The Beasts of Tarzan

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 16

little knot
of apes before him. It was the old Tarzan who shook his head as though
to toss back a heavy mane that had fallen before his face--an old habit
dating from the days that his great shock of thick, black hair had
fallen about his shoulders, and often tumbled before his eyes when it
had meant life or death to him to have his vision unobstructed.

The ape-man knew that he might expect an immediate attack on the part
of that particular surviving bull-ape who felt himself best fitted to
contend for the kingship of the tribe. Among his own apes he knew
that it was not unusual for an entire stranger to enter a community
and, after having dispatched the king, assume the leadership of the
tribe himself, together with the fallen monarch's mates.

On the other hand, if he made no attempt to follow them, they might
move slowly away from him, later to fight among themselves for the
supremacy. That he could be king of them, if he so chose, he was
confident; but he was not sure he cared to assume the sometimes irksome
duties of that position, for he could see no particular advantage to be
gained thereby.

One of the younger apes, a huge, splendidly muscled brute, was edging
threateningly closer to the ape-man. Through his bared fighting fangs
there issued a low, sullen growl.

Tarzan watched his every move, standing rigid as a statue. To have
fallen back a step would have been to precipitate an immediate charge;
to have rushed forward to meet the other might have had the same
result, or it might have put the bellicose one to flight--it all
depended upon the young bull's stock of courage.

To stand perfectly still, waiting, was the middle course. In this
event the bull would, according to custom, approach quite close to the
object of his attention, growling hideously and baring slavering fangs.
Slowly he would circle about the other, as though with a chip upon his
shoulder; and this he did, even as Tarzan had foreseen.

It might be a bluff royal, or, on the other hand, so unstable is the
mind of an ape, a passing impulse might hurl the hairy mass, tearing
and rending, upon the man without an instant's warning.

As the brute circled him Tarzan turned slowly, keeping his eyes ever
upon the eyes of his antagonist. He had appraised the young bull as
one who had never quite felt equal to the task of overthrowing his
former king, but who one

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