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Chapter 17 The White Chief of the Waziri

  • When the eyes of the black Manyuema savage fell upon the strange apparitio_hat confronted him with menacing knife they went wide in horror. He forgo_he gun within his hands; he even forgot to cry out—his one thought was t_scape this fearsome-looking white savage, this giant of a man upon whos_assive rolling muscles and mighty chest the flickering firelight played.
  • But before he could turn Tarzan was upon him, and then the sentry thought t_cream for aid, but it was too late. A great hand was upon his windpipe, an_e was being borne to the earth. He battled furiously but futilely—with th_rim tenacity of a bulldog those awful fingers were clinging to his throat.
  • Swiftly and surely life was being choked from him. His eyes bulged, his tongu_rotruded, his face turned to a ghastly purplish hue—there was a convulsiv_remor of the stiffening muscles, and the Manyuema sentry lay quite still.
  • The ape-man threw the body across one of his broad shoulders and, gathering u_he fellow's gun, trotted silently up the sleeping village street toward th_ree that gave him such easy ingress to the palisaded village. He bore th_ead sentry into the midst of the leafy maze above.
  • First he stripped the body of cartridge belt and such ornaments as he craved, wedging it into a convenient crotch while his nimble fingers ran over it i_earch of the loot he could not plainly see in the dark. When he had finishe_e took the gun that had belonged to the man, and walked far out upon a limb, from the end of which he could obtain a better view of the huts. Drawing _areful bead on the beehive structure in which he knew the chief Arabs to be, he pulled the trigger. Almost instantly there was an answering groan. Tarza_miled. He had made another lucky hit.
  • Following the shot there was a moment's silence in the camp, and then Manyuem_nd Arab came pouring from the huts like a swarm of angry hornets; but if th_ruth were known they were even more frightened than they were angry. Th_train of the preceding day had wrought upon the fears of both black an_hite, and now this single shot in the night conjured all manner of terribl_onjectures in their terrified minds.
  • When they discovered that their sentry had disappeared, their fears were in n_ay allayed, and as though to bolster their courage by warlike actions, the_egan to fire rapidly at the barred gates of the village, although no enem_as in sight. Tarzan took advantage of the deafening roar of this fusillade t_ire into the mob beneath him.
  • No one heard his shot above the din of rattling musketry in the street, bu_ome who were standing close saw one of their number crumple suddenly to th_arth. When they leaned over him he was dead. They were panic-stricken, and i_ook all the brutal authority of the Arabs to keep the Manyuema from rushin_elter-skelter into the jungle—anywhere to escape from this terrible village.
  • After a time they commenced to quiet down, and as no further mysterious death_ccurred among them they took heart again. But it was a short-lived respite, for just as they had concluded that they would not be disturbed again Tarza_ave voice to a weird moan, and as the raiders looked up in the direction fro_hich the sound seemed to come, the ape-man, who stood swinging the dead bod_f the sentry gently to and fro, suddenly shot the corpse far out above thei_eads.
  • With howls of alarm the throng broke in all directions to escape this new an_errible creature who seemed to be springing upon them. To their fear- distorted imaginations the body of the sentry, falling with wide-sprawled arm_nd legs, assumed the likeness of a great beast of prey. In their anxiety t_scape, many of the blacks scaled the palisade, while others tore down th_ars from the gates and rushed madly across the clearing toward the jungle.
  • For a time no one turned back toward the thing that had frightened them, bu_arzan knew that they would in a moment, and when they discovered that it wa_ut the dead body of their sentry, while they would doubtless be still furthe_errified, he had a rather definite idea as to what they would do, and so h_aded silently away toward the south, taking the moonlit upper terrace bac_oward the camp of the Waziri.
  • Presently one of the Arabs turned and saw that the thing that had leaped fro_he tree upon them lay still and quiet where it had fallen in the center o_he village street. Cautiously he crept back toward it until he saw that i_as but a man. A moment later he was beside the figure, and in another ha_ecognized it as the corpse of the Manyuema who had stood on guard at th_illage gate.
  • His companions rapidly gathered around at his call, and after a moment'_xcited conversation they did precisely what Tarzan had reasoned they would.
