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the mighty Kaviri, had been but a new-born babe. Hairy monsters were
overcoming his fighting men, and a black chieftain like himself was
fighting shoulder to shoulder with the hideous pack that opposed him.

Kaviri battled bravely against his antagonist, for he felt that death
had already claimed him, and so the least that he could do would be to
sell his life as dearly as possible; but it was soon evident that his
best was quite futile when pitted against the superhuman brawn and
agility of the creature that at last found his throat and bent him back
into the bottom of the canoe.

Presently Kaviri's head began to whirl - objects became confused and dim
before his eyes - there was a great pain in his chest as he struggled
for the breath of life that the thing upon him was shutting off for
ever. Then he lost consciousness.

When he opened his eyes once more he found, much to his surprise, that
he was not dead. He lay, securely bound, in the bottom of his own
canoe. A great panther sat upon its haunches, looking down upon him.

Kaviri shuddered and closed his eyes again, waiting for the ferocious
creature to spring upon him and put him out of his misery of terror.

After a moment, no rending fangs having buried themselves in his
trembling body, he again ventured to open his eyes. Beyond the
panther kneeled the white giant who had overcome him.

The man was wielding a paddle, while directly behind him Kaviri saw
some of his own warriors similarly engaged. Back of them again
squatted several of the hairy apes.

Tarzan, seeing that the chief had regained consciousness, addressed him.

"Your warriors tell me that you are the chief of a numerous people, and
that your name is Kaviri," he said.

"Yes," replied the black.

"Why did you attack me? I came in peace."

"Another white man 'came in peace' three moons ago," replied Kaviri;
"and after we had brought him presents of a goat and cassava and milk,
he set upon us with his guns and killed many of my people, and then
went on his way, taking all of our goats and many of our young men and
women."

"I am not as this other white man," replied Tarzan. "I should not
have harmed you had you not set upon me. Tell me, what was the face
of this bad white man like? I am searching for one who has wronged me.
Possibly this may be the very one."

"He was a man with a bad face, covered with a great, black beard, and
he was very, very wicked - yes, very wicked indeed."

"Was there a little white child with him?" asked Tarzan, his heart
almost stopped as he awaited the black's answer.

"No, bwana," replied Kaviri, "the white child was not with this man's
party - it was with the other party."

"Other party!" exclaimed Tarzan. "What other party?"

"With the party that the very bad white man was pursuing. There was a
white man, woman, and the child, with six Mosula porters. They passed
up the river three days ahead of the very bad white man. I think that
they were running away from him."

A white man, woman, and child! Tarzan was puzzled. The child must be
his little Jack; but who could the woman be - and the man? Was it
possible that one of Rokoff's confederates had conspired with some
woman - who had accompanied the Russian - to steal the baby from him?

If this was the case, they had doubtless purposed returning the child
to civilization and there either claiming a reward or holding the
little prisoner for ransom.

But now that Rokoff had succeeded in chasing them far inland, up the
savage river, there could be little doubt but that he would eventually
overhaul them, unless, as was still more probable, they should be
captured and killed by the very cannibals farther up the Ugambi, to
whom, Tarzan was now convinced, it had been Rokoff's intention to
deliver the baby.

As he talked to Kaviri the canoes had been moving steadily up-river
toward the chief's village. Kaviri's warriors plied the paddles in the
three canoes, casting sidelong, terrified glances at their hideous
passengers. Three of the apes of Akut had been killed in the
encounter, but there were, with Akut, eight of the frightful beasts
remaining, and there was Sheeta, the panther, and Tarzan and Mugambi.

Kaviri's warriors thought that they had never seen so terrible a crew
in all their lives. Momentarily they expected to be pounced upon and
torn asunder by some of their captors; and, in fact, it was all that
Tarzan and Mugambi and Akut could do to keep the snarling, ill-natured
brutes from snapping at the glistening, naked bodies that brushed
against them now and then with the movements of the paddlers, whose
very fear added incitement to the beasts.

At Kaviri's camp Tarzan paused only long enough to eat the food that
the blacks furnished, and arrange with the chief for a dozen men to man
the paddles of his canoe.

