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Title: King of Claw and Fang
Author: Bob Byrd
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Language: English
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Title: King of Claw and Fang
Author: Bob Byrd


Book One of Ka-Zar
King Of Claw And Fang
Bob Byrd



CHAPTER I

Heart of Darkness

THE Congo--heart of darkest Africa--two degrees south of the Equator.

Abruptly the sun was blotted out and a sudden deluge descended from
the heavens. It fell steadily in a silver sheet for five minutes, then
as abruptly stopped. It was the first rain, marking the beginning of
the rainy season.

The brassy sun showed its molten face again, hotter than before. From
the floor of the primeval jungle, a miasmic mist steamed slowly upward.
The air was sullen, brooding, oppressive.

From a thousand giant trees, matted and festooned with an impenetrable
tangle of vines, the lemurs scolded querulously at one another.
Vividly plumed birds screamed hoarsely as they flitted from tree to
tree. And the beasts of the earth snarled and spat at each other as
they wrangled over their kill.

Darkest Africa, where Nature had been prodigal and profligate. She had
peopled this, her richest land, with a myriad of living things--plant,
beast, bird and fish. And then, as if regretting her generosity, she
had pitted the one against the other. Let the Law be that of Claw and
Fang; let the strong survive.

Suddenly, above the teeming noises of earth and air, a mighty roar
reverberated between the trees. As if blasted by an evil curse, the
jungle was hushed.

Then, a moment later, with a majestic stride a mighty lion pushed
through the brush and stepped into a small, open clearing that
bordered a lake of cerulean blue.

Zar the Mighty paused a moment on the edge of the clearing. Slowly,
disdainfully he swung his massive head from side to side as he
surveyed his domain. His tawny mane was ruffed; his tufted tail
switched nervously from side to side.

Again he tilted back his head. Again the rumbling bass note of his
defiance filled the clearing. But there was no one who dared answer
his challenge.

Zar snorted contemptuously, lashed his tail once more and proceeded
slowly down to the water's edge. This respectful silence that greeted
his coming was fitting to his might and dignity. For wasn't he Zar the
Mighty--Lord of the Jungle?

He drank, long and deeply. But minutes before he had his fill his head
snapped up. A snarl rumbled in his throat; his leather lungs expanded
and the talons of his forepaws arched.

From high overhead came an angry, droning buzz that grew louder, more
insistent with every moment's passing. Zar threw back his head and
looked up between the trees. What fool of a bird was this who dared
challenge the might of his claw and fang?

And then he saw it, first as a speck looming out of the south. It
advanced rapidly, with incredible speed, flying low; and the roar of
its coming put even Zar's stentorian bellow to shame.

This was not Pindar the eagle or Kru come to the vulture's feast. Zar
had never seen such a bird before--one with such an incredible spread
of wing--one that screamed its defiance as it flew like an arrow.

However, he felt no fear in its presence. His muscles simply bulged in
anger.

From slitted, amber eyes he watched the strange bird as it soared
above the clearing. It cleared the far side, then suddenly, without
warning, a jet of black smoke belched forth from its side.

Zar's snarl rose on a higher note. He held his ground but crouched
low. What trick was this? What strange method of attack from this
strange bird?

Then, still watching, he saw the winged thing stagger in mid-air,
pivot around on its mighty spread of shining wings and glide down for
the clearing where he stood.

Zar ruled the jungle because of his cunning as well as his strength.
Confronted by the unknown for the first time in his life, he decided
to stalk this new enemy. With one bound he cleared the shore of the
lake; with another he was crouched low in the tangle of brush that
bordered the clearing.

Above him he heard a rushing roar of air that made him think of the
times when the jungle trees bent to the storm's fury. And high above
this sound came an eerie wail that grated down the long length of his
supple spine.

Crouching low he looked up. The bird was swooping down headed straight
for him. Smoke still jetted from its belly. It was clearing the trees
now at the far side. He watched with a fascination tempered by awe.
Then abruptly he tensed. One wing of this new, fantastic creature had
carelessly brushed the outflung arm of a tree. There was a tearing,
rending noise; the wing sheered off and the bird reeled.

Zar knew then that it was wounded and his lips bared back from his
fangs. With a quiet, implacable intentness he watched the stricken
thing spin to earth, crash on its one good wing and beak, bounce high
into the air again, then settle down to earth with a dull thud.

Caution still ruled Zar the Mighty. This might be some ruse or trick
with which he was unfamiliar. He decided to wait a moment before
making his charge.

His amber eyes glinting warily, he watched. There was a stir of
hurried activity about the stricken bird. Then some strange beast, the
like of which Zar had never seen before, jumped from the belly of the
mammoth of the skies. It walked erect on two feet like N'Guru, the
gorilla.

But some instinct told Zar that this was not N'Guru, the only living
thing in the jungle that dared challenge his reign. This strange beast
was smaller than N'Guru, puny in comparison. Its face was white and
hairless and its body was covered with something that was neither
skin, fur nor feather.

The short hair stirred at the base of Zar's skull. His lips pulled
back from his long, yellow teeth. A growl started deep in his throat
but died still-born.

For, for the first time in his life, Zar was moved by an alien
emotion--an emotion he found hard to understand. With a rising anger
he realized that it was fear--fear of that ridiculous, puny, two-
legged creature with the sickly-white skin.

His tail beat a savage tattoo on the earth. In his cunning, animal
brain he tried to reason himself free from the shameful thing that
clutched his heart. Wasn't he Zar the Mighty? One blow from his saber-
tipped claws would rip the strange beast from throat to belly.

But the nameless fear held him still. It was beyond his simple,
elemental reasoning. It was instinctive, deep-rooted, instilled in all
animal kind since the first man climbed down from the trees and walked
erect on two feet.

And with the coming of fear to Zar's heart, came hate--hate for this
two-legged creature who stilled the battle-cry in his throat. He
snarled in frustrated fury, turned from the clearing and plunged deep
into the jungle growth.



CHAPTER II

The Jungle Talks

JOHN RAND was not aware of the long, bleeding gash in his forearm as
he staggered from the wreckage of his plane. His only thought was for
the other two who had crashed with him. With a desperate energy he
tore at the shattered rear cockpit.

"Constance!" he called hoarsely. "David!"

A thin wail answered him, spurred him frantically on. A moment later
he grasped a curly-headed, three-year-old boy and pulled him from the
tangle of wood and metal. The child whimpered, more from fright than
from pain. There was a swelling lump on his forehead, a long scratch
down one cheek.

"Don't cry, son," begged Rand. "We're safely on land, now."

Swiftly he ran his hands over the sturdy little body and was relieved
to find that the youngster had received no more than a bad shaking up.
Then he jumped back to the plane in search of his wife.

He found her lying with her soft blonde hair pillowed against the
crash pad, the heart-shaped oval of her face pallid and her eyes
closed. With an ache in his heart he lifted her tenderly from the
wreckage and lowered her to the ground beside the plane.

"Constance!" he called huskily. "You're not hurt?"

He raised her head. Her eyelids fluttered, opened. He repeated his
anxious question.

Constance Rand's eyes were clouded with pain but she smiled
nevertheless when she saw her son staring at her from round, surprised
eyes. She reached out, ran tender fingers through his tousled hair in
a swift caress. Then she looked up at her husband, still smiling.

"You know, John," she said coolly. "I thought it was the end. I
prayed."

John Rand grinned down at her. "And lo! Your prayer was answered. Here
we are, all safe and..." A twinge of pain crossed the girl's face.
"Hello! You're hurt," continued Rand, suddenly sober.

"Terribly careless of me," said Constance. "But I'm afraid I am. My
leg."

"Here--let's have a look," said Rand. Drawing his pocket-knife he
hastily slit the left leg of her khaki breeches. Just below the knee
the flesh was bruised and swollen. As gently as possible his fingers
probed the injured area. And a moment later his face grew grave.

Watching him with anxious eyes, the girl saw. "Is it..." she began
tentatively.

Rand nodded his head. "Yes--it's broken," he admitted reluctantly.

With a little sigh Constance sank back. "I was afraid of that," she
said.

"Mummy hurt?" asked young David brightly.

Constance nodded and Rand managed a wry grin.

"Cheer up, darling. It's a simple break. We'll have you all mended and
about in a short time."

Snatching his helmet from his head, he despatched the youngster to
fill it with water from the lake. Then picking up his wife he settled
her comfortably in the shadow of the plane's fuselage and began a
crude but efficient job of resetting the broken bone.

A small medical kit had been part of the ship's equipment when it had
taken off from Johannesburg that morning. But it was a painful ordeal
at best. It was sheer nerve alone that kept Constance from crying out.
Once--and only once--twin tears squeezed from the corners of her
eyelids and coursed in the crystalline drops down her pale cheeks. She
concentrated on her set teeth and clenched her tiny fists so tightly
that her nails cut into her palms.

It was not until the last splint and bandage was set firmly in place
that her mind once more was free to consider their surroundings. Then
her heart-felt relief that David had been unhurt in the crash and that
her husband had escaped with a minor cut or two, gave way to new fears
and doubts. She bathed the swollen lump on her son's forehead as Rand
stayed the bleeding of his own arm. It was a curious monkey, who
peering down at them and scolding them for their unwarranted
intrusion, made her realize the wildness of their landing place.

"John," she asked evenly, "just what part of Africa did you choose to
crack up in? Where are we?"

Rand tried to make his voice as casual as hers. "Oh, somewhere in the
Belgian Congo," he replied with a shrug.

Constance's arms crept about the youngster in a protecting gesture,
drew him close to her. "The Congo," she breathed. "The heart of the
jungle." Then: "How long will it take us--how far is it--to--to
civilization?"

John Rand could not find it in his heart to answer her question, to
tell her how many hundred miles of almost impassable wilderness lay
between them and the nearest outpost of the white man. Instead,
without looking up, he replied easily: "We don't have to worry about
that, darling. When we don't show up in Cairo they'll send a flock of
planes out to search for us. One will be along any day now."

And then, as if to mock this calm assurance, somewhere deep in the
jungle the mighty Zar vented his rage in a thunderous roar. Young
David cocked his head and listened in wide-eyed curiosity. But a low
cry broke from his mother's lips. She tightened her grip about the
boy.

"John," she said, trying hard to hide the catch in her voice, "if it
wasn't for you--I'd be afraid."

Rand leaned over and kissed her swiftly. "You're a brick, Connie. I've
gotten you into this mess and I'll get you out." Then he straightened
up to his full height. He was a young man, bronzed by the African sun,
with wide shoulders and lean hips and muscles of whipcord and steel.
The roar of the jungle lord was a challenge and he accepted it.

"Keep your nerve up, Connie," he said easily. "We'll be out of this in
a few days. Till then, I have a rifle, two automatics and plenty of
cartridges in the plane. We won't go hungry and nothing shall harm
you. In a few days you'll be sitting on the verandah of Shepeardís 
Hotel in Cairo, telling all your friends about your thrilling sojourn
in the Congo."

She touched his hand in a fleeting caress. "All right, John," she
smiled up at him. "I'll be good. If only I hadn't hurt my leg, I could
help you. Now, David and I will simply have to watch you labor."

"That'll be help enough," he answered.

Had he been alone in this predicament, with its promise of danger and
excitement, John Rand might have actually enjoyed the experience. It
was not the first time in his adventurous career that he had had to
call upon his ingenuity and resourcefulness to survive. He had earned
the self-confidence which now possessed him.

Hunting through the tangled debris that had been the plane, he salvaged
their luggage. He regretted that he had taken no such item as an axe
with him but he had a stout knife and it would have to serve his
purpose. Armed with it, he slashed boughs from the trees that fringed
the clearing, tore great lengths from the tough lianas that hung in
loops from the branches down to the jungle floor. The plane would
never leave the earth again; it was wrecked beyond all repair. So he
put the shattered parts to better use.

By the time the sweltering day had drawn to a close he had erected a
makeshift but comfortable lean-to under the protecting wing of the
plane.

The setting sun lingered a moment atop a distant mountain peak that
thrust a jagged cone, sheer and forbidding in the western sky. Its
last slanting rays bathed the clearing and the lake beyond in molten
gold. Mauve shadows crept out from under the dense trees of the
surrounding forest. Then the sun dropped down behind the peak and the
deepening shadows encroached upon the makeshift camp.

In front of the shelter, Rand built a roaring fire. From the cot of
leafy branches that he had prepared for her, Constance watched him
from soft eyes. Like all emotions of childhood, David's first fear had
been short-lived. Now he was enchanted with this strange, new
environment. With fascinated eyes he watched the birds make their last
brilliant flights across the clearing and come to roost in the tops of
the giant trees. A scampering monkey made him clap his hands in
delight.

Whistling cheerfully, Rand prepared a meal from the scant provisions
that they had carried in the plane. A tin of biscuit, bars of
chocolate and powdered milk. The latter he mixed with water from the
lake and heated in battered tin cups over the fire.

Night comes suddenly in the jungle. The magnificent sunset was
followed by a brief twilight while they ate. When Rand went to rinse
out the cups at the shore of the lake, a chill wind blew in across the
waters. It rustled the leaves of the trees and awakened other noises
and murmurs in the forest depths. An incessant chattering rose above
the low hum of myriad insects. Some creature--bird or animal, he did
not know--occasionally emitted a plaintive wail.

He came back to find David curled up in his mother's arms, peacefully
asleep. Getting coats and a tarpaulin from the wreckage of the plane,
he covered them both. Then with his rifle across his knees, he sat
down with his back against the open end of the shelter, prepared for
an all-night vigil.

For a while husband and wife conversed in low tones, careful lest they
wake the sleeping youngster. Beyond the circle of light cast by the
fire, the jungle was a wall of impenetrable blackness. Once greenish
eyes winked back at them. Rand threw another handful of brush on the
blaze and the eyes vanished. With soothing words he reassured his
helpless wife.

Whether her confidence in him banished her nameless fears, or whether
the terrific strain of the day's events had taken its toll at last, he
did not know. But the blessed sleep that claimed David stole over
Constance at last. And John Rand remained alone at his post on
vigilant guard.

At first the myriad noises of the night held his entire attention.
Unseen life stirred in the treetops. Strange rustlings sounded around
the wreckage of the plane. Once, far out on the lake, there was a
mighty splash. Twice during the night, deep in the jungle a panther
screamed. Both times David cried out and both times Constance awoke to
quiet him with a tender hand and murmured words of comfort.

The stars, though of dazzling brilliance, seemed very far away and
cold. Gradually the various sounds of the jungle grew more familiar in
Rand's ears and his mind strayed back to the events leading up to
their disastrous crash.



CHAPTER III

Marooned

A HIGH-SPIRITED young Yank, John Rand had roamed the world in search
of adventure and fortune. He had found them both. The Gods had indeed
been kind to him.

In a romantic two-weeks' interlude between his fortune-seeking
expeditions, he had wooed and won the gentle Constance and had
spirited her away from under the very nose of the stern headmistress
of a fashionable French finishing school. Neither of them had ever
regretted the elopement.

Constance had brought her share of luck with her, for shortly after
their marriage, Rand had stumbled on a rich diamond field in the
Transvaal and wealth had become theirs. And with the birth of their
son a year later, their home on the outskirts of Johannesburg had
become a paradise indeed.

Now looking into the glowing heart of the fire in the depths of the
jungle, Rand wondered at the strange trick Fate had played on him. In
his adventuresome youth he had learned many things and the art of
flying an airplane had been not the least of them. For his own
pleasure, when the income from the diamond field permitted him to
satisfy all his desires, he had purchased and maintained the plane
that now lay in ruins behind him.

And when Constance had received the telegram two days before, that her
father was seriously ill in Cairo, he had immediately suggested that
they make the trip to his bedside in the plane. That their course
would lie over thousands of miles of wild and dangerous territory,
they had never considered for a moment.

Rand sighed. If it had been himself alone who had crashed, he would
not have minded. But Constance and his son complicated the situation.

He shrugged philosophically. They would be there a couple of days at
the most. A rescue ship would surely come in search of them--probably
it was on its way already. He would be ready for it. In the morning he
would prepare a great signal fire in the center of the clearing, ready
to be lit at the first sound of an approaching plane. It was fortunate
indeed that they had crashed in the clearing instead of in the heart
of the thick jungle. A rescue ship could make a safe landing and
easily take off.

The fire died down to glowing embers. He caught himself nodding,
prodded the blaze to life again and added more brush. Slowly the stars
wheeled their majestic course across the heavens and the hours passed.
Then at long last the impenetrable blackness slowly lightened to a
murky gray, the first herald of the coming day. Rand stirred, rose and
stretched and greeted the booming sunrise with a smile.

Young David pushed back the tarpaulin with chubby hands, sat up and
looked about him with wondering eyes Rand placed a finger to his lips,
lifted the youngster across the still form of his mother and led him
down to the lake.

To a three-year-old, to whom the common-place features of every-day
life are still a mystery and a delight, the heart of the African
jungle is hardly more startling. David was enchanted. To him, the Dark
Continent was a place of dazzling sunshine and brilliant color; of
pleasing smells and intriguing noises.

The night life of the jungle had died with the dawn to yield place to
the equally noisy life of day. A flight of long-tailed, scarlet birds
wafted across the lake and came to rest in a squawking group in the
tree-tops. Slender, spidery monkeys trooped through the branches and
peered curiously down at the strange invaders of their domain One,
bolder than the rest, cautiously approached the tail of the plane.
With a gleeful whoop, David ran to catch it.

Rand smiled at the comical mixture of surprise and disappointment on
his face when the monkey scurried agilely off, mocking the youngster
over his shoulder as he went.

When they came back to the lean-to to prepare breakfast, they found
Constance awake. Her leg was setting nicely and bothered her little.
Rand adjusted the splints, served breakfast and then set to work to
prepare the signal fire. He warned his wife that yet another day might
pass before rescue came, but the sight of the towering brushpile and
the wet tarpaulin lying beside it, ready to blanket the smoke and send
it up in signal puffs, cheered her greatly.

She made no complaint, though Rand knew that her broken leg gave her
constant pain. The loaded rifle was set against the lean-to and young
David warned of dire results if he should touch it An automatic was
strapped to Rand's belt and thus prepared for whatever the day might
bring, he set to work to make their shelter yet more comfortable and
safe.

To the youngster, this task was delightful play. Despite his happy
conviction that he was being of great assistance, he was constantly
underfoot He picked up his father's knife, dropped it and the sharp
blade missed his foot by inches. He stumbled over a gnarled root and
the rush of his fall blew a shower of sparks from the fire a scant
foot away. Ten minutes later, while making faces at himself in the
mirror of the lake he fell into the water and was thoroughly drenched.
After that episode he was seated beside his mother and requested to
remain there.

The day wore on, hot and sultry, with a sudden deluge in mid-
afternoon. A few minutes later the torrid sun turned the damp floor of
the jungle to a steaming mist. Always Rand and his wife listened, ears
strained, for the sound of an approaching motor.

The sun wheeled its long arc across the heavens and headed down
toward the distant mountain peak that rose up to meet it. At last
they touched, quivering in a shimmer of heat and a riotous sunset
flared its vivid colors over the land. And then, in the brief hush of
silence with which the jungle paid tribute to the sun's glory, they
heard the sound for which they had been waiting.

The jungle had humming noises of its own. But the distant drone of a
powerful motor floated unmistakably across the still air. Rand leaped
at once to his waiting pile of brush. With hands that trembled
slightly in their eagerness he scratched a match and set it ablaze.
Then, after a moment, he seized the damp tarpaulin and blanketed the
flames.

The drone of the approaching plane grew steadily louder. Whipping back
the tarpaulin, Rand set a great puff of black smoke skyward. Then
hastily he blanketed the fire again, to repeat the operation.

The last slanting rays of the sun picked out a glinting speck in the
sky and turned it to shining gold. It grew slowly larger until it
resembled a giant, iridescent dragon fly soaring far above the earth.

"John!" called Constance anxiously. "He's going to miss us. He's
bearing north instead of west!"

Rand flung a hasty glance upward. He whipped up a last cloud of smoke
from his fire, then clutching the tarpaulin, he raced down to the
shore of the lake.

The plane loomed larger now but its nose was not pointed directly for
the clearing. And it was riding high--much higher than Rand would have
wished. With a sinking feeling at the pit of his stomach, he realized
that from where the unknown pilot rode in his cockpit, the wreckage of
Rand's ship was hidden by the towering trees and the clearing itself
was scarcely visible.

Swiftly he splashed out into the lake until the water rose above his
waist and waved the tarpaulin over his head. But the plane held to its
steady course and did not falter.

Though he knew the pilot could not hear him, he cried out hoarsely. He
flapped the heavy tarpaulin until his arms ached. But neither the
rising column of smoke from the clearing nor his wildly gesticulating
figure was seen. The motor of the ship in the air rose to a high
crescendo, then diminished again as it continued on.

Not until it had become a vanishing dot in the blue did John Rand's
arms drop. Wearily he plodded back to his wife and child. Constance
made a manful effort to conceal her bitter disappointment. She smiled,
a little tremulously.

"Well, it looks as though we've failed to thumb a ride."

Rand dropped the tarpaulin and sank down beside her. "Pooh! This is a
main highway. Busy traffic. There'll be another along in a moment."
Then, more soberly, he went on. "He'll be back--probably tomorrow. It
was the sunset. If he had come an hour earlier, he'd have spotted me
at the edge of the lake. Or if he'd come an hour later, he'd have seen
the light of the fire. Better luck next time."

But in the most important aspect of this optimistic prediction, Rand
was wrong. True, the plane came again on the next day--and one the day
after that. But each time it was farther from their lonely camp. The
last time it appeared, it was but a dim speck far toward the horizon.

Helplessly they watched it vanish from their sight and no amount of
forced good humor could hide the ache in their hearts.

Then three days passed and though they strained eyes and ears, the
ship did not come again. Reluctantly they had to voice the dismal
conclusion that their would-be rescuers had given them up to the
jungle.

Constance consoled herself with the thought that as soon as her leg
had mended, they would begin the long overland trek that would carry
them out of the wilderness. Her husband would not deprive her of this
meager consolation but he realized that until the long rainy season
was ended--and it had just set in, in earnest--they must remain in
their lonely outpost.

They were both astounded and in a measure glad, to hear young David
declare that he liked the jungle and had no desire to leave it. The
fact that he was thoroughly enjoying their enforced sojourn in the
wilds lightened their own burden.



CHAPTER IV

The Jungle Takes Its Toll

It was exactly a week since the mighty Zar had watched the strange
bird come swooping down to rest in the clearing. Now curiosity stirred
again in his mind. For a long while he hesitated, remembering the
alien emotion he had felt for the first time at the sight of the
grotesque, two-legged creature. Then impelled by a fascination he
could not resist, he headed for the camp.

He had not travelled far when he came to an abrupt halt. His head came
up and sniffed the air with flaring nostrils. The tip of his tail
twitched when his nose told him that N'Jaga, the leopard, was already
stalking in the same direction.

Zar's amber eyes gleamed with resentment. One peremptory roar to
announce his coming--and N'Jaga would reluctantly relinquish the trail
to his mighty overlord. A growl started deep in his throat, then died.

Zar's pride ruled the jungle but it did not rule his own cunning
brain. Let N'Jaga stalk this strange prey. He would be content to
wait--to watch--to learn.

His huge paws trod the jungle floor as silently as pads of velvet. His
tawny body wove easily through the dense, tangled undergrowth, barely
disturbing a leaf in his passing.

From the branches of a tall tree Nono, the monkey, saw him. Safe in
the swaying tree top, he shrilled a warning to the jungle folk. Zar
glanced up from slitted eyes, snarled and went on. A terrified bush
rat scurried across his path and dived squealing into the brush. Zar
ignored the little creature with studied disdain.

The unfamiliar scent of man came first to warn him that he was nearing
his destination. Treading yet more carefully, he wormed his way
through a dense tangle and at last reached a point that gave him a
broad view of the clearing.

The stricken bird still lay where it had fallen. From a queer shelter
beneath its outspread wing a fascinating sound--Constance's voice--
issued occasionally. Zar tilted his majestic head to one side and
listened. Before the shelter the two-legged creature squatted on his
haunches, busily engaged with something. And wonder of wonders, six
feet away from him a smaller creature--undoubtedly the cub of the
larger one--gamboled about.

Zar's keen eyes missed no detail of the scene. Thirty yards off to his
left he made out the form of N'Jaga, lying crouched on his belly, his
spotted shape barely distinguishable in the dense brush, his small
eyes riveted on the group in the clearing. Zar was content to lie
still and watch, only the very tip of his tail moving.

The strange cub continued to scurry about. His movements carried him
farther and farther away from his busy father--closer and closer to
the spot where N'Jaga lay like a motionless statue. Zar sensed what
would happen, but he did not stir. The cub was not his. No such
emotion as pity had ever stirred his stout heart. Life is cheap in the
jungle and no vestige of regret marks a creature's passing.

So he watched N'Jaga tense his springy muscles, saw the stupid cub
linger a fatal moment near the edge of the jungle. N'Jaga could wait
no longer for the toothsome tid-bit to come even closer to his lair.
With an ear-splitting scream he sprang, his sleek, spotted body
hurtling out of the undergrowth.

Even as his first bound covered half the distance between him and the
startled cub, a cry of terror rang out from the shelter under the
wing.

"John--David! Quick!" It floated across the clearing on a quivering
note.

Quicker than the lightning strikes the two-legged creature snatched up
a long stick that lay near him, jumped up and pointed the stick at the
bounding N'Jaga.

There was a roar and a pale flash, then a puff of smoke wafted from
the end of the stick. N'Jaga halted in midstride, screamed. Zar saw a
streak of bright crimson appear on his spotted hide as he whirled to
face this new menace.

The two-legged creature did not run. The stick pointed at N'Jaga
again. And for the first time, the leopard felt the strange fear that
the wiser Zar had sensed a week before. Crouching, his tail lashing,
he hesitated. And then, instead of charging in fury at the father of
the cub, he suddenly wheeled around and vanished like a yellow streak.

The salty tang of blood came faintly to Zar's nostrils. Silent as a
great shadow he bellied backwards. And while N'Jaga crept off to some
quiet spot to nurse his wound, Zar glided back into the jungle
fastness.

The scene that he had just witnessed was engraved indelibly on his
memory. The stick had been pointed at N'Jaga. There had been a roar
and a flash of fire. And N'Jaga had limped as he fled from the
encounter. Zar had been wise, indeed, when he had been content to lie
hidden and watch. His instinctive hatred for this two-legged creature
was not lessened. But now it was tempered by a deep respect.

When the leopard had vanished, John Rand hurried to young David,
snatched him up and carried him back to his anxious mother. To his
amazement, his son looked at him from reproachful eyes.