  • Raising their guns to their shoulders, they poured volley after volley int_he tree from which the corpse had been thrown—had Tarzan remained there h_ould have been riddled by a hundred bullets.
  • When the Arabs and Manyuema discovered that the only marks of violence upo_he body of their dead comrade were giant finger prints upon his swolle_hroat they were again thrown into deeper apprehension and despair. That the_ere not even safe within a palisaded village at night came as a distinc_hock to them. That an enemy could enter into the midst of their camp and kil_heir sentry with bare hands seemed outside the bounds of reason, and so th_uperstitious Manyuema commenced to attribute their ill luck to supernatura_auses; nor were the Arabs able to offer any better explanation.
  • With at least fifty of their number flying through the black jungle, an_ithout the slightest knowledge of when their uncanny foemen might resume th_old-blooded slaughter they had commenced, it was a desperate band of cut- throats that waited sleeplessly for the dawn. Only on the promise of the Arab_hat they would leave the village at daybreak, and hasten onward toward thei_wn land, would the remaining Manyuema consent to stay at the village a momen_onger. Not even fear of their cruel masters was sufficient to overcome thi_ew terror.
  • And so it was that when Tarzan and his warriors returned to the attack th_ext morning they found the raiders prepared to march out of the village. Th_anyuema were laden with stolen ivory. As Tarzan saw it he grinned, for h_new that they would not carry it far. Then he saw something which caused hi_nxiety—a number of the Manyuema were lighting torches in the remnant of th_amp-fire. They were about to fire the village.
  • Tarzan was perched in a tall tree some hundred yards from the palisade. Makin_ trumpet of his hands, he called loudly in the Arab tongue: "Do not fire th_uts, or we shall kill you all! Do not fire the huts, or we shall kill yo_ll!"
  • A dozen times he repeated it. The Manyuema hesitated, then one of them flun_is torch into the campfire. The others were about to do the same when an Ara_prung upon them with a stick, beating them toward the huts. Tarzan could se_hat he was commanding them to fire the little thatched dwellings. Then h_tood erect upon the swaying branch a hundred feet above the ground, and, raising one of the Arab guns to his shoulder, took careful aim and fired. Wit_he report the Arab who was urging on his men to burn the village fell in hi_racks, and the Manyuema threw away their torches and fled from the village.
  • The last Tarzan saw of them they were racing toward the jungle, while thei_ormer masters knelt upon the ground and fired at them.
  • But however angry the Arabs might have been at the insubordination of thei_laves, they were at least convinced that it would be the better part o_isdom to forego the pleasure of firing the village that had given them tw_uch nasty receptions. In their hearts, however, they swore to return agai_ith such force as would enable them to sweep the entire country for mile_round, until no vestige of human life remained.
  • They had looked in vain for the owner of the voice which had frightened of_he men who had been detailed to put the torch to the huts, but not even th_eenest eye among them had been able to locate him. They had seen the puff o_moke from the tree following the shot that brought down the Arab, but, thoug_ volley had immediately been loosed into its foliage, there had been n_ndication that it had been effective.
  • Tarzan was too intelligent to be caught in any such trap, and so the report o_is shot had scarcely died away before the ape-man was on the ground an_acing for another tree a hundred yards away. Here he again found a suitabl_erch from which he could watch the preparations of the raiders. It occurre_o him that he might have considerable more fun with them, so again he calle_o them through his improvised trumpet.
  • "Leave the ivory!" he cried. "Leave the ivory! Dead men have no use fo_vory!"
  • Some of the Manyuema started to lay down their loads, but this was altogethe_oo much for the avaricious Arabs. With loud shouts and curses they aime_heir guns full upon the bearers, threatening instant death to any who migh_ay down his load. They could give up firing the village, but the thought o_bandoning this enormous fortune in ivory was quite beyond thei_onception—better death than that.
  • And so they marched out of the village of the Waziri, and on the shoulders o_heir slaves was the ivory ransom of a score of kings. Toward the north the_arched, back toward their savage settlement in the wild and unknown countr_hich lies back from the Kongo in the uttermost depths of The Great Forest, and on either side of them traveled an invisible and relentless foe.
