Jane and the Waziri
When ERB wrote of Tarzan and Jane, it was because some great adventure had come into their lives, and so the idyllic times spent upon the Greystoke estate in British East Africa are seldom recorded, except to set the stage for that which will soon disrupt that tranquility.
And so, we must be satisfied with mere glimpses of what the normal life there was like, and we get these glimpses in The Eternal Lover, The Son of Tarzan, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, Tarzan the Untamed, Tarzan and the Golden Lion and Tarzan and the Ant Men.
The Waziri tribe was a part of that Greystoke estate life, in both peace and war.
What a wonderful relationship has existed between this tribe and their mentor and leader emeritus, Tarzan of the Apes, from the time their paths first crossed in The Return of Tarzan when John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, became their white chief and led them in avenging themselves upon their enemies.
And from that time on the Waziri became Tarzan’s cavalry, manning the “fort” of his estate and — at the call of their chief and leader — charging through the jungle, their white head plumes flashing in the forest.
They would defend to the death Tarzan, his mate, his family, and in Jewels of Opar and Untamed, some of them did just that.
Tarzan surely had a hand in the training of Jane in the use of all jungle weapons, but it is the training by the Waziri of which Burroughs decides to give us details.
In her sojourn alone in Terrible, Jane finds just the right materials she will need to make a spear, the first weapon in the arsenal she had to develop to defend herself. She finds obsidian, volcanic glass with razor-like edges, just in the right shape for a spear point. Then:
“…searching out a slender sapling that grew arrow-straight she hacked and sawed until she could break it off without splitting the wood. It was just the right diameter for the shaft of a spear — a hunting spear such as her beloved Waziri liked best.”
The account continues, on page 282, revealing that Jane frequently watched the Waziri as they fashioned such spears:
“…and they had taught her how to use them, too — them and the heavy war spears — laughing and clapping their hands as her proficiency increased.”
Page 283: “Later, she promised herself, she should have others — many of them — and they would be spears of which even the greatest of the Waziri spear-men might be proud.”
Well, Terrible was one Tarzan book in which the Waziri did not make an appearance, but they no doubt saw the spear later, in its place of honor:
“Tarzan still carried the spear that Jane had made, which he had prized so highly because it was her handiwork that he had caused a search to be made for it through the temple in A-lur after his release, and it had been found and brought to him. He had told her laughingly that it should have the place of honor above their hearth as the ancient flintlock of her Puritan grandsire had held a similar place of honor above the fireplace of Professor Porter, her father.” Page 399
This was not merely pride. Tarzan also had confidence in Jane’s spear, using it himself to subdue a fierce gryf mount. The Waziri were undoubtedly proud of it, too.
Then, in Tarzan and the Golden Lion, we see another development in the relationship of Jane and the Waziri. Jane takes a leadership role over the tribe and none of them question her right or ability to do so:
Page 222: “It was the second day after her return that the Waziri, who had accompanied Tarzan, returned without him. Then, indeed, was her heart filled with fear for her lord and master. She questioned the men carefully, and when she learned from them that Tarzan had suffered another accident that had again affected his memory, she immediately announced that she would set out on the following day in search of him, commanding the Waziri who had just returned to accompany her.”
Only Korak, her son, attempts to dissuade her, but she has words of confidence for him:
“I am not alone when the Waziri are with me,” she laughed. “And you know perfectly well, boy, that I am as safe anywhere in the heart of Africa with them as I am here at the ranch….You know that my jungle-craft, while not equal to that of Tarzan or Korak, is by no means a poor asset, and that, surrounded by the loyalty and bravery of the Waziri, I shall be safe.”
The Waziri love Jane. They taught Jane. Now, they follow Jane.
Next: Part 4, Jane’s Life with her Father
(All page numbers are from the early hardback editions, McClurg, Burt and G&D, which used the same printing plates throughout)
Copyright ©1989 John “Bridge” Martin