"You hurt him," he accused. "You hurt him, daddy. Now he won't come
back--never--never."

In silence, Rand looked at his child. When the huge leopard, with its
jaws agape, had leaped at him, David had not shown even the slightest,
instinctive fear.

Rand recalled the youngster's delight in the monkeys and birds and
lizards with which the clearing abounded. And now a strange thought
flitted through his mind. It was so elusive that he could not quite
grasp it; but had he been able to do so, he would have realized that
to young David the beasts of the jungle were companions and friends.
Something within the child responded to them and he knew them, trusted
and loved them.

Instead of trying to answer his son's accusation, he patted the
youngster's head and for the rest of the day, he was a very thoughtful
man.

And so, with death ever at their elbows, Rand and his family continued
to survive in the heart of the African wilderness. Roots, berries,
strange fruits and the game which was always plentiful fed them. Every
day parts of the wrecked plane were added to the original lean-to,
until they were housed in a safe and comfortable dwelling. Water and
fuel were within easy reach. David's skin bronzed until in the
tattered remnants of his clothing he resembled a sturdy young savage.
And while his parents became merely reconciled to their strange
environment, he fell more and more under its spell.

Boredom never existed there, for constant dangers kept them ever on the
alert. There was the time when David's restless feet took him too
close to a slender, emerald-green snake, sunning itself on a tangle of
roots. The reptile hissed a sibilant warning and then uncoiled with
the suddenness of a broken spring. Swift as it struck, John Rand was a
fraction of a second faster. He knocked the youngster sprawling as be
leaped forward and the snake buried its dripping fangs in the tough
leather of his high boots. Snatching the automatic from his hip, he
fired three times in rapid succession and the snake threshed wildly in
its death throes.

Again David reproached his father and no graphic description of the
reptile's deadliness could change the boy's attitude. He mourned the
passing of a fellow denizen of the wild.

They heard the distant trumpeting of an elephant herd and one day
Rand, hunting in the jungle depths for game, was startled by a loud
crashing through the lower branches of the trees. The sound was made
by a tribe of great apes on their migration to new feeding grounds and
twice he caught glimpses of dark, flat-nosed faces peering through the
leafy boughs.

At night great cats prowled on padded feet around their dwelling. They
could hear the sniffing of curious and hungry beasts and the loaded
rifle was never far beyond Rand's reach.

Often they lay awake far into the night while in a low voice Constance
made plans for the day when she would be able to travel. To please
her, Rand discussed in detail their possible routes, the equipment
they would need and the minimum amount of provision they could carry.
But he was grateful for the darkness that hid his face from hers,
while she talked of Cairo, of friends in far-off London, and in
Johannesburg.

For she was mending slowly--very slowly. And though the broken bones
were knitting at last, she was growing wan and weak. Knowing the
courage and the will within her slender body, he blamed it on the
enervating climate. The damp, steaming miasma seemed to sap all
strength from her. She grew thin and violet shadows made hollows under
her eyes.

His fears for her were justified. The day came when she complained of
a racking headache. And soon she was consumed by a raging fever.

Rand was dismayed. He had seen the ravages of mysterious tropical
maladies before. He dosed her from the quinine supply of the medical
kit that he had carefully guarded. But her weakened body did not
respond. Shaken by alternate spells of burning fever and chills that
made her tremble from head to foot, she grew steadily worse. Rand
stayed constantly by her side and David listened wide-eyed when his
mother began to ramble incoherently about the home that she had left.

Late one night, after a fitful, restless sleep, she woke to find her
husband still keeping vigil beside her. She smiled up at him.

"Faithful John," she murmured.

Her voice was low and husky, but sane. Rand placed a cool hand on her
fevered brow. "You're better," he said eagerly. "You know, I think
you've passed the crisis."

Constance smiled again but shook her head. A strange soft light glowed
in her deep-set eyes. "No, John. I---I'm going to die--very soon."

An expression of anguish crossed his face, then he forced a laugh from
his lips. "Nonsense." He leaned over and pressed his face to hers.
"You're not going to die. You can't leave me--I need you," he said
huskily.

She stroked his bearded cheek with tender fingers. "I don't want to
leave you. It's God's will. I'm not afraid--for myself." She slipped
the wedding ring from her wasted finger on to his. "My dearest
possession. I want you to wear it for me, John, always," she said
softly.

Rand felt of the smooth, gold band. Though he could not read the
inscription engraved on the inside of it, he knew it by heart: "From
John Rand to Constance Dean."

Constance went on, her voice sinking to a whisper, so weak that it was
barely audible. It seemed to Rand's straining eyes as though a shadow
flitted across her face. "John," she managed feebly, "You'll take good
care of David--won't you?"

"With my life," he answered.

She smiled weakly up at him. "I knew you'd say that." Her straying
fingers sought and found his. With the contented sigh of a tired child
going to sleep, she closed her eyes.



CHAPTER V

The End of the Rains

JOHN RAND never knew that the hyena and jackal were prowling outside
his rude shelter; never knew when the stealthy approach of Zar sent
them slinking into the brush.

If he had known, he would not have cared.

Morbidly he toyed with the idea of ending it all, there by the side of
his wife. He was tired, weary. Life held no meaning for him, had no
purpose now that Constance was gone.

Then the cry of his son calling out in his sleep for a mother who
would never answer again, brought him back to sanity. If not for
himself, he had to live for David. It was enough that he had the death
of his wife on his hands. The boy must live. For Constance's sake. It
was her dying wish. The boy's name had been the last to pass her lips
before a merciful God had taken her from her sufferings to the eternal
peace of heaven.

That thought--that conviction--fortified Rand, eased the poignant pain
of his grief. He would live for his son, dedicate his life to the boy.
For in him the flesh and blood of Constance were resurrected.

For the first time in many years John Rand prayed--prayed to the God,
who in his infinite wisdom had created man as well as the savage
beasts that roamed the jungle. His words were humble, penitent. He
asked nothing for himself; only for the strength, the courage and the
cunning to survive for his son and to eventually win back with him to
civilization.

Rand did not sleep that night and it was not until the first pale
light of dawn lit up the east that he stirred from the side of his
wife. He had much to do.

First was the heartbreaking task of fashioning a coffin from the
fabric wings of the plane. It was crude at the very best, no more than
a canvas covering for the lovely body. But he could not bring himself
to commit his wife to the raw earth, uncovered.

David watched him from wide, scared eyes as he worked. "Mummy sick?"
he asked in a small, hushed voice.

Rand turned to him, placed a gentle hand on his tousled head. "No,
son," he answered softly. "Mummy is sick no longer. All her troubles
are over. She has gone to heaven. God has taken her from us."

Little David smiled happily at the mention of the Deity. "God is
good," he said, expressing the fundamental philosophy behind all true
religion. "He won't let Mummy cry any more."

Rand swept up the youngster in his arms and crushed him to his breast.
Emotion gripped him and it was a moment before he could speak. "Amen
to that, son," he cried reverently. "Yes, God is good. Mummy will cry
no more."

David was satisfied with that and scampered cheerily about the
clearing while his father labored over the grave. For a shovel he had
nothing better than the jagged end of a shattered spar from the plane,
but the ground was soft from the rains and his labor was one of love.

By noon his work was done. Calling David to him, he made his way
slowly to the lean-to. There, with tender arms he picked up the
shrouded body and with his son following after him, started back for
the shallow grave.

Never had the heart of darkest Africa witnessed such a strange funeral
procession. The jungle seemed to have stopped breathing while it
watched.

Before the raw hole in the ground, Rand crushed his wife to him, while
his lips moved in prayer. Then, reverently, he lowered his burden to
its final earthly resting place. He had fashioned a pillow of wild
flowers for Constance's head; and now with David at his side they
dropped orchids into the open grave.

Rand dropped down to his knees. "Pray, son," he said in a choked
voice.

David knelt down beside him and pressed the palms of his hands
together as his mother had taught him. From wide eyes he looked
trustingly into the blue of heaven: "I know you'll take care of Mummy,
God. And thank you."

There was such a simple, all-embracing faith behind the words that
Rand felt sure that God had heard. He felt better.

"Amen," he said.

Slowly he filled in the grave and together with his son piled rocks
over the little mound. From parts of the shattered propeller a cross
was fashioned and placed at the head of the grave. And thus ended the
saddest task it had ever been John Rand's misfortune to perform.

It was not until the following morning that Rand felt the full shock
of his loss. He could not believe that Constance had gone from him
forever, that never again would her eyes smile into his.

For the next week he brooded for long hours over her grave, heaping it
high with jungle flowers, while all unheeded his son chased gaudy-
winged butterflies around the clearing.

It was only the urgent demands of David's body that brought him out of
his reveries. And then only long enough to satisfy the youngster's
need for food.

Night brought him no surcease. Cradling the boy in his arms he would
throw himself on the rude couch in the lean-to and in vain woo sleep.

One night prowling jackals about the grave sent him leaping from the
shelter. Snatching a glowing brand from the low-burning fire he
charged into the night. He was consumed by an insensate, Unreasonable
fury. Not that! Anything but that! The thought of Constance's body
despoiled by noisome beasts horrified him--became an obsession that
haunted him.

The next day he heaped more stones upon the grave.

The rainy season was in full sway by now. Intermittently throughout
the day and night the clearing was drenched by heavy deluges. They
came sudden, without warning, as if some celestial gardener had opened
a valve in heaven.

And then, two weeks after Constance had died, David fell sick. He had
caught some strange jungle fever that sent up his temperature to
perilous heights.

The boy's illness was the one thing that could have moved Rand from
his lethargy, brought him back to reality and to his responsibilities
to his son. For the first time he realized how he had neglected those
responsibilities; how, in his selfish sorrow he had violated the last
promise he had made to Constance.

His heart turned sick as he listened to the boy's childish prattle in
delirium. If David died... but he did not dare think of that.

For three days and nights, with no more than a moment's snatched
sleep, he nursed the youngster. No mother could have shown more care,
more tenderness or patience. And then, on the morning of the fourth
day, the fever was gone as suddenly as it had come. Sane-eyed, David
smiled up into his father's face and asked for food.

The supply of powdered milk had long since been used. Now, with a
prayer of thanks on his lips, Rand stirred up the fire, picked up the
rifle, patted the boy reassuringly on the head and crept cautiously
from the lean-to.

Deep in a cane-brake he took up his post by the side of a game trail
that led down to the edge of the lake. A leopard passed before the
sights of his gun, drank its fill from the lake and departed,
unmolested. The hyena, jackal and wild pig also drank their fill and
went their way.

Then Rand tensed and his finger tightened on the rifle. An antelope
with a fawn at her flank minced gingerly down the trail. The female's
head was back and her velvet nostrils quivered as she sniffed the air.

Some sense of smell or sound, or perhaps a combination of both,
flashed a warning of danger to her brain. She whinnied the alarm to
her young--her haunches tensed for a spring...

Reluctantly, even though it was for his son, John Rand squeezed the
trigger of his rifle. The mother antelope bounded forward for a sheer
twenty feet, but the bay fawn did not follow after her. As if its
slender, dainty legs had suddenly turned to water, it crumpled in the
center of the trail.

And from deep in the jungle, challenging the crack of the rifle, came
Zar's rumbling roar. Many times he had watched the two-legged creature
of the clearing with the strange, shiny stick in his hand. Many times
he had seen him point that stick at some wild thing of the jungle. The
stick would bark. And as night followed day, the animal it was pointed
at would drop.

Zar could not understand the magic of this, but he feared. And because
he feared he hated. The two-legged creature that looked like N'Guru,
could deal death at a distance!

Zar roared again and from a side trail stalked Rand as he carried the
fawn back to the lean-to.

That day and the day after, David gained strength on strong meat
broth. By the end of the week he was himself.

Though the episode had turned out happily enough, it brought Rand to a
fuller realization of the dangers that confronted himself and his son.
Not only must they be eternally on guard for prowling beasts, but they
had a more insidious enemy to face. One that was unseen--that struck
silently, without warning--fever!

He was increasingly anxious to win back to civilization. But the fact
that the rainy season was then at its height made the attempt
impracticable if not impossible. If he had been alone he might have
ventured it with the chances fifty-fifty that he won through. But with
David, the long trek would be out of the question.

Much as he hated the enforced delay, caution dictated that course. And
there were other deciding factors. By the time the rainy season came
to an end, David would be months older. In the comparative safety of
their camp he would become hardened, jungle wise, immune to tropical
fevers, against their long trek through the trackless wilderness.

And then there was the added consolation that, while they waited, he
would be near Constance's grave.

In short, Rand resigned himself to three months of waiting. He
determined, however, that at the first sign of a let-up in the rains,
they would set forth.

In preparation for that day he studied for long hours the large map of
the Dark Continent that had been tacked to the dashboard of his plane.
As close as he could calculate, he had cracked up some two degrees
south of the Equator, between the 25th and 28th meridians, east.

Approximately two hundred miles to the east lay Lake Kivu. From there
it would be comparatively easy to travel down the Ruizi River to Lake
Tanganyika, the furthest outpost of the white man. If, on the other
hand, he went west, he should reach the Congo River within a hundred
miles; and from thence, another trek of a hundred miles paralleling
the stream due north should bring him to a tiny Belgian settlement.

There was little to choose between either course. Each offered the
same danger of savage man and savage beast to every heart-breaking
mile. Rand decided to wait the moment of his departure before making
his decision.

The days dragged slowly by into weeks; the weeks into months. He took
the enforced delay with a stoic calm and marveled at the sturdy
muscles developed in the legs of his son--at the affinity the
youngster had developed with the forbidding jungle.

David knew where the sweetest smelling flowers bloomed for Constance's
grave; where the most luscious fruit ripened to satisfy their
appetites. He made friends with the smaller animals, imitated the
raucous cries of birds and strode the jungle trails as unafraid as
Zar, before the coming of man.

As the rainy season dragged toward a close at last, Rand made his
simple preparations for the long trek. He was increasingly sparing of
the bullets for the rifle, hunting only for the necessity of food. And
of each kill, a portion was dried to be taken along on the journey.



CHAPTER VI

The Storm

THE rains had decreased now, from a steady, twenty-four-hour drumming
to two heavy downpours--one in the early morning, the other at
eventide. Rand's spirits picked up at the early prospect of taking the
trail. The impenetrable jungle wall that surrounded the little
clearing was a challenge to him--to his strength, courage and
fortitude--and eagerly he accepted it.

Not that he minimized the dangers that would confront him and his son,
but he had faith in himself, confidence in his ability to win through.
Somehow he had the feeling that the spirit of his dead wife would
watch over them, guide their faltering steps back to safety.

His heart was heavy at the thought of abandoning Constance's grave to
the jungle, but he was fortified by the knowledge that she would have
had it so. Mentally he made the resolution that once he returned his
son to civilization, he would immediately form an expedition and head
once more back for the clearing that had been his home for the past
six months. He would disinter Constance's body then and bring it back
with him for proper burial in the neat, trim cemeteries of her
homeland.

The day came at last when Rand spoke of his hopes and plans to his
son. It was toward sunset and the day had been marked by but one
brief shower in the early morning.

"Well, son," he began in a cheery voice, "tomorrow we start for home."

"Home?" echoed David with a puzzled frown.

"Yes. Back to civilization. Back to the land of people--white people.
Street cars, electric lights, trains," elaborated Rand
enthusiastically.

"What's that?" asked David, still puzzled.

Rand smiled wryly to himself. In six short months--though they were
comparatively a long span in the youngster's life--his son had
completely forgotten everything he had once known of civilization. The
most common words of civilized society conjured up no corresponding
association in his mind. Such was the blessing of boyhood. An
experience that might have blighted a more mature mind had left him
untouched. He had taken the hardships and dangers of their enforced
sojourn in the wilds as the natural manner of life. More, he had
enjoyed it. And if his sturdy brown body was any evidence, he had
thrived on it.

The terror and tragedy that had attended their exile had left him
untouched. He was a little animal, as quick and animated as the
monkeys that sported in the trees; as natural and untrammeled by the
restricting influences of civilization as ever man had been before.

Rand envied him his simple acceptance of his mother's death; his easy
forgetfulness of sorrow and grief.

"Yes, son," he began again, "tomorrow we start for home. Don't you
remember? The house we lived in before we came here?"

David shook his head. His face was serious and frowning. "Where's
that?" he demanded.

Rand flung his arm to the south. "Way, way off in there, beyond the
lake," he answered. "A long way--a hard way. You'll get tired--we'll
both get tired," he corrected. "And maybe we'll be hungry. But you'll
take it like a man, eh, son?"

Young David felt no elation at the prospect of leaving his beloved
clearing. But at this last appeal of his father--man to man--he
responded. "I'll take it like a man, dad," he repeated.

Rand clapped him fondly on the shoulder. "I knew you would."

David's brows screwed up in concentration and he thought for a moment.
"We leave Mummy here?" he asked at last.

A momentary shadow passed over Rand's face. "Yes, son, for a little
while. But we'll come back for her." He cupped his boy's palm in his
right hand, picked up the rifle in his left. "Come, we'll say good-bye
to Mummy for a little while. We'll leave some flowers on her grave."

They left the lean-to and slowly, hand in hand, walked across the
clearing toward the little mound at the far side. They had tended it
faithfully every day and it was covered with a blanket of hibiscus.

The grave held little significance for David's immature mind and the
placing of flowers upon it was but a pleasant ritual that had to do
with the gathering of wild, sweet smelling blooms.

Rand placed his offering on the grave, then bowed his head in prayer.
For a long time he communed with his wife--so long that he failed to
note the bank of ominous black clouds that were massing in the west.
He wasn't aware that the sun had taken on a peculiarly brassy glare--
that the myriad tongues of the jungle were stilled. Not a breath
stirred, not a leaf rippled. The birds and monkeys had fallen
strangely silent and all life seemed suspended as if waiting with
bated breath for the stroke of doom.

The first intimation of danger that Rand had was a sudden soughing
high in the treetops above him. He looked up quickly in alarm. Not a
tree stirred as yet and as he watched, the bank of black clouds in the
west rolled across the sky as if poured from an inkpot, blotting out
the sun.

Then, with a sudden blast, the storm broke. The wind screamed on a
high, off-key wail. In perfect unison the towering trees of the jungle
groaned and keeled far over. Jagged bolts of vivid purple rent the
heaven and flashed luridly from sky to earth. With the first flash of
lightning the rain came. It descended in a blinding, driving sheet as
solid as a wall.

In the first second of the storm's fury Rand and his son were
drenched. The screaming wind snatched their breath away and the air
was filled with hurtling limbs and branches torn from the trees. All
about them the mammoth baobab trees plunged and fell, smitten by the
jagged bolts from above.

Rand swept young David to his arm and plunged for the shelter of the
tall trees that bordered the clearing.

"It's all right, son," he shouted in David's ear, above the fury of
the storm. "This will be over in a few minutes. It's the last twister
of the rainy season--and the worst."

David did not answer. He was too fascinated by the storm.

They crouched there together on the edge of the clearing, lashed by
the wind and the rain. The intermittent flashes of light lit up their
faces with brilliant purple. Then, a second later, a sizzling bolt
directly above them blinded them completely. The roaring clap of
thunder that followed it immediately was equally as effective in
deafening them.

If it had not been for these two factors, Rand would have known that
the giant baobab tree, under which they had sought shelter, had been
smitten--would have known that even with the lightning's flare it was
crashing down on them.

Too late he realized their peril. It was the crash of the smaller
trees about them, splintered like matchwood by the fall of the
towering baobab, that first told him of imminent peril. He glanced up
once hastily and his heart constricted in his throat. The mammoth
trunk of the tree was plunging straight down for them.

He acted instinctively in the emergency. With a mighty thrust he flung
David from him, clear of the path of the crashing destruction, then
leaped far to one side. He succeeded in escaping the solid bole of the
tree, which would have crushed the life from his body. But an outflung
branch of the toppling giant crashed into the back of his head and
sent him spinning drunkenly forward.

A bomb exploded inside his skull. He staggered wildly, dropped his
rifle, flung out his arms to regain his balance, failed and plunged
face down to the jungle floor.

How long he lay there, John Rand never knew. Slowly, painfully he
crawled back to consciousness. He was first aware of an angry rumbling
in his ears which he confused with the fury of the storm that had been
raging. A moment before? It seemed so to him. In reality it was a
matter of hours.

And the rumble was not thunder. It was Zar's voice, venting his hate,
as he lashed his tail in the brush twenty yards from the clearing.

Rand was next conscious of something tugging at his shirt and an
insistent small voice drilling into his ears.

"Get up, daddy. Get up! I'm hungry."

He opened his eyes and stared blinking up into the small, tired face
of his son. The storm had long since died out. From the vast dome of
heaven a million winking stars looked down on the small jungle
clearing.

"Daddy sleep?" asked David.

Rand brushed a hand across his eyes, staggered up to his feet. "Why,
yes, I must have been, son." Zar's roar, so close at hand that he
could almost feel the hot breath of it, brought him back to the
reality of the moment. He stooped down swiftly, snatched up his rifle
from the ground, then clasped David's hand firmly in his own. "Come
on, son," he urged. "We got to get out of this."

Swiftly he made his way back to the lean-to. And a few minutes later,
as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened that day--as if he had
never planned to start the long trek back to civilization on the
morrow--he stirred up the campfire and went casually about the
routine business of preparing the night's meal.

"We're going home tomorrow?" asked David when the meal was over.

Rand looked at him with puzzled eyes. "Home, son?" he echoed. Then he
threw out his arm in a wide gesture that took in the rude lean-to, the
clearing and the encroaching jungle beyond. "Why this is home, son,"
he said patiently. "This clearing, here, in the jungle. Where your
mother is."

David smiled up at him. "I'm glad," he said simply.

Rand threw a protecting arm around his sturdy shoulder, returned the
smile. "Of course you are, son."



CHAPTER VII

Zar the Mighty

JOHN RAND never recovered mentally from the blow that the falling
jungle giant had struck him. Though rational in every other respect,
to the end of his days he labored under the delusion that the jungle
was his home. He liked to believe that this tract of wilderness
belonged to him and since no one was there to refute him, the notion
grew until it became an absolute conviction.

The outward manifestations of civilization fell rapidly from him. His
beard became a luxuriant growth that Zar the lion might have envied.
His supply of ammunition became exhausted and in its place he managed
to fashion ingenious weapons from the remains of the plane. Together
he and David survived--and thrived.

At the age of eight, David was a husky lad, already destined to become
taller and mightier than his powerful father. Some latent impulse had
made John Rand teach his son to read and write. With the aid of a
charred stick, blackened by fire, David had reluctantly learned his A
B C's. But even such simple schooling was not to his liking.

Clad simply in a soft hide draped about his loins, equipped with a
crude but efficient knife, a long bow, a quiver of arrows and a stout
spear fashioned by his father, he preferred to roam the forest. He
could swim like Nyassa the fish, climb with all the agility of Nono
the monkey. With any of his weapons he could strike as swiftly as
Sinassa the big snake. He knew now why his father had fired at N'Jaga
the leopard and why he had killed the emerald green reptile. He
accepted the code of the jungle. Kill only when necessary--for food,
or for one's own life.

He had been only three on that fateful day when their plane had
crashed to the clearing. All details of his life before that day faded
swiftly from his memory. And they were never recalled, for John Rand
never mentioned them. David never learned of other white men, of big
ships that sailed the seas, of speeding trains and crowded cities.
Such things were buried in John Rand's past and such words never
crossed his lips.

Only the lonely grave of Constance remained as a symbol of what had
been. It became part of John Rand's obsession to linger near that
hallowed spot, to spend long brooding hours there and to protect it
from the ravages of weather and prowling beast.

Occasionally the sight of the grave brought a puzzled look to David's
eyes. He would screw up his face and try to grasp a memory that eluded
him. But in the end he gave up the effort and the vague thoughts came
no more to plague him.

The early kinship that he had felt for the animals had grown with the
years. He had met and made friends with many of them. They talked with
him and soon he began to understand them. He learned, with strange
guttural sounds, to imitate their language and from that day a new and
happier life opened up before him.

Nono, the little monkey, was his constant companion. He would snatch
things when David was not looking, scamper up into the topmost
branches and taunt his friend. When David shook his fist and laughed,
Nono would toss sticks at him. Then, in a sudden change of mood, he
would scramble down again, swing lightly up onto David's shoulder and
cling to the boy's neck with spidery hands.

No longer was the lad a helpless youngster who needed constant looking
after. Wise in the ways of the jungle, David went off alone on long
expeditions into the forest. He had his first sight of Trajah, the
elephant, and wondered what it would be like to climb upon that,
towering gray back and ride in state through the jungle. Some day, he
vowed, Trajah would also become his friend and his desire would be
gratified. He met Quog, the wild pig, and stayed that beast's startled
flight with a guttural call. While swimming in the lake, he was in
turn startled by a great beast that rose snorting from the shallows.
And so he made the acquaintance of Wal-lah, the hippopotamus.

On many of these trips Nono accompanied him, sometimes riding on his
shoulder, sometimes swinging through the vines and branches that
overhung the jungle floor. And several times, though he did not know
it, he had another companion. A flitting, tawny shape kept pace with
him, silent as a shadow. Zar, the lion, had never forgotten the stick
that spurted flame and roared. Neither had he forgotten his first
instinctive knowledge that these strange two-legged creatures somehow
menaced his jungle supremacy.

Still patient and watchful, biding his time, Zar had watched the cub
grow to be big and strong. Some day, he sensed, the issue must be
decided. No rival must stand before him.

Sha, the lioness, his regal mate, was less cautious. Twice David had
seen her, once departing gorged from a kill, another at twilight when
she drank from the edge of the lake. Remembering the charge of N'Jaga,
he realized that here was a still more formidable enemy. He fingered
his crude weapons--and wondered.

But the gods of the jungle were nothing if not capricious. And the
outcome of the first meeting between Zar and David was a surprising
one.

It had been a hot, sultry day. There was meat at the camp to last them
several days and a fire already prepared against the coming night.
John Rand was busy fashioning a new spear. Young David, footloose and
fancy-free, had wandered deep into the jungle in the hope of finding
Trajah, the elephant.

His search had been unsuccessful. The sun dropped more swiftly toward
the waiting mountain peak. A belated butterfly, large as a saucer and
shimmering as a sapphire, floated across his path. A floating speck in
the cloudless sky brought David's eyes upward. It circled downward in
a tight spiral, grew larger as it descended. Then with wings slanted
back Kru, the buzzard, dropped like a plummet toward the earth.

