Jungle Tales of Tarzan

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 49

he thus
delayed. The old man seemed to wither and shrink to a bag of puny
bones beneath his eyes. So weak and helpless and terror-stricken he
appeared that the ape-man was filled with a great contempt; but another
sensation also claimed him--something new to Tarzan of the Apes in
relation to an enemy. It was pity--pity for a poor, frightened, old
man.

Tarzan rose and turned away, leaving Mbonga, the chief, unharmed.

With head held high the ape-man walked through the village, swung
himself into the branches of the tree which overhung the palisade and
disappeared from the sight of the villagers.

All the way back to the stamping ground of the apes, Tarzan sought for
an explanation of the strange power which had stayed his hand and
prevented him from slaying Mbonga. It was as though someone greater
than he had commanded him to spare the life of the old man. Tarzan
could not understand, for he could conceive of nothing, or no one, with
the authority to dictate to him what he should do, or what he should
refrain from doing.

It was late when Tarzan sought a swaying couch among the trees beneath
which slept the apes of Kerchak, and he was still absorbed in the
solution of his strange problem when he fell asleep.

The sun was well up in the heavens when he awoke. The apes were astir
in search of food. Tarzan watched them lazily from above as they
scratched in the rotting loam for bugs and beetles and grubworms, or
sought among the branches of the trees for eggs and young birds, or
luscious caterpillars.

An orchid, dangling close beside his head, opened slowly, unfolding its
delicate petals to the warmth and light of the sun which but recently
had penetrated to its shady retreat. A thousand times had Tarzan of
the Apes witnessed the beauteous miracle; but now it aroused a keener
interest, for the ape-man was just commencing to ask himself questions
about all the myriad wonders which heretofore he had but taken for
granted.

What made the flower open? What made it grow from a tiny bud to a
full-blown bloom? Why was it at all? Why was he? Where did Numa, the
lion, come from? Who planted the first tree? How did Goro get way up
into the darkness of the night sky to cast his welcome light upon the
fearsome nocturnal jungle? And the sun! Did the sun merely happen there?

Why were all the peoples of the jungle not trees? Why were the trees
not something

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