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The Beasts of Tarzan

by Edgar Rice Burroughs

To Joan Burroughs

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

1 Kidnapped . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2 Marooned . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3 Beasts at Bay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4 Sheeta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5 Mugambi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6 A Hideous Crew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7 Betrayed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8 The Dance of Death . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9 Chivalry or Villainy . . . . . . . . . . . .
10 The Swede . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11 Tambudza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12 A Black Scoundrel . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
13 Escape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14 Alone in the Jungle . . . . . . . . . . . . .
15 Down the Ugambi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
16 In the Darkness of the Night . . . . . . . .
17 On the Deck of the "Kincaid" . . . . . . . .
18 Paulvitch Plots Revenge . . . . . . . . . . .
19 The Last of the "Kincaid" . . . . . . . . . .
20 Jungle Island Again . . . . . . . . . . . . .
21 The Law of the Jungle . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Kidnapped

 

"The entire affair is shrouded in mystery," said D'Arnot.
"I have it on the best of authority that neither the police
nor the special agents of the general staff have the faintest
conception of how it was accomplished. All they know,
all that anyone knows, is that Nikolas Rokoff has escaped."

John Clayton, Lord Greystoke--he who had been "Tarzan of the Apes"--
sat in silence in the apartments of his friend, Lieutenant Paul D'Arnot,
in Paris, gazing meditatively at the toe of his immaculate boot.

His mind revolved many memories, recalled by the escape of
his arch-enemy from the French military prison to which he
had been sentenced for life upon the testimony of the ape-man.

He thought of the lengths to which Rokoff had once gone
to compass his death, and he realized that what the man had
already done would doubtless be as nothing by comparison with
what he would wish and plot to do now that he was again free.

Tarzan had recently brought his wife and infant son to London
to escape the discomforts and dangers of the rainy season upon
their vast estate in Uziri--the land of the savage Waziri warriors
whose broad African domains the ape-man had once ruled.

He had run across the Channel for a brief visit with his old friend,
but the news of the Russian's escape had already cast a shadow
upon his outing, so that though he had but just arrived he was
already contemplating an immediate return to London.

"It is not that I fear for myself, Paul," he said at last.
"Many times in the past have I thwarted Rokoff's designs
upon my life; but now there are others to consider.
Unless I misjudge the man, he would more quickly strike
at me through my wife or son than directly at me, for he
doubtless realizes that in no other way could he inflict
greater anguish upon me. I must go back to them at once,
and remain with them until Rokoff is recaptured--or dead."

As these two talked in Paris, two other men were talking
together in a little cottage upon the outskirts of London.
Both were dark, sinister-looking men.

One was bearded, but the other, whose face wore the pallor
of long confinement within doors, had but a few days' growth
of black beard upon his face. It was he who was speaking.

"You must needs shave off that beard of yours, Alexis,"
he said to his companion. "With it he would recognize you
on the instant. We must separate here in the hour, and when
we meet again upon the deck of the Kincaid, let us hope that
we shall have with us two honoured guests who little anticipate
the pleasant voyage we have planned for them.

"In two hours I should be upon my way to Dover with one of them,
and by tomorrow night, if you follow my instructions carefully,
you should arrive with the other, provided, of course,
that he returns to London as quickly as I presume he will.

"There should be both profit and pleasure as well as other
good things to reward our efforts, my dear Alexis. Thanks to
the stupidity of the French, they have gone to such lengths
to conceal the fact of my escape for these many days that I
have had ample opportunity to work out every detail of our
little adventure so carefully that there is little chance
of the slightest hitch occurring to mar our prospects.
And now good-bye, and good luck!"

Three hours later a messenger mounted the steps to the
apartment of Lieutenant D'Arnot.

"A telegram for Lord Greystoke," he said to the servant
who answered his summons. "Is he here?"

The man answered in the affirmative, and, signing for
the message, carried it within to Tarzan, who was already
preparing to depart for London.

Tarzan tore open the envelope, and as he read his face went white.

"Read it, Paul," he said, handing the slip of paper to D'Arnot.
"It has come already."

The Frenchman took the telegram and read:

 

"Jack stolen from the garden through complicity of new servant.
Come at once.--JANE."

 

As Tarzan leaped from the roadster that had met him at the
station and ran up the steps to his London town house he
was met at the door by a dry-eyed but almost frantic woman.

Quickly Jane Porter Clayton narrated all that she had been
able to learn of the theft of the boy.

The baby's nurse had been wheeling him in the sunshine
on the walk before the house when a closed taxicab drew up
at the corner of the street. The woman had paid but passing
attention to the vehicle, merely noting that it discharged no
passenger, but stood at the kerb with the motor running as though
waiting for a fare from the residence before which it had stopped.

Almost immediately the new houseman, Carl, had come
running from the Greystoke house, saying that the girl's
mistress wished to speak with her for a moment, and that she
was to leave little Jack in his care until she returned.

The woman said that she entertained not the slightest suspicion
of the man's motives until she had reached the doorway of the house,
when it occurred to her to warn him not to turn the carriage so as
to permit the sun to shine in the baby's eyes.

As she turned about to call this to him she was somewhat
surprised to see that he was wheeling the carriage rapidly
toward the corner, and at the same time she saw the door of
the taxicab open and a swarthy face framed for a moment in
the aperture.

Intuitively, the danger to the child flashed upon her, and
with a shriek she dashed down the steps and up the walk
toward the taxicab, into which Carl was now handing the
baby to the swarthy one within.

Just before she reached the vehicle, Carl leaped in beside
his confederate, slamming the door behind him. At the same
time the chauffeur attempted to start his machine, but it was
evident that something had gone wrong, as though the gears
refused to mesh, and the delay caused by this, while he
pushed the lever into reverse and backed the car a few inches
before again attempting to go ahead, gave the nurse time to
reach the side of the taxicab.

Leaping to the running-board, she had attempted to snatch
the baby from the arms of the stranger, and here, screaming
and fighting, she had clung to her position even after the
taxicab had got under way; nor was it until the machine had
passed the Greystoke residence at good speed that Carl, with
a heavy blow to her face, had succeeded in knocking her to
the pavement.

Her screams had attracted servants and members of the
families from residences near by, as well as from the
Greystoke home. Lady Greystoke had witnessed the girl's brave
battle, and had herself tried to reach the rapidly passing
vehicle, but had been too late.

That was all that anyone knew, nor did Lady Greystoke
dream of the possible identity of the man at the bottom of
the plot until her husband told her of the escape of Nikolas
Rokoff from the French prison where they had hoped he was
permanently confined.

As Tarzan and his wife stood planning the wisest course to pursue,
the telephone bell rang in the library at their right. Tarzan quickly
answered the call in person.

"Lord Greystoke?" asked a man's voice at the other end of the line.

"Yes."

"Your son has been stolen," continued the voice, "and I alone
may help you to recover him. I am conversant with the plot
of those who took him. In fact, I was a party to it, and was
to share in the reward, but now they are trying to ditch me,
and to be quits with them I will aid you to recover him
on condition that you will not prosecute me for my part in
the crime. What do you say?"

"If you lead me to where my son is hidden," replied the
ape-man, "you need fear nothing from me."

"Good," replied the other. "But you must come alone to meet me,
for it is enough that I must trust you. I cannot take the
chance of permitting others to learn my identity."

"Where and when may I meet you?" asked Tarzan.

The other gave the name and location of a public-house
on the water-front at Dover--a place frequented by sailors.

"Come," he concluded, "about ten o'clock tonight. It would
do no good to arrive earlier. Your son will be safe enough
in the meantime, and I can then lead you secretly to where
he is hidden. But be sure to come alone, and under no
circumstances notify Scotland Yard, for I know you well and
shall be watching for you.

"Should any other accompany you, or should I see suspicious
characters who might be agents of the police, I shall not meet you,
and your last chance of recovering your son will be gone."

Without more words the man rang off.

Tarzan repeated the gist of the conversation to his wife.
She begged to be allowed to accompany him, but he insisted
that it might result in the man's carrying out his threat of
refusing to aid them if Tarzan did not come alone, and so
they parted, he to hasten to Dover, and she, ostensibly to wait
at home until he should notify her of the outcome of his mission.

Little did either dream of what both were destined to pass
through before they should meet again, or the far-distant--
but why anticipate?

For ten minutes after the ape-man had left her Jane Clayton walked
restlessly back and forth across the silken rugs of the library.
Her mother heart ached, bereft of its firstborn. Her mind was
in an anguish of hopes and fears.

Though her judgment told her that all would be well were
her Tarzan to go alone in accordance with the mysterious
stranger's summons, her intuition would not permit her to
lay aside suspicion of the gravest dangers to both her husband
and her son.

The more she thought of the matter, the more convinced
she became that the recent telephone message might be but
a ruse to keep them inactive until the boy was safely hidden
away or spirited out of England. Or it might be that it had
been simply a bait to lure Tarzan into the hands of the
implacable Rokoff.

With the lodgment of this thought she stopped in wide-
eyed terror. Instantly it became a conviction. She glanced at
the great clock ticking the minutes in the corner of the library.

It was too late to catch the Dover train that Tarzan was to take.
There was another, later, however, that would bring her to
the Channel port in time to reach the address the stranger
had given her husband before the appointed hour.

Summoning her maid and chauffeur, she issued instructions rapidly.
Ten minutes later she was being whisked through the crowded
streets toward the railway station.

It was nine-forty-five that night that Tarzan entered the
squalid "pub" on the water-front in Dover. As he passed
into the evil-smelling room a muffled figure brushed past him
toward the street.

"Come, my lord!" whispered the stranger.

The ape-man wheeled about and followed the other into the
ill-lit alley, which custom had dignified with the title
of thoroughfare. Once outside, the fellow led the way into the
darkness, nearer a wharf, where high-piled bales, boxes, and
casks cast dense shadows. Here he halted.

"Where is the boy?" asked Greystoke.

"On that small steamer whose lights you can just see yonder,"
replied the other.

In the gloom Tarzan was trying to peer into the features of
his companion, but he did not recognize the man as one
whom he had ever before seen. Had he guessed that his guide
was Alexis Paulvitch he would have realized that naught but
treachery lay in the man's heart, and that danger lurked in
the path of every move.

"He is unguarded now," continued the Russian. "Those who
took him feel perfectly safe from detection, and with
the exception of a couple of members of the crew, whom I
have furnished with enough gin to silence them effectually
for hours, there is none aboard the Kincaid. We can go
aboard, get the child, and return without the slightest fear."

Tarzan nodded.

"Let's be about it, then," he said.

His guide led him to a small boat moored alongside the wharf.
The two men entered, and Paulvitch pulled rapidly toward
the steamer. The black smoke issuing from her funnel did
not at the time make any suggestion to Tarzan's mind. All his
thoughts were occupied with the hope that in a few moments
he would again have his little son in his arms.

At the steamer's side they found a monkey-ladder dangling
close above them, and up this the two men crept stealthily.
Once on deck they hastened aft to where the Russian pointed
to a hatch.

"The boy is hidden there," he said. "You had better go
down after him, as there is less chance that he will cry in
fright than should he find himself in the arms of a stranger.
I will stand on guard here."

So anxious was Tarzan to rescue the child that he gave not
the slightest thought to the strangeness of all the conditions
surrounding the Kincaid. That her deck was deserted, though
she had steam up, and from the volume of smoke pouring
from her funnel was all ready to get under way made no
impression upon him.

With the thought that in another instant he would fold that
precious little bundle of humanity in his arms, the ape-man
swung down into the darkness below. Scarcely had he released
his hold upon the edge of the hatch than the heavy
covering fell clattering above him.

Instantly he knew that he was the victim of a plot, and that
far from rescuing his son he had himself fallen into the hands
of his enemies. Though he immediately endeavoured to reach
the hatch and lift the cover, he was unable to do so.

Striking a match, he explored his surroundings, finding
that a little compartment had been partitioned off from the
main hold, with the hatch above his head the only means of
ingress or egress. It was evident that the room had been
prepared for the very purpose of serving as a cell for himself.

There was nothing in the compartment, and no other occupant.
If the child was on board the Kincaid he was confined elsewhere.

For over twenty years, from infancy to manhood, the ape-man
had roamed his savage jungle haunts without human companionship
of any nature. He had learned at the most impressionable period
of his life to take his pleasures and his sorrows as the beasts
take theirs.

So it was that he neither raved nor stormed against fate,
but instead waited patiently for what might next befall him,
though not by any means without an eye to doing the utmost to
succour himself. To this end he examined his prison carefully,
tested the heavy planking that formed its walls, and measured
the distance of the hatch above him.

And while he was thus occupied there came suddenly to him
the vibration of machinery and the throbbing of the propeller.

The ship was moving! Where to and to what fate was it carrying him?

And even as these thoughts passed through his mind there
came to his ears above the din of the engines that which
caused him to go cold with apprehension.

Clear and shrill from the deck above him rang the scream
of a frightened woman.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Marooned

 

As Tarzan and his guide had disappeared into the shadows
upon the dark wharf the figure of a heavily veiled woman
had hurried down the narrow alley to the entrance of the
drinking-place the two men had just quitted.

Here she paused and looked about, and then as though
satisfied that she had at last reached the place she sought,
she pushed bravely into the interior of the vile den.

A score of half-drunken sailors and wharf-rats looked up at
the unaccustomed sight of a richly gowned woman in their midst.
Rapidly she approached the slovenly barmaid who stared half
in envy, half in hate, at her more fortunate sister.

"Have you seen a tall, well-dressed man here, but a minute
since," she asked, "who met another and went away with him?"

The girl answered in the affirmative, but could not tell
which way the two had gone. A sailor who had approached
to listen to the conversation vouchsafed the information that
a moment before as he had been about to enter the "pub"
he had seen two men leaving it who walked toward the wharf.

"Show me the direction they went," cried the woman,
slipping a coin into the man's hand.

The fellow led her from the place, and together they walked
quickly toward the wharf and along it until across the water
they saw a small boat just pulling into the shadows of a
nearby steamer.

"There they be," whispered the man.

"Ten pounds if you will find a boat and row me to that steamer,"
cried the woman.

"Quick, then," he replied, "for we gotta go it if we're goin'
to catch the Kincaid afore she sails. She's had steam up
for three hours an' jest been a-waitin' fer that one passenger.
I was a-talkin' to one of her crew 'arf an hour ago."

As he spoke he led the way to the end of the wharf where
he knew another boat lay moored, and, lowering the woman
into it, he jumped in after and pushed off. The two were
soon scudding over the water.

At the steamer's side the man demanded his pay and,
without waiting to count out the exact amount, the woman
thrust a handful of bank-notes into his outstretched hand.
A single glance at them convinced the fellow that he had been
more than well paid. Then he assisted her up the ladder,
holding his skiff close to the ship's side against the chance
that this profitable passenger might wish to be taken ashore later.

But presently the sound of the donkey engine and the rattle
of a steel cable on the hoisting-drum proclaimed the fact that
the Kincaid's anchor was being raised, and a moment later
the waiter heard the propellers revolving, and slowly the little
steamer moved away from him out into the channel.

As he turned to row back to shore he heard a woman's
shriek from the ship's deck.

"That's wot I calls rotten luck," he soliloquized. "I might
jest as well of 'ad the whole bloomin' wad."

 

When Jane Clayton climbed to the deck of the Kincaid she
found the ship apparently deserted. There was no sign of
those she sought nor of any other aboard, and so she went
about her search for her husband and the child she hoped
against hope to find there without interruption.

Quickly she hastened to the cabin, which was half above and
half below deck. As she hurried down the short companion-ladder
into the main cabin, on either side of which were the smaller
rooms occupied by the officers, she failed to note the quick
closing of one of the doors before her. She passed the
full length of the main room, and then retracing her steps
stopped before each door to listen, furtively trying each latch.

All was silence, utter silence there, in which the throbbing
of her own frightened heart seemed to her overwrought
imagination to fill the ship with its thunderous alarm.

One by one the doors opened before her touch, only to reveal
empty interiors. In her absorption she did not note the
sudden activity upon the vessel, the purring of the engines,
the throbbing of the propeller. She had reached the last door
upon the right now, and as she pushed it open she was seized
from within by a powerful, dark-visaged man, and drawn
hastily into the stuffy, ill-smelling interior.

The sudden shock of fright which the unexpected attack
had upon her drew a single piercing scream from her throat;
then the man clapped a hand roughly over the mouth.

"Not until we are farther from land, my dear," he said.
"Then you may yell your pretty head off."

Lady Greystoke turned to look into the leering, bearded
face so close to hers. The man relaxed the pressure of his
fingers upon her lips, and with a little moan of terror as she
recognized him the girl shrank away from her captor.

"Nikolas Rokoff! M. Thuran!" she exclaimed.

"Your devoted admirer," replied the Russian, with a low bow.

"My little boy," she said next, ignoring the terms of endearment--
"where is he? Let me have him. How could you be so cruel--even as you--
Nikolas Rokoff--cannot be entirely devoid of mercy and compassion?
Tell me where he is. Is he aboard this ship? Oh, please, if such a
thing as a heart beats within your breast, take me to my baby!"

"If you do as you are bid no harm will befall him," replied Rokoff.
"But remember that it is your own fault that you are here.
You came aboard voluntarily, and you may take the consequences.
I little thought," he added to himself, "that any such
good luck as this would come to me."

He went on deck then, locking the cabin-door upon his prisoner,
and for several days she did not see him. The truth of the
matter being that Nikolas Rokoff was so poor a sailor
that the heavy seas the Kincaid encountered from the very
beginning of her voyage sent the Russian to his berth with a
bad attack of sea-sickness.

During this time her only visitor was an uncouth Swede,
the Kincaid's unsavoury cook, who brought her meals to her.
His name was Sven Anderssen, his one pride being that his
patronymic was spelt with a double "s."

The man was tall and raw-boned, with a long yellow
moustache, an unwholesome complexion, and filthy nails.
The very sight of him with one grimy thumb buried deep in
the lukewarm stew, that seemed, from the frequency of its
repetition, to constitute the pride of his culinary art,
was sufficient to take away the girl's appetite.

His small, blue, close-set eyes never met hers squarely.
There was a shiftiness of his whole appearance that even
found expression in the cat-like manner of his gait, and to it
all a sinister suggestion was added by the long slim knife that
always rested at his waist, slipped through the greasy cord
that supported his soiled apron. Ostensibly it was but an
implement of his calling; but the girl could never free herself
of the conviction that it would require less provocation to
witness it put to other and less harmless uses.

His manner toward her was surly, yet she never failed to
meet him with a pleasant smile and a word of thanks when
he brought her food to her, though more often than not she
hurled the bulk of it through the tiny cabin port the moment
that the door closed behind him.

During the days of anguish that followed Jane Clayton's
imprisonment, but two questions were uppermost in her
mind--the whereabouts of her husband and her son. She fully
believed that the baby was aboard the Kincaid, provided that
he still lived, but whether Tarzan had been permitted to live
after having been lured aboard the evil craft she could not guess.

She knew, of course, the deep hatred that the Russian felt
for the Englishman, and she could think of but one reason
for having him brought aboard the ship--to dispatch him in
comparative safety in revenge for his having thwarted
Rokoff's pet schemes, and for having been at last the
means of landing him in a French prison.

 

Tarzan, on his part, lay in the darkness of his cell, ignorant
of the fact that his wife was a prisoner in the cabin almost
above his head.

The same Swede that served Jane brought his meals to him,
but, though on several occasions Tarzan had tried to
draw the man into conversation, he had been unsuccessful.
He had hoped to learn through this fellow whether his little
son was aboard the Kincaid, but to every question upon this
or kindred subjects the fellow returned but one reply,
"Ay tank it blow purty soon purty hard." So after several
attempts Tarzan gave it up.

For weeks that seemed months to the two prisoners the little
steamer forged on they knew not where. Once the Kincaid
stopped to coal, only immediately to take up the seemingly
interminable voyage.

Rokoff had visited Jane Clayton but once since he had locked
her in the tiny cabin. He had come gaunt and hollow-eyed
from a long siege of sea-sickness. The object of his visit
was to obtain from her her personal cheque for a large sum in
return for a guarantee of her personal safety and return to England.

"When you set me down safely in any civilized port,
together with my son and my husband," she replied, "I will
pay you in gold twice the amount you ask; but until then you
shall not have a cent, nor the promise of a cent under any
other conditions."

"You will give me the cheque I ask," he replied with a snarl,
"or neither you nor your child nor your husband will ever
again set foot within any port, civilized or otherwise."

"I would not trust you," she replied. "What guarantee
have I that you would not take my money and then do as you
pleased with me and mine regardless of your promise?"

"I think you will do as I bid," he said, turning to leave
the cabin. "Remember that I have your son--if you chance
to hear the agonized wail of a tortured child it may console
you to reflect that it is because of your stubbornness that
the baby suffers--and that it is your baby."

"You would not do it!" cried the girl. "You would not--
could not be so fiendishly cruel!"

"It is not I that am cruel, but you," he returned,
"for you permit a paltry sum of money to stand between
your baby and immunity from suffering."

The end of it was that Jane Clayton wrote out a cheque
of large denomination and handed it to Nikolas Rokoff,
who left her cabin with a grin of satisfaction upon his lips.

The following day the hatch was removed from Tarzan's cell,
and as he looked up he saw Paulvitch's head framed in
the square of light above him.

"Come up," commanded the Russian. "But bear in mind
that you will be shot if you make a single move to attack me
or any other aboard the ship."

The ape-man swung himself lightly to the deck. About him,
but at a respectful distance, stood a half-dozen sailors
armed with rifles and revolvers. Facing him was Paulvitch.

Tarzan looked about for Rokoff, who he felt sure must be
aboard, but there was no sign of him.

"Lord Greystoke," commenced the Russian, "by your continued
and wanton interference with M. Rokoff and his plans
you have at last brought yourself and your family to this
unfortunate extremity. You have only yourself to thank.
As you may imagine, it has cost M. Rokoff a large amount
of money to finance this expedition, and, as you are the sole
cause of it, he naturally looks to you for reimbursement.

"Further, I may say that only by meeting M. Rokoff's just
demands may you avert the most unpleasant consequences to
your wife and child, and at the same time retain your own
life and regain your liberty."

"What is the amount?" asked Tarzan. "And what assurance
have I that you will live up to your end of the agreement?
I have little reason to trust two such scoundrels as you
and Rokoff, you know."

The Russian flushed.

"You are in no position to deliver insults," he said.
"You have no assurance that we will live up to our agreement
other than my word, but you have before you the assurance that
we can make short work of you if you do not write out the
cheque we demand.

"Unless you are a greater fool than I imagine, you should
know that there is nothing that would give us greater pleasure
than to order these men to fire. That we do not is because
we have other plans for punishing you that would be entirely
upset by your death."

"Answer one question," said Tarzan. "Is my son on board this ship?"

"No," replied Alexis Paulvitch, "your son is quite safe elsewhere;
nor will he be killed until you refuse to accede to our fair demands.
If it becomes necessary to kill you, there will be no reason for
not killing the child, since with you gone the one whom we wish
to punish through the boy will be gone, and he will then be to us
only a constant source of danger and embarrassment. You see,
therefore, that you may only save the life of your son by
saving your own, and you can only save your own by giving
us the cheque we ask."

"Very well," replied Tarzan, for he knew that he could trust
them to carry out any sinister threat that Paulvitch had made,
and there was a bare chance that by conceding their demands
he might save the boy.

That they would permit him to live after he had appended
his name to the cheque never occurred to him as being within
the realms of probability. But he was determined to give them
such a battle as they would never forget, and possibly to take
Paulvitch with him into eternity. He was only sorry that it
was not Rokoff.

He took his pocket cheque-book and fountain-pen from his pocket.

"What is the amount?" he asked.

Paulvitch named an enormous sum. Tarzan could scarce restrain a smile.

Their very cupidity was to prove the means of their undoing,
in the matter of the ransom at least. Purposely he hesitated
and haggled over the amount, but Paulvitch was obdurate.
Finally the ape-man wrote out his cheque for a larger sum
than stood to his credit at the bank.

As he turned to hand the worthless slip of paper to the
Russian his glance chanced to pass across the starboard bow
of the Kincaid. To his surprise he saw that the ship lay within
a few hundred yards of land. Almost down to the water's
edge ran a dense tropical jungle, and behind was higher land
clothed in forest.

Paulvitch noted the direction of his gaze.

"You are to be set at liberty here," he said.

Tarzan's plan for immediate physical revenge upon the
Russian vanished. He thought the land before him the
mainland of Africa, and he knew that should they liberate him
here he could doubtless find his way to civilization with
comparative ease.

Paulvitch took the cheque.

"Remove your clothing," he said to the ape-man.
"Here you will not need it."

Tarzan demurred.

Paulvitch pointed to the armed sailors. Then the Englishman
slowly divested himself of his clothing.

A boat was lowered, and, still heavily guarded, the ape-man
was rowed ashore. Half an hour later the sailors had returned
to the Kincaid, and the steamer was slowly getting under way.

As Tarzan stood upon the narrow strip of beach watching the
departure of the vessel he saw a figure appear at the rail
and call aloud to attract his attention.

The ape-man had been about to read a note that one of
the sailors had handed him as the small boat that bore him
to the shore was on the point of returning to the steamer,
but at the hail from the vessel's deck he looked up.

He saw a black-bearded man who laughed at him in derision
as he held high above his head the figure of a little child.
Tarzan half started as though to rush through the surf and
strike out for the already moving steamer; but realizing the
futility of so rash an act he halted at the water's edge.

Thus he stood, his gaze riveted upon the Kincaid until it
disappeared beyond a projecting promontory of the coast.

From the jungle at his back fierce bloodshot eyes glared
from beneath shaggy overhanging brows upon him.

Little monkeys in the tree-tops chattered and scolded, and from
the distance of the inland forest came the scream of a leopard.

But still John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, stood deaf and
unseeing, suffering the pangs of keen regret for the
opportunity that he had wasted because he had been so
gullible as to place credence in a single statement of
the first lieutenant of his arch-enemy.

"I have at least," he thought, "one consolation--the
knowledge that Jane is safe in London. Thank Heaven she,
too, did not fall into the clutches of those villains."

Behind him the hairy thing whose evil eyes had been
watching his as a cat watches a mouse was creeping
stealthily toward him.

Where were the trained senses of the savage ape-man?

Where the acute hearing?

Where the uncanny sense of scent?

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

Beasts at Bay

 

Slowly Tarzan unfolded the note the sailor had thrust into
his hand, and read it. At first it made little impression on
his sorrow-numbed senses, but finally the full purport of the
hideous plot of revenge unfolded itself before his imagination.

 

"This will explain to you" [the note read] "the exact nature
of my intentions relative to your offspring and to you.

"You were born an ape. You lived naked in the jungles--
to your own we have returned you; but your son shall rise a
step above his sire. It is the immutable law of evolution.

"The father was a beast, but the son shall be a man--he
shall take the next ascending step in the scale of progress.
He shall be no naked beast of the jungle, but shall wear a
loincloth and copper anklets, and, perchance, a ring in his
nose, for he is to be reared by men--a tribe of savage cannibals.

"I might have killed you, but that would have curtailed the
full measure of the punishment you have earned at my hands.

"Dead, you could not have suffered in the knowledge of
your son's plight; but living and in a place from which you
may not escape to seek or succour your child, you shall suffer
worse than death for all the years of your life in contemplation
of the horrors of your son's existence.

"This, then, is to be a part of your punishment for having
dared to pit yourself against

N. R.

"P.S.--The balance of your punishment has to do with
what shall presently befall your wife--that I shall
leave to your imagination."

 

As he finished reading, a slight sound behind him brought
him back with a start to the world of present realities.

Instantly his senses awoke, and he was again Tarzan of the Apes.

As he wheeled about, it was a beast at bay, vibrant with
the instinct of self-preservation, that faced a huge bull-ape
that was already charging down upon him.

The two years that had elapsed since Tarzan had come out
of the savage forest with his rescued mate had witnessed
slight diminution of the mighty powers that had made him
the invincible lord of the jungle. His great estates in Uziri
had claimed much of his time and attention, and there he
had found ample field for the practical use and retention of
his almost superhuman powers; but naked and unarmed to do
battle with the shaggy, bull-necked beast that now confronted
him was a test that the ape-man would scarce have welcomed
at any period of his wild existence.

But there was no alternative other than to meet the rage-
maddened creature with the weapons with which nature had
endowed him.

Over the bull's shoulder Tarzan could see now the heads
and shoulders of perhaps a dozen more of these mighty fore-
runners of primitive man.

He knew, however, that there was little chance that they
would attack him, since it is not within the reasoning powers
of the anthropoid to be able to weigh or appreciate the value
of concentrated action against an enemy--otherwise they
would long since have become the dominant creatures of
their haunts, so tremendous a power of destruction lies in
their mighty thews and savage fangs.

With a low snarl the beast now hurled himself at Tarzan,
but the ape-man had found, among other things in the haunts
of civilized man, certain methods of scientific warfare that
are unknown to the jungle folk.

Whereas, a few years since, he would have met the brute
rush with brute force, he now sidestepped his antagonist's
headlong charge, and as the brute hurtled past him swung a
mighty right to the pit of the ape's stomach.

With a howl of mingled rage and anguish the great anthropoid
bent double and sank to the ground, though almost
instantly he was again struggling to his feet.

Before he could regain them, however, his white-skinned
foe had wheeled and pounced upon him, and in the act there
dropped from the shoulders of the English lord the last shred
of his superficial mantle of civilization.

Once again he was the jungle beast revelling in bloody
conflict with his kind. Once again he was Tarzan,
son of Kala the she-ape.

His strong, white teeth sank into the hairy throat of his
enemy as he sought the pulsing jugular.

Powerful fingers held the mighty fangs from his own flesh,
or clenched and beat with the power of a steam-hammer
upon the snarling, foam-flecked face of his adversary.

In a circle about them the balance of the tribe of apes stood
watching and enjoying the struggle. They muttered low gutturals
of approval as bits of white hide or hairy bloodstained
skin were torn from one contestant or the other. But they
were silent in amazement and expectation when they saw the
mighty white ape wriggle upon the back of their king, and,
with steel muscles tensed beneath the armpits of his antagonist,
bear down mightily with his open palms upon the back of the
thick bullneck, so that the king ape could but shriek in agony
and flounder helplessly about upon the thick mat of jungle grass.

As Tarzan had overcome the huge Terkoz that time years
before when he had been about to set out upon his quest for
human beings of his own kind and colour, so now he overcame
this other great ape with the same wrestling hold upon
which he had stumbled by accident during that other combat.
The little audience of fierce anthropoids heard the creaking
of their king's neck mingling with his agonized shrieks
and hideous roaring.

Then there came a sudden crack, like the breaking of a
stout limb before the fury of the wind. The bullet-head
crumpled forward upon its flaccid neck against the great
hairy chest--the roaring and the shrieking ceased.

The little pig-eyes of the onlookers wandered from the still
form of their leader to that of the white ape that was rising
to its feet beside the vanquished, then back to their king as
though in wonder that he did not arise and slay this
presumptuous stranger.

They saw the new-comer place a foot upon the neck of the quiet
figure at his feet and, throwing back his head, give vent to
the wild, uncanny challenge of the bull-ape that has made a kill.
Then they knew that their king was dead.

Across the jungle rolled the horrid notes of the victory cry.
The little monkeys in the tree-tops ceased their chattering.
The harsh-voiced, brilliant-plumed birds were still. From afar
came the answering wail of a leopard and the deep roar of a lion.

It was the old Tarzan who turned questioning eyes upon
the little knot of apes before him. It was the old Tarzan who
shook his head as though to toss back a heavy mane that had
fallen before his face--an old habit dating from the days that
his great shock of thick, black hair had fallen about his
shoulders, and often tumbled before his eyes when it had meant
life or death to him to have his vision unobstructed.

The ape-man knew that he might expect an immediate
attack on the part of that particular surviving bull-ape who
felt himself best fitted to contend for the kingship of the tribe.
Among his own apes he knew that it was not unusual for an
entire stranger to enter a community and, after having
dispatched the king, assume the leadership of the tribe himself,
together with the fallen monarch's mates.

On the other hand, if he made no attempt to follow them,
they might move slowly away from him, later to fight among
themselves for the supremacy. That he could be king of them,
if he so chose, he was confident; but he was not sure he cared
to assume the sometimes irksome duties of that position,
for he could see no particular advantage to be gained thereby.

One of the younger apes, a huge, splendidly muscled brute,
was edging threateningly closer to the ape-man. Through his
bared fighting fangs there issued a low, sullen growl.

Tarzan watched his every move, standing rigid as a statue.
To have fallen back a step would have been to precipitate an
immediate charge; to have rushed forward to meet the other
might have had the same result, or it might have put the
bellicose one to flight--it all depended upon the young bull's
stock of courage.

To stand perfectly still, waiting, was the middle course.
In this event the bull would, according to custom, approach
quite close to the object of his attention, growling hideously
and baring slavering fangs. Slowly he would circle about the other,
as though with a chip upon his shoulder; and this he did,
even as Tarzan had foreseen.

It might be a bluff royal, or, on the other hand, so unstable is
the mind of an ape, a passing impulse might hurl the hairy mass,
tearing and rending, upon the man without an instant's warning.

As the brute circled him Tarzan turned slowly, keeping
his eyes ever upon the eyes of his antagonist. He had
appraised the young bull as one who had never quite felt equal
to the task of overthrowing his former king, but who one day
would have done so. Tarzan saw that the beast was of wondrous
proportions, standing over seven feet upon his short, bowed legs.

His great, hairy arms reached almost to the ground even
when he stood erect, and his fighting fangs, now quite close
to Tarzan's face, were exceptionally long and sharp. Like the
others of his tribe, he differed in several minor essentials
from the apes of Tarzan's boyhood.

At first the ape-man had experienced a thrill of hope at
sight of the shaggy bodies of the anthropoids--a hope that
by some strange freak of fate he had been again returned to
his own tribe; but a closer inspection had convinced him that
these were another species.

As the threatening bull continued his stiff and jerky
circling of the ape-man, much after the manner that you have
noted among dogs when a strange canine comes among them,
it occurred to Tarzan to discover if the language of his own
tribe was identical with that of this other family, and so he
addressed the brute in the language of the tribe of Kerchak.

"Who are you," he asked, "who threatens Tarzan of the Apes?"

The hairy brute looked his surprise.

"I am Akut," replied the other in the same simple, primal
tongue which is so low in the scale of spoken languages that,
as Tarzan had surmised, it was identical with that of the tribe
in which the first twenty years of his life had been spent.

"I am Akut," said the ape. "Molak is dead. I am king.
Go away or I shall kill you!"

"You saw how easily I killed Molak," replied Tarzan. "So I
could kill you if I cared to be king. But Tarzan of the
Apes would not be king of the tribe of Akut. All he wishes
is to live in peace in this country. Let us be friends.
Tarzan of the Apes can help you, and you can help Tarzan
of the Apes."

"You cannot kill Akut," replied the other. "None is so
great as Akut. Had you not killed Molak, Akut would have
done so, for Akut was ready to be king."

For answer the ape-man hurled himself upon the great brute
who during the conversation had slightly relaxed his vigilance.

In the twinkling of an eye the man had seized the wrist of
the great ape, and before the other could grapple with him
had whirled him about and leaped upon his broad back.

Down they went together, but so well had Tarzan's plan
worked out that before ever they touched the ground he had
gained the same hold upon Akut that had broken Molak's neck.

Slowly he brought the pressure to bear, and then as in days
gone by he had given Kerchak the chance to surrender and
live, so now he gave to Akut--in whom he saw a possible
ally of great strength and resource--the option of living in
amity with him or dying as he had just seen his savage and
heretofore invincible king die.

"Ka-Goda?" whispered Tarzan to the ape beneath him.

It was the same question that he had whispered to Kerchak,
and in the language of the apes it means, broadly,
"Do you surrender?"

Akut thought of the creaking sound he had heard just
before Molak's thick neck had snapped, and he shuddered.

He hated to give up the kingship, though, so again he struggled
to free himself; but a sudden torturing pressure upon his
vertebra brought an agonized "ka-goda!" from his lips.