Curiously David veered off and made for the spot where Kru had landed.
And a few moments later his arrival sent the ungainly bird flapping up
from a carcass. The kill had been a small antelope and it was still
fresh. Great chunks had been taken from one shoulder and haunch. And
around the spot, the damp jungle floor was marked with the impressions
of huge paws.

David dropped down to one knee and examined them. The pupils of his
eyes dilated and a strange tingling stirred at the nape of his neck.
For the impressions had been made by a lion pair, and the larger,
those of the male, were of monstrous size. Zar and his mate were in
the vicinity.

David rose, cast a glance over his shoulder at the setting sun for his
direction, and then proceeded, more cautiously now, toward the distant
camp.

Twilight fell as he reached a swamp that he must traverse and he took
to the lower branches of the trees. A good fifteen feet above the
treacherous mire he traveled swiftly and safely, swinging from bough
to bough as Nono had taught him; occasionally flying far through the
air to catch the next stout limb.

Jacaru, the crocodile, slithered through the morass below him. Bats
wheeled, ghost-like, past his head. In the dim light, sky, trees and
underbrush were of a monotonous grayness. And the spell of the
twilight, before the night came with its noisy life, lay like a hush
over the land.

Then suddenly the stillness was rent by a mighty roar. And even before
its echoes had died away, it came again. David crouched on a swaying
limb and listened. He knew that bloodcurdling sound--he had heard it
many times before. Only the deep-throated bellow of Zar could wake
such echoes in the jungle. But this time, there was a new note in the
stentorian call. David's keen ears told him that and more. He would
have sworn it--that note was fear.

The roar had come from a spot not far before him. Without further
hesitation, he redoubled his speed through the trees. And a moment
later he halted in amazement.

For once the wise monarch of the jungle had erred--he had made a fatal
misstep. Something far more treacherous than any living creature, had
him in its grasp. Zar the mighty floundered in a patch of quicksand.
And with each struggle to gain the safety of the bank, his massive
tawny body sank lower into the slimy depths.

David took in the scene with one swift, all-inclusive glance. On the
bank, strange whines issuing from her throat, crouched Sha. Helpless,
she watched the death struggles of her fallen lord, but she dared not
venture toward him. All around the quicksand was solid, grass-tufted
land. But Zar was up to his haunches now and he could not hope to gain
it. Even in the murky light David could see the hopeless light in the
lion's amber eyes--and he could not resist the forlorn appeal.

He dropped lightly down from the tree. Zar's struggles ceased for a
moment as his head swung in that direction. Sha growled, her tail
lashed and she tensed her muscles for a spring.

But the desperate need of his situation did something strange to Zar's
brain. Whether he realized that no enemy would come to attack him now,
already doomed as he was, or whether the low words that David called
out to him conveyed an unmistakable note of friendliness, will never
be known. But Zar growled a peremptory command at his mate and she
subsided again, whining.

David worked swiftly. With his knife he slashed desperately at boughs
and brush, seized a great armful of the fallen branches and thrust
them out across the morass toward the helpless lion. Exerting all his
magnificent strength, Zar drew his right forepaw free of the clinging
sands. Digging into the boughs, he drew himself slowly forward.

But as his tremendous weight shifted upon them, the tangle of boughs
sank slowly but surely into the quicksand. Hastily David slashed down
more, added them as fast as he could work to Zar's sinking foothold.

It was a matter of minutes in actual time, but it seemed eternity to
the strange trio. Inch by inch Zar drew his tiring body from the
quagmire that seemed reluctant to lose its prey. But David saw that
they were cheating Death of its hold and he redoubled his efforts. And
at last the lord of the jungle crawled across the settling boughs and
gained the bank.

For a long moment in the dying twilight, they faced each other across
the quagmire. Sha nuzzled her master's draggled mane. From glowing
eyes Zar surveyed the man cub as he stood, straddle-legged and
breathing heavily, beneath the tree from which he had dropped.

And there a strange pact of truce was made. Zar growled--a low,
rumbling note that held no enmity. David gave guttural answer to show
that he understood. And then as night fell, the great beast turned and
with his mate at his side, stalked silently into the jungle.



CHAPTER VIII

An Arrow Starts a Feud

A WEEK had passed since David's rescue of Zar and the truce between
him and the lion. The sun had been up an hour and David and his father
were exploring the swamp-lands in search of straight branches of the
acaya tree to be hardened in a slow-burning fire into arrows.

Their search had taken them farther from the clearing than usual.
David was in the act of indicating a likely tree with an outstretched
arm, when suddenly his head snapped back. His nostrils twitched. His
sense of smell keen as that of N'Jaga had picked up the pungent odor
of smoke.

He knew that their own campfire had been put out before they had left
the lean-to. And even if that had not been the case, they were too far
from the clearing for the scent of smoke to reach them.

Tilting back his head he scanned the tops of the trees towering above
them.

Rand noted the rapt expression of his face and wonderingly followed
the direction of his son's gaze. Keen as his own senses had been
attuned to the jungle, they could not rival the youngster's. He,
himself, had sensed no warning of danger. The face of the impenetrable
jungle appeared the same to him as always--its sights, smells and
sounds.

And then simultaneously they both saw it--a thin spiral of smoke that
curled above the treetops. Young David made a guttural sound in his
throat. Rand gripped the butt of his long spear with a fierce grip. He
was assailed by a hundred conflicting emotions, none of which he could
quite analyze. The sight of that smoke, from a campfire he knew was
not his own, stirred dim memories in the back of his clouded brain. He
frowned in his concentration as he tried to bring them to light but
they eluded his mental grasp.

Then they were gone and Rand was clear eyed once more. The only
emotion aroused in him by the sight of that smoke, was one of danger--
one of outrage. Someone was encroaching on his kingdom--someone had
stumbled perilously close to Constance's grave.

He made a warning signal of silence to the boy--a signal that was not
needed--then lowering his spear to the ready, moved forward
cautiously. He slipped between the boles of the giant trees without
making a sound. And David followed, stepping where he stepped. Not a
twig snapped beneath their feet; no leaf stirred at their passing. Zar
could not have stalked his quarry more stealthily, more warily.

Long before their eyes could tell them anything, their ears warned
them that whatever it was they were approaching, there were four of
them. Outside of his father, David had seen no other man for years.
The dim remembrance of his soft-faced mother was something that came
to trouble him only in dreams. The possibility that there were other
two-legged creatures like himself, had never occurred to him.

His thumb and forefinger held a long arrow taut against the string of
his bow. He was prepared to see N'Guru and his tribe going through
their strange rituals; or Chaka and his family of great apes dancing
around a jungle drum. But he was not prepared for the sight that met
his eyes a few moments later when they came to a slight opening in the
trees, made by the gurgling passage of a small stream.

His father held up his hand in warning. They froze, shadows in the
shadowy forest. Concealed behind the pendant foliage of a tree they
peered into the clearing.

In the center was a small fire that sent a plume of smoke lazily
upward. Near it was a strange shelter that resembled somewhat the
lean-to in which he and his father lived. But it was not these things
that held David's rapt attention. Squatted on his haunches before the
fire, stirring something in a pot, was a man--a man like himself or
his father--except for the fact that he was black. He was naked, save
for a ragged cloth around his middle.

Two more blacks were scooping up gravel from the bed of the stream in
shallow pans. And standing over them, watching their labor, was still
another man. But this one was white--and fat. He had a strange, domed
covering on his head; strange wrappings encased his legs. And instead
of the skin of the leopard or antelope, his body was covered with
tight-fitting wrappings.

David studied these strange men, the first he had any knowledge of
ever having seen, with curious attention. His breast seethed with a
welter of emotions he could not analyze. His first impulse was to run
forward and greet them. But he had been schooled too long in the
jungle to act rashly.

True, the men before him seemed harmless. There was not a weapon in
slight. The revolver strapped to the white man's belt meant nothing to
him. But he had long since learned that even the most harmless
appearing animal has defenses and when attacked or surprised can prove
dangerous.

With a sign that his son should stay where he was, Rand grasped his
spear firmly in his hand and stepped out into the clearing. David
watched him go from narrowed eyes and some instinct told him to keep
the arrow fitted to the bow.

His father had covered half the distance to the stream before his
coming was discovered. The black crouching over the fire looked up,
saw the bearded giant striding across the narrow glade, cried out and
toppled backward.

At the shrill cry of alarm the white man at the stream whirled, made a
lightning movement toward his hip and, watching, David was surprised
to see something bright and shiny flash in his hand. He, David, sensed
that it was a weapon and the string of his bow became taut.

The two blacks at the stream crouched back; the white man took up a
defensive attitude. A thrill of pride coursed through David's veins as
he saw that his father never faltered. Looking neither to the right or
left Rand made straight for the waiting trio at the water's edge.

Though he could not make out the words, David knew when they began to
talk. His father's arm flung out in a wide gesture that embraced the
jungle about them, then pointed commandingly to the east.

The fat white man answered. His father spoke again. Then they were
both talking at once and from their animated gestures David knew that
their words were spoken in anger.

Then, as he watched, the white man snatched one of the pans from the
blacks and held it up for Rand's inspection. He talked rapidly,
gesticulated wildly.

But John Rand was not impressed. With a sudden movement he dashed the
pan to the ground and pointed again to, the east.

No words were necessary to tell David that it was an order to leave.
The white stranger listened in sullen silence--then he saw his father
turn slowly on his heel and start back toward where he was hidden in
the brush. He was proud of his father's arrogance in turning his back
on an enemy; but even more surprised at his carelessness.

He became doubly watchful and a moment later he was thankful that he
had. His father had taken but three strides from the stream when the
fat stranger slowly raised the shining rod in his hand and pointed it
at his back.

Some dim memory of the past, when his father had pointed a shining
stick at N'Jaga, galvanized David into action. His bow bent deep. The
shaft of the arrow nestled against his ear for a fleeting moment, then
sped forward.

John Rand was aware of a sudden humming beside his ear, then of a
startled, guttural curse behind him. He whirled around. The face of
the stranger was contorted in agony. Protruding from his upper right
arm an arrow still quivered. His hand hung limp, at his side and blood
ran crazily between his fingers. And now those fingers slowly relaxed
and opened and a heavy automatic revolver trickled from them to
clatter metallically to the ground.

John Rand laughed shortly, swept his arm around at the jungle once
more, turned again on his heel and walked back to where his son lay
hidden in the brush. But if David had seen the devils of hate leering
out of the stranger's eyes, he would have fitted another arrow to his
bow. And it would have found the fat white man's throat, instead of
his upper arm.

Rand joined his son, expressed his thanks in the silent grip of his
hand on David's arm and nodded his head toward the depths of the
forest. As silently as they had come they faded into the murky depths.

Rand was more than usually silent that day, as he wrestled with the
vague, disturbing thoughts in his brain. No word passed between him
and his son concerning the incidents that had occurred that morning.
It was not until after their evening meal that he brought up the
subject.

For the past hour he had given particular attention to his weapons and
now, satisfied that they were ready for any emergency, he spoke.

"This jungle is sacred to your mother, who lies buried here," he said
grimly. "Remember that, son. It is ours--and no other man must be
allowed to profane it. We shall keep it for ourselves--and for her."

David knew nothing of the faraway King who, according to the laws of
the white man, counted their lonely wilderness amongst his
possessions. He listened solemnly to his father's words, understood
the trust imposed upon him and nodded gravely.



CHAPTER IX

Murder in the Jungle

THE white man whose arm had known the bite of David's arrow, had other
ideas. Seated before his fire, he cursed one of the blacks for his
clumsiness when the fellow changed the dressing on his wound. Another
managed to be busy at a safer distance.

Paul DeKraft, with a heart as greasy as the rolls of fat that covered
his body, had a past as black as one of his natives and a future a
little less promising. He was known and hated from the gaols of Sydney
to the dives of Suez; from the gambling dens of Canton to the
breakwater of Cape Town. He had committed every crime on the statutes
of the white man's law. And only his sly and cunning brain had saved
his neck from the gallows.

Right now he was in the grip of a sullen rage that the natives knew
and feared. He vented his indignation on the nearest and, though the
black could understand only a word or two, he poured forth his tirade,
highly spiced with profanity. He knotted his fist in his black beard.

"Emeralds, Bouala. Emeralds--that's what we've stumbled on in this
God-forsaken stream. Emeralds worth a King's ransom." With a vicious,
back-handed blow he sent the unfortunate Bouala spinning.

The black crashed to the ground, rubbed his cheek and said dutifully:
"Emeralds. Yes, Inkosi."

DeKraft jumped to his feet. "And some half-crazy hermit thinks he can
order me away from here, does he? Throws them on the ground as though
they were pebbles. And then expects me to forget all about them. Hah!"

Bouala rolled over, but not quickly enough. DeKraft's heavy boot
lashed out and brought a wail of agony as it landed. Then a soft
footfall sounded in the darkness beyond the firelight and DeKraft's
head snapped in that direction. Bouala took advantage of the moment
and crawled painfully away.

The form of the third native advanced into the glow.

"Well, Mubangi?" said DeKraft.

"They sleep, Inkosi," answered the newcomer. "The crazy one and a
boy."

DeKraft took a step toward him, his fists clenched. "You did not
look--you were afraid to go near. There are others--other men." He
raised his right fist in a threatening gesture.

Mubangi fell back. "I saw, Inkosi," he protested. "The man and the
boy. No others."

DeKraft hesitated. His eyes were gleaming slits in the firelight.
"They have guns?"

The native shook his head. "Mubangi saw no guns," he answered.

DeKraft fingered the crude bandage that encircled his aching arm.
"Excellent," he murmured. "That will make it easier--much easier."

Then sinking down before the fire, he made plans that boded no good
for John Rand and his son.

David, also, slept little that night. The day had been an eventful
one, indeed. The sight of other men had started a long train of fancy
in his brain. He wondered where they came from. Closing his eyes he
recalled the strange garments of the white leader. He remembered the
significant gestures that had passed between the latter and his
father. He remembered, too, that John Rand had ordered them to leave
his wilderness domain.

Before the dawn he rose, careful not to disturb his father, and
slipped out into the clearing. Plunging into the jungle, he headed for
the other camp.

The motive that sent him to spy upon the invaders was compounded of
many things. For one thing, if the men were to return from whence they
came, he might never see them again. And he would like to observe them
while he could. For another, the white leader had attempted the life
of his father. David was glad that he had been watchful then and he
meant to keep his eyes on the stranger until he had gone well beyond
the borders of their wilderness home.

The pebbles that John Rand had flung from the other's hand, he did not
consider. To him, even more than to his father, they were just that--
pebbles and no more. Nono occasionally picked up things that took his
eye--bright colored feathers, smooth sticks, bits of shining rock. But
that was because Nono was a monkey, and silly.

The grayness that precedes the dawn had lightened the jungle when
David cautiously approached the camp. Parting a tangle of creepers, he
peered out from his cover. The dying embers of a fire smouldered
before the tent. No sound issued from within.

Were they sleeping? He cocked his head to one side and strained his
ears. But the silence was profound. Raising his head, he sniffed of
the damp air.

No scent of man carried to him. He looked puzzled. Had they departed
already on their long journey? Strange that they should have left
their possessions behind them. Unless John Rand's warning and David's
arrow had instilled such a fear in their hearts that they had fled in
haste.

Pushing through the vines, David cautiously approached the tent. It
was empty, right enough. Curiously he fingered the stuff of which it
was made before he ventured inside. There he examined the various
things that belonged to the strange white man. A canvas cot puzzled
him for long moments before he realized its use. He poked into a kit
of eating utensils, peered into a box of cartridges, found a bottle of
Holland gin.

The first two items he could make nothing of. Examining the latter, he
accidentally pulled the cork. To him, the colorless liquid within was
water. He raised the bottle to his lips and took a long swallow.

An agony of fire consumed his throat. The rare phenomenon of tears
came to his eyes. The bottle slipped from his nerveless fingers and
spilled over, as he spat to rid himself of the terrible stuff.

The lesson was well-learned and he tasted nothing more. He found a
circular, shining disc and when he looked at it, he was astounded to
see his own face look back at him. The reflection was far more clear
than any he had seen in the smooth waters of the lake. He was
fascinated by the mirror and would have taken it then and there, but
he remembered Nono's penchant for glittering things and with a rueful
smile at such foolishness he laid it down again.

Leaving the tent, he headed back for his own camp. He would tell his
father about the many and wonderful things that the strangers had left
behind them. Perhaps his father would be able to tell him what they
were and what they were used for.

Elated with his discovery, he moved along the jungle trail, swinging
through the forest with an easy, deceivingly fast stride. The first
tinge of dawn was flaming in the east; about him the jungle stirred,
whispered and came to life.

There was a care-free, abandoned song in David's heart as he neared
the clearing. Then abruptly a staccato crack pulled him up in mid-
stride. The song in his heart died. He sensed danger and fitted an
arrow to his bow.

For a moment the explosive sound puzzled him. It was not the roar of
any jungle beast, he knew, yet it was vaguely familiar. Then with
sudden clarity he remembered--his mind flashed back to that distant
day when his father had shot the bounding N'Jaga. A sound like the one
he had just heard had accompanied the proceeding.

And hard on this realization, a second shot came from the direction of
the clearing.

David waited for no more. He bounded forward. Thoughts of his father
gave an added speed to his legs. He broke through the jungle wall into
the clearing and for once he threw caution to the winds.

One swift glance told him that the lean-to was being consumed by
billowing flames. No one was in sight. With an agonized heart he
jumped forward, at the thought that his father had been trapped in the
burning shelter. Then a dark object, crawling along the ground a few
feet from the lean-to, caught his eye.

With a decided shock he realized that it was his father and from
Rand's slow, tortured movements it was obvious that he was wounded.

David sped to him, dropped down beside him on the ground. "Father!" he
cried. "What happened?" Then he saw that the front of Rand's chest was
stained an ugly red.

At the sound of his son's voice, John Rand collapsed. Tenderly David
lifted his head from the ground, stared down anxiously at his drawn
face.

"You're hurt. Badly. What happened?" he whispered urgently.

With an effort, Rand forced open his eyes. A flood of relief passed
over his face as he recognized his son; then the relief was followed
swiftly by a look of apprehension. Weakly he grasped the boy's arm;
his lips worked feverishly but no words came.

David sensed from the expression of his face and from his tense
attitude that he was trying to transmit a warning. A warning against
what? If he had seen the naked black even then sneaking around a
corner of the burning lean-to, he would have known.

His head close to his father's lips, he was still trying to interpret
the latter's mumbled words when something sharp pricked him at the
base of his spine.

He straightened slowly, pivoted even more slowly on the point of the
spear in the black's hand. He recognized the native at once as one of
the men he had seen at the camp of the fat white man.

With his fists clenched impotently at his sides, he glared at the
native. He knew what that spear was, pricking now into his belly, and
coolly he calculated his chances against it. But before he could act,
the black called out and to his surprise the fat white man followed by
two other natives, came on the run from the far side of the burning
shelter. And in the fat white man's hand was a long, shining stick.

It was all very clear to David, then, what had happened. This fat,
two-legged creature had wounded his father--with the stick. He--
David--was consumed by an all-embracing hate and his fingers crept to
the knife tucked in his belt.

He ignored the spear still pricking his middle and confronted the
white man. "Fat-Face has wounded my father," he said coolly. "And for
that, Fat-Face shall die."

Paul DeKraft rocked back on his heels and gave vent to a raucous
laugh. "Spunky, eh? But you're wrong, kid. It's the other way around.
I'm going to kill you, see? I don't want no witness to this little
scene this morning--and dead men tell no tales." He laughed again. "I
don't know who you or your father are--daffy, both of you--but you're
in my way. It's the only way out, kid."

David only half understood the meaning of his words. He only knew that
Fat-Face had wounded his father and now intended to kill him. In his
arrogant youth he laughed at the idea. Coolly he measured the fat man
from narrowed eyes and knew that he was his master.

But he had completely forgotten the speed of the death lurking in the
shiny stick.

Slowly he drew out his knife. The rifle whipped up.

There could have been only one possible outcome of the affair a moment
later--David's death--if Fate had not intervened.

All unknown to the parties concerned, there had been another spectator
to the grim drama. Crouched on the fringe of the clearing, his slitted
amber eyes, watching them, lay Zar. If David had forgotten the
terrible destruction of the fire stick, not so the lion. And now this
one was pointed at the man-cub, the creature who had rescued him from
the quicksands.

A low growl rumbled in Zar's throat. Then with a mighty roar, he
leaped into the clearing. At the first note of his challenge, the
native with the spear stepped hastily back.

DeKraft whirled. A lion, bigger than any he had ever seen, was
plunging straight for him. Hastily he raised the rifle; hastily he
fired. Too hastily--he realized bitterly a moment later. He saw his
bullet kick up a cloud of dust by the side of the lion's head, saw the
jungle lord, jaws agape, loom ever larger before him.

DeKraft knew that he would not have time to reload before the saber
claws and dripping fangs of the lion sank deep into his flesh. Death
touched at his craven heart. With one coordinated movement he grasped
his native spearman and threw the screaming black straight into the
path of the charging lion.

Waiting for no more, he turned on his heel and fled across the
clearing on the heels of the other two.

The black spearman went down before Zar's charge like a sack of straw.
There was a lightning movement from the lion's forepaw and the
unfortunate black lay disemboweled.

Satisfied with his work thus far, Zar propped his forefeet on the
native's chest and threw back his head. The roar of the male lion who
has made his kill rumbled through the forest.

Crashing heavily through the undergrowth, ever further away from the
clearing, DeKraft heard and wiped the sweat from his brow. Then a
smile curled at his greasy fat lips. True, he had failed to kill the
brat of the mad jungle hermit. But he had every confidence that the
lion would take care of that oversight. He was well content.

Once Zar had proclaimed his might over the dead native, he swung his
majestic head slowly about and surveyed the clearing. It was deserted
save for the man-cub and his father. The bearded one lay prone on the
ground and Zar knew that he was wounded.

He roared once to say that he had fulfilled his obligation and that
there was nothing more for him to do. Then slowly, his tufted tail
switching from side to side, he walked to the edge of the clearing
with majestic stride and disappeared.

John Rand had fainted from loss of blood at the moment that Zar had
charged. He regained consciousness a few minutes later, with David
leaning over him, forcing cool water between his lips.

With an effort he swung his head and looked about the clearing.

David understood his unspoken question. "Gone," he said tersely. "Zar
killed one of the blacks and scared the others off."

Rand smiled feebly. "Zar the lion, eh--your friend?"

David nodded. "Drink now, father," he ordered.

But John Rand knew that he was beyond all aid. "No use, son," he said.
"Too late. I'm dying... I'm going to join your mother."

His eyes closed and David's heart was swept by an anguish of sorrow.
His world seemed to be crumbling about him and he could not speak.
After a moment his father's eyes fluttered open again.

With fast-ebbing strength, Rand tugged at the narrow gold band on his
little finger. He succeeded in removing it at last and with a
trembling hand, slipped the loop onto one of David's fingers.

"Your mother's wedding ring," he gasped. "Keep it--to remember her
by." He spoke through a breaking bubble of blood. "And David--boy,
bury me by her side in the clearing. She was--she was an angel."

For the last time John Rand looked into the eyes of his son and
smiled. Then his chin dropped forward on his chest and with the simple
conviction that he would join Constance in the Great Beyond, he died.



CHAPTER X

Ka-Zar, Brother of Zar

THE death of his father marked a definite turning point in David's
life. He had just turned thirteen at the time and in those few minutes
late that afternoon, as he stood with bowed head at the fresh-filled
grave, he definitely made the transition from boyhood to manhood.

He was on his own, now, alone in the heart of a vast and savage
wilderness. The responsibilities to survive--the effort, the brain and
the brawn and the cunning, devolved squarely upon his shoulders. No
longer would his father make decisions for him; no longer would his
father step to the front when danger was near. He was the master of
his fate.

In most respects he was admirably equipped to survive against the
terrible odds against him. In stature he was a man full grown, with a
body superb and flawless. His muscles were as supple as N'Jaga's and
he was as quick to strike as Zar when danger threatened. His eyes were
as keen as those of Pindar, who sighted his prey from a mile in the
sky. And save for the antelope, no thing that stalked the jungle had a
keener sense of smell or hearing than he.

The jungle and the beasts that lived in it, he knew like the palm of
his hand. He could swing swiftly through the trees like the apes; or
with his nose close to the ground he was as sure on the trail as Sha,
mistress of the mighty Zar.

All these things were in David's favor. But whether he had the savage
heart, to kill without regret, was yet to be proved. Save in one
respect. Fat-Face!

Hate clouded his vision as he stepped from the grave with Zar at his
side. His judgments had never been schooled by contacts with
civilization. His emotions had been completely decivilized by ten
years in the jungle fastness. Of the things that belonged to civilized
society he had no standard of comparison.

The fat white man had killed his father, brutally and without reason.
Therefore there would be an undying feud between him and the white man
and all the white man's tribe.

Until the blazing sun sank down behind the volcanic cone in the west,
he hovered near the twin graves of his parents, the only humans he had
ever known and loved. Manfully, mutely he struggled with his grief,
blind to the life that flowed about him unruffled, unconcerned as if
murder had not been committed in the clearing a few hours before.

And ever by his side strode Zar, watchful, wary, lest N'Jaga take
advantage of the moment and strike the man-cub in his hour of blind
grief.

In his simple heart Zar had some vague understanding of the emotion
that filled the man-cub. He expressed his sympathy with an occasional
rumble in his throat, at which times David would run the hard knuckles
of his fist from the top of the lion's skull to the tip of his blunt
nose.

The twilight fell and still David lingered near the graves. The lean-
to that had been the only home he remembered, was now but a heap of
ashes, He recalled the tent at the other camp. It was doubtless there,
intact. But something deep within him rebelled at the thought of
occupying the home of the hated white man.

Zar sensed his uncertainty. With a low, guttural call, the lion walked
toward the fringe of the jungle. Six paces away he stopped, looked
back over his shoulder. Slowly David walked up to join him. But when
he reached the lion's side, Zar moved off yet another half dozen
paces.

Then David realized that Zar was leading him somewhere. He hesitated
but a moment. The clearing held nothing but memories for him now. He
made a whining sound to show that he understood, then keeping pace
with his tawny friend, he followed him into the jungle.

They traveled swiftly and silently through the gathering darkness. But
their journey was a long one and the moon was well up over the treetops when they reached their objective.

Screened as it was by bushes and an overhanging tree, David did not
see the entrance to the cave until they were directly before it. A
narrow space between two huge boulders, the opening appeared only as a
blacker patch in the shadows. David had often searched for the lair of
Zar and his mate and been unable to find it. Now, he came as an
invited guest.

Zar halted, emitted a low growl. In answer, a tawny shape appeared in
the opening.