  • Under Tarzan's guidance the black Waziri warriors stationed themselves alon_he trail on either side in the densest underbrush. They stood at fa_ntervals, and, as the column passed, a single arrow or a heavy spear, wel_imed, would pierce a Manyuema or an Arab. Then the Waziri would melt into th_istance and run ahead to take his stand farther on. They did not strik_nless success were sure and the danger of detection almost nothing, and s_he arrows and the spears were few and far between, but so persistent an_nevitable that the slow-moving column of heavy-laden raiders was in _onstant state of panic—panic at the uncertainty of who the next would be t_all, and when.
  • It was with the greatest difficulty that the Arabs prevented their men a doze_imes from throwing away their burdens and fleeing like frightened rabbits u_he trail toward the north. And so the day wore on—a frightful nightmare of _ay for the raiders—a day of weary but well-repaid work for the Waziri. A_ight the Arabs constructed a rude BOMA in a little clearing by a river, an_ent into camp.
  • At intervals during the night a rifle would bark close above their heads, an_ne of the dozen sentries which they now had posted would tumble to th_round. Such a condition was insupportable, for they saw that by means o_hese hideous tactics they would be completely wiped out, one by one, withou_nflicting a single death upon their enemy. But yet, with the persisten_variciousness of the white man, the Arabs clung to their loot, and whe_orning came forced the demoralized Manyuema to take up their burdens of deat_nd stagger on into the jungle.
  • For three days the withering column kept up its frightful march. Each hour wa_arked by its deadly arrow or cruel spear. The nights were made hideous by th_arking of the invisible gun that made sentry duty equivalent to a deat_entence.
  • On the morning of the fourth day the Arabs were compelled to shoot two o_heir blacks before they could compel the balance to take up the hated ivory, and as they did so a voice rang out, clear and strong, from the jungle: "Toda_ou die, oh, Manyuema, unless you lay down the ivory. Fall upon your crue_asters and kill them! You have guns, why do you not use them? Kill the Arabs, and we will not harm you. We will take you back to our village and feed you, and lead you out of our country in safety and in peace. Lay down the ivory, and fall upon your masters—we will help you. Else you die!"
  • As the voice died down the raiders stood as though turned to stone. The Arab_yed their Manyuema slaves; the slaves looked first at one of their fellows, and then at another—they were but waiting for some one to take the initiative.
  • There were some thirty Arabs left, and about one hundred and fifty blacks. Al_ere armed—even those who were acting as porters had their rifles slung acros_heir backs.
  • The Arabs drew together. The sheik ordered the Manyuema to take up the march, and as he spoke he cocked his rifle and raised it. But at the same instant on_f the blacks threw down his load, and, snatching his rifle from his back, fired point-black at the group of Arabs. In an instant the camp was a cursing, howling mass of demons, fighting with guns and knives and pistols. The Arab_tood together, and defended their lives valiantly, but with the rain of lea_hat poured upon them from their own slaves, and the shower of arrows an_pears which now leaped from the surrounding jungle aimed solely at them, there was little question from the first what the outcome would be. In te_inutes from the time the first porter had thrown down his load the last o_he Arabs lay dead.
  • When the firing had ceased Tarzan spoke again to the Manyuema:
  • "Take up our ivory, and return it to our village, from whence you stole it. W_hall not harm you."
  • For a moment the Manyuema hesitated. They had no stomach to retrace tha_ifficult three days' trail. They talked together in low whispers, and on_urned toward the jungle, calling aloud to the voice that had spoken to the_rom out of the foliage.
  • "How do we know that when you have us in your village you will not kill u_ll?" he asked.
  • "You do not know," replied Tarzan, "other than that we have promised not t_arm you if you will return our ivory to us. But this you do know, that i_ies within our power to kill you all if you do not return as we direct, an_re we not more likely to do so if you anger us than if you do as we bid?"
  • "Who are you that speaks the tongue of our Arab masters?" cried the Manyuem_pokesman. "Let us see you, and then we shall give you our answer."
  • Tarzan stepped out of the jungle a dozen paces from them.
  • "Look!" he said. When they saw that he was white they were filled with awe, for never had they seen a white savage before, and at his great muscles an_iant frame they were struck with wonder and admiration.
  • "You may trust me," said Tarzan. "So long as you do as I tell you, and har_one of my people, we shall do you no hurt. Will you take up our ivory an_eturn in peace to our village, or shall we follow along your trail toward th_orth as we have followed for the past three days?"
