ERB in Focus
From the Works of
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Copyright © 2000
Tangor asked for favorite lines. My favorite line comes at the end of one of my favorite scenes. It comes from my the very first Tarzan book I ever read. It was my 11th birthday. My grandmother had sent a used copy of "Son of Tarzan" for my birthday, a book which had belonged to my dad thirty years before. I had never read a Tarzan book before, only Hardy Boys and westerns and stuff./p>
I devoured this book. I got to almost the last chapter. Korak was tied to a stake. Meriem tried to untie him, but the mighty Tantor wouldn't allow it. Finally, the two of them decoy Tantor away. Meriem comes to Korak's side. But the crafty Tantor stops and checks. He sees Meriem. He waits until she cannot excape. And then he charges!!
That 11 year old boy who was me sat in that tree reading this, and thought, "oh no!" Korak screamed at Tantor to stop, but he wouldn't. Meriem raced to the tree, but she wouldn't make it! I knew she wouldn't make it!!!
"A dozen more strides and the brute would seize her. What was that? Korak's eyes started from their sockets. A strange figure had leaped from the tree the shade of which Meriem already had reached -- leaped beyond the girl straight into the path of the charging elephant. It was a naked white giant!"
I couldn't believe what I was reading ... wow! The hair stood up on the back of my neck!
"Across his shoulder a coil of rope was looped. In the band of his gee string was a hunting knife. Otherwise he was unarmed. With naked hands he faced the maddened Tantor. A sharp command broke from the stranger's lips -- the great beast halted in his tracks -- and Meriem swung herself upward into the tree to safety."
A gasp of relief. Tears of joy in the eyes of that boy sitting on a tree branch.
"Father!" came chokingly from The Killer's lips. "Thank God it was you. No one else in all the jungle could have stopped Tantor."
Wow. And the scenes were illustrated by J. Allen St. John. It couldn't get any better than that.
The very next day I called used book shops in Pasadena trying to find a copy of "Tarzan of the Apes." I found a nice red G&D for $1.50. It was a lot of money for an 11 year old kid, but I had to have it. More than forty-five years have passed, and I can still remember that little boy sitting in the tree, beginning a passion that would carry him from one used book shop to another for the rest of his life. Thanks grandma. Thanks dad.
The scene is pages 382-385 of the McClurg edition.