When she saw the tall form beside her mate, Sha pulled back her lips
and spat. Again Zar growled, deeper this time, and Sha subsided.
Without another sound she moved backward into the shadows.

Zar stood still and looked at David. And the latter, knowing that he
was expected to do so, dropped to all fours and crawled into the cave.
The soft pad of Zar's footfalls followed him.

The rising moon sent its glow deeper into the opening and lightened
the dark interior of the lions' lair to a drab grayness. Lying on the
rocky floor, her narrowed eyes fastened unblinkingly on David, Sha
again voiced her resentment. The female is indeed more savage than the
male. By the very duties Nature has imposed upon her, she is more
selfish, more wary and more jealous. The coming of this strange man-
cub to her sacred home, roused instant antagonism within her.

Zar growled his displeasure at her attitude. And David, quickly
learning the meaning of the various inflections of their language,
joined the conclave.

At length a pact was made between them. Sha reluctantly agreed to
accept David as a comrade, but he sensed that it would be a long time
before the last vestige of suspicion would be entirely erased from her
mind. Zar, on the other hand, showed the full measure of his gratitude
for the time that the boy had saved his life. He accepted David as a
blood brother, a relationship that each solemnly understood would be
broken only by death itself. And in the language that would henceforth
be his own, David was given a new name. From now on he would be known
as Ka-Zar, brother of Zar the Mighty.

With the new name, began a new life. Ka-Zar soon lost the few vestiges
of civilization that had survived his stay in the jungle. Now he
became but another beast, pitting his superior intelligence against
the reign of claw and fang. The language of his dead father, he
relegated to a dim corner of his memory. Each day he became more
proficient in the guttural speech of the animals. He walked where Zar
walked, drank where the lion drank and together they shared their
kill. And side by side they slept in the cave that Zar had made his
home.

The denizens of the jungle soon accepted him and his strange union
with the lion. There were those who loved him and those who hated him.
But love or hate, there was none who denied him the respect which was
his due. This latter was true, at least, among those who lived in the
vicinity. Since he had joined the lion, he had not seen Trajah the
elephant, whose pilgrimages took him on long journeys. Nor Chaka and
his tribe of great apes, also wanderers. Nor N'Guru the gorilla, whose
haunt was the dense forest that covered the distant mountain peak.

Though Ka-Zar had chosen the lionsí cave in preference to the tent of
DeKraft, he had not forgotten the belongings left by the white man.
One day the reflection of his own face in a placid stream reminded him
of the glittering mirror. The more he thought of it, the more he
wanted it. And though he had not the faintest idea what good it might
do him, he determined to visit the camp again and find it.

To reach a decision was to carry it out. He set off at once with his
long, loping stride toward the distant spot. And at last, after an
uneventful journey, he came to the stream where DeKraft had washed out
the pebbles.

Profligate Nature had been at work. A tangle of brush and vines had
closed in about the tent. Dampness and mould had rotted its fabric
until it sagged, a shapeless, ugly, gray growth.

Some distance away, in the direction of his old home, Ka-Zar heard the
crashing of branches. It told him that Chaka and his tribe of great
apes were once more passing through the vicinity.

From inside the tent, too came a sound--the muffled stir of something
moving about. Ka-Zar's eyes narrowed; he fingered the knife at his
belt, that he had always kept keen and shining. That tent and all that
was within it, was rightfully his. And he had no intention of letting
anyone else despoil it.

Softly he crept forward, raised the sagging flap.

A huge, hairy ape stood with his back to the entrance. In one hand he
clutched the precious mirror and it was evident, from his pose, that
he was held fascinated by his own reflection within it.

As low rage possessed Ka-Zar, filling his deep lungs, he roared the
mighty challenge of Zar.

Clutching the mirror, the ape whirled. From sullen, red-rimmed eyes he
stared back at the strange two-legged creature in the opening of the
tent. The roar of the lion, coming from this queer hairless animal,
evidently puzzled him. But he showed no fear.

In the guttural language of the jungle, Ka-Zar demanded the mirror.

The ape's shoulders stooped over in a crouch. His broad nostrils
flared. "Bardak found it," he answered.

Swiftly Ka-Zar measured his challenger. He did not know that Bardak,
though of full growth, was young and the troublemaker of his tribe.
But he could see that the ape equalled his own height and that
Bardak's mighty chest and long arms were far more powerful than his
own.

The realization came to him that here, in this small space, his
weapons would do him no good. Out in the open, with the spear or the
bow and arrows that his father had taught him to make and use, he
would stand a chance. Caution told him to wait until the advantage was
his. But despite his better judgment, Ka-Zar could not find it in his
heart to evade the ape's challenge.

Drawing his knife, he repeated his demand for the mirror. And in
answer, Bardak thumped upon his broad chest and gave vent to the
bellowing war-cry of the apes.

It was too late to back down now. With the shining blade clutched
tightly in his fist, Ka-Zar edged forward. Bardak flung the mirror
upon the mouldering cot and stretching forth his long arms, came to
meet him.

Instinct told Ka-Zar that once in the grasp of those terrible arms, he
would be crushed and mangled. Side-stepping the ape's shambling rush,
he staked all on a sudden powerful stab at the beast's unprotected
side.

But Bardak's clumsiness was deceptive. Even as the sharp blade pricked
his side, one hairy hand shot out and closed about Ka-Zar's wrist.

The ape's fingers were like bands of steel. They tightened, and an
agony of fire shot up Ka-Zar's arm. The gleaming blade slipped from
his paralyzed hand and thudded to the ground. He braced himself as
Bardak pulled him forward.

A momentary wave of awful hopelessness swept over him. Weaponless, in
the cruel grip of the big ape, he faced a terrible death.

And then the spirit of his dead father came to his rescue. He recalled
the tricks that he had learned on the occasions they had wrestled with
each other. Suddenly he let his arm and body go limp. Then, in the
instant while Bardak was bewildered by this unexpected lack of
resistance, he broke free, grasped Bardak's long left arm in two hands
and twisted it to a position between the ape's shoulder blades.

He was behind Bardak now and safe for the moment. And instead of the
ape clutching his wrist, it was he who twisted the arm of the ape.
With all the strength of his powerful young body he forced Bardak's
hand up toward his thick neck.

In his battles with other members of his tribe, Bardak had known only
the method of straining an opponent to his broad chest and crushing
him there. He could use his teeth, too, but now he could only gnash
them in helpless rage. This arm lock baffled him and he did not know
how to break it.

Ka-Zar hung grimly on, pressing his advantage. He strained his
powerful muscles until his heart and lungs threatened to burst. Slowly
but inexorably, the ape's arm went up... up... up...

A liquid fire of agony ran down the length of Bardak's arm. His
shoulder flamed with pain and a roar of rage tore from his lips.

Ka-Zar knew then that he had won. Another wrench--and Bardak the
troublemaker would be crippled forever.

There was no reason for him to hesitate then. Mercy has no place in
the wilderness. A foe vanquished is an enemy--and an enemy is slain.
But something deep within Ka-Zar's heart stayed him and hardly
understanding why, he rose above the laws of the jungle.

"Ka-Zar is your master," he panted in Bardak's ear.

And with a painful croak Bardak answered: "Ka-Zar is my master."

Releasing his hold, Ka-Zar took a long step backward. "Ka-Zar gives
you your life. Go!"

The ape glared at him from red-rimmed eyes. Then nursing his throbbing
arm, he shuffled from the tent.

Ka-Zar realized full well that he had spared a life--and gained a
bitter enemy. But he knew that Bardak had no heart for further
punishment just then. Dismissing the ape from his mind, he turned his
attention to the matter that had brought him there.

First he recovered his knife, thrust it once more into his belt. The
mirror followed it. DeKraft's other possessions held no meaning for
him. He left them there. Let Bardak come back for them--if he dared.

Then, eager to tell Zar how he had mastered the ape, he set out once
more for the cave.



CHAPTER XI

Trajah the Elephant

ZAR heard his tale in silence and then displayed his disapproval of
the man-cub's foolish act of pity with a rumbling grunt. From her
corner of the cave Sha spat disdainfully. But Ka-Zar only smiled. Such
was the glory of his strength that he could afford to be magnanimous.
Bardak, dead and the tale of his passing would be forgotten with him.
Alive, he was an ever present testimony, to his, Ka-Zar's might.

The days passed into weeks, the weeks into months. Ka-Zar roamed the
jungle with Zar at his side. Wal-lah the hippopotamus greeted them as
they drank together in the first flush of dawn. Coiled on a hot rock,
Sinassa the snake watched them from unblinking eyes as they rested
themselves in the heat of midday. And at eventide, Dikki the jackal
slunk on their trail to gorge himself on their kill when they had had
their fill.

Nothing transpired to disturb the serene flow of Ka-Zar's days. He
made weekly pilgrimages to the little clearing by the lake that had
been his home for his first ten years in the jungle. But by now the
acute grief he had felt at his father's death had mellowed into a
gentle melancholy. He had learned that it is the one inevitable rule
of the jungle that all things must die. However, the realization of
that fundamental truth in no way lessened his hate of the fat white
man. The vow he had sworn over his father's grave was still in force.

Not that he had the slightest idea of the symbolism behind the
gesture--but because his father had taught him to do so--he would
gather flowers from the grassy floor of the glade and adorn the twin
graves with them. The simple act gave him a strange, inexplicable
pleasure.

However, even with the passage of months, Sha never fully accepted him
as one of her own. Her attitude toward him was one of surly
toleration and she gave him to understand that if it had not been for
Zar, her master, she would have none of him. In addition to her
instinctive fear and hate of the man-cub, her emotions were now tinged
with jealousy.

Ka-Zar understood Sha's feminine psychology and was secretly amused by
it. But of late, the lioness, as she kept closer and closer to the
cave, became more sullen, spiteful and unapproachable.

She became heavy of limb, her movements slow. And every night Zar
would bring to her the tenderest quarter of a fresh kill.

It was early one morning at the beginning of the rainy season that Zar
suggested to Ka-Zar that they absent themselves from the cave for a
day or two.

The man cub understood and was glad. He growled his approval. He had
never forgotten his early desire to make friends with Trajah the
elephant. Here was an opportunity and he suggested to Zar that they go
in search of the great gray beast and his herd.

Zar was familiar with the regular pilgrimages of the elephants. He
knew where Trajah could be found and he readily agreed to lead Ka-Zar
in that direction.

Glad to get away from Sha, who had been most surly and unfriendly of
late, they set off. Their bellies were full and though several times
they caught sight of easy quarry, they pressed steadily on.

They stopped once to drink their fill from a winding stream. Soon the
rains would swell it to a rushing torrent. But now its rocky bed made
for easier traveling than the dense undergrowth that crowded the
jungle. They followed it.

A few minutes later, while still traversing the narrow ravine, they
heard a loud crashing ahead of them. As they pulled up short, the
trumpeting of a mighty elephant echoed through the air.

Zar snarled a single command. "Flee!"

Dumfounded, Ka-Zar watched the lord of the jungle make a single long
leap, then scramble up the rocky side of the ravine. Ka-Zar could not
believe his eyes nor his ears. Zar, ruler of the wilderness, and his
proud brother--flee from a beast? It was incredible, unbelievable!

From the safety of the high, sheer bank Zar urgently repeated warning.
But before Ka-Zar could move, a great gray shape appeared at the head
of the ravine.

The elephant was one of Trajah's herd. Though not quite as large or as
powerful as the mighty leader, this one was nevertheless an enormous
beast. His huge ears waved, fan-like, on either side of his head. His
trunk weaved slowly from side to side. A sinister, reddish gleam shone
from his little eyes and a strange, musk-like smell wafted down wind
to Ka-Zar's nostrils.

Ka-Zar had never seen those gleaming tusks impale a living creature,
tearing out its vitals. He had never seen that snaky trunk wind about
a victim, then shatter bone and flesh against a boulder or a tree
trunk. He had never seen those huge feet trample a beaten enemy until
only bloody pulp remained.

But instinct warned him vaguely of some such dire fate. And instantly
he gauged the distance between the swaying beast and a towering
daboukra tree whose immense bole rose up from the stream bed off to
his right.

The elephant's piggish little eyes fastened on the strange two-legged
creature in his path. Red flames of hate flared up in their depths.
Flinging back his head, he trumpeted a shrill challenge. Then with
tusks gleaming, he charged forward.

With incredible speed Ka-Zar dashed for the daboukra. Hand over hand,
like Nono the monkey, he climbed swiftly up its smooth bole. He gained
the lower branches just in time. The elephant's tusks missed him by
scant inches. Hurriedly he climbed upward.

Below him, the elephant squealed his rage. He capered awkwardly for a
moment about the trunk of the tree. Then setting his front feet firmly
on the rocky ground, he braced his massive forehead against the bole
of the daboukra and pushed.

High up in the tree Ka-Zar clung to his perch. The topmost branches
quivered, swayed far over. Slowly but surely the elephant increased
the pressure.

It seemed impossible that the immense jungle giant in which Ka-Zar had
taken refuge, could be so shaken by a living beast. But that great
gray shape below him was the most powerful creature that existed. The
daboukra quivered along its entire length and when it cracked a series
of staccato warnings, Ka-Zar realized that he was not safe.

Flattened until he was scarcely visible on the opposite bank of the
ravine, Zar watched the titanic struggle. Ka-Zar clung to his
thrashing perch and glanced swiftly around. There were many towering
trees about him, but the distance between him and the nearest was just
too great for him to negotiate.

With insane determination, squealing and grunting, the elephant
continued his assault. A violent shudder racked the daboukra from
topmost branch to root. It swayed far over, poised for a moment at a
perilous angle and then with a grinding noise, headed in a great arc
for the ground.

Ka-Zar had timed its fall to a fraction of a second. At just the right
moment he let go his hold and with the impetus given him by the
toppling daboukra, described a long parabola through the air. His
outstretched arms caught the branches of the nearest tree and the
sudden break in his flight almost tore him from his hold. He crashed
against a limb with a force that knocked him breathless, but hung
desperately on.

Recovering swiftly, he swung himself upward. Now he was on the outer
fringe of the massed jungle and traveling swiftly through the leafy
passages, he circled around to a point where he could gain the other
bank and rejoin Zar.

The elephant trumpeted his frustrated rage. Then seeing that his
victim had successfully escaped him, he suddenly wheeled and went
plunging blindly off down the ravine.

Ka-Zar lay by the lion's side and recovered his breath. His narrow
escape from death made him very thoughtful. He considered the matter
in silence.

Here, then, was a beast who violated the code of the jungle. Trajah
and his tribe did not eat meat, so that it was not for food that the
elephant had tried to kill him. Neither was there a feud between them,
an old score of vengeance to be settled. And the only other kill
sanctioned by the jungle code--to slay in self-defense--was out of the
question in this case. The mighty elephant had no fear of this puny
two-legged creature.

Why, then, had the great beast been so fiendishly intent upon stamping
out his life? Ka-Zar was still pondering the matter when another
crashing brought him up to a crouch. Together he and Zar peered over
the edge of the bank.

In the same direction from which the other had come, a towering gray
form appeared at the head of the ravine. Slowly, majestically it moved
down the stream bed and Ka-Zar recognized Trajah himself. In his wake
came his herd, crowding down the narrow ravine. Several of the females
paused to drink and Trajah waited patiently beside them.

Ka-Zar jumped to his feet. His lungs expanded and he growled a
greeting.

The heads of the herd swung up to look at him. Trajah surveyed him
with the same majestic calm.

"I am Ka-Zar, brother of Zar," announced Ka-Zar.

Trajah acknowledged the introduction.

"We come in peace," went on Ka-Zar. "How is it, then, that one tried
to slay me?"

A distant trumpeting sounded far down the stream. Trajah flapped a
lazy ear. "That one was Tupat," he answered. "The madness has come
upon him."

It was strange, after Ka-Zar's recent encounter with the enraged
beast, how docile these huge gray monsters were. He realized that he
had nothing to fear from them. Sliding down the steep bank, he walked
boldly up to the great leader.

"Madness?" he repeated. He shook his head. He did not know that in one
respect, his own father had gone mad. He did not know what it meant to
lose one's senses.

Zar, though, had encountered mad elephants before. That was why he,
the lord of the jungle, had recognized the strange note in Tupat's
trumpeting and had sought refuge high up on the bank. Now he came down
and stood beside his brother.

And so Ka-Zar learned how occasionally the strange madness descends
upon a great gray beast and starts him tearing off into the jungle,
uprooting giant trees and slaying all in his path. Sometimes, in his
red blindness, he plunges over a cliff and dies. Usually the spell is
short and, recovering, he rejoins his herd.

Trajah and his tribe were now following the rampaging Tupat. Slowly,
for even they feared a brother when the killing lust was upon him.
They would keep well behind him and soon he would quiet down and
rejoin them.

Ka-Zar realized as he studied Trajah, that the elephant leader was
possessed of a keen brain. And Trajah, in turn, seemed to know that
this strange brother of the lion was not the silly, helpless creature
that he looked. Zar and Ka-Zar lingered awhile with the herd. And when
at last they departed on their homeward journey, Ka-Zar had made
another, and valuable, friend.

They were both tired and spent when at last they reached the cave. But
Zar soon received the great satisfaction of knowing that in his
absence he had become the father of two sturdy, clawing sons.

Ka-Zar was equally delighted. In an attempt to see them he peered into
the cave and received a blow that sent him spinning backward. He
picked himself up and rubbed himself ruefully. Sha's paw had lashed
out with incredible speed and it was fortunate indeed that her claws
had been sheathed.

Limping, he rejoined Zar, who had been wiser than he in not venturing
too near. And that night they both stretched out before the entrance
to the cave, to guard the tawny cubs that had come to bless the royal
pair.



CHAPTER XII

Bardak the Troublemaker

THE one kink in the mental psychology of Bardak the great ape was that
he remembered the unpleasant things in life, rather than the pleasant
ones. And since the ascendancy of Ka-Zar in the jungle, the unpleasant
scores he had to settle had increased rapidly.

Bardak was young, headstrong and willful. He was in the first flush of
his full strength and the blood was hot in his veins.

With a bitterness that made him pound his great chest, he recalled the
short-lived delight that he had experienced by making faces at himself
in the circle of bright glass he had found in the camp of the Oman.
And with a bitterness even greater, he recalled his battle with Ka-
Zar, when the latter had taken the reflecting glass from him.

It was like pouring oil on Bardak's angry temper to realize that Ka-
Zar had shown mercy. Though he had been bested in fair fight--though
he had been completely at the mercy of the lion-man, Ka-Zar had spared
his life.

The humiliation of his defeat ate deep into Bardak's soul. But that
was not the worst of it. Ganya, the most desirable of the unattached
females in the tribe and the one he courted, mocked him at every
opportunity, taunted him that the puny Ka-Zar had bested him in
battle.

Bardak would chase her through the trees, vowing that he would snap
her neck like a twig when he caught her. And when Ganya fled to the
topmost branches, where his greater weight would not permit him to
follow, he would vent his wrath by strutting across the jungle floor
and boasting of the dire things he would do when next again he met Ka-
Zar.

Wise old Chaka, leader of the tribe, counseled caution. But Bardak
would have none of it. In the courting season his masculine ego had
been slighted and in the eyes of Ganya he had been made to appear
ridiculous.

As far as Bardak could see, there was only one way to restore himself
in the eyes of the apes--and especially Ganya. He must produce that
wonderful bit of glass he had told them about, boast that he had taken
it from Ka-Zar. And to this end he began to scheme in his cunning
brain.

For two days he concealed himself high in the tree that overlooked
Zar's cave. Carefully he noted the comings and goings of Zar and Ka-
Zar. For the simple reason that he never saw the lion-man make faces
at himself in the bit of glass, he was sure that he did not carry it
on his person. And by the same process of elemental reasoning he
arrived at the conclusion that the mirror was in the cave.

The certainty of this simplified Bardak's problem. He could gain
possession of the mirror without again running foul of Ka-Zar. Only
Sha and her two cubs, who seldom wandered far from the cave, stood
between him and the possession of the thing that would restore him to
respect in the eyes of Ganya.

And when he had that bit of glass he would tell Chaka what an old,
timid, fool he was. Bardak thumped his chest. Some day he would
challenge Chaka for leadership of the tribe. But first he had to get
that bit of shining glass.

Bardak was blessed with at least one virtue--that of patience. For two
days he clung to the branches of the tree that overlooked the cave,
without showing himself. And early on the morning of the third day his
patience was rewarded.

With the rising sun Zar and Ka-Zar emerged from the mouth of the lair
and disappeared silently into the jungle. A few moments later Sha,
followed by Zoro and Sulani, her two cubs, left the cave to sun
themselves in the hot rays that slanted through the trees.

Bardak watched them with small red eyes, grimaced. He determined that
if Sha strayed away but a scant few feet from the cave, he would enter
it and make his search.

And then chance favored his bold plan. An impudent, unwary aingu
bounded across the shallow clearing almost directly beneath Sha's
nose. If it had not been for her cubs, Sha would have feigned sleep at
this show of lese majeste. But it was high time, she decided, that the
sons of the mighty Zar had their first lesson in the hunt.

With a snarl, she arched her back and sprang after the fleeing aingu.
The rodent dove precipitately into the tangled undergrowth at the far
side of the glade. And once the scent was in her nostrils, Sha could
not resist the chase. She followed after the aingu, leaving her cubs
and the mouth of the cave unguarded.

Bardak saw his opportunity and he took it. Dropping a sheer twenty
feet, from limb to limb, he reached the ground before the leaves of
the brush had settled back into place after Sha's passing. He ran with
long, ungainly strides, propelling himself forward by the knuckles of
his hands.

He paused a moment at the mouth of the cave, glanced once swiftly
about him, then stooping, crawled through the narrow opening.

Only on rare, ritual occasions were Bardak and his tribe meat-eaters.
Now the strong blood-tang odor of the cave flared his nostrils wide,
made his own blood quicken. He moved forward cautiously, feeling the
sides of the tunnel-like passage as he went.

He was stirred by a twinge of fear. If Sha or her mate should return,
he would be trapped. For a moment he considered beating a hasty
retreat but the thought of Ganya drove him on.

He reached the cave proper a moment later, stood erect and glanced
swiftly about him. Bones littered the floor. At one corner of the far
side the stones of the floor were worn smooth, marking the spot where
Zar and Sha lay down to rest. Opposite this was a rude bed of dried
branches and moss, not unlike the couch that Bardak himself slept on.

He crossed to it swiftly and a moment later his sense of smell
confirmed what his cunning brain had told him. This was where Ka-Zar
slept--this, in all probability, was where the bit of shining glass
was hidden.

With unholy enthusiasm at his destructiveness, Bardak attacked the
litter with feet and hands. A minute later it lay strewn about the
four corners of the cave. From the floor he picked up a long stick of
wood that glittered at one end. He examined it curiously a moment,
incautiously touched the shining tip, felt a prick on one finger and
saw the red blood ooze from his skin. With a grunt he dropped the
spear and continued his search. But to his bitter disappointment, the
mirror was not there.

After risking so much he had failed. The thick veins in Bardak's
throat swelled with anger. Then a short roar from Sha, muffled by
distance and the walls of the cave, reminded him of the danger of his
position. He beat a hasty retreat down the short tunnel that led to
the mouth of the cave and emerged into the glade just as Sha broke
clear of the jungle wall on the far side. At his feet the lion cubs
tumbled over one another.

Sha saw him immediately, screamed and leaped forward. In answer Bardak
pulled back his lips and gnashed his teeth together. He had started
his spring for the lowest branch of the tree that hung over the cave,
when some mad impulse seized him.

If he had failed to retrieve the bit of shining glass, he would not
return to the tribe empty-handed. He would bring back with him a
greater trophy--a living token of his fearless courage. With one long
arm he swept up Zoro, the nearest of the lion cubs, and leaped for the
limb. Agilely he swung himself up and Sha's frantic lunge a split
second later missed his hindquarters by a matter of inches.

With the clawing cub pressed tight to his chest, Bardak climbed
swiftly to the upper branches of the tree. Here, from this safe
retreat he snarled down at the lioness beneath him, while Sha wore
herself out in impotent lunges at the overhanging branches above her.

The jungle echoed and re-echoed to her snarls of rage. And a moment
later, drifting in on the wind came two answering roars--one from Zar,
the other from Ka-Zar.

Bardak heard and was afraid. However, he did not relinquish his prize.
With Zoro clutched firmly to him he swung off through the trees and
from the ground below Sha followed his progress, making the day
hideous with her screams.

Zar and Ka-Zar were some miles from the cave when Sha's first roar of
rage silenced the jungle tongues. They sent their answer echoing back,
then plunged swiftly through the tangled growth for the glade. A
moment later Sha's cry of rage drifted to them, crowded with overtones
of trouble. The mane on Zar's neck ruffed out and a snarl trembled in
his throat. Ka-Zar gripped his knife tighter and increased his long
stride.

In an undeviating line they made straight for their objective and the
lesser creatures of the jungle scurried to make room for their
passing. Halfway to the cave, the direction from whence came Sha's
call changed. Zar answered her and followed after Ka-Zar as he turned
off abruptly to the right.

They cleared the narrow end of the swamp in three strides, forded a
swift-running stream and guided by Sha's cries, pressed steadily
forward. It was plain to them that she, too, was on the trail and the
course they were following was shrewdly calculated to intercept hers.
They also knew by the note of baffled rage in her voice that something
out of the ordinary had taken place.

A few minutes later her cries became stationary and breaking through a
dense tangle of matted lianas, they found her lunging at the lower
branches of a tree that towered above her. Her ears lay back flat
against her skull and flecks of foam dripped from her bared fangs.

Zar leaped to the side of his mate, nuzzled her. Sha shook him off
impatiently, spoke in staccato growls: "Bardak the ape--he has stolen
Zoro and taken to the trees."

As one the heads of Zar and Ka-Zar snapped back. From high up in the
branches of the surrounding trees Chaka and his tribe glared down at
them. Chattering in their midst, holding the clawing lion cub in one
hand and pounding his chest with the other, was Bardak.

Zar bellowed in futile rage. "Come down, Bardak! Or you and your tribe
will pay for this!"

Bardak's only answer was to hold out the squealing Zoro still further,
dangling it over the perilous heights.

Zar addressed Chaka: "The cub. You are the chief of your tribe. The
cub--or war to the death between us."

But Chaka was concerned only with keeping the peace among his own
people. In matters between the apes, he exercised his authority. The
lion cub, however, was not his affair and he told Zar so.

The lord of the jungle trembled from regal mane to lashing tail, in
the grip of a terrible rage. He gave vent to a roar that sent smaller
animals scurrying to cover for miles around. But the apes in the trees
only looked back at him unmoved and Bardak chuckled. For the mighty
Zar was helpless in his fury--he could do nothing and they knew it.

