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Volume 7496

Book 1 ~ Chapter 1
A Commentary By
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight.
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.
But he grew old –
This knight so bold –
And o’er his heart a shadow
Fell, as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.
And, as his strength
Failed him at length.
He met a pilgrim shadow –
‘Shadow’ said he,
‘Where can it be –
This land of Eldorado?’
‘Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,’
The shade replied, –
‘If you seek for Eldorado!’
– Edgar Allan Poe, “Eldorado.”

            Ah, the mystical Land of Eldorado, the Lost City of Gold, mostly related to North and South American legends and, as yet, undiscovered. ERB is going to create for us readers even one better: a Lost City of Gold in Darkest Africa, and as an extra, an equally fantastic Lost City of Ivory. ERB must have gotten tired of his routine Tarzan adventures where many different groups are described and then run into and interact with each other. People are captured, escape, re-captured, re-escape, then are re-re-captured, and re-re-escape, ad infinitum. The two adventures I have singled out are mainly centered in specific locations and contain a magical element. Tarzan finds himself under a spell and if not interrupted would have committed adultery with the gorgeous Queen of the City of Gold, the bipolar psycho, Nemone. And he never shows any indication of regret.

            I have no idea of how to pronounce Nemone, but there are two words that may give us a clue. There is a flower plant anemone, and the sea anemone, named because like the white and colorful flowers they are colorful sea predators. The suggested pronunciations are “uh-neh-muh-nee,” or “anem-o-ne`,” which has a lyrical quality as in Poe’s classic, “Eulalie – A Song,” which opens:

I dwelt alone
In a world of moan,
And my soul a stagnant tide,
Till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my blushing bride –
Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie became my smiling bride.
Not to mention this part of “Ulalume”:
And I said – “What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?”
She replied – “Ulalume – Ulalume!
‘T is the vault of thy lost Ulalume.”
And last, but not least, “Annabelle Lee”:
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me;
Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud, chilling
And killing my Annabelle Lee.

            I see Nemone in that kind of light: Nay-moan-ay. It sure sounds better than Nee-moan, don’t you think? I must object to the pronunciation given by Henry G. Franke III in the “Afterword” in the new, recently published ERB Inc. edition of Tarzan and the City of Gold. On page 243, Mr. Franke posts the pronuniciation as “ne,” with a tilde, and “mon`’” with a long accent on the “o,” and a lone accent at the end. He relies upon the ERB generated “Pronunciation of Coined Words Used in Tarzan Novels,” on pages 306-309 in the archival section of the new edition. However, one asks, How are we to determine that last accent after the “mon”? (See page 308.) If the last “e” in Nemone was meant to be accented, then it would be correctly pronounced as “ey” as in “hey.” In other words the same as my guess.

            Anyway, this was a woman Tarzan could not resist, the only woman since the Countess Olga de Coude, whom also Tarzan could not resist – the difference being that this time with Nemone Tarzan is married to Jane, the most beautiful woman in the world – but he wasn’t married when he took Olga, the wife of the Count Raoul de Coude, into his arms and very passionately kissed her, and then was caught in the act by her husband, which ended in a pistol duel, where Tarzan accepted two bullets as just punishment. But that’s old news. The fact is that Tarzan was obsessed with Nemone’s beauty, a temptation of forbidden fruit which Fate would rescue him from more that once.

            Franke describes Nemone’s power over Tarzan: “Clearly unbalanced and often driven to the edge of madness, Burroughs makes Nemone a tragic figure. The ape-man clearly succumbs to the power of Nemone’s innate sensuality more than once, although thoughts of his mate do not surface as a counter to the spell the queen casts upon him.” (Page 243.)

            I am using as my text the new edition published by ERB Inc., which includes a “Foreword” by Demos Sachlas, an “Afterword” by Henry G, Franke III, and rich archival material. It has an excellent cover and frontispiece drawn by Joe Jusco; a beautiful book by any standards. The back cover shows ERB in his Malibu beach office where he wrote this story. These are really good stories so let’s join the safari and have some fun.