Tarzan relaxed his grip a trifle.

"You may still be king, Akut," he said. "Tarzan told you
that he did not wish to be king. If any question your right,
Tarzan of the Apes will help you in your battles."

The ape-man rose, and Akut came slowly to his feet.
Shaking his bullet head and growling angrily, he waddled toward
his tribe, looking first at one and then at another of the
larger bulls who might be expected to challenge his leadership.

But none did so; instead, they drew away as he approached,
and presently the whole pack moved off into the jungle,
and Tarzan was left alone once more upon the beach.

The ape-man was sore from the wounds that Molak had
inflicted upon him, but he was inured to physical suffering
and endured it with the calm and fortitude of the wild beasts
that had taught him to lead the jungle life after the manner
of all those that are born to it.

His first need, he realized, was for weapons of offence and defence,
for his encounter with the apes, and the distant notes of the savage
voices of Numa the lion, and Sheeta, the panther, warned him that
his was to be no life of indolent ease and security.

It was but a return to the old existence of constant bloodshed
and danger--to the hunting and the being hunted. Grim beasts
would stalk him, as they had stalked him in the past,
and never would there be a moment, by savage day or by
cruel night, that he might not have instant need of such crude
weapons as he could fashion from the materials at hand.

Upon the shore he found an out-cropping of brittle, igneous rock.
By dint of much labour he managed to chip off a narrow sliver some
twelve inches long by a quarter of an inch thick. One edge was quite
thin for a few inches near the tip. It was the rudiment of a knife.

With it he went into the jungle, searching until he found a
fallen tree of a certain species of hardwood with which he
was familiar. From this he cut a small straight branch,
which he pointed at one end.

Then he scooped a small, round hole in the surface of the
prostrate trunk. Into this he crumbled a few bits of dry bark,
minutely shredded, after which he inserted the tip of his
pointed stick, and, sitting astride the bole of the tree, spun
the slender rod rapidly between his palms.

After a time a thin smoke rose from the little mass of
tinder, and a moment later the whole broke into flame.
Heaping some larger twigs and sticks upon the tiny fire,
Tarzan soon had quite a respectable blaze roaring in the
enlarging cavity of the dead tree.

Into this he thrust the blade of his stone knife, and as it
became superheated he would withdraw it, touching a spot
near the thin edge with a drop of moisture. Beneath the
wetted area a little flake of the glassy material would
crack and scale away.

Thus, very slowly, the ape-man commenced the tedious
operation of putting a thin edge upon his primitive hunting-knife.

He did not attempt to accomplish the feat all in one sitting.
At first he was content to achieve a cutting edge of a couple
of inches, with which he cut a long, pliable bow, a handle
for his knife, a stout cudgel, and a goodly supply of arrows.

These he cached in a tall tree beside a little stream,
and here also he constructed a platform with a roof of
palm-leaves above it.

When all these things had been finished it was growing dusk,
and Tarzan felt a strong desire to eat.

He had noted during the brief incursion he had made into
the forest that a short distance up-stream from his tree there
was a much-used watering place, where, from the trampled
mud of either bank, it was evident beasts of all sorts and in
great numbers came to drink. To this spot the hungry ape-man
made his silent way.

Through the upper terrace of the tree-tops he swung with
the grace and ease of a monkey. But for the heavy burden
upon his heart he would have been happy in this return to the
old free life of his boyhood.

Yet even with that burden he fell into the little habits and
manners of his early life that were in reality more a part of
him than the thin veneer of civilization that the past three
years of his association with the white men of the outer world
had spread lightly over him--a veneer that only hid the
crudities of the beast that Tarzan of the Apes had been.

Could his fellow-peers of the House of Lords have seen him
then they would have held up their noble hands in holy horror.

Silently he crouched in the lower branches of a great forest
giant that overhung the trail, his keen eyes and sensitive ears
strained into the distant jungle, from which he knew his dinner
would presently emerge.

Nor had he long to wait.

Scarce had he settled himself to a comfortable position,
his lithe, muscular legs drawn well up beneath him as the
panther draws his hindquarters in preparation for the spring,
than Bara, the deer, came daintily down to drink.

But more than Bara was coming. Behind the graceful buck
came another which the deer could neither see nor scent, but
whose movements were apparent to Tarzan of the Apes because
of the elevated position of the ape-man's ambush.

He knew not yet exactly the nature of the thing that moved
so stealthily through the jungle a few hundred yards behind
the deer; but he was convinced that it was some great beast
of prey stalking Bara for the selfsame purpose as that which
prompted him to await the fleet animal. Numa, perhaps, or
Sheeta, the panther.

In any event, Tarzan could see his repast slipping from his
grasp unless Bara moved more rapidly toward the ford than
at present.

Even as these thoughts passed through his mind some noise
of the stalker in his rear must have come to the buck, for
with a sudden start he paused for an instant, trembling, in
his tracks, and then with a swift bound dashed straight for
the river and Tarzan. It was his intention to flee through the
shallow ford and escape upon the opposite side of the river.

Not a hundred yards behind him came Numa.

Tarzan could see him quite plainly now. Below the ape-man
Bara was about to pass. Could he do it? But even as he
asked himself the question the hungry man launched himself
from his perch full upon the back of the startled buck.

In another instant Numa would be upon them both, so if
the ape-man were to dine that night, or ever again,
he must act quickly.

Scarcely had he touched the sleek hide of the deer with a
momentum that sent the animal to its knees than he had
grasped a horn in either hand, and with a single quick wrench
twisted the animal's neck completely round, until he felt the
vertebrae snap beneath his grip.

The lion was roaring in rage close behind him as he swung
the deer across his shoulder, and, grasping a foreleg between
his strong teeth, leaped for the nearest of the lower branches
that swung above his head.

With both hands he grasped the limb, and, at the instant
that Numa sprang, drew himself and his prey out of reach of
the animal's cruel talons.

There was a thud below him as the baffled cat fell back to
earth, and then Tarzan of the Apes, drawing his dinner
farther up to the safety of a higher limb, looked down with
grinning face into the gleaming yellow eyes of the other wild
beast that glared up at him from beneath, and with taunting
insults flaunted the tender carcass of his kill in the face of
him whom he had cheated of it.

With his crude stone knife he cut a juicy steak from the
hindquarters, and while the great lion paced, growling, back
and forth below him, Lord Greystoke filled his savage belly,
nor ever in the choicest of his exclusive London clubs had a
meal tasted more palatable.

The warm blood of his kill smeared his hands and face
and filled his nostrils with the scent that the savage
carnivora love best.

And when he had finished he left the balance of the carcass
in a high fork of the tree where he had dined, and with Numa
trailing below him, still keen for revenge, he made his way
back to his tree-top shelter, where he slept until the sun was
high the following morning.

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

Sheeta

 

The next few days were occupied by Tarzan in completing
his weapons and exploring the jungle. He strung his
bow with tendons from the buck upon which he had dined
his first evening upon the new shore, and though he would
have preferred the gut of Sheeta for the purpose, he was
content to wait until opportunity permitted him to kill
one of the great cats.

He also braided a long grass rope--such a rope as he had
used so many years before to tantalize the ill-natured Tublat,
and which later had developed into a wondrous effective
weapon in the practised hands of the little ape-boy.

A sheath and handle for his hunting-knife he fashioned,
and a quiver for arrows, and from the hide of Bara a belt
and loin-cloth. Then he set out to learn something of the
strange land in which he found himself. That it was not his
old familiar west coast of the African continent he knew from
the fact that it faced east--the rising sun came up out of the
sea before the threshold of the jungle.

But that it was not the east coast of Africa he was equally
positive, for he felt satisfied that the Kincaid had not
passed through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea,
nor had she had time to round the Cape of Good Hope. So he was
quite at a loss to know where he might be.

Sometimes he wondered if the ship had crossed the broad
Atlantic to deposit him upon some wild South American
shore; but the presence of Numa, the lion, decided him that
such could not be the case.

As Tarzan made his lonely way through the jungle paralleling
the shore, he felt strong upon him a desire for companionship,
so that gradually he commenced to regret that he had not cast
his lot with the apes. He had seen nothing of them since that
first day, when the influences of civilization were still
paramount within him.

Now he was more nearly returned to the Tarzan of old,
and though he appreciated the fact that there could be
little in common between himself and the great anthropoids,
still they were better than no company at all.

Moving leisurely, sometimes upon the ground and again
among the lower branches of the trees, gathering an occasional
fruit or turning over a fallen log in search of the larger
bugs, which he still found as palatable as of old, Tarzan had
covered a mile or more when his attention was attracted by
the scent of Sheeta up-wind ahead of him.

Now Sheeta, the panther, was one of whom Tarzan was exceptionally
glad to fall in with, for he had it in mind not only to utilize
the great cat's strong gut for his bow, but also to fashion
a new quiver and loin-cloth from pieces of his hide.
So, whereas the ape-man had gone carelessly before,
he now became the personification of noiseless stealth.

Swiftly and silently he glided through the forest in the wake
of the savage cat, nor was the pursuer, for all his noble birth,
one whit less savage than the wild, fierce thing he stalked.

As he came closer to Sheeta he became aware that the panther
on his part was stalking game of his own, and even as he realized
this fact there came to his nostrils, wafted from his right by a
vagrant breeze, the strong odour of a company of great apes.

The panther had taken to a large tree as Tarzan came within
sight of him, and beyond and below him Tarzan saw the tribe
of Akut lolling in a little, natural clearing. Some of them
were dozing against the boles of trees, while others roamed
about turning over bits of bark from beneath which they
transferred the luscious grubs and beetles to their mouths.

Akut was the closest to Sheeta.

The great cat lay crouched upon a thick limb, hidden from
the ape's view by dense foliage, waiting patiently until the
anthropoid should come within range of his spring.

Tarzan cautiously gained a position in the same tree with the
panther and a little above him. In his left hand he grasped
his slim stone blade. He would have preferred to use his noose,
but the foliage surrounding the huge cat precluded the possibility
of an accurate throw with the rope.

Akut had now wandered quite close beneath the tree wherein
lay the waiting death. Sheeta slowly edged his hind paws
along the branch still further beneath him, and then with
a hideous shriek he launched himself toward the great ape.
The barest fraction of a second before his spring another
beast of prey above him leaped, its weird and savage cry
mingling with his.

As the startled Akut looked up he saw the panther almost
above him, and already upon the panther's back the white
ape that had bested him that day near the great water.

The teeth of the ape-man were buried in the back of Sheeta's
neck and his right arm was round the fierce throat, while
the left hand, grasping a slender piece of stone, rose and fell
in mighty blows upon the panther's side behind the left shoulder.

Akut had just time to leap to one side to avoid being
pinioned beneath these battling monsters of the jungle.

With a crash they came to earth at his feet. Sheeta was screaming,
snarling, and roaring horribly; but the white ape clung
tenaciously and in silence to the thrashing body of his quarry.

Steadily and remorselessly the stone knife was driven home
through the glossy hide--time and again it drank deep, until
with a final agonized lunge and shriek the great feline rolled
over upon its side and, save for the spasmodic jerking of its
muscles, lay quiet and still in death.

Then the ape-man raised his head, as he stood over the
carcass of his kill, and once again through the jungle rang
his wild and savage victory challenge.

Akut and the apes of Akut stood looking in startled wonder
at the dead body of Sheeta and the lithe, straight figure of
the man who had slain him.

Tarzan was the first to speak.

He had saved Akut's life for a purpose, and, knowing the
limitations of the ape intellect, he also knew that he must
make this purpose plain to the anthropoid if it were to serve
him in the way he hoped.

"I am Tarzan of the Apes," he said, "Mighty hunter. Mighty fighter.
By the great water I spared Akut's life when I might have taken it
and become king of the tribe of Akut. Now I have saved Akut from
death beneath the rending fangs of Sheeta.

"When Akut or the tribe of Akut is in danger, let them
call to Tarzan thus"--and the ape-man raised the hideous
cry with which the tribe of Kerchak had been wont to summon
its absent members in times of peril.

"And," he continued, "when they hear Tarzan call to them,
let them remember what he has done for Akut and come to him
with great speed. Shall it be as Tarzan says?"

"Huh!" assented Akut, and from the members of his tribe
there rose a unanimous "Huh."

Then, presently, they went to feeding again as though
nothing had happened, and with them fed John Clayton,
Lord Greystoke.

He noticed, however, that Akut kept always close to him,
and was often looking at him with a strange wonder in his
little bloodshot eyes, and once he did a thing that Tarzan
during all his long years among the apes had never before
seen an ape do--he found a particularly tender morsel and
handed it to Tarzan.

As the tribe hunted, the glistening body of the ape-man
mingled with the brown, shaggy hides of his companions.
Oftentimes they brushed together in passing, but the apes
had already taken his presence for granted, so that he was
as much one of them as Akut himself.

If he came too close to a she with a young baby, the former
would bare her great fighting fangs and growl ominously,
and occasionally a truculent young bull would snarl a warning
if Tarzan approached while the former was eating. But in
those things the treatment was no different from that which
they accorded any other member of the tribe.

Tarzan on his part felt very much at home with these fierce,
hairy progenitors of primitive man. He skipped nimbly out
of reach of each threatening female--for such is the way of
apes, if they be not in one of their occasional fits of bestial
rage--and he growled back at the truculent young bulls, baring
his canine teeth even as they. Thus easily he fell back into
the way of his early life, nor did it seem that he had
ever tasted association with creatures of his own kind.

For the better part of a week he roamed the jungle with
his new friends, partly because of a desire for companionship
and partially through a well-laid plan to impress himself
indelibly upon their memories, which at best are none too long;
for Tarzan from past experience knew that it might serve him
in good stead to have a tribe of these powerful and terrible
beasts at his call.

When he was convinced that he had succeeded to some extent
in fixing his identity upon them he decided to again take up
his exploration. To this end he set out toward the north
early one day, and, keeping parallel with the shore,
travelled rapidly until almost nightfall.

When the sun rose the next morning he saw that it lay almost
directly to his right as he stood upon the beach instead
of straight out across the water as heretofore, and so he
reasoned that the shore line had trended toward the west.
All the second day he continued his rapid course, and when
Tarzan of the Apes sought speed, he passed through the middle
terrace of the forest with the rapidity of a squirrel.

That night the sun set straight out across the water opposite
the land, and then the ape-man guessed at last the truth that
he had been suspecting.

Rokoff had set him ashore upon an island.

He might have known it! If there was any plan that would
render his position more harrowing he should have known
that such would be the one adopted by the Russian, and what
could be more terrible than to leave him to a lifetime of
suspense upon an uninhabited island?

Rokoff doubtless had sailed directly to the mainland, where
it would be a comparatively easy thing for him to find the
means of delivering the infant Jack into the hands of the cruel
and savage foster-parents, who, as his note had threatened,
would have the upbringing of the child.

Tarzan shuddered as he thought of the cruel suffering the
little one must endure in such a life, even though he might
fall into the hands of individuals whose intentions toward
him were of the kindest. The ape-man had had sufficient
experience with the lower savages of Africa to know that even
there may be found the cruder virtues of charity and humanity;
but their lives were at best but a series of terrible privations,
dangers, and sufferings.

Then there was the horrid after-fate that awaited the child
as he grew to manhood. The horrible practices that would
form a part of his life-training would alone be sufficient
to bar him forever from association with those of his own race
and station in life.

A cannibal! His little boy a savage man-eater! It was too
horrible to contemplate.

The filed teeth, the slit nose, the little face painted hideously.
Tarzan groaned. Could he but feel the throat of the Russ fiend
beneath his steel fingers!

And Jane!

What tortures of doubt and fear and uncertainty she must
be suffering. He felt that his position was infinitely less
terrible than hers, for he at least knew that one of his
loved ones was safe at home, while she had no idea of the
whereabouts of either her husband or her son.

It is well for Tarzan that he did not guess the truth, for the
knowledge would have but added a hundredfold to his suffering.

As he moved slowly through the jungle his mind absorbed
by his gloomy thoughts, there presently came to his ears a
strange scratching sound which he could not translate.

Cautiously he moved in the direction from which it emanated,
presently coming upon a huge panther pinned beneath a fallen tree.

As Tarzan approached, the beast turned, snarling, toward him,
struggling to extricate itself; but one great limb across
its back and the smaller entangling branches pinioning its
legs prevented it from moving but a few inches in any direction.

The ape-man stood before the helpless cat fitting an arrow
to his bow that he might dispatch the beast that otherwise
must die of starvation; but even as he drew back the shaft a
sudden whim stayed his hand.

Why rob the poor creature of life and liberty, when it would
be so easy a thing to restore both to it! He was sure from
the fact that the panther moved all its limbs in its futile
struggle for freedom that its spine was uninjured, and for
the same reason he knew that none of its limbs were broken.

Relaxing his bowstring, he returned the arrow to the quiver and,
throwing the bow about his shoulder, stepped closer to
the pinioned beast.

On his lips was the soothing, purring sound that the great
cats themselves made when contented and happy. It was the
nearest approach to a friendly advance that Tarzan could
make in the language of Sheeta.

The panther ceased his snarling and eyed the ape-man closely.
To lift the tree's great weight from the animal it was
necessary to come within reach of those long, strong talons,
and when the tree had been removed the man would be totally
at the mercy of the savage beast; but to Tarzan of the Apes
fear was a thing unknown.

Having decided, he acted promptly.

Unhesitatingly, he stepped into the tangle of branches close to the
panther's side, still voicing his friendly and conciliatory purr.
The cat turned his head toward the man, eyeing him steadily--questioningly.
The long fangs were bared, but more in preparedness than threat.

Tarzan put a broad shoulder beneath the bole of the tree,
and as he did so his bare leg pressed against the cat's silken side,
so close was the man to the great beast.

Slowly Tarzan extended his giant thews.

The great tree with its entangling branches rose gradually
from the panther, who, feeling the encumbering weight diminish,
quickly crawled from beneath. Tarzan let the tree fall back to earth,
and the two beasts turned to look upon one another.

A grim smile lay upon the ape-man's lips, for he knew that he had
taken his life in his hands to free this savage jungle fellow;
nor would it have surprised him had the cat sprung upon him
the instant that it had been released.

But it did not do so. Instead, it stood a few paces from the tree
watching the ape-man clamber out of the maze of fallen branches.

Once outside, Tarzan was not three paces from the panther.
He might have taken to the higher branches of the trees
upon the opposite side, for Sheeta cannot climb to the heights
to which the ape-man can go; but something, a spirit of bravado
perhaps, prompted him to approach the panther as though to
discover if any feeling of gratitude would prompt the beast
to friendliness.

As he approached the mighty cat the creature stepped
warily to one side, and the ape-man brushed past him within
a foot of the dripping jaws, and as he continued on through
the forest the panther followed on behind him, as a hound
follows at heel.

For a long time Tarzan could not tell whether the beast
was following out of friendly feelings or merely stalking him
against the time he should be hungry; but finally he was
forced to believe that the former incentive it was that
prompted the animal's action.

Later in the day the scent of a deer sent Tarzan into the trees,
and when he had dropped his noose about the animal's neck he
called to Sheeta, using a purr similar to that which he had
utilized to pacify the brute's suspicions earlier in the day,
but a trifle louder and more shrill.

It was similar to that which he had heard panthers use after
a kill when they had been hunting in pairs.

Almost immediately there was a crashing of the underbrush
close at hand, and the long, lithe body of his strange
companion broke into view.

At sight of the body of Bara and the smell of blood the panther
gave forth a shrill scream, and a moment later two beasts were
feeding side by side upon the tender meat of the deer.

For several days this strangely assorted pair roamed
the jungle together.

When one made a kill he called the other,
and thus they fed well and often.

On one occasion as they were dining upon the carcass of a boar
that Sheeta had dispatched, Numa, the lion, grim and terrible,
broke through the tangled grasses close beside them.

With an angry, warning roar he sprang forward to chase them
from their kill. Sheeta bounded into a near-by thicket,
while Tarzan took to the low branches of an overhanging tree.

Here the ape-man unloosed his grass rope from about his neck, and
as Numa stood above the body of the boar, challenging head erect,
he dropped the sinuous noose about the maned neck,
drawing the stout strands taut with a sudden jerk.
At the same time he called shrilly to Sheeta, as he drew the
struggling lion upward until only his hind feet touched the ground.

Quickly he made the rope fast to a stout branch, and as
the panther, in answer to his summons, leaped into sight,
Tarzan dropped to the earth beside the struggling and
infuriated Numa, and with a long sharp knife sprang upon him
at one side even as Sheeta did upon the other.

The panther tore and rent Numa upon the right, while the
ape-man struck home with his stone knife upon the other,
so that before the mighty clawing of the king of beasts had
succeeded in parting the rope he hung quite dead and harmless
in the noose.

And then upon the jungle air there rose in unison from two savage
throats the victory cry of the bull-ape and the panther,
blended into one frightful and uncanny scream.

As the last notes died away in a long-drawn, fearsome wail,
a score of painted warriors, drawing their long war-canoe
upon the beach, halted to stare in the direction of the
jungle and to listen.

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

Mugambi

 

By the time that Tarzan had travelled entirely about the coast
of the island, and made several trips inland from various points,
he was sure that he was the only human being upon it.

Nowhere had he found any sign that men had stopped even
temporarily upon this shore, though, of course, he knew that
so quickly does the rank vegetation of the tropics erase all
but the most permanent of human monuments that he might
be in error in his deductions.

The day following the killing of Numa, Tarzan and Sheeta came upon
the tribe of Akut. At sight of the panther the great apes
took to flight, but after a time Tarzan succeeded in recalling them.

It had occurred to him that it would be at least an interesting
experiment to attempt to reconcile these hereditary enemies.
He welcomed anything that would occupy his time and his mind
beyond the filling of his belly and the gloomy thoughts to which
he fell prey the moment that he became idle.

To communicate his plan to the apes was not a particularly
difficult matter, though their narrow and limited vocabulary
was strained in the effort; but to impress upon the little,
wicked brain of Sheeta that he was to hunt with and not for
his legitimate prey proved a task almost beyond the powers
of the ape-man.

Tarzan, among his other weapons, possessed a long, stout
cudgel, and after fastening his rope about the panther's neck
he used this instrument freely upon the snarling beast,
endeavouring in this way to impress upon its memory that
it must not attack the great, shaggy manlike creatures that
had approached more closely once they had seen the purpose
of the rope about Sheeta's neck.

That the cat did not turn and rend Tarzan is something of
a miracle which may possibly be accounted for by the fact
that twice when it turned growling upon the ape-man he had
rapped it sharply upon its sensitive nose, inculcating in its
mind thereby a most wholesome fear of the cudgel and the
ape-beasts behind it.

It is a question if the original cause of his attachment for
Tarzan was still at all clear in the mind of the panther,
though doubtless some subconscious suggestion, superinduced by
this primary reason and aided and abetted by the habit of the past
few days, did much to compel the beast to tolerate treatment at his
hands that would have sent it at the throat of any other creature.

Then, too, there was the compelling force of the manmind exerting
its powerful influence over this creature of a lower order, and,
after all, it may have been this that proved the most potent factor
in Tarzan's supremacy over Sheeta and the other beasts of the jungle
that had from time to time fallen under his domination.

Be that as it may, for days the man, the panther, and the
great apes roamed their savage haunts side by side, making
their kills together and sharing them with one another, and
of all the fierce and savage band none was more terrible than
the smooth-skinned, powerful beast that had been but a few
short months before a familiar figure in many a London
drawing room.

Sometimes the beasts separated to follow their own inclinations
for an hour or a day, and it was upon one of these occasions when
the ape-man had wandered through the tree-tops toward the beach,
and was stretched in the hot sun upon the sand, that from the low
summit of a near-by promontory a pair of keen eyes discovered him.

For a moment the owner of the eyes looked in astonishment
at the figure of the savage white man basking in the
rays of that hot, tropic sun; then he turned, making a sign to
some one behind him. Presently another pair of eyes were
looking down upon the ape-man, and then another and another,
until a full score of hideously trapped, savage warriors
were lying upon their bellies along the crest of the ridge
watching the white-skinned stranger.

They were down wind from Tarzan, and so their scent was
not carried to him, and as his back was turned half toward
them he did not see their cautious advance over the edge of
the promontory and down through the rank grass toward the
sandy beach where he lay.

Big fellows they were, all of them, their barbaric
headdresses and grotesquely painted faces, together with their
many metal ornaments and gorgeously coloured feathers,
adding to their wild, fierce appearance.

Once at the foot of the ridge, they came cautiously to their feet,
and, bent half-double, advanced silently upon the unconscious white man,
their heavy war-clubs swinging menacingly in their brawny hands.

The mental suffering that Tarzan's sorrowful thoughts induced had the
effect of numbing his keen, perceptive faculties, so that the
advancing savages were almost upon him before he became aware
that he was no longer alone upon the beach.

So quickly, though, were his mind and muscles wont to
react in unison to the slightest alarm that he was upon his
feet and facing his enemies, even as he realized that
something was behind him. As he sprang to his feet the warriors
leaped toward him with raised clubs and savage yells, but the
foremost went down to sudden death beneath the long, stout
stick of the ape-man, and then the lithe, sinewy figure was
among them, striking right and left with a fury, power, and
precision that brought panic to the ranks of the blacks.

For a moment they withdrew, those that were left of them,
and consulted together at a short distance from the ape-man,
who stood with folded arms, a half-smile upon his handsome
face, watching them. Presently they advanced upon him once
more, this time wielding their heavy war-spears. They were
between Tarzan and the jungle, in a little semicircle that
closed in upon him as they advanced.

There seemed to the ape-man but slight chance to escape
the final charge when all the great spears should be hurled
simultaneously at him; but if he had desired to escape
there was no way other than through the ranks of the savages
except the open sea behind him.

His predicament was indeed most serious when an idea
occurred to him that altered his smile to a broad grin.
The warriors were still some little distance away,
advancing slowly, making, after the manner of their kind,
a frightful din with their savage yells and the pounding
of their naked feet upon the ground as they leaped up and
down in a fantastic war dance.

Then it was that the ape-man lifted his voice in a series of
wild, weird screams that brought the blacks to a sudden,
perplexed halt. They looked at one another questioningly,
for here was a sound so hideous that their own frightful din
faded into insignificance beside it. No human throat could
have formed those bestial notes, they were sure, and yet with
their own eyes they had seen this white man open his mouth
to pour forth his awful cry.

But only for a moment they hesitated, and then with one accord
they again took up their fantastic advance upon their prey;
but even then a sudden crashing in the jungle behind them
brought them once more to a halt, and as they turned to look
in the direction of this new noise there broke upon their
startled visions a sight that may well have frozen the blood
of braver men than the Wagambi.

Leaping from the tangled vegetation of the jungle's rim
came a huge panther, with blazing eyes and bared fangs, and
in his wake a score of mighty, shaggy apes lumbering rapidly
toward them, half erect upon their short, bowed legs, and
with their long arms reaching to the ground, where their
horny knuckles bore the weight of their ponderous bodies as
they lurched from side to side in their grotesque advance.

The beasts of Tarzan had come in answer to his call.

Before the Wagambi could recover from their astonishment
the frightful horde was upon them from one side and
Tarzan of the Apes from the other. Heavy spears were hurled
and mighty war-clubs wielded, and though apes went down
never to rise, so, too, went down the men of Ugambi.

Sheeta's cruel fangs and tearing talons ripped and tore at
the black hides. Akut's mighty yellow tusks found the jugular
of more than one sleek-skinned savage, and Tarzan of the Apes
was here and there and everywhere, urging on his fierce allies
and taking a heavy toll with his long, slim knife.

In a moment the blacks had scattered for their lives, but
of the score that had crept down the grassy sides of the
promontory only a single warrior managed to escape the horde
that had overwhelmed his people.

This one was Mugambi, chief of the Wagambi of Ugambi,
and as he disappeared in the tangled luxuriousness of the
rank growth upon the ridge's summit only the keen eyes of
the ape-man saw the direction of his flight.

Leaving his pack to eat their fill upon the flesh of their
victims--flesh that he could not touch--Tarzan of the Apes
pursued the single survivor of the bloody fray. Just beyond
the ridge he came within sight of the fleeing black, making
with headlong leaps for a long war-canoe that was drawn
well up upon the beach above the high tide surf.

Noiseless as the fellow's shadow, the ape-man raced after the
terror-stricken black. In the white man's mind was a new plan,
awakened by sight of the war-canoe. If these men had
come to his island from another, or from the mainland,
why not utilize their craft to make his way to the country from
which they had come? Evidently it was an inhabited country,
and no doubt had occasional intercourse with the mainland,
if it were not itself upon the continent of Africa.

A heavy hand fell upon the shoulder of the escaping Mugambi
before he was aware that he was being pursued, and as he
turned to do battle with his assailant giant fingers closed
about his wrists and he was hurled to earth with a giant
astride him before he could strike a blow in his own defence.

In the language of the West Coast, Tarzan spoke to the
prostrate man beneath him.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"Mugambi, chief of the Wagambi," replied the black.

"I will spare your life," said Tarzan, "if you will promise
to help me to leave this island. What do you answer?"

"I will help you," replied Mugambi. "But now that you
have killed all my warriors, I do not know that even I can
leave your country, for there will be none to wield the paddles,
and without paddlers we cannot cross the water."

Tarzan rose and allowed his prisoner to come to his feet.
The fellow was a magnificent specimen of manhood--a black
counterpart in physique of the splendid white man whom he faced.

"Come!" said the ape-man, and started back in the direction
from which they could hear the snarling and growling
of the feasting pack. Mugambi drew back.

"They will kill us," he said.

"I think not," replied Tarzan. "They are mine."

Still the black hesitated, fearful of the consequences of
approaching the terrible creatures that were dining upon the
bodies of his warriors; but Tarzan forced him to accompany him,
and presently the two emerged from the jungle in full view
of the grisly spectacle upon the beach. At sight of the
men the beasts looked up with menacing growls, but Tarzan
strode in among them, dragging the trembling Wagambi with him.

As he had taught the apes to accept Sheeta, so he taught
them to adopt Mugambi as well, and much more easily; but
Sheeta seemed quite unable to understand that though he had
been called upon to devour Mugambi's warriors he was not
to be allowed to proceed after the same fashion with Mugambi.
However, being well filled, he contented himself with
walking round the terror-stricken savage, emitting low,
menacing growls the while he kept his flaming, baleful
eyes riveted upon the black.

Mugambi, on his part, clung closely to Tarzan, so that the
ape-man could scarce control his laughter at the pitiable
condition to which the chief's fear had reduced him; but at length
the white took the great cat by the scruff of the neck and,
dragging it quite close to the Wagambi, slapped it sharply
upon the nose each time that it growled at the stranger.

At the sight of the thing--a man mauling with his bare
hands one of the most relentless and fierce of the jungle
carnivora--Mugambi's eyes bulged from their sockets, and
from entertaining a sullen respect for the giant white man
who had made him prisoner, the black felt an almost
worshipping awe of Tarzan.

The education of Sheeta progressed so well that in a short
time Mugambi ceased to be the object of his hungry attention,
and the black felt a degree more of safety in his society.

To say that Mugambi was entirely happy or at ease in his
new environment would not be to adhere strictly to the truth.
His eyes were constantly rolling apprehensively from side to
side as now one and now another of the fierce pack chanced
to wander near him, so that for the most of the time it was
principally the whites that showed.

Together Tarzan and Mugambi, with Sheeta and Akut, lay
in wait at the ford for a deer, and when at a word from the
ape-man the four of them leaped out upon the affrighted animal
the black was sure that the poor creature died of fright
before ever one of the great beasts touched it.

Mugambi built a fire and cooked his portion of the kill;
but Tarzan, Sheeta, and Akut tore theirs, raw, with their
sharp teeth, growling among themselves when one ventured
to encroach upon the share of another.

It was not, after all, strange that the white man's ways
should have been so much more nearly related to those of
the beasts than were the savage blacks. We are, all of us,
creatures of habit, and when the seeming necessity for
schooling ourselves in new ways ceases to exist, we fall
naturally and easily into the manners and customs which long
usage has implanted ineradicably within us.

Mugambi from childhood had eaten no meat until it had
been cooked, while Tarzan, on the other hand, had never
tasted cooked food of any sort until he had grown almost to
manhood, and only within the past three or four years had
he eaten cooked meat. Not only did the habit of a lifetime
prompt him to eat it raw, but the craving of his palate as well;
for to him cooked flesh was spoiled flesh when compared
with the rich and juicy meat of a fresh, hot kill.

That he could, with relish, eat raw meat that had been
buried by himself weeks before, and enjoy small rodents and
disgusting grubs, seems to us who have been always "civilized"
a revolting fact; but had we learned in childhood to
eat these things, and had we seen all those about us eat them,
they would seem no more sickening to us now than do many
of our greatest dainties, at which a savage African cannibal
would look with repugnance and turn up his nose.

For instance, there is a tribe in the vicinity of Lake Rudolph
that will eat no sheep or cattle, though its next neighbors
do so. Near by is another tribe that eats donkey-meat--a
custom most revolting to the surrounding tribes that do not
eat donkey. So who may say that it is nice to eat snails and
frogs' legs and oysters, but disgusting to feed upon grubs
and beetles, or that a raw oyster, hoof, horns, and tail, is less
revolting than the sweet, clean meat of a fresh-killed buck?

The next few days Tarzan devoted to the weaving of a barkcloth
sail with which to equip the canoe, for he despaired of being able
to teach the apes to wield the paddles, though he did manage to get
several of them to embark in the frail craft which he and Mugambi
paddled about inside the reef where the water was quite smooth.

During these trips he had placed paddles in their hands,
when they attempted to imitate the movements of him and
Mugambi, but so difficult is it for them long to concentrate
upon a thing that he soon saw that it would require weeks of
patient training before they would be able to make any
effective use of these new implements, if, in fact,
they should ever do so.

There was one exception, however, and he was Akut. Almost from
the first he showed an interest in this new sport that
revealed a much higher plane of intelligence than that
attained by any of his tribe. He seemed to grasp the purpose
of the paddles, and when Tarzan saw that this was so he took
much pains to explain in the meagre language of the anthropoid
how they might be used to the best advantage.

From Mugambi Tarzan learned that the mainland lay but
a short distance from the island. It seemed that the Wagambi
warriors had ventured too far out in their frail craft,
and when caught by a heavy tide and a high wind from offshore
they had been driven out of sight of land. After paddling
for a whole night, thinking that they were headed for home,
they had seen this land at sunrise, and, still taking it for
the mainland, had hailed it with joy, nor had Mugambi been
aware that it was an island until Tarzan had told him that
this was the fact.

The Wagambi chief was quite dubious as to the sail, for
he had never seen such a contrivance used. His country lay
far up the broad Ugambi River, and this was the first occasion
that any of his people had found their way to the ocean.

Tarzan, however, was confident that with a good west wind he
could navigate the little craft to the mainland. At any rate,
he decided, it would be preferable to perish on the way than to
remain indefinitely upon this evidently uncharted island to
which no ships might ever be expected to come.

And so it was that when the first fair wind rose he embarked
upon his cruise, and with him he took as strange and
fearsome a crew as ever sailed under a savage master.

Mugambi and Akut went with him, and Sheeta, the panther,
and a dozen great males of the tribe of Akut.

 

 

 

Chapter 6

 

A Hideous Crew

 

The war-canoe with its savage load moved slowly toward the
break in the reef through which it must pass to gain the
open sea. Tarzan, Mugambi, and Akut wielded the paddles,
for the shore kept the west wind from the little sail.

Sheeta crouched in the bow at the ape-man's feet, for it
had seemed best to Tarzan always to keep the wicked beast
as far from the other members of the party as possible,
since it would require little or no provocation to send him
at the throat of any than the white man, whom he evidently
now looked upon as his master.

In the stern was Mugambi, and just in front of him squatted
Akut, while between Akut and Tarzan the twelve hairy apes
sat upon their haunches, blinking dubiously this way and that,
and now and then turning their eyes longingly back toward shore.