Off to their right was the swift-flowing stream that coursed past
Zar's cave, further down. Here it ran between high, rocky banks,
strewn with great boulders. An immense oulangi tree thrust its head
high into the sky above it.

With one arm wrapped around the terrified cub, Bardak made for it. Ka-
Zar realized his intention and raced toward the bank. Snarling, Zar
and his mate followed, while the other apes watched in stony silence
from their perches.

High, high up in the oulangi, Bardak climbed with his prey. Ka-Zar
could have followed but he knew that before he could reach the ape, he
would be too late. Instead he tried to stop Bardak with a warning.

"Ka-Zar is your master," he called.

The ape pulled his lips back from his fangs in a hideous grin. "Then
let Ka-Zar save his brother," he retorted, indicating the whimpering
Zoro.

"Ka-Zar showed you..." Ka-Zar stopped. There was no word for "mercy"
in the language of the jungle. Instead, he finished: "This time Bardak
will die."

But the ape refused to be cheated of his vengeance. Still farther he
climbed up into the giant tree, up, up, until he reached the topmost
branches that would not hold his weight. Then slowly he edged out
along a swaying limb.

Now Zar and Sha saw what he intended and their roars made the very
ground quake. The vengeful ape meant to hurl their cub from the tree,
crushing out his life against the rocks below. Already, to them,
Zoro's death was inevitable. But they reckoned without their strange
blood-brother.

For Ka-Zar had arms. His eyes were riveted on the ape. He saw Bardak
hurl the tawny little body downward and judging the arc as the cub
hurtled earthward, he leaped out among the boulders.

A breathless silence held them all. Ka-Zar's eye was keen and his arms
powerful. He braced his body as Zoro spun toward him. The cub landed
in his outstretched arms with such force that he staggered perilously
a moment before regaining his balance.

The impact knocked the breath from Zoro's body but he was not injured
and a moment later Ka-Zar climbed up the bank and tossed him gently
toward his bewildered parents.

With strange, whimpering cries, Sha licked her trembling cub. But up
in the tree Bardak, cheated by the miracle, chattered his frustration.

The ape's rage was matched by the black fury in Ka-Zar's heart. Now
that the cub was safely out of the way, he could go up after the
troublemaker. Whipping out his knife, he placed it between his teeth.
Then with a mighty leap he gained the lowest branch of the oulangi and
started upward.

Bardak saw him coming and crouched on his limb, grimacing hideously.
Fear was in his heart and had there been no witnesses, he might
possibly have fled. But now his whole tribe, with Ganya among them,
was watching. He could face death, but not disgrace.

If the odds had been against Ka-Zar during their first encounter in
the tent, they were still greater against him now. The mad light of
panic flared in the ape's red eyes and made him far more formidable
than if he had been cockily confident. And remembering the terrible
agony that Ka-Zar had inflicted upon him before, Bardak was doubly
cautious now. He had the advantage, too, for Ka-Zar must climb up to
meet him.

The fight would be in the treetop. For though Chaka and his tribe
were more at home on the ground, twin deaths in the shape of Zar and
Sha waited eagerly down there now.

Ka-Zar glanced over his shoulder as he climbed. Chaka and the other
apes still sat motionless and he realized that, even as the stealing
of the cub had been strictly Bardak's affair, so too, this coming
battle did not concern them.

Far overhead wheeled Kru the vulture. His sharp eyes had made out the
strange gathering of these big beasts and now he sailed on motionless
wings watching Ka-Zar and the ape. There would be a kill and he waited
patiently for death to come to one of them.

Ka-Zar's brain told him that he must, somehow, get past his enemy--get
above him. He was close to where the ape crouched, now. Circling the
huge bole of the tree, he swung himself up on the opposite side.

Bardak's intelligence was dulled by the rage and fear that possessed
him as he watched the two-legged creature reach his level. His clawing
hands reached out, but at that instant Ka-Zar whipped the knife from
between his teeth. The shining blade glinted in the sun.

Bardak's experience with the spear he had found in the cave was still
fresh in his memory. Here was another shining thing and it, too, would
cut him. Instinctively he drew back and Ka-Zar, taking advantage of
the moment, leaped up to a higher branch.

It swayed perilously under his sudden weight. Cautiously, still
clutching the knife, he edged out along it over the crouching form of
the ape. As he went, the limb cracked along its length in staccato
warning.

Gathering his muscles, Ka-Zar prepared himself for the leap. And as
the branch gave way, he dropped down full upon the back of his enemy.

Bardak squealed wildly. But before he could recover from his startled
amazement, Ka-Zar's left arm slid around under his chin and snapped
back his head. Then the hand that held the gleaming blade described a
swift arc through the air and the sharp knife buried itself to the
hilt at the base of Bardak's throat.

The ape's scream was stilled abruptly. Ka-Zar jerked the knife free
and a jet of crimson blood spurted in its wake. He had just time to
catch a new hand-hold among the branches as the huge, hairy body
collapsed.

There was a series of crashes as Bardak's lifeless body plunged down
through the leafy branches of the oulangi. Then, turning over once in
mid-air it landed spread-eagled on the boulders of the bank below.
Bardak had met the very fate that he had intended for the helpless cub
of Zar.

Kru spiraled slowly downward as Ka-Zar tilted back his head and sent
the roar of the jungle lord echoing and re-echoing through the forest.
Then sheathing his dripping blade, he dropped swiftly down through the
tree.

The kill had been accomplished so swiftly that Chaka and his comrades
hardly realized what had happened. Not till Bardak's body struck the
rocks, never to move again, did they realize that one of their number
had met his doom at the hands of this strange two-legged creature. By
the time Ka-Zar came striding over toward them, they were muttering
among themselves.

He halted below them and looked up at Chaka. "I am Ka-Zar, brother of
Zar," he declared arrogantly. "Who molests my brothers--dies."

The mutter of the apes grew louder. Several showed their fangs. Then
as one, they looked at their leader.

Chaka considered the weak-looking, yet formidable creature who dared
to issue this ultimatum. Chaka was powerful, far more powerful than
the troublesome Bardak had been. He felt no fear of this strange Ka-
Zar.

But he was ruler of his tribe by virtue of wisdom as well as brawn; of
cunning as well as courage.

"Bardak was unruly," he temporized.

Again the apes muttered angrily, but Chaka stilled them with a
guttural syllable. "Bardak is dead," he told Ka-Zar. "Bardak
forgotten. Chaka goes."

The apes knew their leader too well to question his courage. His
decision quenched the last smouldering embers of resentment among
them. And at his signal they moved off slowly through the trees.

As Ka-Zar stood watching them go, a tawny shape moved silently up
behind him. Something moist, then soft fur, brushed lightly against
the hand that hung at his side. He looked down to see the amber eyes
of Sha glowing up at him. And a great peace came to his heart as he
realized that at last her suspicions were gone--that she accepted him.



CHAPTER XIII

Trajah Comes for Help

WITH the truce between him and Sha cemented at last into an eternal
friendship, a new era of happiness dawned for Ka-Zar. Graciously the
lioness permitted him to play with her cubs and he found endless
delight in frolicking with them. He spent long hours in the hot
sunshine before the cave, while Sha lay in the entrance watching. He
cuffed them gently in mock battles, sent them spinning when both
leaped upon him at once. He laughed at their absurd imitations of
Zar's mighty roar and when the day came that one first flattened on
his belly, stalked an imaginary kill and leaped upon it, he reported
their progress as proudly as Zar might have done.

But the Fates that ruled the destiny of this lonely wilderness had
started something, on that long-ago day when they had sent the
crippled airplane spinning down into the clearing. That momentous
event had brought a chain of others in its wake. And the addition of
this strange man-cub to the jungle folk had a profound effect upon all
subsequent happenings.

A month after the death of Bardak, Ka-Zar was awakened one night by
the loud trumpeting of an elephant. Zar stirred beside him, growled
low. Ka-Zar raised himself to one elbow.

The trumpeting came again, nearer this time, and the man-cub rose. "It
is Trajah," he said. "I will go."

He crawled swiftly out of the cave. It was just light enough for him
to see the huge form of the elephant leader coming toward him. And as
he advanced to meet the gray beast, Nono chattered down at him from a
tree.

The elephant came to a halt when they met and began a restless
swaying. Ka-Zar did not need to ask the reason for the unexpected
summons. He sensed that there was trouble afoot in the jungle. But he
was not prepared for the startling nature of that trouble.

"Your brothers," said Trajah. "They have taken Tuta, a female of my
herd."

"My brothers?" Ka-Zar thought of Zar and Sha, lying back there in the
cave with the sleeping cubs. For a moment he was sorely puzzled, then
suddenly he understood. Men! Trajah meant men--the Oman!

Eagerly he tried to learn more. But the language of the jungle is
limited. Some things, however, he could understand without being told.
Apparently Trajah had come for his help, thinking that he might be
more able to cope with his own kind. But why the Oman had taken Tuta,
and why Tuta was unable to get away from them, he could not figure
out. After his own experience with the mad Tupat, he knew the titanic
strength of the elephant.

"Where are these brothers of mine?" he asked.

"Two daysí journey from the cave," answered Trajah.

"Wait," said Ka-Zar. "I will go with you."

Crawling back into the cave, he gathered up his weapons. Zar
questioned him with a single low growl that ended on a rising
inflection.

"I go with Trajah," he answered. "On a long journey." Then leaving the
cave again, he rejoined the waiting elephant.

Nono dropped down onto his shoulder and he tried to brush him off. The
monkey, however, only clung the tighter. With a shrug, Ka-Zar allowed
him to remain.

With Trajah in the lead, the party traveled south, following the edge
of the great lake--on whose shores John Rand had so unexpectedly
landed. They reached its southerly end and there their progress was
halted by a wide river that was the outlet of the lake. Ka-Zar was a
powerful swimmer but as he gauged the distance he must cross and the
rush of the sweeping current, he hesitated.

Trajah saw his doubt. Winding his long trunk about Ka-Zar's body, he
raised the man-cub, swung him through the air and deposited him high
on his own broad back. Nono wrapped both arms around Ka-Zar's neck and
uttered shrill squeaks, compounded of delight and fear.

And thus, Ka-Zar's boyish wish--to ride on the great elephant--was
gratified at last. He clung to his precarious perch as Trajah strode
straight into the river. When the waters swirled up about his
shoulders, the elephant struck out with a mighty stroke.

The current was swift and when at last Trajah labored up the opposite
bank, they were a mile farther downstream. When they plunged into the
jungle once more, Nono again took to the trees. But Ka-Zar lay very
flat on his friend's broad back, lest the branch of a tree should
brush him off in their passing.

Toward sunset of the second day, they paused on the brow of a high
hill. From his point of vantage on the top of the elephant's back, a
panorama lay before Ka-Zar that held him breathless.

For him, memory began vaguely with the days when he and his parents
had lived in the lean-to. All before that had been long since blotted
from his mind. Except for the breaks made by small clearings, by lake
and stream, he knew nothing but dense jungle. And quite naturally, if
he thought about it at all, he thought that the great forest was
endless.

Now, for the first time, he saw where it ended. And beyond its outer
fringes stretched a great, grassy plain. It extended far to the
distant horizon, flat as the surface of the lake. A hot wind came in
puffs across it, rippling the tall grass in undulating waves of gray-
green and mauve. Ka-Zar's eyes, keen as those of Pindar the eagle,
made out enormous herds of strange beasts moving slowly across the
level expanse.

While he was marveling at the wondrous sight, Trajah raised his head
and trumpeted loudly. And from somewhere in the distance, came an
answering call.

"Tuta," Trajah said.

Ka-Zar knew, then, that they were near the end of their journey. And
though, as yet, he had no idea what they would do when they got there,
he cautioned silence.

"You, too," he called to Nono. "Let us have no more of your silly
chatter."

Nono grimaced back at him, but thenceforth maintained a dutiful
silence. Trajah moved down the side of the hill into the thinning
fringe of the forest. Several times Ka-Zar caught further glimpses of
strange beasts that roamed the plain. Once a band of zebras, bizarre
in their black and white stripes, galloped past. Another time he
stared in amazement at a big, ungainly creature with a tremendously
long neck--the giraffe. And later, he saw a familiar tawny shape slink
through the tall grass.

Ka-Zar first saw the rising thread of smoke wafted from the campfire.
Then he heard the faint sounds of the men, busy with their
preparations for the evening meal. He called a low note into Trajah's
ear and when the elephant halted, slid agilely to the ground.

"Wait here," he commanded.

Leaping up into the nearest tree, he swung from bough to bough, with
Nono following his progress on higher branches. Swiftly and silently
they gained the outermost fringes of the forest.

The plain was a vast oven of blistering heat by day and so these men
had pitched their tents in the shade of a great baobab. Now, high in
this tree, Ka-Zar and Nono looked down on the encampment directly
beneath them.

Several black men were busy before the fire. Three tents, similar to
the one DeKraft had used, opened toward the plain. Ka-Zar passed them
over with a glance, then stared in fascination at the array of
cumbersome objects behind them.

He had never seen a cage before. In a way, these strange shelters
reminded him of the lean-to. But he could see no opening in them and
in each one was a jungle beast.

Nono squeaked when he saw that one held about eight frightened members
of his long-tailed tribe. Ka-Zar stilled him with a warning growl.
There was a brother of N'Jaga, stirring restlessly in his confined
quarters. Beside him, Quog the wild pig squealed in rage. A big, long-
legged stork stood with his head on his breast in profound melancholy.
And beyond them Tuta stood swaying in the long grass, her head swung
in the direction from which Trajah had last called her and her gaze
yearning.

Ka-Zar tossed back his long hair and his brows knitted in a frown. She
was not confined in one of the strange shelters. Why did she stay
there, then?

"Go back to Trajah," he whispered to Nono. "Tell him to call again."

The monkey sped nimbly off and Ka-Zar turned again to watch Tuta
intently. The hush that comes with the sunset had fallen over plain
and forest. A moment later it was shattered by the trumpeting of the
elephant--strident, commanding, pleading.

Tuta's head came up. With an answering cry, she lunged forward, only
to pull up with a sudden jerk. And then, as she thrashed against the
bonds that held her, Ka-Zar saw them. The swaying grasses revealed the
stout ropes that bound each of her feet to stakes set firmly into the
ground. All Tuta's strength could not break them.

The opening flap of the center tent billowed outward and a white man
stepped into Ka-Zar's view. He was not DeKraft, for he was tall and
slender and his hair was the color of N'Jaga's glistening coat. He
snatched up a long rifle that leaned against the front of the tent and
turned to peer into the dense jungle whence Trajah's call had come.

With his eyes watchful, but a little half smile playing at the corners
of his lips, he addressed the unseen elephant. Up in the tree, Ka-Zar
heard his voice.

"Back again, eh?" he said in clear English. "Sorry, old boy. But she
can't join you. There's a new home waiting for her--far away--in a
nice zoo."

It was a long time since Ka-Zar had heard his own tongue. He
understood everything but the last word of the white man's speech. His
voice had been pleasant but though its tone seemed to convey no
threat, Ka-Zar scowled. The jungle was Tuta's home. And somehow, some
way, he would see that she returned safely to Trajah and the rest of
the herd.

In a different language the white man flung a command at the blacks
who had paused to stare. Then, as they busied themselves at their work
again, he strolled over to inspect Tuta's hobbles. She plunged and
squealed again at his approach. Keeping at a safe distance, he circled
about her. Then apparently satisfied that she was firmly held captive,
he strode back to his tent and disappeared.

Ka-Zar studied the camp intently, then left.



CHAPTER XIV

Jungle Mystery

SILENT as the deepening shadows, Ka-Zar made his way back to the
waiting elephant. He did not know man-made rope but it resembled the
tough lianas that hung in festoons from the lower branches of the
jungle trees. Now he understood why Trajah had been unable to free
this hapless member of his tribe and had come to him for aid. And he
knew that his gleaming knife would be able to accomplish what all the
elephant's mighty strength could not do.

"Tuta will be free," he told Trajah.

The elephant tossed his trunk to show his pleasure. He took an eager
step forward in the direction of the camp.

Ka-Zar barred his path on straddled legs. "Not now. We must wait until
night comes. Then--" he drew his knife from his belt, tested its
gleaming blade on his finger--"then I will steal into the camp."

Reluctantly Trajah agreed.

"We will not hurt the Oman," continued Ka-Zar. "I think they meant
Tuta no harm. There is another matter, too. Other jungle brothers are
held captive in the camp. We must help them, also."

Nono jumped up and down, happy to think that his forlorn brothers
would also be freed. Tugging at Ka-Zar's arm, he begged to be allowed
to help.

They waited, while the dusk deepened. Since the Oman had fire sticks,
they knew it would be fatal to attempt the rescue of the jungle beasts
until the two-legged creatures had retired for the night. Not until
the camp was quiet would they venture forth.

Ka-Zar warned the elephant that he must be content to wait where he
was. If he moved in the direction of the camp, the noise of his coming
would surely arouse the men.

With the rising of the moon, Ka-Zar and Nono returned to their vantage
point in the big baobab. The wind had changed and their scent was
carried to the captives in the cages. The leopard's head whipped up.
The monkeys began a nervous jabbering, Ka-Zar risked a low, guttural
call, commanding them to silence.

A black, scrubbing the cooking pot with handfuls of grass, heard him.
But never dreaming that such a sound could have issued from a human
throat, he continued with his work.

Ka-Zar's life in the jungle had given him a patience that matched his
courage. Several times the men passed directly beneath him but not the
faintest sound told them that something was watching them from the
baobab.

The moon rose higher--an enormous orange ball that crept up, slowly
from the horizon. It turned gradually to silver and its rays bathed
the vast plain with a mystic, bluish light. The campfire was piled
high for the night and finally the last black crawled into a tent and
vanished.

Ka-Zar had learned to be more than cautious. Ten minutes later his low
note of warning floated softly from the tree. Then, with Nono, he
swung down through the leafy branches and dropped lightly to the
ground. First he circled each tent, his footfalls making no noise in
the tall grass. He located each man within by the sound of his
breathing and from the regularity of that breathing knew that they
were all asleep.

Not until then did he rejoin Nono, who was crouching on top of the
cage that held his brothers. For breathless minutes he explored the
unfamiliar contrivance, seeking some way to open it. At last he
managed to unfasten small ropes that held a sliding panel on one end
of the cage.

Threatening the silly creatures with dire punishment, indeed, if they
made a sound, he drew the panel carefully upward. The excited monkeys
jammed at the opening, squeezed through and with Nono joyfully leaping
ahead of them, scampered for the trees.

The big stork came next. Evidently it had been a prisoner for quite
some time, for when Ka-Zar opened the door of his pen, he stepped out
and looked about him in bewilderment. At last he realized that he was
free. With a flap of his long wings he soared into the air and headed
out over the plain.

Swiftly and silently Ka-Zar went on with his task. Quog made a
straight rush into the darkened forest. The leopard lingered long
enough to growl an acknowledgment to his strange rescuer, cast a
baleful eye at the motionless tents and then vanished like a blacker
shadow into the darkness of the night.

Tuta stirred restlessly at Ka-Zar's approach. He had to risk another
warning to quiet her. Then with the sharp blade of his knife he sawed
at each rope in turn until she was free. Fearful lest she should
arouse the camp before they were well away, he led her quite some
distance along the edge of the grassy plain. Not until he was sure
that they were out of earshot of the sleeping men, did he plunge once
more into the jungle and take her by a circuitous route back to where
Trajah patiently awaited them.

Steve Hardy, big game hunter and wild animal collector, turned over on
his cot. He woke suddenly from a fitful sleep and wondered what it was
that had awakened him. Hitching himself up onto one elbow, he
listened. No strange sound disturbed the stillness.

Still he felt uneasy. And finally it dawned upon him that it was the
very silence that bothered him. Never had the camp been so still. Of
the specimens that he had collected, there were several who complained
about their captivity--all through the nights.

Pushing aside the mosquito netting that draped his bed, he thrust his
feet into his boots. He picked up the flashlight that always lay
within easy reach and got his rifle on the way out of the tent.

He did not need to click on the button of the flash. The moon bathed
the camp with brilliant light, throwing the tents and the animal cages
into sharp relief. And Steve Hardy was astounded to learn that the big
leopard, his most magnificent specimen, was no longer behind bars.

Uneasily he glanced about him and to his dismay he quickly learned
that the others had vanished likewise, while he had slept. He shouted
and a moment later he was joined by his retinue of Ankwalla blacks,
all instantly wide awake.

Quickly he pointed to the empty cages, hurling questions at them in
their native tongue. But they were as baffled as he and as they
thought about it, more and more terrified. Huddling at his heels, they
followed him from cage to cage.

Hardy was beside himself with rage. The arduous labor of months,
undone in a single night! His Ankwalla boys would not have done this--
there would have been no reason for it. Surely no inquisitive monkey
could have pried into camp and accidentally freed all his animals. The
sliding doors were too heavy for a monkey to have lifted. The bull
elephant that had called to the cow from the jungle--an elephant does
not unfasten ropes... elephant ... elephant...

Suddenly Hardy looked up. His elephant, too, was gone!

The natives jabbered excitedly as they raced after him to the spot
where Tuta had been tethered. Hardy dropped to one knee, picked up the
rope still fastened to one of the stakes. And the bright moonlight
revealed the startling fact that it had not been torn, but neatly cut
in two!

Slowly he rose to his feet. An oath died still-born on his lips.
Common sense told him that a man, armed with a knife had cut that
strand of rope. But as far as he knew, no man--white or black--was
within a thousand miles of his lonely outpost.

Why, in God's name, he asked himself, would any man release all his
animals and vanish again? A madman? Madness would not have protected
him against the ferocity of that huge leopard. He gazed about him,
half-expecting to see a mangled lifeless corpse. But only alternate
patches of shadow and brilliant moonlight marked the grass around the
camp.

From deep in the jungle came the trumpet call of two elephants. And
then, not far from his lonely camp, another challenging sound echoed
out of the wilderness. It was the deep-throated, mighty bellow of a
lion. It was, though Hardy did not know it, the triumphant call of Ka-
Zar, brother of Zar, lord of the jungle.

While Hardy meditated, baffled and angry, on the mysterious evil that
had visited him, his Ankwalla boys held a whispered conclave. Then
headed by his gun boy, they marched up to where he stood.

Their leader explained that for some reason, the all-powerful gods of
the jungle were angry. The spiriting away of the animals had been a
warning to them all. Unless Hardy and the rest departed at once, they,
too, would vanish as mysteriously and as silently as the beasts.

In vain Hardy argued with them. He had come many thousands of miles
and had spent a considerable amount of money organizing this
expedition. They must patiently begin their labors all over again. But
he could not explain the startling events of the night and they would
not listen to him. What dire fate awaited them when the jungle gods
should spirit them away, they could only guess at darkly. But depart
the Ankwallas would, and Steve Hardy, perforce, must go with them.



CHAPTER XV

Mark of the Leopard

THE news of Ka-Zar's exploit in freeing the jungle beasts from the
traps of the Oman, traveled swiftly through the forest. As one who had
witnessed the miracle, Nono the monkey bragged loudly to Sinassa the
snake. And in turn, Sinassa passed on the tale to Wal-lah the
hippopotamus, with fresh embellishments. With each telling of the
tale, the fame and prowess of the man-cub grew, until all the jungle
accepted him, at last, as a friend.

That is, all but one. N'Jaga, whose spotted flank still bore the scar
of John Rand's bullet and who limped slightly as a result of it, could
not forget his hate. If anything, it was fanned to new heights as he
scornfully listened to the jungle creatures sing the praise of Ka-Zar.

Next to Zar the lion, N'Jaga had been feared and respected in the
jungle. And now, with a bitter intensity he resented the intrusion of
the man-cub who had usurped his place in the jungle scale. He felt
that he had lost caste, that the only way to regain it was to prove
his mastery over Ka-Zar.

And to this end, N'Jaga sulked many long hours in the forest, devising
ways and means to dispose of his enemy. He was too wise to seek an
open conflict with the man-cub. Though he scorned the puny strength of
Ka-Zar in contrast to the might of his own supple limbs, he yet feared
the two-legged creature for his tricks and for the cruel weapons he
wielded with his hands.

N'Jaga early decided that the basis of his campaign should be cunning.
And after much deliberation, he hit upon a plan that offered every
prospect of success.

A hundred times, from a discreet distance, he had stalked Ka-Zar along
the jungle trails. He knew that invariably every day the man-cub went
down to the lake, to swim there a long time and to gossip with Wal-
lah. Before entering the water he would strip himself of the skin that
covered him. But more important than this was the fact that he would
leave his weapons on the shore of the lake.

N'Jaga ran a dripping tongue over his jowls as he matured his plans.

It was late in the afternoon of the following day that Ka-Zar swung
swiftly through the trees to the shore of the lake. He dropped lightly
to the narrow strip of sand that formed the beach and shouted a
greeting to Jacaru who floated motionless in the shallows like a log.

Ka-Zar was hot and tired from a long hunt with Zar and he tingled at
the prospect of plunging his naked body in the cool waters of the
lake. He stripped swiftly and as the cunning N'Jaga had known he
would, carelessly dropped his knife to the sands.

With a long springy stride he leaped out to the end of a log that
projected far into the lake, poised there a moment, then dove cleanly
into the water. He swam under the surface for a long distance, came up
puffing and snorting by the side of Wal-lah far out in the water.

For a few moments they talked, then with a long easy stroke, Ka-Zar
struck out for the distant shore of the lake, which was still bathed
in dappled sunshine. He reached the far side at last. His favorite
spot was a deep pool close in to shore. A giant baobab tree, smitten
by a bolt during some ancient storm, hung far over it and made an
excellent perch for diving.

But first he had to pay his respects to the nimble Nyassa. Vainly he
tried to capture the fish, but with consummate ease she eluded his
darting fingers.

Tiring of the sport at last, he rose to the surface, rolled on his
back, relaxed completely and floated. For a few minutes he studied the
outlines of the clouds drifting high in the heaven and imagined that
he could see in their ever-shifting shapes, the faces of the different
jungle beasts.

Then a furtive movement along the trunk of the baobab, a few feet
above his head, caught his eye. Instead of seeing the fancied faces of
the jungle beasts in the clouds--Ka-Zar saw a very real one, in the
flesh.

It was N'Jaga on the trunk above him, poised for a spring. The spotted
haunches of the leopard were tensed back, his rump was raised and the
talon-like claws of his forepaws were arched.

From malignant green eyes he glared down at Ka-Zar.

Fascinated, hypnotized, Ka-Zar stared back. He knew that he had been
trapped; knew that N'Jaga had cunningly awaited this opportunity
before striking.