  • The recollection of the horrid days that had just passed was the thing tha_inally decided the Manyuema, and so, after a short conference, they took u_heir burdens and set off to retrace their steps toward the village of th_aziri. At the end of the third day they marched into the village gate, an_ere greeted by the survivors of the recent massacre, to whom Tarzan had sen_ messenger in their temporary camp to the south on the day that the raider_ad quitted the village, telling them that they might return in safety.
  • It took all the mastery and persuasion that Tarzan possessed to prevent th_aziri falling on the Manyuema tooth and nail, and tearing them to pieces, bu_hen he had explained that he had given his word that they would not b_olested if they carried the ivory back to the spot from which they had stole_t, and had further impressed upon his people that they owed their entir_ictory to him, they finally acceded to his demands, and allowed the cannibal_o rest in peace within their palisade.
  • That night the village warriors held a big palaver to celebrate thei_ictories, and to choose a new chief. Since old Waziri's death Tarzan had bee_irecting the warriors in battle, and the temporary command had been tacitl_onceded to him. There had been no time to choose a new chief from among thei_wn number, and, in fact, so remarkably successful had they been under th_pe-man's generalship that they had had no wish to delegate the suprem_uthority to another for fear that what they already had gained might be lost.
  • They had so recently seen the results of running counter to this savage whit_an's advice in the disastrous charge ordered by Waziri, in which he himsel_ad died, that it had not been difficult for them to accept Tarzan's authorit_s final.
  • The principal warriors sat in a circle about a small fire to discuss th_elative merits of whomever might be suggested as old Waziri's successor. I_as Busuli who spoke first:
  • "Since Waziri is dead, leaving no son, there is but one among us whom we kno_rom experience is fitted to make us a good king. There is only one who ha_roved that he can successfully lead us against the guns of the white man, an_ring us easy victory without the loss of a single life. There is only one, and that is the white man who has led us for the past few days," and Busul_prang to his feet, and with uplifted spear and half-bent, crouching bod_ommenced to dance slowly about Tarzan, chanting in time to his steps:
  • "Waziri, king of the Waziri; Waziri, killer of Arabs; Waziri, king of th_aziri."
  • One by one the other warriors signified their acceptance of Tarzan as thei_ing by joining in the solemn dance. The women came and squatted about the ri_f the circle, beating upon tom-toms, clapping their hands in time to th_teps of the dancers, and joining in the chant of the warriors. In the cente_f the circle sat Tarzan of the Apes—Waziri, king of the Waziri, for, like hi_redecessor, he was to take the name of his tribe as his own.
  • Faster and faster grew the pace of the dancers, louder and louder their wil_nd savage shouts. The women rose and fell in unison, shrieking now at th_ops of their voices. The spears were brandishing fiercely, and as the dancer_tooped down and beat their shields upon the hard-tramped earth of the villag_treet the whole sight was as terribly primeval and savage as though it wer_eing staged in the dim dawn of humanity, countless ages in the past.
  • As the excitement waxed the ape-man sprang to his feet and joined in the wil_eremony. In the center of the circle of glittering black bodies he leaped an_oared and shook his heavy spear in the same mad abandon that enthralled hi_ellow savages. The last remnant of his civilization was forgotten—he was _rimitive man to the fullest now; reveling in the freedom of the fierce, wil_ife he loved, gloating in his kingship among these wild blacks.
  • Ah, if Olga de Coude had but seen him then—could she have recognized the well- dressed, quiet young man whose well-bred face and irreproachable manners ha_o captivated her but a few short months ago? And Jane Porter! Would she hav_till loved this savage warrior chieftain, dancing naked among his nake_avage subjects? And D'Arnot! Could D'Arnot have believed that this was th_ame man he had introduced into half a dozen of the most select clubs o_aris? What would his fellow peers in the House of Lords have said had on_ointed to this dancing giant, with his barbaric headdress and his meta_rnaments, and said: "There, my lords, is John Clayton, Lord Greystoke."
  • And so Tarzan of the Apes came into a real kingship among men—slowly bu_urely was he following the evolution of his ancestors, for had he not starte_t the very bottom?