The Son of Tarzan
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The long boat of the Marjorie W. was floating down the
broad Ugambi with ebb tide and current. Her crew were
lazily enjoying this respite from the arduous labor of rowing
up stream. Three miles below them lay the Marjorie W.
herself, quite ready to sail so soon as they should have clambered
aboard and swung the long boat to its davits. Presently the
attention of every man was drawn from his dreaming or his
gossiping to the northern bank of the river. There, screaming
at them in a cracked falsetto and with skinny arms outstretched,
stood a strange apparition of a man.
"Wot the 'ell?" ejaculated one of the crew.
"A white man!" muttered the mate, and then: "Man the
oars, boys, and we'll just pull over an' see what he wants."
When they came close to the shore they saw an emaciated
creature with scant white locks tangled and matted. The thin,
bent body was naked but for a loin cloth. Tears were rolling
down the sunken pock-marked cheeks. The man jabbered at
them in a strange tongue.
"Rooshun," hazarded the mate. "Savvy English?" he called
to the man.
He did, and in that tongue, brokenly and haltingly, as though
it had been many years since he had used it, he begged them to
take him with them away from this awful country. Once on
board the Marjorie W. the stranger told his rescuers a pitiful
tale of privation, hardships, and torture, extending over a period
of ten years. How he happened to have come to Africa he did not
tell them, leaving them to assume he had forgotten the incidents
of his life prior to the frightful ordeals that had wrecked him
mentally and physically. He did not even tell them his true name,
and so they knew him only as Michael Sabrov, nor was there any
resemblance between this sorry wreck and the virile, though
unprincipled, Alexis Paulvitch of old.
It had been ten years since the Russian had escaped the fate
of his friend, the arch-fiend Rokoff, and not once, but many
times during those ten years had Paulvitch cursed the fate that
had given to Nicholas Rokoff death and immunity from suffering
while it had meted to him the hideous terrors of an existence
infinitely worse than the death that persistently refused to
Paulvitch had taken to the jungle when he had seen the beasts
of Tarzan and their savage lord swarm the deck of the Kincaid,
and in his terror lest Tarzan pursue and capture him he had
stumbled on deep into the jungle, only to fall at last into the
hands of one of the savage cannibal tribes that had felt the weight
of Rokoff's evil temper and cruel brutality. Some strange whim
of the chief of this tribe saved Paulvitch from death only to
plunge him into a life of misery and torture. For ten years he
had been the butt of the village, beaten and stoned by the women
and children, cut and slashed and disfigured by the warriors;
a victim of often recurring fevers of the most malignant variety.
Yet he did not die. Smallpox laid its hideous clutches upon him;
leaving him unspeakably branded with its repulsive marks.
Between it and the attentions of the tribe the countenance of
Alexis Paulvitch was so altered that his own mother could not
have recognized in the pitiful mask he called his face a single
familiar feature. A few scraggly, yellow-white locks had supplanted
the thick, dark hair that had covered his head. His limbs were bent
and twisted, he walked with a shuffling, unsteady gait, his body
doubled forward. His teeth were gone--knocked out by his savage masters.
Even his mentality was but a sorry mockery of what it once had been.
They took him aboard the Marjorie W., and there they fed
and nursed him. He gained a little in strength; but his
appearance never altered for the better--a human derelict,
battered and wrecked, they had found him; a human derelict,
battered and wrecked, he would remain until death claimed him.
Though still in his thirties, Alexis Paulvitch could easily
have passed for eighty. Inscrutable Nature had demanded of
the accomplice a greater penalty than his principal had paid.
In the mind of Alexis Paulvitch there lingered no thoughts of
revenge--only a dull hatred of the man whom he and Rokoff
had tried to break, and failed. There was hatred, too, of the
memory of Rokoff, for Rokoff had led him into the horrors he
had undergone. There was hatred of the police of a score of
cities from which he had had to flee. There was hatred of law,
hatred of order, hatred of everything. Every moment of the man's
waking life was filled with morbid thought of hatred--he had
become mentally as he was physically in outward appearance,
the personification of the blighting emotion of Hate. He had
little or nothing to do with the men who had rescued him.
He was too weak to work and too morose for company, and so
they quickly left him alone to his own devices.
The Marjorie W. had been chartered by a syndicate of wealthy
manufacturers, equipped with a laboratory and a staff of scientists,
and sent out to search for some natural product which the
manufacturers who footed the bills had been importing from
South America at an enormous cost. What the product was none
on board the Marjorie W. knew except the scientists, nor is
it of any moment to us, other than that it led the ship to a
certain island off the coast of Africa after Alexis Paulvitch
had been taken aboard.
The ship lay at anchor off the coast for several weeks.
The monotony of life aboard her became trying for the crew.
They went often ashore, and finally Paulvitch asked to accompany
them--he too was tiring of the blighting sameness of existence
upon the ship.
The island was heavily timbered. Dense jungle ran down almost
to the beach. The scientists were far inland, prosecuting
their search for the valuable commodity that native rumor upon
the mainland had led them to believe might be found here in
marketable quantity. The ship's company fished, hunted,
and explored. Paulvitch shuffled up and down the beach, or lay
in the shade of the great trees that skirted it. One day, as the
men were gathered at a little distance inspecting the body of a
panther that had fallen to the gun of one of them who had been
hunting inland, Paulvitch lay sleeping beneath his tree. He was
awakened by the touch of a hand upon his shoulder. With a start
he sat up to see a huge, anthropoid ape squatting at his side,
inspecting him intently. The Russian was thoroughly frightened.
He glanced toward the sailors--they were a couple of hundred
yards away. Again the ape plucked at his shoulder, jabbering
plaintively. Paulvitch saw no menace in the inquiring gaze, or
in the attitude of the beast. He got slowly to his feet. The ape
rose at his side.
Half doubled, the man shuffled cautiously away toward the sailors.
The ape moved with him, taking one of his arms. They had come
almost to the little knot of men before they were seen, and
by this time Paulvitch had become assured that the beast
meant no harm. The animal evidently was accustomed to the
association of human beings. It occurred to the Russian that the
ape represented a certain considerable money value, and before
they reached the sailors he had decided he should be the one to
profit by it.
When the men looked up and saw the oddly paired couple
shuffling toward them they were filled with amazement, and
started on a run toward the two. The ape showed no sign of fear.
Instead he grasped each sailor by the shoulder and peered long
and earnestly into his face. Having inspected them all he
returned to Paulvitch's side, disappointment written strongly
upon his countenance and in his carriage.
The men were delighted with him. They gathered about,
asking Paulvitch many questions, and examining his companion.
The Russian told them that the ape was his--nothing further
would he offer--but kept harping continually upon the same
theme, "The ape is mine. The ape is mine." Tiring of Paulvitch,
one of the men essayed a pleasantry. Circling about behind the
ape he prodded the anthropoid in the back with a pin. Like a
flash the beast wheeled upon its tormentor, and, in the briefest
instant of turning, the placid, friendly animal was metamorphosed
to a frenzied demon of rage. The broad grin that had sat upon
the sailor's face as he perpetrated his little joke froze to an
expression of terror. He attempted to dodge the long arms
that reached for him; but, failing, drew a long knife that hung
at his belt. With a single wrench the ape tore the weapon from
the man's grasp and flung it to one side, then his yellow fangs
were buried in the sailor's shoulder.
With sticks and knives the man's companions fell upon the
beast, while Paulvitch danced around the cursing snarling pack
mumbling and screaming pleas and threats. He saw his visions
of wealth rapidly dissipating before the weapons of the sailors.
The ape, however, proved no easy victim to the superior numbers
that seemed fated to overwhelm him. Rising from the sailor
who had precipitated the battle he shook his giant shoulders,
freeing himself from two of the men that were clinging to his
back, and with mighty blows of his open palms felled one after
another of his attackers, leaping hither and thither with the
agility of a small monkey.
The fight had been witnessed by the captain and mate who
were just landing from the Marjorie W., and Paulvitch saw
these two now running forward with drawn revolvers while the
two sailors who had brought them ashore trailed at their heels.
The ape stood looking about him at the havoc he had wrought, but
whether he was awaiting a renewal of the attack or was
deliberating which of his foes he should exterminate first
Paulvitch could not guess. What he could guess, however,
was that the moment the two officers came within firing distance
of the beast they would put an end to him in short order unless
something were done and done quickly to prevent. The ape had
made no move to attack the Russian but even so the man was none
too sure of what might happen were he to interfere with the savage
beast, now thoroughly aroused to bestial rage, and with the
smell of new spilled blood fresh in its nostrils. For an instant he
hesitated, and then again there rose before him the dreams of
affluence which this great anthropoid would doubtless turn to
realities once Paulvitch had landed him safely in some great
metropolis like London.
The captain was shouting to him now to stand aside that he
might have a shot at the animal; but instead Paulvitch shuffled
to the ape's side, and though the man's hair quivered at its roots
he mastered his fear and laid hold of the ape's arm.
"Come!" he commanded, and tugged to pull the beast from
among the sailors, many of whom were now sitting up in wide
eyed fright or crawling away from their conqueror upon hands
Slowly the ape permitted itself to be led to one side, nor did
it show the slightest indication of a desire to harm the Russian.
The captain came to a halt a few paces from the odd pair.
"Get aside, Sabrov!" he commanded. "I'll put that brute
where he won't chew up any more able seamen."
"It wasn't his fault, captain," pleaded Paulvitch. "Please
shoot him. The men started it--they attacked him first. You see,
he's perfectly gentle--and he's mine--he's mine--he's mine!
I won't let you kill him," he concluded, as his half-wrecked
mentality pictured anew the pleasure that money would buy in
London--money that he could not hope to possess without some
such windfall as the ape represented.
The captain lowered his weapon. "The men started it, did
they?" he repeated. "How about that?" and he turned toward
the sailors who had by this time picked themselves from the
ground, none of them much the worse for his experience except
the fellow who had been the cause of it, and who would
doubtless nurse a sore shoulder for a week or so.
"Simpson done it," said one of the men. "He stuck a pin
into the monk from behind, and the monk got him--which
served him bloomin' well right--an' he got the rest of us, too,
for which I can't blame him, since we all jumped him to once."
The captain looked at Simpson, who sheepishly admitted the
truth of the allegation, then he stepped over to the ape as though
to discover for himself the sort of temper the beast possessed,
but it was noticeable that he kept his revolver cocked and leveled
as he did so. However, he spoke soothingly to the animal who
squatted at the Russian's side looking first at one and then
another of the sailors. As the captain approached him the ape
half rose and waddled forward to meet him. Upon his countenance
was the same strange, searching expression that had marked his
scrutiny of each of the sailors he had first encountered. He came
quite close to the officer and laid a paw upon one of the man's
shoulders, studying his face intently for a long moment, then
came the expression of disappointment accompanied by what
was almost a human sigh, as he turned away to peer in the same
curious fashion into the faces of the mate and the two sailors
who had arrived with the officers. In each instance he sighed
and passed on, returning at length to Paulvitch's side, where he
squatted down once more; thereafter evincing little or no
interest in any of the other men, and apparently forgetful
of his recent battle with them.
When the party returned aboard the Marjorie W., Paulvitch
was accompanied by the ape, who seemed anxious to follow him.
The captain interposed no obstacles to the arrangement,
and so the great anthropoid was tacitly admitted to membership
in the ship's company. Once aboard he examined each new face
minutely, evincing the same disappointment in each instance
that had marked his scrutiny of the others. The officers and
scientists aboard often discussed the beast, but they were unable
to account satisfactorily for the strange ceremony with which he
greeted each new face. Had he been discovered upon the mainland,
or any other place than the almost unknown island that
had been his home, they would have concluded that he had
formerly been a pet of man; but that theory was not tenable in
the face of the isolation of his uninhabited island. He seemed
continually to be searching for someone, and during the first
days of the return voyage from the island he was often discovered
nosing about in various parts of the ship; but after he had seen
and examined each face of the ship's company, and explored
every corner of the vessel he lapsed into utter indifference of all
about him. Even the Russian elicited only casual interest when
he brought him food. At other times the ape appeared merely
to tolerate him. He never showed affection for him, or for anyone
else upon the Marjorie W., nor did he at any time evince any
indication of the savage temper that had marked his resentment
of the attack of the sailors upon him at the time that he had come
Most of his time was spent in the eye of the ship scanning the
horizon ahead, as though he were endowed with sufficient reason
to know that the vessel was bound for some port where there
would be other human beings to undergo his searching scrutiny.
All in all, Ajax, as he had been dubbed, was considered the
most remarkable and intelligent ape that any one aboard the
Marjorie W. ever had seen. Nor was his intelligence the only
remarkable attribute he owned. His stature and physique were,
for an ape, awe inspiring. That he was old was quite evident,
but if his age had impaired his physical or mental powers in the
slightest it was not apparent.
