The Tarzan Twins
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Pages (PDF): 60
Publication Date: 1927
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Part of a two novella collection; the other book being Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins, with Jad-bal-ja, the Golden Lion. Although these novellas come eleventh in the chronology of the Tarzan series, they aren't usually counted as part of the main series because they are children's book. But chronologically, they fall between Tarzan and the Ant Men, and Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. Two schoolboys, Dick and Doc, are cousins who resemble each other because their mothers are twins. As Dick is also related to Tarzan through his father, they become known as the Tarzan Twins. Invited to visit Tarzan's African estate, they become lost in the jungle and are imprisoned by cannibals, from whom they escape. They are then reunited with their host, who introduces them to his pet lion, Jad-bal-ja. Subsequently, they become involved in an adventure involving exiles from the lost city of Opar, who have kidnapped Gretchen von Harben, the daughter of a missionary.
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A TRAIN wound slowly through mountains whose rugged slopes were green with verdure and out across a rolling, grassy veldt, tree-dotted. From a carriage window, two boys, eager-eyed, excited, kept constant vigil. If there was anything to be seen they were determined not to miss it, and they knew that there should be many things to see.
"I'd like to know where all the animals are," said Dick, wearily. "I haven't seen a blamed thing since we started."
"Africa's just like all the one-horse circuses," replied Doc. "They advertise the greatest collection of wild animals in captivity and when you get there all they have is a mangy lion and a couple of moth-eaten elephants."
"Golly! Wouldn't you like to see a real lion, or an elephant, or something?" sighed Dick.
"Look! Look!" exclaimed Doc suddenly. "There! There! See 'em?"
In the distance a small herd of springbok ran swiftly and gracefully across the veldt, the dainty little animals occasionally leaping high into the air. As the animals disappeared the boys again relapsed into attitudes of watchful waiting.
"I wish they'd been lions," said Dick.
The train, deserting the open country, entered a great forest, dark, gloomy, mysterious. Mighty trees, festooned with vines, rose from a tangle of riotous undergrowth along the right-of-way, hiding everything that lay beyond that impenetrable wall of flower-starred green—a wall that added to the mystery of all that imagination could picture of the savage life moving silently behind it. There was no sign of life. The forest seemed like a dead thing. The monotony of it, as the hours passed, weighed heavily upon the boys.
"Say," said Doc, "I'm getting tired of looking at trees. I'm going to practice some of my magic tricks. Look at this one, Dick."
He drew a silver coin from his pocket, a shilling, and held it upon his open palm. "Ladies and gentlemen!" he declaimed. "We have here an ordinary silver shilling, worth twelve pence. Step right up and examine it, feel of it, bite it! You see that it is gen-u-ine. You will note that I have no accomplices. Now, ladies and gentlemen, watch me closely!"
He placed his other palm over the coin, hiding it, clasped his hands, blew upon them, raised them above his head.
"Abracadabra! Allo, presto, change ears and be gone! Now you see it, now you don't!" He opened his hands and held them palms up. The coin had vanished.
"Hurray!" shouted Dick, clapping his hands, as he had done a hundred times before, for Dick was always the audience.
Doc bowed very low, reached out and took the coin from Dick's ear, or so he made it appear. Then into one clenched fist, between the thumb and first finger, he inserted the stub of a lead pencil, shoving it down until it was out of sight. "Abracadabra! Allo! Presto! Change cars and be gone! Now you see it, now you don't!" Doc opened his hand and the pencil was gone.
"Hurray!" shouted Dick, clapping his hands, and both boys broke into laughter.
For an hour Doc practiced the several sleight of hand tricks he had mastered and Dick pretended to be an enthusiastic audience; anything was better than looking out of the windows at the endless row of silent trees.
Then, quite suddenly and without the slightest warning, the monotony was broken. Something happened. Something startling happened. There was a grinding of brakes. The railway carriage in which they rode seemed to leap into the air; it lurched and rocked and bumped, throwing both boys to the floor, and then, just as they were sure it was going to overturn, it came to a sudden stop, quite as though it had run into one of those great, silent trees.
The boys scrambled to their feet and looked out of the windows; then they hastened to get out of the car and when they reached the ground outside they saw excited passengers pouring from the train, asking excited questions, getting in everyone's way. It did not take Dick and Doc long to learn that the train, striking a defective rail, had run off the track and that it would be many hours before the journey could be resumed. For a while they stood about with the other passengers idly looking at the derailed carriages but this diversion soon palled and they turned their attention toward the jungle. Standing quietly upon the ground and looking at it was quite different from viewing it through the windows of a moving train. It became at once more interesting and more mysterious.
"I wonder what it is like in there," remarked Dick.
"It looks spooky," said Doc.
"I'd like to go in and see," said Dick.
"So would I," said Doc.
"There isn't any danger—we haven't seen a thing that could hurt a flea since we landed in Africa."
"And we wouldn't go in very far."
"Come on," said Dick.
"Hi, there!" called a man's voice. "Where you boys goin'?"
They turned to see one of the train guards who chanced to be passing.
"Nowhere," said Doc.
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