All went well until the canoe had passed beyond the reef.
Here the breeze struck the sail, sending the rude craft
lunging among the waves that ran higher and higher as
they drew away from the shore.

With the tossing of the boat the apes became panic-stricken.
They first moved uneasily about, and then commenced grumbling
and whining. With difficulty Akut kept them in hand for a time;
but when a particularly large wave struck the dugout
simultaneously with a little squall of wind their terror
broke all bounds, and, leaping to their feet, they
all but overturned the boat before Akut and Tarzan together
could quiet them. At last calm was restored, and eventually
the apes became accustomed to the strange antics of their craft,
after which no more trouble was experienced with them.

The trip was uneventful, the wind held, and after ten hours'
steady sailing the black shadows of the coast loomed close
before the straining eyes of the ape-man in the bow. It was
far too dark to distinguish whether they had approached close
to the mouth of the Ugambi or not, so Tarzan ran in through
the surf at the closest point to await the dawn.

The dugout turned broadside the instant that its nose
touched the sand, and immediately it rolled over, with all its
crew scrambling madly for the shore. The next breaker rolled
them over and over, but eventually they all succeeded in
crawling to safety, and in a moment more their ungainly craft
had been washed up beside them.

The balance of the night the apes sat huddled close to one
another for warmth; while Mugambi built a fire close to them
over which he crouched. Tarzan and Sheeta, however, were
of a different mind, for neither of them feared the jungle
night, and the insistent craving of their hunger sent them off
into the Stygian blackness of the forest in search of prey.

Side by side they walked when there was room for two abreast.
At other times in single file, first one and then the
other in advance. It was Tarzan who first caught the scent of
meat--a bull buffalo--and presently the two came stealthily
upon the sleeping beast in the midst of a dense jungle of
reeds close to a river.

Closer and closer they crept toward the unsuspecting beast,
Sheeta upon his right side and Tarzan upon his left nearest
the great heart. They had hunted together now for some time,
so that they worked in unison, with only low, purring sounds
as signals.

For a moment they lay quite silent near their prey, and
then at a sign from the ape-man Sheeta sprang upon the
great back, burying his strong teeth in the bull's neck.
Instantly the brute sprang to his feet with a bellow of
pain and rage, and at the same instant Tarzan rushed in
upon his left side with the stone knife, striking repeatedly
behind the shoulder.

One of the ape-man's hands clutched the thick mane, and
as the bull raced madly through the reeds the thing striking
at his life was dragged beside him. Sheeta but clung
tenaciously to his hold upon the neck and back, biting deep in
an effort to reach the spine.

For several hundred yards the bellowing bull carried his two
savage antagonists, until at last the blade found his heart,
when with a final bellow that was half-scream he plunged headlong
to the earth. Then Tarzan and Sheeta feasted to repletion.

After the meal the two curled up together in a thicket, the
man's black head pillowed upon the tawny side of the panther.
Shortly after dawn they awoke and ate again, and then
returned to the beach that Tarzan might lead the balance of
the pack to the kill.

When the meal was done the brutes were for curling up to sleep,
so Tarzan and Mugambi set off in search of the Ugambi River.
They had proceeded scarce a hundred yards when they came
suddenly upon a broad stream, which the Negro instantly
recognized as that down which he and his warriors
had paddled to the sea upon their ill-starred expedition.

The two now followed the stream down to the ocean, finding
that it emptied into a bay not over a mile from the point upon
the beach at which the canoe had been thrown the night before.

Tarzan was much elated by the discovery, as he knew that
in the vicinity of a large watercourse he should find natives,
and from some of these he had little doubt but that he should
obtain news of Rokoff and the child, for he felt reasonably
certain that the Russian would rid himself of the baby as
quickly as possible after having disposed of Tarzan.

He and Mugambi now righted and launched the dugout, though
it was a most difficult feat in the face of the surf which
rolled continuously in upon the beach; but at last they were
successful, and soon after were paddling up the coast toward
the mouth of the Ugambi. Here they experienced considerable
difficulty in making an entrance against the combined
current and ebb tide, but by taking advantage of eddies close
in to shore they came about dusk to a point nearly opposite
the spot where they had left the pack asleep.

Making the craft fast to an overhanging bough, the two
made their way into the jungle, presently coming upon some
of the apes feeding upon fruit a little beyond the reeds where
the buffalo had fallen. Sheeta was not anywhere to be seen,
nor did he return that night, so that Tarzan came to believe
that he had wandered away in search of his own kind.

Early the next morning the ape-man led his band down to the river,
and as he walked he gave vent to a series of shrill cries.
Presently from a great distance and faintly there came
an answering scream, and a half-hour later the lithe form of
Sheeta bounded into view where the others of the pack were
clambering gingerly into the canoe.

The great beast, with arched back and purring like a
contented tabby, rubbed his sides against the ape-man, and then
at a word from the latter sprang lightly to his former place in
the bow of the dugout.

When all were in place it was discovered that two of the
apes of Akut were missing, and though both the king ape
and Tarzan called to them for the better part of an hour, there
was no response, and finally the boat put off without them.
As it happened that the two missing ones were the very same
who had evinced the least desire to accompany the expedition
from the island, and had suffered the most from fright during
the voyage, Tarzan was quite sure that they had absented
themselves purposely rather than again enter the canoe.

As the party were putting in for the shore shortly after
noon to search for food a slender, naked savage watched
them for a moment from behind the dense screen of verdure
which lined the river's bank, then he melted away up-stream
before any of those in the canoe discovered him.

Like a deer he bounded along the narrow trail until, filled
with the excitement of his news, he burst into a native village
several miles above the point at which Tarzan and his pack
had stopped to hunt.

"Another white man is coming!" he cried to the chief
who squatted before the entrance to his circular hut.
"Another white man, and with him are many warriors.
They come in a great war-canoe to kill and rob as did
the black-bearded one who has just left us."

Kaviri leaped to his feet. He had but recently had a taste
of the white man's medicine, and his savage heart was filled
with bitterness and hate. In another moment the rumble of
the war-drums rose from the village, calling in the hunters
from the forest and the tillers from the fields.

Seven war-canoes were launched and manned by paint-daubed,
befeathered warriors. Long spears bristled from the rude
battle-ships, as they slid noiselessly over the bosom of the water,
propelled by giant muscles rolling beneath glistening, ebony hides.

There was no beating of tom-toms now, nor blare of native
horn, for Kaviri was a crafty warrior, and it was in his mind
to take no chances, if they could be avoided. He would swoop
noiselessly down with his seven canoes upon the single one
of the white man, and before the guns of the latter could
inflict much damage upon his people he would have overwhelmed
the enemy by force of numbers.

Kaviri's own canoe went in advance of the others a short
distance, and as it rounded a sharp bend in the river where
the swift current bore it rapidly on its way it came suddenly
upon the thing that Kaviri sought.

So close were the two canoes to one another that the black
had only an opportunity to note the white face in the bow of
the oncoming craft before the two touched and his own men
were upon their feet, yelling like mad devils and thrusting
their long spears at the occupants of the other canoe.

But a moment later, when Kaviri was able to realize the
nature of the crew that manned the white man's dugout, he
would have given all the beads and iron wire that he
possessed to have been safely within his distant village.
Scarcely had the two craft come together than the frightful apes of
Akut rose, growling and barking, from the bottom of the
canoe, and, with long, hairy arms far outstretched, grasped
the menacing spears from the hands of Kaviri's warriors.

The blacks were overcome with terror, but there was nothing
to do other than to fight. Now came the other war-canoes
rapidly down upon the two craft. Their occupants were eager
to join the battle, for they thought that their foes were white
men and their native porters.

They swarmed about Tarzan's craft; but when they saw the nature
of the enemy all but one turned and paddled swiftly upriver.
That one came too close to the ape-man's craft before
its occupants realized that their fellows were pitted
against demons instead of men. As it touched Tarzan spoke
a few low words to Sheeta and Akut, so that before the
attacking warriors could draw away there sprang upon them
with a blood-freezing scream a huge panther, and into the
other end of their canoe clambered a great ape.

At one end the panther wrought fearful havoc with his
mighty talons and long, sharp fangs, while Akut at the other
buried his yellow canines in the necks of those that came
within his reach, hurling the terror-stricken blacks overboard
as he made his way toward the centre of the canoe.

Kaviri was so busily engaged with the demons that had
entered his own craft that he could offer no assistance to his
warriors in the other. A giant of a white devil had wrested
his spear from him as though he, the mighty Kaviri, had been
but a new-born babe. Hairy monsters were overcoming his
fighting men, and a black chieftain like himself was fighting
shoulder to shoulder with the hideous pack that opposed him.

Kaviri battled bravely against his antagonist, for he felt
that death had already claimed him, and so the least that he
could do would be to sell his life as dearly as possible; but it
was soon evident that his best was quite futile when pitted
against the superhuman brawn and agility of the creature that
at last found his throat and bent him back into the bottom of
the canoe.

Presently Kaviri's head began to whirl--objects became
confused and dim before his eyes--there was a great pain in
his chest as he struggled for the breath of life that the thing
upon him was shutting off for ever. Then he lost consciousness.

When he opened his eyes once more he found, much to
his surprise, that he was not dead. He lay, securely bound,
in the bottom of his own canoe. A great panther sat upon its
haunches, looking down upon him.

Kaviri shuddered and closed his eyes again, waiting for
the ferocious creature to spring upon him and put him out of
his misery of terror.

After a moment, no rending fangs having buried themselves
in his trembling body, he again ventured to open his eyes.
Beyond the panther kneeled the white giant who had
overcome him.

The man was wielding a paddle, while directly behind him
Kaviri saw some of his own warriors similarly engaged.
Back of them again squatted several of the hairy apes.

Tarzan, seeing that the chief had regained consciousness,
addressed him.

"Your warriors tell me that you are the chief of a
numerous people, and that your name is Kaviri," he said.

"Yes," replied the black.

"Why did you attack me? I came in peace."

"Another white man `came in peace' three moons ago,"
replied Kaviri; "and after we had brought him presents of a
goat and cassava and milk, he set upon us with his guns and
killed many of my people, and then went on his way, taking
all of our goats and many of our young men and women."

"I am not as this other white man," replied Tarzan.
"I should not have harmed you had you not set upon me.
Tell me, what was the face of this bad white man like? I am
searching for one who has wronged me. Possibly this may
be the very one."

"He was a man with a bad face, covered with a great,
black beard, and he was very, very wicked--yes, very
wicked indeed."

"Was there a little white child with him?" asked Tarzan,
his heart almost stopped as he awaited the black's answer.

"No, bwana," replied Kaviri, "the white child was not
with this man's party--it was with the other party."

"Other party!" exclaimed Tarzan. "What other party?"

"With the party that the very bad white man was pursuing.
There was a white man, woman, and the child, with six
Mosula porters. They passed up the river three days ahead
of the very bad white man. I think that they were running
away from him."

A white man, woman, and child! Tarzan was puzzled. The child
must be his little Jack; but who could the woman be--and the man?
Was it possible that one of Rokoff's confederates had conspired
with some woman--who had accompanied the Russian--to steal
the baby from him?

If this was the case, they had doubtless purposed returning
the child to civilization and there either claiming a reward or
holding the little prisoner for ransom.

But now that Rokoff had succeeded in chasing them far inland,
up the savage river, there could be little doubt but
that he would eventually overhaul them, unless, as was still
more probable, they should be captured and killed by the
very cannibals farther up the Ugambi, to whom, Tarzan was now
convinced, it had been Rokoff's intention to deliver the baby.

As he talked to Kaviri the canoes had been moving steadily
up-river toward the chief's village. Kaviri's warriors plied the
paddles in the three canoes, casting sidelong, terrified glances
at their hideous passengers. Three of the apes of Akut had
been killed in the encounter, but there were, with Akut, eight
of the frightful beasts remaining, and there was Sheeta, the
panther, and Tarzan and Mugambi.

Kaviri's warriors thought that they had never seen so terrible
a crew in all their lives. Momentarily they expected to
be pounced upon and torn asunder by some of their captors;
and, in fact, it was all that Tarzan and Mugambi and Akut
could do to keep the snarling, ill-natured brutes from snapping
at the glistening, naked bodies that brushed against them
now and then with the movements of the paddlers, whose
very fear added incitement to the beasts.

At Kaviri's camp Tarzan paused only long enough to eat
the food that the blacks furnished, and arrange with the
chief for a dozen men to man the paddles of his canoe.

Kaviri was only too glad to comply with any demands that
the ape-man might make if only such compliance would hasten
the departure of the horrid pack; but it was easier, he
discovered, to promise men than to furnish them, for when
his people learned his intentions those that had not already
fled into the jungle proceeded to do so without loss of time,
so that when Kaviri turned to point out those who were to
accompany Tarzan, he discovered that he was the only member
of his tribe left within the village.

Tarzan could not repress a smile.

"They do not seem anxious to accompany us," he said;
"but just remain quietly here, Kaviri, and presently you
shall see your people flocking to your side."

Then the ape-man rose, and, calling his pack about him,
commanded that Mugambi remain with Kaviri, and disappeared
in the jungle with Sheeta and the apes at his heels.

For half an hour the silence of the grim forest was broken
only by the ordinary sounds of the teeming life that but adds
to its lowering loneliness. Kaviri and Mugambi sat alone in
the palisaded village, waiting.

Presently from a great distance came a hideous sound.
Mugambi recognized the weird challenge of the ape-man.
Immediately from different points of the compass rose a
horrid semicircle of similar shrieks and screams, punctuated
now and again by the blood-curdling cry of a hungry panther.

 

 

 

Chapter 7

 

Betrayed

 

The two savages, Kaviri and Mugambi, squatting before
the entrance to Kaviri's hut, looked at one another--
Kaviri with ill-concealed alarm.

"What is it?" he whispered.

"It is Bwana Tarzan and his people," replied Mugambi.
"But what they are doing I know not, unless it be that they
are devouring your people who ran away."

Kaviri shuddered and rolled his eyes fearfully toward the jungle.
In all his long life in the savage forest he had never
heard such an awful, fearsome din.

Closer and closer came the sounds, and now with them were
mingled the terrified shrieks of women and children and
of men. For twenty long minutes the blood-curdling cries
continued, until they seemed but a stone's throw from
the palisade. Kaviri rose to flee, but Mugambi seized and
held him, for such had been the command of Tarzan.

A moment later a horde of terrified natives burst from the jungle,
racing toward the shelter of their huts. Like frightened sheep
they ran, and behind them, driving them as sheep might be driven,
came Tarzan and Sheeta and the hideous apes of Akut.

Presently Tarzan stood before Kaviri, the old quiet smile upon his lips.

"Your people have returned, my brother," he said, "and
now you may select those who are to accompany me and
paddle my canoe."

Tremblingly Kaviri tottered to his feet, calling to his people
to come from their huts; but none responded to his summons.

"Tell them," suggested Tarzan, "that if they do not come
I shall send my people in after them."

Kaviri did as he was bid, and in an instant the entire
population of the village came forth, their wide and frightened
eyes rolling from one to another of the savage creatures that
wandered about the village street.

Quickly Kaviri designated a dozen warriors to accompany Tarzan.
The poor fellows went almost white with terror at the
prospect of close contact with the panther and the apes in
the narrow confines of the canoes; but when Kaviri explained
to them that there was no escape--that Bwana Tarzan
would pursue them with his grim horde should they attempt
to run away from the duty--they finally went gloomily down
to the river and took their places in the canoe.

It was with a sigh of relief that their chieftain saw the party
disappear about a headland a short distance up-river.

For three days the strange company continued farther and
farther into the heart of the savage country that lies on either
side of the almost unexplored Ugambi. Three of the twelve
warriors deserted during that time; but as several of the apes
had finally learned the secret of the paddles, Tarzan felt no
dismay because of the loss.

As a matter of fact, he could have travelled much more
rapidly on shore, but he believed that he could hold his own
wild crew together to better advantage by keeping them to
the boat as much as possible. Twice a day they landed to hunt
and feed, and at night they slept upon the bank of the mainland
or on one of the numerous little islands that dotted the river.

Before them the natives fled in alarm, so that they found
only deserted villages in their path as they proceeded.
Tarzan was anxious to get in touch with some of the savages
who dwelt upon the river's banks, but so far he had been unable
to do so.

Finally he decided to take to the land himself, leaving his
company to follow after him by boat. He explained to Mugambi
the thing that he had in mind, and told Akut to follow
the directions of the black.

"I will join you again in a few days," he said. "Now I go
ahead to learn what has become of the very bad white man
whom I seek."

At the next halt Tarzan took to the shore, and was soon
lost to the view of his people.

The first few villages he came to were deserted, showing
that news of the coming of his pack had travelled rapidly;
but toward evening he came upon a distant cluster of thatched
huts surrounded by a rude palisade, within which were a
couple of hundred natives.

The women were preparing the evening meal as Tarzan of
the Apes poised above them in the branches of a giant tree
which overhung the palisade at one point.

The ape-man was at a loss as to how he might enter into
communication with these people without either frightening
them or arousing their savage love of battle. He had no desire
to fight now, for he was upon a much more important mission
than that of battling with every chance tribe that he
should happen to meet with.

At last he hit upon a plan, and after seeing that he was
concealed from the view of those below, he gave a few hoarse
grunts in imitation of a panther. All eyes immediately turned
upward toward the foliage above.

It was growing dark, and they could not penetrate the leafy
screen which shielded the ape-man from their view. The moment
that he had won their attention he raised his voice to
the shriller and more hideous scream of the beast he personated,
and then, scarce stirring a leaf in his descent, dropped
to the ground once again outside the palisade, and, with the
speed of a deer, ran quickly round to the village gate.

Here he beat upon the fibre-bound saplings of which the
barrier was constructed, shouting to the natives in their own
tongue that he was a friend who wished food and shelter for
the night.

Tarzan knew well the nature of the black man. He was
aware that the grunting and screaming of Sheeta in the tree
above them would set their nerves on edge, and that his
pounding upon their gate after dark would still further add
to their terror.

That they did not reply to his hail was no surprise, for
natives are fearful of any voice that comes out of the night
from beyond their palisades, attributing it always to some
demon or other ghostly visitor; but still he continued to call.

"Let me in, my friends!" he cried. "I am a white man
pursuing the very bad white man who passed this way a few
days ago. I follow to punish him for the sins he has committed
against you and me.

"If you doubt my friendship, I will prove it to you by going
into the tree above your village and driving Sheeta back into
the jungle before he leaps among you. If you will not promise
to take me in and treat me as a friend I shall let Sheeta stay
and devour you."

For a moment there was silence. Then the voice of an old
man came out of the quiet of the village street.

"If you are indeed a white man and a friend, we will let
you come in; but first you must drive Sheeta away."

"Very well," replied Tarzan. "Listen, and you shall hear
Sheeta fleeing before me."

The ape-man returned quickly to the tree, and this time he
made a great noise as he entered the branches, at the same
time growling ominously after the manner of the panther, so that
those below would believe that the great beast was still there.

When he reached a point well above the village street he
made a great commotion, shaking the tree violently, crying
aloud to the panther to flee or be killed, and punctuating his
own voice with the screams and mouthings of an angry beast.

Presently he raced toward the opposite side of the tree and
off into the jungle, pounding loudly against the boles of trees
as he went, and voicing the panther's diminishing growls as
he drew farther and farther away from the village.

A few minutes later he returned to the village gate, calling
to the natives within.

"I have driven Sheeta away," he said. "Now come and
admit me as you promised."

For a time there was the sound of excited discussion within
the palisade, but at length a half-dozen warriors came and
opened the gates, peering anxiously out in evident trepidation
as to the nature of the creature which they should find
waiting there. They were not much relieved at sight of an
almost naked white man; but when Tarzan had reassured
them in quiet tones, protesting his friendship for them,
they opened the barrier a trifle farther and admitted him.

When the gates had been once more secured the self-confidence
of the savages returned, and as Tarzan walked up the village street
toward the chief's hut he was surrounded by a host of curious men,
women, and children.

From the chief he learned that Rokoff had passed up the
river a week previous, and that he had horns growing from
his forehead, and was accompanied by a thousand devils.
Later the chief said that the very bad white man had remained
a month in his village.

Though none of these statements agreed with Kaviri's, that
the Russian was but three days gone from the chieftain's
village and that his following was much smaller than now stated,
Tarzan was in no manner surprised at the discrepancies, for
he was quite familiar with the savage mind's strange manner
of functioning.

What he was most interested in knowing was that he was upon
the right trail, and that it led toward the interior. In this
circumstance he knew that Rokoff could never escape him.

After several hours of questioning and cross-questioning
the ape-man learned that another party had preceded the
Russian by several days--three whites--a man, a woman,
and a little man-child, with several Mosulas.

Tarzan explained to the chief that his people would follow
him in a canoe, probably the next day, and that though he
might go on ahead of them the chief was to receive them
kindly and have no fear of them, for Mugambi would see
that they did not harm the chief's people, if they were
accorded a friendly reception.

"And now," he concluded, "I shall lie down beneath this
tree and sleep. I am very tired. Permit no one to disturb me."

The chief offered him a hut, but Tarzan, from past experience
of native dwellings, preferred the open air, and, further,
he had plans of his own that could be better carried out
if he remained beneath the tree. He gave as his reason a
desire to be close at hand should Sheeta return, and after this
explanation the chief was very glad to permit him to sleep
beneath the tree.

Tarzan had always found that it stood him in good stead
to leave with natives the impression that he was to some
extent possessed of more or less miraculous powers. He might
easily have entered their village without recourse to the
gates, but he believed that a sudden and unaccountable
disappearance when he was ready to leave them would result
in a more lasting impression upon their childlike minds, and
so as soon as the village was quiet in sleep he rose, and,
leaping into the branches of the tree above him, faded silently
into the black mystery of the jungle night.

All the balance of that night the ape-man swung rapidly
through the upper and middle terraces of the forest. When the
going was good there he preferred the upper branches of the
giant trees, for then his way was better lighted by the moon;
but so accustomed were all his senses to the grim world of
his birth that it was possible for him, even in the dense,
black shadows near the ground, to move with ease and rapidity.
You or I walking beneath the arcs of Main Street, or Broadway,
or State Street, could not have moved more surely or with
a tenth the speed of the agile ape-man through the
gloomy mazes that would have baffled us entirely.

At dawn he stopped to feed, and then he slept for several
hours, taking up the pursuit again toward noon.

Twice he came upon natives, and, though he had considerable
difficulty in approaching them, he succeeded in each
instance in quieting both their fears and bellicose intentions
toward him, and learned from them that he was upon the trail
of the Russian.

Two days later, still following up the Ugambi, he came
upon a large village. The chief, a wicked-looking fellow with
the sharp-filed teeth that often denote the cannibal, received
him with apparent friendliness.

The ape-man was now thoroughly fatigued, and had determined
to rest for eight or ten hours that he might be fresh
and strong when he caught up with Rokoff, as he was sure
he must do within a very short time.

The chief told him that the bearded white man had left his
village only the morning before, and that doubtless he would
be able to overtake him in a short time. The other party the
chief had not seen or heard of, so he said.

Tarzan did not like the appearance or manner of the fellow,
who seemed, though friendly enough, to harbour a certain
contempt for this half-naked white man who came with no
followers and offered no presents; but he needed the rest and
food that the village would afford him with less effort than
the jungle, and so, as he knew no fear of man, beast, or
devil, he curled himself up in the shadow of a hut and was
soon asleep.

Scarcely had he left the chief than the latter called two of
his warriors, to whom he whispered a few instructions.
A moment later the sleek, black bodies were racing along the
river path, up-stream, toward the east.

In the village the chief maintained perfect quiet. He would
permit no one to approach the sleeping visitor, nor any
singing, nor loud talking. He was remarkably solicitous
lest his guest be disturbed.

Three hours later several canoes came silently into view
from up the Ugambi. They were being pushed ahead rapidly
by the brawny muscles of their black crews. Upon the bank
before the river stood the chief, his spear raised in a
horizontal position above his head, as though in some
manner of predetermined signal to those within the boats.

And such indeed was the purpose of his attitude--which
meant that the white stranger within his village still
slept peacefully.

In the bows of two of the canoes were the runners that the
chief had sent forth three hours earlier. It was evident that
they had been dispatched to follow and bring back this party,
and that the signal from the bank was one that had been
determined upon before they left the village.

In a few moments the dugouts drew up to the verdure-clad bank.
The native warriors filed out, and with them a half-dozen
white men. Sullen, ugly-looking customers they were,
and none more so than the evil-faced, black-bearded man
who commanded them.

"Where is the white man your messengers report to be
with you?" he asked of the chief.

"This way, bwana," replied the native. "Carefully have
I kept silence in the village that he might be still asleep when
you returned. I do not know that he is one who seeks you to
do you harm, but he questioned me closely about your coming
and your going, and his appearance is as that of the one
you described, but whom you believed safe in the country
which you called Jungle Island.

"Had you not told me this tale I should not have recognized
him, and then he might have gone after and slain you.
If he is a friend and no enemy, then no harm has been done,
bwana; but if he proves to be an enemy, I should like very
much to have a rifle and some ammunition."

"You have done well," replied the white man, "and you
shall have the rifle and ammunition whether he be a friend
or enemy, provided that you stand with me."

"I shall stand with you, bwana," said the chief,
"and now come and look upon the stranger, who sleeps
within my village."

So saying, he turned and led the way toward the hut, in the
shadow of which the unconscious Tarzan slept peacefully.

Behind the two men came the remaining whites and a score
of warriors; but the raised forefingers of the chief and
his companion held them all to perfect silence.

As they turned the corner of the hut, cautiously and upon
tiptoe, an ugly smile touched the lips of the white as his eyes
fell upon the giant figure of the sleeping ape-man.

The chief looked at the other inquiringly. The latter nodded
his head, to signify that the chief had made no mistake
in his suspicions. Then he turned to those behind him and,
pointing to the sleeping man, motioned for them to seize
and bind him.

A moment later a dozen brutes had leaped upon the surprised
Tarzan, and so quickly did they work that he was securely
bound before he could make half an effort to escape.

Then they threw him down upon his back, and as his eyes
turned toward the crowd that stood near, they fell upon the
malign face of Nikolas Rokoff.

A sneer curled the Russian's lips. He stepped quite close
to Tarzan.

"Pig!" he cried. "Have you not learned sufficient
wisdom to keep away from Nikolas Rokoff?"

Then he kicked the prostrate man full in the face.

"That for your welcome," he said.

"Tonight, before my Ethiop friends eat you, I shall tell
you what has already befallen your wife and child, and what
further plans I have for their futures."

 

 

 

Chapter 8

 

The Dance of Death

 

Through the luxuriant, tangled vegetation of the Stygian
jungle night a great lithe body made its way sinuously
and in utter silence upon its soft padded feet. Only two
blazing points of yellow-green flame shone occasionally with
the reflected light of the equatorial moon that now and again
pierced the softly sighing roof rustling in the night wind.

Occasionally the beast would stop with high-held nose,
sniffing searchingly. At other times a quick, brief incursion
into the branches above delayed it momentarily in its steady
journey toward the east. To its sensitive nostrils came the
subtle unseen spoor of many a tender four-footed creature,
bringing the slaver of hunger to the cruel, drooping jowl.

But steadfastly it kept on its way, strangely ignoring the
cravings of appetite that at another time would have sent
the rolling, fur-clad muscles flying at some soft throat.

All that night the creature pursued its lonely way, and the
next day it halted only to make a single kill, which it tore
to fragments and devoured with sullen, grumbling rumbles as
though half famished for lack of food.

It was dusk when it approached the palisade that surrounded
a large native village. Like the shadow of a swift and silent
death it circled the village, nose to ground, halting at last
close to the palisade, where it almost touched the backs
of several huts. Here the beast sniffed for a moment, and then,
turning its head upon one side, listened with up-pricked ears.

What it heard was no sound by the standards of human ears,
yet to the highly attuned and delicate organs of the beast
a message seemed to be borne to the savage brain. A wondrous
transformation was wrought in the motionless mass of
statuesque bone and muscle that had an instant before stood
as though carved out of the living bronze.

As if it had been poised upon steel springs, suddenly released,
it rose quickly and silently to the top of the palisade,
disappearing, stealthily and catlike, into the dark space
between the wall and the back of an adjacent hut.

In the village street beyond women were preparing many little
fires and fetching cooking-pots filled with water, for a great
feast was to be celebrated ere the night was many hours older.
About a stout stake near the centre of the circling fires
a little knot of black warriors stood conversing, their bodies
smeared with white and blue and ochre in broad and grotesque bands.
Great circles of colour were drawn about their eyes and lips,
their breasts and abdomens, and from their clay-plastered
coiffures rose gay feathers and bits of long, straight wire.

The village was preparing for the feast, while in a hut at
one side of the scene of the coming orgy the bound victim of
their bestial appetites lay waiting for the end. And such an end!

Tarzan of the Apes, tensing his mighty muscles, strained
at the bonds that pinioned him; but they had been re-enforced
many times at the instigation of the Russian, so that not even
the ape-man's giant brawn could budge them.

Death!

Tarzan had looked the Hideous Hunter in the face many a time,
and smiled. And he would smile again tonight when he knew
the end was coming quickly; but now his thoughts were not
of himself, but of those others--the dear ones who must
suffer most because of his passing.

Jane would never know the manner of it. For that he thanked Heaven;
and he was thankful also that she at least was safe in the heart of
the world's greatest city. Safe among kind and loving friends who
would do their best to lighten her misery.

But the boy!

Tarzan writhed at the thought of him. His son! And now
he--the mighty Lord of the Jungle--he, Tarzan, King of the
Apes, the only one in all the world fitted to find and save the
child from the horrors that Rokoff's evil mind had planned--
had been trapped like a silly, dumb creature. He was to die
in a few hours, and with him would go the child's last chance
of succour.

Rokoff had been in to see and revile and abuse him several
times during the afternoon; but he had been able to wring no
word of remonstrance or murmur of pain from the lips of the
giant captive.

So at last he had given up, reserving his particular bit of
exquisite mental torture for the last moment, when, just
before the savage spears of the cannibals should for ever make
the object of his hatred immune to further suffering, the
Russian planned to reveal to his enemy the true whereabouts of
his wife whom he thought safe in England.

Dusk had fallen upon the village, and the ape-men could hear
the preparations going forward for the torture and the feast.
The dance of death he could picture in his mind's eye--for
he had seen the thing many times in the past. Now he was
to be the central figure, bound to the stake.

The torture of the slow death as the circling warriors cut
him to bits with the fiendish skill, that mutilated without
bringing unconsciousness, had no terrors for him. He was
inured to suffering and to the sight of blood and to cruel
death; but the desire to live was no less strong within him,
and until the last spark of life should flicker and go out, his
whole being would remain quick with hope and determination.
Let them relax their watchfulness but for an instant, he
knew that his cunning mind and giant muscles would find a
way to escape--escape and revenge.

As he lay, thinking furiously on every possibility of self-
salvation, there came to his sensitive nostrils a faint and a
familiar scent. Instantly every faculty of his mind was upon
the alert. Presently his trained ears caught the sound of the
soundless presence without--behind the hut wherein he lay.
His lips moved, and though no sound came forth that might
have been appreciable to a human ear beyond the walls of
his prison, yet he realized that the one beyond would hear.
Already he knew who that one was, for his nostrils had told
him as plainly as your eyes or mine tell us of the identity of
an old friend whom we come upon in broad daylight.

An instant later he heard the soft sound of a fur-clad
body and padded feet scaling the outer wall behind the
hut and then a tearing at the poles which formed the wall.
Presently through the hole thus made slunk a great beast,
pressing its cold muzzle close to his neck.

It was Sheeta, the panther.

The beast snuffed round the prostrate man, whining a little.
There was a limit to the interchange of ideas which could
take place between these two, and so Tarzan could not be
sure that Sheeta understood all that he attempted to
communicate to him. That the man was tied and helpless Sheeta
could, of course, see; but that to the mind of the panther this
would carry any suggestion of harm in so far as his master
was concerned, Tarzan could not guess.

What had brought the beast to him? The fact that he had
come augured well for what he might accomplish; but when
Tarzan tried to get Sheeta to gnaw his bonds asunder the great
animal could not seem to understand what was expected of him,
and, instead, but licked the wrists and arms of the prisoner.

Presently there came an interruption. Some one was
approaching the hut. Sheeta gave a low growl and slunk into
the blackness of a far corner. Evidently the visitor did not
hear the warning sound, for almost immediately he entered
the hut--a tall, naked, savage warrior.

He came to Tarzan's side and pricked him with a spear.
From the lips of the ape-man came a weird, uncanny sound,
and in answer to it there leaped from the blackness of the
hut's farthermost corner a bolt of fur-clad death. Full upon
the breast of the painted savage the great beast struck,
burying sharp talons in the black flesh and sinking
great yellow fangs in the ebon throat.

There was a fearful scream of anguish and terror from the black,
and mingled with it was the hideous challenge of the killing panther.
Then came silence--silence except for the rending of bloody flesh
and the crunching of human bones between mighty jaws.

The noise had brought sudden quiet to the village without.
Then there came the sound of voices in consultation.

High-pitched, fear-filled voices, and deep, low tones of
authority, as the chief spoke. Tarzan and the panther heard
the approaching footsteps of many men, and then, to Tarzan's
surprise, the great cat rose from across the body of its kill,
and slunk noiselessly from the hut through the aperture
through which it had entered.

The man heard the soft scraping of the body as it passed
over the top of the palisade, and then silence. From the
opposite side of the hut he heard the savages approaching
to investigate.

He had little hope that Sheeta would return, for had the great
cat intended to defend him against all comers it would have
remained by his side as it heard the approaching savages without.

Tarzan knew how strange were the workings of the brains
of the mighty carnivora of the jungle--how fiendishly fearless
they might be in the face of certain death, and again how timid
upon the slightest provocation. There was doubt in his mind
that some note of the approaching blacks vibrating with fear
had struck an answering chord in the nervous system of the panther,
sending him slinking through the jungle, his tail between his legs.

The man shrugged. Well, what of it? He had expected
to die, and, after all, what might Sheeta have done for him
other than to maul a couple of his enemies before a rifle in
the hands of one of the whites should have dispatched him!

If the cat could have released him! Ah! that would have
resulted in a very different story; but it had proved beyond
the understanding of Sheeta, and now the beast was gone
and Tarzan must definitely abandon hope.

The natives were at the entrance to the hut now, peering
fearfully into the dark interior. Two in advance held lighted
torches in their left hands and ready spears in their right.
They held back timorously against those behind, who were
pushing them forward.

The shrieks of the panther's victim, mingled with those of
the great cat, had wrought mightily upon their poor nerves,
and now the awful silence of the dark interior seemed even
more terribly ominous than had the frightful screaming.

Presently one of those who was being forced unwillingly
within hit upon a happy scheme for learning first the precise
nature of the danger which menaced him from the silent interior.
With a quick movement he flung his lighted torch into the
centre of the hut. Instantly all within was illuminated
for a brief second before the burning brand was dashed out
against the earth floor.

There was the figure of the white prisoner still securely
bound as they had last seen him, and in the centre of the hut
another figure equally as motionless, its throat and breasts
horribly torn and mangled.

The sight that met the eyes of the foremost savages
inspired more terror within their superstitious breasts
than would the presence of Sheeta, for they saw only the
result of a ferocious attack upon one of their fellows.

Not seeing the cause, their fear-ridden minds were free to
attribute the ghastly work to supernatural causes, and with
the thought they turned, screaming, from the hut, bowling
over those who stood directly behind them in the exuberance
of their terror.

For an hour Tarzan heard only the murmur of excited voices
from the far end of the village. Evidently the savages
were once more attempting to work up their flickering courage
to a point that would permit them to make another invasion
of the hut, for now and then came a savage yell, such
as the warriors give to bolster up their bravery upon the
field of battle.

But in the end it was two of the whites who first entered,
carrying torches and guns. Tarzan was not surprised to
discover that neither of them was Rokoff. He would have
wagered his soul that no power on earth could have tempted
that great coward to face the unknown menace of the hut.

