THE SON OF TARZAN
Edgar Rice Burroughs
TO HULBERT BURROUGHS
The long boat of the Marjorie W. was floating down the
Broad Ugambi with ebb tide and current. Her crew were
Lazily enjoying this respite from the arduous labor of rowing
Up stream. Three miles below them lay the Marjorie W.
Herself, quite ready to sail so soon as they should have clambered
Aboard and swung the long boat to its davits. Presently the
Attention of every man was drawn from his dreaming or his
Gossiping to the northern bank of the river. There, screaming
At them in a cracked falsetto and with skinny arms outstretched,
Stood a strange apparition of a man.
“Wot the ‘ell?” ejaculated one of the crew.
“A white man!” muttered the mate, and then: “Man the
Oars, boys, and we’ll just pull over an’ see what he wants.”
When they came close to the
shore they saw an emaciated
Creature with scant white locks tangled and matted. The thin,
Bent body was naked but for a loin cloth. Tears were rolling
Down the sunken pock-marked cheeks. The man jabbered at
Them in a strange tongue.
“Rooshun,” hazarded the mate. “Savvy English?” he called
To the man.
He did, and in that tongue, brokenly and haltingly, as though
It had been many years since he had used it, he begged them to
Take him with them away from this awful country. Once on
Board the Marjorie W. the stranger told his rescuers a pitiful
Tale of privation, hardships, and torture, extending over a period
Of ten years. How he happened to have come to Africa he did not
Tell them, leaving them to assume he had forgotten the incidents
Of his life prior to the frightful ordeals that had wrecked him
Mentally and physically. He did not even tell them his true name,
And so they knew him only as Michael Sabrov, nor was there any
Resemblance between this sorry wreck and the virile, though
Unprincipled, Alexis Paulvitch of old.
It had been ten years since the Russian had escaped the fate
Of his friend, the arch-fiend Rokoff, and not once, but many
Times during those ten years had Paulvitch cursed the fate that
Had given to Nicholas Rokoff death and immunity from suffering
While it had meted to him the hideous terrors of an existence
Infinitely worse than the death that persistently refused to
Paulvitch had taken to the jungle when he had seen the beasts
Of Tarzan and their savage lord swarm the deck of the Kincaid,
And in his terror lest Tarzan pursue and capture him he had
Stumbled on deep into the jungle, only to fall at last into the
Hands of one of the savage cannibal tribes that had felt the weight
Of Rokoff’s evil temper and cruel brutality. Some strange whim
Of the chief of this tribe saved Paulvitch from death only to
Plunge him into a life of misery and torture. For ten years he
Had been the butt of the village, beaten and stoned by the women
And children, cut and slashed and disfigured by the warriors;
A victim of often recurring fevers of the most malignant variety.
Yet he did not die. Smallpox laid its hideous clutches upon him;
Leaving him unspeakably branded with its repulsive marks.
Between it and the attentions of the tribe the countenance of
Alexis Paulvitch was so altered that his own mother could not
Have recognized in the pitiful mask he called his face a single
Familiar feature. A few scraggly, yellow-white locks had supplanted
The thick, dark hair that had covered his head. His limbs were bent
And twisted, he walked with a shuffling, unsteady gait, his body