Then silently, without a sound, the leopard sprang. All the pent-up
hate of his dark heart propelled his body forward. But even while he
was in mid-air, Ka-Zar rolled his body over.

Instead of gouging out his eyes and slashing his face to ribbons,
N'Jaga's claws sank deep into the man-cub's back.

Ka-Zar was conscious of streaks of liquid fire tearing across his
spine. Pain, greater than any he had ever known before, consumed his
body. Like a stone he sank beneath the weight of the beast whose
talons still clung to the flesh of his back. Desperately, by a sheer
effort of will he fought off the numbing fog that settled on his
brain. Every sense of self-preservation rose to his defense.

But unarmed, he was helpless against the superior weight and strength
of the leopard. Hard as his hands were, they were no match for the
fangs and claws of N'Jaga.

And then Ka-Zar's brain--the thing that set him apart and above the
beasts--came to his rescue. It was futile, he knew, a losing, hopeless
battle, to try to fight N'Jaga on such unequal terms. To come to the
surface meant death. His only salvation lay in sinking ever deeper to
the bottom of the lake.

Jungle cats have an aversion to water and it was a measure of N'Jaga's
hate that he had plunged into the lake to destroy his enemy.

Ka-Zar knew this and prepared to act. The leopard was still clinging
to his back and from all indications was content to stay there. But
the man-cub thought differently. With a sudden movement he shot up
both his arms and encircled N'Jaga's head that loomed up above his
own. His fingers locked together in an unbreakable grip and exerting
his every ounce of strength he applied pressure to the cat's neck
until N'Jaga's head was pressed close to his own.

Together they sank toward the bottom until Ka-Zar thought that his
lungs must burst; until N'Jaga could stand the pressure no longer. A
fear, that in fulfilling his vengeance, he, too, must die, stirred in
his brain. His claws ripped from Ka-Zar's back. Wildly he struggled to
break the hold on his neck--to reach the surface--and air.

Then the strangling hold around his throat relaxed. True, he desired
the death of Ka-Zar greatly but he desired his own life more. He
pushed down on the water with his large padded paws and propelled
himself toward the surface. He knew that the man-cub was sorely
wounded and he doubted whether he would ever rise to the surface
again.

He was content. N'Jaga had won.

The leopard was right--in at least one respect. He had indeed been the
victor in this first conflict with the man-cub. And when he reached
the shore of the lake he screamed his triumph to the listening ears of
the jungle.

But so preoccupied was he in proclaiming his might, that he failed
entirely to see the torn and mangled thing rose slowly to the surface
of the lake and clutch weakly at a low-hanging limb of the baobab.

If N'Jaga had not under-estimated the stamina and endurance of his
enemy, he might have tarried there by the shore and finished his work
at his leisure. For Ka-Zar was too spent, too weak from loss of blood
to offer further resistance.

But the leopard's heart was full of vainglory and without a backward
glance at the lake, he stalked off into the forest, proclaiming his
kill.

It was a long time before Ka-Zar gathered sufficient strength to work
his way to shore. A still longer time before he skirted the lake to
retrieve his loin cloth and knife. Fever consumed his body and his
limbs were like water beneath him. His brain was numb but the lesson
he had learned from his encounter with N'Jaga gave him a grim, if
bitter, satisfaction.

It was this--never again, no matter what the circumstances, would he
be caught without his knife. And the bare knife was clutched in his
hand when he stumbled at last into the cave.

For days Ka-Zar lay helpless and sick in the cave. For days Zar and
Sha stood guard over him, tending his wounds the only way they could--
by licking them.

At long last the fever left his body and a skeleton of his former
self, he struggled to his feet. In celebration of the event Zar
brought fresh-killed antelope quarter to the cave, and fruits fresh
gathered by Nono the monkey.

Ka-Zar ate, drank and slept again. And from that time on his recovery
was rapid. But ever after he bore the mark of N'Jaga upon his back.



CHAPTER XVI

Return of the Oman

WHEN Paul DeKraft had fled from the jungle clearing, with the sound of
Zar's roar echoing in his ears, he had taken with him two secrets.
First, the grim details of the death of the mad jungle hermit; second,
the location of the richest emerald beds it had ever been his good
fortune to stumble across.

The first dark secret slipped readily from his mind. It was not the
first time that he had killed nor would it be his last. But the second
was forever with him, a shining promise of a vast fortune to be looted
by him alone.

The lure of those emeralds, to be picked up by handfuls from the bed
of that jungle stream, spurred him on to herculean efforts. He worked,
robbed and plotted murder to accumulate a stake to take him once more
to the heart of the Belgian Congo.

And now, after five long years, at the end of another rainy season he
was leading a large party into the heart of the wilderness over which
Zar and Ka-Zar had ruled for so long.

The expedition consisted of a score of blacks and one white man--Ed
Kivlin. He was a renegade like DeKraft and if he was not as villainous
as the Hollander, it was only because DeKraft had lived some few years
more than he and had served a longer apprenticeship to the devil.

DeKraft had not taken him along out of the open generosity of his
heart. He had been motivated by far baser and more practical reasons.
It was simply that Kivlin had a few hundred dollars--and he needed
them. For food, shovels, guns and ammunition, but mostly ammunition.

And all the time there was a little idea in the back of his head that
perchance a little accident would befall his benefactor. No matter how
it came about--before the fang and claw of some jungle beast or from a
bullet from his own gun--he was convinced and determined that Eddie
Kivlin would not come out of the jungle with him.

Once he had made his alliance with Kivlin and the dollars, DeKraft
started to assemble his party. But to his disgust and impatience, he
found that as soon as he mentioned the Congo as his destination, the
native blacks shunned him as if he carried the plague.

Strange tales, weird, wonderful and unholy, had drifted down from the
Congo. They had first been brought back to civilization by a great
white hunter and his camp followers. The tales had to do with a jungle
god, the protector of all wild things, who was incensed at man for
molesting the beasts of the forest.

Hadn't this god, who spoke with the voice of the lion, liberated a
season's catch of the great white hunter? Hadn't he slashed the ropes
that held the mighty elephant; broken open the cage that held a huge
leopard?

The tale grew with the telling and DeKraft was forced to deceit and
trickery to assemble the natives he needed. It was not until the party
was a month's march from the nearest white outpost or native village
that he told the blacks their real destination.

Then unarmed, without food, it was too late for them to turn back.
DeKraft laughed long and raucously over what he considered the good
joke he had played on them.

The natives listened to him in silence and with hate in their hearts.
Sullenly they struggled on with the party but with each mile they
penetrated deeper into the Congo, the greater became their
superstitious fears.

It was at the end of a long, hot day when DeKraft triumphantly led his
party at last into the small glade he had quitted so precipitately
five years before.

He looked about him with greedy eyes. Nothing had changed, except that
the vines and brush had crept in from the forest and made a dense
growth that covered the clearing. The last, tattered remains of his
tent still remained where he had abandoned it. The stream still rushed
by, innocently tumbling over a fortune in uncut emeralds.

He pounded Kivlin enthusiastically on the back, threw his arm wide.
"So help me, Eddie," he said, "here we are! A fortune--there in the
stream--ready to be picked up by the handfuls."

Kivlin grinned wolfishly, took a long pull from a bottle of square-
face gin and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "We didn't get
here any too soon for me," he answered. "And as far as a fortune goes,
I could use one."

"Plenty for both of us--plenty for both," said DeKraft heartily. Then
he turned hurriedly away to hide the crafty gleam in his eyes.

He issued a string of terse orders to his bearers. Under the lash of
his tongue and the persuasive power of his heavy fist, they hurried
about the business of making camp. With long knives the undergrowth
was cleared away. Tents were pitched; the supplies and ammunition
stored away. A half hour after their arrival a thin plume of smoke
went up from their fire to announce their coming to the jungle beasts.

It is significant that both DeKraft and Kivlin slept little and
lightly that night and in both their hands were heavy automatics.
True, the blacks were sullen and surly, but it was not for fear of
them that they crept into their respective cots thus armed.

The thoughts of each were the same. A fortune! Why share it? Each in
his own way planned toward the same end.

However, despite their mutual distrust and treachery, the first night
passed uneventfully.

Ka-Zar was a two-days-march distant from the cave when DeKraft pitched
his camp in the clearing. He was on one of his frequent pilgrimages to
the feeding grounds of Trajah and he was all unaware that his old
enemy, Fat-Face, had returned to his domain; all unaware of the
trouble that was brewing for him in the jungle he had so long ruled
with Zar.

His first intimation that some serious mischief was afoot came three
days later. It was night and he was listening to Trajah's account of
distant lands that the elephant had seen on his long migrations.

Trajah was in the midst of some strange and fascinating tales when
abruptly, from far off, came the stentorian roar of a lion. Ka-Zar's
head snapped up and his eyes narrowed. The elephant's large ears
flapped slowly at right angles to his head.

"Zar calls," said Ka-Zar.

"The lion calls to his brother," echoed Trajah gravely.

A vague, disturbing premonition stirred in Ka-Zar's brain. Swiftly he
threw back his head, expanded his leather lungs and a moment later the
forest shook as he sent the lion's call echoing back to Zar.

Three times more Ka-Zar repeated his roar, then without a sound the
massive form of Zar materialized out of the brush. With Trajah
lumbering at his side, Ka-Zar stepped eagerly forward to meet him.

He rumbled a warm greeting deep in his throat, then before Zar could
answer it, asked what had brought his brother on his trail.

In a few swift grunts and snarls Zar told him. Many two-legged
creatures like himself--many Oman--white and black--had come to the
glade by the stream that babbled over many stones. They had brought
fire sticks with them. There was much death. There was trouble brewing
in the forest of Ka-Zar and it would be wise for Ka-Zar, brother of
Zar, to return.

The white man's adage that the elephant never forgets, is based on
sound fact. He never forgives an injury and he never forgets a friend.
To his distant dying day, Trajah would carry always with him the
memory of that time when Ka-Zar had rescued Tuta from her strange
captivity.

Now trouble had come again to the jungle and there was no question
whether the elephant would stand by his friends. Knowing Ka-Zar's
delight in riding upon his lofty back, Trajah waited for no more. His
trunk snaked out, wound about Ka-Zar's body and lifted him easily up
to his favorite perch. Then with Zar gliding swiftly along in the
lead, they began their long journey back to the cave.

Ka-Zar was troubled with vague apprehensions of what might already
have occurred during his absence. And when at last they reached their
home, he found that his fears were well founded.

In the trees around the cave mouth squatted Chaka and his apes,
waiting for his return. He slid down from the elephant's back and
walked forward as the big leader swung down from his perch and came
shambling over to meet him.

Chaka's manner conveyed neither open hostility nor full-hearted
friendship. He grunted a greeting, then cocked his head on one side
and surveyed Ka-Zar gravely from head to foot. It was plain to see
that he nursed suspicions, but was reserving a decision.

"Your two-legged brothers have returned," he announced. "And death
comes with them."

Ka-Zar brushed back a lock of his long hair and scowled. "They are not
my brothers," he growled. "I belong to the tribe of Zar."

Chaka thrust forward a pendulous lower lip, scratched thoughtfully at
one ear. "You are a two-legged creature," he said slowly.

Ka-Zar realized that words were futile. His actions must speak for
him. "Death speaks from their fire sticks?" he asked.

"Two moons ago," answered Chaka, "Dakar saw something that glittered
and went to examine it. The Oman cried out and one of them pointed at
Dakar with a fire stick. It spoke with the voice of thunder and Dakar
died." A mournful sound rose from the apes squatting in the trees,
corroborating his words. "Yesterday," Chaka continued, "Babba, a
female, wandered foolishly too near their home. A fire stick spoke
swiftly, many times, and Babba died from many wounds."

At this recital of their loss, the apes in the trees set up an angry
muttering. One called to Chaka. "Let us go and kill these Oman."

Others took up the cry of vengeance. Chaka hesitated, looked to Ka-
Zar.

The brother of Zar shook his head. "Do not try," he warned. "The fire 
stick strikes like the lightning and before you could kill, many more
would join Dakar and Babba in the Great Sleep." His eyes narrowed and
he fingered the knife at his belt. "I have driven these Oman from the
jungle before and I will do it again. Keep well away from their home
while I go see what can be done."

Zar and Trajah would willingly have accompanied him. But he told them
that he desired to go alone and leaving his friends and the muttering
apes to await his return, he set out at once for the camp.

His ears quickly told him that the men had made their home where
DeKraft's old tent still mouldered. When he approached the spot, Nono
saw him from his vantage point in the upper branches of a tall tree.
The little monkey, fearful and yet overcome by an insatiable
curiosity, could not tear himself away from the scene of so much
activity.

Ka-Zar, too, took to the trees. He reached one that gave him a clear
view of the camp in the clearing and then, flattened along a stout
limb and so screened by the dense foliage that he was invisible from
below, he watched.

The fact that the men had come to this very spot brought back once
more all the terrible memory of that day when his father had been
killed. And with it revived the deep seated desire to wreak vengeance
upon the fat, black-bearded man.

He saw many black men busy before the tents. One took a steaming
kettle from sticks that held it suspended above the fire, carried it a
little apart and set it down to cool. A white man suddenly appeared
from the fringe of the forest, on the opposite side of the clearing.
Ka-Zar stiffened.

A long fire stick hung loosely from the crook of the man's arm. His
head was covered by something that looked like a bloated, white
mushroom. He took it off, revealing a thatch of hair, the color of the
flaming sunset. Then he looked toward one of the tents and called
out: "Hey, Dutch!"

In answer, a bulky form pushed out from the tent. Ka-Zar saw a swarthy
face, an untidy black beard, a bulging belly. A low growl rumbled deep
in his throat and the hair at the base of his skull prickled. His
usual caution was drowned by the deep, undying hatred that suddenly
flamed up within him. There stood the slayer of his father--and he had
to fight the impulse to snatch his knife, scream the kill of the lion
and drop down from the tree to confront his old enemy.

For a long moment the battle raged within him, then wisdom conquered.
Every nerve in his body taut, he lay on the branch and glared his
hatred from slitted, tawny eyes.

The two men stood for a moment, conversing in low tones. A clumsy,
bristly gray creature wandered out from the forest into the clearing.
Quag, brother of Quog the wild pig, paid no heed to his strange new
surroundings. He was headed for the stream to slake his thirst and on
his way, he nosed for the berries and succulent roots that comprised
his diet.

The cooling kettle was directly in his path. Carelessly he nudged it
with his snout. It tipped over, spilling its savoury contents on the
ground.

One of the blacks shouted. DeKraft looked up, saw at a glance what had
happened. With a torrent of oaths he snatched the rifle from Kivlin's
arm, whipped it to his shoulder and blazed at the clumsy pig who had
spoiled his dinner.

There was a stab of flame, an echoing roar. The hapless Quag squealed
once in shrill agony, then pitched forward, never to move again.

His needless death, the wanton cruelty with which DeKraft had taken a
jungle life, added fuel to the flame of Ka-Zar's wrath. Again he had
to battle the impulse to challenge the vicious Fat-Face, who had
shattered the peace of the forest.

With a low growl, telling Nono to follow, he edged lithely back along
the limb, turned and headed toward the cave. When he was well out of
ear-shot from the camp, he sent the monkey off on a strange errand.

"Go! Find all the big beasts of the jungle and tell them to go to
Zar's cave. I will wait for them there. Make haste, silly one."

While Nono obediently set off, he continued on his way to rejoin his
friends and the troubled apes. They greeted him with expectant gaze
but he merely went to sit on a great boulder and there silently
pondered his problem.



CHAPTER XVII

Outcast

KA-ZAR had chosen a swift courier. In ones, in twos, in large groups,
the animals came to learn the reason for his summons. Keeping well to
their own kind, they gathered in the vicinity of the lion's lair,
waiting for Ka-Zar to speak.

It was well into the afternoon when the last arrived. N'Jaga, with
several of his spotted tribe, stalked out of the forest and warily
joined the gathering.

Ka-Zar stood up on the rock and surveyed the motley collection of
beasts that inhabited his wilderness domain. Chaka and his great apes
still squatted on the lower branches of the trees. Nono and his long-
tailed friends scurried about above them. Zar and Sha stood side by
side, a regal pair, before the door of their home. Trajah swayed
restlessly in his place. Quog and his grunting people moved about,
champing their tusks nervously.

N'Jaga and the leopards crouched to one side, their gleaming eyes
shifting swiftly at every movement. Even Sinassa the great snake had
come. He stretched, coiled about a strong limb, and watched the
gathering from unblinking, beady little eyes. And far overhead Kru the
vulture, thinking that this meeting of the bigger jungle animals would
provide him with such a feast as he had never seen, wheeled around on
motionless wings.

All eyes turned to focus on the figure of Ka-Zar, dominating and
arrogant, astride the rock. A hush fell upon them and flinging back
his regal head, he shattered the silence with the mighty roar of the
lion. Respectfully they listened as it echoed and re-echoed through
the leafy fastness. Only N'Jaga's tail twitched and his lips pulled
back a trifle from his teeth.

His face dark with passion, Ka-Zar launched into his speech.

"Jungle brothers," he began, "Ka-Zar, brother of Zar the mighty,
called you here. Trouble has come to our home, great trouble. Oman
have come again to molest us--to hurt us--to kill us."

He flung his arms out in a sweeping gesture. "The Oman are evil.
Unlike us, they slay for no reason. Chaka will tell you that two of
his tribe died before their terrible fire sticks. Other beasts have
perished, also. This very afternoon I saw Quag, brother of Quog, die
because he had foolishly blundered into their clearing."

He turned his head to stare for a long moment in the direction of the
distant camp, his jaw set at a grim angle and his eyes boding no good
to the marauders who had come to violate the sanctity of his
wilderness.

He turned again to his strange audience. "I, Ka-Zar, brother of Zar,
shall drive them out. But now I give you all warning. Nothing can
stand before the fire sticks of the Oman and live. Let all the animals
keep well away from the clearing. Let no more lives be needlessly
taken. When the time comes, I will summon you and together we will
have our vengeance."

He folded his arms and looked about the gathering of beasts. At once
they set up a subdued muttering, growling, chattering and grunting
among themselves.

N'Jaga rose to his feet, fell into a crouch. He snarled. "Ka-Zar is no
lion," he growled. "Ka-Zar is of the Oman. N'Jaga does not trust him."

The beasts listened to his words, then fell to a more excited
chattering. Ka-Zar knew that N'Jaga had voiced the suspicion that
already lurked in the minds of Chaka and his apes. He could see that
Chaka was swayed by N'Jaga's words. Glancing about the assemblage, he
saw quickly that the seeds of mistrust had fallen upon fertile ground.
The other beasts wavered, but already N'Jaga had gained an advantage.

The cunning leopard knew, and pressed it. "We have claws and fangs,"
he spat. "Why do we permit ourselves to be slain by these weak,
hairless creatures--the Oman? Let us kill this one and then go to slay
the others."

Nono and his friends chattered shrilly up in the branches. Chaka
dropped to the ground and with his tribe at his heels, lumbered
forward. His threatening attitude decided the rest. Ranging themselves
around N'Jaga and his snarling cousins, they flung their defiance at
the man-cub.

Ka-Zar knew that his life hung in the balance. His knife, his bow and
arrows, his deadly spear could not help him now. Alone, in single
combat with any denizen of the jungle, they would give him a fighting
chance. But let all these beasts charge him at once and he was doomed.

Yet arrogantly, boldly, he stepped down from the rock and strode up to
confront them. Without a moment's hesitation, Zar and Sha ranged up at
his side and Zar's deep-throated challenge rumbled from his mighty
throat. Then Trajah the elephant moved majestically forward and took
up a position on his other side. With a blasting trumpet, he defied
any creature to approach them.

The hatred for this two-legged creature that N'Jaga had nursed so long
in his breast, urged him to spring. But the sight of Ka-Zar's powerful
allies stayed him. For a long moment he crouched, tail lashing, and
the terrible slaughter for which Kru waited on motionless wings, hung
on his decision. A pregnant silence held them all.

Then suddenly N'Jaga spat, wheeled around and quickly disappeared into
the jungle.

The other beasts had worked themselves up to a pitch of emotion that
robbed them of all independent thought. N'Jaga's flight set them an
example. And with squeals, grunts, growls of frustrated rage, they
scattered and were swallowed up by the forest. Only Nono and the
monkeys remained, to hurl gibes after the departing beasts from the
safety of their branches high in the trees.

Ka-Zar was left alone with his friends and with the bitter realization
that he was held an outcast--a traitor--by his own people. Slowly he
turned and walked soberly back to the cave. Flinging himself down
before the entrance, he returned again to his problem, now doubly
important and doubly difficult.

He could count only on the lions, on Trajah and the monkeys for any
assistance. All the other beasts, even if they did not dare to attack
him, would wait in judgment. To regain his supremacy over them and to
bring peace once more to his land, he must settle the matter of
DeKraft once and for all.

The task would not be an easy one, he knew. Against the white man's
weapons he was powerless. And though he lay for a long time, his head
pillowed in the crook of his arm, inspiration would not come.

At length he rose. The sun was descending the downward curve of its
arc. The shadows of the trees grew longer. Trajah was resting from his
long journey. Sha had returned to her cubs and Zar was off on the
spoor of a kill. Nono's cousins had dispersed, but the little monkey
came and climbed up to his favorite place on Ka-Zar's broad shoulder.

On the long hope that another visit to DeKraft's camp might bring him
the inspiration he so sorely needed, Ka-Zar set off in that direction
again. And soon, from the big tree, he and Nono were once more looking
down upon the activities of the men.

Most of the blacks were still busy at their labors in the stream.
Three hovered about the fire, getting ready the evening meal. The two
white men--Fat-Face and the owner of the burnished copper hair--were
seated at the far side of the clearing, watching the natives work and
conversing in low tones.

One of the blacks at the stream walked over toward them, bearing a pan
that held several pebbles. Both white men reached for it together,
exchanged a veiled glance--then the red-haired one allowed DeKraft to
take it. Together they bent their heads over the pan as the native
returned to his work.

Ka-Zar could hear their voices, but he could not make out their words.
Gliding like a shadow down the tree, he circled about the clearing and
then stole softly toward where they were sitting. Not a leaf stirred
at his passing; not a twig crackled under his feet. A scant few yards
behind them, so flat against the bole of a tree that he seemed to
become part of it, he listened. Their conversation was carried on in
the language of his dead father and he had no difficulty following
their words.

"Emeralds," DeKraft's voice came floating back to him. "A bloody
fortune. And these crazy niggers damn near kept us from getting them."

The other joined him in a laugh. "What do you suppose," he asked, "was
behind their yarn about an angry jungle god? Something must have put
the wind up them, once."

DeKraft snorted. "Bah! You ain't seen no jungle god yet, have you? And
what if you did? I never saw a god go up against a high-powered rifle.
Hah, hah!" He slapped his knee and roared. "In the city or in the
jungle, I never yet seen anything that a bullet wouldn't finish."

"You said it," agreed the red-headed one. "Well, if no jungle god
shows up, these niggers will soon forget they were afraid." He rose,
stretched. "Come on, Dutch. Laballa's got chow ready."

DeKraft climbed to his feet and they strolled over toward the fire.

Ka-Zar relaxed a trifle and his eyes were very thoughtful. The
conversation of the men had been very slangy and several of the words
were unfamiliar to him. City, for instance. And god. Niggers, he
gathered, meant the blacks.

So the blacks were afraid of something, eh? And because of that fear,
they had almost prevented Fat-Face and the other from coming into the
jungle. Perhaps, then, they might be able to make the white ones leave
the jungle. That is, if their fear became great enough.

A little half-smile twitched the corners of Ka-Zar's lips. He would
see what he could do about that little matter.

Patiently he watched and waited for his opportunity. Laballa tended to
the wants of the white leaders. The natives at the stream ceased their
labors and gathered about their own food kettles, a respectful
distance away.

Laballa fed the fire from a diminishing heap of brush. DeKraft called
out a guttural command and in response, one of the blacks left off
eating. He and Laballa picked up their spears and long knives and
headed into the jungle.

The sun was setting and already mauve shadows darkened the floor of
the forest. Ka-Zar knew that the two blacks had been sent for wood and
it was obvious that they did not relish the prospect.

Instantly he took to the trees and swinging agilely from branch to
branch, moved off to follow them. Nono leaped agilely before him and
soon they came to where the natives had stopped. One slashed at low
boughs and dry, dead brush, anxious to finish their task. The other
stood, spear clutched in one hand and long knife in the other, and
peered into the gloomy forest about them.

Neither looked up into the trees that towered high above them, but if
they had, they would have seen nothing. In the dim half-light, the
naked bronzed form of Ka-Zar had melted into one with the shadowy
leaves and branches.

Ka-Zar waited until a moment when only the dull thud of the knife
sounded in the stillness. Then with all the might that he could
summon, he bellowed forth the deep bass roar of the lion.

For a moment the cry echoed through the still air and below him the
two natives stood immobile as ebony statues, literally paralyzed with
fear. Then suddenly the invisible bonds that held them, snapped.
Shrieking in terror, they raced pell mell for the camp.

Fear lent wings to their feet and though Ka-Zar swung swiftly in their
wake, by the time he reached his vantage point they had already poured
out their breathless story.

The two white men were on their feet. There was a black scowl on
DeKraft's swarthy face. The other natives huddled about their terror-
stricken companions, their hands clapped to their mouths.

Unfortunately, most of the ensuing hubbub of conversation was carried
on in the tongue of the blacks, which Ka-Zar did not understand. But
the gestures of the men made a lot of it clear to him.

DeKraft stretched forth his arm and pointed imperiously toward the
forest from whence the pair had so suddenly returned. A volley of
commands crackled from his lips and Ka-Zar knew that he was ordering
them to return for the wood.

But the two natives shook their heads and did not budge. Their eyes
rolled, their arms waved, they chattered back at him.

DeKraft's face turned slowly to a choleric purple. Forgetting himself
in his rage, he bellowed at them in English.

"Sure, I know damn well there's lions around here. But don't try to
tell me about one being way up in the top of a tree. Why--you
cowardly, lying..."

He stepped forward, his fist lashed out with the lightning speed of
N'Jaga's spring. There was a dull smack as it struck the jaw of
Laballa and sent him toppling over backward into the arms of his
companions.

Snatching a gun from his hip, DeKraft faced the blacks, moving its
muzzle in a slow, fan-like arc. Muttering, they fell back. But though
he again pointed imperiously at the jungle, backing up the order with
a significant gesture of the gun, not one of the natives stirred.

