The Beasts of Tarzan

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 121

weighed the
chances of the white man should physical encounter with the black
become necessary.

Only direct necessity could drive Alexander Paulvitch to personal
conflict; but it was indeed dire necessity which goaded him on to
action now.

There was time, just time enough, to reach the Kincaid by nightfall.
Would the black fool never quit his skiff? Paulvitch squirmed and
fidgeted. The lad yawned and stretched. With exasperating
deliberateness he examined the arrows in his quiver, tested his bow,
and looked to the edge upon the hunting-knife in his loin-cloth.

Again he stretched and yawned, glanced up at the river-bank, shrugged
his shoulders, and lay down in the bottom of his canoe for a little nap
before he plunged into the jungle after the prey he had come forth to
hunt.

Paulvitch half rose, and with tensed muscles stood glaring down upon
his unsuspecting victim. The boy's lids drooped and closed. Presently
his breast rose and fell to the deep breaths of slumber. The time had
come!

The Russian crept stealthily nearer. A branch rustled beneath his
weight and the lad stirred in his sleep. Paulvitch drew his revolver
and levelled it upon the black. For a moment he remained in rigid
quiet, and then again the youth relapsed into undisturbed slumber.

The white man crept closer. He could not chance a shot until there was
no risk of missing. Presently he leaned close above the Mosula. The
cold steel of the revolver in his hand insinuated itself nearer and
nearer to the breast of the unconscious lad. Now it stopped but a few
inches above the strongly beating heart.

But the pressure of a finger lay between the harmless boy and eternity.
The soft bloom of youth still lay upon the brown cheek, a smile half
parted the beardless lips. Did any qualm of conscience point its
disquieting finger of reproach at the murderer?

To all such was Alexander Paulvitch immune. A sneer curled his bearded
lip as his forefinger closed upon the trigger of his revolver. There
was a loud report. A little hole appeared above the heart of the
sleeping boy, a little hole about which lay a blackened rim of
powder-burned flesh.

The youthful body half rose to a sitting posture. The smiling lips
tensed to the nervous shock of a momentary agony which the conscious
mind never apprehended, and then the dead sank limply back into that
deepest of slumbers from which there is no awakening.

The killer dropped quickly into the skiff beside the killed.

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