And so at length the Marjorie W. came to England, and there
the officers and the scientists, filled with compassion for the
pitiful wreck of a man they had rescued from the jungles,
furnished Paulvitch with funds and bid him and his Ajax Godspeed.
Upon the dock and all through the journey to London the
Russian had his hands full with Ajax. Each new face of the
thousands that came within the anthropoid's ken must be
carefully scrutinized, much to the horror of many of his
victims; but at last, failing, apparently, to discover whom
he sought, the great ape relapsed into morbid indifference,
only occasionally evincing interest in a passing face.
In London, Paulvitch went directly with his prize to a certain
famous animal trainer. This man was much impressed with Ajax
with the result that he agreed to train him for a lion's share of
the profits of exhibiting him, and in the meantime to provide for
the keep of both the ape and his owner.
And so came Ajax to London, and there was forged another link
in the chain of strange circumstances that were to affect the
lives of many people.
Mr. Harold Moore was a bilious-countenanced, studious
young man. He took himself very seriously, and life, and
his work, which latter was the tutoring of the young son of a
British nobleman. He felt that his charge was not making the
progress that his parents had a right to expect, and he was now
conscientiously explaining this fact to the boy's mother.
"It's not that he isn't bright," he was saying; "if that
true I should have hopes of succeeding, for then I might bring
to bear all my energies in overcoming his obtuseness; but the
trouble is that he is exceptionally intelligent, and learns so
quickly that I can find no fault in the matter of the preparation
of his lessons. What concerns me, however, is that fact that he
evidently takes no interest whatever in the subjects we are studying.
He merely accomplishes each lesson as a task to be rid of
as quickly as possible and I am sure that no lesson ever again
enters his mind until the hours of study and recitation once
more arrive. His sole interests seem to be feats of physical
prowess and the reading of everything that he can get hold of
relative to savage beasts and the lives and customs of uncivilized
peoples; but particularly do stories of animals appeal to him.
He will sit for hours together poring over the work of some
African explorer, and upon two occasions I have found him setting
up in bed at night reading Carl Hagenbeck's book on men and beasts."
The boy's mother tapped her foot nervously upon the hearth rug.
"You discourage this, of course?" she ventured.
Mr. Moore shuffled embarrassedly.
"I--ah--essayed to take the book from him," he replied, a
slight flush mounting his sallow cheek; "but--ah--your son is
quite muscular for one so young."
"He wouldn't let you take it?" asked the mother.
"He would not," confessed the tutor. "He was perfectly good
natured about it; but he insisted upon pretending that he was a
gorilla and that I was a chimpanzee attempting to steal food
from him. He leaped upon me with the most savage growls I
ever heard, lifted me completely above his head, hurled me
upon his bed, and after going through a pantomime indicative
of choking me to death he stood upon my prostrate form and
gave voice to a most fearsome shriek, which he explained was
the victory cry of a bull ape. Then he carried me to the door,
shoved me out into the hall and locked me from his room."
For several minutes neither spoke again. It was the boy's
mother who finally broke the silence.
"It is very necessary, Mr. Moore," she said, "that you do
everything in your power to discourage this tendency in Jack,
he--"; but she got no further. A loud "Whoop!" from the
direction of the window brought them both to their feet.
The room was upon the second floor of the house, and opposite
the window to which their attention had been attracted was a
large tree, a branch of which spread to within a few feet of
the sill. Upon this branch now they both discovered the subject
of their recent conversation, a tall, well-built boy, balancing
with ease upon the bending limb and uttering loud shouts of glee
as he noted the terrified expressions upon the faces of his audience.
The mother and tutor both rushed toward the window but before
they had crossed half the room the boy had leaped nimbly to the
sill and entered the apartment with them.
"`The wild man from Borneo has just come to town,'" he sang,
dancing a species of war dance about his terrified mother
and scandalized tutor, and ending up by throwing his arms about
the former's neck and kissing her upon either cheek.
"Oh, Mother," he cried, "there's a wonderful, educated ape
being shown at one of the music halls. Willie Grimsby saw it
last night. He says it can do everything but talk. It rides
a bicycle, eats with knife and fork, counts up to ten, and ever
so many other wonderful things, and can I go and see it too?
Oh, please, Mother--please let me."
Patting the boy's cheek affectionately, the mother shook her
head negatively. "No, Jack," she said; "you know I do not
approve of such exhibitions."
"I don't see why not, Mother," replied the boy. "All the
other fellows go and they go to the Zoo, too, and you'll never
let me do even that. Anybody'd think I was a girl--or
a mollycoddle. Oh, Father," he exclaimed, as the door opened
to admit a tall gray-eyed man. "Oh, Father, can't I go?"
"Go where, my son?" asked the newcomer.
"He wants to go to a music hall to see a trained ape," said
the mother, looking warningly at her husband.
"Who, Ajax?" questioned the man.
The boy nodded.
"Well, I don't know that I blame you, my son," said the father,
"I wouldn't mind seeing him myself. They say he is very
wonderful, and that for an anthropoid he is unusually large.
Let's all go, Jane--what do you say?" And he turned toward his
wife, but that lady only shook her head in a most positive
manner, and turning to Mr. Moore asked him if it was not time
that he and Jack were in the study for the morning recitations.
When the two had left she turned toward her husband.
"John," she said, "something must be done to discourage Jack's
tendency toward anything that may excite the cravings for the
savage life which I fear he has inherited from you. You know
from your own experience how strong is the call of the wild
at times. You know that often it has necessitated a stern
struggle on your part to resist the almost insane desire which
occasionally overwhelms you to plunge once again into the jungle
life that claimed you for so many years, and at the same time you
know, better than any other, how frightful a fate it would be for
Jack, were the trail to the savage jungle made either alluring or
easy to him."
"I doubt if there is any danger of his inheriting a taste for
jungle life from me," replied the man, "for I cannot conceive
that such a thing may be transmitted from father to son.
And sometimes, Jane, I think that in your solicitude for his
future you go a bit too far in your restrictive measures.
His love for animals--his desire, for example, to see this
trained ape--is only natural in a healthy, normal boy of his age.
Just because he wants to see Ajax is no indication that he would
wish to marry an ape, and even should he, far be it from you Jane
to have the right to cry `shame!'" and John Clayton, Lord
Greystoke, put an arm about his wife, laughing good-naturedly
down into her upturned face before he bent his head and kissed her.
Then, more seriously, he continued: "You have never told Jack
anything concerning my early life, nor have you permitted me to,
and in this I think that you have made a mistake. Had I been
able to tell him of the experiences of Tarzan of the Apes I could
doubtless have taken much of the glamour and romance from
jungle life that naturally surrounds it in the minds of those who
have had no experience of it. He might then have profited by my
experience, but now, should the jungle lust ever claim him, he
will have nothing to guide him but his own impulses, and I know
how powerful these may be in the wrong direction at times."
But Lady Greystoke only shook her head as she had a hundred
other times when the subject had claimed her attention in the past.
"No, John," she insisted, "I shall never give my consent
the implanting in Jack's mind of any suggestion of the savage
life which we both wish to preserve him from."
It was evening before the subject was again referred to and
then it was raised by Jack himself. He had been sitting, curled
in a large chair, reading, when he suddenly looked up and
addressed his father.
"Why," he asked, coming directly to the point, "can't I go
and see Ajax?"
"Your mother does not approve," replied his father.
"That is not the question," evaded Lord Greystoke. "It is
enough that your mother objects."
"I am going to see him," announced the boy, after a few
moments of thoughtful silence. "I am not different from Willie
Grimsby, or any other of the fellows who have been to see him.
It did not harm them and it will not harm me. I could go without
telling you; but I would not do that. So I tell you now,
beforehand, that I am going to see Ajax."
There was nothing disrespectful or defiant in the boy's tone
or manner. His was merely a dispassionate statement of facts.
His father could scarce repress either a smile or a show of the
admiration he felt for the manly course his son had pursued.
"I admire your candor, Jack," he said. "Permit me to be candid,
as well. If you go to see Ajax without permission, I shall
punish you. I have never inflicted corporal punishment upon
you, but I warn you that should you disobey your mother's wishes
in this instance, I shall."
"Yes, sir," replied the boy; and then: "I shall tell you,
when I have been to see Ajax."
Mr. Moore's room was next to that of his youthful charge,
and it was the tutor's custom to have a look into the boy's each
evening as the former was about to retire. This evening he was
particularly careful not to neglect his duty, for he had just come
from a conference with the boy's father and mother in which it
had been impressed upon him that he must exercise the greatest
care to prevent Jack visiting the music hall where Ajax was
being shown. So, when he opened the boy's door at about half
after nine, he was greatly excited, though not entirely surprised
to find the future Lord Greystoke fully dressed for the street and
about to crawl from his open bed room window.
Mr. Moore made a rapid spring across the apartment; but the
waste of energy was unnecessary, for when the boy heard him
within the chamber and realized that he had been discovered he
turned back as though to relinquish his planned adventure.
"Where were you going?" panted the excited Mr. Moore.
"I am going to see Ajax," replied the boy, quietly.
"I am astonished," cried Mr. Moore; but a moment later he
was infinitely more astonished, for the boy, approaching close
to him, suddenly seized him about the waist, lifted him from
his feet and threw him face downward upon the bed, shoving
his face deep into a soft pillow.
"Be quiet," admonished the victor, "or I'll choke you."
Mr. Moore struggled; but his efforts were in vain. Whatever else
Tarzan of the Apes may or may not have handed down to his son
he had at least bequeathed him almost as marvelous a physique
as he himself had possessed at the same age. The tutor was as
putty in the boy's hands. Kneeling upon him, Jack tore strips
from a sheet and bound the man's hands behind his back. Then he
rolled him over and stuffed a gag of the same material between
his teeth, securing it with a strip wound about the back of his
victim's head. All the while he talked in a low, conversational tone.
"I am Waja, chief of the Waji," he explained, "and you are
Mohammed Dubn, the Arab sheik, who would murder my people and
steal my ivory," and he dexterously trussed Mr. Moore's hobbled
ankles up behind to meet his hobbled wrists. "Ah--ha! Villain!
I have you in me power at last. I go; but I shall return!"
And the son of Tarzan skipped across the room, slipped through
the open window, and slid to liberty by way of the down spout
from an eaves trough.
Mr. Moore wriggled and struggled about the bed. He was
sure that he should suffocate unless aid came quickly. In his
frenzy of terror he managed to roll off the bed. The pain and
shock of the fall jolted him back to something like sane
consideration of his plight. Where before he had been unable
to think intelligently because of the hysterical fear that had
claimed him he now lay quietly searching for some means of escape
from his dilemma. It finally occurred to him that the room in
which Lord and Lady Greystoke had been sitting when he left them
was directly beneath that in which he lay upon the floor. He knew
that some time had elapsed since he had come up stairs and that
they might be gone by this time, for it seemed to him that he
had struggled about the bed, in his efforts to free himself, for
an eternity. But the best that he could do was to attempt to attract
attention from below, and so, after many failures, he managed
to work himself into a position in which he could tap the toe of
his boot against the floor. This he proceeded to do at short
intervals, until, after what seemed a very long time, he was
rewarded by hearing footsteps ascending the stairs, and presently
a knock upon the door. Mr. Moore tapped vigorously with
his toe--he could not reply in any other way. The knock was
repeated after a moment's silence. Again Mr. Moore tapped.
Would they never open the door! Laboriously he rolled in the
direction of succor. If he could get his back against the door
he could then tap upon its base, when surely he must be heard.
The knocking was repeated a little louder, and finally a voice
called: "Mr. Jack!"
It was one of the house men--Mr. Moore recognized the
fellow's voice. He came near to bursting a blood vessel in an
endeavor to scream "come in" through the stifling gag. After a
moment the man knocked again, quite loudly and again called
the boy's name. Receiving no reply he turned the knob, and at
the same instant a sudden recollection filled the tutor anew with
numbing terror--he had, himself, locked the door behind him
when he had entered the room.
He heard the servant try the door several times and then depart.
Upon which Mr. Moore swooned.
In the meantime Jack was enjoying to the full the stolen
pleasures of the music hall. He had reached the temple of mirth
just as Ajax's act was commencing, and having purchased a box seat
was now leaning breathlessly over the rail watching every move
of the great ape, his eyes wide in wonder. The trainer was not
slow to note the boy's handsome, eager face, and as one of
Ajax's biggest hits consisted in an entry to one or more boxes
during his performance, ostensibly in search of a long-lost
relative, as the trainer explained, the man realized the
effectiveness of sending him into the box with the handsome
boy, who, doubtless, would be terror stricken by proximity
to the shaggy, powerful beast.
When the time came, therefore, for the ape to return from the
wings in reply to an encore the trainer directed its attention to
the boy who chanced to be the sole occupant of the box in which
he sat. With a spring the huge anthropoid leaped from the stage
to the boy's side; but if the trainer had looked for a laughable
scene of fright he was mistaken. A broad smile lighted the boy's
features as he laid his hand upon the shaggy arm of his visitor.
