Tarzan of the Apes

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 44

ears and raised heads,
to listen to the dull booming that betokened the Dum-Dum of the apes.

Occasionally one would raise his shrill scream or thunderous roar in
answering challenge to the savage din of the anthropoids, but none came
near to investigate or attack, for the great apes, assembled in all the
power of their numbers, filled the breasts of their jungle neighbors
with deep respect.

As the din of the drum rose to almost deafening volume Kerchak sprang
into the open space between the squatting males and the drummers.

Standing erect he threw his head far back and looking full into the eye
of the rising moon he beat upon his breast with his great hairy paws
and emitted his fearful roaring shriek.

One--twice--thrice that terrifying cry rang out across the teeming
solitude of that unspeakably quick, yet unthinkably dead, world.

Then, crouching, Kerchak slunk noiselessly around the open circle,
veering far away from the dead body lying before the altar-drum, but,
as he passed, keeping his little, fierce, wicked, red eyes upon the
corpse.

Another male then sprang into the arena, and, repeating the horrid
cries of his king, followed stealthily in his wake. Another and
another followed in quick succession until the jungle reverberated with
the now almost ceaseless notes of their bloodthirsty screams.

It was the challenge and the hunt.

When all the adult males had joined in the thin line of circling
dancers the attack commenced.

Kerchak, seizing a huge club from the pile which lay at hand for the
purpose, rushed furiously upon the dead ape, dealing the corpse a
terrific blow, at the same time emitting the growls and snarls of
combat. The din of the drum was now increased, as well as the
frequency of the blows, and the warriors, as each approached the victim
of the hunt and delivered his bludgeon blow, joined in the mad whirl of
the Death Dance.

Tarzan was one of the wild, leaping horde. His brown, sweat-streaked,
muscular body, glistening in the moonlight, shone supple and graceful
among the uncouth, awkward, hairy brutes about him.

None was more stealthy in the mimic hunt, none more ferocious than he
in the wild ferocity of the attack, none who leaped so high into the
air in the Dance of Death.

As the noise and rapidity of the drumbeats increased the dancers
apparently became intoxicated with the wild rhythm and the savage
yells. Their leaps and bounds increased, their bared fangs dripped
saliva, and their lips and breasts were flecked with foam.

For half an hour the weird dance went on, until, at a sign from
Kerchak,

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I.
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