Copyright
Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryEdgar Rice BurroughsTarzan and the Jewels of Opar → online text (page 1 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Produced by Judith Boss. HTML version by Al Haines.










Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar


By

Edgar Rice Burroughs




Contents

CHAPTER

1 Belgian and Arab
2 On the Road to Opar
3 The Call of the Jungle
4 Prophecy and Fulfillment
5 The Altar of the Flaming God
6 The Arab Raid
7 The Jewel-Room of Opar
8 The Escape from Opar
9 The Theft of the Jewels
10 Achmet Zek Sees the Jewels
11 Tarzan Becomes a Beast Again
12 La Seeks Vengeance
13 Condemned to Torture and Death
14 A Priestess But Yet a Woman
15 The Flight of Werper
16 Tarzan Again Leads the Mangani
17 The Deadly Peril of Jane Clayton
18 The Fight For the Treasure
19 Jane Clayton and The Beasts of the Jungle
20 Jane Clayton Again a Prisoner
21 The Flight to the Jungle
22 Tarzan Recovers His Reason
23 A Night of Terror
24 Home




1

Belgian and Arab


Lieutenant Albert Werper had only the prestige of the name he had
dishonored to thank for his narrow escape from being cashiered. At
first he had been humbly thankful, too, that they had sent him to this
Godforsaken Congo post instead of court-martialing him, as he had so
justly deserved; but now six months of the monotony, the frightful
isolation and the loneliness had wrought a change. The young man
brooded continually over his fate. His days were filled with morbid
self-pity, which eventually engendered in his weak and vacillating mind
a hatred for those who had sent him here - for the very men he had at
first inwardly thanked for saving him from the ignominy of degradation.

He regretted the gay life of Brussels as he never had regretted the
sins which had snatched him from that gayest of capitals, and as the
days passed he came to center his resentment upon the representative in
Congo land of the authority which had exiled him - his captain and
immediate superior.

This officer was a cold, taciturn man, inspiring little love in those
directly beneath him, yet respected and feared by the black soldiers of
his little command.

Werper was accustomed to sit for hours glaring at his superior as the
two sat upon the veranda of their common quarters, smoking their
evening cigarets in a silence which neither seemed desirous of
breaking. The senseless hatred of the lieutenant grew at last into a
form of mania. The captain's natural taciturnity he distorted into a
studied attempt to insult him because of his past shortcomings. He
imagined that his superior held him in contempt, and so he chafed and
fumed inwardly until one evening his madness became suddenly homicidal.
He fingered the butt of the revolver at his hip, his eyes narrowed and
his brows contracted. At last he spoke.

"You have insulted me for the last time!" he cried, springing to his
feet. "I am an officer and a gentleman, and I shall put up with it no
longer without an accounting from you, you pig."

The captain, an expression of surprise upon his features, turned toward
his junior. He had seen men before with the jungle madness upon
them - the madness of solitude and unrestrained brooding, and perhaps a
touch of fever.

He rose and extended his hand to lay it upon the other's shoulder.
Quiet words of counsel were upon his lips; but they were never spoken.
Werper construed his superior's action into an attempt to close with
him. His revolver was on a level with the captain's heart, and the
latter had taken but a step when Werper pulled the trigger. Without a
moan the man sank to the rough planking of the veranda, and as he fell
the mists that had clouded Werper's brain lifted, so that he saw
himself and the deed that he had done in the same light that those who
must judge him would see them.

He heard excited exclamations from the quarters of the soldiers and he
heard men running in his direction. They would seize him, and if they
didn't kill him they would take him down the Congo to a point where a
properly ordered military tribunal would do so just as effectively,
though in a more regular manner.

Werper had no desire to die. Never before had he so yearned for life
as in this moment that he had so effectively forfeited his right to
live. The men were nearing him. What was he to do? He glanced about
as though searching for the tangible form of a legitimate excuse for
his crime; but he could find only the body of the man he had so
causelessly shot down.

In despair, he turned and fled from the oncoming soldiery. Across the
compound he ran, his revolver still clutched tightly in his hand. At
the gates a sentry halted him. Werper did not pause to parley or to
exert the influence of his commission - he merely raised his weapon and
shot down the innocent black. A moment later the fugitive had torn
open the gates and vanished into the blackness of the jungle, but not
before he had transferred the rifle and ammunition belts of the dead
sentry to his own person.