The ape, grasping the boy by either shoulder, peered long and
earnestly into his face, while the latter stroked his head and
talked to him in a low voice.
Never had Ajax devoted so long a time to an examination of
another as he did in this instance. He seemed troubled and not
a little excited, jabbering and mumbling to the boy, and now
caressing him, as the trainer had never seen him caress a human
being before. Presently he clambered over into the box with him
and snuggled down close to the boy's side. The audience was
delighted; but they were still more delighted when the trainer,
the period of his act having elapsed, attempted to persuade Ajax
to leave the box. The ape would not budge. The manager,
becoming excited at the delay, urged the trainer to greater haste,
but when the latter entered the box to drag away the reluctant
Ajax he was met by bared fangs and menacing growls.
The audience was delirious with joy. They cheered the ape.
They cheered the boy, and they hooted and jeered at the trainer
and the manager, which luckless individual had inadvertently
shown himself and attempted to assist the trainer.
Finally, reduced to desperation and realizing that this show
of mutiny upon the part of his valuable possession might render
the animal worthless for exhibition purposes in the future if not
immediately subdued, the trainer had hastened to his dressing
room and procured a heavy whip. With this he now returned to
the box; but when he had threatened Ajax with it but once he
found himself facing two infuriated enemies instead of one, for
the boy had leaped to his feet, and seizing a chair was standing
ready at the ape's side to defend his new found friend. There was
no longer a smile upon his handsome face. In his gray eyes was
an expression which gave the trainer pause, and beside him stood
the giant anthropoid growling and ready.
What might have happened, but for a timely interruption, may
only be surmised; but that the trainer would have received a
severe mauling, if nothing more, was clearly indicated by the
attitudes of the two who faced him.
* * *
It was a pale-faced man who rushed into the Greystoke library
to announce that he had found Jack's door locked and had been
able to obtain no response to his repeated knocking and calling
other than a strange tapping and the sound of what might have
been a body moving about upon the floor.
Four steps at a time John Clayton took the stairs that led to
the floor above. His wife and the servant hurried after him.
Once he called his son's name in a loud voice; but receiving no
reply he launched his great weight, backed by all the undiminished
power of his giant muscles, against the heavy door. With a snapping
of iron butts and a splintering of wood the obstacle burst inward.
At its foot lay the body of the unconscious Mr. Moore, across
whom it fell with a resounding thud. Through the opening leaped
Tarzan, and a moment later the room was flooded with light
from a dozen electric bulbs.
It was several minutes before the tutor was discovered, so
completely had the door covered him; but finally he was dragged
forth, his gag and bonds cut away, and a liberal application of
cold water had hastened returning consciousness.
"Where is Jack?" was John Clayton's first question, and then;
"Who did this?" as the memory of Rokoff and the fear of a
second abduction seized him.
Slowly Mr. Moore staggered to his feet. His gaze wandered
about the room. Gradually he collected his scattered wits.
The details of his recent harrowing experience returned to him.
"I tender my resignation, sir, to take effect at once," were
his first words. "You do not need a tutor for your son--what he
needs is a wild animal trainer."
"But where is he?" cried Lady Greystoke.
"He has gone to see Ajax."
It was with difficulty that Tarzan restrained a smile, and after
satisfying himself that the tutor was more scared than injured,
he ordered his closed car around and departed in the direction
of a certain well-known music hall.
As the trainer, with raised lash, hesitated an instant at the
entrance to the box where the boy and the ape confronted
him, a tall broad-shouldered man pushed past him and entered.
As his eyes fell upon the newcomer a slight flush mounted the
"Father!" he exclaimed.
The ape gave one look at the English lord, and then leaped
toward him, calling out in excited jabbering. The man, his eyes
going wide in astonishment, stopped as though turned to stone.
"Akut!" he cried.
The boy looked, bewildered, from the ape to his father, and
from his father to the ape. The trainer's jaw dropped as he
listened to what followed, for from the lips of the Englishman
flowed the gutturals of an ape that were answered in kind by the
huge anthropoid that now clung to him.
And from the wings a hideously bent and disfigured old man
watched the tableau in the box, his pock-marked features working
spasmodically in varying expressions that might have marked
every sensation in the gamut from pleasure to terror.
"Long have I looked for you, Tarzan," said Akut. "Now that
have found you I shall come to your jungle and live there always."
The man stroked the beast's head. Through his mind there
was running rapidly a train of recollection that carried him
far into the depths of the primeval African forest where this
huge, man-like beast had fought shoulder to shoulder with him
years before. He saw the black Mugambi wielding his deadly knob-
stick, and beside them, with bared fangs and bristling whiskers,
Sheeta the terrible; and pressing close behind the savage and
the savage panther, the hideous apes of Akut. The man sighed.
Strong within him surged the jungle lust that he had thought dead.
Ah! if he could go back even for a brief month of it, to feel
again the brush of leafy branches against his naked hide; to
smell the musty rot of dead vegetation--frankincense and myrrh
to the jungle born; to sense the noiseless coming of the great
carnivora upon his trail; to hunt and to be hunted; to kill!
The picture was alluring. And then came another picture--a sweet-
faced woman, still young and beautiful; friends; a home; a son.
He shrugged his giant shoulders.
"It cannot be, Akut," he said; "but if you would return,
shall see that it is done. You could not be happy here--I may
not be happy there."
The trainer stepped forward. The ape bared his fangs, growling.
"Go with him, Akut," said Tarzan of the Apes. "I will come
and see you tomorrow."
The beast moved sullenly to the trainer's side. The latter,
at John Clayton's request, told where they might be found.
Tarzan turned toward his son.
"Come!" he said, and the two left the theater. Neither spoke
for several minutes after they had entered the limousine. It was
the boy who broke the silence.
"The ape knew you," he said, "and you spoke together in
the ape's tongue. How did the ape know you, and how did you
learn his language?"
And then, briefly and for the first time, Tarzan of the Apes
told his son of his early life--of the birth in the jungle, of
the death of his parents, and of how Kala, the great she ape had
suckled and raised him from infancy almost to manhood. He told
him, too, of the dangers and the horrors of the jungle; of
the great beasts that stalked one by day and by night; of the
periods of drought, and of the cataclysmic rains; of hunger; of
cold; of intense heat; of nakedness and fear and suffering.
He told him of all those things that seem most horrible to the
creature of civilization in the hope that the knowledge of them
might expunge from the lad's mind any inherent desire for the jungle.
Yet they were the very things that made the memory of the jungle
what it was to Tarzan--that made up the composite jungle life
he loved. And in the telling he forgot one thing--the principal
thing--that the boy at his side, listening with eager ears, was
the son of Tarzan of the Apes.
After the boy had been tucked away in bed--and without the
threatened punishment--John Clayton told his wife of the events
of the evening, and that he had at last acquainted the boy with
the facts of his jungle life. The mother, who had long foreseen
that her son must some time know of those frightful years during
which his father had roamed the jungle, a naked, savage beast
of prey, only shook her head, hoping against hope that the lure
she knew was still strong in the father's breast had not been
transmitted to his son.
Tarzan visited Akut the following day, but though Jack begged
to be allowed to accompany him he was refused. This time
Tarzan saw the pock-marked old owner of the ape, whom he
did not recognize as the wily Paulvitch of former days.
Tarzan, influenced by Akut's pleadings, broached the question
of the ape's purchase; but Paulvitch would not name any price,
saying that he would consider the matter.
When Tarzan returned home Jack was all excitement to hear the
details of his visit, and finally suggested that his father
buy the ape and bring it home. Lady Greystoke was horrified at
the suggestion. The boy was insistent. Tarzan explained that he
had wished to purchase Akut and return him to his jungle home, and
to this the mother assented. Jack asked to be allowed to visit the
ape, but again he was met with flat refusal. He had the address,
however, which the trainer had given his father, and two days
later he found the opportunity to elude his new tutor--who had
replaced the terrified Mr. Moore--and after a considerable
search through a section of London which he had never before
visited, he found the smelly little quarters of the pock-marked
old man. The old fellow himself replied to his knocking, and
when he stated that he had come to see Ajax, opened the door
and admitted him to the little room which he and the great
ape occupied. In former years Paulvitch had been a fastidious
scoundrel; but ten years of hideous life among the cannibals of
Africa had eradicated the last vestige of niceness from his habits.
His apparel was wrinkled and soiled. His hands were unwashed,
his few straggling locks uncombed. His room was a jumble of
filthy disorder. As the boy entered he saw the great ape squatting
upon the bed, the coverlets of which were a tangled wad of filthy
blankets and ill-smelling quilts. At sight of the youth the ape
leaped to the floor and shuffled forward. The man, not recognizing
his visitor and fearing that the ape meant mischief, stepped
between them, ordering the ape back to the bed.
"He will not hurt me," cried the boy. "We are friends, and
he was my father's friend. They knew one another in the jungle.
My father is Lord Greystoke. He does not know that I have
come here. My mother forbid my coming; but I wished to see Ajax,
and I will pay you if you will let me come here often and see him."
At the mention of the boy's identity Paulvitch's eyes narrowed.
Since he had first seen Tarzan again from the wings of
the theater there had been forming in his deadened brain the
beginnings of a desire for revenge. It is a characteristic of the
weak and criminal to attribute to others the misfortunes that are
the result of their own wickedness, and so now it was that Alexis
Paulvitch was slowly recalling the events of his past life and as
he did so laying at the door of the man whom he and Rokoff had
so assiduously attempted to ruin and murder all the misfortunes
that had befallen him in the failure of their various schemes
against their intended victim.
He saw at first no way in which he could, with safety to
himself, wreak vengeance upon Tarzan through the medium of
Tarzan's son; but that great possibilities for revenge lay in the
boy was apparent to him, and so he determined to cultivate the
lad in the hope that fate would play into his hands in some way
in the future. He told the boy all that he knew of his father's
past life in the jungle and when he found that the boy had been kept
in ignorance of all these things for so many years, and that he
had been forbidden visiting the zoological gardens; that he had
had to bind and gag his tutor to find an opportunity to come to
the music hall and see Ajax, he guessed immediately the nature
of the great fear that lay in the hearts of the boy's parents--
that he might crave the jungle as his father had craved it.
And so Paulvitch encouraged the boy to come and see him often,
and always he played upon the lad's craving for tales of the
savage world with which Paulvitch was all too familiar. He left
him alone with Akut much, and it was not long until he was
surprised to learn that the boy could make the great beast
understand him--that he had actually learned many of the words
of the primitive language of the anthropoids.
During this period Tarzan came several times to visit Paulvitch.
He seemed anxious to purchase Ajax, and at last he told
the man frankly that he was prompted not only by a desire upon
his part to return the beast to the liberty of his native jungle;
but also because his wife feared that in some way her son might
learn the whereabouts of the ape and through his attachment for
the beast become imbued with the roving instinct which, as
Tarzan explained to Paulvitch, had so influenced his own life.
The Russian could scarce repress a smile as he listened to
Lord Greystoke's words, since scarce a half hour had passed
since the time the future Lord Greystoke had been sitting upon
the disordered bed jabbering away to Ajax with all the fluency
of a born ape.
It was during this interview that a plan occurred to Paulvitch,
and as a result of it he agreed to accept a certain fabulous sum
for the ape, and upon receipt of the money to deliver the beast
to a vessel that was sailing south from Dover for Africa two
days later. He had a double purpose in accepting Clayton's offer.
Primarily, the money consideration influenced him strongly, as
the ape was no longer a source of revenue to him, having
consistently refused to perform upon the stage after having
discovered Tarzan. It was as though the beast had suffered himself
to be brought from his jungle home and exhibited before thousands
of curious spectators for the sole purpose of searching out his
long lost friend and master, and, having found him, considered
further mingling with the common herd of humans unnecessary.
However that may be, the fact remained that no amount of persuasion
could influence him even to show himself upon the music hall stage,
and upon the single occasion that the trainer attempted force the
results were such that the unfortunate man considered himself
lucky to have escaped with his life. All that saved him was the
accidental presence of Jack Clayton, who had been permitted to
visit the animal in the dressing room reserved for him at the
music hall, and had immediately interfered when he saw that the
savage beast meant serious mischief.
And after the money consideration, strong in the heart of the
Russian was the desire for revenge, which had been growing with
constant brooding over the failures and miseries of his life,
which he attributed to Tarzan; the latest, and by no means the
least, of which was Ajax's refusal to longer earn money for him.
The ape's refusal he traced directly to Tarzan, finally convincing
himself that the ape man had instructed the great anthropoid to
refuse to go upon the stage.
Paulvitch's naturally malign disposition was aggravated by the
weakening and warping of his mental and physical faculties
through torture and privation. From cold, calculating, highly
intelligent perversity it had deteriorated into the
indiscriminating, dangerous menace of the mentally defective.