Book One: Tarzan and the City of Gold
Chapter One: Savage Quarry
            Down out of Tigre and Amhara upon Gojam and Shoa and Kaffa come the rains from June to September, carrying silt and prosperity from Abyssinia to the eastern Sudan and to Egypt, bringing muddy trails and swollen rivers and death and prosperity to Abyssinia.

            Of these gifts of the rains, only the muddy trails and the swollen rivers and death interested a little band of shiftas that held out in the remote fastnesses of the mountains of Kaffa. Hard men were these mounted bandits, cruel criminals without even a vestige of culture such as occasionally leavens the activities of rogues, lessening their ruthlessness. Kafico and Galla they were, the offscouring of their tribes, outlaws, men with prices upon their heads.

            It was not raining now; and the rainy season was drawing to a close, for it was the middle of September; but there was still more water in the rivers, and the ground was soft after a recent rain.

            The shiftas rode, seeking loot from wayfarer, caravan, or village; and as they rode, the unshod hoofs of their horses left a plain spoor that one might read upon the run; not that that caused the shiftas any concern, because no one was looking for them. All that anyone in the district wished of the shiftas was to keep out of their way.

            A short distance ahead of them, in the direction toward which they were riding, a hunting beast stalked its prey. The wind was blowing from it toward the approaching horsemen; and for this reason their scent spoor was not borne to its sensitive nostrils, nor did the soft ground give forth any sound beneath the feet of their walking mounts that the keen ears of the hunter might detect during the period of concentration and mild excitement attendant upon the stalk.

            Though the stalker did not resemble a beast of prey, such as the term connotes to the mind of man, he was one nevertheless; for in his natural haunts he filled his belly by the chase and by the chase alone; neither did he resemble the mental picture that one might hold of a typical British lord, yet he was that too – he was Tarzan of the Apes.

            All beasts of prey find hunting poor during a rain, and Tarzan was no exception to the rule. It had rained for two days, and as a result Tarzan was hungry. A small buck was drinking in a stream fringed by bushes and tall reeds, and Tarzan was worming his way upon his belly through short grass to reach a position from which he might either charge or loose an arrow or cast a spear. He was not aware that a group of horsemen had reined in upon a gentle rise a short distance behind him where they sat in silence regarding him intently.

            Usha, the wind, who carries scent, also carries sound. Today, Usha carried both the scent and the sound of the shiftas away from the keen nostrils and ears of the ape-man. Perhaps, endowed as he was with supersensitive perceptive faculties, Tarzan should have sensed the presence of an enemy, but “Even the worthy Homer sometimes nods.”

            However self-sufficient an animal may be it is endowed with caution, for there is none that has not its enemies. The weaker herbivora must be always on the alert for the lion, the leopard, and man; the elephant, the rhinoceros, and the lion may never relax their vigilance against man; and man must always be on guard against these and others. Yet one may not say that such caution connotes either fear or cowardice; for Tarzan, who was without fear, was the personification of caution, especially when he was far from is own stamping grounds as he was today and every creature a potential enemy.

            The combination of ravenous hunger with the opportunity to satisfy it may have placed caution in abeyance as, oftentimes, a certain recklessness born of pride in his might did; but, be that as it may, the fact remains that Tarzan was wholly ignorant of the presence of that little knot of villainous bandits who were quite prepared to kill him, or anyone else, for a few poor weapons or for nothing at all.

            The circumstances that brought Tarzan northward into Kaffa are not a part of this story. Perhaps they were not urgent, for the Lord of the Jungle loves to roam remote fastnesses still unspoiled by the devastating hand of civilization and needs but trifling incentive to do so.

