Tarzan and the Foreign Legion

Chapter 8

Edgar Rice Burroughs

WHEN Iskandar awoke the sun was shining full in his face. He raised himself on an elbow. His eyes took in the scene before him. His nine companions slept. The sentry slept beside a dead fire. The captive was not there.

His cruel face distorted in rage, Iskandar seized his kris and leaped to his feet. The shrieks of the sentry awakened the other sleepers. “Pig!” screamed Iskandar, hacking at the head and body of his victim as the man tried to crawl away from him on hands and knees. “The tigers could have come and killed us all. And because of you, the woman has escaped.”

A final blow at the base of the brain, which severed the spinal column, ended the torture. Iskandar wiped his bloody kris on the garments of the dead man and turned his scowling face upon his men. “Come!” he ordered. “She cannot have gotten far. Hurry!”

They soon picked up Corrie’s footprints in the trail and hurried in pursuit. Half way along the trail to the cave where they had captured her, they came upon the body of a tiger. Iskandar examined it closely. He saw the knife wounds behind its left shoulder. He saw many footprints in the muddy trail. There were those of the girl and others made by the same crude type of sandal that she had worn, but larger—the footprints of men. And there were prints of the bare feet of a man. Iskandar was puzzled. There seemed ample evidence that someone had stabbed the tiger to death. But that was impossible. No one could have come within reach of those terrible talons and jaws and lived.

They pushed on, and in the afternoon they came within sight of the cave.

“Here they come,” said Jerry Lucas.

“There are but four men,” said Iskandar. “Kill the men, but do not harm the woman.” The nine tribesmen advanced confidently with bared kris. Tarzan permitted them to approach within a hundred feet; then he had Corrie address them. “Stop!” she said. “Do not come any closer.”

Each of the five had fitted an arrow to his bow. The left hand of each held additional arrows. Iskandar laughed and gave the word to charge. “Let them have it,” said Tarzan, sending an arrow through Iskandar’s leg, dropping him. Four others were hit by that first flight of arrows. Two of the others stopped, but two came on yelling like demons. Tarzan drove an arrow through the heart of each. They were too close to be spared as he had spared Iskandar. So close that one of them fell almost touching Tarzan’s feet.

He turned to Corrie. “Tell them that if they throw down their weapons and put their hands up, we will not kill them.”

After the girl had translated the instructions, the Sumatrans grumbled sullenly; but they did not throw down their weapons nor raise their hands.

“Fit arrows to your bows and advance slowly,” ordered Tarzan. “At the first threatening move, shoot to kill.”

“You wait here, Corrie,” said Jerry. “There may be a fight.”

She smiled at him but ignored his directions; so he put himself in front of her as they advanced. It was a long arrow that Tarzan had fitted to his bow, a heavy bow that only Tarzan could draw. He aimed the arrow at Iskandar’s heart, and whispered to Corrie.

“He will count to ten,” the girl explained to the Sumatran. “If you have not all thrown down your weapons and raised your hands before he finishes counting he will kill you. Then we will kill the others.”

Tarzan commenced to count, Corrie translating. At five, Iskandar gave in. He had looked into the gray eyes of the giant standing above him and he was afraid. The others followed the example of their leader.

“Rosetti,” said Tarzan, “gather up their weapons and retrieve our arrows. We will keep them covered.”

Rosetti gathered the weapons first; then he yanked the arrows from the limbs and bodies of the five who had been hit but not killed. With the dead he was more gentle.

“Tell them to take their dead and get out of here, Corrie. And that if they ever annoy us again we will kill them all.”

Corrie translated, adding a punch line of her own devising: “This man who speaks to you through me is no ordinary man. Armed only with a knife, he leaped upon the back of a tiger and killed it. If you are wise, you will obey him.”

“Just a minute, Corrie,” said Jerry. “Ask them if they have seen any American fliers recently who had bailed out of a damaged plane, or heard of any.”

Corrie put the question to Iskandar and received a sullen negative. The chief got to his feet and gave orders to his men, none of whom was seriously wounded. They picked up their dead and started away, but Iskandar stopped them. Then he turned to Tarzan. “You will let us take our weapons?” he asked. Corrie translated.

“No.” This seemed to need no translation or admit of argument. The chief had looked again into the gray eyes of the giant who had killed the tiger he had seen upon the trail, and what he had seen there had frightened him. They are not the eyes of a man, he thought. They are the eyes of a tiger.

Snarling a Malayan oath beneath his breath, he ordered his men to march, and followed them.

“We’d orter have killed ’em all,” said Shrimp. “They’ll tell the foist yellow-bellies they see where to find us.”

“If we followed that plan to its logical conclusion,” said Tarzan, “we’d have to kill every human being we meet. Any of them might tell the Japs.”

“You don’t believe much in killin’ people.”

Tarzan shook his head in negation.

“Not even Japs?”

“That is different. We are at war with them. Neither in hatred nor revenge and with no particular pleasure I shall kill every Jap I can until the war is over. That is my duty.”

“Don’t you even hate ’em?”

