ERB Summary Project





Jad-bal-ja, the golden lion






Kla (the new La) aka Gretchen von Harben

Karl von Harben, Gretchen’s father

Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins With Jad-Bal-Ja the Golden Lion

Summarized by
David A. Adams


Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins with Jad-bal-ja the Golden Lion is a very interesting story. It is the second of two folk wondertales written about Dick and Doc, the so called "Tarzan Twins." This story along with it's predecessor, The Tarzan Twins, were written specifically for an audience of children rather than for adults, as the rest of the 24 Tarzan novels certainly were.

Edgar Rice Burroughs is recognized as being a great story teller, in fact, this is one critical point about his writing that is agreed upon without question. Since ERB wrote at least these two stories specifically for children, I thought it be interesting to see if these tales fall within the typical structures of the folktale or fairy tale as outlined by academic folklorists.

A great deal has been written about the folktale in general, especially about a popular branch of this genre, the fairy tale, or the wondertale, as it is classified by folklorists. The study of this type of literature is an important academic area that falls under the headings of anthropology, folklore, and linguistics. In fact, so many studies have been written about folklore alone that to fully understand it all would take a lifetime of specialized concentration.

Scholars who collect the thousands of folktales throughout the world have developed many systems of classifications for these stores. Antti Aarne, the great Finnish folklorist, even constructed an index for the classification of folktales that attempts a scientific method akin to ones used by biologists in labeling flora and fauna.

This story is a continuation of the adventures of Dick and Doc on their visit to Africa at the estate Tarzan of the Apes. (Dick’s father is distantly related to the ape-man.) The events of the tale begin on the day following their rescue from the Bagalla cannibals — a previous story related in The Tarzan Twins. It is written in 13 brief chapters.

Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins with Jad-Bal-Ja, the Golden Lion was first published by Whitman (No. 4056) on March 9, 1936. It was a large (9.5 x 7.5 inches) book bound in pictorial boards with front cover art and interior drawings designed as a coloring book by Juanita Bennett. It originally sold for 29 cents, but has become a collector’s item worth hundreds of dollars when found in good condition.

Chapter 1: Back To The Jungle

Dick and Doc are briefly introduced with a summary of their adventures in The Tarzan Twins . Tarzan introduces them to Jad-bal-ja, the golden lion, and they all proceed to a day’s outing in the jungle.

Chapter 2: The Storm

Sensing some danger ahead, Tarzan leaves the boys in Jad’s care and goes off to investigate. The boys fear the lion, and decide to climb separate trees. They weather out a hurricane in the trees, then wonder if perhaps Tarzan has been killed in the storm.

Chapter 3: The Sun Worshipers

Twenty frightful men are also caught in this storm. They are outcasts from Opar, followers of Cadj, the wicked High Priest, who had overthrown La, the true High Priestess of Opar. Cadj had been killed by Jad in “Tarzan and the Golden Lion.” The leader of this band is called, Glum, the new High Priest of the Flaming God. They are seeking a place to build a new temple to the Flaming God, the sun. Under Tarzan’s directions La has given up the practice of human sacrifice at Opar, but these beast-men are anxious to find a victim. They are true believers in the old religion, and may even have to sacrifice one of their own if someone is not soon found. With this fetid pack of ape-like men is a lovely little white girl with golden hair. One of the hideous twenty, Blk, has a place in mind for the new temple, and the captive little girl is planned to be their new high priestess. A rather dull-witted, Ulp, suggests sacrificing the girl, and is struck down by Glum. Glum tells him that if they do not find someone soon that he, Ulp, will be the sacrifice. The little girl has been traveling with the 20 hideous men for two months. They have not harmed her because their Flaming God only accepts sacrifices at the hands of a woman, and she is the chosen one. They named her Kla, meaning New La. She is unhappy but strong. In the morning after the storm they proceed to the new temple site when suddenly Blk hears something approaching down the jungle game trail.

Chapter Four: Danger Ahead

Dick and Doc are hungry and argue over what to have for breakfast. They finally eat the hearts of two large, bad-tasting fruits. They speculate on its use as a weight-loss product in civilization. The boys travel through the trees until they reach a game trail. They travel a short way on the ground, but Doc has a premonition of danger, so they return to the trees. From the view above they see the 20 frightful men hiding in ambush for them on either sides of the trail. Blk goes to reconnoiter, and finding nothing, the 20 step forth with the golden-haired girl, stunning the boys in the trees. “Who could she be?”

Chapter Five: To The Rescue!

The boys decide to follow the band and rescue the girl if they have a chance. ERB comments on their noble blood and self-sacrificing nature comparing them to heroic men on the Titanic! They follow for hours, traveling through the trees easily until mid-afternoon when the beast-men stop and build a crude shelter for the girl. The hungry boys decide to go off in search for food. Doc blazes a trail with his hunting knife so they can find their way back. The antelope that Doc is stalking is taken instead by one of the beast-men who is also out hunting. The “veneer of civilization” falls away from Doc, and he wants to kill the priest of the Flaming God with a well-placed arrow. A quiet word from Dick prevents the killing. Dick has another idea.

Chapter Six: The Twin’s Plan

They frighten the crooked man away by shooting arrows around him from different directions. He leaves the antelope behind, and the boys, after some misgivings, eat the raw meat. Then they return to the gorilla-men’s camp and watch them cook meat around a warm fire as they shiver in the trees in the night air. When the ape-men go to sleep they leave a guard before the door of the little girl’s shelter. The boys want to rescue her and discuss the language she might speak so they will be understood. They rule out English because “she doesn’t look like an English girl.” They suggest trying German, then settle on French while making a plan of rescue.