When the natives saw that the white men were not attacked
they, too, crowded into the interior, their voices hushed with
terror as they looked upon the mutilated corpse of their comrade.
The whites tried in vain to elicit an explanation from
Tarzan; but to all their queries he but shook his head, a grim
and knowing smile curving his lips.

At last Rokoff came.

His face grew very white as his eyes rested upon the bloody
thing grinning up at him from the floor, the face set in a
death mask of excruciating horror.

"Come!" he said to the chief. "Let us get to work and
finish this demon before he has an opportunity to repeat this
thing upon more of your people."

The chief gave orders that Tarzan should be lifted and
carried to the stake; but it was several minutes before he
could prevail upon any of his men to touch the prisoner.

At last, however, four of the younger warriors dragged
Tarzan roughly from the hut, and once outside the pall of
terror seemed lifted from the savage hearts.

A score of howling blacks pushed and buffeted the prisoner
down the village street and bound him to the post in the
centre of the circle of little fires and boiling cooking-pots.

When at last he was made fast and seemed quite helpless
and beyond the faintest hope of succour, Rokoff's shrivelled
wart of courage swelled to its usual proportions when danger
was not present.

He stepped close to the ape-man, and, seizing a spear from
the hands of one of the savages, was the first to prod the
helpless victim. A little stream of blood trickled down the
giant's smooth skin from the wound in his side; but no murmur
of pain passed his lips.

The smile of contempt upon his face seemed to infuriate
the Russian. With a volley of oaths he leaped at the helpless
captive, beating him upon the face with his clenched fists
and kicking him mercilessly about the legs.

Then he raised the heavy spear to drive it through the
mighty heart, and still Tarzan of the Apes smiled
contemptuously upon him.

Before Rokoff could drive the weapon home the chief sprang
upon him and dragged him away from his intended victim.

"Stop, white man!" he cried. "Rob us of this prisoner and
our death-dance, and you yourself may have to take his place."

The threat proved most effective in keeping the Russian
from further assaults upon the prisoner, though he continued
to stand a little apart and hurl taunts at his enemy. He told
Tarzan that he himself was going to eat the ape-man's heart.
He enlarged upon the horrors of the future life of Tarzan's
son, and intimated that his vengeance would reach as well to
Jane Clayton.

"You think your wife safe in England," said Rokoff.
"Poor fool! She is even now in the hands of one not even of
decent birth, and far from the safety of London and the
protection of her friends. I had not meant to tell you this
until I could bring to you upon Jungle Island proof of her fate.

"Now that you are about to die the most unthinkably horrid
death that it is given a white man to die--let this word of
the plight of your wife add to the torments that you must
suffer before the last savage spear-thrust releases you from
your torture."

The dance had commenced now, and the yells of the circling
warriors drowned Rokoff's further attempts to distress
his victim.

The leaping savages, the flickering firelight playing upon
their painted bodies, circled about the victim at the stake.

To Tarzan's memory came a similar scene, when he had
rescued D'Arnot from a like predicament at the last moment
before the final spear-thrust should have ended his sufferings.
Who was there now to rescue him? In all the world there was
none able to save him from the torture and the death.

The thought that these human fiends would devour him
when the dance was done caused him not a single qualm of
horror or disgust. It did not add to his sufferings as it would
have to those of an ordinary white man, for all his life Tarzan
had seen the beasts of the jungle devour the flesh of their kills.

Had he not himself battled for the grisly forearm of a great
ape at that long-gone Dum-Dum, when he had slain the fierce
Tublat and won his niche in the respect of the Apes of Kerchak?

The dancers were leaping more closely to him now. The spears
were commencing to find his body in the first torturing pricks
that prefaced the more serious thrusts.

It would not be long now. The ape-man longed for the last
savage lunge that would end his misery.

And then, far out in the mazes of the weird jungle, rose a
shrill scream.

For an instant the dancers paused, and in the silence of
the interval there rose from the lips of the fast-bound
white man an answering shriek, more fearsome and more terrible
than that of the jungle-beast that had roused it.

For several minutes the blacks hesitated; then, at the urging
of Rokoff and their chief, they leaped in to finish the
dance and the victim; but ere ever another spear touched the
brown hide a tawny streak of green-eyed hate and ferocity
bounded from the door of the hut in which Tarzan had been
imprisoned, and Sheeta, the panther, stood snarling beside
his master.

For an instant the blacks and the whites stood transfixed
with terror. Their eyes were riveted upon the bared fangs of
the jungle cat.

Only Tarzan of the Apes saw what else there was emerging
from the dark interior of the hut.

 

 

 

Chapter 9

 

Chivalry or Villainy

 

From her cabin port upon the Kincaid, Jane Clayton had
seen her husband rowed to the verdure-clad shore of Jungle
Island, and then the ship once more proceeded upon its way.

For several days she saw no one other than Sven Anderssen,
the Kincaid's taciturn and repellent cook. She asked him
the name of the shore upon which her husband had been set.

"Ay tank it blow purty soon purty hard," replied the
Swede, and that was all that she could get out of him.

She had come to the conclusion that he spoke no other
English, and so she ceased to importune him for information;
but never did she forget to greet him pleasantly or to thank
him for the hideous, nauseating meals he brought her.

Three days from the spot where Tarzan had been marooned
the Kincaid came to anchor in the mouth of a great
river, and presently Rokoff came to Jane Clayton's cabin.

"We have arrived, my dear," he said, with a sickening leer.
"I have come to offer you safety, liberty, and ease. My heart
has been softened toward you in your suffering, and I would
make amends as best I may.

"Your husband was a brute--you know that best who found
him naked in his native jungle, roaming wild with the savage
beasts that were his fellows. Now I am a gentleman, not only
born of noble blood, but raised gently as befits a man of quality.

"To you, dear Jane, I offer the love of a cultured man and
association with one of culture and refinement, which you
must have sorely missed in your relations with the poor ape that
through your girlish infatuation you married so thoughtlessly.
I love you, Jane. You have but to say the word and no
further sorrows shall afflict you--even your baby shall be
returned to you unharmed."

Outside the door Sven Anderssen paused with the noonday
meal he had been carrying to Lady Greystoke. Upon the end
of his long, stringy neck his little head was cocked to one
side, his close-set eyes were half closed, his ears, so
expressive was his whole attitude of stealthy eavesdropping,
seemed truly to be cocked forward--even his long, yellow,
straggly moustache appeared to assume a sly droop.

As Rokoff closed his appeal, awaiting the reply he invited,
the look of surprise upon Jane Clayton's face turned to one
of disgust. She fairly shuddered in the fellow's face.

"I would not have been surprised, M. Rokoff," she said,
had you attempted to force me to submit to your evil desires,
but that you should be so fatuous as to believe that I,
wife of John Clayton, would come to you willingly, even to
save my life, I should never have imagined. I have known
you for a scoundrel, M. Rokoff; but until now I had not taken
you for a fool."

Rokoff's eyes narrowed, and the red of mortification flushed out
the pallor of his face. He took a step toward the girl, threateningly.

"We shall see who is the fool at last," he hissed, "when I have
broken you to my will and your plebeian Yankee stubbornness has
cost you all that you hold dear--even the life of your baby--for,
by the bones of St. Peter, I'll forego all that I had planned
for the brat and cut its heart out before your very eyes.
You'll learn what it means to insult Nikolas Rokoff."

Jane Clayton turned wearily away.

"What is the use," she said, "of expatiating upon the
depths to which your vengeful nature can sink? You cannot
move me either by threats or deeds. My baby cannot judge
yet for himself, but I, his mother, can foresee that should it
have been given him to survive to man's estate he would
willingly sacrifice his life for the honour of his mother.
Love him as I do, I would not purchase his life at such a price.
Did I, he would execrate my memory to the day of his death."

Rokoff was now thoroughly angered because of his failure
to reduce the girl to terror. He felt only hate for her, but it
had come to his diseased mind that if he could force her to
accede to his demands as the price of her life and her child's,
the cup of his revenge would be filled to brimming when he
could flaunt the wife of Lord Greystoke in the capitals of
Europe as his mistress.

Again he stepped closer to her. His evil face was convulsed
with rage and desire. Like a wild beast he sprang upon
her, and with his strong fingers at her throat forced her
backward upon the berth.

At the same instant the door of the cabin opened noisily.
Rokoff leaped to his feet, and, turning, faced the Swede cook.

Into the fellow's usually foxy eyes had come an expression
of utter stupidity. His lower jaw drooped in vacuous harmony.
He busied himself in arranging Lady Greystoke's meal
upon the tiny table at one side of her cabin.

The Russian glared at him.

"What do you mean," he cried, "by entering here
without permission? Get out!"

The cook turned his watery blue eyes upon Rokoff and
smiled vacuously.

"Ay tank it blow purty soon purty hard," he said, and
then he began rearranging the few dishes upon the little table.

"Get out of here, or I'll throw you out, you miserable blockhead!"
roared Rokoff, taking a threatening step toward the Swede.

Anderssen continued to smile foolishly in his direction,
but one ham-like paw slid stealthily to the handle of the
long, slim knife that protruded from the greasy cord
supporting his soiled apron.

Rokoff saw the move and stopped short in his advance.
Then he turned toward Jane Clayton.

"I will give you until tomorrow," he said, "to reconsider your
answer to my offer. All will be sent ashore upon one pretext
or another except you and the child, Paulvitch and myself.
Then without interruption you will be able to witness the
death of the baby."

He spoke in French that the cook might not understand
the sinister portent of his words. When he had done he banged
out of the cabin without another look at the man who had
interrupted him in his sorry work.

When he had gone, Sven Anderssen turned toward Lady
Greystoke--the idiotic expression that had masked his
thoughts had fallen away, and in its place was one of
craft and cunning.

"Hay tank Ay ban a fool," he said. "Hay ben the fool.
Ay savvy Franch."

Jane Clayton looked at him in surprise.

"You understood all that he said, then?"

Anderssen grinned.

"You bat," he said.

"And you heard what was going on in here and came to protect me?"

"You bane good to me," explained the Swede. "Hay treat me like
darty dog. Ay help you, lady. You yust vait--Ay help you.
Ay ban Vast Coast lots times."

"But how can you help me, Sven," she asked, "when all
these men will be against us?"

"Ay tank," said Sven Anderssen, "it blow purty soon
purty hard," and then he turned and left the cabin.

Though Jane Clayton doubted the cook's ability to be of
any material service to her, she was nevertheless deeply
grateful to him for what he already had done. The feeling
that among these enemies she had one friend brought the
first ray of comfort that had come to lighten the burden of
her miserable apprehensions throughout the long voyage of
the Kincaid.

She saw no more of Rokoff that day, nor of any other until
Sven came with her evening meal. She tried to draw him into
conversation relative to his plans to aid her, but all that she
could get from him was his stereotyped prophecy as to the
future state of the wind. He seemed suddenly to have
relapsed into his wonted state of dense stupidity.

However, when he was leaving her cabin a little later with
the empty dishes he whispered very low, "Leave on your
clothes an' roll up your blankets. Ay come back after you
purty soon."

He would have slipped from the room at once, but Jane
laid her hand upon his sleeve.

"My baby?" she asked. "I cannot go without him."

"You do wot Ay tal you," said Anderssen, scowling.
"Ay ban halpin' you, so don't you gat too fonny."

When he had gone Jane Clayton sank down upon her berth
in utter bewilderment. What was she to do? Suspicions as to
the intentions of the Swede swarmed her brain. Might she
not be infinitely worse off if she gave herself into his power
than she already was?

No, she could be no worse off in company with the devil
himself than with Nikolas Rokoff, for the devil at least bore
the reputation of being a gentleman.

She swore a dozen times that she would not leave the Kincaid
without her baby, and yet she remained clothed long
past her usual hour for retiring, and her blankets were neatly
rolled and bound with stout cord, when about midnight there
came a stealthy scratching upon the panels of her door.

Swiftly she crossed the room and drew the bolt. Softly the
door swung open to admit the muffled figure of the Swede.
On one arm he carried a bundle, evidently his blankets.
His other hand was raised in a gesture commanding silence,
a grimy forefinger upon his lips.

He came quite close to her.

"Carry this," he said. "Do not make some noise when
you see it. It ban you kid."

Quick hands snatched the bundle from the cook, and hungry
mother arms folded the sleeping infant to her breast,
while hot tears of joy ran down her cheeks and her whole
frame shook with the emotion of the moment.

"Come!" said Anderssen. "We got no time to vaste."

He snatched up her bundle of blankets, and outside the
cabin door his own as well. Then he led her to the ship's side,
steadied her descent of the monkey-ladder, holding the child
for her as she climbed to the waiting boat below. A moment
later he had cut the rope that held the small boat to the
steamer's side, and, bending silently to the muffled oars,
was pulling toward the black shadows up the Ugambi River.

Anderssen rowed on as though quite sure of his ground,
and when after half an hour the moon broke through the
clouds there was revealed upon their left the mouth of a
tributary running into the Ugambi. Up this narrow channel
the Swede turned the prow of the small boat.

Jane Clayton wondered if the man knew where he was bound.
She did not know that in his capacity as cook he had
that day been rowed up this very stream to a little village
where he had bartered with the natives for such provisions
as they had for sale, and that he had there arranged the details
of his plan for the adventure upon which they were now
setting forth.

Even though the moon was full, the surface of the small
river was quite dark. The giant trees overhung its narrow
banks, meeting in a great arch above the centre of the river.
Spanish moss dropped from the gracefully bending limbs,
and enormous creepers clambered in riotous profusion from
the ground to the loftiest branch, falling in curving loops
almost to the water's placid breast.

Now and then the river's surface would be suddenly broken
ahead of them by a huge crocodile, startled by the splashing
of the oars, or, snorting and blowing, a family of hippos would
dive from a sandy bar to the cool, safe depths of the bottom.

From the dense jungles upon either side came the weird
night cries of the carnivora--the maniacal voice of the hyena,
the coughing grunt of the panther, the deep and awful roar
of the lion. And with them strange, uncanny notes that the
girl could not ascribe to any particular night prowler--more
terrible because of their mystery.

Huddled in the stern of the boat she sat with her baby
strained close to her bosom, and because of that little tender,
helpless thing she was happier tonight than she had been for
many a sorrow-ridden day.

Even though she knew not to what fate she was going, or
how soon that fate might overtake her, still was she happy
and thankful for the moment, however brief, that she might
press her baby tightly in her arms. She could scarce wait
for the coming of the day that she might look again upon the
bright face of her little, black-eyed Jack.

Again and again she tried to strain her eyes through the
blackness of the jungle night to have but a tiny peep at those
beloved features, but only the dim outline of the baby face
rewarded her efforts. Then once more she would cuddle the
warm, little bundle close to her throbbing heart.

It must have been close to three o'clock in the morning
that Anderssen brought the boat's nose to the shore before a
clearing where could be dimly seen in the waning moonlight
a cluster of native huts encircled by a thorn boma.

At the village gate they were admitted by a native woman,
the wife of the chief whom Anderssen had paid to assist him.
She took them to the chief's hut, but Anderssen said that they
would sleep without upon the ground, and so, her duty having
been completed, she left them to their own devices.

The Swede, after explaining in his gruff way that the huts
were doubtless filthy and vermin-ridden, spread Jane's
blankets on the ground for her, and at a little distance
unrolled his own and lay down to sleep.

It was some time before the girl could find a comfortable
position upon the hard ground, but at last, the baby in the
hollow of her arm, she dropped asleep from utter exhaustion.
When she awoke it was broad daylight.

About her were clustered a score of curious natives--
mostly men, for among the aborigines it is the male who
owns this characteristic in its most exaggerated form.
Instinctively Jane Clayton drew the baby more closely to her,
though she soon saw that the blacks were far from intending
her or the child any harm.

In fact, one of them offered her a gourd of milk--a filthy,
smoke-begrimed gourd, with the ancient rind of long-curdled
milk caked in layers within its neck; but the spirit of the giver
touched her deeply, and her face lightened for a moment with
one of those almost forgotten smiles of radiance that had
helped to make her beauty famous both in Baltimore and London.

She took the gourd in one hand, and rather than cause the
giver pain raised it to her lips, though for the life of her she
could scarce restrain the qualm of nausea that surged through
her as the malodorous thing approached her nostrils.

It was Anderssen who came to her rescue, and taking the
gourd from her, drank a portion himself, and then returned
it to the native with a gift of blue beads.

The sun was shining brightly now, and though the baby
still slept, Jane could scarce restrain her impatient desire to
have at least a brief glance at the beloved face. The natives
had withdrawn at a command from their chief, who now
stood talking with Anderssen, a little apart from her.

As she debated the wisdom of risking disturbing the child's
slumber by lifting the blanket that now protected its face
from the sun, she noted that the cook conversed with the
chief in the language of the Negro.

What a remarkable man the fellow was, indeed! She had
thought him ignorant and stupid but a short day before, and
now, within the past twenty-four hours, she had learned that
he spoke not only English but French as well, and the primitive
dialect of the West Coast.

She had thought him shifty, cruel, and untrustworthy, yet
in so far as she had reason to believe he had proved himself
in every way the contrary since the day before. It scarce
seemed credible that he could be serving her from motives
purely chivalrous. There must be something deeper in his
intentions and plans than he had yet disclosed.

She wondered, and when she looked at him--at his close-set,
shifty eyes and repulsive features, she shuddered, for she
was convinced that no lofty characteristics could be hid
behind so foul an exterior.

As she was thinking of these things the while she debated
the wisdom of uncovering the baby's face, there came a little
grunt from the wee bundle in her lap, and then a gurgling
coo that set her heart in raptures.

The baby was awake! Now she might feast her eyes upon him.

Quickly she snatched the blanket from before the infant's
face; Anderssen was looking at her as she did so.

He saw her stagger to her feet, holding the baby at arm's
length from her, her eyes glued in horror upon the little
chubby face and twinkling eyes.

Then he heard her piteous cry as her knees gave beneath
her, and she sank to the ground in a swoon.

 

 

 

Chapter 10

 

The Swede

 

As the warriors, clustered thick about Tarzan and Sheeta,
realized that it was a flesh-and-blood panther that had
interrupted their dance of death, they took heart a trifle,
for in the face of all those circling spears even the
mighty Sheeta would be doomed.

Rokoff was urging the chief to have his spearmen launch
their missiles, and the black was upon the instant of issuing
the command, when his eyes strayed beyond Tarzan,
following the gaze of the ape-man.

With a yell of terror the chief turned and fled toward the
village gate, and as his people looked to see the cause of his
fright, they too took to their heels--for there, lumbering down
upon them, their huge forms exaggerated by the play of
moonlight and camp fire, came the hideous apes of Akut.

The instant the natives turned to flee the ape-man's savage
cry rang out above the shrieks of the blacks, and in answer
to it Sheeta and the apes leaped growling after the fugitives.
Some of the warriors turned to battle with their enraged
antagonists, but before the fiendish ferocity of the fierce beasts
they went down to bloody death.

Others were dragged down in their flight, and it was not
until the village was empty and the last of the blacks had
disappeared into the bush that Tarzan was able to recall his
savage pack to his side. Then it was that he discovered to his
chagrin that he could not make one of them, not even the
comparatively intelligent Akut, understand that he wished to
be freed from the bonds that held him to the stake.

In time, of course, the idea would filter through their thick
skulls, but in the meanwhile many things might happen--the
blacks might return in force to regain their village; the whites
might readily pick them all off with their rifles from the
surrounding trees; he might even starve to death before the dull-
witted apes realized that he wished them to gnaw through his bonds.

As for Sheeta--the great cat understood even less than the
apes; but yet Tarzan could not but marvel at the remarkable
characteristics this beast had evidenced. That it felt real
affection for him there seemed little doubt, for now that the
blacks were disposed of it walked slowly back and forth
about the stake, rubbing its sides against the ape-man's legs
and purring like a contented tabby. That it had gone of its
own volition to bring the balance of the pack to his rescue,
Tarzan could not doubt. His Sheeta was indeed a jewel among beasts.

Mugambi's absence worried the ape-man not a little.
He attempted to learn from Akut what had become of the black,
fearing that the beasts, freed from the restraint of Tarzan's
presence, might have fallen upon the man and devoured him;
but to all his questions the great ape but pointed back in the
direction from which they had come out of the jungle.

The night passed with Tarzan still fast bound to the stake,
and shortly after dawn his fears were realized in the discovery
of naked black figures moving stealthily just within the edge of
the jungle about the village. The blacks were returning.

With daylight their courage would be equal to the demands
of a charge upon the handful of beasts that had routed them
from their rightful abodes. The result of the encounter seemed
foregone if the savages could curb their superstitious terror,
for against their overwhelming numbers, their long spears
and poisoned arrows, the panther and the apes could not be
expected to survive a really determined attack.

That the blacks were preparing for a charge became apparent
a few moments later, when they commenced to show
themselves in force upon the edge of the clearing, dancing
and jumping about as they waved their spears and shouted
taunts and fierce warcries toward the village.

These manoeuvres Tarzan knew would continue until the blacks
had worked themselves into a state of hysterical courage
sufficient to sustain them for a short charge toward the
village, and even though he doubted that they would reach it
at the first attempt, he believed that at the second or the third
they would swarm through the gateway, when the outcome
could not be aught than the extermination of Tarzan's bold,
but unarmed and undisciplined, defenders.

Even as he had guessed, the first charge carried the howling
warriors but a short distance into the open--a shrill, weird
challenge from the ape-man being all that was necessary to
send them scurrying back to the bush. For half an hour they
pranced and yelled their courage to the sticking-point, and
again essayed a charge.

This time they came quite to the village gate, but when
Sheeta and the hideous apes leaped among them they turned
screaming in terror, and again fled to the jungle.

Again was the dancing and shouting repeated. This time
Tarzan felt no doubt they would enter the village and
complete the work that a handful of determined white men would
have carried to a successful conclusion at the first attempt.

To have rescue come so close only to be thwarted because
he could not make his poor, savage friends understand
precisely what he wanted of them was most irritating, but he
could not find it in his heart to place blame upon them.
They had done their best, and now he was sure they would doubtless
remain to die with him in a fruitless effort to defend him.

The blacks were already preparing for the charge. A few
individuals had advanced a short distance toward the village
and were exhorting the others to follow them. In a moment
the whole savage horde would be racing across the clearing.

Tarzan thought only of the little child somewhere in this
cruel, relentless wilderness. His heart ached for the son that
he might no longer seek to save--that and the realization of
Jane's suffering were all that weighed upon his brave spirit
in these that he thought his last moments of life. Succour, all
that he could hope for, had come to him in the instant of his
extremity--and failed. There was nothing further for which
to hope.

The blacks were half-way across the clearing when Tarzan's
attention was attracted by the actions of one of the apes.
The beast was glaring toward one of the huts. Tarzan followed
his gaze. To his infinite relief and delight he saw the
stalwart form of Mugambi racing toward him.

The huge black was panting heavily as though from strenuous
physical exertion and nervous excitement. He rushed
to Tarzan's side, and as the first of the savages reached the
village gate the native's knife severed the last of the cords
that bound Tarzan to the stake.

In the street lay the corpses of the savages that had fallen
before the pack the night before. From one of these Tarzan
seized a spear and knob stick, and with Mugambi at his side
and the snarling pack about him, he met the natives as they
poured through the gate.

Fierce and terrible was the battle that ensued, but at last the
savages were routed, more by terror, perhaps, at sight of a
black man and a white fighting in company with a panther and
the huge fierce apes of Akut, than because of their inability
to overcome the relatively small force that opposed them.

One prisoner fell into the hands of Tarzan, and him the
ape-man questioned in an effort to learn what had become of
Rokoff and his party. Promised his liberty in return for the
information, the black told all he knew concerning the movements
of the Russian.

It seemed that early in the morning their chief had attempted
to prevail upon the whites to return with him to the
village and with their guns destroy the ferocious pack that
had taken possession of it, but Rokoff appeared to entertain
even more fears of the giant white man and his strange
companions than even the blacks themselves.

Upon no conditions would he consent to returning even
within sight of the village. Instead, he took his party
hurriedly to the river, where they stole a number of canoes the
blacks had hidden there. The last that had been seen of them
they had been paddling strongly up-stream, their porters from
Kaviri's village wielding the blades.

So once more Tarzan of the Apes with his hideous pack
took up his search for the ape-man's son and the pursuit of
his abductor.

For weary days they followed through an almost uninhabited
country, only to learn at last that they were upon the
wrong trail. The little band had been reduced by three, for
three of Akut's apes had fallen in the fighting at the village.
Now, with Akut, there were five great apes, and Sheeta was
there--and Mugambi and Tarzan.

The ape-man no longer heard rumors even of the three
who had preceded Rokoff--the white man and woman and
the child. Who the man and woman were he could not guess,
but that the child was his was enough to keep him hot upon
the trail. He was sure that Rokoff would be following this
trio, and so he felt confident that so long as he could keep
upon the Russian's trail he would be winning so much nearer
to the time he might snatch his son from the dangers and
horrors that menaced him.

In retracing their way after losing Rokoff's trail Tarzan
picked it up again at a point where the Russian had left the
river and taken to the brush in a northerly direction. He could
only account for this change on the ground that the child had
been carried away from the river by the two who now had
possession of it.

Nowhere along the way, however, could he gain definite information
that might assure him positively that the child was ahead of him.
Not a single native they questioned had seen or heard of this
other party, though nearly all had had direct experience with
the Russian or had talked with others who had.

It was with difficulty that Tarzan could find means to communicate
with the natives, as the moment their eyes fell upon his companions
they fled precipitately into the bush. His only alternative was
to go ahead of his pack and waylay an occasional warrior whom
he found alone in the jungle.

One day as he was thus engaged, tracking an unsuspecting
savage, he came upon the fellow in the act of hurling a spear
at a wounded white man who crouched in a clump of bush at the
trail's side. The white was one whom Tarzan had often seen,
and whom he recognized at once.

Deep in his memory was implanted those repulsive features--the
close-set eyes, the shifty expression, the drooping yellow moustache.

Instantly it occurred to the ape-man that this fellow had
not been among those who had accompanied Rokoff at the
village where Tarzan had been a prisoner. He had seen them all,
and this fellow had not been there. There could be but one
explanation--he it was who had fled ahead of the Russian with
the woman and the child--and the woman had been Jane Clayton.
He was sure now of the meaning of Rokoff's words.

The ape-man's face went white as he looked upon the pasty,
vice-marked countenance of the Swede. Across Tarzan's forehead
stood out the broad band of scarlet that marked the scar where,
years before, Terkoz had torn a great strip of the ape-man's
scalp from his skull in the fierce battle in which Tarzan had
sustained his fitness to the kingship of the apes of Kerchak.

The man was his prey--the black should not have him,
and with the thought he leaped upon the warrior, striking
down the spear before it could reach its mark. The black,
whipping out his knife, turned to do battle with this new
enemy, while the Swede, lying in the bush, witnessed a duel,
the like of which he had never dreamed to see--a half-naked
white man battling with a half-naked black, hand to hand
with the crude weapons of primeval man at first, and then
with hands and teeth like the primordial brutes from whose
loins their forebears sprung.

For a time Anderssen did not recognize the white, and when
at last it dawned upon him that he had seen this giant before,
his eyes went wide in surprise that this growling, rending beast
could ever have been the well-groomed English gentleman who had
been a prisoner aboard the Kincaid.

An English nobleman! He had learned the identity of the
Kincaid's prisoners from Lady Greystoke during their flight
up the Ugambi. Before, in common with the other members of
the crew of the steamer, he had not known who the two might be.

The fight was over. Tarzan had been compelled to kill his antagonist,
as the fellow would not surrender.

The Swede saw the white man leap to his feet beside the corpse
of his foe, and placing one foot upon the broken neck lift
his voice in the hideous challenge of the victorious bull-ape.

Anderssen shuddered. Then Tarzan turned toward him.
His face was cold and cruel, and in the grey eyes the
Swede read murder.

"Where is my wife?" growled the ape-man. "Where is the child?"

Anderssen tried to reply, but a sudden fit of coughing choked him.
There was an arrow entirely through his chest, and as he coughed the
blood from his wounded lung poured suddenly from his mouth and nostrils.

Tarzan stood waiting for the paroxysm to pass. Like a
bronze image--cold, hard, and relentless--he stood over the
helpless man, waiting to wring such information from him
as he needed, and then to kill.

Presently the coughing and haemorrhage ceased, and again
the wounded man tried to speak. Tarzan knelt near the faintly
moving lips.

"The wife and child!" he repeated. "Where are they?"

Anderssen pointed up the trail.

"The Russian--he got them," he whispered.

"How did you come here?" continued Tarzan. "Why are you not with Rokoff?"

"They catch us," replied Anderssen, in a voice so low
that the ape-man could just distinguish the words.
"They catch us. Ay fight, but my men they all run away.
Then they get me when Ay ban vounded. Rokoff he say leave
me here for the hyenas. That vas vorse than to kill.
He tak your vife and kid."

"What were you doing with them--where were you taking them?"
asked Tarzan, and then fiercely, leaping close to the
fellow with fierce eyes blazing with the passion of hate and
vengeance that he had with difficulty controlled, "What harm
did you do to my wife or child? Speak quick before I kill you!
Make your peace with God! Tell me the worst, or I will
tear you to pieces with my hands and teeth. You have seen
that I can do it!"

A look of wide-eyed surprise overspread Anderssen's face.

"Why," he whispered, "Ay did not hurt them. Ay tried
to save them from that Russian. Your vife was kind to me on
the Kincaid, and Ay hear that little baby cry sometimes.
Ay got a vife an' kid for my own by Christiania an' Ay couldn't
bear for to see them separated an' in Rokoff's hands any more.
That vas all. Do Ay look like Ay ban here to hurt them?"
he continued after a pause, pointing to the arrow protruding
from his breast.

There was something in the man's tone and expression that
convinced Tarzan of the truth of his assertions. More weighty
than anything else was the fact that Anderssen evidently seemed
more hurt than frightened. He knew he was going to die,
so Tarzan's threats had little effect upon him; but it was
quite apparent that he wished the Englishman to know the
truth and not to wrong him by harbouring the belief that his
words and manner indicated that he had entertained.

The ape-man instantly dropped to his knees beside the Swede.

"I am sorry," he said very simply. "I had looked for none
but knaves in company with Rokoff. I see that I was wrong.
That is past now, and we will drop it for the more important
matter of getting you to a place of comfort and looking after
your wounds. We must have you on your feet again as soon
as possible."

The Swede, smiling, shook his head.

"You go on an' look for the vife an' kid," he said.
"Ay ban as gude as dead already; but"--he hesitated--"Ay hate
to think of the hyenas. Von't you finish up this job?"

Tarzan shuddered. A moment ago he had been upon the point
of killing this man. Now he could no more have taken his life
than he could have taken the life of any of his best friends.

He lifted the Swede's head in his arms to change and ease his position.

Again came a fit of coughing and the terrible haemorrhage.
After it was over Anderssen lay with closed eyes.

Tarzan thought that he was dead, until he suddenly raised
his eyes to those of the ape-man, sighed, and spoke--in a
very low, weak whisper.

"Ay tank it blow purty soon purty hard!" he said, and died.

 

 

 

Chapter 11

 

Tambudza

 

Tarzan scooped a shallow grave for the Kincaid's cook,
beneath whose repulsive exterior had beaten the heart of
a chivalrous gentleman. That was all he could do in the cruel
jungle for the man who had given his life in the service of
his little son and his wife.

Then Tarzan took up again the pursuit of Rokoff. Now that
he was positive that the woman ahead of him was indeed
Jane, and that she had again fallen into the hands of the
Russian, it seemed that with all the incredible speed of his
fleet and agile muscles he moved at but a snail's pace.

It was with difficulty that he kept the trail, for there were
many paths through the jungle at this point--crossing and
crisscrossing, forking and branching in all directions, and over
them all had passed natives innumerable, coming and going.
The spoor of the white men was obliterated by that of the
native carriers who had followed them, and over all was the
spoor of other natives and of wild beasts.

It was most perplexing; yet Tarzan kept on assiduously,
checking his sense of sight against his sense of smell, that he
might more surely keep to the right trail. But, with all his
care, night found him at a point where he was positive that
he was on the wrong trail entirely.

He knew that the pack would follow his spoor, and so he
had been careful to make it as distinct as possible, brushing
often against the vines and creepers that walled the jungle-
path, and in other ways leaving his scent-spoor plainly discernible.

As darkness settled a heavy rain set in, and there was
nothing for the baffled ape-man to do but wait in the partial
shelter of a huge tree until morning; but the coming of dawn
brought no cessation of the torrential downpour.

For a week the sun was obscured by heavy clouds, while
violent rain and wind storms obliterated the last remnants of
the spoor Tarzan constantly though vainly sought.

During all this time he saw no signs of natives, nor of his
own pack, the members of which he feared had lost his trail
during the terrific storm. As the country was strange to him,
he had been unable to judge his course accurately, since he had had
neither sun by day nor moon nor stars by night to guide him.

When the sun at last broke through the clouds in the
fore- noon of the seventh day, it looked down upon
an almost frantic ape-man.

For the first time in his life, Tarzan of the Apes had been
lost in the jungle. That the experience should have befallen
him at such a time seemed cruel beyond expression. Somewhere in
this savage land his wife and son lay in the clutches of the
arch-fiend Rokoff.

What hideous trials might they not have undergone during
those seven awful days that nature had thwarted him in his
endeavours to locate them? Tarzan knew the Russian, in
whose power they were, so well that he could not doubt but
that the man, filled with rage that Jane had once escaped
him, and knowing that Tarzan might be close upon his trail,
would wreak without further loss of time whatever vengeance
his polluted mind might be able to conceive.

But now that the sun shone once more, the ape-man was still
at a loss as to what direction to take. He knew that Rokoff
had left the river in pursuit of Anderssen, but whether he
would continue inland or return to the Ugambi was a question.

The ape-man had seen that the river at the point he had left
it was growing narrow and swift, so that he judged that
it could not be navigable even for canoes to any great
distance farther toward its source. However, if Rokoff had
not returned to the river, in what direction had he proceeded?

From the direction of Anderssen's flight with Jane and the
child Tarzan was convinced that the man had purposed
attempting the tremendous feat of crossing the continent to
Zanzibar; but whether Rokoff would dare so dangerous a
journey or not was a question.

Fear might drive him to the attempt now that he knew the
manner of horrible pack that was upon his trail, and that
Tarzan of the Apes was following him to wreak upon him
the vengeance that he deserved.

At last the ape-man determined to continue toward the
northeast in the general direction of German East Africa until
he came upon natives from whom he might gain information
as to Rokoff's whereabouts.

The second day following the cessation of the rain Tarzan
came upon a native village the inhabitants of which fled into
the bush the instant their eyes fell upon him. Tarzan, not to
be thwarted in any such manner as this, pursued them, and
after a brief chase caught up with a young warrior. The fellow
was so badly frightened that he was unable to defend
himself, dropping his weapons and falling upon the ground,
wide-eyed and screaming as he gazed on his captor.

It was with considerable difficulty that the ape-man quieted
the fellow's fears sufficiently to obtain a coherent statement
from him as to the cause of his uncalled-for terror.

From him Tarzan learned, by dint of much coaxing, that
a party of whites had passed through the village several
days before. These men had told them of a terrible white
devil that pursued them, warning the natives against it and
the frightful pack of demons that accompanied it.

The black had recognized Tarzan as the white devil from
the descriptions given by the whites and their black servants.
Behind him he had expected to see a horde of demons disguised
as apes and panthers.

In this Tarzan saw the cunning hand of Rokoff. The Russian
was attempting to make travel as difficult as possible for
him by turning the natives against him in superstitious fear.

The native further told Tarzan that the white man who had
led the recent expedition had promised them a fabulous reward
if they would kill the white devil. This they had fully
intended doing should the opportunity present itself; but the
moment they had seen Tarzan their blood had turned to water,
as the porters of the white men had told them would be the case.

Finding the ape-man made no attempt to harm him, the native
at last recovered his grasp upon his courage, and, at Tarzan's
suggestion, accompanied the white devil back to the village,
calling as he went for his fellows to return also, as "the
white devil has promised to do you no harm if you come back
right away and answer his questions."

