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I always liked Burroughs. I read some of the Mars, Venus and even a little Pellucidar. I regret not having read this series sooner! Great objective examination from a very unique perspective. A child left to mature to manhood among apes – and excelling through not only his body but his power of reason!
Opinion was divided as to the bravery of the king of beasts –some maintaining that he was an arrant coward, but all agreeing that it was with a feeling of greater security that they gripped their express rifles when the monarch of the jungle roared about a camp at night.
D’Arnot and Tarzan had agreed that his past be kept secret, and so none other than the French officer knew of the ape-man’s familiarity with the beasts of the jungle.
“Monsieur Tarzan has not expressed himself,” said one of the party. “A man of his prowess who has spent some time in Africa, as I understand Monsieur Tarzan has, must have had experiences with lions–yes?”
“Some,” replied Tarzan, dryly. “Enough to know that each of you are right in your judgment of the characteristics of the lions–you have met. But one might as well judge all blacks by the fellow who ran amuck last week, or decide that all whites are cowards because one has met a cowardly white.
“There is as much individuality among the lower orders, gentlemen, as there is among ourselves. Today we may go out and stumble upon a lion which is over-timid–he runs away from us. To-morrow we may meet his uncle or his twin brother, and our friends wonder why we do not return from the jungle. For myself, I always assume that a lion is ferocious, and so I am never caught off my guard.”
“There would be little pleasure in hunting,” retorted the first speaker, “if one is afraid of the thing he hunts.”
D’Arnot smiled. Tarzan afraid!
“I do not exactly understand what you mean by fear,” said Tarzan. “Like lions, fear is a different thing in different men, but to me the only pleasure in the hunt is the knowledge that the hunted thing has power to harm me as much as I have to harm him. If I went out with a couple of rifles and a gun bearer, and twenty or thirty beaters, to hunt a lion, I should not feel that the lion had much chance, and so the pleasure of the hunt would be lessened in proportion to the increased safety which I felt.”
“Then I am to take it that Monsieur Tarzan would prefer to go naked into the jungle, armed only with a jackknife, to kill the king of beasts,” laughed the other, good naturedly, but with the merest touch of sarcasm in his tone.
“And a piece of rope,” added Tarzan.
Just then the deep roar of a lion sounded from the distant jungle, as though to challenge whoever dared enter the lists with him.
“There is your opportunity, Monsieur Tarzan,” bantered the Frenchman.
“I am not hungry,” said Tarzan simply.
The men laughed, all but D’Arnot. He alone knew that a savage beast had spoken its simple reason through the lips of the ape-man.
“But you are afraid, just as any of us would be, to go out there naked, armed only with a knife and a piece of rope,” said the banterer. “Is it not so?”
“No,” replied Tarzan. “Only a fool performs any act without reason.”