Why then did they look so much alike and why did everyone call them the Tarzan Twins? One could almost start a guessing contest with a conundrum like this, but the trouble is that no one would guess the correct solution, though the answer is quite simple. Dick’s mother and Doc’s mother were sisters—twin sisters—and they looked so much alike that they looked more alike than two peas, and as each boy resembled his mother—the result was—they resembled each other. Their mothers were American girls. One of them married an American and stayed at home—that was Doc’s mother; and the other married an Englishman and sailed away to live on another continent in another hemisphere—and she was Dick’s mother. When the boys were old enough to go away to school their parents had a brilliant idea, which was that the boys should receive half of their education in America and half in England. And this story will prove that the best laid plans of mice and mothers sometimes go wrong, for no one planned that the boys should get any of their education in Africa, whereas, as a matter of fact, Fate was arranging that they should learn more in the jungles of the Dark Continent than was ever between the covers of any school book.
When they were fourteen years old, Dick and Doc were attending an excellent English school where there were a great many future dukes and earls and arch-bishops and lord mayors, who, when they saw how much Dick and Doc resembled one another, called them “The Twins.” Later, when they learned that Dick’s father was distantly related to Lord Greystoke, who is famous all over the world as Tarzan of the Apes, the boys commenced to call Dick and Doc, “The Tarzan Twins”—so that is how the nickname grew and became attached to them.
As everyone knows tar means white in the language of the great apes, and go means black, so Doc, with his light hair, was known as Tarzan-tar and Dick, whose hair was black, was called Tarzan-go. It was all right to be called Tarzan-tar and Tarzan-go, until the other boys began to make fun of them because they could climb trees no better than many another boy and, while they were fair in athletic sports, they did not excel. It was right there and then that Dick and Doc decided that they would live up to their new names, for they did not enjoy being laughed at and made fun of, any more than any other normal, red-blooded boy does. It is simply staggering to discover what a boy can accomplish if he makes up his mind to it and so it was not long before Dick and Doc did excel in nearly all athletic sports and when it came to climbing trees—well, Tarzan himself would have had no reason to be ashamed of them. Though their scholastic standing may have suffered a little in the following months of athletic effort, their muscles did not, and as vacation time approached, Dick and Doc had become as hard as nails and as active as a couple of manus, which you will know, if your education has not been neglected, is the ape-word for monkeys.
Then it was that the big surprise came in a letter that Dick received from his mother. Tarzan of the Apes had invited them all to visit him and spend two months on his great African estate! The boys were so excited that they talked until three o’clock the next morning and flunked in all their classes that day. The disappointment that followed later when it was learned that Dick’s father, who was an army officer, could not get leave of absence and Dick’s mother would not go without him; the letters and cablegrams that were exchanged between England and America, and England and Africa; the frantic appeals of the boys to their parents are interesting only in the result they effected; which was that the boys were to go by themselves, Tarzan of the Apes having promised to meet them at the end of the railway with fifty of his own Waziri warriors, thus assuring their safe passage through savage Africa to the far-away home of the ape-man. And this brings us to the beginning of our story.