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Chapter 5 The White Ape

  • Tenderly Kala nursed her little waif, wondering silently why it did not gai_trength and agility as did the little apes of other mothers. It was nearly _ear from the time the little fellow came into her possession before he woul_alk alone, and as for climbing—my, but how stupid he was!
  • Kala sometimes talked with the older females about her young hopeful, but non_f them could understand how a child could be so slow and backward in learnin_o care for itself. Why, it could not even find food alone, and more tha_welve moons had passed since Kala had come upon it.
  • Had they known that the child had seen thirteen moons before it had come int_ala's possession they would have considered its case as absolutely hopeless, for the little apes of their own tribe were as far advanced in two or thre_oons as was this little stranger after twenty-five.
  • Tublat, Kala's husband, was sorely vexed, and but for the female's carefu_atching would have put the child out of the way.
  • "He will never be a great ape," he argued. "Always will you have to carry hi_nd protect him. What good will he be to the tribe? None; only a burden.
  • "Let us leave him quietly sleeping among the tall grasses, that you may bea_ther and stronger apes to guard us in our old age."
  • "Never, Broken Nose," replied Kala. "If I must carry him forever, so be it."
  • And then Tublat went to Kerchak to urge him to use his authority with Kala, and force her to give up little Tarzan, which was the name they had given t_he tiny Lord Greystoke, and which meant "White-Skin."
  • But when Kerchak spoke to her about it Kala threatened to run away from th_ribe if they did not leave her in peace with the child; and as this is one o_he inalienable rights of the jungle folk, if they be dissatisfied among thei_wn people, they bothered her no more, for Kala was a fine clean-limbed youn_emale, and they did not wish to lose her.
  • As Tarzan grew he made more rapid strides, so that by the time he was te_ears old he was an excellent climber, and on the ground could do man_onderful things which were beyond the powers of his little brothers an_isters.
  • In many ways did he differ from them, and they often marveled at his superio_unning, but in strength and size he was deficient; for at ten the grea_nthropoids were fully grown, some of them towering over six feet in height, while little Tarzan was still but a half-grown boy.
  • Yet such a boy!
  • From early childhood he had used his hands to swing from branch to branc_fter the manner of his giant mother, and as he grew older he spent hour upo_our daily speeding through the tree tops with his brothers and sisters.
  • He could spring twenty feet across space at the dizzy heights of the fores_op, and grasp with unerring precision, and without apparent jar, a lim_aving wildly in the path of an approaching tornado.
  • He could drop twenty feet at a stretch from limb to limb in rapid descent t_he ground, or he could gain the utmost pinnacle of the loftiest tropica_iant with the ease and swiftness of a squirrel.
  • Though but ten years old he was fully as strong as the average man of thirty, and far more agile than the most practiced athlete ever becomes. And day b_ay his strength was increasing.
  • His life among these fierce apes had been happy; for his recollection held n_ther life, nor did he know that there existed within the universe aught els_han his little forest and the wild jungle animals with which he was familiar.
  • He was nearly ten before he commenced to realize that a great differenc_xisted between himself and his fellows. His little body, burned brown b_xposure, suddenly caused him feelings of intense shame, for he realized tha_t was entirely hairless, like some low snake, or other reptile.
  • He attempted to obviate this by plastering himself from head to foot with mud, but this dried and fell off. Besides it felt so uncomfortable that he quickl_ecided that he preferred the shame to the discomfort.
  • In the higher land which his tribe frequented was a little lake, and it wa_ere that Tarzan first saw his face in the clear, still waters of its bosom.
  • It was on a sultry day of the dry season that he and one of his cousins ha_one down to the bank to drink. As they leaned over, both little faces wer_irrored on the placid pool; the fierce and terrible features of the ap_eside those of the aristocratic scion of an old English house.
  • Tarzan was appalled. It had been bad enough to be hairless, but to own such _ountenance! He wondered that the other apes could look at him at all.
  • That tiny slit of a mouth and those puny white teeth! How they looked besid_he mighty lips and powerful fangs of his more fortunate brothers!
  • And the little pinched nose of his; so thin was it that it looked hal_tarved. He turned red as he compared it with the beautiful broad nostrils o_is companion. Such a generous nose! Why it spread half across his face! I_ertainly must be fine to be so handsome, thought poor little Tarzan.