All that night Werper fled farther and farther into the heart of the
wilderness. Now and again the voice of a lion brought him to a
listening halt; but with cocked and ready rifle he pushed ahead again,
more fearful of the human huntsmen in his rear than of the wild
carnivora ahead.

Dawn came at last, but still the man plodded on. All sense of hunger
and fatigue were lost in the terrors of contemplated capture. He could
think only of escape. He dared not pause to rest or eat until there
was no further danger from pursuit, and so he staggered on until at
last he fell and could rise no more. How long he had fled he did not
know, or try to know. When he could flee no longer the knowledge that
he had reached his limit was hidden from him in the unconsciousness of
utter exhaustion.

And thus it was that Achmet Zek, the Arab, found him. Achmet's
followers were for running a spear through the body of their hereditary
enemy; but Achmet would have it otherwise. First he would question the
Belgian. It were easier to question a man first and kill him
afterward, than kill him first and then question him.

So he had Lieutenant Albert Werper carried to his own tent, and there
slaves administered wine and food in small quantities until at last the
prisoner regained consciousness. As he opened his eyes he saw the
faces of strange black men about him, and just outside the tent the
figure of an Arab. Nowhere was the uniform of his soldiers to be seen.

The Arab turned and seeing the open eyes of the prisoner upon him,
entered the tent.

"I am Achmet Zek," he announced. "Who are you, and what were you doing
in my country? Where are your soldiers?"

Achmet Zek! Werper's eyes went wide, and his heart sank. He was in
the clutches of the most notorious of cut-throats - a hater of all
Europeans, especially those who wore the uniform of Belgium. For years
the military forces of Belgian Congo had waged a fruitless war upon
this man and his followers - a war in which quarter had never been asked
nor expected by either side.

But presently in the very hatred of the man for Belgians, Werper saw a
faint ray of hope for himself. He, too, was an outcast and an outlaw.
So far, at least, they possessed a common interest, and Werper decided
to play upon it for all that it might yield.

"I have heard of you," he replied, "and was searching for you. My
people have turned against me. I hate them. Even now their soldiers
are searching for me, to kill me. I knew that you would protect me
from them, for you, too, hate them. In return I will take service with
you. I am a trained soldier. I can fight, and your enemies are my
enemies."

Achmet Zek eyed the European in silence. In his mind he revolved many
thoughts, chief among which was that the unbeliever lied. Of course
there was the chance that he did not lie, and if he told the truth then
his proposition was one well worthy of consideration, since fighting
men were never over plentiful - especially white men with the training
and knowledge of military matters that a European officer must possess.

Achmet Zek scowled and Werper's heart sank; but Werper did not know
Achmet Zek, who was quite apt to scowl where another would smile, and
smile where another would scowl.

"And if you have lied to me," said Achmet Zek, "I will kill you at any
time. What return, other than your life, do you expect for your
services?"

"My keep only, at first," replied Werper. "Later, if I am worth more,
we can easily reach an understanding." Werper's only desire at the
moment was to preserve his life. And so the agreement was reached and
Lieutenant Albert Werper became a member of the ivory and slave raiding
band of the notorious Achmet Zek.

For months the renegade Belgian rode with the savage raider. He fought
with a savage abandon, and a vicious cruelty fully equal to that of his
fellow desperadoes. Achmet Zek watched his recruit with eagle eye, and
with a growing satisfaction which finally found expression in a greater
confidence in the man, and resulted in an increased independence of
action for Werper.

Achmet Zek took the Belgian into his confidence to a great extent, and
at last unfolded to him a pet scheme which the Arab had long fostered,
but which he never had found an opportunity to effect. With the aid of
a European, however, the thing might be easily accomplished. He
sounded Werper.

"You have heard of the man men call Tarzan?" he asked.

Werper nodded. "I have heard of him; but I do not know him."

"But for him we might carry on our 'trading' in safety and with great
profit," continued the Arab. "For years he has fought us, driving us
from the richest part of the country, harassing us, and arming the
natives that they may repel us when we come to 'trade.' He is very
rich. If we could find some way to make him pay us many pieces of gold
we should not only be avenged upon him; but repaid for much that he has
prevented us from winning from the natives under his protection."