            The reason for Tarzan’s presence in Kaffa is never given and acts like a sort of a “MacGuffin,” a plot device developed by Alfred Hitehcock which the audience never sees. A good modern example is the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, where the viewers never see what is inside, except a golden glow which the object exudes. ERB wants Tarzan to be there for the purpose of the story and that is that.

            Still unsated with adventure, it may be that Abyssinia’s three hundred fifty thousand square miles of semisavagery held an irresistible lure for him in their suggestion of mysterious back country and in the ethnological secrets they have guarded from time immemorial.

            Wanderer, adventurer, outcast, Greek phalanx, and Roman legion, all have entered Abyssinia within times chronicled in history or legend never to reappear; and it is even believed by some that she holds the secret of the lost tribes of Israel. What wonders, then, what adventures, might not her remote corners reveal!

            At the moment, however, Tarzan’s mind was not occupied by thoughts of adventure; he did not know that it loomed threateningly behind him; his concern and his interest were centered upon the buck which he intended should satisfy the craving of his ravenous hunger. He crept cautiously forward. That he, not even Sheeta, the leopard, stalks more silently or more stealthily.

            From behind, the white-robed shiftas moved from the little rise where they had been watching him in silence, moved down toward him with spear and long-barreled matchlock. They were puzzled. Never before had they seen a white man like this one; but if curiosity were in their minds, there was only murder in their hearts.

            The buck raised his head occasionally to glance about him, wary, suspicious, and when he did so, Tarzan froze into immobility. Suddenly the animal’s gaze centered for an instant upon something in the direction of the of the ape-man; then it wheeled and bounded away. Instantly Tarzan glanced behind him, for he knew that it had not been he who had frightened his quarry but something beyond and behind him that the alert eyes of Wappi had discovered; and that quick glance revealed a half-dozen horsemen moving slowly toward him, told him who they were, and explained their purpose; for, knowing that they were shiftas, he knew that they came only to rob and kill – knew that here were enemies more ruthless than Numa.

            When they saw that he had discovered them, the horsemen broke into a gallop and bore down upon him, waving their weapons and shouting. They did not fire, evidently holding in contempt this primitively armed victim, but seemed to purpose riding him down and trampling him beneath the hoofs of their horses or impaling him upon their spears. Perhaps they thought that he would seek safety in flight, thereby giving them the added thrill of the chase; and what quarry could give the hunter greater thrills than man!

            But Tarzan did not turn and run. He knew every possible avenue of escape within the radius of his vision for every danger that might reasonably be expected to confront him here, for it is the business of the creatures of the wild to know these things if they are to survive; and so he knew that there was no escape from mounted men by flight. But this knowledge threw him into no panic. Could the requirements of self-preservation have been best achieved by flight, he would have fled; but as they could not, he adopted the alternative quite as a matter of course – he stood to fight, ready to seize upon any fortuitous circumstance that might offer a chance of escape.

            Tall, magnificently proportioned, muscled more like Apollo than like Hercules, garbed only in a narrow G-string of lion skin with a lion’s tail depending before and behind, he presented a splendid figure of primitive manhood that suggested more, perhaps, the demigod of the forest than it did man.

            I have never imagined Tarzan with a lion’s tail in front of him and behind him. Was the purpose to hide his genitalia and buttocks’ crack? What a strange sight that must have been.

            Across his back hung his quiver of arrows and a light, short spear; the loose coils of his grass rope lay across one bronzed shoulder; at his hip swung the hunting knife of his father, the knife that had given the boy-Tarzan the firsrt suggestion of his coming supremacy over the other beasts of the jungle on that far gone day when the youthful hand drove it into the heart of Bolgani, the gorilla; in his left hand was his bow and between the fingers four extra arrows.

            As Ara, the lightning, so is Tarzan for swiftness. The instant that he had discovered and recognized the menace creeping upon him from behind and known that he had been seen by the horsemen he had leaped to his feet, and in the same instant strung his bow. Now, perhaps even before the leading shiftas realized the danger that confronted them, the bow was bent, the shaft sped.

