Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERBLIST FEATURES FAQs, Articles, Reviews, Persona Directory, Hall of Memory SUMMARY PROJECT Summarizing ERB's works one chapter at a time FAN FICTION Shorts, Novels, Poetry, Plays, Pulps ERBmania! Articles, Contributors: Tangor Responds, Edgardemain, ERB: In Focus, Nkima Speaks, Beyond 30W, Tantor Trumpets, Dime Lectures, Korak in Pal-ul-don, Public Domain novels of ERB GLOSSARIES Worlds of: Barsoom, Pellucidar, Moon, Amtor, Caspak, Pal-u-don
TARZAN and the THREE LITTLE HORTAS
By John "Bridge" Martin
Copyright © 2014
Once upon a time, Mrs. Horta, the boar, had three little boars. One day, they left home to build new houses for themselves.
The youngest little boar, Stevie Boar, was very lazy and decided to build a house of straw. He had finished and was sitting inside, all comfy, when Tarzan came along with the hunting knife of his long dead sire.
"You may as well let me in little boar," said Tarzan, "because one way or the other I'm going to have you for dinner."
"Not by the skin of my chinny-chin-chin," said Stevie Boar.
"What chin?" said Tarzan. Then added, "Never mind."
At that point, Stevie demonstrated the practical value of building a house of straw by bursting out right through the flimsy wall and straight at Tarzan. The ape-man laughed. It was a simple matter for him to sidestep Stevie's charge and then leap onto his back. One arm encircled the boar's head and his legs locked around its belly as Tarzan stabbed his knife again and again into the little creature's heart.
After the beast was dead, Tarzan ate his fill, finishing off the littlest boar in one sitting..
Meanwhile, the second little boar, Hilda Boar, had built a house of sticks. She had heard building contractors speaking of "stick-built houses" and figured that must mean they were the top of the line. But Tarzan soon showed up, carrying his trusty spear.
"You're coming out or I'm coming in," growled Tarzan.
"Not by the husks of my tusky-tusk-tusks," said Hilda.
Tarzan could easily see that the stupid little she-horta had not had the sense to caulk the gaps between the ill-fitting sticks that made up the house. He could see the animal moving around inside and it was a simple matter to fling his spear so that it passed easily through some of the gaps in the sticks, nailing the Horta to the other side of the hut.
The little beast wailed pitifully but Tarzan showed no remorse, entering the hut and quickly dispatching it, not just to put it out of its misery but also so he would not have to listen any longer to its high-pitching squeals.
After eating as much of the tender little Horta as he could, Tarzan took a nap in the hut. When he woke up, several hours later, he rubbed his belly and said, "Boy am I hungry."
Tarzan did not want anymore of this particular Horta right then. He thought it would taste better after it was aged in the ground for a couple of days. So he buried it and went off looking for its older brother.
Herbie Boar was a practical little boar. Unlike his siblings, who had built their homes of material that was easy to find, Herbie went many miles in search of a place where he could get clay bricks, made by the Wazzahurry, an advanced tribe of natives. The bricks were heavy and Herbie could carry only one at a time, but he was determined to build a hovel that was superstrong and he was willing to do the work.
Besides, he was a boar and had no television set, so there was nothing else to do anyway. So after many weeks of labor, alternately carrying bricks in his mouth, pushing them along the ground with his hooves, or balancing them on his head, his house was done.
It was a fine house indeed. Herbie had used igloo blueprints, believing that the round shape would add strength to the structure. There was one entrance to allow him ingress and egress. To protect himself against intruders, such as Histah the snake, Barney had a stone inside to close off his door and a stone outside to shut it up whenever he left to forage. The bricks had been sealed together with mortar and all cracks properly puttied.
Tarzan came one day while Herbie was loafing inside and called out, "Little Horta! Little Horta! Let me in."
"Not by the grout on my snouty-snout-snout," said Herbie.
"Then I'll jump and I'll bump and I'll crash your house in," said Tarzan.
Herbie made no reply.
Tarzan jumped on Herbie's house again and again, but nothing happened. The rounded shape was doing its job.
Tarzan got a large stick and poked it through the entrance, pushing it against the rock that Herbie had wedged into the inside opening. But Herbie himself was leaning against the rock. Tarzan could not budge it.
Then Tarzan got another idea. He started digging. A chill went up Herbie's spine as he heard the noise of earth being removed. He had not considered that Tarzan might bore into his boar house. He considered his options. Perhaps he could wait until Tarzan was squirming through the hole and then rush out the door real quick and make his escape into the woods. Or...or...he could take the big rock from the door and clobber Tarzan on the head when he came up through the hole. Or if Tarzan's hands came up first, he could pound them to a pulp with the rock, causing the apeman to cry out with pain.
Herbie, practical as he was, reasoned that, even if he broke for the jungle, he was likely to be eaten by a python or leopard sooner or later. So he decided he would fight it out with the ape-man.
Tarzan continued to dig. But Tarzan was sly. Years of survival skills gained at the cost of bumps, bruises and pains, had taught him a thing or three. When he sensed that he was near the surface of the inside of the hut, he stopped digging and grabbed his stick and poked that up through the last remaining layer of dirt. Immediately, he felt the vibration as Herbie smashed down with the boulder.
Tarzan grinned and immediately exited the hole and began crawling through the igloo entrance, knowing that not only was the big rock no longer blocking it, but likely Herbie was tuckered out from his effort in lifting the thing. It was as Tarzan thought. When he poked his head inside, he saw Herbie lying next to the rock on his back, breathing heavily.
"Gotcha now you little---" Tarzan stopped, suddenly noticing the nauseating odor from inside the igloo. He saw trash scattered around inside, plus the rotted leavings from various jungle plants that Barney had brought inside to devour, as well as chunks of dead lizards and mice. All of this was mixed with assorted deposits of droppings. Since there were no vents in the igloo, and the only breezeway was usually blocked up with a rock, there was no way for foul odors to escape.
"Peeee-uww!" said Tarzan, squirming backward out of the entryway. "This place smells like a pig sty!"
Tarzan returned to the better-ventilated home of Hilda Boar, dug up her carcass and finished it off, enjoying a meal that was more to his liking.