Werper withdrew a cigaret from a jeweled case and lighted it.

"And you have a plan to make him pay?" he asked.

"He has a wife," replied Achmet Zek, "whom men say is very beautiful.
She would bring a great price farther north, if we found it too
difficult to collect ransom money from this Tarzan."

Werper bent his head in thought. Achmet Zek stood awaiting his reply.
What good remained in Albert Werper revolted at the thought of selling
a white woman into the slavery and degradation of a Moslem harem. He
looked up at Achmet Zek. He saw the Arab's eyes narrow, and he guessed
that the other had sensed his antagonism to the plan. What would it
mean to Werper to refuse? His life lay in the hands of this
semi-barbarian, who esteemed the life of an unbeliever less highly
than that of a dog. Werper loved life. What was this woman to him,
anyway? She was a European, doubtless, a member of organized society.
He was an outcast. The hand of every white man was against him. She
was his natural enemy, and if he refused to lend himself to her
undoing, Achmet Zek would have him killed.

"You hesitate," murmured the Arab.

"I was but weighing the chances of success," lied Werper, "and my
reward. As a European I can gain admittance to their home and table.
You have no other with you who could do so much. The risk will be
great. I should be well paid, Achmet Zek."

A smile of relief passed over the raider's face.

"Well said, Werper," and Achmet Zek slapped his lieutenant upon the
shoulder. "You should be well paid and you shall. Now let us sit
together and plan how best the thing may be done," and the two men
squatted upon a soft rug beneath the faded silks of Achmet's once
gorgeous tent, and talked together in low voices well into the night.
Both were tall and bearded, and the exposure to sun and wind had given
an almost Arab hue to the European's complexion. In every detail of
dress, too, he copied the fashions of his chief, so that outwardly he
was as much an Arab as the other. It was late when he arose and
retired to his own tent.

The following day Werper spent in overhauling his Belgian uniform,
removing from it every vestige of evidence that might indicate its
military purposes. From a heterogeneous collection of loot, Achmet Zek
procured a pith helmet and a European saddle, and from his black slaves
and followers a party of porters, askaris and tent boys to make up a
modest safari for a big game hunter. At the head of this party Werper
set out from camp.




2

On the Road To Opar


It was two weeks later that John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, riding in
from a tour of inspection of his vast African estate, glimpsed the head
of a column of men crossing the plain that lay between his bungalow and
the forest to the north and west.

He reined in his horse and watched the little party as it emerged from
a concealing swale. His keen eyes caught the reflection of the sun
upon the white helmet of a mounted man, and with the conviction that a
wandering European hunter was seeking his hospitality, he wheeled his
mount and rode slowly forward to meet the newcomer.

A half hour later he was mounting the steps leading to the veranda of
his bungalow, and introducing M. Jules Frecoult to Lady Greystoke.

"I was completely lost," M. Frecoult was explaining. "My head man had
never before been in this part of the country and the guides who were
to have accompanied me from the last village we passed knew even less
of the country than we. They finally deserted us two days since. I am
very fortunate indeed to have stumbled so providentially upon succor.
I do not know what I should have done, had I not found you."

It was decided that Frecoult and his party should remain several days,
or until they were thoroughly rested, when Lord Greystoke would furnish
guides to lead them safely back into country with which Frecoult's head
man was supposedly familiar.

In his guise of a French gentleman of leisure, Werper found little
difficulty in deceiving his host and in ingratiating himself with both
Tarzan and Jane Clayton; but the longer he remained the less hopeful he
became of an easy accomplishment of his designs.

Lady Greystoke never rode alone at any great distance from the
bungalow, and the savage loyalty of the ferocious Waziri warriors who
formed a great part of Tarzan's followers seemed to preclude the
possibility of a successful attempt at forcible abduction, or of the
bribery of the Waziri themselves.

A week passed, and Werper was no nearer the fulfillment of his plan, in
so far as he could judge, than upon the day of his arrival, but at that
very moment something occurred which gave him renewed hope and set his
mind upon an even greater reward than a woman's ransom.

