Text - "The Beasts of Tarzan" Edgar Rice Burroughs

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As he wheeled about, it was a beast at bay, vibrant with the instinct
of self-preservation, that faced a huge bull-ape that was already
charging down upon him.

The two years that had elapsed since Tarzan had come out of the savage
forest with his rescued mate had witnessed slight diminution of the
mighty powers that had made him the invincible lord of the jungle. His
great estates in Uziri had claimed much of his time and attention, and
there he had found ample field for the practical use and retention of
his almost superhuman powers; but naked and unarmed to do battle with
the shaggy, bull-necked beast that now confronted him was a test that
the ape-man would scarce have welcomed at any period of his wild

But there was no alternative other than to meet the rage-maddened
creature with the weapons with which nature had endowed him.

Over the bull's shoulder Tarzan could see now the heads and shoulders
of perhaps a dozen more of these mighty fore-runners of primitive man.

He knew, however, that there was little chance that they would attack
him, since it is not within the reasoning powers of the anthropoid to
be able to weigh or appreciate the value of concentrated action against
an enemy-otherwise they would long since have become the dominant
creatures of their haunts, so tremendous a power of destruction lies in
their mighty thews and savage fangs.

With a low snarl the beast now hurled himself at Tarzan, but the
ape-man had found, among other things in the haunts of civilized man,
certain methods of scientific warfare that are unknown to the jungle

Whereas, a few years since, he would have met the brute rush with brute
force, he now sidestepped his antagonist's headlong charge, and as the
brute hurtled past him swung a mighty right to the pit of the ape's

With a howl of mingled rage and anguish the great anthropoid bent
double and sank to the ground, though almost instantly he was again
struggling to his feet.

Before he could regain them, however, his white-skinned foe had wheeled
and pounced upon him, and in the act there dropped from the shoulders
of the English lord the last shred of his superficial mantle of

Once again he was the jungle beast revelling in bloody conflict with
his kind. Once again he was Tarzan, son of Kala the she-ape.

His strong, white teeth sank into the hairy throat of his enemy as he
sought the pulsing jugular.

Powerful fingers held the mighty fangs from his own flesh, or clenched
and beat with the power of a steam-hammer upon the snarling,
foam-flecked face of his adversary.

In a circle about them the balance of the tribe of apes stood watching
and enjoying the struggle. They muttered low gutturals of approval as
bits of white hide or hairy bloodstained skin were torn from one
contestant or the other. But they were silent in amazement and
expectation when they saw the mighty white ape wriggle upon the back of
their king, and, with steel muscles tensed beneath the armpits of his
antagonist, bear down mightily with his open palms upon the back of the
thick bullneck, so that the king ape could but shriek in agony and
flounder helplessly about upon the thick mat of jungle grass.

As Tarzan had overcome the huge Terkoz that time years before when he
had been about to set out upon his quest for human beings of his own
kind and colour, so now he overcame this other great ape with the same
wrestling hold upon which he had stumbled by accident during that other
combat. The little audience of fierce anthropoids heard the creaking
of their king's neck mingling with his agonized shrieks and hideous

Then there came a sudden crack, like the breaking of a stout limb
before the fury of the wind. The bullet-head crumpled forward upon its
flaccid neck against the great hairy chest-the roaring and the
shrieking ceased.

The little pig-eyes of the onlookers wandered from the still form of
their leader to that of the white ape that was rising to its feet
beside the vanquished, then back to their king as though in wonder that
he did not arise and slay this presumptuous stranger.

They saw the new-comer place a foot upon the neck of the quiet figure
at his feet and, throwing back his head, give vent to the wild, uncanny
challenge of the bull-ape that has made a kill. Then they knew that
their king was dead.

Across the jungle rolled the horrid notes of the victory cry. The
little monkeys in the tree-tops ceased their chattering. The
harsh-voiced, brilliant-plumed birds were still. From afar came the
answering wail of a leopard and the deep roar of a lion.

It was the old Tarzan who turned questioning eyes upon the little knot
of apes before him. It was the old Tarzan who shook his head as though
to toss back a heavy mane that had fallen before his face-an old habit
dating from the days that his great shock of thick, black hair had
fallen about his shoulders, and often tumbled before his eyes when it
had meant life or death to him to have his vision unobstructed.

The ape-man knew that he might expect an immediate attack on the part
of that particular surviving bull-ape who felt himself best fitted to
contend for the kingship of the tribe. Among his own apes he knew
that it was not unusual for an entire stranger to enter a community
and, after having dispatched the king, assume the leadership of the
tribe himself, together with the fallen monarch's mates.

On the other hand, if he made no attempt to follow them, they might
move slowly away from him, later to fight among themselves for the
supremacy. That he could be king of them, if he so chose, he was
confident; but he was not sure he cared to assume the sometimes irksome
duties of that position, for he could see no particular advantage to be
gained thereby.

One of the younger apes, a huge, splendidly muscled brute, was edging
threateningly closer to the ape-man. Through his bared fighting fangs
there issued a low, sullen growl.

Tarzan watched his every move, standing rigid as a statue. To have
fallen back a step would have been to precipitate an immediate charge;
to have rushed forward to meet the other might have had the same
result, or it might have put the bellicose one to flight-it all
depended upon the young bull's stock of courage.

To stand perfectly still, waiting, was the middle course. In this
event the bull would, according to custom, approach quite close to the
object of his attention, growling hideously and baring slavering fangs.
Slowly he would circle about the other, as though with a chip upon his
shoulder; and this he did, even as Tarzan had foreseen.

It might be a bluff royal, or, on the other hand, so unstable is the
mind of an ape, a passing impulse might hurl the hairy mass, tearing
and rending, upon the man without an instant's warning.

As the brute circled him Tarzan turned slowly, keeping his eyes ever
upon the eyes of his antagonist. He had appraised the young bull as
one who had never quite felt equal to the task of overthrowing his
former king, but who one day would have done so.Tarzan saw that the
beast was of wondrous proportions, standing over seven feet upon his
short, bowed legs.

His great, hairy arms reached almost to the ground even when he stood
erect, and his fighting fangs, now quite close to Tarzan's face, were
exceptionally long and sharp. Like the others of his tribe, he
differed in several minor essentials from the apes of Tarzan's boyhood.

At first the ape-man had experienced a thrill of hope at sight of the
shaggy bodies of the anthropoids-a hope that by some strange freak of
fate he had been again returned to his own tribe; but a closer
inspection had convinced him that these were another species.

As the threatening bull continued his stiff and jerky circling of the
ape-man, much after the manner that you have noted among dogs when a
strange canine comes among them, it occurred to Tarzan to discover if
the language of his own tribe was identical with that of this other
family, and so he addressed the brute in the language of the tribe of

"Who are you," he asked, "who threatens Tarzan of the Apes?"

The hairy brute looked his surprise.

"I am Akut," replied the other in the same simple, primal tongue which
is so low in the scale of spoken languages that, as Tarzan had
surmised, it was identical with that of the tribe in which the first
twenty years of his life had been spent.

"I am Akut," said the ape. "Molak is dead. I am king. Go away or I
shall kill you!"

"You saw how easily I killed Molak," replied Tarzan. "So I could kill
you if I cared to be king. But Tarzan of the Apes would not be king of
the tribe of Akut. All he wishes is to live in peace in this country.
Let us be friends. Tarzan of the Apes can help you, and you can help
Tarzan of the Apes."