His plan, however, was sufficiently cunning to at least cast
a doubt upon the assertion that his mentality was wandering.
It assured him first of the competence which Lord Greystoke
had promised to pay him for the deportation of the ape, and
then of revenge upon his benefactor through the son he idolized.
That part of his scheme was crude and brutal--it lacked the
refinement of torture that had marked the master strokes of the
Paulvitch of old, when he had worked with that virtuoso of
villainy, Nikolas Rokoff--but it at least assured Paulvitch of
immunity from responsibility, placing that upon the ape, who
would thus also be punished for his refusal longer to support
Everything played with fiendish unanimity into Paulvitch's hands.
As chance would have it, Tarzan's son overheard his father
relating to the boy's mother the steps he was taking to return
Akut safely to his jungle home, and having overheard he begged
them to bring the ape home that he might have him for a
play-fellow. Tarzan would not have been averse to this plan;
but Lady Greystoke was horrified at the very thought of it.
Jack pleaded with his mother; but all unavailingly. She was
obdurate, and at last the lad appeared to acquiesce in his
mother's decision that the ape must be returned to Africa and
the boy to school, from which he had been absent on vacation.
He did not attempt to visit Paulvitch's room again that day,
but instead busied himself in other ways. He had always been
well supplied with money, so that when necessity demanded he
had no difficulty in collecting several hundred pounds. Some of
this money he invested in various strange purchases which he
managed to smuggle into the house, undetected, when he returned
late in the afternoon.
The next morning, after giving his father time to precede him
and conclude his business with Paulvitch, the lad hastened to
the Russian's room. Knowing nothing of the man's true character
the boy dared not take him fully into his confidence for
fear that the old fellow would not only refuse to aid him, but
would report the whole affair to his father. Instead, he simply
asked permission to take Ajax to Dover. He explained that it
would relieve the old man of a tiresome journey, as well as
placing a number of pounds in his pocket, for the lad purposed
paying the Russian well.
"You see," he went on, "there will be no danger of detection
since I am supposed to be leaving on an afternoon train for school.
Instead I will come here after they have left me on board
the train. Then I can take Ajax to Dover, you see, and arrive at
school only a day late. No one will be the wiser, no harm will
be done, and I shall have had an extra day with Ajax before I
lose him forever."
The plan fitted perfectly with that which Paulvitch had in mind.
Had he known what further the boy contemplated he would doubtless
have entirely abandoned his own scheme of revenge and aided the
boy whole heartedly in the consummation of the lad's, which would
have been better for Paulvitch, could he have but read the future
but a few short hours ahead.
That afternoon Lord and Lady Greystoke bid their son good-
bye and saw him safely settled in a first-class compartment of
the railway carriage that would set him down at school in a
few hours. No sooner had they left him, however, than he
gathered his bags together, descended from the compartment and
sought a cab stand outside the station. Here he engaged a cabby
to take him to the Russian's address. It was dusk when he arrived.
He found Paulvitch awaiting him. The man was pacing the floor
nervously. The ape was tied with a stout cord to the bed. It was
the first time that Jack had ever seen Ajax thus secured. He looked
questioningly at Paulvitch. The man, mumbling, explained that he
believed the animal had guessed that he was to be sent away and he
feared he would attempt to escape.
Paulvitch carried another piece of cord in his hand. There was
a noose in one end of it which he was continually playing with.
He walked back and forth, up and down the room. His pock-marked
features were working horribly as he talked silent to himself.
The boy had never seen him thus--it made him uneasy. At last
Paulvitch stopped on the opposite side of the room, far from the ape.
"Come here," he said to the lad. "I will show you how to
the ape should he show signs of rebellion during the trip."
The lad laughed. "It will not be necessary," he replied.
"Ajax will do whatever I tell him to do."
The old man stamped his foot angrily. "Come here, as I tell you,"
he repeated. "If you do not do as I say you shall not accompany
the ape to Dover--I will take no chances upon his escaping."
Still smiling, the lad crossed the room and stood before the Russ.
"Turn around, with your back toward me," directed the latter,
"that I may show you how to bind him quickly."
The boy did as he was bid, placing his hands behind him when
Paulvitch told him to do so. Instantly the old man slipped
the running noose over one of the lad's wrists, took a couple of
half hitches about his other wrist, and knotted the cord.
The moment that the boy was secured the attitude of the
man changed. With an angry oath he wheeled his prisoner about,
tripped him and hurled him violently to the floor, leaping upon
his breast as he fell. From the bed the ape growled and struggled
with his bonds. The boy did not cry out--a trait inherited from
his savage sire whom long years in the jungle following the death
of his foster mother, Kala the great ape, had taught that there
was none to come to the succor of the fallen.
Paulvitch's fingers sought the lad's throat. He grinned down
horribly into the face of his victim.
"Your father ruined me," he mumbled. "This will pay him.
think that the ape did it. I will tell him that the ape did it.
That I left him alone for a few minutes, and that you sneaked
in and the ape killed you. I will throw your body upon the bed
after I have choked the life from you, and when I bring your
father he will see the ape squatting over it," and the twisted
fiend cackled in gloating laughter. His fingers closed upon the
Behind them the growling of the maddened beast reverberated
against the walls of the little room. The boy paled, but no other
sign of fear or panic showed upon his countenance. He was the
son of Tarzan. The fingers tightened their grip upon his throat.
It was with difficulty that he breathed, gaspingly. The ape lunged
against the stout cord that held him. Turning, he wrapped the
cord about his hands, as a man might have done, and surged
heavily backward. The great muscles stood out beneath his
shaggy hide. There was a rending as of splintered wood--the
cord held, but a portion of the footboard of the bed came away.
At the sound Paulvitch looked up. His hideous face went
white with terror--the ape was free.
With a single bound the creature was upon him. The man shrieked.
The brute wrenched him from the body of the boy. Great fingers
sunk into the man's flesh. Yellow fangs gaped close to his
throat--he struggled, futilely--and when they closed, the soul
of Alexis Paulvitch passed into the keeping of the demons who
had long been awaiting it.
The boy struggled to his feet, assisted by Akut. For two hours
under the instructions of the former the ape worked upon the
knots that secured his friend's wrists. Finally they gave up
their secret, and the boy was free. Then he opened one of his
bags and drew forth some garments. His plans had been well made.
He did not consult the beast, which did all that he directed.
Together they slunk from the house, but no casual observer might
have noted that one of them was an ape.
The killing of the friendless old Russian, Michael Sabrov,
by his great trained ape, was a matter for newspaper comment
for a few days. Lord Greystoke read of it, and while taking
special precautions not to permit his name to become connected
with the affair, kept himself well posted as to the police search
for the anthropoid.
As was true of the general public, his chief interest in the
matter centered about the mysterious disappearance of the slayer.
Or at least this was true until he learned, several days subsequent
to the tragedy, that his son Jack had not reported at the public
school en route for which they had seen him safely ensconced
in a railway carriage. Even then the father did not connect the
disappearance of his son with the mystery surrounding the
whereabouts of the ape. Nor was it until a month later that
careful investigation revealed the fact that the boy had left the
train before it pulled out of the station at London, and the cab
driver had been found who had driven him to the address of the
old Russian, that Tarzan of the Apes realized that Akut had in
some way been connected with the disappearance of the boy.
Beyond the moment that the cab driver had deposited his fare
beside the curb in front of the house in which the Russian had
been quartered there was no clue. No one had seen either the
boy or the ape from that instant--at least no one who still lived.
The proprietor of the house identified the picture of the lad as
that of one who had been a frequent visitor in the room of the
old man. Aside from this he knew nothing. And there, at the
door of a grimy, old building in the slums of London, the
searchers came to a blank wall--baffled.
The day following the death of Alexis Paulvitch a youth
accompanying his invalid grandmother, boarded a steamer at Dover.
The old lady was heavily veiled, and so weakened by age and
sickness that she had to be wheeled aboard the vessel in an
The boy would permit none but himself to wheel her, and
with his own hands assisted her from the chair to the interior of
their stateroom--and that was the last that was seen of the old
lady by the ship's company until the pair disembarked. The boy
even insisted upon doing the work of their cabin steward, since,
as he explained, his grandmother was suffering from a nervous
disposition that made the presence of strangers extremely
distasteful to her.
Outside the cabin--and none there was aboard who knew what he
did in the cabin--the lad was just as any other healthy, normal
English boy might have been. He mingled with his fellow passengers,
became a prime favorite with the officers, and struck up numerous
friendships among the common sailors. He was generous and
unaffected, yet carried an air of dignity and strength of
character that inspired his many new friends with admiration
as well as affection for him.
Among the passengers there was an American named Condon, a noted
blackleg and crook who was "wanted" in a half dozen of the larger
cities of the United States. He had paid little attention to the
boy until on one occasion he had seen him accidentally display
a roll of bank notes. From then on Condon cultivated the
youthful Briton. He learned, easily, that the boy was traveling
alone with his invalid grandmother, and that their destination
was a small port on the west coast of Africa, a little below the
equator; that their name was Billings, and that they had no
friends in the little settlement for which they were bound.
Upon the point of their purpose in visiting the place Condon
found the boy reticent, and so he did not push the matter--he
had learned all that he cared to know as it was.
Several times Condon attempted to draw the lad into a card
game; but his victim was not interested, and the black looks
of several of the other men passengers decided the American to
find other means of transferring the boy's bank roll to his
At last came the day that the steamer dropped anchor in the
lee of a wooded promontory where a score or more of sheet-
iron shacks making an unsightly blot upon the fair face of
nature proclaimed the fact that civilization had set its heel.
Straggling upon the outskirts were the thatched huts of natives,
picturesque in their primeval savagery, harmonizing with the
background of tropical jungle and accentuating the squalid
hideousness of the white man's pioneer architecture.
The boy, leaning over the rail, was looking far beyond the
man-made town deep into the God-made jungle. A little shiver
of anticipation tingled his spine, and then, quite without
volition, he found himself gazing into the loving eyes of his
mother and the strong face of the father which mirrored, beneath
its masculine strength, a love no less than the mother's
eyes proclaimed. He felt himself weakening in his resolve.
Nearby one of the ship's officers was shouting orders to a
flotilla of native boats that was approaching to lighter the
consignment of the steamer's cargo destined for this tiny post.
"When does the next steamer for England touch here?" the
"The Emanuel ought to be along most any time now,"
replied the officer. "I figgered we'd find her here,"
and he went on with his bellowing remarks to the dusty
horde drawing close to the steamer's side.
The task of lowering the boy's grandmother over the side to
a waiting canoe was rather difficult. The lad insisted on being
always at her side, and when at last she was safely ensconced in
the bottom of the craft that was to bear them shoreward her
grandson dropped catlike after her. So interested was he in seeing
her comfortably disposed that he failed to notice the little
package that had worked from his pocket as he assisted in lowering
the sling that contained the old woman over the steamer's side,
nor did he notice it even as it slipped out entirely and dropped
into the sea.
Scarcely had the boat containing the boy and the old woman
started for the shore than Condon hailed a canoe upon the other
side of the ship, and after bargaining with its owner finally
lowered his baggage and himself aboard. Once ashore he kept out
of sight of the two-story atrocity that bore the legend "Hotel"
to lure unsuspecting wayfarers to its multitudinous discomforts.
It was quite dark before he ventured to enter and arrange for
In a back room upon the second floor the lad was explaining,
not without considerable difficulty, to his grandmother that he
had decided to return to England upon the next steamer. He was
endeavoring to make it plain to the old lady that she might remain
in Africa if she wished but that for his part his conscience
demanded that he return to his father and mother, who doubtless
were even now suffering untold sorrow because of his absence;
from which it may be assumed that his parents had not been
acquainted with the plans that he and the old lady had made for
their adventure into African wilds.
Having come to a decision the lad felt a sense of relief from
the worry that had haunted him for many sleepless nights. When he
closed his eyes in sleep it was to dream of a happy reunion with
those at home. And as he dreamed, Fate, cruel and inexorable,
crept stealthily upon him through the dark corridor of the squalid
building in which he slept--Fate in the form of the American
Cautiously the man approached the door of the lad's room.
There he crouched listening until assured by the regular
breathing of those within that both slept. Quietly he
inserted a slim, skeleton key in the lock of the door.
With deft fingers, long accustomed to the silent manipulation
of the bars and bolts that guarded other men's property, Condon
turned the key and the knob simultaneously. Gentle pressure
upon the door swung it slowly inward upon its hinges. The man
entered the room, closing the door behind him. The moon was
temporarily overcast by heavy clouds. The interior of the
apartment was shrouded in gloom. Condon groped his way toward
the bed. In the far corner of the room something moved--moved
with a silent stealthiness which transcended even the trained
silence of the burglar. Condon heard nothing. His attention
was riveted upon the bed in which he thought to find a young
boy and his helpless, invalid grandmother.
