Tarzan the Terrible

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 29

impending death there came, as
there comes to every coward and bully under similar circumstances, a
crumbling of the veneer of bravado which had long masqueraded as
courage and with it crumbled his code of ethics. Now was Es-sat no
longer chief of Kor-ul-JA--instead he was a whimpering craven battling
for life. Clutching at Om-at, clutching at the nearest pegs he sought
any support that would save him from that awful fall, and as he strove
to push aside the hand of death, whose cold fingers he already felt
upon his heart, his tail sought Om-at's side and the handle of the
knife that hung there.

Tarzan saw and even as Es-sat drew the blade from its sheath he dropped
catlike to the pegs beside the battling men. Es-sat's tail had drawn
back for the cowardly fatal thrust. Now many others saw the perfidious
act and a great cry of rage and disgust arose from savage throats; but
as the blade sped toward its goal, the ape-man seized the hairy member
that wielded it, and at the same instant Om-at thrust the body of
Es-sat from him with such force that its weakened holds were broken and
it hurtled downward, a brief meteor of screaming fear, to death.



As Tarzan and Om-at clambered back to the vestibule of Pan-at-lee's
cave and took their stand beside Ta-den in readiness for whatever
eventuality might follow the death of Es-sat, the sun that topped the
eastern hills touched also the figure of a sleeper upon a distant,
thorn-covered steppe awakening him to another day of tireless tracking
along a faint and rapidly disappearing spoor.

For a time silence reigned in the Kor-ul-JA. The tribesmen waited,
looking now down upon the dead thing that had been their chief, now at
one another, and now at Om-at and the two who stood upon his either
side. Presently Om-at spoke. "I am Om-at," he cried. "Who will say that
Om-at is not gund of Kor-ul-JA?"

He waited for a taker of his challenge. One or two of the larger young
bucks fidgeted restlessly and eyed him; but there was no reply.

"Then Om-at is gund," he said with finality. "Now tell me, where are
Pan-at-lee, her father, and her brothers?"

An old warrior spoke. "Pan-at-lee should be in her cave. Who should
know that better than you who are there now? Her father and her
brothers were sent to watch Kor-ul-lul; but neither of these questions
arouse any tumult in our breasts. There is one that does: Can Om-at be
chief of Kor-ul-JA and yet stand at bay against his own people

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