Tarzan of the Apes

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 43

forebears danced out the rites of the
Dum-Dum to the sound of their earthen drums, beneath the bright light
of a tropical moon in the depth of a mighty jungle which stands
unchanged today as it stood on that long forgotten night in the dim,
unthinkable vistas of the long dead past when our first shaggy ancestor
swung from a swaying bough and dropped lightly upon the soft turf of
the first meeting place.

On the day that Tarzan won his emancipation from the persecution that
had followed him remorselessly for twelve of his thirteen years of
life, the tribe, now a full hundred strong, trooped silently through
the lower terrace of the jungle trees and dropped noiselessly upon the
floor of the amphitheater.

The rites of the Dum-Dum marked important events in the life of the
tribe--a victory, the capture of a prisoner, the killing of some large
fierce denizen of the jungle, the death or accession of a king, and
were conducted with set ceremonialism.

Today it was the killing of a giant ape, a member of another tribe, and
as the people of Kerchak entered the arena two mighty bulls were seen
bearing the body of the vanquished between them.

They laid their burden before the earthen drum and then squatted there
beside it as guards, while the other members of the community curled
themselves in grassy nooks to sleep until the rising moon should give
the signal for the commencement of their savage orgy.

For hours absolute quiet reigned in the little clearing, except as it
was broken by the discordant notes of brilliantly feathered parrots, or
the screeching and twittering of the thousand jungle birds flitting
ceaselessly amongst the vivid orchids and flamboyant blossoms which
festooned the myriad, moss-covered branches of the forest kings.

At length as darkness settled upon the jungle the apes commenced to
bestir themselves, and soon they formed a great circle about the
earthen drum. The females and young squatted in a thin line at the
outer periphery of the circle, while just in front of them ranged the
adult males. Before the drum sat three old females, each armed with a
knotted branch fifteen or eighteen inches in length.

Slowly and softly they began tapping upon the resounding surface of the
drum as the first faint rays of the ascending moon silvered the
encircling tree tops.

As the light in the amphitheater increased the females augmented the
frequency and force of their blows until presently a wild, rhythmic din
pervaded the great jungle for miles in every direction. Huge, fierce
brutes stopped in their hunting, with up-pricked

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