“What good would it do if I did? If all the many millions of people of the allied nations devoted an entire year exclusively to hating the Japs it wouldn’t kill one Jap nor shorten the war one day.”

Bubonovitch laughed. “And it might give ’em all stomach ulcers.”

Tarzan smiled. “I can recall having felt hatred but once in my life or killing for revenge but once—Kulonga, the son of Mbonga. He killed Kala, my foster mother. Not only was I very young then, but Kala was the only creature in the world that loved me or that I loved. And I thought then that she was my own mother. I have never regretted the killing.”

While they talked, Corrie was cooking their supper. Jerry was helping her—not that she needed any help. They were grilling pheasants and venison over a fire just inside the mouth of the cave. Bubonovitch was examining the weapons left by the Sumatrans. He selected a kris for himself. Jerry and Shrimp followed his example, and Jerry brought Corrie a parang.

“Why did you ask that bandit if he had heard of any American fliers who had bailed out recently?” Corrie asked Lucas.

“Two of my crew, who are known to have bailed out, are unaccounted for—Douglas, my radioman, and Davis, a waist gunner. We hunted for them, but could find no trace of them. We found the body of Lieutenant Burnham whose chute had failed to open. So we figured that if either of the other chutes had failed to open we should have found the body nearby. We all jumped within a matter of a few seconds.”

“How many were you?”

“Eleven—nine in the crew, Colonel Clayton, and a photographer. My bombardier was left behind because he was sick. Anyway, we weren’t carrying any bombs. It was just a reconnaissance and photographic mission.”

“Let’s see,” said Corrie. “There are four of you here, Lieutenant Burnham makes five, and the two unaccounted for make seven. What became of the other four?”

“Killed in action.”

“Poor boys,” said Corrie.

“It is not those who are killed who suffer,” said Jerry. “It is those who are left behind—their buddies and their folks back home. Maybe they’re better off. After all, this is a hell of a world,” he added bitterly, “and those who get out of it are the lucky ones.”

She laid her hand on his. “You mustn’t feel that way. There may be a lot of happiness in the world for you yet—for all of us.”

“They were my friends,” he said, “and they were very young. They hadn’t had a chance to get much out of life. It just doesn’t seem right. Tarzan says that it does no good to hate, and I know he’s right. But I do hate—not the poor dumb things who shoot at us and whom we shoot at, but those who are responsible for making wars.”

“I know,” she said. “I hate them, too. But I hate all Japs. I hate the ‘poor dumb things who shoot at us and whom we shoot at.’ I am not as philosophical as you and Tarzan. I want to hate them. I often reproach myself because I think I am not hating bitterly enough.” Jerry could see that hate reflected in her eyes, and he thought what a horrible thing it was that such an emotion could have been aroused in the breast of one so innately sweet and kind. He said to her what she had said to him: “You mustn’t feel that way,” and he added, “You were never made for hate.”

“You never saw your mother hounded to death and your father bayoneted by those yellow beasts. If you had and didn’t hate them you wouldn’t be fit to call yourself a man.”

“I suppose you are right,” he said. He pressed her hand. “Poor little girl.”

“Don’t sympathize with me,” she said almost angrily. “I didn’t cry then. I haven’t cried since. But if you sympathize with me, I shall.”

Had she emphasized you? He thought that she had—just a little. Why, he asked himself, should that send a little thrill through him? I must be going ga-ga, he thought.

Now the little band gathered around the cooking fire for supper. They had broad leaves for plates, sharpened bamboo splinters for forks, and of course they had their knives. They drank from gourds.

Besides pheasant and venison, they had fruit and the roasted seeds of the durian. They lived well in this land of plenty. “T’ink of de poor dogfaces back at base,” said Shrimp, “eatin’ canned hash an’ spam.”

“And drinking that goddam G-I coffee,” said Bubonovitch. “It always made me think of one of Alexander Woolcott’s first lines in The Man Who Came to Dinner.”

“I’ll trade places with any dogface right now,” said Jerry.

“What’s a dogface?” asked Corrie.

“Well, I guess originally it was supposed to mean a doughboy; but now it sort of means any enlisted man, more specifically a private.”

“Any G-I Joe,” said Shrimp.

“What a strange language!” said Corrie. “And I thought I understood English.”

“It isn’t English,” said Tarzan. “It’s American. It’s a young and virile language. I like it.”

“But what is a doughboy? And a G-I Joe?”

“A doughboy is an infantryman. A G-I Joe is an American soldier—Government Issue. Stick with us, Corrie, and we’ll improve your American and ruin your English,” concluded Jerry.

“If you will pay special attention to Sergeant Rosetti’s conversation they will both be ruined,” said Bubonovitch.

“Wot’s wrong wit my American, wise guy?” demanded Shrimp.

“I think Sergeant Shrimp is cute,” said Corrie.

Rosetti flushed violently. “Take a bow, cutie,” said Bubonovitch.

Shrimp grinned. He was used to being ribbed, and he never got mad, although sometimes he pretended to be. “I ain’t heard no one callin’ you cute, you big cow,” he said, and he felt that with that come-back his honor had been satisfied.

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