Ka-Zar, well satisfied with his work, left DeKraft still trying with
threats and curses to drive out the fear that was in the hearts of his
men. He, himself, had had no rest since Zar had come to find him. Now,
confident that a few hoursí sleep would revive both his tired body and
his weary mind, he headed back toward the cave.



CHAPTER XVIII

Flowers on a Grave

DAWN found him standing over the graves of his parents. He communed a
moment with their spirits in silence and deep in his heart, renewed
his vow that he would wreak vengeance on his father's slayer. Then,
fortified for whatever the day might bring, he started again for the
camp of the white men.

He was still some distance from it, when a crashing noise off to his
left pulled him up short in mid-stride. He cocked his head to one side
and listened. Most animals make little noise in their travels through
the jungle. This was not the sound made by Chaka and his apes, nor
Trajah, nor that of Quog and his herd passing through the brush. Only
one other creature would move so clumsily--a man.

With a prayer in his heart that it might be his hated enemy, Fat-Face,
Ka-Zar swung up into the trees and headed swiftly toward the noise. He
could not know that the Fates still turned their faces from him; that
it was not Fat-Face but Kivlin, grown yet more greedy because of his
good fortune, who had ventured along the course of the stream in search
of more emeralds.

He could not know either, that Zar, anxious and eager to aid him, had
also set out for the camp. The lion's keen nostrils had caught the
scent of the hated Oman and disobeying his brother's orders he lay in
wait for the foolish two-legged creature who blundered toward him.

Kivlin was not jungle-wise. Not intending to share his find, if he
made one, he had left the camp without telling DeKraft. And so it was
that instead of carrying a rifle, he was armed only with the heavy
caliber automatic thrust in the holster at his belt. Zar, crouching
behind a clump of brush at the side of the stream, saw him appear--but
saw no fire stick.

Kivlin bent over, picked up a pebble, turned it over in his fingers
and then threw it away in disgust. He straightened up--and was
instantly petrified with terror.

Directly in his path loomed an enormous tawny shape. To Kivlin's
startled eyes, Zar appeared as huge as Trajah. The lion's shaggy mane
was ruffed out into a black fringe. His fangs were bared from
glistening teeth. His slitted eyes gleamed and the tuft at the tip of
his tail switched angrily.

Kivlin tried to scream, but could make no sound. His numbed brain
urged him to run, to bolt for his life. But his legs would not move.

A low, terrifying growl rumbled from Zar's throat. He crouched and his
rippling muscles tensed for the spring. And Kivlin, coming to life in
that desperate moment, flashed for his gun.

It came up in his clenched right fist, glinting ominously in the sun,
and its barrel pointed full at the snarling lion. But in the split
second before his finger squeezed the trigger, something thudded
lightly to the ground behind him.

The sharp blade of a knife bit into the back of his neck and a warning
voice hissed in his ear: "Kill the lion--and you die, also!"

Never was a man in more terrible predicament. Never had anyone such a
horrible choice. Never was double jeopardy made yet more awful by such
mystery.

Kivlin's nerves could stand no more. And when the voice at his ear
changed suddenly to an animal growl, he wilted. His face turned
ghastly and clammy beads of perspiration broke out over his body. He
felt that he was going mad.

In a daze, he heard the lion growl back, then reluctantly move off to
one side and watch whatever was behind the haft of that knife. Kivlin
soon learned what that was. A long arm snaked around under his chin,
closed like a vise about his neck. A bronzed hand shot out, wrenched
the automatic from his grasp and sent it spinning into the brush.

Kivlin's reeling senses told him that he was in the grip of a man and
almost mechanically, he struggled frantically to free himself. Despite
all his strength, he might have been a two-year-old. For the arms that
held him were massive, with muscles like bands of flexible steel.

Kivlin was hardly conscious that the lion remained where he was. A
sudden violent wrench spun him around, but one hand stayed at the nape
of his neck, holding him powerless. And for the first time, seeing his
captor, he realized why his struggles had been so futile.

He was staring at a tremendous, bronze giant, naked save for the skin
of an animal wound about his loins. A mass of black hair whipped back
from the giant's head and his amber eyes held his own with a piercing
intensity that transfixed him like the point of a spear.

Kivlin found his voice at last. "Who--who are you?" he croaked.

"I am Ka-Zar," answered the bronze giant, in English that had a
strange, guttural tone. "Ka-Zar, brother of Zar, the lion." He pointed
to the huge beast, watching them.

Kivlin shook his head as though to awaken himself from some evil
nightmare. "What are you going to do with me?"

Ka-Zar fingered his gleaming knife. "I should," he answered, "help Zar
finish what he had begun."

Kivlin's face turned yet more ashen. Into his eyes came the blank look
of utter despair.

Ka-Zar scowled. "But, no. Your death would avail me nothing. I will
give you one more chance for your miserable life." He pointed toward
the camp whence Kivlin had come. "Go back. Tell Fat-Face I warn him.
Leave the jungle, you and your black brothers, at once. Unless you do,
you shall all die."

He shook Kivlin once and the hapless man thought that his neck had
broken. Then suddenly he released his hold and stepped back.

Zar growled a mighty protest when he realized that Ka-Zar had again
shown mercy to an enemy. The sound was all that Kivlin needed to set
his legs in motion. Casting fearful eyes back over his shoulder, he
raced madly back the way he had come. His last glance showed him Zar
and Ka-Zar, standing side by side, watching his flight. Then a bend in
the stream cut them off abruptly from his view and as though the devil
were at his heels, he sprinted on toward the camp.

It was high noon. The tropical sun beat down on the little clearing
that sheltered DeKraft's camp with a fierce intentness. But despite
the heat, DeKraft was forcing his natives. From the bank of the stream
he towered over them, a heavy bull whip in his hand. When one
faltered, the stinging bite of the lash and a savage curse would drive
him on again.

To DeKraft, any life but his own was cheap. Especially those of the
blacks. With a fortune to be panned out of the river he could see no
sense in delaying for petty, humanitarian scruples. Even as he lashed
his blacks with the whip, he, himself was driven on by greed.

The horde of emeralds was increasing. He mused regretfully that he had
cut Kivlin into the venture. He had been a fool. The find had been his
in the first place and he was rightfully entitled to the profits.

He fingered the automatic holstered at his hip and smiled knowingly to
himself. He had lots of time. They were a thousand miles from the
nearest white man and the white man's law. What happened in that
jungle wildness, no one would ever know.

The sound of running footsteps across the clearing snapped his head
erect. It was his guilty conscience and his own evil thoughts that
made him half pull the automatic from his belt. He whirled. Kivlin was
plunging across the glade toward him as if pursued by every jungle
demon the blacks had ever believed in.

DeKraft's eyes were quick to note the absence of the gun at Kivlin's
belt and he slipped his own gun back into its holster.

Panting, wild-eyed and ashen of face Kivlin pulled up before him.

"What's eating you?" growled DeKraft. "You look as if you've seen a
ghost."

Kivlin swallowed at his agitated Adam's apple and with frightened eyes
looked swiftly around the clearing. "So help me," he said, "I have."

DeKraft spat disgustedly. "Either the heat's got you or you're drunk.
Go back to your tent and sleep it off."

Kivlin shook his head. "I haven't had a drink all morning." He
swallowed again, wet his lips. "I could use one now, though. I tell
you I saw him. Him and the biggest lion God ever made."

"Saw who?" demanded DeKraft sharply.

Kivlin looked at him from wide scared eyes. "So help me, I don't know.
A big tall savage--a white man from the looks of him and he spoke
English. Naked as the day he was born."

DeKraft's eyes narrowed and he leaped forward. With a gnarled fist he
grabbed his partner by the slack of his coat and lifted him half off
his feet. "You're mad or drunk, damn you! There's no white man here. I
found these emeralds and they're mine. No man can take them away from
me."

Realizing that something out of the ordinary had taken place, the
blacks quit their work and listened attentively. Though they could not
follow the swift interchange of words between the two white men, they
understood enough to sharpen their fears and apprehensions.

Kivlin struggled helplessly in DeKraft's grasp. "I tell you I saw
him," he whined. "Took my gun away from me, he did. Talked to that
bloody beast of a lion and the lion understood. It's got me, I tell
you. It ain't natural!"

A vague, disturbing theory began to form in DeKraft's brain. Then he
noted that the blacks had ceased work and were whispering furtively to
one another. How much of the conversation they had heard and
understood, he did not know. But whatever it was, it was too much.
This crazy story of Kivlin's if it got about, would be enough to blow
his camp to hell.

With an oath he sprang down to the edge of the stream, brandishing his
whip. He played it about him indiscriminately for a moment and the
muttering natives protestingly resumed their labors. With a last
warning of the evil that would befall them if they stopped work again,
DeKraft returned to Kivlin.

"You've started something with your fool talk," he said savagely.
"Let's get out of here." With a violent shove he propelled Kivlin
forward and they made for their tent.

There in the comparative seclusion of the shelter, Kivlin told his
tale, finishing with the warning that Ka-Zar had given him.

DeKraft sat for a long time in silence when the story was done. In the
space of a moment his brain bridged five long years of time to another
day in the jungle and to another clearing no more than three miles
removed from the one he was then in. There had been a burning lean-
to--a dying man on the ground with two bullets in his chest--and a cub
of a kid standing against the point of a native spear.

DeKraft remembered the details of that scene clearly. He had been on
the point of murdering the kid when the lion had charged. He had
fired, missed and fled with the roar of the lion in his ears. Was it
possible that the kid hadn't been killed? Was it possible that he had
formed some strange, unbelievable pact with the lion?

DeKraft's camp stool crashed to the ground as he rose swiftly. By God!
He would find out. He examined his automatic carefully; he picked up a
rifle and examined that with equal thoroughness.

"Where you going?" asked Kivlin.

"You stay here," answered DeKraft as he started for the flap of the
tent. "And keep your mouth shut. I'm going to lay your jungle god
low."

Prepared for any emergency, DeKraft made his way cautiously through
the jungle and came at last to the clearing that had been occupied by
the mad hermit he had murdered five years before. Though nothing
untoward had happened during his short trek, his nerves were shaky and
on edge as he stood at the fringe of the encroaching forest and
surveyed the small glade.

He was not bothered by the ghosts of the dead past. What worried him
more were the possibilities of the immediate present and future.

Cautiously he looked about. The clearing had not changed. The charred
remnants of the lean-to, overgrown with jungle grass, still stood in
the center of the glade. There was not one sign of life or occupancy
about the place and his spirits rose.

Kivlin was mad, he mused. The heat had gotten him, probably.

Then with rifle ready, he stepped forward to make a closer inspection
of his surroundings. He had taken but two cautious strides when he
stopped abruptly. For there at his very feet were two low mounds of
earth and stone. They were unmistakably graves.

It was not this, so much, that startled DeKraft out of his newfound
assurance. It was the fact that both graves were covered with
flowers--flowers that were fresh--flowers that had been picked no more
than a few hours before!

DeKraft retreated hurriedly back to the protecting shelter of the
encircling trees. And he was a very thoughtful and troubled man as he
made his way cautiously back to his camp.



CHAPTER XIX

Greed and Death

ALL throughout that day, concealed in the tall branches of the trees
that hemmed in the clearing, Ka-Zar kept a watchful eye on DeKraft's
camp. He had been a witness to the scene between Kivlin and the
Hollander by the stream; had seen DeKraft leave the clearing a few
moments later, armed with a long, shining fire stick.

For a moment he had been tempted to follow him, but decided to remain
behind and watch the clearing instead. It was obvious to him that the
black men were ill at ease, apprehensive about something. Ka-Zar
sensed their hate for Fat-Face and felt that it was only their fear of
the white man's gun and whip that kept them at their work.

For the first time an alien sentiment stirred at his heart. Though he
did not know it, it was pity.

But he dismissed the feeling with a shrug. He had troubles of his
own--and serious ones. With each hour that Fat-Face and his men stayed
in the jungle, his own position became more difficult. Fanned by the
evil tongue of N'Jaga, old fears, hates and enmities were being
stirred up against him. True, he knew that Zar and Trajah would stand
beside him no matter what happened, but he had serious doubts of the
outcome if the jungle denizens openly revolted against him.

He was suspected and though he was embittered to think that the
animals believed he would betray them, he could understand the justice
of their attitude. After all, these invading two-legged creatures who
had come, bringing destruction with them, were his blood brothers.

Ka-Zar smiled bitterly at that. His blood brothers! And one of them--
Fat-Face--had killed his father!

No! Even though they both walked erect on two legs, there was no
kinship between him and the white man. For hadn't he, Ka-Zar, sworn a
mighty oath over the grave of his father--that Fat-Face should die at
his hands.

Ka-Zar was proud. There was nothing but scorn in his heart for
DeKraft. Even though his enemy went forever armed with the fire stick,
he felt no fear of him. It would have been the simplest thing in the
world for him to have killed DeKraft--if that would have been an end
of things.

But Ka-Zar knew that it would not be. There was the other white man
and the blacks. He could not kill them all. And so long as they stayed
in the forest with their fire sticks, no jungle beast was safe.

Analyzing his problem, he arrived at three conclusions. First, by some
means he had to capture the Oman's weapons; next, he had to make them
leave the land over which Zar had ruled for so long. And lastly, when
the first two objectives had been accomplished, he would kill the fat-
faced one.

From his tree he saw DeKraft return, speak animatedly with Kivlin for
a few minutes, then make a long oration to the black men.

The work of the camp proceeded throughout the day. Evening came, the
fires were built and the evening meal prepared and eaten.

Then as the shadows fell, Ka-Zar saw DeKraft enter one of the tents
and emerge a moment later carrying four of the fire sticks. He spoke
again for a long time to his blacks, then passed out the weapons to
the four most sturdy ones.

Watching from narrowed eyes, high in his tree, Ka-Zar saw the four
natives thus armed begin a slow pacing, one on either side of the
camp. He had seen Sha pace like that before the mouth of the cave
which sheltered her cubs, when danger was near. And he knew that the
four natives were on guard.

Against what? Himself, probably. He smiled at the futility of it. Let
the four blacks pace themselves weary. He was not interested in them.
He was interested in the tent from which Fat-Face had emerged with the
four fire sticks. For he reasoned, and rightly, if the strange shelter
had held four of the Oman's weapons it would probably hold more.

Not a sound, not one false cry of alarm disturbed the quiet serenity
of that night. The four natives paced steadily the lengths of their
beats and in his tent DeKraft dreamed of untold wealth in an
untroubled sleep.

He was up early with the rising sun. Rolling out of his cot he stepped
to the door of his tent and glanced out. The sight of the four guards
still tramping stolidly back and forth brought a grin to his thick
lips.

"Jungle god!" he snorted with vast disgust. "By God, I'll fix him with
a dose of lead and I'll fix those blacks at the first sign of monkey-
business. It's the kid, all right, grown up. Show him a couple of guns
and he stays away. Smart lad."

DeKraft threw himself into his clothes, splashed a handful of water
into his face but did a far more thorough job of washing his gullet
from the bottle of gin.

Well pleased with himself and with the night's strategy, he swaggered
out of the tent. The clearing was flooded with golden light by now and
there was a general stir of activity through the camp.

Feeling that there was no longer any need for the guards, DeKraft took
the rifles from them and started with the guns for the tent that
housed his supplies. He pushed through the flap, then stopped in
speechless amazement. For a moment he could not believe the evidence
of his eyes. Again he swept the interior of the tent. But there was no
mistake about it. His stock of rifles had vanished and along with them
his ammunition.

DeKraft was stunned and speechless for a moment. His first thought was
that the blacks had stolen the weapons--either as a protection against
the jungle gods they feared, or what was worse--for a contemplated
uprising.

Then he shook his head. He had instilled the fear of death into them
too long, for that. The natives would not have dared to violate the
tent.

Kivlin? No. Kivlin feared him as much as the blacks did.

There was only one other answer. The brat. DeKraft cursed bitterly
though impotently for a few minutes. Then a cunning idea occurred to
him. The incident of the stolen guns was the excuse he had been
waiting for.

He stepped out of the tent and his loud bellow echoed across the
clearing. In his hand he still clutched one of the rifles he had taken
from the guards. The blacks looked up from their work and trembled in
fear. A moment later, his eyes still puffy with sleep, Kivlin stumbled
out of his tent, clutching an automatic in his hand. He raced across
the clearing to where DeKraft still stood by the looted tent.

"What's the matter? What happened?" he asked breathlessly.

DeKraft eyed him from cunning, pig-like eyes; his hairy hands worked
at his sides.

"That's a nice question from you--you little rat!" he answered.

The concentrated venom in his voice was like a slap in Kivlin's face.
He stepped back and half raised the automatic in his hand in a
defensive movement.

"What's eating you?" he growled. "What's happened? Why are you calling
me a rat?"

"Smart guy, eh?" sneered DeKraft, playing his role to perfection.
"Playing dumb, eh? Yeah, dumb like a fox!"

"You're nuts," growled Kivlin. "I don't know what you're talking
about."

"Oh, no? Then take a look in the tent and see for yourself."

Puzzled, Kivlin holstered his automatic, looked suspiciously at
DeKraft, then stepped past him and entered the tent. DeKraft followed
hard on his heels.

"The guns--the ammunition--they're gone!" exclaimed Kivlin, a moment
later.

DeKraft laughed. "You're telling me? Of course they're gone and you're
the rat that took them. It's a double-cross but you can't get away
with it, Kivlin."

For a long moment the two men stood toe to toe, glaring into each
other's eyes. Kivlin suspected treachery but it never dawned on him
that it had been Ka-Zar who had rifled the tent the preceding night,
and who had buried forever their precious guns and bullets in the
bottomless quicksands of the swamp.

"You lie in your teeth," he said at last. "If there's any double-
cross, you're behind it. You've been planning it all along. I knew.
I've seen it in your eyes...."

And then Kivlin saw something else in DeKraft's pig eyes--something
that put the fear of God in his heart. He took a long step back,
snatched at his automatic.

But before he could whip it out of its holster, DeKraft had jerked up
the barrel of the rifle and prodded it deep into his navel.

Kivlin's heart turned sick at what he saw in the Hollander's eyes.
Twin pulses pounded in his throat and his mouth was suddenly hot and
dry.

"Don't, Dutch--for God's sake, don't," he pleaded frantically. "You
can have the emeralds--all of them--honest--all of them--don't--
don't...."

The final word was blasted from his mouth by a reverberating
explosion. DeKraft had shot and the muzzle of the rifle had been tight
against Kivlin's ribs.

Kivlin swayed drunkenly on his feet for a moment, then went down
slowly, joint by joint, as if he didn't want to die. DeKraft watched
him from cold, implacable eyes, then when his erstwhile partner was
prone on the ground he kicked at his ribs with a heavy boot.

"You poor fool," he said contemptuously. "You never had a chance. I
never intended you to have one."

With the satisfaction of an honest man who has seen a job well done,
he left the tent.



CHAPTER XX

Nono, the Wise One

CONCEALED in his tree, Ka-Zar had seen DeKraft's agitation on
discovering his looted tent. He had heard him bellow in rage, seen the
other white man run over to him and then the two had disappeared into
the tent. A few minutes later the shot had crashed out and only Fat-
Face had emerged.

Ka-Zar knew then what had happened and he was filled with a fierce
joy. The red-headed one had not taken his warning--and he had died.
And it was just as well that it had been at the hands of the evil,
Fat-Face.

Later that day, Ka-Zar saw DeKraft drive the muttering blacks in the
digging of a shallow hole. The body of the red-headed one was pitched
unceremoniously into it and a few handfuls of earth shoveled in on
him.

Throughout the brutal performance DeKraft had to lash his natives with
tongue and whip. Momentarily they were becoming more surly, trembling
on the borderline of revolt. They had been tricked in the first place
and now they were convinced that some evil spirit hovered ominously
over the camp.

Ka-Zar saw all these things and smiled to himself. One white man had
already been disposed of. It would take little more of his
manipulations to scatter the blacks in terror and send them fleeing
through the jungle for the land from whence they had come. And then
alone with Fat-Face, he would settle his score.

With the intention of returning again to the camp when the shades of
night had fallen, Ka-Zar swung off swiftly through the trees in the
direction of the cave.

Along the way he passed over N'Jaga. The leopard stopped, threw up his
head and spat disdainfully. Ka-Zar had not forgotten the defeat he had
suffered at N'Jaga's hands when he had been caught unawares in the
lake, nor the trouble the leopard was stirring up against him. He
fingered the haft of his knife.

For a moment he was tempted to descend from the tree and once and for
all settle the feud that had burned between him and the leopard, ever
since he could remember. But after a moment's consideration he changed
his mind. Tempting as the opportunity was, he had to forego it. For if
by any chance N'Jaga succeeded in killing him, there would be no one
to drive the Oman from the jungle.

N'Jaga saw his hesitation and attributed it to fear. He snarled up a
taunting challenge.

"Later, N'Jaga," called down Ka-Zar. "And sharpen your claws against
the day we meet again."

N'Jaga snarled once more in answer and Ka-Zar swung off through the
trees.

He found Zar and Trajah close to the cave and told them how he had
stolen the fire sticks and the little pieces of stone that weighed so
much in the palm of the hand. He had disposed of them all in the
swamp. He recounted, too, how the red-headed one had died; and then
elaborated on his plans for the night.

Zar and Trajah heard him out patiently, expressed their pleasure at
the good news he brought. Then the lion spoke from his store of
wisdom.

"Beware of N'Jaga and treachery. The jungle beasts are restless
today."

Ka-Zar stood up to the full of his majestic height. "Ka-Zar is the
brother of Zar," he said simply. "He knows no fear."

Then he walked over to a fresh kill that Sha had dragged in a few
minutes before, cut off a generous portion of the animal's flank,
squatted on his haunches and ate.

He slept that day until the long shadows began to creep into the mouth
of the cave. Then he rose, went to the stream to drink his fill, but
did not eat. He preferred to have a lean belly for the night's work.

Into his belt he slipped his keenest knife and thus armed, he emerged
from the cave again. He growled a few words to Zar, who was pacing
restlessly before the lair, trumpeted a low farewell to Trajah and
with a mighty leap swung himself up into the nearest tree. With a
long, gliding swing from limb to limb he proceeded leisurely toward
the camp of the Oman.

He had traveled but a short distance, however, when from an obscure
branch above him Nono dropped down, landed on his shoulder and threw
spidery arms around his neck.

Ka-Zar stopped and gently cuffed the monkey. "Not tonight, silly one.
Go back. Tonight Ka-Zar goes into the camp of the Oman to see what
mischief he can do."

Nono chattered, scolded, pleaded and begged to accompany him, but Ka-
Zar was firm. Still scolding, his long tail drooping mournfully, the
monkey watched the brother of the lion swing swiftly off through the
trees.

High in a tree, unseen, unheard, Ka-Zar watched the activities at
DeKraft's camp come to an end. One by one the fires were banked for
the night and in little huddled groups the blacks crept off to their
shelters. As on the previous night, the four guards with their fire 
sticks paced nervously the length of their posts.

The moon was setting behind the rim of the jungle when DeKraft emerged
from his tent. He made a last tour of inspection around the clearing,
barked a few words at the natives on guard, then returned to his tent.

Watching, Ka-Zar saw the interior of the shelter light up. For a few
minutes the grotesque shadow of Fat-Face, as he moved about, was
silhouetted against the walls of the tent. Then the light was snuffed
out and silence reigned over the clearing, save for the muffled tread
of the four men on guard.

With the patience of the great cats, Ka-Zar kept to the high branches
of his tree, never moving. Only his eyes were alert as he took in
every detail of the camp. He knew that the blacks were nervous and
apprehensive and would be aroused at the slightest noise. He knew that
Fat-Face slept with a fire stick within easy reach.

Let them be deceived by the quiet; let them fall into deep, untroubled
slumber. Then he would act.

The bats had ceased their blind wheeling about when at last he
stirred. Silent as Sinassa, agile as Nono, he dropped swiftly from
limb to limb to the ground. He withdrew the keen-bladed knife from his
belt and crouching low, moved forward silently. His objective was the
tent he had looted the night before. If he found more fire sticks
there, he would dispose of them as he had the others. If not, there
was other work for him to do.

Moving like a blacker shadow in the shadowy night, he skirted the
clearing and made his way swiftly to the rear of the supply tent. He
paused here a moment, disturbed by a vague sense of danger. He threw
up his head, sniffed the air and listened. The muffled tread of the
black guards came to him with uninterrupted regularity. There was no
other alien sound to break the alive stillness of the night.

It was through his nose that he scented danger. He sniffed the air
again. The peculiar odor of the Oman was strong in his nostrils. Then
he shrugged. It was only natural that it should be so, for wasn't he
even then standing by one of the shelters in which the Oman had lived?

Grasping the haft of his knife tighter, he knelt down, lifted up the
bottom of the tent and silently slipped inside.

He was still on his hand and knees, just in the act of rising, when
suddenly a dazzling beam of light flashed in his eyes and blinded him.

Ka-Zar had never seen a flashlight before, had not the slightest
conception of their construction or their use. The phenomena of this
strange light startled and baffled him. Some magic of the Oman, no
doubt, like that of their fire sticks.

He straightened up slowly, tense, wary, every nerve and muscle on
edge. The beam of light rose with him, still centered full in his
eyes. It was impossible to see into it or beyond it. For a moment he
stood there irresolute, undecided whether to charge blindly forward or
to retreat. Then, with startling abruptness his decision was made for
him. The light dropped from his eyes to his throat. And when his
vision focused again a moment later, he saw his old enemy, Fat-Face,
standing no more than three feet in front of him. In one hand he held
a small tube from which the stream of light shot out--in the other a
short fire stick that was pointed directly at his heart.

Ka-Zar realized that he had fallen into a trap. And he realized, also,
that Fat-Face intended to kill him, even as he would have done if the
situation had been reversed.

No thought of begging for his life entered his head. He was too proud
for that and he knew that it would avail him naught. For Fat-Face was
as ruthlessly cruel as N'Jaga. From past observation he knew the
terrible killing power of the short fire stick but there was no
avoiding it. Coolly he calculated his chances against it. Even if he
must die he would try to take Fat-Face with him on the Long Sleep.

Then for the first time DeKraft spoke. "Caught, eh, like any dummy in
a trap. The old man's brat grown up! So you're the jungle god who's
been scaring hell out of my blacks. By heaven, that's rich!"

His lips curled and he spat at Ka-Zar's feet. The rolls of fat along
his stomach quivered in secret mirth.

"Only Janko, the hyena laughs," said Ka-Zar evenly. "Because he is
afraid."

DeKraft's eyes narrowed and he hefted the gun in his hand. "Afraid of
what?" he snarled.

"Of Ka-Zar, brother of the lion. Kill, Fat-Face, while you have a
chance."

