An instant later he heard the soft sound of a fur-clad body and padded
feet scaling the outer wall behind the hut and then a tearing at the
poles which formed the wall. Presently through the hole thus made
slunk a great beast, pressing its cold muzzle close to his neck.
It was Sheeta, the panther.
The beast snuffed round the prostrate man, whining a little. There was
a limit to the interchange of ideas which could take place between
these two, and so Tarzan could not be sure that Sheeta understood all
that he attempted to communicate to him. That the man was tied and
helpless Sheeta could, of course, see; but that to the mind of the
panther this would carry any suggestion of harm in so far as his master
was concerned, Tarzan could not guess.
What had brought the beast to him? The fact that he had come augured
well for what he might accomplish; but when Tarzan tried to get Sheeta
to gnaw his bonds asunder the great animal could not seem to understand
what was expected of him, and, instead, but licked the wrists and arms
of the prisoner.
Presently there came an interruption. Some one was approaching the
hut. Sheeta gave a low growl and slunk into the blackness of a far
corner. Evidently the visitor did not hear the warning sound, for
almost immediately he entered the hut--a tall, naked, savage warrior.
He came to Tarzan's side and pricked him with a spear. From the lips
of the ape-man came a weird, uncanny sound, and in answer to it there
leaped from the blackness of the hut's farthermost corner a bolt of
fur-clad death. Full upon the breast of the painted savage the great
beast struck, burying sharp talons in the black flesh and sinking great
yellow fangs in the ebon throat.
There was a fearful scream of anguish and terror from the black, and
mingled with it was the hideous challenge of the killing panther. Then
came silence--silence except for the rending of bloody flesh and the
crunching of human bones between mighty jaws.
The noise had brought sudden quiet to the village without. Then there
came the sound of voices in consultation.
High-pitched, fear-filled voices, and deep, low tones of authority, as
the chief spoke. Tarzan and the panther heard the approaching
footsteps of many men, and then, to Tarzan's surprise, the great cat
rose from across the body of its kill, and slunk noiselessly from the
hut through the aperture
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