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.