Tarzan of the Apes

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 25

who, through ignorance or rashness,
had attacked the wonderful white ape that had borne it.

Deep in the beast's intelligence was something which assured him that
the thunder-stick was only dangerous when in the hands of one who could
manipulate it, but yet it was several minutes ere he could bring
himself to touch it.

Instead, he walked back and forth along the floor before it, turning
his head so that never once did his eyes leave the object of his desire.

Using his long arms as a man uses crutches, and rolling his huge
carcass from side to side with each stride, the great king ape paced to
and fro, uttering deep growls, occasionally punctuated with the
ear-piercing scream, than which there is no more terrifying noise in
all the jungle.

Presently he halted before the rifle. Slowly he raised a huge hand
until it almost touched the shining barrel, only to withdraw it once
more and continue his hurried pacing.

It was as though the great brute by this show of fearlessness, and
through the medium of his wild voice, was endeavoring to bolster up his
courage to the point which would permit him to take the rifle in his
hand.

Again he stopped, and this time succeeded in forcing his reluctant hand
to the cold steel, only to snatch it away almost immediately and resume
his restless beat.

Time after time this strange ceremony was repeated, but on each
occasion with increased confidence, until, finally, the rifle was torn
from its hook and lay in the grasp of the great brute.

Finding that it harmed him not, Kerchak began to examine it closely.
He felt of it from end to end, peered down the black depths of the
muzzle, fingered the sights, the breech, the stock, and finally the
trigger.

During all these operations the apes who had entered sat huddled near
the door watching their chief, while those outside strained and crowded
to catch a glimpse of what transpired within.

Suddenly Kerchak's finger closed upon the trigger. There was a
deafening roar in the little room and the apes at and beyond the door
fell over one another in their wild anxiety to escape.

Kerchak was equally frightened, so frightened, in fact, that he quite
forgot to throw aside the author of that fearful noise, but bolted for
the door with it tightly clutched in one hand.

As he passed through the opening, the front sight of the rifle caught
upon the edge of the inswung door with sufficient force to close it
tightly after the fleeing ape.

When Kerchak came to a halt a short

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