Chapter Seven: In The Nick Of Time

Ulp is the girl’s guard. He is fretting that he will be sacrificed by Glum. He reasons that if the girl were gone there would be no high priestess to offer a sacrifice. A lion roars, and Ulp hopes it will come and eat the girl. He pretends to save her by leading her from a hole in the back of the shelter into the forest, but he leaves her beneath a large tree for the lion. The boys hearing the same lion have hidden in that very tree. They drag her screaming into their tree in time to save her from the hungry carnivore. Ulp, hearing her screams, thinks the lion has killed her. Ulp awakens Glum and tells him that the Flaming God has taken the girl away. He says that the light was so bright that it blinded him. He also tells Glum that the Flaming God left the message that there should be no sacrifices at the new temple until the god should come again in person to demand them. Glum checks the hole in the back of the shelter and believes Ulp’s story.

Chapter Eight: The Tarzan Trio

The boys calm the girl in English and in French. The girl speaks to them in English, but she is not English. They tell her they have been following to rescue her and that they are visiting Tarzan. Her name is Gretchen. She had wandered off and was lost in the forest where she was captured by chance by the frightful men. She knows that her captors took her to become a high priestess of the sun god they worship and that they are looking for a site for a new temple. She warns the twins that although she is relatively safe they might become sacrifices if they are captured. She also tells them of Ulp’s plan for her, but the boys are not fooled. They move away from the camp together through the trees because of the lion on the ground. In the morning the Tarzan Twins tell her that they are also lost, and the girl thinks it’s funny that her rescuers are in such a sorry state. Gretchen is the daughter of a missionary and has learned the ways of the jungle, so she helps them find a breakfast of fruit, roots, and bird’s eggs.

Chapter Nine: The Ambush

In the morning, Glum and the lesser priests continue their journey to the new temple site. Glum begins to doubt Ulp’s story. The boys and Gretchen are moving slowly through the trees due to her inexperience. (She tells them that she would have had to kill people for sacrifices had they not saved her.) They descend to the ground to make better time away from the dangerous situation. However, during the night, they discover they have made a complete circle in the trees, so they are actually traveling behind the beast-men but in the same direction. Doc decides to drop behind to tighten his spear head with grass. Dick and Gretchen are captured by the 20 frightful men. Dick calls back to Doc telling him to take to the trees. Glum sends a half dozen of the band to capture Doc, but he shoots one of them through the chest with an arrow.

Chapter Ten: Filled With Despair

Gretchen’s father, Doctor Karl von Harben, is searching for his daughter in the jungle with a small party of Urambi natives when they happen upon Tarzan and Jad-bal-ja. Karl tells Tarzan of his fruitless search for his missing daughter, and he explains that he is also on a search -- for two lost boys. He tells von Harben to camp and rest while he and Jad continue the search alone. Glum moves toward the new temple site led by Blk bringing their captives, Gretchen and Dick, along. Gretchen urges Dick to escape, but he will not leave her. Doc follows the frightful men, picking off one of them in the back of the pack with another arrow. Glum accuses Ulp of lying about the night visit of the Flaming God, but he is appeased temporarily. However, he make Ulp walk last in line.

Chapter Eleven: Striking From The Rear

The frightful men arrive at rocky hills and enter a ravine. Doc follows hidden high among the boulders. Doc kills Ulp with an arrow, and Glum is furious to loose his intended sacrifice. Glum chooses Dick for an alternate sacrifice just as Doc shoots an arrow into his leg. Doc shouts down to Dick and Gretchen telling them not to give up hope and to watch for him after dark. Doc then kills another priest. Glum sends six of his followers up the hill to capture Doc, but he rolls a boulder down, killing one of them. He tries to hold off the other five with stones, but they climb toward him. Doc kills another one with an arrow, then escapes into the forest on the other side of the hogback. The four remaining men decide to return and kill Glum. Doc follows. Dick is proud of Doc’s heroism. The frightful men arrive at the new temple site, a circular, natural, rockbound amphitheater. Glum tells the lesser priests to gather stones and raise an altar.

Chapter Twelve: The Sacrifice

The altar is quickly finished; Dick is laid thereupon, and Glum tells Gretchen she must kill him with a knife upon his signal. Gretchen tells Dick that Glum will kill her if she does not do her duty. Dick says he will gladly give his life to save hers. Gretchen closes her eyes and raises the knife. Doc, still following while gathering arrows from the bodies of those he has killed, gets a fright when he turns to see a lion standing five feet away. Of course, it is Jad-bal-ja. They go the the rescue together, Jad bounding ahead. Before Gretchen kills Dick, Jad arrives and bites Glum’s face off. Tarzan calls Jad from the top of the escarpment telling him to stop the killing. He orders the lesser priests, who are running away, to come back to the altar. Doc arrives on the scene and says, “Gee, we are all saved, aren’t we?” Tarzan holds Gretchen in his arms and says, “Do not be afraid.” Tarzan tells the lesser priests to return to Opar and be loyal to La. They agree to do so.

Chapter Thirteen: The End

Tarzan returns Gretchen to her father at the forest camp. “Don’t thank us,” says Dick, “Thank Jad-bal-ja, the golden lion, for after all it was he who really saved Gretchen.”