Kaviri was only too glad to comply with any demands that the ape-man
might make if only such compliance would hasten the departure of the
horrid pack; but it was easier, he discovered, to promise men than to
furnish them, for when his people learned his intentions those that had
not already fled into the jungle proceeded to do so without loss of
time, so that when Kaviri turned to point out those who were to
accompany Tarzan, he discovered that he was the only member of his
tribe left within the village.

Tarzan could not repress a smile.

"They do not seem anxious to accompany us," he said; "but just remain
quietly here, Kaviri, and presently you shall see your people flocking
to your side."

Then the ape-man rose, and, calling his pack about him, commanded that
Mugambi remain with Kaviri, and disappeared in the jungle with Sheeta
and the apes at his heels.

For half an hour the silence of the grim forest was broken only by the
ordinary sounds of the teeming life that but adds to its lowering
loneliness. Kaviri and Mugambi sat alone in the palisaded village,
waiting.

Presently from a great distance came a hideous sound. Mugambi
recognized the weird challenge of the ape-man. Immediately from
different points of the compass rose a horrid semicircle of similar
shrieks and screams, punctuated now and again by the blood-curdling cry
of a hungry panther.




Chapter 7

Betrayed


The two savages, Kaviri and Mugambi, squatting before the entrance to
Kaviri's hut, looked at one another - Kaviri with ill-concealed alarm.

"What is it?" he whispered.

"It is Bwana Tarzan and his people," replied Mugambi. "But what they
are doing I know not, unless it be that they are devouring your people
who ran away."

Kaviri shuddered and rolled his eyes fearfully toward the jungle. In
all his long life in the savage forest he had never heard such an
awful, fearsome din.

Closer and closer came the sounds, and now with them were mingled the
terrified shrieks of women and children and of men. For twenty long
minutes the blood-curdling cries continued, until they seemed but a
stone's throw from the palisade. Kaviri rose to flee, but Mugambi
seized and held him, for such had been the command of Tarzan.

A moment later a horde of terrified natives burst from the jungle,
racing toward the shelter of their huts. Like frightened sheep they
ran, and behind them, driving them as sheep might be driven, came
Tarzan and Sheeta and the hideous apes of Akut.

Presently Tarzan stood before Kaviri, the old quiet smile upon his lips.

"Your people have returned, my brother," he said, "and now you may
select those who are to accompany me and paddle my canoe."

Tremblingly Kaviri tottered to his feet, calling to his people to come
from their huts; but none responded to his summons.

"Tell them," suggested Tarzan, "that if they do not come I shall send
my people in after them."

Kaviri did as he was bid, and in an instant the entire population of
the village came forth, their wide and frightened eyes rolling from one
to another of the savage creatures that wandered about the village
street.

Quickly Kaviri designated a dozen warriors to accompany Tarzan. The
poor fellows went almost white with terror at the prospect of close
contact with the panther and the apes in the narrow confines of the
canoes; but when Kaviri explained to them that there was no
escape - that Bwana Tarzan would pursue them with his grim horde should
they attempt to run away from the duty - they finally went gloomily down
to the river and took their places in the canoe.

It was with a sigh of relief that their chieftain saw the party
disappear about a headland a short distance up-river.

For three days the strange company continued farther and farther into
the heart of the savage country that lies on either side of the almost
unexplored Ugambi. Three of the twelve warriors deserted during that
time; but as several of the apes had finally learned the secret of the
paddles, Tarzan felt no dismay because of the loss.

As a matter of fact, he could have travelled much more rapidly on
shore, but he believed that he could hold his own wild crew together to
better advantage by keeping them to the boat as much as possible.
Twice a day they landed to hunt and feed, and at night they slept upon
the bank of the mainland or on one of the numerous little islands that
dotted the river.

Before them the natives fled in alarm, so that they found only deserted
villages in their path as they proceeded. Tarzan was anxious to get
in touch with some of the savages who dwelt upon the river's banks, but
so far he had been unable to do so.