One by one the blacks straggled into the village, but that
their fears were not entirely allayed was evident from the
amount of white that showed about the eyes of the majority
of them as they cast constant and apprehensive sidelong
glances at the ape-man.

The chief was among the first to return to the village, and
as it was he that Tarzan was most anxious to interview, he
lost no time in entering into a palaver with the black.

The fellow was short and stout, with an unusually low and
degraded countenance and apelike arms. His whole expression
denoted deceitfulness.

Only the superstitious terror engendered in him by the
stories poured into his ears by the whites and blacks of the
Russian's party kept him from leaping upon Tarzan with his
warriors and slaying him forthwith, for he and his people
were inveterate maneaters. But the fear that he might indeed
be a devil, and that out there in the jungle behind him his
fierce demons waited to do his bidding, kept M'ganwazam
from putting his desires into action.

Tarzan questioned the fellow closely, and by comparing
his statements with those of the young warrior he had first
talked with he learned that Rokoff and his safari were in
terror-stricken retreat in the direction of the far East Coast.

Many of the Russian's porters had already deserted him.
In that very village he had hanged five for theft and
attempted desertion. Judging, however, from what the Waganwazam
had learned from those of the Russian's blacks who were not
too far gone in terror of the brutal Rokoff to fear even to
speak of their plans, it was apparent that he would not travel
any great distance before the last of his porters, cooks,
tent-boys, gun-bearers, askari, and even his headman,
would have turned back into the bush, leaving him to
the mercy of the merciless jungle.

M'ganwazam denied that there had been any white woman
or child with the party of whites; but even as he spoke Tarzan
was convinced that he lied. Several times the ape-man approached
the subject from different angles, but never was he successful
in surprising the wily cannibal into a direct contradiction of
his original statement that there had been no women or children
with the party.

Tarzan demanded food of the chief, and after considerable haggling
on the part of the monarch succeeded in obtaining a meal.
He then tried to draw out others of the tribe, especially the
young man whom he had captured in the bush, but M'ganwazam's
presence sealed their lips.

At last, convinced that these people knew a great deal
more than they had told him concerning the whereabouts of
the Russian and the fate of Jane and the child, Tarzan
determined to remain overnight among them in the hope of
discovering something further of importance.

When he had stated his decision to the chief he was rather
surprised to note the sudden change in the fellow's attitude
toward him. From apparent dislike and suspicion M'ganwazam
became a most eager and solicitous host.

Nothing would do but that the ape-man should occupy the
best hut in the village, from which M'ganwazam's oldest
wife was forthwith summarily ejected, while the chief took up
his temporary abode in the hut of one of his younger consorts.

Had Tarzan chanced to recall the fact that a princely reward had
been offered the blacks if they should succeed in killing him,
he might have more quickly interpreted M'ganwazam's sudden
change in front.

To have the white giant sleeping peacefully in one of his own
huts would greatly facilitate the matter of earning the reward,
and so the chief was urgent in his suggestions that Tarzan,
doubtless being very much fatigued after his travels,
should retire early to the comforts of the anything but
inviting palace.

As much as the ape-man detested the thought of sleeping
within a native hut, he had determined to do so this night,
on the chance that he might be able to induce one of the
younger men to sit and chat with him before the fire that
burned in the centre of the smoke-filled dwelling, and from
him draw the truths he sought. So Tarzan accepted the
invitation of old M'ganwazam, insisting, however, that he much
preferred sharing a hut with some of the younger men rather
than driving the chief's old wife out in the cold.

The toothless old hag grinned her appreciation of this suggestion,
and as the plan still better suited the chief's scheme,
in that it would permit him to surround Tarzan with a gang
of picked assassins, he readily assented, so that presently
Tarzan had been installed in a hut close to the village gate.

As there was to be a dance that night in honour of a band
of recently returned hunters, Tarzan was left alone in the hut,
the young men, as M'ganwazam explained, having to take part
in the festivities.

As soon as the ape-man was safely installed in the trap,
M'Ganwazam called about him the young warriors whom he
had selected to spend the night with the white devil!

None of them was overly enthusiastic about the plan, since
deep in their superstitious hearts lay an exaggerated fear
of the strange white giant; but the word of M'ganwazam was
law among his people, so not one dared refuse the duty he
was called upon to perform.

As M'ganwazam unfolded his plan in whispers to the savages
squatting about him the old, toothless hag, to whom Tarzan
had saved her hut for the night, hovered about the conspirators
ostensibly to replenish the supply of firewood for the blaze
about which the men sat, but really to drink in as much of
their conversation as possible.

Tarzan had slept for perhaps an hour or two despite the
savage din of the revellers when his keen senses came suddenly
alert to a suspiciously stealthy movement in the hut in
which he lay. The fire had died down to a little heap of
glowing embers, which accentuated rather than relieved the
darkness that shrouded the interior of the evil-smelling
dwelling, yet the trained senses of the ape-man warned him
of another presence creeping almost silently toward him
through the gloom.

He doubted that it was one of his hut mates returning from
the festivities, for he still heard the wild cries of the dancers
and the din of the tom-toms in the village street without.
Who could it be that took such pains to conceal his approach?

As the presence came within reach of him the ape-man bounded
lightly to the opposite side of the hut, his spear poised
ready at his side.

"Who is it," he asked, "that creeps upon Tarzan of the
Apes, like a hungry lion out of the darkness?"

"Silence, bwana!" replied an old cracked voice. "It is
Tambudza--she whose hut you would not take, and thus drive
an old woman out into the cold night."

"What does Tambudza want of Tarzan of the Apes?" asked the ape-man.

"You were kind to me to whom none is now kind, and I have come
to warn you in payment of your kindness," answered the old hag.

"Warn me of what?"

"M'ganwazam has chosen the young men who are to sleep in the
hut with you," replied Tambudza. "I was near as he talked
with them, and heard him issuing his instructions to them.
When the dance is run well into the morning they are
to come to the hut.

"If you are awake they are to pretend that they have come
to sleep, but if you sleep it is M'ganwazam's command that
you be killed. If you are not then asleep they will wait quietly
beside you until you do sleep, and then they will all fall upon
you together and slay you. M'ganwazam is determined to
win the reward the white man has offered."

"I had forgotten the reward," said Tarzan, half to himself,
and then he added, "How may M'ganwazam hope to collect
the reward now that the white men who are my enemies
have left his country and gone he knows not where?"

"Oh, they have not gone far," replied Tambudza.
"M'ganwazam knows where they camp. His runners could
quickly overtake them--they move slowly."

"Where are they?" asked Tarzan.

"Do you wish to come to them?" asked Tambudza in way of reply.

Tarzan nodded.

"I cannot tell you where they lie so that you could come
to the place yourself, but I could lead you to them, bwana."

In their interest in the conversation neither of the speakers
had noticed the little figure which crept into the darkness of
the hut behind them, nor did they see it when it slunk
noiselessly out again.

It was little Buulaoo, the chief's son by one of his younger
wives--a vindictive, degenerate little rascal who hated Tambudza,
and was ever seeking opportunities to spy upon her and report her
slightest breach of custom to his father.

"Come, then," said Tarzan quickly, "let us be on our way."

This Buulaoo did not hear, for he was already legging it up
the village street to where his hideous sire guzzled native
beer, and watched the evolutions of the frantic dancers
leaping high in the air and cavorting wildly in their
hysterical capers.

So it happened that as Tarzan and Tambudza sneaked warily
from the village and melted into the Stygian darkness of
the jungle two lithe runners took their way in the same
direction, though by another trail.

When they had come sufficiently far from the village to
make it safe for them to speak above a whisper, Tarzan asked
the old woman if she had seen aught of a white woman and
a little child.

"Yes, bwana," replied Tambudza, "there was a woman
with them and a little child--a little white piccaninny.
It died here in our village of the fever and they buried it!"

 

 

 

Chapter 12

 

A Black Scoundrel

 

When Jane Clayton regained consciousness she saw Anderssen
standing over her, holding the baby in his arms. As her eyes
rested upon them an expression of misery and horror
overspread her countenance.

"What is the matter?" he asked. "You ban sick?"

"Where is my baby?" she cried, ignoring his questions.

Anderssen held out the chubby infant, but she shook her head.

"It is not mine," she said. "You knew that it was not mine.
You are a devil like the Russian."

Anderssen's blue eyes stretched in surprise.

"Not yours!" he exclaimed. "You tole me the kid aboard
the Kincaid ban your kid."

"Not this one," replied Jane dully. "The other. Where is the other?
There must have been two. I did not know about this one."

"There vasn't no other kid. Ay tank this ban yours. Ay am very sorry."

Anderssen fidgeted about, standing first on one foot and then upon
the other. It was perfectly evident to Jane that he was honest in
his protestations of ignorance of the true identity of the child.

Presently the baby commenced to crow, and bounce up and
down in the Swede's arms, at the same time leaning forward
with little hands out-reaching toward the young woman.

She could not withstand the appeal, and with a low cry
she sprang to her feet and gathered the baby to her breast.

For a few minutes she wept silently, her face buried in the
baby's soiled little dress. The first shock of disappointment
that the tiny thing had not been her beloved Jack was giving
way to a great hope that after all some miracle had occurred
to snatch her baby from Rokoff's hands at the last instant
before the Kincaid sailed from England.

Then, too, there was the mute appeal of this wee waif alone
and unloved in the midst of the horrors of the savage jungle.
It was this thought more than any other that had sent her
mother's heart out to the innocent babe, while still she
suffered from disappointment that she had been deceived in
its identity.

"Have you no idea whose child this is?" she asked Anderssen.

The man shook his head.

"Not now," he said. "If he ain't ban your kid, Ay don' know whose
kid he do ban. Rokoff said it was yours. Ay tank he tank so, too.

"What do we do with it now? Ay can't go back to the Kincaid.
Rokoff would have me shot; but you can go back. Ay take you to the sea,
and then some of these black men they take you to the ship--eh?"

"No! no!" cried Jane. "Not for the world. I would rather die
than fall into the hands of that man again. No, let us go on
and take this poor little creature with us. If God is willing
we shall be saved in one way or another."

So they again took up their flight through the wilderness,
taking with them a half-dozen of the Mosulas to carry
provisions and the tents that Anderssen had smuggled aboard
the small boat in preparation for the attempted escape.

The days and nights of torture that the young woman suffered
were so merged into one long, unbroken nightmare of
hideousness that she soon lost all track of time. Whether they
had been wandering for days or years she could not tell.
The one bright spot in that eternity of fear and suffering was the
little child whose tiny hands had long since fastened their
softly groping fingers firmly about her heart.

In a way the little thing took the place and filled the aching
void that the theft of her own baby had left. It could never be
the same, of course, but yet, day by day, she found her
mother-love, enveloping the waif more closely until she
sometimes sat with closed eyes lost in the sweet imagining
that the little bundle of humanity at her breast was truly her own.

For some time their progress inland was extremely slow.
Word came to them from time to time through natives passing
from the coast on hunting excursions that Rokoff had not
yet guessed the direction of their flight. This, and the desire
to make the journey as light as possible for the gently bred
woman, kept Anderssen to a slow advance of short and easy
marches with many rests.

The Swede insisted upon carrying the child while they
travelled, and in countless other ways did what he could to
help Jane Clayton conserve her strength. He had been terribly
chagrined on discovering the mistake he had made in the
identity of the baby, but once the young woman became
convinced that his motives were truly chivalrous she would not
permit him longer to upbraid himself for the error that he
could not by any means have avoided.

At the close of each day's march Anderssen saw to the
erection of a comfortable shelter for Jane and the child.
Her tent was always pitched in the most favourable location.
The thorn boma round it was the strongest and most
impregnable that the Mosula could construct.

Her food was the best that their limited stores and the rifle
of the Swede could provide, but the thing that touched her
heart the closest was the gentle consideration and courtesy
which the man always accorded her.

That such nobility of character could lie beneath so repulsive
an exterior never ceased to be a source of wonder and
amazement to her, until at last the innate chivalry of the man,
and his unfailing kindliness and sympathy transformed his
appearance in so far as Jane was concerned until she saw
only the sweetness of his character mirrored in his countenance.

They had commenced to make a little better progress when
word reached them that Rokoff was but a few marches behind
them, and that he had at last discovered the direction of
their flight. It was then that Anderssen took to the river,
purchasing a canoe from a chief whose village lay a short
distance from the Ugambi upon the bank of a tributary.

Thereafter the little party of fugitives fled up the broad
Ugambi, and so rapid had their flight become that they no
longer received word of their pursuers. At the end of canoe
navigation upon the river, they abandoned their canoe and
took to the jungle. Here progress became at once arduous,
slow, and dangerous.

The second day after leaving the Ugambi the baby fell ill
with fever. Anderssen knew what the outcome must be, but
he had not the heart to tell Jane Clayton the truth, for he had
seen that the young woman had come to love the child almost
as passionately as though it had been her own flesh and blood.

As the baby's condition precluded farther advance, Anderssen
withdrew a little from the main trail he had been following
and built a camp in a natural clearing on the bank
of a little river.

Here Jane devoted her every moment to caring for the tiny
sufferer, and as though her sorrow and anxiety were not all
that she could bear, a further blow came with the sudden
announcement of one of the Mosula porters who had been foraging
in the jungle adjacent that Rokoff and his party were camped
quite close to them, and were evidently upon their trail to this
little nook which all had thought so excellent a hiding-place.

This information could mean but one thing, and that they must
break camp and fly onward regardless of the baby's condition.
Jane Clayton knew the traits of the Russian well enough
to be positive that he would separate her from the child
the moment that he recaptured them, and she knew that
separation would mean the immediate death of the baby.

As they stumbled forward through the tangled vegetation
along an old and almost overgrown game trail the Mosula
porters deserted them one by one.

The men had been staunch enough in their devotion and loyalty
as long as they were in no danger of being overtaken by the
Russian and his party. They had heard, however, so much of
the atrocious disposition of Rokoff that they had grown to
hold him in mortal terror, and now that they knew he was close
upon them their timid hearts would fortify them no longer,
and as quickly as possible they deserted the three whites.

Yet on and on went Anderssen and the girl. The Swede
went ahead, to hew a way through the brush where the path
was entirely overgrown, so that on this march it was
necessary that the young woman carry the child.

All day they marched. Late in the afternoon they realized
that they had failed. Close behind them they heard the noise
of a large safari advancing along the trail which they had
cleared for their pursuers.

When it became quite evident that they must be overtaken
in a short time Anderssen hid Jane behind a large tree,
covering her and the child with brush.

"There is a village about a mile farther on," he said to her.
"The Mosula told me its location before they deserted us.
Ay try to lead the Russian off your trail, then you go on
to the village. Ay tank the chief ban friendly to white men--
the Mosula tal me he ban. Anyhow, that was all we can do.

"After while you get chief to tak you down by the Mosula
village at the sea again, an' after a while a ship is sure to put
into the mouth of the Ugambi. Then you be all right. Gude-by an'
gude luck to you, lady!"

"But where are you going, Sven?" asked Jane. "Why can't
you hide here and go back to the sea with me?"

"Ay gotta tal the Russian you ban dead, so that he don't
luke for you no more," and Anderssen grinned.

"Why can't you join me then after you have told him that?"
insisted the girl.

Anderssen shook his head.

"Ay don't tank Ay join anybody any more after Ay tal the
Russian you ban dead," he said.

"You don't mean that you think he will kill you?" asked Jane,
and yet in her heart she knew that that was exactly what the
great scoundrel would do in revenge for his having been
thwarted by the Swede. Anderssen did not reply, other than
to warn her to silence and point toward the path along which
they had just come.

"I don't care," whispered Jane Clayton. "I shall not let
you die to save me if I can prevent it in any way. Give me
your revolver. I can use that, and together we may be able
to hold them off until we can find some means of escape."

"It won't work, lady," replied Anderssen. "They would
only get us both, and then Ay couldn't do you no good at all.
Think of the kid, lady, and what it would be for you both to
fall into Rokoff's hands again. For his sake you must do what
Ay say. Here, take my rifle and ammunition; you may need them."

He shoved the gun and bandoleer into the shelter beside Jane.
Then he was gone.

She watched him as he returned along the path to meet the
oncoming safari of the Russian. Soon a turn in the trail hid
him from view.

Her first impulse was to follow. With the rifle she might
be of assistance to him, and, further, she could not bear the
terrible thought of being left alone at the mercy of the fearful
jungle without a single friend to aid her.

She started to crawl from her shelter with the intention of
running after Anderssen as fast as she could. As she drew
the baby close to her she glanced down into its little face.

How red it was! How unnatural the little thing looked.
She raised the cheek to hers. It was fiery hot with fever!

With a little gasp of terror Jane Clayton rose to her feet
in the jungle path. The rifle and bandoleer lay forgotten in
the shelter beside her. Anderssen was forgotten, and Rokoff,
and her great peril.

All that rioted through her fear-mad brain was the fearful
fact that this little, helpless child was stricken with the
terrible jungle-fever, and that she was helpless to do aught to
allay its sufferings--sufferings that were sure to coming during
ensuing intervals of partial consciousness.

Her one thought was to find some one who could help her--some woman
who had had children of her own--and with the thought came recollection
of the friendly village of which Anderssen had spoken. If she could
but reach it--in time!

There was no time to be lost. Like a startled antelope she
turned and fled up the trail in the direction Anderssen
had indicated.

From far behind came the sudden shouting of men, the sound of shots,
and then silence. She knew that Anderssen had met the Russian.

A half-hour later she stumbled, exhausted, into a little
thatched village. Instantly she was surrounded by men,
women, and children. Eager, curious, excited natives plied
her with a hundred questions, no one of which she could
understand or answer.

All that she could do was to point tearfully at the baby,
now wailing piteously in her arms, and repeat over and over,
"Fever--fever--fever."

The blacks did not understand her words, but they saw the
cause of her trouble, and soon a young woman had pulled
her into a hut and with several others was doing her poor
best to quiet the child and allay its agony.

The witch doctor came and built a little fire before the
infant, upon which he boiled some strange concoction in a
small earthen pot, making weird passes above it and mumbling
strange, monotonous chants. Presently he dipped a zebra's
tail into the brew, and with further mutterings and incantations
sprinkled a few drops of the liquid over the baby's face.

After he had gone the women sat about and moaned and
wailed until Jane thought that she should go mad; but,
knowing that they were doing it all out of the kindness
of their hearts, she endured the frightful waking nightmare
of those awful hours in dumb and patient suffering.

It must have been well toward midnight that she became
conscious of a sudden commotion in the village. She heard
the voices of the natives raised in controversy, but she could
not understand the words.

Presently she heard footsteps approaching the hut in which
she squatted before a bright fire with the baby on her lap.
The little thing lay very still now, its lids, half-raised,
showed the pupils horribly upturned.

Jane Clayton looked into the little face with fear-haunted eyes.
It was not her baby--not her flesh and blood--but how close,
how dear the tiny, helpless thing had become to her.
Her heart, bereft of its own, had gone out to this poor,
little, nameless waif, and lavished upon it all the love
that had been denied her during the long, bitter weeks
of her captivity aboard the Kincaid.

She saw that the end was near, and though she was terrified
at contemplation of her loss, still she hoped that it would
come quickly now and end the sufferings of the little victim.

The footsteps she had heard without the hut now halted
before the door. There was a whispered colloquy, and a
moment later M'ganwazam, chief of the tribe, entered. She had
seen but little of him, as the women had taken her in hand
almost as soon as she had entered the village.

M'ganwazam, she now saw, was an evil-appearing savage
with every mark of brutal degeneracy writ large upon his
bestial countenance. To Jane Clayton he looked more gorilla
than human. He tried to converse with her, but without success,
and finally he called to some one without.

In answer to his summons another Negro entered--a man
of very different appearance from M'ganwazam--so different,
in fact, that Jane Clayton immediately decided that he was
of another tribe. This man acted as interpreter, and almost
from the first question that M'ganwazam put to her, Jane felt
an intuitive conviction that the savage was attempting to
draw information from her for some ulterior motive.

She thought it strange that the fellow should so suddenly
have become interested in her plans, and especially in her
intended destination when her journey had been interrupted
at his village.

Seeing no reason for withholding the information, she told
him the truth; but when he asked if she expected to meet her
husband at the end of the trip, she shook her head negatively.

Then he told her the purpose of his visit, talking through
the interpreter.

"I have just learned," he said, "from some men who live
by the side of the great water, that your husband followed
you up the Ugambi for several marches, when he was at last
set upon by natives and killed. Therefore I have told you this
that you might not waste your time in a long journey if you
expected to meet your husband at the end of it; but instead
could turn and retrace your steps to the coast."

Jane thanked M'ganwazam for his kindness, though her heart
was numb with suffering at this new blow. She who had
suffered so much was at last beyond reach of the keenest
of misery's pangs, for her senses were numbed and calloused.

With bowed head she sat staring with unseeing eyes upon
the face of the baby in her lap. M'ganwazam had left the hut.
Sometime later she heard a noise at the entrance--another
had entered. One of the women sitting opposite her threw a
faggot upon the dying embers of the fire between them.

With a sudden flare it burst into renewed flame, lighting
up the hut's interior as though by magic.

The flame disclosed to Jane Clayton's horrified gaze that the baby
was quite dead. How long it had been so she could not guess.

A choking lump rose to her throat, her head drooped in
silent misery upon the little bundle that she had caught
suddenly to her breast.

For a moment the silence of the hut was unbroken.
Then the native woman broke into a hideous wail.

A man coughed close before Jane Clayton and spoke her name.

With a start she raised her eyes to look into the sardonic
countenance of Nikolas Rokoff.

 

 

 

Chapter 13

 

Escape

 

For a moment Rokoff stood sneering down upon Jane Clayton,
then his eyes fell to the little bundle in her lap. Jane had
drawn one corner of the blanket over the child's face, so that
to one who did not know the truth it seemed but to be sleeping.

"You have gone to a great deal of unnecessary trouble," said Rokoff,
"to bring the child to this village. If you had attended to your
own affairs I should have brought it here myself.

"You would have been spared the dangers and fatigue of the journey.
But I suppose I must thank you for relieving me of the inconvenience
of having to care for a young infant on the march.

"This is the village to which the child was destined from
the first. M'ganwazam will rear him carefully, making a good
cannibal of him, and if you ever chance to return to civilization
it will doubtless afford you much food for thought as you compare
the luxuries and comforts of your life with the details of the life
your son is living in the village of the Waganwazam.

"Again I thank you for bringing him here for me, and now I must ask you
to surrender him to me, that I may turn him over to his foster parents."
As he concluded Rokoff held out his hands for the child, a nasty grin of
vindictiveness upon his lips.

To his surprise Jane Clayton rose and, without a word of protest,
laid the little bundle in his arms.

"Here is the child," she said. "Thank God he is beyond
your power to harm."

Grasping the import of her words, Rokoff snatched the blanket
from the child's face to seek confirmation of his fears.
Jane Clayton watched his expression closely.

She had been puzzled for days for an answer to the question
of Rokoff's knowledge of the child's identity. If she had
been in doubt before the last shred of that doubt was wiped
away as she witnessed the terrible anger of the Russian as he
looked upon the dead face of the baby and realized that at
the last moment his dearest wish for vengeance had been
thwarted by a higher power.

Almost throwing the body of the child back into Jane Clayton's arms,
Rokoff stamped up and down the hut, pounding the air with his
clenched fists and cursing terribly. At last he halted in front
of the young woman, bringing his face down close to hers.

"You are laughing at me," he shrieked. "You think that
you have beaten me--eh? I'll show you, as I have shown the
miserable ape you call `husband,' what it means to interfere
with the plans of Nikolas Rokoff.

"You have robbed me of the child. I cannot make him the
son of a cannibal chief, but"--and he paused as though to
let the full meaning of his threat sink deep--"I can make the
mother the wife of a cannibal, and that I shall do--after I
have finished with her myself."

If he had thought to wring from Jane Clayton any
sign of terror he failed miserably. She was beyond that.
Her brain and nerves were numb to suffering and shock.

To his surprise a faint, almost happy smile touched her lips.
She was thinking with thankful heart that this poor little
corpse was not that of her own wee Jack, and that--best of all--
Rokoff evidently did not know the truth.

She would have liked to have flaunted the fact in his face,
but she dared not. If he continued to believe that the child
had been hers, so much safer would be the real Jack wherever
he might be. She had, of course, no knowledge of the whereabouts
of her little son--she did not know, even, that he still
lived, and yet there was the chance that he might.

It was more than possible that without Rokoff's knowledge
this child had been substituted for hers by one of the Russian's
confederates, and that even now her son might be safe
with friends in London, where there were many, both able
and willing, to have paid any ransom which the traitorous
conspirator might have asked for the safe release of Lord
Greystoke's son.

She had thought it all out a hundred times since she had
discovered that the baby which Anderssen had placed in her
arms that night upon the Kincaid was not her own, and it had
been a constant and gnawing source of happiness to her to
dream the whole fantasy through in its every detail.

No, the Russian must never know that this was not her baby.
She realized that her position was hopeless--with Anderssen
and her husband dead there was no one in all the world with
a desire to succour her who knew where she might be found.

Rokoff's threat, she realized, was no idle one. That he
would do, or attempt to do, all that he had promised, she
was perfectly sure; but at the worst it meant but a little earlier
release from the hideous anguish that she had been enduring.
She must find some way to take her own life before the Russian
could harm her further.

Just now she wanted time--time to think and prepare herself
for the end. She felt that she could not take the last,
awful step until she had exhausted every possibility of escape.
She did not care to live unless she might find her way
back to her own child, but slight as such a hope appeared
she would not admit its impossibility until the last moment
had come, and she faced the fearful reality of choosing between
the final alternatives--Nikolas Rokoff on one hand and
self-destruction upon the other.

"Go away!" she said to the Russian. "Go away and leave me
in peace with my dead. Have you not brought sufficient misery
and anguish upon me without attempting to harm me further?
What wrong have I ever done you that you should persist
in persecuting me?"

"You are suffering for the sins of the monkey you chose
when you might have had the love of a gentleman--of Nikolas
Rokoff," he replied. "But where is the use in discussing
the matter? We shall bury the child here, and you will
return with me at once to my own camp. Tomorrow I shall
bring you back and turn you over to your new husband--the
lovely M'ganwazam. Come!"

He reached out for the child. Jane, who was on her feet
now, turned away from him.

"I shall bury the body," she said. "Send some men to dig
a grave outside the village."

Rokoff was anxious to have the thing over and get back to
his camp with his victim. He thought he saw in her apathy a
resignation to her fate. Stepping outside the hut, he motioned
her to follow him, and a moment later, with his men, he
escorted Jane beyond the village, where beneath a great tree
the blacks scooped a shallow grave.

Wrapping the tiny body in a blanket, Jane laid it tenderly
in the black hole, and, turning her head that she might not
see the mouldy earth falling upon the pitiful little bundle,
she breathed a prayer beside the grave of the nameless waif
that had won its way to the innermost recesses of her heart.

Then, dry-eyed but suffering, she rose and followed the Russian
through the Stygian blackness of the jungle, along the winding,
leafy corridor that led from the village of M'ganwazam, the
black cannibal, to the camp of Nikolas Rokoff, the white fiend.

Beside them, in the impenetrable thickets that fringed the path,
rising to arch above it and shut out the moon, the girl could
hear the stealthy, muffled footfalls of great beasts, and ever
round about them rose the deafening roars of hunting lions,
until the earth trembled to the mighty sound.

The porters lighted torches now and waved them upon either
hand to frighten off the beasts of prey. Rokoff urged
them to greater speed, and from the quavering note in his
voice Jane Clayton knew that he was weak from terror.

The sounds of the jungle night recalled most vividly the
days and nights that she had spent in a similar jungle with
her forest god--with the fearless and unconquerable Tarzan
of the Apes. Then there had been no thoughts of terror,
though the jungle noises were new to her, and the roar of a
lion had seemed the most awe-inspiring sound upon the great earth.

How different would it be now if she knew that he was
somewhere there in the wilderness, seeking her! Then, indeed,
would there be that for which to live, and every reason
to believe that succour was close at hand--but he was dead!
It was incredible that it should be so.

There seemed no place in death for that great body and
those mighty thews. Had Rokoff been the one to tell her of
her lord's passing she would have known that he lied.
There could be no reason, she thought, why M'ganwazam should
have deceived her. She did not know that the Russian had
talked with the savage a few minutes before the chief had
come to her with his tale.

At last they reached the rude boma that Rokoff's porters
had thrown up round the Russian's camp. Here they found
all in turmoil. She did not know what it was all about,
but she saw that Rokoff was very angry, and from bits of
conversation which she could translate she gleaned that there
had been further desertions while he had been absent, and that
the deserters had taken the bulk of his food and ammunition.

When he had done venting his rage upon those who remained
he returned to where Jane stood under guard of a couple
of his white sailors. He grasped her roughly by the arm
and started to drag her toward his tent. The girl struggled
and fought to free herself, while the two sailors stood by,
laughing at the rare treat.

Rokoff did not hesitate to use rough methods when he found
that he was to have difficulty in carrying out his designs.
Repeatedly he struck Jane Clayton in the face, until at
last, half-conscious, she was dragged within his tent.

Rokoff's boy had lighted the Russian's lamp, and now at
a word from his master he made himself scarce. Jane had
sunk to the floor in the middle of the enclosure. Slowly her
numbed senses were returning to her and she was commencing
to think very fast indeed. Quickly her eyes ran round the
interior of the tent, taking in every detail of its equipment
and contents.

Now the Russian was lifting her to her feet and attempting
to drag her to the camp cot that stood at one side of the tent.
At his belt hung a heavy revolver. Jane Clayton's eyes riveted
themselves upon it. Her palm itched to grasp the huge butt.
She feigned again to swoon, but through her half-closed lids
she waited her opportunity.

It came just as Rokoff was lifting her upon the cot. A noise
at the tent door behind him brought his head quickly about
and away from the girl. The butt of the gun was not an inch
from her hand. With a single, lightning-like move she
snatched the weapon from its holster, and at the same instant
Rokoff turned back toward her, realizing his peril.

She did not dare fire for fear the shot would bring his
people about him, and with Rokoff dead she would fall into
hands no better than his and to a fate probably even worse
than he alone could have imagined. The memory of the two brutes
who stood and laughed as Rokoff struck her was still vivid.

As the rage and fear-filled countenance of the Slav turned
toward her Jane Clayton raised the heavy revolver high above
the pasty face and with all her strength dealt the man a terrific
blow between the eyes.

Without a sound he sank, limp and unconscious, to the ground.
A moment later the girl stood beside him--for a moment at
least free from the menace of his lust.

Outside the tent she again heard the noise that had distracted
Rokoff's attention. What it was she did not know, but, fearing
the return of the servant and the discovery of her deed,
she stepped quickly to the camp table upon which burned the
oil lamp and extinguished the smudgy, evil-smelling flame.

In the total darkness of the interior she paused for a moment to
collect her wits and plan for the next step in her venture for freedom.

About her was a camp of enemies. Beyond these foes a black
wilderness of savage jungle peopled by hideous beasts of prey
and still more hideous human beasts.

There was little or no chance that she could survive even a few
days of the constant dangers that would confront her there;
but the knowledge that she had already passed through
so many perils unscathed, and that somewhere out in the
faraway world a little child was doubtless at that very moment
crying for her, filled her with determination to make
the effort to accomplish the seemingly impossible and cross
that awful land of horror in search of the sea and the remote
chance of succour she might find there.

Rokoff's tent stood almost exactly in the centre of the boma.
Surrounding it were the tents and shelters of his white
companions and the natives of his safari. To pass through
these and find egress through the boma seemed a task too
fraught with insurmountable obstacles to warrant even the
slightest consideration, and yet there was no other way.

To remain in the tent until she should be discovered would
be to set at naught all that she had risked to gain her freedom,
and so with stealthy step and every sense alert she approached
the back of the tent to set out upon the first stage
of her adventure.

Groping along the rear of the canvas wall, she found that
there was no opening there. Quickly she returned to the side
of the unconscious Russian. In his belt her groping fingers
came upon the hilt of a long hunting-knife, and with this she
cut a hole in the back wall of the tent.

Silently she stepped without. To her immense relief she
saw that the camp was apparently asleep. In the dim and
flickering light of the dying fires she saw but a single sentry,
and he was dozing upon his haunches at the opposite side of
the enclosure.

Keeping the tent between him and herself, she crossed
between the small shelters of the native porters to the
boma wall beyond.

Outside, in the darkness of the tangled jungle, she could
hear the roaring of lions, the laughing of hyenas, and the
countless, nameless noises of the midnight jungle.

For a moment she hesitated, trembling. The thought of the
prowling beasts out there in the darkness was appalling.
Then, with a sudden brave toss of her head, she attacked the
thorny boma wall with her delicate hands. Torn and bleeding
though they were, she worked on breathlessly until she had
made an opening through which she could worm her body,
and at last she stood outside the enclosure.

Behind her lay a fate worse than death, at the hands of
human beings.

Before her lay an almost certain fate--but it was only death--
sudden, merciful, and honourable death.

Without a tremor and without regret she darted away from the camp,
and a moment later the mysterious jungle had closed about her.

 

 

 

Chapter 14

 

Alone in the Jungle

 

Tambudza, leading Tarzan of the Apes toward the camp of
the Russian, moved very slowly along the winding jungle
path, for she was old and her legs stiff with rheumatism.

So it was that the runners dispatched by M'ganwazam to warn
Rokoff that the white giant was in his village and that he
would be slain that night reached the Russian's camp before
Tarzan and his ancient guide had covered half the distance.

The guides found the white man's camp in a turmoil.
Rokoff had that morning been discovered stunned and bleeding
within his tent. When he had recovered his senses and realized
that Jane Clayton had escaped, his rage was boundless.

Rushing about the camp with his rifle, he had sought to
shoot down the native sentries who had allowed the young
woman to elude their vigilance, but several of the other
whites, realizing that they were already in a precarious
position owing to the numerous desertions that Rokoff's
cruelty had brought about, seized and disarmed him.

Then came the messengers from M'ganwazam, but scarce
had they told their story and Rokoff was preparing to depart
with them for their village when other runners, panting from
the exertions of their swift flight through the jungle, rushed
breathless into the firelight, crying that the great white giant
had escaped from M'ganwazam and was already on his way
to wreak vengeance against his enemies.

Instantly confusion reigned within the encircling boma.
The blacks belonging to Rokoff's safari were terror-stricken at the
thought of the proximity of the white giant who hunted through
the jungle with a fierce pack of apes and panthers at his heels.

Before the whites realized what had happened the superstitious
fears of the natives had sent them scurrying into the bush--
their own carriers as well as the messengers from M'ganwazam--
but even in their haste they had not neglected to take with them
every article of value upon which they could lay their hands.

Thus Rokoff and the seven white sailors found themselves
deserted and robbed in the midst of a wilderness.

The Russian, following his usual custom, berated his companions,
laying all the blame upon their shoulders for the events which
had led up to the almost hopeless condition in which they now
found themselves; but the sailors were in no mood to brook
his insults and his cursing.

In the midst of this tirade one of them drew a revolver and fired
point-blank at the Russian. The fellow's aim was poor, but
his act so terrified Rokoff that he turned and fled for his tent.

As he ran his eyes chanced to pass beyond the boma to the
edge of the forest, and there he caught a glimpse of that
which sent his craven heart cold with a fear that almost
expunged his terror of the seven men at his back, who by this
time were all firing in hate and revenge at his retreating figure.

What he saw was the giant figure of an almost naked white
man emerging from the bush.

Darting into his tent, the Russian did not halt in his flight,
but kept right on through the rear wall, taking advantage of
the long slit that Jane Clayton had made the night before.

The terror-stricken Muscovite scurried like a hunted rabbit
through the hole that still gaped in the boma's wall at the
point where his own prey had escaped, and as Tarzan approached
the camp upon the opposite side Rokoff disappeared into the
jungle in the wake of Jane Clayton.