A runner had arrived at the bungalow with the weekly mail, and Lord
Greystoke had spent the afternoon in his study reading and answering
letters. At dinner he seemed distraught, and early in the evening he
excused himself and retired, Lady Greystoke following him very soon
after. Werper, sitting upon the veranda, could hear their voices in
earnest discussion, and having realized that something of unusual
moment was afoot, he quietly rose from his chair, and keeping well in
the shadow of the shrubbery growing profusely about the bungalow, made
his silent way to a point beneath the window of the room in which his
host and hostess slept.

Here he listened, and not without result, for almost the first words he
overheard filled him with excitement. Lady Greystoke was speaking as
Werper came within hearing.

"I always feared for the stability of the company," she was saying;
"but it seems incredible that they should have failed for so enormous a
sum - unless there has been some dishonest manipulation."

"That is what I suspect," replied Tarzan; "but whatever the cause, the
fact remains that I have lost everything, and there is nothing for it
but to return to Opar and get more."

"Oh, John," cried Lady Greystoke, and Werper could feel the shudder
through her voice, "is there no other way? I cannot bear to think of
you returning to that frightful city. I would rather live in poverty
always than to have you risk the hideous dangers of Opar."

"You need have no fear," replied Tarzan, laughing. "I am pretty well
able to take care of myself, and were I not, the Waziri who will
accompany me will see that no harm befalls me."

"They ran away from Opar once, and left you to your fate," she reminded
him.

"They will not do it again," he answered. "They were very much ashamed
of themselves, and were coming back when I met them."

"But there must be some other way," insisted the woman.

"There is no other way half so easy to obtain another fortune, as to go
to the treasure vaults of Opar and bring it away," he replied. "I
shall be very careful, Jane, and the chances are that the inhabitants
of Opar will never know that I have been there again and despoiled them
of another portion of the treasure, the very existence of which they
are as ignorant of as they would be of its value."

The finality in his tone seemed to assure Lady Greystoke that further
argument was futile, and so she abandoned the subject.

Werper remained, listening, for a short time, and then, confident that
he had overheard all that was necessary and fearing discovery, returned
to the veranda, where he smoked numerous cigarets in rapid succession
before retiring.

The following morning at breakfast, Werper announced his intention of
making an early departure, and asked Tarzan's permission to hunt big
game in the Waziri country on his way out - permission which Lord
Greystoke readily granted.

The Belgian consumed two days in completing his preparations, but
finally got away with his safari, accompanied by a single Waziri guide
whom Lord Greystoke had loaned him. The party made but a single short
march when Werper simulated illness, and announced his intention of
remaining where he was until he had fully recovered. As they had gone
but a short distance from the Greystoke bungalow, Werper dismissed the
Waziri guide, telling the warrior that he would send for him when he
was able to proceed. The Waziri gone, the Belgian summoned one of
Achmet Zek's trusted blacks to his tent, and dispatched him to watch
for the departure of Tarzan, returning immediately to advise Werper of
the event and the direction taken by the Englishman.

The Belgian did not have long to wait, for the following day his
emissary returned with word that Tarzan and a party of fifty Waziri
warriors had set out toward the southeast early in the morning.

Werper called his head man to him, after writing a long letter to
Achmet Zek. This letter he handed to the head man.

"Send a runner at once to Achmet Zek with this," he instructed the head
man. "Remain here in camp awaiting further instructions from him or
from me. If any come from the bungalow of the Englishman, tell them
that I am very ill within my tent and can see no one. Now, give me six
porters and six askaris - the strongest and bravest of the safari - and I
will march after the Englishman and discover where his gold is hidden."

And so it was that as Tarzan, stripped to the loin cloth and armed
after the primitive fashion he best loved, led his loyal Waziri toward
the dead city of Opar, Werper, the renegade, haunted his trail through
the long, hot days, and camped close behind him by night.

And as they marched, Achmet Zek rode with his entire following
southward toward the Greystoke farm.