Finally he decided to take to the land himself, leaving his company to
follow after him by boat. He explained to Mugambi the thing that he
had in mind, and told Akut to follow the directions of the black.

"I will join you again in a few days," he said. "Now I go ahead to
learn what has become of the very bad white man whom I seek."

At the next halt Tarzan took to the shore, and was soon lost to the
view of his people.

The first few villages he came to were deserted, showing that news of
the coming of his pack had travelled rapidly; but toward evening he
came upon a distant cluster of thatched huts surrounded by a rude
palisade, within which were a couple of hundred natives.

The women were preparing the evening meal as Tarzan of the Apes poised
above them in the branches of a giant tree which overhung the palisade
at one point.

The ape-man was at a loss as to how he might enter into communication
with these people without either frightening them or arousing their
savage love of battle. He had no desire to fight now, for he was upon
a much more important mission than that of battling with every chance
tribe that he should happen to meet with.

At last he hit upon a plan, and after seeing that he was concealed from
the view of those below, he gave a few hoarse grunts in imitation of a
panther. All eyes immediately turned upward toward the foliage above.

It was growing dark, and they could not penetrate the leafy screen
which shielded the ape-man from their view. The moment that he had won
their attention he raised his voice to the shriller and more hideous
scream of the beast he personated, and then, scarce stirring a leaf in
his descent, dropped to the ground once again outside the palisade,
and, with the speed of a deer, ran quickly round to the village gate.

Here he beat upon the fibre-bound saplings of which the barrier was
constructed, shouting to the natives in their own tongue that he was a
friend who wished food and shelter for the night.

Tarzan knew well the nature of the black man. He was aware that the
grunting and screaming of Sheeta in the tree above them would set their
nerves on edge, and that his pounding upon their gate after dark would
still further add to their terror.

That they did not reply to his hail was no surprise, for natives are
fearful of any voice that comes out of the night from beyond their
palisades, attributing it always to some demon or other ghostly
visitor; but still he continued to call.

"Let me in, my friends!" he cried. "I am a white man pursuing the very
bad white man who passed this way a few days ago. I follow to punish
him for the sins he has committed against you and me.

"If you doubt my friendship, I will prove it to you by going into the
tree above your village and driving Sheeta back into the jungle before
he leaps among you. If you will not promise to take me in and treat me
as a friend I shall let Sheeta stay and devour you."

For a moment there was silence. Then the voice of an old man came out
of the quiet of the village street.

"If you are indeed a white man and a friend, we will let you come in;
but first you must drive Sheeta away."

"Very well," replied Tarzan. "Listen, and you shall hear Sheeta
fleeing before me."

The ape-man returned quickly to the tree, and this time he made a great
noise as he entered the branches, at the same time growling ominously
after the manner of the panther, so that those below would believe that
the great beast was still there.

When he reached a point well above the village street he made a great
commotion, shaking the tree violently, crying aloud to the panther to
flee or be killed, and punctuating his own voice with the screams and
mouthings of an angry beast.

Presently he raced toward the opposite side of the tree and off into
the jungle, pounding loudly against the boles of trees as he went, and
voicing the panther's diminishing growls as he drew farther and farther
away from the village.

A few minutes later he returned to the village gate, calling to the
natives within.

"I have driven Sheeta away," he said. "Now come and admit me as you
promised."

For a time there was the sound of excited discussion within the
palisade, but at length a half-dozen warriors came and opened the
gates, peering anxiously out in evident trepidation as to the nature of
the creature which they should find waiting there. They were not much
relieved at sight of an almost naked white man; but when Tarzan had
reassured them in quiet tones, protesting his friendship for them, they
opened the barrier a trifle farther and admitted him.

When the gates had been once more secured the self-confidence of the
savages returned, and as Tarzan walked up the village street toward the
chief's hut he was surrounded by a host of curious men, women, and
children.

From the chief he learned that Rokoff had passed up the river a week
previous, and that he had horns growing from his forehead, and was
accompanied by a thousand devils. Later the chief said that the very
bad white man had remained a month in his village.

