Jungle Tales of Tarzan

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 163

the hungry lions, and they, too,
disappeared as had the lesser lights before them. Tarzan was much
interested. He saw a new reason for the nightly fires maintained by
the blacks--a reason in addition to those connected with warmth and
light and cooking. The beasts of the jungle feared fire, and so fire
was, in a measure, a protection from them. Tarzan himself knew a
certain awe of fire. Once he had, in investigating an abandoned fire
in the village of the blacks, picked up a live coal. Since then he had
maintained a respectful distance from such fires as he had seen. One
experience had sufficed.

For a few minutes after the black hurled the firebrand no eyes
appeared, though Tarzan could hear the soft padding of feet all about
him. Then flashed once more the twin fire spots that marked the return
of the lord of the jungle and a moment later, upon a slightly lower
level, there appeared those of Sabor, his mate.

For some time they remained fixed and unwavering--a constellation of
fierce stars in the jungle night--then the male lion advanced slowly
toward the boma, where all but a single black still crouched in
trembling terror. When this lone guardian saw that Numa was again
approaching, he threw another firebrand, and, as before, Numa retreated
and with him Sabor, the lioness; but not so far, this time, nor for so
long. Almost instantly they turned and began circling the boma, their
eyes turning constantly toward the firelight, while low, throaty growls
evidenced their increasing displeasure. Beyond the lions glowed the
flaming eyes of the lesser satellites, until the black jungle was shot
all around the black men's camp with little spots of fire.

Again and again the black warrior hurled his puny brands at the two big
cats; but Tarzan noticed that Numa paid little or no attention to them
after the first few retreats. The ape-man knew by Numa's voice that
the lion was hungry and surmised that he had made up his mind to feed
upon a Gomangani; but would he dare a closer approach to the dreaded
flames?

Even as the thought was passing in Tarzan's mind, Numa stopped his
restless pacing and faced the boma. For a moment he stood motionless,
except for the quick, nervous upcurving of his tail, then he walked
deliberately forward, while Sabor moved restlessly to and fro where he
had left her. The black man called to his comrades that the lion was
coming, but they were too far

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