Jungle Tales of Tarzan

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 44

Even the witch-doctor paused in the midst of an intricate step,
remaining momentarily rigid and statuesque as he plumbed his cunning
mind for a suggestion as how best he might take advantage of the
condition of his audience and the timely interruption.

Already the evening had been vastly profitable to him. There would be
three goats for the initiation of the three youths into full-fledged
warriorship, and besides these he had received several gifts of grain
and beads, together with a piece of copper wire from admiring and
terrified members of his audience.

Numa's roar still reverberated along taut nerves when a woman's laugh,
shrill and piercing, shattered the silence of the village. It was this
moment that Tarzan chose to drop lightly from his tree into the village
street. Fearless among his blood enemies he stood, taller by a full
head than many of Mbonga's warriors, straight as their straightest
arrow, muscled like Numa, the lion.

For a moment Tarzan stood looking straight at the witch-doctor. Every
eye was upon him, yet no one had moved--a paralysis of terror held
them, to be broken a moment later as the ape-man, with a toss of head,
stepped straight toward the hideous figure beneath the buffalo head.

Then the nerves of the blacks could stand no more. For months the
terror of the strange, white, jungle god had been upon them. Their
arrows had been stolen from the very center of the village; their
warriors had been silently slain upon the jungle trails and their dead
bodies dropped mysteriously and by night into the village street as
from the heavens above.

One or two there were who had glimpsed the strange figure of the new
demon and it was from their oft-repeated descriptions that the entire
village now recognized Tarzan as the author of many of their ills.
Upon another occasion and by daylight, the warriors would doubtless
have leaped to attack him, but at night, and this night of all others,
when they were wrought to such a pitch of nervous dread by the uncanny
artistry of their witch-doctor, they were helpless with terror. As one
man they turned and fled, scattering for their huts, as Tarzan
advanced. For a moment one and one only held his ground. It was the
witch-doctor. More than half self-hypnotized into a belief in his own
charlatanry he faced this new demon who threatened to undermine his
ancient and lucrative profession.

"Are you God?" asked Tarzan.

The witch-doctor, having no idea of the meaning of the other's words,
danced a few strange steps, leaped high

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