Edgar Rice Burroughs - Tarzan 21 - Tarzan the Magnificent

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Transcript of Edgar Rice Burroughs - Tarzan 21 - Tarzan the Magnificent

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    Tarzan 21 - Tarzan the Magnificentby

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

    Chapter 1. Out of the Past.TRUTH IS STRANGER than fiction.If this tale should see in part incredi!le" please !ear this a#io in ind. It had its !e$innin$ore than t%ent& &ears a$o" unless one %ishes to $o further !ac' to the first aoe!a or e(en!e&ond that to the cosos shatterin$ clash of t%o for$otten suns) !ut %e shall confine our stor&"other than !& occasional reference" to the sta$e" the actors" and the !usiness of the present tie.The searin$ sun ra&s scorch do%n upon a shri(eled plain a scant fi(e de$rees north of thee*uator. A an" clothed in torn shirt and trousers upon %hich dried !lood has ca'ed and turned arust& !ro%n" sta$$ers and falls to lie inert.

    A $reat lion loo's do%n upon the scene fro the suit of a distant roc'& led$e %here a fe%tenacious !ushes clin$ to $i(e shade to the lair of the 'in$) for this is Africa.S'a" the (ulture" %heels and circles in the !lue" s'& + %ritin$ anticipation far a!o(e the !od& of the

    fallen an.Not far to the south" at the ed$e of the dr& plain" another an s%in$s easil& to%ard the north. Nosi$n of fati$ue or e#haustion here. The !ron,e s'in $lo%s %ith health" full uscles $lide !eneathit. The free $ait" the noiseless tread i$ht !e those of Sheeta" the panther) !ut there is no slin'in$here. It is the carria$e of one %ho 'no%s neither dou!t nor fear" of a lord in his o%n doain.He is encu!ered !& !ut a sin$le $arent" a loincloth of doe + s'in. A coil of $rass rope is loopedo(er one shoulder" !ehind the other han$s a *ui(er of arro%s) a sca!!arded 'nife s%in$s at hiship) a !o% and a short spear coplete his e*uipent. A shoc' of !lac' hair falls in disorder a!o(eserene" $re& e&es" e&es that can reflect the li$ht of a suer sea or the flashin$ steel of a rapier.The -ord of the un$le is a!road.He is far to the north of his ancient haunts" &et this is no unfailiar terrain. He has !een herean& ties !efore. He 'no%s %here %ater a& !e had for the di$$in$. He 'no%s %here thenearest %ater hole lies %here he can a'e a 'ill and fill his !ell&.

    He has coe north at the !ehest of an eperor to in(esti$ate a ruor that a European po%er isatteptin$ to cause the defection of a nati(e chief !& eans of !ri!er&. /ar and ruors of %arare in the air" !ut of this tale such thin$s are not a part + %e hope. Ho%e(er" %e are no prophet./e are erel& a chronicler of e(ents as the& transpire. /e follo% the acti(ities of our charactersto the !itter end" e(en to %ar) !ut %e hope for the !est. Ho%e(er" onl& tie can tell.

    As Tar,an s%un$ %ith eas& strides out across the plain" no sound escaped his 'een ears) noo(in$ thin$" his e&es) no scent" !orne upon the soft !oso of Usha the %ind" %ent unidentified.0ar in the distance he sa% Nua the lion standin$ upon his roc'& led$e) he sa% S'a the (ulturecirclin$ a!o(e soethin$ that Tar,an could not see. In all that he sa% or heard or selled he reada stor&) for to hi this sa(a$e %orld %as an open !oo'" soeties a thrillin$" al%a&s aninterestin$ narrati(e of lo(e" of hate" of life" of death./here &ou or I i$ht occasionall& pic' out a letter or a %ord" Tar,an of the Apes $rasped theentire te#t and countless iplications that %e i$ht ne(er $uess.Presentl&" ahead of hi" he sa% soethin$ %hite shinin$ in the sunli$ht + a huan s'ull) and ashe cae closer his e&es pic'ed out the s'eleton of a an" the !ones onl& sli$htl& disarran$ed.0ro aon$ the $re% a lo% desert shru! proclaiin$ that the s'eleton had lain there for a lon$tie.Tar,an paused to in(esti$ate" for to hi in his %orld nothin$ is too tri(ial to pass !& %ithout*uestion. He sa% that the s'eleton %as that of a Ne$ro and that it had lain" there for a lon$ tie"&ears pro!a!l&) %hich %as entirel& possi!le in this hot" dr& plain. He could not tell ho% the anhad coe to his death" !ut he $uessed that it i$ht ha(e !een fro thirst.Then he sa% soethin$ l&in$ !& the !ones of a hand" soethin$ half !uried !& shiftin$ soil) andhe stopped and pic'ed it up" dra%in$ it carefull& out of the earth. It %as a split stic' of hard%ood