As the ape-man entered the boma with old Tambudza at his elbow
the seven sailors, recognizing him, turned and fled in the
opposite direction. Tarzan saw that Rokoff was not among them,
and so he let them go their way--his business was with the Russian,
whom he expected to find in his tent. As to the sailors, he was
sure that the jungle would exact from them expiation for their
villainies, nor, doubtless, was he wrong, for his were the last
white man's eyes to rest upon any of them.

Finding Rokoff's tent empty, Tarzan was about to set out
in search of the Russian when Tambudza suggested to him
that the departure of the white man could only have resulted
from word reaching him from M'ganwazam that Tarzan was
in his village.

"He has doubtless hastened there," argued the old woman.
"If you would find him let us return at once."

Tarzan himself thought that this would probably prove to
be the fact, so he did not waste time in an endeavour to locate
the Russian's trail, but, instead, set out briskly for the village
of M'ganwazam, leaving Tambudza to plod slowly in his wake.

His one hope was that Jane was still safe and with Rokoff.
If this was the case, it would be but a matter of an hour or
more before he should be able to wrest her from the Russian.

He knew now that M'ganwazam was treacherous and that
he might have to fight to regain possession of his wife.
He wished that Mugambi, Sheeta, Akut, and the balance of the
pack were with him, for he realized that single-handed it
would be no child's play to bring Jane safely from the clutches
of two such scoundrels as Rokoff and the wily M'ganwazam.

To his surprise he found no sign of either Rokoff or Jane
in the village, and as he could not trust the word of the chief,
he wasted no time in futile inquiry. So sudden and unexpected
had been his return, and so quickly had he vanished into the jungle
after learning that those he sought were not among the Waganwazam,
that old M'ganwazam had no time to prevent his going.

Swinging through the trees, he hastened back to the deserted camp
he had so recently left, for here, he knew, was the logical place
to take up the trail of Rokoff and Jane.

Arrived at the boma, he circled carefully about the outside
of the enclosure until, opposite a break in the thorny wall,
he came to indications that something had recently passed
into the jungle. His acute sense of smell told him that both
of those he sought had fled from the camp in this direction,
and a moment later he had taken up the trail and was following
the faint spoor.

Far ahead of him a terror-stricken young woman was slinking
along a narrow game-trail, fearful that the next moment
would bring her face to face with some savage beast or equally
savage man. As she ran on, hoping against hope that she had
hit upon the direction that would lead her eventually to the
great river, she came suddenly upon a familiar spot.

At one side of the trail, beneath a giant tree, lay a little
heap of loosely piled brush--to her dying day that little spot
of jungle would be indelibly impressed upon her memory.
It was where Anderssen had hidden her--where he had given
up his life in the vain effort to save her from Rokoff.

At sight of it she recalled the rifle and ammunition that
the man had thrust upon her at the last moment. Until now
she had forgotten them entirely. Still clutched in her hand
was the revolver she had snatched from Rokoff's belt, but
that could contain at most not over six cartridges--not enough
to furnish her with food and protection both on the long
journey to the sea.

With bated breath she groped beneath the little mound,
scarce daring to hope that the treasure remained where she
had left it; but, to her infinite relief and joy, her hand came
at once upon the barrel of the heavy weapon and then upon
the bandoleer of cartridges.

As she threw the latter about her shoulder and felt the weight
of the big game-gun in her hand a sudden sense of security
suffused her. It was with new hope and a feeling almost of
assured success that she again set forward upon her journey.

That night she slept in the crotch of a tree, as Tarzan had
so often told her that he was accustomed to doing, and early
the next morning was upon her way again. Late in the afternoon,
as she was about to cross a little clearing, she was startled
at the sight of a huge ape coming from the jungle upon the
opposite side.

The wind was blowing directly across the clearing between
them, and Jane lost no time in putting herself downwind
from the huge creature. Then she hid in a clump of heavy
bush and watched, holding the rifle ready for instant use.

To her consternation she saw that the apes were pausing in the
centre of the clearing. They came together in a little knot,
where they stood looking backward, as though in expectation
of the coming of others of their tribe.
Jane wished that they would go on, for she knew that at
any moment some little, eddying gust of wind might carry
her scent down to their nostrils, and then what would the
protection of her rifle amount to in the face of those gigantic
muscles and mighty fangs?

Her eyes moved back and forth between the apes and the edge
of the jungle toward which they were gazing until at last
she perceived the object of their halt and the thing that
they awaited. They were being stalked.

Of this she was positive, as she saw the lithe, sinewy form
of a panther glide noiselessly from the jungle at the point at
which the apes had emerged but a moment before.

Quickly the beast trotted across the clearing toward
the anthropoids. Jane wondered at their apparent apathy,
and a moment later her wonder turned to amazement as she saw
the great cat come quite close to the apes, who appeared
entirely unconcerned by its presence, and, squatting down
in their midst, fell assiduously to the business of preening,
which occupies most of the waking hours of the cat family.

If the young woman was surprised by the sight of these natural
enemies fraternizing, it was with emotions little short of fear
for her own sanity that she presently saw a tall, muscular warrior
enter the clearing and join the group of savage beasts assembled there.

At first sight of the man she had been positive that he would
be torn to pieces, and she had half risen from her shelter,
raising her rifle to her shoulder to do what she could to
avert the man's terrible fate.

Now she saw that he seemed actually conversing with the beasts--
issuing orders to them.

Presently the entire company filed on across the clearing
and disappeared in the jungle upon the opposite side.

With a gasp of mingled incredulity and relief Jane Clayton
staggered to her feet and fled on away from the terrible horde
that had just passed her, while a half-mile behind her another
individual, following the same trail as she, lay frozen with
terror behind an ant-hill as the hideous band passed quite
close to him.

This one was Rokoff; but he had recognized the members
of the awful aggregation as allies of Tarzan of the Apes.
No sooner, therefore, had the beasts passed him than he rose and
raced through the jungle as fast as he could go, in order that
he might put as much distance as possible between himself
and these frightful beasts.

So it happened that as Jane Clayton came to the bank of the river,
down which she hoped to float to the ocean and eventual rescue,
Nikolas Rokoff was but a short distance in her rear.

Upon the bank the girl saw a great dugout drawn half-way
from the water and tied securely to a near-by tree.

This, she felt, would solve the question of transportation
to the sea could she but launch the huge, unwieldy craft.
Unfastening the rope that had moored it to the tree, Jane
pushed frantically upon the bow of the heavy canoe, but for
all the results that were apparent she might as well have been
attempting to shove the earth out of its orbit.

She was about winded when it occurred to her to try working
the dugout into the stream by loading the stern with ballast
and then rocking the bow back and forth along the bank
until the craft eventually worked itself into the river.

There were no stones or rocks available, but along the
shore she found quantities of driftwood deposited by the river
at a slightly higher stage. These she gathered and piled far
in the stern of the boat, until at last, to her immense relief,
she saw the bow rise gently from the mud of the bank and
the stern drift slowly with the current until it again lodged a
few feet farther down-stream.

Jane found that by running back and forth between the
bow and stern she could alternately raise and lower each end
of the boat as she shifted her weight from one end to the
other, with the result that each time she leaped to the stern
the canoe moved a few inches farther into the river.

As the success of her plan approached more closely to
fruition she became so wrapped in her efforts that she failed
to note the figure of a man standing beneath a huge tree at
the edge of the jungle from which he had just emerged.

He watched her and her labours with a cruel and malicious
grin upon his swarthy countenance.

The boat at last became so nearly free of the retarding
mud and of the bank that Jane felt positive that she could
pole it off into deeper water with one of the paddles which
lay in the bottom of the rude craft. With this end in view she
seized upon one of these implements and had just plunged it
into the river bottom close to the shore when her eyes
happened to rise to the edge of the jungle.

As her gaze fell upon the figure of the man a little cry of
terror rose to her lips. It was Rokoff.

He was running toward her now and shouting to her to
wait or he would shoot--though he was entirely unarmed it
was difficult to discover just how he intended making good
his threat.

Jane Clayton knew nothing of the various misfortunes that
had befallen the Russian since she had escaped from his tent,
so she believed that his followers must be close at hand.

However, she had no intention of falling again into the
man's clutches. She would rather die at once than that that
should happen to her. Another minute and the boat would be free.

Once in the current of the river she would be beyond Rokoff's
power to stop her, for there was no other boat upon
the shore, and no man, and certainly not the cowardly Rokoff,
would dare to attempt to swim the crocodile-infested
water in an effort to overtake her.

Rokoff, on his part, was bent more upon escape than aught else.
He would gladly have forgone any designs he might have
had upon Jane Clayton would she but permit him to share
this means of escape that she had discovered. He would
promise anything if she would let him come aboard the dugout,
but he did not think that it was necessary to do so.

He saw that he could easily reach the bow of the boat
before it cleared the shore, and then it would not be
necessary to make promises of any sort. Not that Rokoff would
have felt the slightest compunction in ignoring any promises
he might have made the girl, but he disliked the idea of having
to sue for favour with one who had so recently assaulted
and escaped him.

Already he was gloating over the days and nights of revenge
that would be his while the heavy dugout drifted its
slow way to the ocean.

Jane Clayton, working furiously to shove the boat beyond
his reach, suddenly realized that she was to be successful,
for with a little lurch the dugout swung quickly into the
current, just as the Russian reached out to place his hand
upon its bow.

His fingers did not miss their goal by a half-dozen inches.
The girl almost collapsed with the reaction from the terrific
mental, physical, and nervous strain under which she had
been labouring for the past few minutes. But, thank Heaven,
at last she was safe!

Even as she breathed a silent prayer of thanksgiving, she
saw a sudden expression of triumph lighten the features of
the cursing Russian, and at the same instant he dropped
suddenly to the ground, grasping firmly upon something which
wriggled through the mud toward the water.

Jane Clayton crouched, wide-eyed and horror-stricken, in
the bottom of the boat as she realized that at the last instant
success had been turned to failure, and that she was indeed
again in the power of the malignant Rokoff.

For the thing that the man had seen and grasped was the
end of the trailing rope with which the dugout had been
moored to the tree.

 

 

 

Chapter 15

 

Down the Ugambi

 

Halfway between the Ugambi and the village of the Waganwazam,
Tarzan came upon the pack moving slowly along his old spoor.
Mugambi could scarce believe that the trail of the Russian
and the mate of his savage master had passed so close to
that of the pack.

It seemed incredible that two human beings should have
come so close to them without having been detected by some
of the marvellously keen and alert beasts; but Tarzan pointed
out the spoor of the two he trailed, and at certain points the
black could see that the man and the woman must have been
in hiding as the pack passed them, watching every move of
the ferocious creatures.

It had been apparent to Tarzan from the first that Jane and
Rokoff were not travelling together. The spoor showed
distinctly that the young woman had been a considerable distance
ahead of the Russian at first, though the farther the ape-man
continued along the trail the more obvious it became that the
man was rapidly overhauling his quarry.

At first there had been the spoor of wild beasts over the
footprints of Jane Clayton, while upon the top of all Rokoff's
spoor showed that he had passed over the trail after the animals
had left their records upon the ground. But later there
were fewer and fewer animal imprints occurring between
those of Jane's and the Russian's feet, until as he approached
the river the ape-man became aware that Rokoff could not
have been more than a few hundred yards behind the girl.

He felt they must be close ahead of him now, and, with a
little thrill of expectation, he leaped rapidly forward ahead
of the pack. Swinging swiftly through the trees, he came out
upon the river-bank at the very point at which Rokoff had
overhauled Jane as she endeavoured to launch the cumbersome dugout.

In the mud along the bank the ape-man saw the footprints
of the two he sought, but there was neither boat nor people
there when he arrived, nor, at first glance, any sign of
their whereabouts.

It was plain that they had shoved off a native canoe and
embarked upon the bosom of the stream, and as the ape-man's
eye ran swiftly down the course of the river beneath the
shadows of the overarching trees he saw in the distance,
just as it rounded a bend that shut it off from his view,
a drifting dugout in the stern of which was the figure of a man.

Just as the pack came in sight of the river they saw their
agile leader racing down the river's bank, leaping from hummock
to hummock of the swampy ground that spread between them and
a little promontory which rose just where the river curved
inward from their sight.

To follow him it was necessary for the heavy, cumbersome
apes to make a wide detour, and Sheeta, too, who hated water.
Mugambi followed after them as rapidly as he could
in the wake of the great white master.

A half-hour of rapid travelling across the swampy neck of
land and over the rising promontory brought Tarzan, by a
short cut, to the inward bend of the winding river, and there
before him upon the bosom of the stream he saw the dugout,
and in its stern Nikolas Rokoff.

Jane was not with the Russian.

At sight of his enemy the broad scar upon the ape-man's
brow burned scarlet, and there rose to his lips the hideous,
bestial challenge of the bull-ape.

Rokoff shuddered as the weird and terrible alarm fell upon
his ears. Cowering in the bottom of the boat, his teeth
chattering in terror, he watched the man he feared above all
other creatures upon the face of the earth as he ran quickly
to the edge of the water.

Even though the Russian knew that he was safe from his enemy,
the very sight of him threw him into a frenzy of trembling cowardice,
which became frantic hysteria as he saw the white giant dive fearlessly
into the forbidding waters of the tropical river.

With steady, powerful strokes the ape-man forged out into
the stream toward the drifting dugout. Now Rokoff seized
one of the paddles lying in the bottom of the craft, and,
with terrorwide eyes still glued upon the living death that
pursued him, struck out madly in an effort to augment the speed
of the unwieldy canoe.

And from the opposite bank a sinister ripple, unseen by
either man, moving steadily toward the half-naked swimmer.

Tarzan had reached the stern of the craft at last. One hand
upstretched grasped the gunwale. Rokoff sat frozen with fear,
unable to move a hand or foot, his eyes riveted upon the face
of his Nemesis.

Then a sudden commotion in the water behind the swimmer caught
his attention. He saw the ripple, and he knew what caused it.

At the same instant Tarzan felt mighty jaws close upon his
right leg. He tried to struggle free and raise himself over the
side of the boat. His efforts would have succeeded had not
this unexpected interruption galvanized the malign brain of
the Russian into instant action with its sudden promise of
deliverance and revenge.

Like a venomous snake the man leaped toward the stern of the boat,
and with a single swift blow struck Tarzan across the head with
the heavy paddle. The ape-man's fingers slipped from their hold
upon the gunwale.

There was a short struggle at the surface, and then a swirl of waters,
a little eddy, and a burst of bubbles soon smoothed out by the flowing
current marked for the instant the spot where Tarzan of the Apes,
Lord of the Jungle, disappeared from the sight of men beneath the
gloomy waters of the dark and forbidding Ugambi.

Weak from terror, Rokoff sank shuddering into the bottom of the dugout.
For a moment he could not realize the good fortune that had befallen him--
all that he could see was the figure of a silent, struggling white man
disappearing beneath the surface of the river to unthinkable death in
the slimy mud of the bottom.

Slowly all that it meant to him filtered into the mind of the
Russian, and then a cruel smile of relief and triumph touched
his lips; but it was short-lived, for just as he was
congratulating himself that he was now comparatively safe to
proceed upon his way to the coast unmolested, a mighty
pandemonium rose from the river-bank close by.

As his eyes sought the authors of the frightful sound he
saw standing upon the shore, glaring at him with hate-filled
eyes, a devil-faced panther surrounded by the hideous apes
of Akut, and in the forefront of them a giant black warrior
who shook his fist at him, threatening him with terrible death.

The nightmare of that flight down the Ugambi with the hideous horde
racing after him by day and by night, now abreast of him, now lost
in the mazes of the jungle far behind for hours and once for a whole day,
only to reappear again upon his trail grim, relentless, and terrible,
reduced the Russian from a strong and robust man to an emaciated,
white-haired, fear-gibbering thing before ever the bay and the ocean
broke upon his hopeless vision.

Past populous villages he had fled. Time and again warriors
had put out in their canoes to intercept him, but each
time the hideous horde had swept into view to send the
terrified natives shrieking back to the shore to lose
themselves in the jungle.

Nowhere in his flight had he seen aught of Jane Clayton.
Not once had his eyes rested upon her since that moment at
the river's brim his hand had closed upon the rope attached
to the bow of her dugout and he had believed her safely in
his power again, only to be thwarted an instant later as the
girl snatched up a heavy express rifle from the bottom of the
craft and levelled it full at his breast.

Quickly he had dropped the rope then and seen her float away
beyond his reach, but a moment later he had been racing up-stream
toward a little tributary in the mouth of which was hidden the canoe
in which he and his party had come thus far upon their journey
in pursuit of the girl and Anderssen.

What had become of her?

There seemed little doubt in the Russian's mind, however,
but that she had been captured by warriors from one of the
several villages she would have been compelled to pass on
her way down to the sea. Well, he was at least rid of most
of his human enemies.

But at that he would gladly have had them all back in the land
of the living could he thus have been freed from the menace of
the frightful creatures who pursued him with awful relentlessness,
screaming and growling at him every time they came within sight of him.
The one that filled him with the greatest terror was the panther--the
flaming-eyed, devil-faced panther whose grinning jaws gaped wide at him
by day, and whose fiery orbs gleamed wickedly out across the water
from the Cimmerian blackness of the jungle nights.

The sight of the mouth of the Ugambi filled Rokoff with
renewed hope, for there, upon the yellow waters of the bay,
floated the Kincaid at anchor. He had sent the little steamer
away to coal while he had gone up the river, leaving Paulvitch
in charge of her, and he could have cried aloud in his relief
as he saw that she had returned in time to save him.

Frantically he alternately paddled furiously toward her and
rose to his feet waving his paddle and crying aloud in an
attempt to attract the attention of those on board. But loud
as he screamed his cries awakened no answering challenge
from the deck of the silent craft.

Upon the shore behind him a hurried backward glance revealed
the presence of the snarling pack. Even now, he thought,
these manlike devils might yet find a way to reach him even
upon the deck of the steamer unless there were those there
to repel them with firearms.

What could have happened to those he had left upon the
Kincaid? Where was Paulvitch? Could it be that the vessel
was deserted, and that, after all, he was doomed to be overtaken
by the terrible fate that he had been flying from through
all these hideous days and nights? He shivered as might one
upon whose brow death has already laid his clammy finger.

Yet he did not cease to paddle frantically toward the steamer,
and at last, after what seemed an eternity, the bow of the dugout
bumped against the timbers of the Kincaid. Over the ship's side
hung a monkey-ladder, but as the Russian grasped it to ascend
to the deck he heard a warning challenge from above, and,
looking up, gazed into the cold, relentless muzzle of a rifle.

After Jane Clayton, with rifle levelled at the breast of Rokoff,
had succeeded in holding him off until the dugout in
which she had taken refuge had drifted out upon the bosom
of the Ugambi beyond the man's reach, she had lost no time
in paddling to the swiftest sweep of the channel, nor did she
for long days and weary nights cease to hold her craft to the
most rapidly moving part of the river, except when during
the hottest hours of the day she had been wont to drift as the
current would take her, lying prone in the bottom of the canoe,
her face sheltered from the sun with a great palm leaf.

Thus only did she gain rest upon the voyage; at other times
she continually sought to augment the movement of the craft
by wielding the heavy paddle.

Rokoff, on the other hand, had used little or no intelligence
in his flight along the Ugambi, so that more often than not
his craft had drifted in the slow-going eddies, for he habitually
hugged the bank farthest from that along which the hideous horde
pursued and menaced him.

Thus it was that, though he had put out upon the river but
a short time subsequent to the girl, yet she had reached the
bay fully two hours ahead of him. When she had first seen
the anchored ship upon the quiet water, Jane Clayton's heart
had beat fast with hope and thanksgiving, but as she drew
closer to the craft and saw that it was the Kincaid,
her pleasure gave place to the gravest misgivings.

It was too late, however, to turn back, for the current that
carried her toward the ship was much too strong for her muscles.
She could not have forced the heavy dugout upstream against it,
and all that was left her was to attempt either to make the
shore without being seen by those upon the deck of the Kincaid,
or to throw herself upon their mercy--otherwise she must be
swept out to sea.

She knew that the shore held little hope of life for her, as
she had no knowledge of the location of the friendly Mosula
village to which Anderssen had taken her through the darkness
of the night of their escape from the Kincaid.

With Rokoff away from the steamer it might be possible
that by offering those in charge a large reward they could be
induced to carry her to the nearest civilized port. It was
worth risking--if she could make the steamer at all.

The current was bearing her swiftly down the river, and
she found that only by dint of the utmost exertion could she
direct the awkward craft toward the vicinity of the Kincaid.
Having reached the decision to board the steamer, she now
looked to it for aid, but to her surprise the decks appeared to
be empty and she saw no sign of life aboard the ship.

The dugout was drawing closer and closer to the bow of
the vessel, and yet no hail came over the side from any
lookout aboard. In a moment more, Jane realized, she would be
swept beyond the steamer, and then, unless they lowered a
boat to rescue her, she would be carried far out to sea by the
current and the swift ebb tide that was running.

The young woman called loudly for assistance, but there
was no reply other than the shrill scream of some savage
beast upon the jungle-shrouded shore. Frantically Jane
wielded the paddle in an effort to carry her craft close
alongside the steamer.

For a moment it seemed that she should miss her goal by
but a few feet, but at the last moment the canoe swung close
beneath the steamer's bow and Jane barely managed to grasp
the anchor chain.

Heroically she clung to the heavy iron links, almost dragged
from the canoe by the strain of the current upon her craft.
Beyond her she saw a monkey-ladder dangling over the
steamer's side. To release her hold upon the chain and chance
clambering to the ladder as her canoe was swept beneath it
seemed beyond the pale of possibility, yet to remain clinging
to the anchor chain appeared equally as futile.

Finally her glance chanced to fall upon the rope in the bow
of the dugout, and, making one end of this fast to the chain,
she succeeded in drifting the canoe slowly down until it lay
directly beneath the ladder. A moment later, her rifle slung
about her shoulders, she had clambered safely to the deserted deck.

Her first task was to explore the ship, and this she did, her
rifle ready for instant use should she meet with any human
menace aboard the Kincaid. She was not long in discovering
the cause of the apparently deserted condition of the steamer,
for in the forecastle she found the sailors, who had evidently
been left to guard the ship, deep in drunken slumber.

With a shudder of disgust she clambered above, and to the
best of her ability closed and made fast the hatch above the
heads of the sleeping guard. Next she sought the galley and
food, and, having appeased her hunger, she took her place
on deck, determined that none should board the Kincaid
without first having agreed to her demands.

For an hour or so nothing appeared upon the surface of
the river to cause her alarm, but then, about a bend upstream,
she saw a canoe appear in which sat a single figure. It had
not proceeded far in her direction before she recognized the
occupant as Rokoff, and when the fellow attempted to board
he found a rifle staring him in the face.

When the Russian discovered who it was that repelled his
advance he became furious, cursing and threatening in a most
horrible manner; but, finding that these tactics failed to
frighten or move the girl, he at last fell to pleading and promising.

Jane had but a single reply for his every proposition, and
that was that nothing would ever persuade her to permit Rokoff
upon the same vessel with her. That she would put her
threats into action and shoot him should he persist in his
endeavour to board the ship he was convinced.

So, as there was no other alternative, the great coward
dropped back into his dugout and, at imminent risk of being
swept to sea, finally succeeded in making the shore far down
the bay and upon the opposite side from that on which the
horde of beasts stood snarling and roaring.

Jane Clayton knew that the fellow could not alone and
unaided bring his heavy craft back up-stream to the
Kincaid, and so she had no further fear of an attack by him.
The hideous crew upon the shore she thought she recognized as
the same that had passed her in the jungle far up the Ugambi
several days before, for it seemed quite beyond reason that
there should be more than one such a strangely assorted pack;
but what had brought them down-stream to the mouth of the
river she could not imagine.

Toward the day's close the girl was suddenly alarmed by
the shouting of the Russian from the opposite bank of the
stream, and a moment later, following the direction of his
gaze, she was terrified to see a ship's boat approaching from
up-stream, in which, she felt assured, there could be only
members of the Kincaid's missing crew--only heartless
ruffians and enemies.

 

 

 

Chapter 16

 

In the Darkness of the Night

 

When Tarzan of the Apes realized that he was in the
grip of the great jaws of a crocodile he did not, as an
ordinary man might have done, give up all hope and resign
himself to his fate.

Instead, he filled his lungs with air before the huge reptile
dragged him beneath the surface, and then, with all the might
of his great muscles, fought bitterly for freedom. But out of
his native element the ape-man was too greatly handicapped
to do more than excite the monster to greater speed as it
dragged its prey swiftly through the water.

Tarzan's lungs were bursting for a breath of pure fresh air.
He knew that he could survive but a moment more, and in
the last paroxysm of his suffering he did what he could to
avenge his own death.

His body trailed out beside the slimy carcass of his captor,
and into the tough armour the ape-man attempted to plunge
his stone knife as he was borne to the creature's horrid den.

His efforts but served to accelerate the speed of the crocodile,
and just as the ape-man realized that he had reached the limit
of his endurance he felt his body dragged to a muddy bed and
his nostrils rise above the water's surface. All about him
was the blackness of the pit--the silence of the grave.

For a moment Tarzan of the Apes lay gasping for breath
upon the slimy, evil-smelling bed to which the animal had
borne him. Close at his side he could feel the cold, hard
plates of the creatures coat rising and falling as though with
spasmodic efforts to breathe.

For several minutes the two lay thus, and then a sudden
convulsion of the giant carcass at the man's side, a tremor,
and a stiffening brought Tarzan to his knees beside the crocodile.
To his utter amazement he found that the beast was dead.
The slim knife had found a vulnerable spot in the scaly armour.

Staggering to his feet, the ape-man groped about the reeking,
oozy den. He found that he was imprisoned in a subterranean
chamber amply large enough to have accommodated a dozen or
more of the huge animals such as the one that had
dragged him thither.

He realized that he was in the creature's hidden nest far
under the bank of the stream, and that doubtless the only
means of ingress or egress lay through the submerged opening
through which the crocodile had brought him.

His first thought, of course, was of escape, but that he
could make his way to the surface of the river beyond and
then to the shore seemed highly improbable. There might be
turns and windings in the neck of the passage, or, most to
be feared, he might meet another of the slimy inhabitants of
the retreat upon his journey outward.

Even should he reach the river in safety, there was still the
danger of his being again attacked before he could effect a
safe landing. Still there was no alternative, and, filling his
lungs with the close and reeking air of the chamber, Tarzan
of the Apes dived into the dark and watery hole which he
could not see but had felt out and found with his feet and legs.

The leg which had been held within the jaws of the crocodile
was badly lacerated, but the bone had not been broken,
nor were the muscles or tendons sufficiently injured to render
it useless. It gave him excruciating pain, that was all.

But Tarzan of the Apes was accustomed to pain, and gave
it no further thought when he found that the use of his legs
was not greatly impaired by the sharp teeth of the monster.

Rapidly he crawled and swam through the passage which
inclined downward and finally upward to open at last into
the river bottom but a few feet from the shore line. As the
ape-man reached the surface he saw the heads of two great
crocodiles but a short distance from him. They were making
rapidly in his direction, and with a superhuman effort the
man struck out for the overhanging branches of a near-by tree.

Nor was he a moment too soon, for scarcely had he drawn
himself to the safety of the limb than two gaping mouths
snapped venomously below him. For a few minutes Tarzan
rested in the tree that had proved the means of his salvation.
His eyes scanned the river as far down-stream as the tortuous
channel would permit, but there was no sign of the Russian
or his dugout.

When he had rested and bound up his wounded leg he started
on in pursuit of the drifting canoe. He found himself
upon the opposite of the river to that at which he had
entered the stream, but as his quarry was upon the bosom
of the water it made little difference to the ape-man
upon which side he took up the pursuit.

To his intense chagrin he soon found that his leg was more
badly injured than he had thought, and that its condition
seriously impeded his progress. It was only with the greatest
difficulty that he could proceed faster than a walk upon the
ground, and in the trees he discovered that it not only impeded
his progress, but rendered travelling distinctly dangerous.

From the old negress, Tambudza, Tarzan had gathered a suggestion
that now filled his mind with doubts and misgivings. When the
old woman had told him of the child's death she had also added
that the white woman, though grief-stricken, had confided to her
that the baby was not hers.

Tarzan could see no reason for believing that Jane could
have found it advisable to deny her identity or that of the
child; the only explanation that he could put upon the matter
was that, after all, the white woman who had accompanied
his son and the Swede into the jungle fastness of the interior
had not been Jane at all.

The more he gave thought to the problem, the more firmly
convinced he became that his son was dead and his wife still
safe in London, and in ignorance of the terrible fate that had
overtaken her first-born.

After all, then, his interpretation of Rokoff's sinister taunt
had been erroneous, and he had been bearing the burden of a
double apprehension needlessly--at least so thought the ape-man.
From this belief he garnered some slight surcease from the
numbing grief that the death of his little son had thrust upon him.

And such a death! Even the savage beast that was the real
Tarzan, inured to the sufferings and horrors of the grim jungle,
shuddered as he contemplated the hideous fate that had
overtaken the innocent child.

As he made his way painfully towards the coast, he let his
mind dwell so constantly upon the frightful crimes which the
Russian had perpetrated against his loved ones that the great
scar upon his forehead stood out almost continuously in the
vivid scarlet that marked the man's most relentless and bestial
moods of rage. At times he startled even himself and sent the
lesser creatures of the wild jungle scampering to their hiding
places as involuntary roars and growls rumbled from his throat.

Could he but lay his hand upon the Russian!

Twice upon the way to the coast bellicose natives ran
threateningly from their villages to bar his further progress,
but when the awful cry of the bull-ape thundered upon their
affrighted ears, and the great white giant charged bellowing
upon them, they had turned and fled into the bush, nor ventured
thence until he had safely passed.

Though his progress seemed tantalizingly slow to the ape-man
whose idea of speed had been gained by such standards as the
lesser apes attain, he made, as a matter of fact, almost as
rapid progress as the drifting canoe that bore Rokoff on
ahead of him, so that he came to the bay and within sight of
the ocean just after darkness had fallen upon the same day that
Jane Clayton and the Russian ended their flights from the interior.

The darkness lowered so heavily upon the black river and
the encircling jungle that Tarzan, even with eyes accustomed
to much use after dark, could make out nothing a few yards
from him. His idea was to search the shore that night for
signs of the Russian and the woman who he was certain must
have preceded Rokoff down the Ugambi. That the Kincaid
or other ship lay at anchor but a hundred yards from him he
did not dream, for no light showed on board the steamer.

Even as he commenced his search his attention was suddenly
attracted by a noise that he had not at first perceived--
the stealthy dip of paddles in the water some distance from
the shore, and about opposite the point at which he stood.
Motionless as a statue he stood listening to the faint sound.

Presently it ceased, to be followed by a shuffling noise that
the ape-man's trained ears could interpret as resulting from
but a single cause--the scraping of leather-shod feet upon the
rounds of a ship's monkey-ladder. And yet, as far as he could
see, there was no ship there--nor might there be one within
a thousand miles.

As he stood thus, peering out into the darkness of the
cloud-enshrouded night, there came to him from across the
water, like a slap in the face, so sudden and unexpected was
it, the sharp staccato of an exchange of shots and then the
scream of a woman.

Wounded though he was, and with the memory of his recent
horrible experience still strong upon him, Tarzan of the Apes
did not hesitate as the notes of that frightened cry rose shrill
and piercing upon the still night air. With a bound he cleared
the intervening bush--there was a splash as the water closed
about him--and then, with powerful strokes, he swam out
into the impenetrable night with no guide save the memory
of an illusive cry, and for company the hideous denizens
of an equatorial river.

 

The boat that had attracted Jane's attention as she stood
guard upon the deck of the Kincaid had been perceived by
Rokoff upon one bank and Mugambi and the horde upon the other.
The cries of the Russian had brought the dugout first to him,
and then, after a conference, it had been turned toward the
Kincaid, but before ever it covered half the distance between
the shore and the steamer a rifle had spoken from the latter's
deck and one of the sailors in the bow of the canoe had crumpled
and fallen into the water.

After that they went more slowly, and presently, when Jane's rifle
had found another member of the party, the canoe withdrew to the shore,
where it lay as long as daylight lasted.

The savage, snarling pack upon the opposite shore had been
directed in their pursuit by the black warrior, Mugambi,
chief of the Wagambi. Only he knew which might be foe and
which friend of their lost master.

Could they have reached either the canoe or the Kincaid
they would have made short work of any whom they found
there, but the gulf of black water intervening shut them off
from farther advance as effectually as though it had been the
broad ocean that separated them from their prey.

Mugambi knew something of the occurrences which had led up to
the landing of Tarzan upon Jungle Island and the pursuit of
the whites up the Ugambi. He knew that his savage master
sought his wife and child who had been stolen by the wicked
white man whom they had followed far into the interior and
now back to the sea.

He believed also that this same man had killed the great
white giant whom he had come to respect and love as he had
never loved the greatest chiefs of his own people. And so in
the wild breast of Mugambi burned an iron resolve to win to
the side of the wicked one and wreak vengeance upon him
for the murder of the ape-man.

But when he saw the canoe come down the river and take in Rokoff,
when he saw it make for the Kincaid, he realized that only by
possessing himself of a canoe could he hope to transport the beasts
of the pack within striking distance of the enemy.

So it happened that even before Jane Clayton fired the first shot into
Rokoff's canoe the beasts of Tarzan had disappeared into the jungle.

After the Russian and his party, which consisted of Paulvitch
and the several men he had left upon the Kincaid to attend
to the matter of coaling, had retreated before her fire,
Jane realized that it would be but a temporary respite from
their attentions which she had gained, and with the conviction
came a determination to make a bold and final stroke for
freedom from the menacing threat of Rokoff's evil purpose.

With this idea in view she opened negotiations with the two
sailors she had imprisoned in the forecastle, and having
forced their consent to her plans, upon pain of death should
they attempt disloyalty, she released them just as darkness
closed about the ship.

With ready revolver to compel obedience, she let them up
one by one, searching them carefully for concealed weapons
as they stood with hands elevated above their heads. Once
satisfied that they were unarmed, she set them to work cutting
the cable which held the Kincaid to her anchorage, for her bold
plan was nothing less than to set the steamer adrift and float
with her out into the open sea, there to trust to the mercy
of the elements, which she was confident would be no more
merciless than Nikolas Rokoff should he again capture her.

There was, too, the chance that the Kincaid might be sighted
by some passing ship, and as she was well stocked with
provisions and water--the men had assured her of this fact--
and as the season of storm was well over, she had every
reason to hope for the eventual success of her plan.

The night was deeply overcast, heavy clouds riding
low above the jungle and the water--only to the west,
where the broad ocean spread beyond the river's mouth,
was there a suggestion of lessening gloom.

It was a perfect night for the purposes of the work in hand.

Her enemies could not see the activity aboard the ship nor
mark her course as the swift current bore her outward into
the ocean. Before daylight broke the ebb-tide would have
carried the Kincaid well into the Benguela current which
flows northward along the coast of Africa, and, as a south
wind was prevailing, Jane hoped to be out of sight of the
mouth of the Ugambi before Rokoff could become aware of
the departure of the steamer.

Standing over the labouring seamen, the young woman
breathed a sigh of relief as the last strand of the cable parted
and she knew that the vessel was on its way out of the maw
of the savage Ugambi.

With her two prisoners still beneath the coercing influence
of her rifle, she ordered them upon deck with the intention
of again imprisoning them in the forecastle; but at length she
permitted herself to be influenced by their promises of loyalty
and the arguments which they put forth that they could be of
service to her, and permitted them to remain above.

For a few minutes the Kincaid drifted rapidly with the current,
and then, with a grinding jar, she stopped in midstream.
The ship had run upon a low-lying bar that splits the channel
about a quarter of a mile from the sea.

For a moment she hung there, and then, swinging round until
her bow pointed toward the shore, she broke adrift once more.

At the same instant, just as Jane Clayton was congratulating
herself that the ship was once more free, there fell upon
her ears from a point up the river about where the Kincaid
had been anchored the rattle of musketry and a woman's
scream--shrill, piercing, fear-laden.