Though none of these statements agreed with Kaviri's, that the Russian
was but three days gone from the chieftain's village and that his
following was much smaller than now stated, Tarzan was in no manner
surprised at the discrepancies, for he was quite familiar with the
savage mind's strange manner of functioning.

What he was most interested in knowing was that he was upon the right
trail, and that it led toward the interior. In this circumstance he
knew that Rokoff could never escape him.

After several hours of questioning and cross-questioning the ape-man
learned that another party had preceded the Russian by several
days - three whites - a man, a woman, and a little man-child, with
several Mosulas.

Tarzan explained to the chief that his people would follow him in a
canoe, probably the next day, and that though he might go on ahead of
them the chief was to receive them kindly and have no fear of them, for
Mugambi would see that they did not harm the chief's people, if they
were accorded a friendly reception.

"And now," he concluded, "I shall lie down beneath this tree and sleep.
I am very tired. Permit no one to disturb me."

The chief offered him a hut, but Tarzan, from past experience of native
dwellings, preferred the open air, and, further, he had plans of his
own that could be better carried out if he remained beneath the tree.
He gave as his reason a desire to be close at hand should Sheeta
return, and after this explanation the chief was very glad to permit
him to sleep beneath the tree.

Tarzan had always found that it stood him in good stead to leave with
natives the impression that he was to some extent possessed of more or
less miraculous powers. He might easily have entered their village
without recourse to the gates, but he believed that a sudden and
unaccountable disappearance when he was ready to leave them would
result in a more lasting impression upon their childlike minds, and so
as soon as the village was quiet in sleep he rose, and, leaping into
the branches of the tree above him, faded silently into the black
mystery of the jungle night.

All the balance of that night the ape-man swung rapidly through the
upper and middle terraces of the forest. When the going was good there
he preferred the upper branches of the giant trees, for then his way
was better lighted by the moon; but so accustomed were all his senses
to the grim world of his birth that it was possible for him, even in
the dense, black shadows near the ground, to move with ease and
rapidity. You or I walking beneath the arcs of Main Street, or
Broadway, or State Street, could not have moved more surely or with a
tenth the speed of the agile ape-man through the gloomy mazes that
would have baffled us entirely.

At dawn he stopped to feed, and then he slept for several hours, taking
up the pursuit again toward noon.

Twice he came upon natives, and, though he had considerable difficulty
in approaching them, he succeeded in each instance in quieting both
their fears and bellicose intentions toward him, and learned from them
that he was upon the trail of the Russian.

Two days later, still following up the Ugambi, he came upon a large
village. The chief, a wicked-looking fellow with the sharp-filed teeth
that often denote the cannibal, received him with apparent friendliness.

The ape-man was now thoroughly fatigued, and had determined to rest for
eight or ten hours that he might be fresh and strong when he caught up
with Rokoff, as he was sure he must do within a very short time.

The chief told him that the bearded white man had left his village only
the morning before, and that doubtless he would be able to overtake him
in a short time. The other party the chief had not seen or heard of,
so he said.

Tarzan did not like the appearance or manner of the fellow, who seemed,
though friendly enough, to harbour a certain contempt for this
half-naked white man who came with no followers and offered no
presents; but he needed the rest and food that the village would afford
him with less effort than the jungle, and so, as he knew no fear of
man, beast, or devil, he curled himself up in the shadow of a hut and
was soon asleep.

Scarcely had he left the chief than the latter called two of his
warriors, to whom he whispered a few instructions. A moment later the
sleek, black bodies were racing along the river path, up-stream, toward
the east.

In the village the chief maintained perfect quiet. He would permit no
one to approach the sleeping visitor, nor any singing, nor loud
talking. He was remarkably solicitous lest his guest be disturbed.

Three hours later several canoes came silently into view from up the
Ugambi. They were being pushed ahead rapidly by the brawny muscles of
their black crews. Upon the bank before the river stood the chief, his
spear raised in a horizontal position above his head, as though in some
manner of predetermined signal to those within the boats.

And such indeed was the purpose of his attitude - which meant that the
white stranger within his village still slept peacefully.