The American sought only the bank roll. If he could possess
himself of this without detection, well and good; but were he to
meet resistance he was prepared for that too. The lad's clothes
lay across a chair beside the bed. The American's fingers felt
swiftly through them--the pockets contained no roll of crisp,
new notes. Doubtless they were beneath the pillows of the bed.
He stepped closer toward the sleeper; his hand was already half
way beneath the pillow when the thick cloud that had obscured
the moon rolled aside and the room was flooded with light.
At the same instant the boy opened his eyes and looked straight
into those of Condon. The man was suddenly conscious that the
boy was alone in the bed. Then he clutched for his victim's throat.
As the lad rose to meet him Condon heard a low growl at his back,
then he felt his wrists seized by the boy, and realized that
beneath those tapering, white fingers played muscles of steel.
He felt other hands at his throat, rough hairy hands that reached
over his shoulders from behind. He cast a terrified glance
backward, and the hairs of his head stiffened at the sight his eyes
revealed, for grasping him from the rear was a huge, man-like ape.
The bared fighting fangs of the anthropoid were close to his throat.
The lad pinioned his wrists. Neither uttered a sound. Where was
the grandmother? Condon's eyes swept the room in a single
all-inclusive glance. His eyes bulged in horror at the
realization of the truth which that glance revealed. In the power
of what creatures of hideous mystery had he placed himself!
Frantically he fought to beat off the lad that he might turn upon
the fearsome thing at his back. Freeing one hand he struck a
savage blow at the lad's face. His act seemed to unloose a
thousand devils in the hairy creature clinging to his throat.
Condon heard a low and savage snarl. It was the last thing that
the American ever heard in this life. Then he was dragged backward
upon the floor, a heavy body fell upon him, powerful teeth fastened
themselves in his jugular, his head whirled in the sudden blackness
which rims eternity--a moment later the ape rose from his prostrate
form; but Condon did not know--he was quite dead.
The lad, horrified, sprang from the bed to lean over the body
of the man. He knew that Akut had killed in his defense, as he
had killed Michael Sabrov; but here, in savage Africa, far from
home and friends what would they do to him and his faithful ape?
The lad knew that the penalty of murder was death. He even knew
that an accomplice might suffer the death penalty with the principal.
Who was there who would plead for them? All would be against them.
It was little more than a half-civilized community, and the chances
were that they would drag Akut and him forth in the morning and hang
them both to the nearest tree--he had read of such things being
done in America, and Africa was worse even and wilder than the
great West of his mother's native land. Yes, they would both be
hanged in the morning!
Was there no escape? He thought in silence for a few moments,
and then, with an exclamation of relief, he struck his
palms together and turned toward his clothing upon the chair.
Money would do anything! Money would save him and Akut!
He felt for the bank roll in the pocket in which he had been
accustomed to carry it. It was not there! Slowly at first and
at last frantically he searched through the remaining pockets of
his clothing. Then he dropped upon his hands and knees and
examined the floor. Lighting the lamp he moved the bed to one
side and, inch by inch, he felt over the entire floor. Beside the
body of Condon he hesitated, but at last he nerved himself to
touch it. Rolling it over he sought beneath it for the money.
Nor was it there. He guessed that Condon had entered their room
to rob; but he did not believe that the man had had time to possess
himself of the money; however, as it was nowhere else, it must
be upon the body of the dead man. Again and again he went
over the room, only to return each time to the corpse; but no
where could he find the money.
He was half-frantic with despair. What were they to do?
In the morning they would be discovered and killed. For all his
inherited size and strength he was, after all, only a little boy--
a frightened, homesick little boy--reasoning faultily from the
meager experience of childhood. He could think of but a single
glaring fact--they had killed a fellow man, and they were among
savage strangers, thirsting for the blood of the first victim whom
fate cast into their clutches. This much he had gleaned from
And they must have money!
Again he approached the corpse. This time resolutely. The ape
squatted in a corner watching his young companion. The youth
commenced to remove the American's clothing piece by piece,
and, piece by piece, he examined each garment minutely. Even to
the shoes he searched with painstaking care, and when the last
article had been removed and scrutinized he dropped back upon
the bed with dilated eyes that saw nothing in the present--
only a grim tableau of the future in which two forms swung
silently from the limb of a great tree.
How long he sat thus he did not know; but finally he was aroused
by a noise coming from the floor below. Springing quickly to his
feet he blew out the lamp, and crossing the floor silently locked
the door. Then he turned toward the ape, his mind made up.
Last evening he had been determined to start for home at the
first opportunity, to beg the forgiveness of his parents for this
mad adventure. Now he knew that he might never return to them.
The blood of a fellow man was upon his hands--in his morbid
reflections he had long since ceased to attribute the death
of Condon to the ape. The hysteria of panic had fastened the
guilt upon himself. With money he might have bought justice;
but penniless!--ah, what hope could there be for strangers
without money here?
But what had become of the money? He tried to recall when
last he had seen it. He could not, nor, could he, would he have
been able to account for its disappearance, for he had been
entirely unconscious of the falling of the little package from his
pocket into the sea as he clambered over the ship's side into the
waiting canoe that bore him to shore.
Now he turned toward Akut. "Come!" he said, in the language of
the great apes.
Forgetful of the fact that he wore only a thin pajama suit he
led the way to the open window. Thrusting his head out he
listened attentively. A single tree grew a few feet from
the window. Nimbly the lad sprang to its bole, clinging
cat-like for an instant before he clambered quietly to the
ground below. Close behind him came the great ape. Two hundred
yards away a spur of the jungle ran close to the straggling town.
Toward this the lad led the way. None saw them, and a moment
later the jungle swallowed them, and John Clayton, future Lord
Greystoke, passed from the eyes and the knowledge of men.
It was late the following morning that a native houseman
knocked upon the door of the room that had been assigned to
Mrs. Billings and her grandson. Receiving no response he
inserted his pass key in the lock, only to discover that another
key was already there, but from the inside. He reported the fact
to Herr Skopf, the proprietor, who at once made his way to the
second floor where he, too, pounded vigorously upon the door.
Receiving no reply he bent to the key hole in an attempt to look
through into the room beyond. In so doing, being portly, he lost
his balance, which necessitated putting a palm to the floor to
maintain his equilibrium. As he did so he felt something soft
and thick and wet beneath his fingers. He raised his open palm
before his eyes in the dim light of the corridor and peered at it.
Then he gave a little shudder, for even in the semi-darkness he
saw a dark red stain upon his hand. Leaping to his feet he hurled
his shoulder against the door. Herr Skopf is a heavy man--or at
least he was then--I have not seen him for several years. The frail
door collapsed beneath his weight, and Herr Skopf stumbled
precipitately into the room beyond.
Before him lay the greatest mystery of his life. Upon the floor
at his feet was the dead body of a strange man. The neck was
broken and the jugular severed as by the fangs of a wild beast.
The body was entirely naked, the clothing being strewn about
the corpse. The old lady and her grandson were gone. The window
was open. They must have disappeared through the window for the
door had been locked from the inside.
But how could the boy have carried his invalid grandmother
from a second story window to the ground? It was preposterous.
Again Herr Skopf searched the small room. He noticed that the
bed was pulled well away from the wall--why? He looked beneath
it again for the third or fourth time. The two were gone,
and yet his judgment told him that the old lady could not have
gone without porters to carry her down as they had carried her
up the previous day.
Further search deepened the mystery. All the clothing of the
two was still in the room--if they had gone then they must have
gone naked or in their night clothes. Herr Skopf shook his head;
then he scratched it. He was baffled. He had never heard of
Sherlock Holmes or he would have lost no time in invoking the
aid of that celebrated sleuth, for here was a real mystery:
An old woman--an invalid who had to be carried from the ship to
her room in the hotel--and a handsome lad, her grandson, had
entered a room on the second floor of his hostelry the day before.
They had had their evening meal served in their room--that was
the last that had been seen of them. At nine the following morning
the corpse of a strange man had been the sole occupant of that room.
No boat had left the harbor in the meantime--there was not a
railroad within hundreds of miles--there was no other white
settlement that the two could reach under several days of arduous
marching accompanied by a well-equipped safari. They had
simply vanished into thin air, for the native he had sent to
inspect the ground beneath the open window had just returned
to report that there was no sign of a footstep there, and what
sort of creatures were they who could have dropped that distance
to the soft turf without leaving spoor? Herr Skopf shuddered.
Yes, it was a great mystery--there was something uncanny about
the whole thing--he hated to think about it, and he dreaded the
coming of night.
It was a great mystery to Herr Skopf--and, doubtless, still is.
Captain Armand Jacot of the Foreign Legion sat upon an
outspread saddle blanket at the foot of a stunted palm tree.
His broad shoulders and his close-cropped head rested in
luxurious ease against the rough bole of the palm. His long
legs were stretched straight before him overlapping the meager
blanket, his spurs buried in the sandy soil of the little
desert oasis. The captain was taking his ease after a long
day of weary riding across the shifting sands of the desert.
Lazily he puffed upon his cigarette and watched his orderly
who was preparing his evening meal. Captain Armand Jacot was
well satisfied with himself and the world. A little to his right
rose the noisy activity of his troop of sun-tanned veterans,
released for the time from the irksome trammels of discipline,
relaxing tired muscles, laughing, joking, and smoking as they,
too, prepared to eat after a twelve-hour fast. Among them, silent
and taciturn, squatted five white-robed Arabs, securely bound
and under heavy guard.
It was the sight of these that filled Captain Armand Jacot with
the pleasurable satisfaction of a duty well-performed. For a
long, hot, gaunt month he and his little troop had scoured the
places of the desert waste in search of a band of marauders to
the sin-stained account of which were charged innumerable thefts
of camels, horses, and goats, as well as murders enough to have
sent the whole unsavory gang to the guillotine several times over.
A week before, he had come upon them. In the ensuing battle
he had lost two of his own men, but the punishment inflicted
upon the marauders had been severe almost to extinction. A half
dozen, perhaps, had escaped; but the balance, with the exception
of the five prisoners, had expiated their crimes before the nickel
jacketed bullets of the legionaries. And, best of all, the ring
leader, Achmet ben Houdin, was among the prisoners.
From the prisoners Captain Jacot permitted his mind to traverse
the remaining miles of sand to the little garrison post where,
upon the morrow, he should find awaiting him with eager welcome
his wife and little daughter. His eyes softened to the memory
of them, as they always did. Even now he could see the beauty
of the mother reflected in the childish lines of little Jeanne's
face, and both those faces would be smiling up into his as he
swung from his tired mount late the following afternoon.
Already he could feel a soft cheek pressed close to each of
his--velvet against leather.
His reverie was broken in upon by the voice of a sentry summoning
a non-commissioned officer. Captain Jacot raised his eyes.
The sun had not yet set; but the shadows of the few trees
huddled about the water hole and of his men and their horses
stretched far away into the east across the now golden sand.
The sentry was pointing in this direction, and the corporal,
through narrowed lids, was searching the distance. Captain Jacot
rose to his feet. He was not a man content to see through the eyes
of others. He must see for himself. Usually he saw things long
before others were aware that there was anything to see--a trait
that had won for him the sobriquet of Hawk. Now he saw, just
beyond the long shadows, a dozen specks rising and falling
among the sands. They disappeared and reappeared, but always
they grew larger. Jacot recognized them immediately. They were
horsemen--horsemen of the desert. Already a sergeant was running
toward him. The entire camp was straining its eyes into the distance.
Jacot gave a few terse orders to the sergeant who saluted, turned
upon his heel and returned to the men. Here he gathered a dozen
who saddled their horses, mounted and rode out to meet the strangers.
The remaining men disposed themselves in readiness for instant action.
It was not entirely beyond the range of possibilities that the
horsemen riding thus swiftly toward the camp might be friends of
the prisoners bent upon the release of their kinsmen by a
sudden attack. Jacot doubted this, however, since the strangers
were evidently making no attempt to conceal their presence.
They were galloping rapidly toward the camp in plain view
of all. There might be treachery lurking beneath their fair
appearance; but none who knew The Hawk would be so gullible as
to hope to trap him thus.
The sergeant with his detail met the Arabs two hundred yards
from the camp. Jacot could see him in conversation with a
tall, white-robed figure--evidently the leader of the band.
Presently the sergeant and this Arab rode side by side toward camp.
Jacot awaited them. The two reined in and dismounted before him.
"Sheik Amor ben Khatour," announced the sergeant by way
Captain Jacot eyed the newcomer. He was acquainted with nearly
every principal Arab within a radius of several hundred miles.
This man he never had seen. He was a tall, weather beaten, sour
looking man of sixty or more. His eyes were narrow and evil.
Captain Jacot did not relish his appearance.
"Well?" he asked, tentatively.
The Arab came directly to the point.
"Achmet ben Houdin is my sister's son," he said. "If you
will give him into my keeping I will see that he sins no more
against the laws of the French."