The sailors heard the shots with certain conviction that
they announced the coming of their employer, and as they
had no relish for the plan that would consign them to the
deck of a drifting derelict, they whispered together a hurried
plan to overcome the young woman and hail Rokoff and their
companions to their rescue.

It seemed that fate would play into their hands, for with
the reports of the guns Jane Clayton's attention had been
distracted from her unwilling assistants, and instead of
keeping one eye upon them as she had intended doing, she ran
to the bow of the Kincaid to peer through the darkness toward
the source of the disturbance upon the river's bosom.

Seeing that she was off her guard, the two sailors crept
stealthily upon her from behind.

The scraping upon the deck of the shoes of one of them
startled the girl to a sudden appreciation of her danger,
but the warning had come too late.

As she turned, both men leaped upon her and bore her
to the deck, and as she went down beneath them she saw,
outlined against the lesser gloom of the ocean, the figure of
another man clamber over the side of the Kincaid.

After all her pains her heroic struggle for freedom had failed.
With a stifled sob she gave up the unequal battle.

 

 

 

Chapter 17

 

On the Deck of the "Kincaid"

 

When Mugambi had turned back into the jungle with the pack
he had a definite purpose in view. It was to obtain a
dugout wherewith to transport the beasts of Tarzan to the
side of the Kincaid. Nor was he long in coming upon the
object which he sought.

Just at dusk he found a canoe moored to the bank of a
small tributary of the Ugambi at a point where he had
felt certain that he should find one.

Without loss of time he piled his hideous fellows into the
craft and shoved out into the stream. So quickly had they
taken possession of the canoe that the warrior had not noticed
that it was already occupied. The huddled figure sleeping in
the bottom had entirely escaped his observation in the darkness
of the night that had now fallen.

But no sooner were they afloat than a savage growling
from one of the apes directly ahead of him in the dugout
attracted his attention to a shivering and cowering figure
that trembled between him and the great anthropoid. To Mugambi's
astonishment he saw that it was a native woman. With difficulty
he kept the ape from her throat, and after a time succeeded
in quelling her fears.

It seemed that she had been fleeing from marriage with an
old man she loathed and had taken refuge for the night in the
canoe she had found upon the river's edge.

Mugambi did not wish her presence, but there she was,
and rather than lose time by returning her to the shore
the black permitted her to remain on board the canoe.

As quickly as his awkward companions could paddle the
dugout down-stream toward the Ugambi and the Kincaid they
moved through the darkness. It was with difficulty that
Mugambi could make out the shadowy form of the steamer, but
as he had it between himself and the ocean it was much more
apparent than to one upon either shore of the river.

As he approached it he was amazed to note that it seemed
to be receding from him, and finally he was convinced that
the vessel was moving down-stream. Just as he was about to
urge his creatures to renewed efforts to overtake the steamer
the outline of another canoe burst suddenly into view not
three yards from the bow of his own craft.

At the same instant the occupants of the stranger discovered
the proximity of Mugambi's horde, but they did not at first
recognize the nature of the fearful crew. A man in the
bow of the oncoming boat challenged them just as the two
dugouts were about to touch.

For answer came the menacing growl of a panther, and the
fellow found himself gazing into the flaming eyes of Sheeta,
who had raised himself with his forepaws upon the bow of the
boat, ready to leap in upon the occupants of the other craft.

Instantly Rokoff realized the peril that confronted him and
his fellows. He gave a quick command to fire upon the occupants
of the other canoe, and it was this volley and the scream of the
terrified native woman in the canoe with Mugambi that both
Tarzan and Jane had heard.

Before the slower and less skilled paddlers in Mugambi's
canoe could press their advantage and effect a boarding of
the enemy the latter had turned swiftly down-stream and were
paddling for their lives in the direction of the Kincaid,
which was now visible to them.

The vessel after striking upon the bar had swung loose again
into a slow-moving eddy, which returns up-stream close to the
southern shore of the Ugambi only to circle out once more and
join the downward flow a hundred yards or so farther up.
Thus the Kincaid was returning Jane Clayton directly into
the hands of her enemies.

It so happened that as Tarzan sprang into the river the
vessel was not visible to him, and as he swam out into the
night he had no idea that a ship drifted so close at hand.
He was guided by the sounds which he could hear coming from
the two canoes.

As he swam he had vivid recollections of the last occasion
upon which he had swum in the waters of the Ugambi, and
with them a sudden shudder shook the frame of the giant.

But, though he twice felt something brush his legs from
the slimy depths below him, nothing seized him, and of a
sudden he quite forgot about crocodiles in the astonishment
of seeing a dark mass loom suddenly before him where he
had still expected to find the open river.

So close was it that a few strokes brought him up to the
thing, when to his amazement his outstretched hand came in
contact with a ship's side.

As the agile ape-man clambered over the vessel's rail there
came to his sensitive ears the sound of a struggle at the
opposite side of the deck.

Noiselessly he sped across the intervening space.

The moon had risen now, and, though the sky was still
banked with clouds, a lesser darkness enveloped the scene
than that which had blotted out all sight earlier in
the night. His keen eyes, therefore, saw the figures
of two men grappling with a woman.

That it was the woman who had accompanied Anderssen
toward the interior he did not know, though he suspected as
much, as he was now quite certain that this was the deck of
the Kincaid upon which chance had led him.

But he wasted little time in idle speculation. There was a
woman in danger of harm from two ruffians, which was enough
excuse for the ape-man to project his giant thews into the
conflict without further investigation.

The first that either of the sailors knew that there was a
new force at work upon the ship was the falling of a mighty
hand upon a shoulder of each. As if they had been in the grip
of a fly-wheel, they were jerked suddenly from their prey.

"What means this?" asked a low voice in their ears.

They were given no time to reply, however, for at the sound
of that voice the young woman had sprung to her feet and
with a little cry of joy leaped toward their assailant.

"Tarzan!" she cried.

The ape-man hurled the two sailors across the deck, where
they rolled, stunned and terrified, into the scuppers upon the
opposite side, and with an exclamation of incredulity gathered
the girl into his arms.

Brief, however, were the moments for their greeting.

Scarcely had they recognized one another than the clouds
above them parted to show the figures of a half-dozen men
clambering over the side of the Kincaid to the steamer's deck.

Foremost among them was the Russian. As the brilliant
rays of the equatorial moon lighted the deck, and he realized
that the man before him was Lord Greystoke, he screamed
hysterical commands to his followers to fire upon the two.

Tarzan pushed Jane behind the cabin near which they had
been standing, and with a quick bound started for Rokoff.
The men behind the Russian, at least two of them, raised
their rifles and fired at the charging ape-man; but those
behind them were otherwise engaged--for up the monkey-
ladder in their rear was thronging a hideous horde.

First came five snarling apes, huge, manlike beasts,
with bared fangs and slavering jaws; and after them a
giant black warrior, his long spear gleaming in the moonlight.

Behind him again scrambled another creature, and of all the
horrid horde it was this they most feared--Sheeta, the panther,
with gleaming jaws agape and fiery eyes blazing at them
in the mightiness of his hate and of his blood lust.

The shots that had been fired at Tarzan missed him, and he
would have been upon Rokoff in another instant had not the
great coward dodged backward between his two henchmen, and,
screaming in hysterical terror, bolted forward toward
the forecastle.

For the moment Tarzan's attention was distracted by the
two men before him, so that he could not at the time pursue
the Russian. About him the apes and Mugambi were battling
with the balance of the Russian's party.

Beneath the terrible ferocity of the beasts the men were soon
scampering in all directions--those who still lived to scamper,
for the great fangs of the apes of Akut and the tearing talons
of Sheeta already had found more than a single victim.

Four, however, escaped and disappeared into the forecastle,
where they hoped to barricade themselves against further assault.
Here they found Rokoff, and, enraged at his desertion of them
in their moment of peril, no less than at the uniformly
brutal treatment it had been his wont to accord them,
they gloated upon the opportunity now offered them to
revenge themselves in part upon their hated employer.

Despite his prayers and grovelling pleas, therefore, they
hurled him bodily out upon the deck, delivering him to the
mercy of the fearful things from which they had themselves
just escaped.

Tarzan saw the man emerge from the forecastle--saw and
recognized his enemy; but another saw him even as soon.

It was Sheeta, and with grinning jaws the mighty beast
slunk silently toward the terror-stricken man.

When Rokoff saw what it was that stalked him his shrieks for
help filled the air, as with trembling knees he stood, as one
paralyzed, before the hideous death that was creeping upon him.

Tarzan took a step toward the Russian, his brain burning
with a raging fire of vengeance. At last he had the murderer
of his son at his mercy. His was the right to avenge.

Once Jane had stayed his hand that time that he sought to take
the law into his own power and mete to Rokoff the death that
he had so long merited; but this time none should stay him.

His fingers clenched and unclenched spasmodically as he approached
the trembling Russ, beastlike and ominous as a brute of prey.

Presently he saw that Sheeta was about to forestall him,
robbing him of the fruits of his great hate.

He called sharply to the panther, and the words, as if
they had broken a hideous spell that had held the Russian,
galvanized him into sudden action. With a scream he turned
and fled toward the bridge.

After him pounced Sheeta the panther, unmindful of his
master's warning voice.

Tarzan was about to leap after the two when he felt a light
touch upon his arm. Turning, he found Jane at his elbow.

"Do not leave me," she whispered. "I am afraid."

Tarzan glanced behind her.

All about were the hideous apes of Akut. Some, even,
were approaching the young woman with bared fangs and
menacing guttural warnings.

The ape-man warned them back. He had forgotten for the
moment that these were but beasts, unable to differentiate
his friends and his foes. Their savage natures were roused by
their recent battle with the sailors, and now all flesh outside
the pack was meat to them.

Tarzan turned again toward the Russian, chagrined that
he should have to forgo the pleasure of personal revenge--
unless the man should escape Sheeta. But as he looked he saw
that there could be no hope of that. The fellow had retreated
to the end of the bridge, where he now stood trembling and
wide-eyed, facing the beast that moved slowly toward him.

The panther crawled with belly to the planking, uttering
uncanny mouthings. Rokoff stood as though petrified,
his eyes protruding from their sockets, his mouth agape,
and the cold sweat of terror clammy upon his brow.

Below him, upon the deck, he had seen the great anthropoids,
and so had not dared to seek escape in that direction.
In fact, even now one of the brutes was leaping to seize the
bridge-rail and draw himself up to the Russian's side.

Before him was the panther, silent and crouched.

Rokoff could not move. His knees trembled. His voice
broke in inarticulate shrieks. With a last piercing wail he
sank to his knees--and then Sheeta sprang.

Full upon the man's breast the tawny body hurtled,
tumbling the Russian to his back.

As the great fangs tore at the throat and chest, Jane Clayton
turned away in horror; but not so Tarzan of the Apes. A cold
smile of satisfaction touched his lips. The scar upon his
forehead that had burned scarlet faded to the normal hue of his
tanned skin and disappeared.

Rokoff fought furiously but futilely against the growling,
rending fate that had overtaken him. For all his countless
crimes he was punished in the brief moment of the hideous
death that claimed him at the last.

After his struggles ceased Tarzan approached, at Jane's
suggestion, to wrest the body from the panther and give what
remained of it decent human burial; but the great cat rose
snarling above its kill, threatening even the master it loved
in its savage way, so that rather than kill his friend of the
jungle, Tarzan was forced to relinquish his intentions.

All that night Sheeta, the panther, crouched upon the grisly
thing that had been Nikolas Rokoff. The bridge of the
Kincaid was slippery with blood. Beneath the brilliant
tropic moon the great beast feasted until, when the sun rose
the following morning, there remained of Tarzan's great enemy
only gnawed and broken bones.

 

Of the Russian's party, all were accounted for except Paulvitch.
Four were prisoners in the Kincaid's forecastle. The rest were dead.

With these men Tarzan got up steam upon the vessel, and with
the knowledge of the mate, who happened to be one of those surviving,
he planned to set out in quest of Jungle Island; but as the morning
dawned there came with it a heavy gale from the west which raised
a sea into which the mate of the Kincaid dared not venture.
All that day the ship lay within the shelter of the mouth of the river;
for, though night witnessed a lessening of the wind, it was thought
safer to wait for daylight before attempting the navigation of
the winding channel to the sea.

Upon the deck of the steamer the pack wandered without
let or hindrance by day, for they had soon learned through
Tarzan and Mugambi that they must harm no one upon the
Kincaid; but at night they were confined below.

Tarzan's joy had been unbounded when he learned from
his wife that the little child who had died in the village of
M'ganwazam was not their son. Who the baby could have
been, or what had become of their own, they could not imagine,
and as both Rokoff and Paulvitch were gone, there was
no way of discovering.

There was, however, a certain sense of relief in the knowledge
that they might yet hope. Until positive proof of the baby's
death reached them there was always that to buoy them up.

It seemed quite evident that their little Jack had not been
brought aboard the Kincaid. Anderssen would have known
of it had such been the case, but he had assured Jane time
and time again that the little one he had brought to her cabin
the night he aided her to escape was the only one that had
been aboard the Kincaid since she lay at Dover.

 

 

 

Chapter 18

 

Paulvitch Plots Revenge

 

As Jane and Tarzan stood upon the vessel's deck recounting
to one another the details of the various adventures
through which each had passed since they had parted in their
London home, there glared at them from beneath scowling
brows a hidden watcher upon the shore.

Through the man's brain passed plan after plan whereby
he might thwart the escape of the Englishman and his wife,
for so long as the vital spark remained within the vindictive
brain of Alexander Paulvitch none who had aroused the enmity
of the Russian might be entirely safe.

Plan after plan he formed only to discard each either as
impracticable, or unworthy the vengeance his wrongs demanded.
So warped by faulty reasoning was the criminal mind of
Rokoff's lieutenant that he could not grasp the real
truth of that which lay between himself and the ape-man and
see that always the fault had been, not with the English lord,
but with himself and his confederate.

And at the rejection of each new scheme Paulvitch arrived
always at the same conclusion--that he could accomplish
naught while half the breadth of the Ugambi separated him
from the object of his hatred.

But how was he to span the crocodile-infested waters?
There was no canoe nearer than the Mosula village, and
Paulvitch was none too sure that the Kincaid would still be
at anchor in the river when he returned should he take the
time to traverse the jungle to the distant village and return
with a canoe. Yet there was no other way, and so, convinced
that thus alone might he hope to reach his prey, Paulvitch,
with a parting scowl at the two figures upon the Kincaid's
deck, turned away from the river.

Hastening through the dense jungle, his mind centred upon
his one fetich--revenge--the Russian forgot even his terror
of the savage world through which he moved.

Baffled and beaten at every turn of Fortune's wheel,
reacted upon time after time by his own malign plotting,
the principal victim of his own criminality, Paulvitch
was yet so blind as to imagine that his greatest happiness
lay in a continuation of the plottings and schemings which
had ever brought him and Rokoff to disaster, and the latter
finally to a hideous death.

As the Russian stumbled on through the jungle toward the Mosula
village there presently crystallized within his brain a plan
which seemed more feasible than any that he had as yet considered.

He would come by night to the side of the Kincaid, and
once aboard, would search out the members of the ship's
original crew who had survived the terrors of this frightful
expedition, and enlist them in an attempt to wrest the vessel
from Tarzan and his beasts.

In the cabin were arms and ammunition, and hidden in a
secret receptacle in the cabin table was one of those infernal
machines, the construction of which had occupied much of
Paulvitch's spare time when he had stood high in the
confidence of the Nihilists of his native land.

That was before he had sold them out for immunity and
gold to the police of Petrograd. Paulvitch winced as he
recalled the denunciation of him that had fallen from the lips
of one of his former comrades ere the poor devil expiated his
political sins at the end of a hempen rope.

But the infernal machine was the thing to think of now.
He could do much with that if he could but get his hands
upon it. Within the little hardwood case hidden in the cabin
table rested sufficient potential destructiveness to wipe out
in the fraction of a second every enemy aboard the Kincaid.

Paulvitch licked his lips in anticipatory joy, and urged his
tired legs to greater speed that he might not be too late to the
ship's anchorage to carry out his designs.

All depended, of course, upon when the Kincaid departed.
The Russian realized that nothing could be accomplished
beneath the light of day. Darkness must shroud his approach
to the ship's side, for should he be sighted by Tarzan or Lady
Greystoke he would have no chance to board the vessel.

The gale that was blowing was, he believed, the cause of
the delay in getting the Kincaid under way, and if it
continued to blow until night then the chances were all in
his favour, for he knew that there was little likelihood
of the ape-man attempting to navigate the tortuous channel
of the Ugambi while darkness lay upon the surface of the water,
hiding the many bars and the numerous small islands which are
scattered over the expanse of the river's mouth.

It was well after noon when Paulvitch came to the Mosula
village upon the bank of the tributary of the Ugambi.
Here he was received with suspicion and unfriendliness by the
native chief, who, like all those who came in contact with
Rokoff or Paulvitch, had suffered in some manner from the
greed, the cruelty, or the lust of the two Muscovites.

When Paulvitch demanded the use of a canoe the chief
grumbled a surly refusal and ordered the white man from
the village. Surrounded by angry, muttering warriors who
seemed to be but waiting some slight pretext to transfix him
with their menacing spears the Russian could do naught else
than withdraw.

A dozen fighting men led him to the edge of the clearing,
leaving him with a warning never to show himself again in
the vicinity of their village.

Stifling his anger, Paulvitch slunk into the jungle; but once
beyond the sight of the warriors he paused and listened intently.
He could hear the voices of his escort as the men returned
to the village, and when he was sure that they were
not following him he wormed his way through the bushes to
the edge of the river, still determined some way to obtain a canoe.

Life itself depended upon his reaching the Kincaid and
enlisting the survivors of the ship's crew in his service,
for to be abandoned here amidst the dangers of the African jungle
where he had won the enmity of the natives was, he well knew,
practically equivalent to a sentence of death.

A desire for revenge acted as an almost equally powerful
incentive to spur him into the face of danger to accomplish
his design, so that it was a desperate man that lay hidden in
the foliage beside the little river searching with eager eyes
for some sign of a small canoe which might be easily handled
by a single paddle.

Nor had the Russian long to wait before one of the awkward
little skiffs which the Mosula fashion came in sight
upon the bosom of the river. A youth was paddling lazily out
into midstream from a point beside the village. When he
reached the channel he allowed the sluggish current to carry
him slowly along while he lolled indolently in the bottom of
his crude canoe.

All ignorant of the unseen enemy upon the river's bank
the lad floated slowly down the stream while Paulvitch
followed along the jungle path a few yards behind him.

A mile below the village the black boy dipped his paddle
into the water and forced his skiff toward the bank.
Paulvitch, elated by the chance which had drawn the youth to
the same side of the river as that along which he followed
rather than to the opposite side where he would have been
beyond the stalker's reach, hid in the brush close beside
the point at which it was evident the skiff would touch the
bank of the slow-moving stream, which seemed jealous of each
fleeting instant which drew it nearer to the broad and muddy
Ugambi where it must for ever lose its identity in the larger
stream that would presently cast its waters into the great ocean.

Equally indolent were the motions of the Mosula youth as
he drew his skiff beneath an overhanging limb of a great tree
that leaned down to implant a farewell kiss upon the bosom
of the departing water, caressing with green fronds the soft
breast of its languorous love.

And, snake-like, amidst the concealing foliage lay the
malevolent Russ. Cruel, shifty eyes gloated upon the outlines
of the coveted canoe, and measured the stature of its owner,
while the crafty brain weighed the chances of the white man
should physical encounter with the black become necessary.

Only direct necessity could drive Alexander Paulvitch to
personal conflict; but it was indeed dire necessity which
goaded him on to action now.

There was time, just time enough, to reach the Kincaid
by nightfall. Would the black fool never quit his skiff?
Paulvitch squirmed and fidgeted. The lad yawned and stretched.
With exasperating deliberateness he examined the arrows in his
quiver, tested his bow, and looked to the edge upon the
hunting-knife in his loin-cloth.

Again he stretched and yawned, glanced up at the river-bank,
shrugged his shoulders, and lay down in the bottom of his canoe
for a little nap before he plunged into the jungle after the prey
he had come forth to hunt.

Paulvitch half rose, and with tensed muscles stood glaring
down upon his unsuspecting victim. The boy's lids drooped
and closed. Presently his breast rose and fell to the deep
breaths of slumber. The time had come!

The Russian crept stealthily nearer. A branch rustled beneath
his weight and the lad stirred in his sleep. Paulvitch drew
his revolver and levelled it upon the black. For a moment he
remained in rigid quiet, and then again the youth relapsed
into undisturbed slumber.

The white man crept closer. He could not chance a shot
until there was no risk of missing. Presently he leaned close
above the Mosula. The cold steel of the revolver in his hand
insinuated itself nearer and nearer to the breast of the
unconscious lad. Now it stopped but a few inches above
the strongly beating heart.

But the pressure of a finger lay between the harmless boy
and eternity. The soft bloom of youth still lay upon the brown
cheek, a smile half parted the beardless lips. Did any qualm of
conscience point its disquieting finger of reproach at the murderer?

To all such was Alexander Paulvitch immune. A sneer curled
his bearded lip as his forefinger closed upon the trigger
of his revolver. There was a loud report. A little hole
appeared above the heart of the sleeping boy, a little hole
about which lay a blackened rim of powder-burned flesh.

The youthful body half rose to a sitting posture. The smiling
lips tensed to the nervous shock of a momentary agony
which the conscious mind never apprehended, and then the
dead sank limply back into that deepest of slumbers from
which there is no awakening.

The killer dropped quickly into the skiff beside the killed.
Ruthless hands seized the dead boy heartlessly and raised
him to the low gunwale. A little shove, a splash, some widening
ripples broken by the sudden surge of a dark, hidden body from
the slimy depths, and the coveted canoe was in the sole
possession of the white man--more savage than the youth
whose life he had taken.

Casting off the tie rope and seizing the paddle,
Paulvitch bent feverishly to the task of driving
the skiff downward toward the Ugambi at top speed.

Night had fallen when the prow of the bloodstained craft
shot out into the current of the larger stream. Constantly the
Russian strained his eyes into the increasing darkness ahead
in vain endeavour to pierce the black shadows which lay between
him and the anchorage of the Kincaid.

Was the ship still riding there upon the waters of the
Ugambi, or had the ape-man at last persuaded himself of the
safety of venturing forth into the abating storm? As Paulvitch
forged ahead with the current he asked himself these questions,
and many more beside, not the least disquieting of which were
those which related to his future should it chance that the
Kincaid had already steamed away, leaving him to the
merciless horrors of the savage wilderness.

In the darkness it seemed to the paddler that he was fairly
flying over the water, and he had become convinced that the
ship had left her moorings and that he had already passed the
spot at which she had lain earlier in the day, when there
appeared before him beyond a projecting point which he had
but just rounded the flickering light from a ship's lantern.

Alexander Paulvitch could scarce restrain an exclamation of triumph.
The Kincaid had not departed! Life and vengeance were not to elude
him after all.

He stopped paddling the moment that he descried the gleaming beacon
of hope ahead of him. Silently he drifted down the muddy waters
of the Ugambi, occasionally dipping his paddle's blade gently
into the current that he might guide his primitive craft
to the vessel's side.

As he approached more closely the dark bulk of a ship
loomed before him out of the blackness of the night.
No sound came from the vessel's deck. Paulvitch drifted,
unseen, close to the Kincaid's side. Only the momentary
scraping of his canoe's nose against the ship's planking broke
the silence of the night.

Trembling with nervous excitement, the Russian remained
motionless for several minutes; but there was no sound from the
great bulk above him to indicate that his coming had been noted.

Stealthily he worked his craft forward until the stays of the
bowsprit were directly above him. He could just reach them.
To make his canoe fast there was the work of but a minute
or two, and then the man raised himself quietly aloft.

A moment later he dropped softly to the deck. Thoughts of
the hideous pack which tenanted the ship induced cold
tremors along the spine of the cowardly prowler; but life
itself depended upon the success of his venture, and so he
was enabled to steel himself to the frightful chances which
lay before him.

No sound or sign of watch appeared upon the ship's deck.
Paulvitch crept stealthily toward the forecastle.
All was silence. The hatch was raised, and as the man
peered downward he saw one of the Kincaid's crew reading
by the light of the smoky lantern depending from the ceiling
of the crew's quarters.

Paulvitch knew the man well, a surly cut-throat upon whom
he figured strongly in the carrying out of the plan which he
had conceived. Gently the Russ lowered himself through the
aperture to the rounds of the ladder which led into the forecastle.

He kept his eyes turned upon the reading man, ready to
warn him to silence the moment that the fellow discovered
him; but so deeply immersed was the sailor in the magazine
that the Russian came, unobserved, to the forecastle floor.

There he turned and whispered the reader's name. The man
raised his eyes from the magazine--eyes that went wide
for a moment as they fell upon the familiar countenance of
Rokoff's lieutenant, only to narrow instantly in a scowl
of disapproval.

"The devil!" he ejaculated. "Where did you come from?
We all thought you were done for and gone where you ought
to have gone a long time ago. His lordship will be mighty
pleased to see you."

Paulvitch crossed to the sailor's side. A friendly smile lay
on the Russian's lips, and his right hand was extended in
greeting, as though the other might have been a dear and
long lost friend. The sailor ignored the proffered hand,
nor did he return the other's smile.

"I've come to help you," explained Paulvitch. "I'm going to
help you get rid of the Englishman and his beasts--then there
will be no danger from the law when we get back to civilization.
We can sneak in on them while they sleep--that is Greystoke,
his wife, and that black scoundrel, Mugambi. Afterward it will
be a simple matter to clean up the beasts. Where are they?"

"They're below," replied the sailor; "but just let me tell
you something, Paulvitch. You haven't got no more show to
turn us men against the Englishman than nothing. We had
all we wanted of you and that other beast. He's dead, an' if
I don't miss my guess a whole lot you'll be dead too before long.
You two treated us like dogs, and if you think we got any love
for you you better forget it."

"You mean to say that you're going to turn against me?"
demanded Paulvitch.

The other nodded, and then after a momentary pause,
during which an idea seemed to have occurred to him,
he spoke again.

"Unless," he said, "you can make it worth my while to
let you go before the Englishman finds you here."

"You wouldn't turn me away in the jungle, would you?"
asked Paulvitch. "Why, I'd die there in a week."

"You'd have a chance there," replied the sailor. "Here,
you wouldn't have no chance. Why, if I woke up my maties here
they'd probably cut your heart out of you before the Englishman
got a chance at you at all. It's mighty lucky for you that
I'm the one to be awake now and not none of the others."

"You're crazy," cried Paulvitch. "Don't you know that
the Englishman will have you all hanged when he gets you
back where the law can get hold of you?"

"No, he won't do nothing of the kind," replied the sailor.
"He's told us as much, for he says that there wasn't nobody to
blame but you and Rokoff--the rest of us was just tools. See?"

For half an hour the Russian pleaded or threatened as the
mood seized him. Sometimes he was upon the verge of tears,
and again he was promising his listener either fabulous
rewards or condign punishment; but the other was obdurate.
[condign: of equal value]

He made it plain to the Russian that there were but two plans
open to him--either he must consent to being turned over
immediately to Lord Greystoke, or he must pay to the sailor,
as a price for permission to quit the Kincaid unmolested,
every cent of money and article of value upon his person
and in his cabin.

"And you'll have to make up your mind mighty quick,"
growled the man, "for I want to turn in. Come now, choose--
his lordship or the jungle?"

"You'll be sorry for this," grumbled the Russian.

"Shut up," admonished the sailor. "If you get funny I
may change my mind, and keep you here after all."

Now Paulvitch had no intention of permitting himself to
fall into the hands of Tarzan of the Apes if he could possibly
avoid it, and while the terrors of the jungle appalled him they
were, to his mind, infinitely preferable to the certain death
which he knew he merited and for which he might look at
the hands of the ape-man.

"Is anyone sleeping in my cabin?" he asked.

The sailor shook his head. "No," he said; "Lord and Lady
Greystoke have the captain's cabin. The mate is in his own,
and there ain't no one in yours."

"I'll go and get my valuables for you," said Paulvitch.

"I'll go with you to see that you don't try any funny business,"
said the sailor, and he followed the Russian up the ladder to the deck.

At the cabin entrance the sailor halted to watch, permitting
Paulvitch to go alone to his cabin. Here he gathered together
his few belongings that were to buy him the uncertain safety
of escape, and as he stood for a moment beside the little
table on which he had piled them he searched his brain for
some feasible plan either to ensure his safety or to bring
revenge upon his enemies.

And presently as he thought there recurred to his memory
the little black box which lay hidden in a secret receptacle
beneath a false top upon the table where his hand rested.

The Russian's face lighted to a sinister gleam of malevolent
satisfaction as he stooped and felt beneath the table top.
A moment later he withdrew from its hiding-place the thing
he sought. He had lighted the lantern swinging from the
beams overhead that he might see to collect his belongings,
and now he held the black box well in the rays of the lamplight,
while he fingered at the clasp that fastened its lid.

The lifted cover revealed two compartments within the box.
In one was a mechanism which resembled the works of a
small clock. There also was a little battery of two dry cells.
A wire ran from the clockwork to one of the poles of the
battery, and from the other pole through the partition into
the other compartment, a second wire returning directly to
the clockwork.

Whatever lay within the second compartment was not visible,
for a cover lay over it and appeared to be sealed in place
by asphaltum. In the bottom of the box, beside the clockwork,
lay a key, and this Paulvitch now withdrew and fitted
to the winding stem.

Gently he turned the key, muffling the noise of the winding
operation by throwing a couple of articles of clothing over
the box. All the time he listened intently for any sound which
might indicate that the sailor or another were approaching
his cabin; but none came to interrupt his work.

When the winding was completed the Russian set a pointer
upon a small dial at the side of the clockwork, then he
replaced the cover upon the black box, and returned the
entire machine to its hiding-place in the table.

A sinister smile curled the man's bearded lips as he gathered
up his valuables, blew out the lamp, and stepped from his cabin
to the side of the waiting sailor.

"Here are my things," said the Russian; "now let me go."

"I'll first take a look in your pockets," replied the sailor.
"You might have overlooked some trifling thing that won't
be of no use to you in the jungle, but that'll come in mighty
handy to a poor sailorman in London. Ah! just as I feared,"
he ejaculated an instant later as he withdrew a roll of bank-
notes from Paulvitch's inside coat pocket.

The Russian scowled, muttering an imprecation; but nothing
could be gained by argument, and so he did his best to
reconcile himself to his loss in the knowledge that the sailor
would never reach London to enjoy the fruits of his thievery.

It was with difficulty that Paulvitch restrained a consuming
desire to taunt the man with a suggestion of the fate that
would presently overtake him and the other members of the
Kincaid's company; but fearing to arouse the fellow's
suspicions, he crossed the deck and lowered himself in silence
into his canoe.

A minute or two later he was paddling toward the shore to
be swallowed up in the darkness of the jungle night, and the
terrors of a hideous existence from which, could he have had
even a slight foreknowledge of what awaited him in the long
years to come, he would have fled to the certain death of the
open sea rather than endure it.

The sailor, having made sure that Paulvitch had departed,
returned to the forecastle, where he hid away his booty and
turned into his bunk, while in the cabin that had belonged to
the Russian there ticked on and on through the silences of
the night the little mechanism in the small black box which
held for the unconscious sleepers upon the ill-starred Kincaid
the coming vengeance of the thwarted Russian.

 

 

 

Chapter 19

 

The Last of the "Kincaid"

 

Shortly after the break of day Tarzan was on deck noting
the condition of the weather. The wind had abated.
The sky was cloudless. Every condition seemed ideal for
the commencement of the return voyage to Jungle Island,
where the beasts were to be left. And then--home!

The ape-man aroused the mate and gave instructions that
the Kincaid sail at the earliest possible moment.
The remaining members of the crew, safe in Lord Greystoke's
assurance that they would not be prosecuted for their share in
the villainies of the two Russians, hastened with cheerful
alacrity to their several duties.

The beasts, liberated from the confinement of the hold,
wandered about the deck, not a little to the discomfiture of
the crew in whose minds there remained a still vivid picture
of the savagery of the beasts in conflict with those who had
gone to their deaths beneath the fangs and talons which even
now seemed itching for the soft flesh of further prey.

Beneath the watchful eyes of Tarzan and Mugambi, however,
Sheeta and the apes of Akut curbed their desires, so that
the men worked about the deck amongst them in far greater
security than they imagined.

At last the Kincaid slipped down the Ugambi and ran out
upon the shimmering waters of the Atlantic. Tarzan and Jane
Clayton watched the verdure-clad shore-line receding in the
ship's wake, and for once the ape-man left his native soil
without one single pang of regret.

No ship that sailed the seven seas could have borne him
away from Africa to resume his search for his lost boy with
half the speed that the Englishman would have desired, and
the slow-moving Kincaid seemed scarce to move at all to the
impatient mind of the bereaved father.

Yet the vessel made progress even when she seemed to be
standing still, and presently the low hills of Jungle Island
became distinctly visible upon the western horizon ahead.

In the cabin of Alexander Paulvitch the thing within the
black box ticked, ticked, ticked, with apparently unending
monotony; but yet, second by second, a little arm which
protruded from the periphery of one of its wheels came nearer
and nearer to another little arm which projected from the
hand which Paulvitch had set at a certain point upon the dial
beside the clockwork. When those two arms touched one
another the ticking of the mechanism would cease--for ever.

Jane and Tarzan stood upon the bridge looking out toward
Jungle Island. The men were forward, also watching the land
grow upward out of the ocean. The beasts had sought the
shade of the galley, where they were curled up in sleep.
All was quiet and peace upon the ship, and upon the waters.

Suddenly, without warning, the cabin roof shot up into the air,
a cloud of dense smoke puffed far above the Kincaid,
there was a terrific explosion which shook the vessel
from stem to stern.

Instantly pandemonium broke loose upon the deck. The apes
of Akut, terrified by the sound, ran hither and thither,
snarling and growling. Sheeta leaped here and there,
screaming out his startled terror in hideous cries that sent
the ice of fear straight to the hearts of the Kincaid's crew.

Mugambi, too, was trembling. Only Tarzan of the Apes and
his wife retained their composure. Scarce had the debris
settled than the ape-man was among the beasts, quieting their
fears, talking to them in low, pacific tones, stroking their
shaggy bodies, and assuring them, as only he could, that the
immediate danger was over.

An examination of the wreckage showed that their greatest danger,
now, lay in fire, for the flames were licking hungrily at the
splintered wood of the wrecked cabin, and had already found
a foothold upon the lower deck through a great jagged hole
which the explosion had opened.

By a miracle no member of the ship's company had been injured
by the blast, the origin of which remained for ever a total
mystery to all but one--the sailor who knew that Paulvitch had
been aboard the Kincaid and in his cabin the previous night.
He guessed the truth; but discretion sealed his lips. It would,
doubtless, fare none too well for the man who had permitted
the arch enemy of them all aboard the ship in the watches
of the night, where later he might set an infernal machine
to blow them all to kingdom come. No, the man decided that
he would keep this knowledge to himself.

As the flames gained headway it became apparent to Tarzan
that whatever had caused the explosion had scattered
some highly inflammable substance upon the surrounding
woodwork, for the water which they poured in from the pump
seemed rather to spread than to extinguish the blaze.

Fifteen minutes after the explosion great, black clouds of
smoke were rising from the hold of the doomed vessel.
The flames had reached the engine-room, and the ship no longer
moved toward the shore. Her fate was as certain as though the
waters had already closed above her charred and smoking remains.

"It is useless to remain aboard her longer," remarked the
ape-man to the mate. "There is no telling but there may be
other explosions, and as we cannot hope to save her, the
safest thing which we can do is to take to the boats without
further loss of time and make land."

Nor was there other alternative. Only the sailors could
bring away any belongings, for the fire, which had not yet
reached the forecastle, had consumed all in the vicinity of
the cabin which the explosion had not destroyed.