DeKraft leered at him and shook his head. "Not yet, you man-ape.
Plenty of time for that later. First I'm going to show those niggers
what they've been afraid of. Then I'm going to show 'em how easy it is
to kill you--how easy it is to kill their evil jungle spirit. That'll
hold 'em in their place."

Still keeping his gun leveled at Ka-Zar, he threw back his head and
roared until the camp awoke with a hundred confused noises. Two of the
guards rushed into the tent and stared, speechless with wonder at the
bronzed giant of a man, lit up by their master's flashlight.

DeKraft snapped them out of their awe with a string of profanity. Then
he spoke to them in their native tongue. "Fetch rope, Bwala. Quick,
you dog. And tell your men that I have captured their jungle god. He
will never bother them again."

With loud wails the two blacks rushed from the tent. Ka-Zar heard the
excited babble of their voices and though he could not understand
their strange words, he knew that they were spreading the news of his
capture.

There was a great stir and confusion out in the clearing. Many tongues
spoke at once, then a voice was raised in a mournful, wailing chant. A
moment later the steady, ominous beat of a tom-tom sounded in the
jungle clearing.

Ka-Zar's heart picked up a faster beat at the savage rhythm.

"Those devils mean to raise hell tonight," said DeKraft darkly.

Not understanding the meaning of his words, Ka-Zar did not answer.
Then, with a shrill buzz of excited talk, the pack of natives had
congregated about the entrance to the tent. With head cocked to one
side, DeKraft listened to them and what he heard brought a satanic
smile to his lips.

A moment later the flap of the tent parted and Aorangi, the chief of
the blacks entered. He was flanked on either side by two others who
carried lengths of stout rope in their hands. The trio eyed Ka-Zar
with frightened glances, then Aorangi addressed himself lengthily to
DeKraft.

The burden of his talk was to the effect that the blacks demanded that
he give up the evil spirit of the jungle into their hands. They would
make a sacrifice of him to the benevolent god of the forest, that
their expedition might be blessed and protected from harm.

Fat-Face listened attentively and the more he heard, the more pleased
he became. Death at his hands would be comparatively swift and
painless. At the hands of the black devils, aroused to a feverish
hysterical pitch by their superstitious fears, death would be an
agonizingly slow process.

When Aorangi had finished, DeKraft nodded. He spoke a few words in the
native dialect and the two blacks that had accompanied Aorangi jumped
to Ka-Zar's side. Swiftly they wrenched his hands behind his back,
tied them securely.

In stolid silence Ka-Zar had listened to Aorangi's long dissertation.
He had not understood one word of it but from the ugly sneer on
DeKraft's face, he knew that they were planning his death. He was not
afraid, he did not fear death but along with every other animal in the
jungle, the will to survive was strong in him.

If he had been Chaka or Dikki the jackal or even the wise Zar he might
have made a futile break for liberty then. But despite his kinship to
the beasts, Ka-Zar was something more than an animal. He had the brain
of a man and he knew that it meant instant death from the fire stick
if he made his stand then.

The tying of the rope about his hands indicated to him that he was not
to be killed immediately--that he was being made prisoner. An
opportunity to escape might come later.

But his hopes were short lived. His hands tied, the two blacks
propelled him out of the tent. His appearance was greeted by wild
cries and wails from the assembled natives and the tom-tom took up a
faster, more savage beat.

No time was wasted. Surrounded by a savage, snarling horde, each man
armed with spear or knife, Ka-Zar was rushed across the clearing.
Still holding his automatic, DeKraft followed after him, an evil grin
on his lips. He was going to relish this--the niggers were going to put
on a swell show for him.

A towering tree stood at the edge of the glade on the far side.
Beneath it, the seething mob came to a halt. There was a few minutes
of excited talk, then Aorangi raised his spear and commanded silence.
He spoke authoritatively for a moment and at the conclusion of his
words a fiendish howl rose from the lips of the blacks.

The skin prickled at the base of Ka-Zar's skull and his lips pulled
back from his teeth. So these were the Oman--the two-legged
creatures--his supposed brothers! Bah! He would have none of them. In
their howling and gnashing of teeth they reminded him of a pack of
jackals--cowards at heart, fearful to attack when alone but snarling
and ferocious when the pack had a helpless quarry at bay.

Ka-Zar had no further time then to make his observation on the nature
of the black man. He was seized roughly by a dozen hands; the bonds
that held him were cut. He struggled desperately for a moment but the
sheer weight of numbers overpowered him. Swiftly his arms were
wrenched around the bole of the tree and his wrists tied together once
more.

He had been made captive, even as Tuta the elephant. He tested the
rope that held him. His muscles knotted and swelled and the veins
stood out on his forehead. But the rope was strong and cunningly tied.
Even as Tuta the elephant, all his magnificent strength could not
break his bonds.

Then at a signal from Aorangi, the tom-tom commenced its maddening
rhythm once more. With savage howls the blacks took up their wailing
chant again and brandishing their spears and knives began a slow snake
dance around their captive.

At the height of the confusion, Ka-Zar felt something light land upon
his shoulder. Then Nono's spidery arms encircled his neck and the
little monkey's excited chatter rang in his ear.

He shook his head, smiled in the darkness at the faithfulness of the
little beast. "Flee, silly one," he urged. "There is nothing you can
do."

Nono whimpered, clung the tighter to his neck.

To save him from the death that awaited him, Ka-Zar spoke sharply.
"Go, silly one," he ordered. "Ka-Zar orders it."

Still chattering, Nono untwined his arms and reluctantly climbed up
into the tree.

Ka-Zar sighed a little sigh when he was gone, then gave his attention
to what was going on around him. Faster and faster became the rhythm
of the tom-tom--faster and faster danced the blacks. Their naked
bodies glistened with sweat as they leaped high into the air; their
features became distorted, bestial as the steady beat of the tom-tom
worked them up to a fanatical pitch.

All their ignorance, their dark fears and superstitions were being
expressed in the dance. With their mad gyrations the heart of darkest
Africa had come to life. A human sacrifice was to be made that the
jungle gods might he appeased.

Ka-Zar watched the ever-increasing tempo of the dance with an ever-
increasing hate. The insidious beat of the tom-tom got into his own
brain, did something strange and inexplicable to him. His blood
pounded through his veins, his eyes became hot, his mouth dry.

He was moved by a terrible urge to kill. And he knew that the same
urge motivated the black men dancing about him--the urge to kill him--
Ka-Zar.

With a maniacal fury he strained at his bonds until his head fell
exhausted on his mighty chest.

Then sanity returned. The simple dignity of his untrammeled soul
asserted itself. He ceased struggling, his head came up and proud as
Zar, he faced his death unafraid.

Aorangi, leading the ritual dance saw and in his savage mind, somehow
understood. With a loud cry he suddenly darted in from the circle of
wildly dancing blacks. His long spear flashed out like the darting
tongue of Sinassa and Ka-Zar was aware of a sharp pain in his side,
followed by the sensation of hot flowing blood.

Once the first blow had been struck, once the first blood had been
let, the other blacks followed suit. Once, during each mad circuit of
the captive, each black would dart forward and back again. And each
time Ka-Zar would feel the sharp bite of their blades.

With a cunningness beyond belief an ear was nicked, a cheek, an arm, a
leg. Ka-Zar understood, then, their dark intentions. His was to be no
swift, merciful death. He was to die slowly, painfully from a thousand
wounds.

His lips set in a fixed smile. He made no sign of pain, no cry of
mercy. Only he strained forward on his bonds to meet the cut of the
spear heads as they flashed in at him.

How long the dance would last--how long it would be before he lost
consciousness from loss of blood, Ka-Zar did not know. He resigned
himself to death and if he had any regrets at his passing, it was that
he could not say a last farewell to Zar, Sha and the cubs.

He was occupied with these thoughts, when for the second time that
night, something from the limbs of the tree above him, dropped lightly
onto his shoulder and again Nono clung to his neck. He was deeply
touched by the loyalty of the little animal but he knew that the
monkey only courted swift death if he stayed there.

"Go, Nono! Flee!" he ordered. "There is nothing you can do for Ka-Zar,
silly one."

Nono's lips snuggled close to his ear and the monkey chattered
excitedly. "Nono is a silly one no longer. Did he not see Ka-Zar with
his knife free Tuta from the strong vine that held her. A strong vine
now holds Ka-Zar--so. I have brought your knife from the cave."

A swift surge of exultation swept through Ka-Zar's heart. "You are
wiser than Ka-Zar, Nono," he whispered. "Ka-Zar never thought of that.
Quick. Cut the vine that holds me."

Chattering in his excitement, Nono swung around from Ka-Zar's neck to
the back of the tree. Hanging head down by his tail from a low limb,
he grasped the heavy knife in the slender fingers of his two hands and
began to saw at the rope that held his friend's wrists. He was clumsy,
he was awkward, he was slow. He cut as much of Ka-Zar's flesh as he
did of the rope.

But Ka-Zar did not mind that, did not know it in fact. All he was
aware of was that the ritual dance was reaching its climax and that
the bonds that held him were giving.

Patiently, laboriously Nono sawed away. Exerting his last ounce of
strength Ka-Zar strained at the rope--felt it give, part--then fall
away from his wrists. He was free. A moment later Nono pressed the
haft of the knife in his hand. The cool feel of it sent the strength
rushing through him in waves. He was free and armed and he knew that
he would not die that night.

Motionless, his hands still behind the tree, he waited until Nono had
swung to safety above him. Then slowly, cautiously he brought his
hands forward and the haft of the knife dug deep into his palm.

The circle of dancing blacks about him was narrowing. Their unholy
cries made the night hideous.

Tense in every nerve and muscle, his superb body braced back against
the tree, Ka-Zar awaited his chance. He ignored the spear thrusts of
the crew of lesser blacks and waited till that moment when Aorangi
darted in to strike with dripping spear.

Then his left arm snaked out as swiftly as Sinassa strikes. He grasped
Aorangi's spear a foot below the point and yanked it savagely to him.

The black was too startled, too amazed to let go. Before he knew what
had happened he had been catapulted into Ka-Zar's arms. There was the
swift glint of moonlight off cold steel as Ka-Zar's right arm rose and
descended in a swift arc.

Then, even as Aorangi's lifeless body was slumping to the ground
before the popping eyes of the blacks, Ka-Zar threw back his head and
the mighty roar of the lion who has made his kill rumbled from his
lips.

To the natives, they had witnessed a miracle. For some mysterious
reason they could not understand, their intended sacrifice to the
jungle god had not been acceptable. He had turned against them.
Speaking with the voice of the lion from the mouth of their captive,
he had slain their chief.

With wild howls they fell back, their frenzy of blood lust of a moment
before, changed into a frenzy of fear and panic. In their anxiety to
escape they knocked wildly into DeKraft who was as equally as
surprised as they. There was a moment of utter confusion and chaos.
And by the time DeKraft had regained his wits and had fought his way
through the milling pack, gun in hand--Ka-Zar had disappeared.

A blind rage consumed DeKraft. With the mad idea of pursuing his
prisoner into the jungle, he turned and shouted hoarsely at his fleeing
blacks. But the natives were pursued by a fear greater than that of
the white man's wrath. They scattered wildly in all directions.

DeKraft realized then, for the first time, the utter panic that had
seized them. He knew that it would be impossible to hold them there in
the jungle; that by the morning the last man of them would be many
miles away.

He went berserk. Snapping up his automatic he fired blindly into the
backs of the fleeing natives. From the far side of the clearing a gun
answered him--then another and another.

Safe in the jungle fastness, with Nono perched triumphantly on his
shoulder, Ka-Zar listened to the talk of the fire sticks at the camp
of the Oman. The shooting lasted for a long time, then died out. A
brooding quiet fell over the jungle.

Proud of his one achievement that night, Nono leaped from Ka-Zar's
shoulder to the nearest tree and started gaily on his second
adventure.

He was back a few minutes later and made his report. Those of the
black Oman who were not dead, had fled; the camp was deserted. And on
the morrow there would be much work for Kru and his brothers to do.

Ka-Zar scratched the top of the monkey's head. "It is good, O, wise
one," he said with a smile. "And now Ka-Zar goes to tend his wounds
and sleep. On the morrow we shall find many bright things for you to
play with in the camp of the Oman."



CHAPTER XXI

Ka-Zar the Mighty

KA-ZAR had only one regret in the knowledge that the Oman had fled the
jungle. Bitterly he realized that he had failed to slay Fat-Face. And
though peace lay once more over the land, there was none in his heart.

The rising sun found him, with Nono swinging gaily along over his
head, approaching DeKraft's deserted camp. There were several things
that drew him there. He coveted the shining spears, far finer than his
own, and the long knives that the natives had used. He hoped that they
had left some in their haste. And if by any chance some of the fire 
sticks were still there, he meant to destroy them before they could do
any more harm. Nono, or one of Chaka's apes, might find them and
curiosity might well prove fatal. Ka-Zar wanted no more tragedy among
his people.

While Nono squatted in a tree at the edge of the clearing, he strode
into the silent camp. It was evident that its occupants had left in
haste. Kettles were overturned. The pans with which the blacks had
been busy at the stream, lay strewn on the bank. Only ashes remained
of the fires.

Before one of the tents lay a crumpled blanket, with a varied
assortment of objects lying upon and about it. Evidently some one had
snatched up things at random, gathered them into the blanket to carry
them off and when they spilled out, fled without stopping to collect
them again. Ka-Zar stooped down to see what they were.

A damp, strong wind blew in from the lake, carrying with it the scent
of distant flowers and the sweetish odor of rushes. Otherwise Ka-Zar's
keen nostrils would have noticed that the smell of man, always
unpleasant to him, still lingered strongly in the vicinity.

When his panic-stricken blacks had left, Paul DeKraft had been
possessed by the blackest rage he had ever known. Once more he had a
fortune within his grasp--once more his dreams of riches were
shattered. First the crazy hermit, now the hermit's even crazier son.

DeKraft's warped soul and evil mind could not stand this second blow.
A madness seized him--not the flaring outburst of fury that had made
him fire at the blacks, but a scheming, smouldering hate. Like Ka-Zar,
he also would know no peace until he had his vengeance.

So all through the long night he had lain hidden in the brush on the
fringe of the clearing, a rifle clutched in his hand. Little red
devils of hate had glinted in his eyes when he saw the tall figure of
Ka-Zar stride into the glade. Lovingly his hands caressed the shining
barrel of the gun, but he waited until the advantage was all his own.

When Ka-Zar stooped down over the contents of the blanket, he crept
silently forth from his cover. Rising to his feet, he lifted the rifle
and with a wolfish grin showing yellow teeth through his beard, aimed
its muzzle at the broad bronze back squarely before him.

Up in the tree, Nono did not see him. He was playing with something,
utterly absorbed. He turned it this way and that, watching the sun
leap from it in arrows of light.

And then, just as DeKraft's finger was squeezing the trigger, one of
the blinding arrows of light flashed full into his eyes. The gun went
off with a reverberating crash and the bullet sprayed leaves from a
nearby tree.

Nono screamed and clutched the mirror he had been playing with. Ka-Zar
whirled as he leaped to his feet.

Not twenty feet from him stood Fat-Face. In his pudgy hands was
clutched the smoking rifle. His eyes were squeezed shut, as though a
needle of flame had scorched them. And as he opened them again, Ka-Zar
sprang like a great cat.

DeKraft was knocked flat on his back by Ka-Zar's charge. Before he
could regain his breath, fingers of steel dug deep into his throat.
The rifle was wrenched from his hand--and he was helpless.

There was no mercy in the tawny eyes that gleamed down at him. If
there had been, DeKraft could not have uttered the words to beg it. He
was hauled roughly to his feet, shaken until his eyes popped out.

"Your fire stick failed you," growled Ka-Zar, transferring his grip to
the back of DeKraft's thick neck. "You were meant to die by my hand."

DeKraft gulped in great, hungry mouthfuls of air and gradually his
face lost its purple color. "Something blinded me," he panted, "or I
would have got you."

Ka-Zar looked puzzled for a moment. Up in the tree Nono, now wildly
excited, danced and chattered in the branches. Glancing up, Ka-Zar saw
his most prized possession, the mirror, clutched in the monkey's hand.

"Nono," he called sharply. "Mischievous one, you have stolen Ka-Zar's
shining-stone."

Nono hung his head. "When Nono went last night to the cave for Ka-
Zar's knife," he admitted sullenly. Reluctantly he dropped down from
the tree to Ka-Zar's back and returned the mirror.

DeKraft scowled. "That's what did it--that's what blinded me. The
mirror. I'd like to get my hands around that monk's silly neck for a
minute."

Ka-Zar looked at the bit of shining glass that had saved his life.
Then carefully he tucked it into his belt.

Disdainfully he surveyed his captive's bulging paunch and flabby body.
He took his hand from DeKraft's neck.

"I could kill you with my bare hands," he said scornfully. "Try to
escape me and I will."

Into DeKraft's scheming mind stole a new hope. One look at the
magnificent body of the bronze giant told him that he had meant what
he said. Though no bonds held him, DeKraft knew better than to make a
break just then. But the mere fact that he was not already dead, meant
that he might yet get a chance to turn the tables on this naked
savage. The little red flames danced in his eyes again and he half-
closed his lids to hide them.

Ka-Zar picked up the rifle from where he had thrown it, grasped it by
the barrel and quickly smashed it against a rock.

It broke like a matchstick and DeKraft, watching, felt his confidence
evaporate a trifle as he realized the strength of those powerful arms.

Ka-Zar turned to Nono and in the language of the jungle, issued a
command. "Tell all the beasts that Ka-Zar has captured the leader of
the Oman. Tell them to come at once to Zar's cave."

The little monkey jumped up and down, then scampered off into the
forest. And Ka-Zar started Fat-Face on his journey toward his final
judgment.

"Trained monkey, eh?" said DeKraft, as they stumbled along. "Kivlin-
poor Kivlin," he amended with a wry grin, "told me you talked to the
animals, but I didn't really believe him until I saw it myself."

"The animals are my people," answered Ka-Zar. "Of course I talk to
them."

"Where are you taking me?" asked DeKraft.

"To the cave of my brother Zar, the lion."

To Ka-Zar the answer was a simple one. To DeKraft, it came like a
thunderbolt. He stopped in midstride. The crafty gleam in his eyes was
wiped out by a dreadful fear. His swarthy face turned a sickly
saffron.

"A lion!" he croaked. "You are mad! He'll kill us both!"

Ka-Zar surveyed his fat, trembling form with scorn. "Zar is my
brother. He will not kill you, unless I tell him to."

If DeKraft had known what was in store for him, the last thread of his
sanity would have snapped then and there. As it was, he felt his
senses reeling. With his last coherent thought he tried desperately to
reason with this crazy giant.

Pawing at the front of his shirt, he pulled out a small pouch, opened
it with trembling fingers and spilled a handful of great pebbles out
onto his palm. For the first time in his life, his fear was so much
greater than his greed that he was willing to share his fortune.

He thrust his shaking hand toward Ka-Zar. "Look," he said hoarsely.
"Emeralds--a bloody fortune in emeralds. We can be rich--you crazy
fool! Help me pan them from the stream and then we'll clear out
together--leave this damn wilderness forever."

It was DeKraft's trump card--his last ace-in-the-hole. He had never
yet seen the man who would not do anything for riches.

Ka-Zar gazed down at the pebbles that had brought so much misfortune
to him and his people. His amber eyes glowed. Then with a low growl,
he struck at DeKraft's hand and sent the accursed stones scattering to
the ground.

By the time they approached the cave, Fat-Face was reduced to a
muttering, shambling wreck. He had never learned to control his
emotions. Now they swept over him in successive waves, exhausting him
mentally and physically. Rage--for the precious emeralds that he had
gathered were gone, scattered on the jungle floor. Greed--for the
stream still babbled over countless others, just waiting to be looted.
Fear--for if this madman did not slay him, the waiting lion would.

By the time he reached the cave and saw not only the lion but a
towering elephant move toward him, he could only gaze back at them in
numb horror.

Dazedly he heard his strange captor hold a guttural, growling
conversation with the two beasts. Then stumbling, in silence, he
allowed Ka-Zar to lead him up onto the big boulder. Weakly he sank
onto the rock, while the bronze giant stood straddle-legged over him.

In answer to Nono's startling news, the animals came swiftly to the
meeting place. Ka-Zar warned Fat-Face not to move or speak. But the
warning was unnecessary. DeKraft could not have stirred or uttered a
word. His quivering bulk shrank perceptibly each time a beast emerged
from the forest. All greeted the sight of hated Om with bellows or
snarls of rage. All would have leaped upon him, save for Ka-Zar's
repeated warning.

They milled restlessly about while others continued to drift in from
the jungle. And if DeKraft had entertained any hope that he might
escape from the bronze madman, the last vestige of it was gone now. He
was completely hemmed in by savage beasts, who looked at him hungrily
from gleaming eyes and licked their chops. Ugly apes, snarling
leopards, grunting pigs, a watchful elephant, a monstrous snake,
mighty lions--one move, and he would be torn to pieces.

At last Ka-Zar addressed the gathering and the snarls and growls died
to a murmur. Flinging back his head he stood, a magnificent and
imposing figure, towering above the huddled form of the white man.

"N'Jaga has told you," he began, casting a glance at the leopard who
crouched sullenly at the fringe of the gathering, "that the Oman are
my brothers. You believed. Now their leader is my captive." He looked
down at Fat-Face and the murmur swelled for a moment to a concerted
roar of rage.

"This Om," continued Ka-Zar, "has taken the lives of many of our
jungle people. He must pay for them with his own."

A chorus of approval greeted these words and there was a note of
eagerness in it that penetrated DeKraft's consciousness and made him
shudder.

"But before this is done," Ka-Zar continued his guttural speech, "we
have something to decide among us. N'Jaga has given me a challenge. I
will answer it."

He turned to Nono. "Go into the cave. Bring me a knife."

The monkey scampered into the den. While he was gone, the animals
chattered excitedly among themselves. They turned to stare curiously
when Nono reappeared a moment later, carrying a shining knife which he
handed to Ka-Zar.

A hush fell upon the gathering. They had seen that knife bite deep
into a kill and they had a great respect for it.

Ka-Zar prodded Fat-Face none too gently with his foot. "Get up," he
commanded in English.

Obediently DeKraft crawled to his feet. He was a pathetic figure now.
All his bravado was gone. His beard was draggled, his swarthy face
beaded with sweat. And his eyes were empty of all but black despair.

For a moment he stared at the knife. His eyes widened as Ka-Zar
silently held it toward him, haft first. Unbelieving, like one in a
trance, he reached out and took it. Dazedly he turned it over and over
in his fingers.

Ka-Zar turned back to face the expectant beasts. "Without their
weapons the Oman are defenseless. But now this Om is armed. Who among
you, will face him in single combat?"

The beasts muttered amongst themselves but none spoke up. Ka-Zar
waited until it was evident that no one dared to face the Om with his
knife. Then he strode up to confront the surly N'Jaga.

"You talked boldly of slaying," he said. "Here is your chance. Kill
this Om now and we will all acknowledge you lord of the jungle."

But N'Jaga, spitting and snarling, only bared his teeth and glared his
hatred.

"Come," insisted Ka-Zar. "Whichever one of us slays this Om--he shall
be king of the wilderness. Do you agree?"

Eagerly the assemblage assented. N'Jaga, too, reluctantly agreed for
his fear was greater than his hate. He, himself, refused to accept the
challenge.

"Let Ka-Zar kill," he growled. "If he does, I acknowledge him my
master."

That was all Ka-Zar wanted. He turned to Fat-Face. "Come down," he
called in English. "We shall fight, without knives. No beast will
interfere. You shall have your chance to kill me."

DeKraft hesitated a moment, then as the animals fell back, leaving a
cleared space in their midst, he stepped warily down from the rock. He
saw Ka-Zar take a crude but deadly knife from his belt, similar to the
one he clutched in his hand.

A last vestige of that indefinable something, which puts man in a class
apart from the beasts, returned to him. He realized that this was to
be a fight to the death and that even if he won, his own life was
surely forfeit. But here was an opportunity to kill the madman who had
shattered all his dreams of untold wealth. And already resigned to his
own fate, he determined that the bronze giant would die with him.

The old light of cunning crept back into his eyes. Clutching the
knife, he edged warily forward, circling for an opening.

A hush fell upon the jungle, a hush so profound that even the sighing
wind did not stir the leaves. It was a weird, unreal scene. A
spectacle as terrible as any ever staged in the old Roman arena. Only
here the situation was fantastically reversed. The galleries of the
natural amphitheatre were filled with silent, watching beasts. And
before them, settling an old score with deadly steel, two men faced
each other.

Fat-Face darted suddenly in and his gleaming blade licked hungrily out
at the apex of Zar's mighty ribs. But even as its point drew crimson,
a bronze hand closed about DeKraft's wrist. His bulky figure was spun
violently about, jerked back and clasped against a broad chest. Ka-
Zar's right hand described a short, glinting arc through the air. Then
it struck downward and his knife buried itself to the hilt in the
quivering flesh at the base of DeKraft's throat.

The blade emerged again, dripping fluid scarlet. Ka-Zar stepped back,
releasing his hold.

DeKraft died on his feet. His knees buckled and his flabby body
crumpled to the ground.

The leaves of the surrounding trees shivered and rustled softly, as
though disturbed by the passing of his departing spirit. Then Ka-Zar
placed one foot on the body of his slain enemy and tossing back his
regal head, roared forth the mighty cry of the lion's kill.

Still holding the gory blade, Ka-Zar strode over to N'Jaga. "You saw?"
he demanded.

"I saw," growled N'Jaga.

"I am your master?" asked Ka-Zar arrogantly.

N'Jaga wriggled uncomfortably; his slitted eyes glowed. "Ka-Zar is my
master," he acknowledged sullenly.

He rose and with such dignity as he could summon, stalked off into the
forest. Silently his cousins followed.

Satisfied, Ka-Zar walked slowly to where Zar stood before the mouth of
the cave. Standing by the side of the lion he turned and confronted
the animals once more.

"Ka-Zar boasted before," he said clearly. "Zar still rules the jungle.
And Ka-Zar is proud to be his brother. Let no one distrust me again. I
am mighty, but I am just. Go your ways in peace."

A chorus of acclamation greeted his speech. Then scattering, the
animals went off to resume the life that the coming of the Oman had so
briefly but violently interrupted. Ka-Zar was left with his friends
and the body of his slain enemy.

Overhead Kru the vulture spiraled slowly down from a sky of clearest
azure. A troop of birds gleamed for an instant like a living rainbow
as they crossed the path of the sun. And peace settled down once more
over the jungle--for a while, at least.



THE END



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