Jacot shook his head. "That cannot be," he replied. "I must
take him back with me. He will be properly and fairly tried by
a civil court. If he is innocent he will be released."
"And if he is not innocent?" asked the Arab.
"He is charged with many murders. For any one of these, if
he is proved guilty, he will have to die."
The Arab's left hand was hidden beneath his burnous. Now he
withdrew it disclosing a large goatskin purse, bulging and
heavy with coins. He opened the mouth of the purse and let a
handful of the contents trickle into the palm of his right hand--
all were pieces of good French gold. From the size of the purse
and its bulging proportions Captain Jacot concluded that it must
contain a small fortune. Sheik Amor ben Khatour dropped the
spilled gold pieces one by one back into the purse. Jacot was
eyeing him narrowly. They were alone. The sergeant, having
introduced the visitor, had withdrawn to some little distance--
his back was toward them. Now the sheik, having returned all
the gold pieces, held the bulging purse outward upon his open
palm toward Captain Jacot.
"Achmet ben Houdin, my sister's son, MIGHT escape tonight,"
he said. "Eh?"
Captain Armand Jacot flushed to the roots of his close-cropped hair.
Then he went very white and took a half-step toward the Arab.
His fists were clenched. Suddenly he thought better of whatever
impulse was moving him.
"Sergeant!" he called. The non-commissioned officer hurried toward
him, saluting as his heels clicked together before his superior.
"Take this black dog back to his people," he ordered. "See
they leave at once. Shoot the first man who comes within range
of camp tonight."
Sheik Amor ben Khatour drew himself up to his full height.
His evil eyes narrowed. He raised the bag of gold level with the
eyes of the French officer.
"You will pay more than this for the life of Achmet ben Houdin,
my sister's son," he said. "And as much again for the name that
you have called me and a hundred fold in sorrow in the bargain."
"Get out of here!" growled Captain Armand Jacot, "before
I kick you out."
All of this happened some three years before the opening of this tale.
The trail of Achmet ben Houdin and his accomplices is a matter of
record--you may verify it if you care to. He met the death he
deserved, and he met it with the stoicism of the Arab.
A month later little Jeanne Jacot, the seven-year-old daughter
of Captain Armand Jacot, mysteriously disappeared. Neither the
wealth of her father and mother, or all the powerful resources
of the great republic were able to wrest the secret of her
whereabouts from the inscrutable desert that had swallowed her
and her abductor.
A reward of such enormous proportions was offered that many
adventurers were attracted to the hunt. This was no case for the
modern detective of civilization, yet several of these threw
themselves into the search--the bones of some are already
bleaching beneath the African sun upon the silent sands of
Two Swedes, Carl Jenssen and Sven Malbihn, after three years of
following false leads at last gave up the search far to the south
of the Sahara to turn their attention to the more profitable
business of ivory poaching. In a great district they were already
known for their relentless cruelty and their greed for ivory.
The natives feared and hated them. The European governments in
whose possessions they worked had long sought them; but,
working their way slowly out of the north they had learned many
things in the no-man's-land south of the Sahara which gave them
immunity from capture through easy avenues of escape that were
unknown to those who pursued them. Their raids were sudden
and swift. They seized ivory and retreated into the trackless
wastes of the north before the guardians of the territory they
raped could be made aware of their presence. Relentlessly they
slaughtered elephants themselves as well as stealing ivory from
the natives. Their following consisted of a hundred or more
renegade Arabs and Negro slaves--a fierce, relentless band of
cut-throats. Remember them--Carl Jenssen and Sven Malbihn,
yellow-bearded, Swedish giants--for you will meet them later.
In the heart of the jungle, hidden away upon the banks of a
small unexplored tributary of a large river that empties into the
Atlantic not so far from the equator, lay a small, heavily
palisaded village. Twenty palm-thatched, beehive huts sheltered
its black population, while a half-dozen goat skin tents in the
center of the clearing housed the score of Arabs who found shelter
here while, by trading and raiding, they collected the cargoes which
their ships of the desert bore northward twice each year to the
market of Timbuktu.
Playing before one of the Arab tents was a little girl of ten--a
black-haired, black-eyed little girl who, with her nut-brown skin
and graceful carriage looked every inch a daughter of the desert.
Her little fingers were busily engaged in fashioning a skirt of
grasses for a much-disheveled doll which a kindly disposed slave
had made for her a year or two before. The head of the doll was
rudely chipped from ivory, while the body was a rat skin stuffed
with grass. The arms and legs were bits of wood, perforated at
one end and sewn to the rat skin torso. The doll was quite
hideous and altogether disreputable and soiled, but Meriem
thought it the most beautiful and adorable thing in the whole
world, which is not so strange in view of the fact that it was
the only object within that world upon which she might bestow
her confidence and her love.
Everyone else with whom Meriem came in contact was, almost
without exception, either indifferent to her or cruel. There was,
for example, the old black hag who looked after her, Mabunu--
toothless, filthy and ill tempered. She lost no opportunity
to cuff the little girl, or even inflict minor tortures upon her,
such as pinching, or, as she had twice done, searing the tender
flesh with hot coals. And there was The Sheik, her father.
She feared him more than she did Mabunu. He often scolded her
for nothing, quite habitually terminating his tirades by cruelly
beating her, until her little body was black and blue.
But when she was alone she was happy, playing with Geeka, or
decking her hair with wild flowers, or making ropes of grasses.
She was always busy and always singing--when they left her alone.
No amount of cruelty appeared sufficient to crush the innate
happiness and sweetness from her full little heart. Only when
The Sheik was near was she quiet and subdued. Him she feared
with a fear that was at times almost hysterical terror. She feared
the gloomy jungle too--the cruel jungle that surrounded the little
village with chattering monkeys and screaming birds by day and the
roaring and coughing and moaning of the carnivora by night.
Yes, she feared the jungle; but so much more did she fear The Sheik
that many times it was in her childish head to run away, out into
the terrible jungle forever rather than longer to face the ever
present terror of her father.
As she sat there this day before The Sheik's goatskin tent,
fashioning a skirt of grasses for Geeka, The Sheik appeared
suddenly approaching. Instantly the look of happiness faded
from the child's face. She shrunk aside in an attempt to scramble
from the path of the leathern-faced old Arab; but she was not
quick enough. With a brutal kick the man sent her sprawling
upon her face, where she lay quite still, tearless but trembling.
Then, with an oath at her, the man passed into the tent. The old,
black hag shook with appreciative laughter, disclosing an occasional
and lonesome yellow fang.
When she was sure The Sheik had gone, the little girl crawled
to the shady side of the tent, where she lay quite still, hugging
Geeka close to her breast, her little form racked at long intervals
with choking sobs. She dared not cry aloud, since that would
have brought The Sheik upon her again. The anguish in her little
heart was not alone the anguish of physical pain; but that
infinitely more pathetic anguish--of love denied a childish heart
that yearns for love.
Little Meriem could scarce recall any other existence than that
of the stern cruelty of The Sheik and Mabunu. Dimly, in the
back of her childish memory there lurked a blurred recollection
of a gentle mother; but Meriem was not sure but that even this
was but a dream picture induced by her own desire for the caresses
she never received, but which she lavished upon the much loved Geeka.
Never was such a spoiled child as Geeka. Its little mother,
far from fashioning her own conduct after the example set her by
her father and nurse, went to the extreme of indulgence. Geeka was
kissed a thousand times a day. There was play in which Geeka was
naughty; but the little mother never punished. Instead, she
caressed and fondled; her attitude influenced solely by her own
pathetic desire for love.
Now, as she pressed Geeka close to her, her sobs lessened
gradually, until she was able to control her voice, and pour
out her misery into the ivory ear of her only confidante.
"Geeka loves Meriem," she whispered. "Why does The Sheik,
my father, not love me, too? Am I so naughty? I try to
be good; but I never know why he strikes me, so I cannot tell
what I have done which displeases him. Just now he kicked me
and hurt me so, Geeka; but I was only sitting before the tent
making a skirt for you. That must be wicked, or he would not
have kicked me for it. But why is it wicked, Geeka? Oh dear!
I do not know, I do not know. I wish, Geeka, that I were dead.
Yesterday the hunters brought in the body of El Adrea.
El Adrea was quite dead. No more will he slink silently
upon his unsuspecting prey. No more will his great head and
his maned shoulders strike terror to the hearts of the grass
eaters at the drinking ford by night. No more will his
thundering roar shake the ground. El Adrea is dead.
They beat his body terribly when it was brought into the village;
but El Adrea did not mind. He did not feel the blows, for he
was dead. When I am dead, Geeka, neither shall I feel the blows
of Mabunu, or the kicks of The Sheik, my father. Then shall I
be happy. Oh, Geeka, how I wish that I were dead!"
If Geeka contemplated a remonstrance it was cut short by sounds
of altercation beyond the village gates. Meriem listened.
With the curiosity of childhood she would have liked to have run
down there and learn what it was that caused the men to talk
so loudly. Others of the village were already trooping in the
direction of the noise. But Meriem did not dare. The Sheik would
be there, doubtless, and if he saw her it would be but another
opportunity to abuse her, so Meriem lay still and listened.
Presently she heard the crowd moving up the street toward
The Sheik's tent. Cautiously she stuck her little head around
the edge of the tent. She could not resist the temptation,
for the sameness of the village life was monotonous, and she
craved diversion. What she saw was two strangers--white men.
They were alone, but as they approached she learned from the
talk of the natives that surrounded them that they possessed a
considerable following that was camped outside the village.
They were coming to palaver with The Sheik.
The old Arab met them at the entrance to his tent. His eyes
narrowed wickedly when they had appraised the newcomers.
They stopped before him, exchanging greetings. They had come
to trade for ivory they said. The Sheik grunted. He had no ivory.
Meriem gasped. She knew that in a near-by hut the great tusks
were piled almost to the roof. She poked her little head further
forward to get a better view of the strangers. How white their skins!
How yellow their great beards!
Suddenly one of them turned his eyes in her direction. She tried
to dodge back out of sight, for she feared all men; but he saw her.
Meriem noticed the look of almost shocked surprise that crossed
his face. The Sheik saw it too, and guessed the cause of it.
"I have no ivory," he repeated. "I do not wish to trade.
He stepped from his tent and almost pushed the strangers
about in the direction of the gates. They demurred, and then
The Sheik threatened. It would have been suicide to have
disobeyed, so the two men turned and left the village, making
their way immediately to their own camp.
The Sheik returned to his tent; but he did not enter it. Instead he
walked to the side where little Meriem lay close to the goat skin
wall, very frightened. The Sheik stooped and clutched her by
the arm. Viciously he jerked her to her feet, dragged her to
the entrance of the tent, and shoved her viciously within.
Following her he again seized her, beating her ruthlessly.
"Stay within!" he growled. "Never let the strangers see thy
Next time you show yourself to strangers I shall kill you!"
With a final vicious cuff he knocked the child into a far corner
of the tent, where she lay stifling her moans, while The Sheik
paced to and fro muttering to himself. At the entrance sat Mabunu,
muttering and chuckling.
In the camp of the strangers one was speaking rapidly to the other.
"There is no doubt of it, Malbihn," he was saying. "Not the
slightest; but why the old scoundrel hasn't claimed the reward
long since is what puzzles me."
"There are some things dearer to an Arab, Jenssen, than
money," returned the first speaker--"revenge is one of them."
"Anyhow it will not harm to try the power of gold," replied Jenssen.
"Not on The Sheik," he said. "We might try it on one of his
people; but The Sheik will not part with his revenge for gold.
To offer it to him would only confirm his suspicions that we must
have awakened when we were talking to him before his tent. If we
got away with our lives, then, we should be fortunate."
"Well, try bribery, then," assented Jenssen.
But bribery failed--grewsomely. The tool they selected after
a stay of several days in their camp outside the village was a
tall, old headman of The Sheik's native contingent. He fell to
the lure of the shining metal, for he had lived upon the coast
and knew the power of gold. He promised to bring them what they
craved, late that night.
Immediately after dark the two white men commenced to make
arrangements to break camp. By midnight all was prepared.
The porters lay beside their loads, ready to swing them
aloft at a moment's notice. The armed askaris loitered
between the balance of the safari and the Arab village,
ready to form a rear guard for the retreat that was to begin
the moment that the head man brought that which the white
Presently there came the sound of footsteps along the path from
the village. Instantly the askaris and the whites were on
the alert. More than a single man was approaching. Jenssen stepped
forward and challenged the newcomers in a low whisper.
"Who comes?" he queried.
"Mbeeda," came the reply.
Mbeeda was the name of the traitorous head man. Jenssen was
satisfied, though he wondered why Mbeeda had brought others
with him. Presently he understood. The thing they fetched
lay upon a litter borne by two men. Jenssen cursed beneath
his breath. Could the fool be bringing them a corpse?
They had paid for a living prize!
