix, mister,” said Danny, emphatically, “We’re goin’ to California and buy a garage and filling station.”
“We?” queried Lady Barbara.
“Sure,” said the “Gunner”; “me and Jez.”
“Really?” exclaimed Lady Barbara. “Is he in earnest, Jezebel?”
“Oke, kid – isn’t it ripping?” replied the golden one.
Another happy ending for sure. My one complaint about this story was that the “Gunner” was captured by the shiftas three different times, twice in the same place. Everyone got what they deserved and that’s all right with me. Since this chapter was so short I have decided to list the parts that were censored in later editions of the first one published by ERB in 1948. These can be found in Jerry L. Schneider’s “Tarzan the Uncensored”, a pamphlet I received at the Centennial Dum Dum. All of these quotes are made by the “Gunner,” in true gangster lingo.
From Chapter 3:
“Where’s the smokes come from?”
“What sort of a burgh is it? I don’t think I’d like bein’ bossed by a lot of smokes, though most of ‘em is regular, at that. I knew some nigger cops in Chi that never looked to frame a guy.”
“It’ll cut down expenses, and two white fellows is got a better chance than one alone in any bunch of smokes I ever seen. Do we stick or do we split?”
From Chapter 5:
“I wasn’t takin’ no chances in a country full of strange smokes,” said the “Gunner.” “Say, a broad I meets on the boat tells me some of these smokes eats people.”
From Chapter 10:
“Wonder what became of him. Guess I’ll give him a tail. Come on, dinge,” he concluded aloud to Obambi.
From Chapter 13:
“Cotton ball here,”
“Where do you see any white men, tar baby?”
“– called Danny, “It’s only me and the smoke.”
“Geeze, you wops is dumb.”
From Chapter 16:
“Didn’t I tell you yo’d get your ransom, you damn wop.”
“Say,” exclaimed Danny, “how come you knew them wops had taken me for a ride?”
From Chapter 24:
“It sounded like Valentine’s Day Massacre,” said Danny, “but I guess it’s them tough smokes from the village.”
“Oh, that Tarzan guy! Say kid, if he knew we was here he’d walk in and push all these nutty dumps over with one mit and kick the smokes over the back fence.”
From Chapter 25:
“Them’s the other half of ‘Gunner’ Patrick,” replied Danny. “Now, bring on your tough smokes.”
“Hey, Big Smoke, you!”
So, far from ERB being a racist, we see him applying realistic dialog out of the mouth of a Chicago gangster. Now if I can just find a tree with a perfect fork in it to bed down for the night, I will bid you adieu.
ALL THE WOODROW NICHOLS FEATURES IN ERBzine
COMMENTARY by WOODROW NICHOLS
ERB'S BIBLE BLUES :: TARZAN TRIUMPHANT
Visit our thousands of other sites at:
BILL and SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2022 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.