  • But when he saw his own eyes; ah, that was the final blow —a brown spot, _ray circle and then blank whiteness! Frightful! not even the snakes had suc_ideous eyes as he.
  • So intent was he upon this personal appraisement of his features that he di_ot hear the parting of the tall grass behind him as a great body pushe_tself stealthily through the jungle; nor did his companion, the ape, hea_ither, for he was drinking and the noise of his sucking lips and gurgles o_atisfaction drowned the quiet approach of the intruder.
  • Not thirty paces behind the two she crouched—Sabor, the huge lioness—lashin_er tail. Cautiously she moved a great padded paw forward, noiselessly placin_t before she lifted the next. Thus she advanced; her belly low, almos_ouching the surface of the ground—a great cat preparing to spring upon it_rey.
  • Now she was within ten feet of the two unsuspecting littl_layfellows—carefully she drew her hind feet well up beneath her body, th_reat muscles rolling under the beautiful skin.
  • So low she was crouching now that she seemed flattened to the earth except fo_he upward bend of the glossy back as it gathered for the spring.
  • No longer the tail lashed—quiet and straight behind her it lay.
  • An instant she paused thus, as though turned to stone, and then, with an awfu_cream, she sprang.
  • Sabor, the lioness, was a wise hunter. To one less wise the wild alarm of he_ierce cry as she sprang would have seemed a foolish thing, for could she no_ore surely have fallen upon her victims had she but quietly leaped withou_hat loud shriek?
  • But Sabor knew well the wondrous quickness of the jungle folk and their almos_nbelievable powers of hearing. To them the sudden scraping of one blade o_rass across another was as effectual a warning as her loudest cry, and Sabo_new that she could not make that mighty leap without a little noise.
  • Her wild scream was not a warning. It was voiced to freeze her poor victims i_ paralysis of terror for the tiny fraction of an instant which would suffic_or her mighty claws to sink into their soft flesh and hold them beyond hop_f escape.
  • So far as the ape was concerned, Sabor reasoned correctly. The little fello_rouched trembling just an instant, but that instant was quite long enough t_rove his undoing.
  • Not so, however, with Tarzan, the man-child. His life amidst the dangers o_he jungle had taught him to meet emergencies with self-confidence, and hi_igher intelligence resulted in a quickness of mental action far beyond th_owers of the apes.
  • So the scream of Sabor, the lioness, galvanized the brain and muscles o_ittle Tarzan into instant action.
  • Before him lay the deep waters of the little lake, behind him certain death; _ruel death beneath tearing claws and rending fangs.
  • Tarzan had always hated water except as a medium for quenching his thirst. H_ated it because he connected it with the chill and discomfort of th_orrential rains, and he feared it for the thunder and lightning and win_hich accompanied them.
  • The deep waters of the lake he had been taught by his wild mother to avoid, and further, had he not seen little Neeta sink beneath its quiet surface onl_ few short weeks before never to return to the tribe?
  • But of the two evils his quick mind chose the lesser ere the first note o_abor's scream had scarce broken the quiet of the jungle, and before the grea_east had covered half her leap Tarzan felt the chill waters close above hi_ead.
  • He could not swim, and the water was very deep; but still he lost no particl_f that self-confidence and resourcefulness which were the badges of hi_uperior being.
  • Rapidly he moved his hands and feet in an attempt to scramble upward, and, possibly more by chance than design, he fell into the stroke that a dog use_hen swimming, so that within a few seconds his nose was above water and h_ound that he could keep it there by continuing his strokes, and also mak_rogress through the water.
  • He was much surprised and pleased with this new acquirement which had been s_uddenly thrust upon him, but he had no time for thinking much upon it.
  • He was now swimming parallel to the bank and there he saw the cruel beast tha_ould have seized him crouching upon the still form of his little playmate.
  • The lioness was intently watching Tarzan, evidently expecting him to return t_hore, but this the boy had no intention of doing.
  • Instead he raised his voice in the call of distress common to his tribe, adding to it the warning which would prevent would-be rescuers from runnin_nto the clutches of Sabor.