The bearers came to a halt before the white men.
"This has your gold purchased," said one of the two. They set
the litter down, turned and vanished into the darkness toward
the village. Malbihn looked at Jenssen, a crooked smile twisting
his lips. The thing upon the litter was covered with a piece of cloth.
"Well?" queried the latter. "Raise the covering and see what
you have bought. Much money shall we realize on a corpse--
especially after the six months beneath the burning sun that will
be consumed in carrying it to its destination!"
"The fool should have known that we desired her alive,"
grumbled Malbihn, grasping a corner of the cloth and jerking
the cover from the thing that lay upon the litter.
At sight of what lay beneath both men stepped back--
involuntary oaths upon their lips--for there before them
lay the dead body of Mbeeda, the faithless head man.
Five minutes later the safari of Jenssen and Malbihn
was forcing its way rapidly toward the west, nervous askaris
guarding the rear from the attack they momentarily expected.
His first night in the jungle was one which the son of
Tarzan held longest in his memory. No savage carnivora
menaced him. There was never a sign of hideous barbarian.
Or, if there were, the boy's troubled mind took no cognizance
of them. His conscience was harassed by the thought of his
mother's suffering. Self-blame plunged him into the depths
of misery. The killing of the American caused him little or
no remorse. The fellow had earned his fate. Jack's regret
on this score was due mainly to the effect which the death of
Condon had had upon his own plans. Now he could not return
directly to his parents as he had planned. Fear of the primitive,
borderland law, of which he had read highly colored, imaginary tales,
had thrust him into the jungle a fugitive. He dared not return to
the coast at this point--not that he was so greatly influenced
through personal fear as from a desire to shield his father and
mother from further sorrow and from the shame of having their
honored name dragged through the sordid degradation of a murder trial.
With returning day the boy's spirits rose. With the rising sun
rose new hope within his breast. He would return to civilization
by another way. None would guess that he had been connected
with the killing of the stranger in the little out-of-the-way
trading post upon a remote shore.
Crouched close to the great ape in the crotch of a tree the boy
had shivered through an almost sleepless night. His light pajamas
had been but little protection from the chill dampness of
the jungle, and only that side of him which was pressed against
the warm body of his shaggy companion approximated to comfort.
And so he welcomed the rising sun with its promise of warmth as well
as light--the blessed sun, dispeller of physical and mental ills.
He shook Akut into wakefulness.
"Come," he said. "I am cold and hungry. We will search for
food, out there in the sunlight," and he pointed to an open
plain, dotted with stunted trees and strewn with jagged rock.
The boy slid to the ground as he spoke, but the ape first looked
carefully about, sniffing the morning air. Then, satisfied that
no danger lurked near, he descended slowly to the ground beside
"Numa, and Sabor his mate, feast upon those who descend
first and look afterward, while those who look first and descend
afterward live to feast themselves." Thus the old ape imparted
to the son of Tarzan the boy's first lesson in jungle lore. Side by
side they set off across the rough plain, for the boy wished first
to be warm. The ape showed him the best places to dig for
rodents and worms; but the lad only gagged at the thought of
devouring the repulsive things. Some eggs they found, and these
he sucked raw, as also he ate roots and tubers which Akut unearthed.
Beyond the plain and across a low bluff they came upon water--
brackish, ill-smelling stuff in a shallow water hole, the sides
and bottom of which were trampled by the feet of many beasts.
A herd of zebra galloped away as they approached.
The lad was too thirsty by now to cavil at anything even remotely
resembling water, so he drank his fill while Akut stood with
raised head, alert for any danger. Before the ape drank he
cautioned the boy to be watchful; but as he drank he raised his
head from time to time to cast a quick glance toward a clump
of bushes a hundred yards away upon the opposite side of the
water hole. When he had done he rose and spoke to the boy, in
the language that was their common heritage--the tongue of the
"There is no danger near?" he asked.
"None," replied the boy. "I saw nothing move while you drank."
"Your eyes will help you but little in the jungle," said the ape.
"Here, if you would live, you must depend upon your ears
and your nose but most upon your nose. When we came down
to drink I knew that no danger lurked near upon this side of the
water hole, for else the zebras would have discovered it and fled
before we came; but upon the other side toward which the wind
blows danger might lie concealed. We could not smell it for its
scent is being blown in the other direction, and so I bent my
ears and eyes down wind where my nose cannot travel."
"And you found--nothing?" asked the lad, with a laugh.
"I found Numa crouching in that clump of bushes where the
tall grasses grow," and Akut pointed.
"A lion?" exclaimed the boy. "How do you know? I can see
"Numa is there, though," replied the great ape. "First I
him sigh. To you the sigh of Numa may sound no different from
the other noises which the wind makes among the grasses and
the trees; but later you must learn to know the sigh of Numa.
Then I watched and at last I saw the tall grasses moving at one
point to a force other than the force of the wind. See, they are
spread there upon either side of Numa's great body, and as he
breathes--you see? You see the little motion at either side that
is not caused by the wind--the motion that none of the other
The boy strained his eyes--better eyes than the ordinary boy
inherits--and at last he gave a little exclamation of discovery.
"Yes," he said, "I see. He lies there," and he pointed.
"His head is toward us. Is he watching us?"
"Numa is watching us," replied Akut, "but we are in little
danger, unless we approach too close, for he is lying upon
his kill. His belly is almost full, or we should hear him
crunching the bones. He is watching us in silence merely
from curiosity. Presently he will resume his feeding or he
will rise and come down to the water for a drink. As he
neither fears or desires us he will not try to hide his
presence from us; but now is an excellent time to learn to
know Numa, for you must learn to know him well if you would
live long in the jungle. Where the great apes are many Numa
leaves us alone. Our fangs are long and strong, and we can
fight; but when we are alone and he is hungry we are no match
for him. Come, we will circle him and catch his scent.
The sooner you learn to know it the better; but keep close to
the trees, as we go around him, for Numa often does that which
he is least expected to do. And keep your ears and your eyes
and your nose open. Remember always that there may be an enemy
behind every bush, in every tree and amongst every clump of
jungle grass. While you are avoiding Numa do not run into the
jaws of Sabor, his mate. Follow me," and Akut set off in a wide
circle about the water hole and the crouching lion.
The boy followed close upon his heels, his every sense upon
the alert, his nerves keyed to the highest pitch of excitement.
This was life! For the instant he forgot his resolutions of a few
minutes past to hasten to the coast at some other point than that
at which he had landed and make his way immediately back to London.
He thought now only of the savage joy of living, and of pitting
one's wits and prowess against the wiles and might of the savage
jungle brood which haunted the broad plains and the gloomy forest
aisles of the great, untamed continent. He knew no fear.
His father had had none to transmit to him; but honor and
conscience he did have and these were to trouble him many
times as they battled with his inherent love of freedom for
possession of his soul.
They had passed but a short distance to the rear of Numa when
the boy caught the unpleasant odor of the carnivore. His face
lighted with a smile. Something told him that he would have
known that scent among a myriad of others even if Akut had not
told him that a lion lay near. There was a strange familiarity--
a weird familiarity in it that made the short hairs rise at the
nape of his neck, and brought his upper lip into an involuntary
snarl that bared his fighting fangs. There was a sense of
stretching of the skin about his ears, for all the world as though
those members were flattening back against his skull in preparation
for deadly combat. His skin tingled. He was aglow with a
pleasurable sensation that he never before had known. He was,
upon the instant, another creature--wary, alert, ready. Thus did
the scent of Numa, the lion, transform the boy into a beast.
He had never seen a lion--his mother had gone to great pains
to prevent it. But he had devoured countless pictures of them,
and now he was ravenous to feast his eyes upon the king of
beasts in the flesh. As he trailed Akut he kept an eye cocked
over one shoulder, rearward, in the hope that Numa might rise
from his kill and reveal himself. Thus it happened that he
dropped some little way behind Akut, and the next he knew he
was recalled suddenly to a contemplation of other matters than
the hidden Numa by a shrill scream of warning from the Ape.
Turning his eyes quickly in the direction of his companion, the
boy saw that, standing in the path directly before him, which
sent tremors of excitement racing along every nerve of his body.
With body half-merging from a clump of bushes in which she
must have lain hidden stood a sleek and beautiful lioness.
Her yellow-green eyes were round and staring, boring straight into
the eyes of the boy. Not ten paces separated them. Twenty paces
behind the lioness stood the great ape, bellowing instructions to
the boy and hurling taunts at the lioness in an evident effort to
attract her attention from the lad while he gained the shelter of
a near-by tree.
But Sabor was not to be diverted. She had her eyes upon the lad.
He stood between her and her mate, between her and the kill.
It was suspicious. Probably he had ulterior designs upon her
lord and master or upon the fruits of their hunting. A lioness
is short tempered. Akut's bellowing annoyed her. She uttered a
little rumbling growl, taking a step toward the boy.
"The tree!" screamed Akut.
The boy turned and fled, and at the same instant the lioness charged.
The tree was but a few paces away. A limb hung ten feet from the
ground, and as the boy leaped for it the lioness leaped for him.
Like a monkey he pulled himself up and to one side. A great
forepaw caught him a glancing blow at the hips--just grazing him.
One curved talon hooked itself into the waist band of his pajama
trousers, ripping them from him as the lioness sped by. Half-naked
the lad drew himself to safety as the beast turned and leaped for
him once more.
Akut, from a near-by tree, jabbered and scolded, calling the
lioness all manner of foul names. The boy, patterning his
conduct after that of his preceptor, unstoppered the vials of his
invective upon the head of the enemy, until in realization of the
futility of words as weapons he bethought himself of something
heavier to hurl. There was nothing but dead twigs and branches
at hand, but these he flung at the upturned, snarling face of
Sabor just as his father had before him twenty years ago, when
as a boy he too had taunted and tantalized the great cats of
The lioness fretted about the bole of the tree for a short time;
but finally, either realizing the uselessness of her vigil, or
prompted by the pangs of hunger, she stalked majestically away
and disappeared in the brush that hid her lord, who had not once
shown himself during the altercation.
Freed from their retreats Akut and the boy came to the ground,
to take up their interrupted journey once more. The old ape
scolded the lad for his carelessness.
"Had you not been so intent upon the lion behind you you
might have discovered the lioness much sooner than you did,"
"But you passed right by her without seeing her," retorted
Akut was chagrined.
"It is thus," he said, "that jungle folk die. We go cautiously
for a lifetime, and then, just for an instant, we forget, and--"
he ground his teeth in mimicry of the crunching of great jaws
in flesh. "It is a lesson," he resumed. "You have learned
you may not for too long keep your eyes and your ears and your
nose all bent in the same direction."
That night the son of Tarzan was colder than he ever had been
in all his life. The pajama trousers had not been heavy; but they
had been much heavier than nothing. And the next day he roasted
in the hot sun, for again their way led much across wide and
It was still in the boy's mind to travel to the south, and circle
back to the coast in search of another outpost of civilization.
He had said nothing of this plan to Akut, for he knew that the old
ape would look with displeasure upon any suggestion that savored
For a month the two wandered on, the boy learning rapidly
the laws of the jungle; his muscles adapting themselves to the
new mode of life that had been thrust upon them. The thews of
the sire had been transmitted to the son--it needed only the
hardening of use to develop them. The lad found that it came
quite naturally to him to swing through the trees. Even at great
heights he never felt the slightest dizziness, and when he had
caught the knack of the swing and the release, he could hurl
himself through space from branch to branch with even greater
agility than the heavier Akut.
And with exposure came a toughening and hardening of his
smooth, white skin, browning now beneath the sun and wind.
He had removed his pajama jacket one day to bathe in a little
stream that was too small to harbor crocodiles, and while he
and Akut had been disporting themselves in the cool waters a
monkey had dropped down from the over hanging trees, snatched
up the boy's single remaining article of civilized garmenture,
and scampered away with it.
For a time Jack was angry; but when he had been without the
jacket for a short while he began to realize that being half-
clothed is infinitely more uncomfortable than being entirely naked.
Soon he did not miss his clothing in the least, and from that he
came to revel in the freedom of his unhampered state.
Occasionally a smile would cross his face as he tried to imagine
the surprise of his schoolmates could they but see him now.
They would envy him. Yes, how they would envy him. He felt
sorry for them at such times, and again as he thought of them
amid luxuries and comforts of their English homes, happy with
their fathers and mothers, a most uncomfortable lump would arise
into the boy's throat, and he would see a vision of his mother's
face through a blur of mist that came unbidden to his eyes.
Then it was that he urged Akut onward, for now they were headed
westward toward the coast. The old ape thought that they were
searching for a tribe of his own kind, nor did the boy disabuse
his mind of this belief. It would do to tell Akut of his real
plans when they had come within sight of civilization.
One day as they were moving slowly along beside a river they
came unexpectedly upon a native village. Some children were
playing beside the water. The boy's heart leaped within his breast
at sight of them--for over a month he had seen no human being.