Two boats were lowered, and as there was no sea the landing
was made with infinite ease. Eager and anxious, the beasts
of Tarzan sniffed the familiar air of their native island as
the small boats drew in toward the beach, and scarce had their
keels grated upon the sand than Sheeta and the apes of Akut
were over the bows and racing swiftly toward the jungle.
A half-sad smile curved the lips of the ape-man as he
watched them go.

"Good-bye, my friends," he murmured. "You have been
good and faithful allies, and I shall miss you."

"They will return, will they not, dear?" asked Jane Clayton, at his side.

"They may and they may not," replied the ape-man.
"They have been ill at ease since they were forced to accept
so many human beings into their confidence. Mugambi and
I alone affected them less, for he and I are, at best,
but half human. You, however, and the members of the crew are
far too civilized for my beasts--it is you whom they are fleeing.
Doubtless they feel that they cannot trust themselves in the
close vicinity of so much perfectly good food without the
danger that they may help themselves to a mouthful some
time by mistake."

Jane laughed. "I think they are just trying to escape you,"
she retorted. "You are always making them stop something
which they see no reason why they should not do. Like little
children they are doubtless delighted at this opportunity to
flee from the zone of parental discipline. If they come back,
though, I hope they won't come by night."

"Or come hungry, eh?" laughed Tarzan.

For two hours after landing the little party stood watching the
burning ship which they had abandoned. Then there came faintly
to them from across the water the sound of a second explosion.
The Kincaid settled rapidly almost immediatel thereafter,
and sank within a few minutes.

The cause of the second explosion was less a mystery than
that of the first, the mate attributing it to the bursting of the
boilers when the flames had finally reached them; but what
had caused the first explosion was a subject of considerable
speculation among the stranded company.

 

 

 

Chapter 20

 

Jungle Island Again

 

The first consideration of the party was to locate fresh
water and make camp, for all knew that their term of
existence upon Jungle Island might be drawn out to months,
or even years.

Tarzan knew the nearest water, and to this he immediately
led the party. Here the men fell to work to construct shelters
and rude furniture while Tarzan went into the jungle after
meat, leaving the faithful Mugambi and the Mosula woman
to guard Jane, whose safety he would never trust to any
member of the Kincaid's cut-throat crew.

Lady Greystoke suffered far greater anguish than any other
of the castaways, for the blow to her hopes and her already
cruelly lacerated mother-heart lay not in her own privations
but in the knowledge that she might now never be able to
learn the fate of her first-born or do aught to discover his
whereabouts, or ameliorate his condition--a condition which
imagination naturally pictured in the most frightful forms.

For two weeks the party divided the time amongst the
various duties which had been allotted to each. A daylight
watch was maintained from sunrise to sunset upon a bluff
near the camp--a jutting shoulder of rock which overlooked
the sea. Here, ready for instant lighting, was gathered a huge
pile of dry branches, while from a lofty pole which they had
set in the ground there floated an improvised distress signal
fashioned from a red undershirt which belonged to the mate
of the Kincaid.

But never a speck upon the horizon that might be sail or
smoke rewarded the tired eyes that in their endless, hopeless
vigil strained daily out across the vast expanse of ocean.

It was Tarzan who suggested, finally, that they attempt to
construct a vessel that would bear them back to the mainland.
He alone could show them how to fashion rude tools, and
when the idea had taken root in the minds of the men they
were eager to commence their labours.

But as time went on and the Herculean nature of their task
became more and more apparent they fell to grumbling, and
to quarrelling among themselves, so that to the other dangers
were now added dissension and suspicion.

More than before did Tarzan now fear to leave Jane among
the half brutes of the Kincaid's crew; but hunting he must
do, for none other could so surely go forth and return with
meat as he. Sometimes Mugambi spelled him at the hunting;
but the black's spear and arrows were never so sure of results
as the rope and knife of the ape-man.

Finally the men shirked their work, going off into the
jungle by twos to explore and to hunt. All this time the camp
had had no sight of Sheeta, or Akut and the other great apes,
though Tarzan had sometimes met them in the jungle as he hunted.

And as matters tended from bad to worse in the camp of
the castaways upon the east coast of Jungle Island, another
camp came into being upon the north coast.

Here, in a little cove, lay a small schooner, the Cowrie,
whose decks had but a few days since run red with the blood
of her officers and the loyal members of her crew, for the
Cowrie had fallen upon bad days when it had shipped such
men as Gust and Momulla the Maori and that arch-fiend
Kai Shang of Fachan.

There were others, too, ten of them all told, the scum of
the South Sea ports; but Gust and Momulla and Kai Shang
were the brains and cunning of the company. It was they who
had instigated the mutiny that they might seize and divide
the catch of pearls which constituted the wealth of the
Cowrie's cargo.

It was Kai Shang who had murdered the captain as he lay
asleep in his berth, and it had been Momulla the Maori who
had led the attack upon the officer of the watch.

Gust, after his own peculiar habit, had found means to
delegate to the others the actual taking of life. Not that
Gust entertained any scruples on the subject, other than those
which induced in him a rare regard for his own personal safety.
There is always a certain element of risk to the assassin,
for victims of deadly assault are seldom prone to die quietly
and considerately. There is always a certain element of risk
to go so far as to dispute the issue with the murderer.
It was this chance of dispute which Gust preferred to forgo.

But now that the work was done the Swede aspired to the
position of highest command among the mutineers. He had
even gone so far as to appropriate and wear certain articles
belonging to the murdered captain of the Cowrie--articles of
apparel which bore upon them the badges and insignia of authority.

Kai Shang was peeved. He had no love for authority, and
certainly not the slightest intention of submitting to the
domination of an ordinary Swede sailor.

The seeds of discontent were, therefore, already planted in the camp
of the mutineers of the Cowrie at the north edge of Jungle Island.
But Kai Shang realized that he must act with circumspection,
for Gust alone of the motley horde possessed sufficient
knowledge of navigation to get them out of the South Atlantic
and around the cape into more congenial waters where they might
find a market for their ill-gotten wealth, and no questions asked.

The day before they sighted Jungle Island and discovered
the little land-locked harbour upon the bosom of which the
Cowrie now rode quietly at anchor, the watch had discovered
the smoke and funnels of a warship upon the southern horizon.

The chance of being spoken and investigated by a man-of-war
appealed not at all to any of them, so they put into hiding
for a few days until the danger should have passed.

And now Gust did not wish to venture out to sea again.
There was no telling, he insisted, but that the ship they had
seen was actually searching for them. Kai Shang pointed out
that such could not be the case since it was impossible for
any human being other than themselves to have knowledge
of what had transpired aboard the Cowrie.

But Gust was not to be persuaded. In his wicked heart he
nursed a scheme whereby he might increase his share of the
booty by something like one hundred per cent. He alone
could sail the Cowrie, therefore the others could not leave
Jungle Island without him; but what was there to prevent
Gust, with just sufficient men to man the schooner, slipping
away from Kai Shang, Momulla the Maori, and some half
of the crew when opportunity presented?

It was for this opportunity that Gust waited. Some day
there would come a moment when Kai Shang, Momulla, and
three or four of the others would be absent from camp,
exploring or hunting. The Swede racked his brain for some plan
whereby he might successfully lure from the sight of the
anchored ship those whom he had determined to abandon.

To this end he organized hunting party after hunting party,
but always the devil of perversity seemed to enter the soul of
Kai Shang, so that wily celestial would never hunt except
in the company of Gust himself.

One day Kai Shang spoke secretly with Momulla the Maori,
pouring into the brown ear of his companion the suspicions
which he harboured concerning the Swede. Momulla was for
going immediately and running a long knife through
the heart of the traitor.

It is true that Kai Shang had no other evidence than the
natural cunning of his own knavish soul--but he imagined
in the intentions of Gust what he himself would have been
glad to accomplish had the means lain at hand.

But he dared not let Momulla slay the Swede, upon whom
they depended to guide them to their destination.
They decided, however, that it would do no harm to attempt to
frighten Gust into acceding to their demands, and with this
purpose in mind the Maori sought out the self-constituted
commander of the party.

When he broached the subject of immediate departure
Gust again raised his former objection--that the warship
might very probably be patrolling the sea directly in their
southern path, waiting for them to make the attempt to reach
other waters.

Momulla scoffed at the fears of his fellow, pointing out
that as no one aboard any warship knew of their mutiny there
could be no reason why they should be suspected.

"Ah!" exclaimed Gust, "there is where you are wrong.
There is where you are lucky that you have an educated man
like me to tell you what to do. You are an ignorant savage,
Momulla, and so you know nothing of wireless."

The Maori leaped to his feet and laid his hand upon the
hilt of his knife.

"I am no savage," he shouted.

"I was only joking," the Swede hastened to explain. "We are
old friends, Momulla; we cannot afford to quarrel, at least
not while old Kai Shang is plotting to steal all the pearls
from us. If he could find a man to navigate the Cowrie he
would leave us in a minute. All his talk about getting away
from here is just because he has some scheme in his head to
get rid of us."

"But the wireless," asked Momulla. "What has the wireless
to do with our remaining here?"

"Oh yes," replied Gust, scratching his head. He was wondering
if the Maori were really so ignorant as to believe the
preposterous lie he was about to unload upon him. "Oh yes!
You see every warship is equipped with what they call a
wireless apparatus. It lets them talk to other ships hundreds
of miles away, and it lets them listen to all that is said on
these other ships. Now, you see, when you fellows were
shooting up the Cowrie you did a whole lot of loud talking, and
there isn't any doubt but that that warship was a-lyin' off south
of us listenin' to it all. Of course they might not have learned
the name of the ship, but they heard enough to know that the
crew of some ship was mutinying and killin' her officers. So you
see they'll be waiting to search every ship they sight for a
long time to come, and they may not be far away now."

When he had ceased speaking the Swede strove to assume
an air of composure that his listener might not have his
suspicions aroused as to the truth of the statements that
had just been made.

Momulla sat for some time in silence, eyeing Gust. At last
he rose.

"You are a great liar," he said. "If you don't get us on
our way by tomorrow you'll never have another chance to lie,
for I heard two of the men saying that they'd like to run
a knife into you and that if you kept them in this hole any
longer they'd do it."

"Go and ask Kai Shang if there is not a wireless," replied Gust.
"He will tell you that there is such a thing and that vessels
can talk to one another across hundreds of miles of water.
Then say to the two men who wish to kill me that if they
do so they will never live to spend their share of the
swag, for only I can get you safely to any port."

So Momulla went to Kai Shang and asked him if there was
such an apparatus as a wireless by means of which ships
could talk with each other at great distances, and Kai Shang
told him that there was.

Momulla was puzzled; but still he wished to leave the
island, and was willing to take his chances on the open sea
rather than to remain longer in the monotony of the camp.

"If we only had someone else who could navigate a ship!"
wailed Kai Shang.

That afternoon Momulla went hunting with two other Maoris.
They hunted toward the south, and had not gone far
from camp when they were surprised by the sound of voices
ahead of them in the jungle.

They knew that none of their own men had preceded them,
and as all were convinced that the island was uninhabited,
they were inclined to flee in terror on the hypothesis that the
place was haunted--possibly by the ghosts of the murdered
officers and men of the Cowrie.

But Momulla was even more curious than he was superstitious,
and so he quelled his natural desire to flee from the supernatural.
Motioning his companions to follow his example, he dropped
to his hands and knees, crawling forward stealthily and
with quakings of heart through the jungle in the direction
from which came the voices of the unseen speakers.

Presently, at the edge of a little clearing, he halted, and
there he breathed a deep sigh of relief, for plainly before him
he saw two flesh-and-blood men sitting upon a fallen log and
talking earnestly together.

One was Schneider, mate of the Kincaid, and the other
was a seaman named Schmidt.

"I think we can do it, Schmidt," Schneider was saying.
"A good canoe wouldn't be hard to build, and three of us
could paddle it to the mainland in a day if the wind was right
and the sea reasonably calm. There ain't no use waiting for
the men to build a big enough boat to take the whole party,
for they're sore now and sick of working like slaves all day long.
It ain't none of our business anyway to save the Englishman.
Let him look out for himself, says I." He paused for a moment,
and then eyeing the other to note the effect of his next words,
he continued, "But we might take the woman. It would be a shame
to leave a nice-lookin' piece like she is in such a
Gott-forsaken hole as this here island."

Schmidt looked up and grinned.

"So that's how she's blowin', is it?" he asked. "Why didn't
you say so in the first place? Wot's in it for me if I help you?"

"She ought to pay us well to get her back to civilization,"
explained Schneider, "an' I tell you what I'll do. I'll just
whack up with the two men that helps me. I'll take half an'
they can divide the other half--you an' whoever the other
bloke is. I'm sick of this place, an' the sooner I get
out of it the better I'll like it. What do you say?"

"Suits me," replied Schmidt. "I wouldn't know how to
reach the mainland myself, an' know that none o' the other
fellows would, so's you're the only one that knows anything
of navigation you're the fellow I'll tie to."

Momulla the Maori pricked up his ears. He had a smattering
of every tongue that is spoken upon the seas, and more
than a few times had he sailed on English ships, so that he
understood fairly well all that had passed between Schneider
and Schmidt since he had stumbled upon them.

He rose to his feet and stepped into the clearing. Schneider and
his companion started as nervously as though a ghost had risen
before them. Schneider reached for his revolver. Momulla raised
his right hand, palm forward, as a sign of his pacific intentions.

"I am a friend," he said. "I heard you; but do not fear
that I will reveal what you have said. I can help you, and you
can help me." He was addressing Schneider. "You can navigate
a ship, but you have no ship. We have a ship, but no one to
navigate it. If you will come with us and ask no questions
we will let you take the ship where you will after you
have landed us at a certain port, the name of which we will
give you later. You can take the woman of whom you speak,
and we will ask no questions either. Is it a bargain?"

Schneider desired more information, and got as much as
Momulla thought best to give him. Then the Maori suggested
that they speak with Kai Shang. The two members of the
Kincaid's company followed Momulla and his fellows to a
point in the jungle close by the camp of the mutineers.
Here Momulla hid them while he went in search of Kai Shang,
first admonishing his Maori companions to stand guard over
the two sailors lest they change their minds and attempt
to escape. Schneider and Schmidt were virtually prisoners,
though they did not know it.

Presently Momulla returned with Kai Shang, to whom he
had briefly narrated the details of the stroke of good fortune
that had come to them. The Chinaman spoke at length with
Schneider, until, notwithstanding his natural suspicion of
the sincerity of all men, he became quite convinced that
Schneider was quite as much a rogue as himself and that the
fellow was anxious to leave the island.

These two premises accepted there could be little doubt
that Schneider would prove trustworthy in so far as accepting
the command of the Cowrie was concerned; after that Kai
Shang knew that he could find means to coerce the man into
submission to his further wishes.

When Schneider and Schmidt left them and set out in the
direction of their own camp, it was with feelings of far
greater relief than they had experienced in many a day.
Now at last they saw a feasible plan for leaving the island
upon a seaworthy craft. There would be no more hard labour
at ship-building, and no risking their lives upon a crudely
built makeshift that would be quite as likely to go to the
bottom as it would to reach the mainland.

Also, they were to have assistance in capturing the woman,
or rather women, for when Momulla had learned that there
was a black woman in the other camp he had insisted that
she be brought along as well as the white woman.

As Kai Shang and Momulla entered their camp, it was
with a realization that they no longer needed Gust.
They marched straight to the tent in which they might expect to
find him at that hour of the day, for though it would have
been more comfortable for the entire party to remain aboard
the ship, they had mutually decided that it would be safer for
all concerned were they to pitch their camp ashore.

Each knew that in the heart of the others was sufficient
treachery to make it unsafe for any member of the party to
go ashore leaving the others in possession of the Cowrie, so
not more than two or three men at a time were ever permitted
aboard the vessel unless all the balance of the company
was there too.

As the two crossed toward Gust's tent the Maori felt the
edge of his long knife with one grimy, calloused thumb.
The Swede would have felt far from comfortable could he have
seen this significant action, or read what was passing amid
the convolutions of the brown man's cruel brain.

Now it happened that Gust was at that moment in the tent
occupied by the cook, and this tent stood but a few feet
from his own. So that he heard the approach of Kai Shang
and Momulla, though he did not, of course, dream that it
had any special significance for him.

Chance had it, though, that he glanced out of the doorway
of the cook's tent at the very moment that Kai Shang and
Momulla approached the entrance to his, and he thought that
he noted a stealthiness in their movements that comported
poorly with amicable or friendly intentions, and then, just as
they two slunk within the interior, Gust caught a glimpse of
the long knife which Momulla the Maori was then carrying
behind his back.

The Swede's eyes opened wide, and a funny little sensation
assailed the roots of his hairs. Also he turned almost white
beneath his tan. Quite precipitately he left the cook's tent.
He was not one who required a detailed exposition of intentions
that were quite all too obvious.

As surely as though he had heard them plotting, he knew
that Kai Shang and Momulla had come to take his life.
The knowledge that he alone could navigate the Cowrie had,
up to now, been sufficient assurance of his safety; but quite
evidently something had occurred of which he had no knowledge
that would make it quite worth the while of his co-conspirators
to eliminate him.

Without a pause Gust darted across the beach and into the jungle.
He was afraid of the jungle; uncanny noises that were
indeed frightful came forth from its recesses--the tangled
mazes of the mysterious country back of the beach.

But if Gust was afraid of the jungle he was far more afraid
of Kai Shang and Momulla. The dangers of the jungle were
more or less problematical, while the danger that menaced
him at the hands of his companions was a perfectly well-
known quantity, which might be expressed in terms of a few
inches of cold steel, or the coil of a light rope. He had seen
Kai Shang garrotte a man at Pai-sha in a dark alleyway back
of Loo Kotai's place. He feared the rope, therefore, more
than he did the knife of the Maori; but he feared them both
too much to remain within reach of either. Therefore he chose
the pitiless jungle.

 

 

 

Chapter 21

 

The Law of the Jungle

 

In Tarzan's camp, by dint of threats and promised rewards,
the ape-man had finally succeeded in getting the hull of a
large skiff almost completed. Much of the work he and
Mugambi had done with their own hands in addition to
furnishing the camp with meat.

Schneider, the mate, had been doing considerable grumbling,
and had at last openly deserted the work and gone off
into the jungle with Schmidt to hunt. He said that he wanted
a rest, and Tarzan, rather than add to the unpleasantness
which already made camp life almost unendurable, had permitted
the two men to depart without a remonstrance.

Upon the following day, however, Schneider affected a feeling
of remorse for his action, and set to work with a will upon
the skiff. Schmidt also worked good-naturedly, and Lord
Greystoke congratulated himself that at last the men had
awakened to the necessity for the labour which was being asked of
them and to their obligations to the balance of the party.

It was with a feeling of greater relief than he had experienced
for many a day that he set out that noon to hunt deep in the
jungle for a herd of small deer which Schneider reported
that he and Schmidt had seen there the day before.

The direction in which Schneider had reported seeing the
deer was toward the south-west, and to that point the ape-man
swung easily through the tangled verdure of the forest.

And as he went there approached from the north a half-dozen
ill-featured men who went stealthily through the jungle
as go men bent upon the commission of a wicked act.

They thought that they travelled unseen; but behind them,
almost from the moment they quitted their own camp, a tall
man crept upon their trail. In the man's eyes were hate and
fear, and a great curiosity. Why went Kai Shang and Momulla
and the others thus stealthily toward the south? What did
they expect to find there? Gust shook his low-browed
head in perplexity. But he would know. He would follow
them and learn their plans, and then if he could thwart them
he would--that went without question.

At first he had thought that they searched for him; but
finally his better judgment assured him that such could not
be the case, since they had accomplished all they really
desired by chasing him out of camp. Never would Kai Shang
or Momulla go to such pains to slay him or another unless it
would put money into their pockets, and as Gust had no
money it was evident that they were searching for someone else.

Presently the party he trailed came to a halt. Its members
concealed themselves in the foliage bordering the game trail
along which they had come. Gust, that he might the better
observe, clambered into the branches of a tree to the rear of
them, being careful that the leafy fronds hid him from the
view of his erstwhile mates.

He had not long to wait before he saw a strange white man
approach carefully along the trail from the south.

At sight of the newcomer Momulla and Kai Shang arose
from their places of concealment and greeted him. Gust could
not overhear what passed between them. Then the man returned
in the direction from which he had come.

He was Schneider. Nearing his camp he circled to the
opposite side of it, and presently came running in breathlessly.
Excitedly he hastened to Mugambi.

"Quick!" he cried. "Those apes of yours have caught Schmidt
and will kill him if we do not hasten to his aid. You alone
can call them off. Take Jones and Sullivan--you may need
help--and get to him as quick as you can. Follow the game
trail south for about a mile. I will remain here. I am
too spent with running to go back with you," and the mate
of the Kincaid threw himself upon the ground, panting as
though he was almost done for.

Mugambi hesitated. He had been left to guard the two women.
He did not know what to do, and then Jane Clayton,
who had heard Schneider's story, added her pleas to
those of the mate.

"Do not delay," she urged. "We shall be all right here.
Mr. Schneider will remain with us. Go, Mugambi. The poor
fellow must be saved."

Schmidt, who lay hidden in a bush at the edge of the camp, grinned.
Mugambi, heeding the commands of his mistress, though still doubtful
of the wisdom of his action, started off toward the south, with Jones
and Sullivan at his heels.

No sooner had he disappeared than Schmidt rose and darted north
into the jungle, and a few minutes later the face of Kai Shang
of Fachan appeared at the edge of the clearing. Schneider saw
the Chinaman, and motioned to him that the coast was clear.

Jane Clayton and the Mosula woman were sitting at the
opening of the former's tent, their backs toward the
approaching ruffians. The first intimation that either
had of the presence of strangers in camp was the sudden
appearance of a half-dozen ragged villains about them.

"Come!" said Kai Shang, motioning that the two arise
and follow him.

Jane Clayton sprang to her feet and looked about for Schneider,
only to see him standing behind the newcomers, a grin upon his face.
At his side stood Schmidt. Instantly she saw that she had been made
the victim of a plot.

"What is the meaning of this?" she asked, addressing the mate.

"It means that we have found a ship and that we can now
escape from Jungle Island," replied the man.

"Why did you send Mugambi and the others into the jungle?" she inquired.

"They are not coming with us--only you and I, and the Mosula woman."

"Come!" repeated Kai Shang, and seized Jane Clayton's wrist.

One of the Maoris grasped the black woman by the arm,
and when she would have screamed struck her across the mouth.

Mugambi raced through the jungle toward the south. Jones and
Sullivan trailed far behind. For a mile he continued upon
his way to the relief of Schmidt, but no signs saw he of the
missing man or of any of the apes of Akut.

At last he halted and called aloud the summons which he and
Tarzan had used to hail the great anthropoids. There was
no response. Jones and Sullivan came up with the black warrior
as the latter stood voicing his weird call. For another
half-mile the black searched, calling occasionally.

Finally the truth flashed upon him, and then, like a
frightened deer, he wheeled and dashed back toward camp.
Arriving there, it was but a moment before full confirmation
of his fears was impressed upon him. Lady Greystoke and the
Mosula woman were gone. So, likewise, was Schneider.

When Jones and Sullivan joined Mugambi he would have killed
them in his anger, thinking them parties to the plot;
but they finally succeeded in partially convincing him that
they had known nothing of it.

As they stood speculating upon the probable whereabouts
of the women and their abductor, and the purpose which
Schneider had in mind in taking them from camp, Tarzan of
the Apes swung from the branches of a tree and crossed the
clearing toward them.

His keen eyes detected at once that something was radically
wrong, and when he had heard Mugambi's story his jaws clicked
angrily together as he knitted his brows in thought.

What could the mate hope to accomplish by taking Jane
Clayton from a camp upon a small island from which there
was no escape from the vengeance of Tarzan? The ape-man
could not believe the fellow such a fool, and then a slight
realization of the truth dawned upon him.

Schneider would not have committed such an act unless he
had been reasonably sure that there was a way by which
he could quit Jungle Island with his prisoners. But why had he
taken the black woman as well? There must have been others,
one of whom wanted the dusky female.

"Come," said Tarzan, "there is but one thing to do now,
and that is to follow the trail."

As he finished speaking a tall, ungainly figure emerged
from the jungle north of the camp. He came straight toward
the four men. He was an entire stranger to all of them,
not one of whom had dreamed that another human being than
those of their own camp dwelt upon the unfriendly shores
of Jungle Island.

It was Gust. He came directly to the point.

"Your women were stolen," he said. "If you want ever
to see them again, come quickly and follow me. If we do not
hurry the Cowrie will be standing out to sea by the time we
reach her anchorage."

"Who are you?" asked Tarzan. "What do you know of
the theft of my wife and the black woman?"

"I heard Kai Shang and Momulla the Maori plot with two
men of your camp. They had chased me from our camp, and
would have killed me. Now I will get even with them. Come!"

Gust led the four men of the Kincaid's camp at a rapid trot
through the jungle toward the north. Would they come to the
sea in time? But a few more minutes would answer the question.

And when at last the little party did break through the last
of the screening foliage, and the harbour and the ocean lay
before them, they realized that fate had been most cruelly
unkind, for the Cowrie was already under sail and moving
slowly out of the mouth of the harbour into the open sea.

What were they to do? Tarzan's broad chest rose and fell
to the force of his pent emotions. The last blow seemed to
have fallen, and if ever in all his life Tarzan of the Apes had
had occasion to abandon hope it was now that he saw the ship
bearing his wife to some frightful fate moving gracefully over
the rippling water, so very near and yet so hideously far away.

In silence he stood watching the vessel. He saw it turn
toward the east and finally disappear around a headland on
its way he knew not whither. Then he dropped upon his
haunches and buried his face in his hands.

It was after dark that the five men returned to the camp on
the east shore. The night was hot and sultry. No slightest
breeze ruffled the foliage of the trees or rippled the mirror-
like surface of the ocean. Only a gentle swell rolled softly in
upon the beach.

Never had Tarzan seen the great Atlantic so ominously at peace.
He was standing at the edge of the beach gazing out to sea
in the direction of the mainland, his mind filled with
sorrow and hopelessness, when from the jungle close behind
the camp came the uncanny wail of a panther.

There was a familiar note in the weird cry, and almost
mechanically Tarzan turned his head and answered. A moment
later the tawny figure of Sheeta slunk out into the half-light of
the beach. There was no moon, but the sky was brilliant with stars.
Silently the savage brute came to the side of the man. It had been
long since Tarzan had seen his old fighting companion, but the soft
purr was sufficient to assure him that the animal still recalled
the bonds which had united them in the past.

The ape-man let his fingers fall upon the beast's coat,
and as Sheeta pressed close against his leg he caressed and
fondled the wicked head while his eyes continued to search
the blackness of the waters.

Presently he started. What was that? He strained his eyes
into the night. Then he turned and called aloud to the men
smoking upon their blankets in the camp. They came running
to his side; but Gust hesitated when he saw the nature of
Tarzan's companion.

"Look!" cried Tarzan. "A light! A ship's light! It must
be the Cowrie. They are becalmed." And then with an
exclamation of renewed hope, "We can reach them!
The skiff will carry us easily."

Gust demurred. "They are well armed," he warned. "We
could not take the ship--just five of us."

"There are six now," replied Tarzan, pointing to Sheeta,
"and we can have more still in a half-hour. Sheeta is the
equivalent of twenty men, and the few others I can bring will
add full a hundred to our fighting strength. You do not know them."

The ape-man turned and raised his head toward the jungle,
while there pealed from his lips, time after time,
the fearsome cry of the bull-ape who would summon his fellows.

Presently from the jungle came an answering cry, and then
another and another. Gust shuddered. Among what sort of
creatures had fate thrown him? Were not Kai Shang and Momulla
to be preferred to this great white giant who stroked a
panther and called to the beasts of the jungle?

In a few minutes the apes of Akut came crashing through
the underbrush and out upon the beach, while in the meantime
the five men had been struggling with the unwieldy bulk
of the skiff's hull.

By dint of Herculean efforts they had managed to get it to
the water's edge. The oars from the two small boats of the
Kincaid, which had been washed away by an off-shore wind
the very night that the party had landed, had been in use to
support the canvas of the sailcloth tents. These were hastily
requisitioned, and by the time Akut and his followers came
down to the water all was ready for embarkation.

Once again the hideous crew entered the service of their
master, and without question took up their places in the skiff.
The four men, for Gust could not be prevailed upon to accompany
the party, fell to the oars, using them paddle-wise, while some
of the apes followed their example, and presently the ungainly
skiff was moving quietly out to sea in the direction of the
light which rose and fell gently with the swell.

A sleepy sailor kept a poor vigil upon the Cowrie's deck,
while in the cabin below Schneider paced up and down arguing
with Jane Clayton. The woman had found a revolver in a table
drawer in the room in which she had been locked, and now she
kept the mate of the Kincaid at bay with the weapon.

The Mosula woman kneeled behind her, while Schneider paced
up and down before the door, threatening and pleading and
promising, but all to no avail. Presently from the deck
above came a shout of warning and a shot. For an instant
Jane Clayton relaxed her vigilance, and turned her eyes toward
the cabin skylight. Simultaneously Schneider was upon her.

The first intimation the watch had that there was another
craft within a thousand miles of the Cowrie came when he
saw the head and shoulders of a man poked over the ship's side.
Instantly the fellow sprang to his feet with a cry and
levelled his revolver at the intruder. It was his cry and the
subsequent report of the revolver which threw Jane Clayton
off her guard.

Upon deck the quiet of fancied security soon gave place
to the wildest pandemonium. The crew of the Cowrie rushed
above armed with revolvers, cutlasses, and the long knives
that many of them habitually wore; but the alarm had come
too late. Already the beasts of Tarzan were upon the ship's
deck, with Tarzan and the two men of the Kincaid's crew.

In the face of the frightful beasts the courage of the mutineers
wavered and broke. Those with revolvers fired a few scattering
shots and then raced for some place of supposed safety.
Into the shrouds went some; but the apes of Akut were
more at home there than they.

Screaming with terror the Maoris were dragged from their
lofty perches. The beasts, uncontrolled by Tarzan who had
gone in search of Jane, loosed in the full fury of their savage
natures upon the unhappy wretches who fell into their clutches.

Sheeta, in the meanwhile, had felt his great fangs sink into
but a singular jugular. For a moment he mauled the corpse,
and then he spied Kai Shang darting down the companionway
toward his cabin.

With a shrill scream Sheeta was after him--a scream which
awoke an almost equally uncanny cry in the throat of the
terror-stricken Chinaman.

But Kai Shang reached his cabin a fraction of a second
ahead of the panther, and leaping within slammed the door--
just too late. Sheeta's great body hurtled against it before
the catch engaged, and a moment later Kai Shang was gibbering
and shrieking in the back of an upper berth.

Lightly Sheeta sprang after his victim, and presently the
wicked days of Kai Shang of Fachan were ended, and Sheeta
was gorging himself upon tough and stringy flesh.

A moment scarcely had elapsed after Schneider leaped
upon Jane Clayton and wrenched the revolver from her hand,
when the door of the cabin opened and a tall and half-naked
white man stood framed within the portal.

Silently he leaped across the cabin. Schneider felt sinewy
fingers at his throat. He turned his head to see who had
attacked him, and his eyes went wide when he saw the face of
the ape-man close above his own.

Grimly the fingers tightened upon the mate's throat. He tried
to scream, to plead, but no sound came forth. His eyes
protruded as he struggled for freedom, for breath, for life.

Jane Clayton seized her husband's hands and tried to drag them
from the throat of the dying man; but Tarzan only shook his head.

"Not again," he said quietly. "Before have I permitted
scoundrels to live, only to suffer and to have you suffer for
my mercy. This time we shall make sure of one scoundrel--
sure that he will never again harm us or another," and with
a sudden wrench he twisted the neck of the perfidious mate
until there was a sharp crack, and the man's body lay limp
and motionless in the ape-man's grasp. With a gesture of
disgust Tarzan tossed the corpse aside. Then he returned to
the deck, followed by Jane and the Mosula woman.

The battle there was over. Schmidt and Momulla and two
others alone remained alive of all the company of the Cowrie,
for they had found sanctuary in the forecastle. The others
had died, horribly, and as they deserved, beneath the fangs
and talons of the beasts of Tarzan, and in the morning the
sun rose on a grisly sight upon the deck of the unhappy
Cowrie; but this time the blood which stained her white
planking was the blood of the guilty and not of the innocent.

Tarzan brought forth the men who had hidden in the forecastle,
and without promises of immunity from punishment forced them
to help work the vessel--the only alternative was immediate death.

A stiff breeze had risen with the sun, and with canvas
spread the Cowrie set in toward Jungle Island, where a few
hours later, Tarzan picked up Gust and bid farewell to Sheeta
and the apes of Akut, for here he set the beasts ashore to
pursue the wild and natural life they loved so well; nor did
they lose a moment's time in disappearing into the cool depths
of their beloved jungle.

That they knew that Tarzan was to leave them may be doubted--
except possibly in the case of the more intelligent Akut,
who alone of all the others remained upon the beach as the
small boat drew away toward the schooner, carrying his savage
lord and master from him.

And as long as their eyes could span the distance, Jane and
Tarzan, standing upon the deck, saw the lonely figure of
the shaggy anthropoid motionless upon the surf-beaten sands
of Jungle Island.

 

It was three days later that the Cowrie fell in with H.M.
sloop-of-war Shorewater, through whose wireless Lord Greystoke
soon got in communication with London. Thus he learned that
which filled his and his wife's heart with joy and thanksgiving--
little Jack was safe at Lord Greystoke's town house.

It was not until they reached London that they learned the
details of the remarkable chain of circumstances that had
preserved the infant unharmed.

It developed that Rokoff, fearing to take the child aboard the
Kincaid by day, had hidden it in a low den where nameless infants
were harboured, intending to carry it to the steamer after dark.

His confederate and chief lieutenant, Paulvitch, true to the
long years of teaching of his wily master, had at last
succumbed to the treachery and greed that had always marked
his superior, and, lured by the thoughts of the immense ransom
that he might win by returning the child unharmed, had
divulged the secret of its parentage to the woman who
maintained the foundling asylum. Through her he had arranged
for the substitution of another infant, knowing full well that
never until it was too late would Rokoff suspect the trick that
had been played upon him.

The woman had promised to keep the child until Paulvitch
returned to England; but she, in turn, had been tempted to
betray her trust by the lure of gold, and so had opened
negotiations with Lord Greystoke's solicitors for the return
of the child.

Esmeralda, the old Negro nurse whose absence on a vacation
in America at the time of the abduction of little Jack
had been attributed by her as the cause of the calamity,
had returned and positively identified the infant.

The ransom had been paid, and within ten days of the date
of his kidnapping the future Lord Greystoke, none the worse
for his experience, had been returned to his father's home.

And so that last and greatest of Nikolas Rokoff's many
rascalities had not only miserably miscarried through the
treachery he had taught his only friend, but it had resulted
in the arch-villain's death, and given to Lord and Lady Greystoke
a peace of mind that neither could ever have felt so long as
the vital spark remained in the body of the Russian and his
malign mind was free to formulate new atrocities against them.

Rokoff was dead, and while the fate of Paulvitch was unknown,
they had every reason to believe that he had succumbed to the
dangers of the jungle where last they had seen him--the
malicious tool of his master.

And thus, in so far as they might know, they were to be
freed for ever from the menace of these two men--the only
enemies which Tarzan of the Apes ever had had occasion to
fear, because they struck at him cowardly blows, through
those he loved.

 

It was a happy family party that were reunited in Greystoke
House the day that Lord Greystoke and his lady landed upon
English soil from the deck of the Shorewater.

Accompanying them were Mugambi and the Mosula
woman whom he had found in the bottom of the canoe that
night upon the bank of the little tributary of the Ugambi.

The woman had preferred to cling to her new lord and master
rather than return to the marriage she had tried to escape.

Tarzan had proposed to them that they might find a home
upon his vast African estates in the land of the Waziri, where
they were to be sent as soon as opportunity presented itself.

Possibly we shall see them all there amid the savage romance
of the grim jungle and the great plains where Tarzan
of the Apes loves best to be.

Who knows?

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