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    in the split end of %hich %as %ed$ed a thin parcel of oiled sil'.The sil' %as stained and !rittle and dr&. It seeed that it i$ht cru!le to his touch" !ut that %asonl& the outer la&er. As he carefull& un%rapped it" he found the inner la&ers !etter preser(ed.Inside the sil' %rapper he found %hat he had e#pected + a letter.It %as %ritten in En$lish in a sall" e#treel& le$i!le hand. Tar,an read it %ith interest" interestthat %as perhaps stiulated !& the date at the top of the sheet. T%ent& &ears had elapsed sincethat letter had !een %ritten. 0or t%ent& &ears it had lain here !eside the s'eleton of its !earer inute testion& to the loneliness of this !arren plain.Tar,an read it To /ho This 2a& Coe I a dispatchin$ this %ithout uch hope that it %ille(en $et out of this dana!le countr&" still less that it %ill reach an& %hite an) !ut if it does"please contact the nearest Resident Coissioner or an& other authorit& that can $et help to us*uic'l&.2& %ife and I %ere e#plorin$ north of -a'e Rudolph. /e cae too far. It %as the old stor&. Our!o&s !ecae fri$htened !& ruors of a fierce tri!e inha!itin$ the countr& in %hich %e %ere. The&deserted us./here the 2afa Ri(er epties into the Neu!ari %e turned up the $or$e of the forer as thou$hdra%n !& soe supernatural po%er" and %ere captured !& the %ild %oen of 3a4i" %hen %ereached the plateau. A &ear later our dau$hter %as !orn and & %ife died + the she + de(ils of 3a4i'illed her !ecause she did not !ear a son. The& %ant %hite en. That is %h& the& ha(e not 'illede and a do,en other %hite en capti(es.

    The 3a4i countr& lies on a hi$h plateau a!o(e the falls of the 2afa. It is alost inaccessi!le" !utcan !e reached !& follo%in$ the $or$e of the 2afa fro the Neu!ari.It %ill re*uire a stron$ e#pedition of %hite en to rescue e and & little dau$hter" as I dou!t that!lac's can !e induced to enter the countr&. These 3a4i %oen fi$ht li'e de(ils" and the& ha(estran$e" occult po%ers of soe nature. I ha(e seen thin$s here that + %ell" thin$s that 4ust can5t !e!ut are.No nati(e tri!es %ill li(e near this &sterious" ill + oened countr&) so" little is 'no%n of the 3a4i)!ut ruors of their terrif&in$ practices ha(e !ecoe part of the fol'lore of their nearest nei$h!ors"and it is the hushed recital of these that fri$htens the !earers of an& safari that coes %ithin thesphere of their !aneful influence.The %hite en a& ne(er 'no% the cause of it" for the !lac's fear to tell the" thin'in$ that the!lac' a$ic of the 3a4i %ill reach out and destro& the) !ut the result is al%a&s the sae + if thesafari approaches too close to 3a4i" the !lac's all desert.

    Then that happens %hich happened to & %ife and e + the %hites are lured !& soe &steriouseans to the plateau and ade prisoners.Perhaps e(en a lar$e force i$ht !e o(ercoe" for the %hites %ould not !e contendin$ a$ainstnatural forces) !ut if the& succeeded" the re%ard i$ht !e (er& $reat. It is the hope of this re%ardthat I hold out a$ainst the dan$ers in(ol(ed.The 3a4i o%n an enorous diaond. /here it cae fro" %here it %as ined" I ha(e !eenuna!le to ascertain) !ut I suspect that it cae fro the soil of their o%n countr&.I ha(e seen and handled the Cullinan diaond" %hich %ei$hed o(er three thousand carats) and Ia certain that the diaond of 3a4i %ei$hs full& si# thousand. ust %hat its (alue a& !e I do not'no%" !ut usin$ the (alue of the 6ra,ilian stone" Star of the South" as a easure" it ust !e %orthclose to 78"999"999 + a re%ard %ell %orth soe ris'.It is ipossi!le for e to 'no% %hether I shall e(er $et this letter out of 3a4i" !ut I ha(e hopes ofdoin$ so !& !ri!in$ one of their !lac' sla(es %ho occasionall& lea(e the plateau to sp& in the

    lo%lands.God $rant this !e deli(ered in tie.2ountford.Tar,an of the Apes read the letter throu$h t%ice. 2ountford: Alost e(er since he couldree!er" it seeed" the &sterious disappearance of -ord and -ad& 2ountford had !eenrecalled to the inds of en !& ruors that the& still li(ed" until the& had !ecoe a le$end of the%ilderness.No one reall& !elie(ed that the& li(ed" &et at inter(als soe %anderer fro the interior %ouldre(i(e the ruor %ith ore or less circustantial e(idence. He had had the stor& fro thechieftain of a reote tri!e" or perhaps fro the lips of a d&in$ %hite an) !ut there ne(er cae

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    an& definite cle% as to the e#act %herea!outs of the 2ountfords + the& had !een reported fro ascore of places all the %a& fro the Soudan to Rhodesia.

    And no% at last the truth had coe" !ut too late.. -ad& 2ountford had !een dead for t%ent&&ears" and it %as *uite ipro!a!le that her hus!and still li(ed. The child ust" of course" ha(edied or !een 'illed !& the 3a4i. It could scarcel& ha(e sur(i(ed aon$ those sa(a$e peoplethrou$h infanc&.To the 4un$le !red ape + an death %as a coonplace phenoenon of e#istence and far lessrear'a!le than an& other anifestations of nature" for it cae e(entuall& to all li(in$ thin$s) sothe possi!ilit& of the death of the an and the child induced no reaction of sorro% or re$ret. Itsipl& eant nothin$ to hi %hatsoe(er. He %ould deli(er the letter to the En$lish authorities atthe first opportunit&" and that %ould !e all that there %ould !e to it.