Tarzan the Terrible

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 161

force and perfect accuracy. She thrilled with the excitement of
the minute, yet cool and steady were her swift muscles as she rose and
cast her missile. Scarce by the width of a finger did the point strike
from the spot at which it had been directed. The buck leaped high,
landed upon the bank of the stream, and fell dead. Jane Clayton sprang
quickly forward toward her kill.

"Bravo!" A man's voice spoke in English from the shrubbery upon the
opposite side of the stream. Jane Clayton halted in her
tracks--stunned, almost, by surprise. And then a strange, unkempt
figure of a man stepped into view. At first she did not recognize him,
but when she did, instinctively she stepped back.

"Lieutenant Obergatz!" she cried. "Can it be you?"

"It can. It is," replied the German. "I am a strange sight, no doubt;
but still it is I, Erich Obergatz. And you? You have changed too, is it
not?"

He was looking at her naked limbs and her golden breastplates, the loin
cloth of JATO-hide, the harness and ornaments that constitute the
apparel of a Ho-don woman--the things that Lu-don had dressed her in as
his passion for her grew. Not Ko-tan's daughter, even, had finer
trappings.

"But why are you here?" Jane insisted. "I had thought you safely among
civilized men by this time, if you still lived."

"Gott!" he exclaimed. "I do not know why I continue to live. I have
prayed to die and yet I cling to life. There is no hope. We are doomed
to remain in this horrible land until we die. The bog! The frightful
bog! I have searched its shores for a place to cross until I have
entirely circled the hideous country. Easily enough we entered; but the
rains have come since and now no living man could pass that slough of
slimy mud and hungry reptiles. Have I not tried it! And the beasts that
roam this accursed land. They hunt me by day and by night."

"But how have you escaped them?" she asked.

"I do not know," he replied gloomily. "I have fled and fled and fled. I
have remained hungry and thirsty in tree tops for days at a time. I
have fashioned weapons--clubs and spears--and I have learned to use
them. I have slain a lion with my club. So even will a cornered rat
fight. And we are no better than rats in this land of stupendous
dangers, you and I. But tell me about yourself. If it is surprising
that I live, how much more so that you still survive."

Briefly

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