            Short but powerful was the bow of the ape-man; short, that it might be easily carried through the forest and the jungle; powerful, that it might send its shaft through the toughest hide to a vital organ of its prey. Such a bow was this that no ordinary man might bend it.

            Straight through the heart of the leading shifta drove the first arrow, and as the fellow threw his arms above his head and lunged from his saddle four more arrows sped with lightning-like rapidity from the bow of the ape-man, and every arrow found a target. Another shifta dropped to ride no more, and three were wounded.

            Only seconds had elapsed since Tarzan had discovered the danger, and already the four remaining horsemen were upon him. The three who were wounded were more interested in the feathered shafts protruding from their bodies than in the quarry they had expected so easily to overcome; but the fourth was whole, and he thundered down upon the ape-man with his spear set for the great bronzed chest.

            There could be no retreat for Tarzan; there could be no sidestepping to avoid the thrust, for a step to either side would have carried him in front of one of the other horsemen. He had but a single slender hope for survival, and that hope, forlorn though it appeared, he seized upon with celerity, strength, and agility that make Tarzan Tarzan. Slipping his bowstring about his neck after his final shot, he struck up the point of the menacing weapon of his antagonist, and grasping the man’s arm swung himself to the horse’s back behind the rider.

            As steel-thewed fingers closed upon the shifta’s throat he voiced a single piercing scream; then a knife drove home beneath the left shoulder blade, and Tarzan hurled the body from the saddle. The terrified horse, running free with flying reins, tore through the bushes and the reeds into the river, while the remaining shiftas, disabled by their wounds, were glad to abandon the chase upon the bank, though one of them, retaining more vitality than his companions, did raise his matchlock and send a parting shot after the escaping quarry.

            Who could doubt at this point that Tarzan is not the greatest bad ass in Africa. At least he let the wounded live to talk about it and send the terror of Tarzan far and wide.

            The river as a narrow sluggish stream but deep in the channel; and as the horse plunged into it, Tarzan saw a commotion in the water a few yards downstream and then the outline of a long, sinuous body moving swiftly toward them. It was Gimla, the crocodile. The horse saw it too and, becoming frantic, turned upstream in an effort to escape. Tarzan climbed over the high cantle of the Abyssinian saddle and unslung his spear in the rather futile hope of holding the reptile at bay until his mount could reach the safety of the opposite bank toward which he was now attempting to guide him.

            Gimla is as swift as he is voracious. He was already at the horse’s rump, with opened jaws, when the shifta at the river’s edge fired wildly at the ape-man. It was well for Tarzan that the wounded man had fired hurriedly; for simultaneously with the report of the firearm, the crocodile dove; and the frenzied lashing of the water about him evidenced the fact that he had been mortally wounded.

            A moment later the horse that Tarzan rode reached the opposite bank and clambered to safety of dry land. Now he was under control again; and the ape-man wheeled him about and sent a parting arrow across the river toward the angry, cursing bandits upon the opposite side, an arrow that found its mark in the thigh of the already wounded man who had unwittingly rescued Tarzan from a serious situation with the shot that had been intended to kill him.

            To the accompaniment of a few wild scattered shots, Tarzan of the Apes galloped toward a nearby forest into which he disappeared from the sight of the angry shiftas.

            Say what you wish, but one has to admit that Tarzan’s luck is awesome. Fearless, he faced his enemies head on and got the best of them. However, you know as well as I, that Tarzan has not seen the last of the shiftas. As we gallop into the forest, I will see you in Chapter Two.


Part I

ERBzine 7496
CH. 1
_CH. 2_CH. 3_CH. 4_CH. 5
ERBzine 7497
CH. 6
_CH. 7_CH. 8_CH. 9_CH. 10
ERBzine 7498
CH. 11
_CH. 12_CH. 13_CH. 14_CH. 15
ERBzine 7499
CH. 16
_CH. 17_CH. 18_CH. 19

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