From a lofty perch Tarzan viewed the village of thatched
huts across the intervening plantation.
He saw that at one point the forest touched the village, and
to this spot he made his way, lured by a fever of curiosity
to behold animals of his own kind, and to learn more of
their ways and view the strange lairs in which they lived.
His savage life among the fierce wild brutes of the jungle
left no opening for any thought that these could be aught else
than enemies. Similarity of form led him into no erroneous
conception of the welcome that would be accorded him
should he be discovered by these, the first of his own kind he
had ever seen.
Tarzan of the Apes was no sentimentalist. He knew nothing
of the brotherhood of man. All things outside his own
tribe were his deadly enemies, with the few exceptions of
which Tantor, the elephant, was a marked example.
And he realized all this without malice or hatred. To kill
was the law of the wild world he knew. Few were his primitive
pleasures, but the greatest of these was to hunt and kill,
and so he accorded to others the right to cherish the same
desires as he, even though he himself might be the object of
His strange life had left him neither morose nor bloodthirsty.
That he joyed in killing, and that he killed with a joyous
laugh upon his handsome lips betokened no innate cruelty.
He killed for food most often, but, being a man, he sometimes
killed for pleasure, a thing which no other animal does;
for it has remained for man alone among all creatures to kill
senselessly and wantonly for the mere pleasure of inflicting
suffering and death.
And when he killed for revenge, or in self-defense, he did
that also without hysteria, for it was a very businesslike
proceeding which admitted of no levity.
So it was that now, as he cautiously approached the village of
Mbonga, he was quite prepared either to kill or be killed should
he be discovered. He proceeded with unwonted stealth, for Kulonga
had taught him great respect for the little sharp splinters of
wood which dealt death so swiftly and unerringly.
At length he came to a great tree, heavy laden with thick
foliage and loaded with pendant loops of giant creepers.
From this almost impenetrable bower above the village he
crouched, looking down upon the scene below him, wondering
over every feature of this new, strange life.
There were naked children running and playing in the village
street. There were women grinding dried plantain in
crude stone mortars, while others were fashioning cakes from
the powdered flour. Out in the fields he could see still other
women hoeing, weeding, or gathering.
All wore strange protruding girdles of dried grass about
their hips and many were loaded with brass and copper
anklets, armlets and bracelets. Around many a dusky neck hung
curiously coiled strands of wire, while several were further
ornamented by huge nose rings.
Tarzan of the Apes looked with growing wonder at these
strange creatures. Dozing in the shade he saw several men,
while at the extreme outskirts of the clearing he occasionally
caught glimpses of armed warriors apparently guarding the
village against surprise from an attacking enemy.
He noticed that the women alone worked. Nowhere was
there evidence of a man tilling the fields or performing
any of the homely duties of the village.
Finally his eyes rested upon a woman directly beneath him.
Before her was a small cauldron standing over a low fire
and in it bubbled a thick, reddish, tarry mass. On one side of
her lay a quantity of wooden arrows the points of which she
dipped into the seething substance, then laying them upon a
narrow rack of boughs which stood upon her other side.
Tarzan of the Apes was fascinated. Here was the secret of
the terrible destructiveness of The Archer's tiny missiles.
He noted the extreme care which the woman took that none of
the matter should touch her hands, and once when a particle
spattered upon one of her fingers he saw her plunge the
member into a vessel of water and quickly rub the tiny stain
away with a handful of leaves.
Tarzan knew nothing of poison, but his shrewd reasoning
told him that it was this deadly stuff that killed, and not the
little arrow, which was merely the messenger that carried it
into the body of its victim.
How he should like to have more of those little death-dealing
slivers. If the woman would only leave her work for an
instant he could drop down, gather up a handful, and be
back in the tree again before she drew three breaths.
As he was trying to think out some plan to distract her
attention he heard a wild cry from across the clearing. He
looked and saw a black warrior standing beneath the very
tree in which he had killed the murderer of Kala an hour before.
The fellow was shouting and waving his spear above his
head. Now and again he would point to something on the
ground before him.
The village was in an uproar instantly. Armed men rushed
from the interior of many a hut and raced madly across the
clearing toward the excited sentry. After them trooped the
old men, and the women and children until, in a moment, the
village was deserted.