In the bows of two of the canoes were the runners that the chief had
sent forth three hours earlier. It was evident that they had been
dispatched to follow and bring back this party, and that the signal
from the bank was one that had been determined upon before they left
the village.

In a few moments the dugouts drew up to the verdure-clad bank. The
native warriors filed out, and with them a half-dozen white men.
Sullen, ugly-looking customers they were, and none more so than the
evil-faced, black-bearded man who commanded them.

"Where is the white man your messengers report to be with you?" he
asked of the chief.

"This way, bwana," replied the native. "Carefully have I kept silence
in the village that he might be still asleep when you returned. I do
not know that he is one who seeks you to do you harm, but he questioned
me closely about your coming and your going, and his appearance is as
that of the one you described, but whom you believed safe in the
country which you called Jungle Island.

"Had you not told me this tale I should not have recognized him, and
then he might have gone after and slain you. If he is a friend and no
enemy, then no harm has been done, bwana; but if he proves to be an
enemy, I should like very much to have a rifle and some ammunition."

"You have done well," replied the white man, "and you shall have the
rifle and ammunition whether he be a friend or enemy, provided that you
stand with me."

"I shall stand with you, bwana," said the chief, "and now come and look
upon the stranger, who sleeps within my village."

So saying, he turned and led the way toward the hut, in the shadow of
which the unconscious Tarzan slept peacefully.

Behind the two men came the remaining whites and a score of warriors;
but the raised forefingers of the chief and his companion held them all
to perfect silence.

As they turned the corner of the hut, cautiously and upon tiptoe, an
ugly smile touched the lips of the white as his eyes fell upon the
giant figure of the sleeping ape-man.

The chief looked at the other inquiringly. The latter nodded his head,
to signify that the chief had made no mistake in his suspicions. Then
he turned to those behind him and, pointing to the sleeping man,
motioned for them to seize and bind him.

A moment later a dozen brutes had leaped upon the surprised Tarzan, and
so quickly did they work that he was securely bound before he could
make half an effort to escape.

Then they threw him down upon his back, and as his eyes turned toward
the crowd that stood near, they fell upon the malign face of Nikolas
Rokoff.

A sneer curled the Russian's lips. He stepped quite close to Tarzan.

"Pig!" he cried. "Have you not learned sufficient wisdom to keep away
from Nikolas Rokoff?"

Then he kicked the prostrate man full in the face.

"That for your welcome," he said.

"Tonight, before my Ethiop friends eat you, I shall tell you what has
already befallen your wife and child, and what further plans I have for
their futures."




Chapter 8

The Dance of Death


Through the luxuriant, tangled vegetation of the Stygian jungle night a
great lithe body made its way sinuously and in utter silence upon its
soft padded feet. Only two blazing points of yellow-green flame shone
occasionally with the reflected light of the equatorial moon that now
and again pierced the softly sighing roof rustling in the night wind.

Occasionally the beast would stop with high-held nose, sniffing
searchingly. At other times a quick, brief incursion into the branches
above delayed it momentarily in its steady journey toward the east. To
its sensitive nostrils came the subtle unseen spoor of many a tender
four-footed creature, bringing the slaver of hunger to the cruel,
drooping jowl.

But steadfastly it kept on its way, strangely ignoring the cravings of
appetite that at another time would have sent the rolling, fur-clad
muscles flying at some soft throat.

All that night the creature pursued its lonely way, and the next day it
halted only to make a single kill, which it tore to fragments and
devoured with sullen, grumbling rumbles as though half famished for
lack of food.

It was dusk when it approached the palisade that surrounded a large
native village. Like the shadow of a swift and silent death it circled
the village, nose to ground, halting at last close to the palisade,
where it almost touched the backs of several huts. Here the beast
sniffed for a moment, and then, turning its head upon one side,
listened with up-pricked ears.

What it heard was no sound by the standards of human ears, yet to the
highly attuned and delicate organs of the beast a message seemed to be
borne to the savage brain. A wondrous transformation was wrought in
the motionless mass of statuesque bone and muscle that had an instant
before stood as though carved out of the living bronze.


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