  • Almost immediately there came an answer from the distance, and presently fort_r fifty great apes swung rapidly and majestically through the trees towar_he scene of tragedy.
  • In the lead was Kala, for she had recognized the tones of her best beloved, and with her was the mother of the little ape who lay dead beneath crue_abor.
  • Though more powerful and better equipped for fighting than the apes, th_ioness had no desire to meet these enraged adults, and with a snarl of hatre_he sprang quickly into the brush and disappeared.
  • Tarzan now swam to shore and clambered quickly upon dry land. The feeling o_reshness and exhilaration which the cool waters had imparted to him, fille_is little being with grateful surprise, and ever after he lost no opportunit_o take a daily plunge in lake or stream or ocean when it was possible to d_o.
  • For a long time Kala could not accustom herself to the sight; for though he_eople could swim when forced to it, they did not like to enter water, an_ever did so voluntarily.
  • The adventure with the lioness gave Tarzan food for pleasurable memories, fo_t was such affairs which broke the monotony of his daily life—otherwise but _ull round of searching for food, eating, and sleeping.
  • The tribe to which he belonged roamed a tract extending, roughly, twenty-fiv_iles along the seacoast and some fifty miles inland. This they traverse_lmost continually, occasionally remaining for months in one locality; but a_hey moved through the trees with great speed they often covered the territor_n a very few days.
  • Much depended upon food supply, climatic conditions, and the prevalence o_nimals of the more dangerous species; though Kerchak often led them on lon_arches for no other reason than that he had tired of remaining in the sam_lace.
  • At night they slept where darkness overtook them, lying upon the ground, an_ometimes covering their heads, and more seldom their bodies, with the grea_eaves of the elephant's ear. Two or three might lie cuddled in each other'_rms for additional warmth if the night were chill, and thus Tarzan had slep_n Kala's arms nightly for all these years.
  • That the huge, fierce brute loved this child of another race is beyon_uestion, and he, too, gave to the great, hairy beast all the affection tha_ould have belonged to his fair young mother had she lived.
  • When he was disobedient she cuffed him, it is true, but she was never cruel t_im, and was more often caressing him than chastising him.
  • Tublat, her mate, always hated Tarzan, and on several occasions had come nea_nding his youthful career.
  • Tarzan on his part never lost an opportunity to show that he full_eciprocated his foster father's sentiments, and whenever he could safel_nnoy him or make faces at him or hurl insults upon him from the safety of hi_other's arms, or the slender branches of the higher trees, he did so.
  • His superior intelligence and cunning permitted him to invent a thousan_iabolical tricks to add to the burdens of Tublat's life.
  • Early in his boyhood he had learned to form ropes by twisting and tying lon_rasses together, and with these he was forever tripping Tublat or attemptin_o hang him from some overhanging branch.
  • By constant playing and experimenting with these he learned to tie rude knots, and make sliding nooses; and with these he and the younger apes amuse_hemselves. What Tarzan did they tried to do also, but he alone originated an_ecame proficient.
  • One day while playing thus Tarzan had thrown his rope at one of his fleein_ompanions, retaining the other end in his grasp. By accident the noose fel_quarely about the running ape's neck, bringing him to a sudden and surprisin_alt.
  • Ah, here was a new game, a fine game, thought Tarzan, and immediately h_ttempted to repeat the trick. And thus, by painstaking and continue_ractice, he learned the art of roping.
  • Now, indeed, was the life of Tublat a living nightmare. In sleep, upon th_arch, night or day, he never knew when that quiet noose would slip about hi_eck and nearly choke the life out of him.
  • Kala punished, Tublat swore dire vengeance, and old Kerchak took notice an_arned and threatened; but all to no avail.
  • Tarzan defied them all, and the thin, strong noose continued to settle abou_ublat's neck whenever he least expected it.
  • The other apes derived unlimited amusement from Tublat's discomfiture, fo_roken Nose was a disagreeable old fellow, whom no one liked, anyway.
  • In Tarzan's clever little mind many thoughts revolved, and back of these wa_is divine power of reason.
  • If he could catch his fellow apes with his long arm of many grasses, why no_abor, the lioness?
  • It was the germ of a thought, which, however, was destined to mull around i_is conscious and subconscious mind until it resulted in magnificen_chievement.
  • But that came in later years.