Tarzan of the Apes knew that they had found the body of
his victim, but that interested him far less than the fact that
no one remained in the village to prevent his taking a supply
of the arrows which lay below him.
Quickly and noiselessly he dropped to the ground beside
the cauldron of poison. For a moment he stood motionless,
his quick, bright eyes scanning the interior of the palisade.
No one was in sight. His eyes rested upon the open doorway
of a nearby hut. He would take a look within, thought Tarzan,
and so, cautiously, he approached the low thatched building.
For a moment he stood without, listening intently. There was
no sound, and he glided into the semi-darkness of the interior.
Weapons hung against the walls--long spears, strangely
shaped knives, a couple of narrow shields. In the center of
the room was a cooking pot, and at the far end a litter of dry
grasses covered by woven mats which evidently served the
owners as beds and bedding. Several human skulls lay upon
Tarzan of the Apes felt of each article, hefted the spears,
smelled of them, for he "saw" largely through his sensitive
and highly trained nostrils. He determined to own one of
these long, pointed sticks, but he could not take one on this
trip because of the arrows he meant to carry.
As he took each article from the walls, he placed it in a
pile in the center of the room. On top of all he placed the
cooking pot, inverted, and on top of this he laid one of the
grinning skulls, upon which he fastened the headdress of the
Then he stood back, surveyed his work, and grinned.
Tarzan of the Apes enjoyed a joke.
But now he heard, outside, the sounds of many voices, and
long mournful howls, and mighty wailing. He was startled.
Had he remained too long? Quickly he reached the doorway
and peered down the village street toward the village gate.
The natives were not yet in sight, though he could plainly
hear them approaching across the plantation. They must be
Like a flash he sprang across the opening to the pile of arrows.
Gathering up all he could carry under one arm, he overturned
the seething cauldron with a kick, and disappeared into
the foliage above just as the first of the returning natives
entered the gate at the far end of the village street. Then he
turned to watch the proceeding below, poised like some wild
bird ready to take swift wing at the first sign of danger.
The natives filed up the street, four of them bearing the
dead body of Kulonga. Behind trailed the women, uttering
strange cries and weird lamentation. On they came to the
portals of Kulonga's hut, the very one in which Tarzan had
wrought his depredations.
Scarcely had half a dozen entered the building ere they
came rushing out in wild, jabbering confusion. The others
hastened to gather about. There was much excited gesticulating,
pointing, and chattering; then several of the warriors
approached and peered within.
Finally an old fellow with many ornaments of metal about
his arms and legs, and a necklace of dried human hands
depending upon his chest, entered the hut.
It was Mbonga, the king, father of Kulonga.
For a few moments all was silent. Then Mbonga emerged,
a look of mingled wrath and superstitious fear writ upon his
hideous countenance. He spoke a few words to the assembled
warriors, and in an instant the men were flying through the
little village searching minutely every hut and corner within
Scarcely had the search commenced than the overturned
cauldron was discovered, and with it the theft of the poisoned
arrows. Nothing more they found, and it was a thoroughly
awed and frightened group of savages which huddled around
their king a few moments later.
Mbonga could explain nothing of the strange events that
had taken place. The finding of the still warm body of
Kulonga--on the very verge of their fields and within easy
earshot of the village--knifed and stripped at the door of
his father's home, was in itself sufficiently mysterious, but
these last awesome discoveries within the village, within the
dead Kulonga's own hut, filled their hearts with dismay, and
conjured in their poor brains only the most frightful of
They stood in little groups, talking in low tones, and ever
casting affrighted glances behind them from their great
Tarzan of the Apes watched them for a while from his
lofty perch in the great tree. There was much in their
demeanor which he could not understand, for of superstition
he was ignorant, and of fear of any kind he had but a vague
The sun was high in the heavens. Tarzan had not broken
fast this day, and it was many miles to where lay the
toothsome remains of Horta the boar.
So he turned his back upon the village of Mbonga and
melted away into the leafy fastness of the forest.
Tarzan of the Apes Chapter 9
... Tarzan of the Apes Chapter 11