To Tarzan of the Apes the expedition was in the nature of a holiday
outing. His civilization was at best but an outward veneer which he
gladly peeled off with his uncomfortable European clothes whenever any
reasonable pretext presented itself. It was a woman's love which kept
Tarzan even to the semblance of civilization - a condition for which
familiarity had bred contempt. He hated the shams and the hypocrisies
of it and with the clear vision of an unspoiled mind he had penetrated
to the rotten core of the heart of the thing - the cowardly greed for
peace and ease and the safe-guarding of property rights. That the fine
things of life - art, music and literature - had thriven upon such
enervating ideals he strenuously denied, insisting, rather, that they
had endured in spite of civilization.

"Show me the fat, opulent coward," he was wont to say, "who ever
originated a beautiful ideal. In the clash of arms, in the battle for
survival, amid hunger and death and danger, in the face of God as
manifested in the display of Nature's most terrific forces, is born all
that is finest and best in the human heart and mind."

And so Tarzan always came back to Nature in the spirit of a lover
keeping a long deferred tryst after a period behind prison walls. His
Waziri, at marrow, were more civilized than he. They cooked their meat
before they ate it and they shunned many articles of food as unclean
that Tarzan had eaten with gusto all his life and so insidious is the
virus of hypocrisy that even the stalwart ape-man hesitated to give
rein to his natural longings before them. He ate burnt flesh when he
would have preferred it raw and unspoiled, and he brought down game
with arrow or spear when he would far rather have leaped upon it from
ambush and sunk his strong teeth in its jugular; but at last the call
of the milk of the savage mother that had suckled him in infancy rose
to an insistent demand - he craved the hot blood of a fresh kill and his
muscles yearned to pit themselves against the savage jungle in the
battle for existence that had been his sole birthright for the first
twenty years of his life.




3

The Call of the Jungle


Moved by these vague yet all-powerful urgings the ape-man lay awake one
night in the little thorn boma that protected, in a way, his party from
the depredations of the great carnivora of the jungle. A single
warrior stood sleepy guard beside the fire that yellow eyes out of the
darkness beyond the camp made imperative. The moans and the coughing
of the big cats mingled with the myriad noises of the lesser denizens
of the jungle to fan the savage flame in the breast of this savage
English lord. He tossed upon his bed of grasses, sleepless, for an
hour and then he rose, noiseless as a wraith, and while the Waziri's
back was turned, vaulted the boma wall in the face of the flaming eyes,
swung silently into a great tree and was gone.

For a time in sheer exuberance of animal spirit he raced swiftly
through the middle terrace, swinging perilously across wide spans from
one jungle giant to the next, and then he clambered upward to the
swaying, lesser boughs of the upper terrace where the moon shone full
upon him and the air was stirred by little breezes and death lurked
ready in each frail branch. Here he paused and raised his face to
Goro, the moon. With uplifted arm he stood, the cry of the bull ape
quivering upon his lips, yet he remained silent lest he arouse his
faithful Waziri who were all too familiar with the hideous challenge of
their master.

And then he went on more slowly and with greater stealth and caution,
for now Tarzan of the Apes was seeking a kill. Down to the ground he
came in the utter blackness of the close-set boles and the overhanging
verdure of the jungle. He stooped from time to time and put his nose
close to earth. He sought and found a wide game trail and at last his
nostrils were rewarded with the scent of the fresh spoor of Bara, the
deer. Tarzan's mouth watered and a low growl escaped his patrician
lips. Sloughed from him was the last vestige of artificial caste - once
again he was the primeval hunter - the first man - the highest caste type
of the human race. Up wind he followed the elusive spoor with a sense
of perception so transcending that of ordinary man as to be
inconceivable to us. Through counter currents of the heavy stench of
meat eaters he traced the trail of Bara; the sweet and cloying stink of
Horta, the boar, could not drown his quarry's scent - the permeating,
mellow musk of the deer's foot.

Presently the body scent of the deer told Tarzan that his prey was
close at hand. It sent him into the trees again - into the lower
terrace where he could watch the ground below and catch with ears and
nose the first intimation of actual contact with his quarry. Nor was
it long before the ape-man came upon Bara standing alert at the edge of
a moon-bathed clearing. Noiselessly Tarzan crept through the trees
until he was directly over the deer. In the ape-man's right hand was
the long hunting knife of his father and in his heart the blood lust of


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryEdgar Rice BurroughsTarzan and the Jewels of Opar → online text (page 1 of 16)