What if these were naked savages? What if their skins were black?
Were they not creatures fashioned in the mold of their Maker,
as was he? They were his brothers and sisters! He started
toward them. With a low warning Akut laid a hand upon his
arm to hold him back. The boy shook himself free, and with a
shout of greeting ran forward toward the ebon players.
The sound of his voice brought every head erect. Wide eyes
viewed him for an instant, and then, with screams of terror, the
children turned and fled toward the village. At their heels ran
their mothers, and from the village gate, in response to the
alarm, came a score of warriors, hastily snatched spears and
shields ready in their hands.
At sight of the consternation he had wrought the boy halted.
The glad smile faded from his face as with wild shouts and
menacing gestures the warriors ran toward him. Akut was calling
to him from behind to turn and flee, telling him that the
blacks would kill him. For a moment he stood watching them
coming, then he raised his hand with the palm toward them in
signal for them to halt, calling out at the same time that he came
as a friend--that he had only wanted to play with their children.
Of course they did not understand a word that he addressed to
them, and their answer was what any naked creature who had
run suddenly out of the jungle upon their women and children
might have expected--a shower of spears. The missiles struck
all about the boy, but none touched him. Again his spine tingled
and the short hairs lifted at the nape of his neck and along the
top of his scalp. His eyes narrowed. Sudden hatred flared in
them to wither the expression of glad friendliness that had lighted
them but an instant before. With a low snarl, quite similar to
that of a baffled beast, he turned and ran into the jungle.
There was Akut awaiting him in a tree. The ape urged him to hasten
in flight, for the wise old anthropoid knew that they two, naked
and unarmed, were no match for the sinewy black warriors who would
doubtless make some sort of search for them through the jungle.
But a new power moved the son of Tarzan. He had come with a
boy's glad and open heart to offer his friendship to these people
who were human beings like himself. He had been met with
suspicion and spears. They had not even listened to him.
Rage and hatred consumed him. When Akut urged speed he held back.
He wanted to fight, yet his reason made it all too plain that it
would be but a foolish sacrifice of his life to meet these
armed men with his naked hands and his teeth--already the boy
thought of his teeth, of his fighting fangs, when possibility of
combat loomed close.
Moving slowly through the trees he kept his eyes over his shoulder,
though he no longer neglected the possibilities of other dangers
which might lurk on either hand or ahead--his experience with the
lioness did not need a repetition to insure the permanency of the
lesson it had taught. Behind he could hear the savages advancing
with shouts and cries. He lagged further behind until the pursuers
were in sight. They did not see him, for they were not looking
among the branches of the trees for human quarry. The lad kept
just ahead of them. For a mile perhaps they continued the search,
and then they turned back toward the village. Here was the boy's
opportunity, that for which he had been waiting, while the hot
blood of revenge coursed through his veins until he saw his
pursuers through a scarlet haze.
When they turned back he turned and followed them. Akut was
no longer in sight. Thinking that the boy followed he had
gone on further ahead. He had no wish to tempt fate within range
of those deadly spears. Slinking silently from tree to tree the
boy dogged the footsteps of the returning warriors. At last one
dropped behind his fellows as they followed a narrow path toward
the village. A grim smile lit the lad's face. Swiftly he
hurried forward until he moved almost above the unconscious
black--stalking him as Sheeta, the panther, stalked his prey, as
the boy had seen Sheeta do on many occasions.
Suddenly and silently he leaped forward and downward upon
the broad shoulders of his prey. In the instant of contact his
fingers sought and found the man's throat. The weight of the
boy's body hurled the black heavily to the ground, the knees in
his back knocking the breath from him as he struck. Then a set
of strong, white teeth fastened themselves in his neck, and muscular
fingers closed tighter upon his wind-pipe. For a time the
warrior struggled frantically, throwing himself about in an effort
to dislodge his antagonist; but all the while he was weakening
and all the while the grim and silent thing he could not see clung
tenaciously to him, and dragged him slowly into the bush to one
side of the trail.
Hidden there at last, safe from the prying eyes of searchers,
should they miss their fellow and return for him, the lad choked
the life from the body of his victim. At last he knew by the
sudden struggle, followed by limp relaxation, that the warrior
was dead. Then a strange desire seized him. His whole being
quivered and thrilled. Involuntarily he leaped to his feet and
placed one foot upon the body of his kill. His chest expanded.
He raised his face toward the heavens and opened his mouth to
voice a strange, weird cry that seemed screaming within him for
outward expression, but no sound passed his lips--he just stood
there for a full minute, his face turned toward the sky, his breast
heaving to the pent emotion, like an animate statue of vengeance.
The silence which marked the first great kill of the son of
Tarzan was to typify all his future kills, just as the hideous
victory cry of the bull ape had marked the kills of his mighty sire.
Akut, discovering that the boy was not close behind him,
turned back to search for him. He had gone but a short
distance in return when he was brought to a sudden and startled
halt by sight of a strange figure moving through the trees
toward him. It was the boy, yet could it be? In his hand was
a long spear, down his back hung an oblong shield such as the
black warriors who had attacked them had worn, and upon ankle and
arm were bands of iron and brass, while a loin cloth was twisted
about the youth's middle. A knife was thrust through its folds.
When the boy saw the ape he hastened forward to exhibit
his trophies. Proudly he called attention to each of his
newly won possessions. Boastfully he recounted the details
of his exploit.
"With my bare hands and my teeth I killed him," he said.
"I would have made friends with them but they chose to be
my enemies. And now that I have a spear I shall show Numa, too,
what it means to have me for a foe. Only the white men and the
great apes, Akut, are our friends. Them we shall seek, all others
must we avoid or kill. This have I learned of the jungle."
They made a detour about the hostile village, and resumed
their journey toward the coast. The boy took much pride in his
new weapons and ornaments. He practiced continually with the
spear, throwing it at some object ahead hour by hour as they
traveled their loitering way, until he gained a proficiency such
as only youthful muscles may attain to speedily. All the while
his training went on under the guidance of Akut. No longer was
there a single jungle spoor but was an open book to the keen
eyes of the lad, and those other indefinite spoor that elude the
senses of civilized man and are only partially appreciable to his
savage cousin came to be familiar friends of the eager boy.
He could differentiate the innumerable species of the herbivora
by scent, and he could tell, too, whether an animal was approaching
or departing merely by the waxing or waning strength of its effluvium.
Nor did he need the evidence of his eyes to tell him whether there
were two lions or four up wind,--a hundred yards away or half a mile.
Much of this had Akut taught him, but far more was instinctive
knowledge--a species of strange intuition inherited from
his father. He had come to love the jungle life. The constant
battle of wits and senses against the many deadly foes that lurked
by day and by night along the pathway of the wary and the unwary
appealed to the spirit of adventure which breathes strong in the
heart of every red-blooded son of primordial Adam. Yet, though
he loved it, he had not let his selfish desires outweigh the
sense of duty that had brought him to a realization of the
moral wrong which lay beneath the adventurous escapade that
had brought him to Africa. His love of father and mother was
strong within him, too strong to permit unalloyed happiness
which was undoubtedly causing them days of sorrow. And so
he held tight to his determination to find a port upon the coast
where he might communicate with them and receive funds for
his return to London. There he felt sure that he could now
persuade his parents to let him spend at least a portion of his
time upon those African estates which from little careless remarks
dropped at home he knew his father possessed. That would be
something, better at least than a lifetime of the cramped and
cloying restrictions of civilization.
And so he was rather contented than otherwise as he made
his way in the direction of the coast, for while he enjoyed the
liberty and the savage pleasures of the wild his conscience was at
the same time clear, for he knew that he was doing all that lay
in his power to return to his parents. He rather looked forward,
too, to meeting white men again--creatures of his own kind--
for there had been many occasions upon which he had longed
for other companionship than that of the old ape. The affair with
the blacks still rankled in his heart. He had approached them in
such innocent good fellowship and with such childlike assurance
of a hospitable welcome that the reception which had been accorded
him had proved a shock to his boyish ideals. He no longer looked
upon the black man as his brother; but rather as only another of
the innumerable foes of the bloodthirsty jungle--a beast of prey
which walked upon two feet instead of four.
But if the blacks were his enemies there were those in the
world who were not. There were those who always would welcome
him with open arms; who would accept him as a friend and brother,
and with whom he might find sanctuary from every enemy.
Yes, there were always white men. Somewhere along the coast
or even in the depths of the jungle itself there were white men.
To them he would be a welcome visitor. They would befriend him.
And there were also the great apes--the friends of his father
and of Akut. How glad they would be to receive the son of
Tarzan of the Apes! He hoped that he could come upon them before
he found a trading post upon the coast. He wanted to be able to
tell his father that he had known his old friends of the jungle,
that he had hunted with them, that he had joined with them in
their savage life, and their fierce, primeval ceremonies--the
strange ceremonies of which Akut had tried to tell him. It cheered
him immensely to dwell upon these happy meetings. Often he
rehearsed the long speech which he would make to the apes, in
which he would tell them of the life of their former king since
he had left them.
At other times he would play at meeting with white men. Then he
would enjoy their consternation at sight of a naked white boy
trapped in the war togs of a black warrior and roaming the jungle
with only a great ape as his companion.
And so the days passed, and with the traveling and the hunting
and the climbing the boy's muscles developed and his agility
increased until even phlegmatic Akut marvelled at the prowess
of his pupil. And the boy, realizing his great strength and
revelling in it, became careless. He strode through the jungle,
his proud head erect, defying danger. Where Akut took to the trees
at the first scent of Numa, the lad laughed in the face of the king
of beasts and walked boldly past him. Good fortune was with
him for a long time. The lions he met were well-fed, perhaps,
or the very boldness of the strange creature which invaded their
domain so filled them with surprise that thoughts of attack were
banished from their minds as they stood, round-eyed, watching
his approach and his departure. Whatever the cause, however,
the fact remains that on many occasions the boy passed within
a few paces of some great lion without arousing more than a
But no two lions are necessarily alike in character or temper.
They differ as greatly as do individuals of the human family.
Because ten lions act similarly under similar conditions one
cannot say that the eleventh lion will do likewise--the
chances are that he will not. The lion is a creature of high
nervous development. He thinks, therefore he reasons. Having a
nervous system and brains he is the possessor of temperament,
which is affected variously by extraneous causes. One day the
boy met the eleventh lion. The former was walking across a small
plain upon which grew little clumps of bushes. Akut was a few yards
to the left of the lad who was the first to discover the presence
"Run, Akut," called the boy, laughing. "Numa lies hid in
bushes to my right. Take to the trees. Akut! I, the son of
Tarzan, will protect you," and the boy, laughing, kept straight
along his way which led close beside the brush in which Numa
The ape shouted to him to come away, but the lad only flourished
his spear and executed an improvised war dance to show his
contempt for the king of beasts. Closer and closer to the
dread destroyer he came, until, with a sudden, angry growl, the
lion rose from his bed not ten paces from the youth. A huge
fellow he was, this lord of the jungle and the desert. A shaggy
mane clothed his shoulders. Cruel fangs armed his great jaws.
His yellow-green eyes blazed with hatred and challenge.
The boy, with his pitifully inadequate spear ready in his hand,
realized quickly that this lion was different from the others he
had met; but he had gone too far now to retreat. The nearest
tree lay several yards to his left--the lion could be upon him
before he had covered half the distance, and that the beast
intended to charge none could doubt who looked upon him now.
Beyond the lion was a thorn tree--only a few feet beyond him.
It was the nearest sanctuary but Numa stood between it and his prey.
The feel of the long spear shaft in his hand and the sight of
the tree beyond the lion gave the lad an idea--a preposterous
idea--a ridiculous, forlorn hope of an idea; but there was no
time now to weigh chances--there was but a single chance, and
that was the thorn tree. If the lion charged it would be too late--
the lad must charge first, and to the astonishment of Akut and
none the less of Numa, the boy leaped swiftly toward the beast.
Just for a second was the lion motionless with surprise and in
that second Jack Clayton put to the crucial test an accomplishment
which he had practiced at school.
Straight for the savage brute he ran, his spear held butt
foremost across his body. Akut shrieked in terror and amazement.
The lion stood with wide, round eyes awaiting the attack, ready
to rear upon his hind feet and receive this rash creature with
blows that could crush the skull of a buffalo.
Just in front of the lion the boy placed the butt of his spear
upon the ground, gave a mighty spring, and, before the bewildered
beast could guess the trick that had been played upon him,
sailed over the lion's head into the rending embrace of the thorn
tree--safe but lacerated.
Akut had never before seen a pole-vault. Now he leaped up
and down within the safety of his own tree, screaming taunts
and boasts at the discomfited Numa, while the boy, torn and
bleeding, sought some position in his thorny retreat in which he
might find the least agony. He had saved his life; but at
considerable cost in suffering. It seemed to him that the lion
would never leave, and it was a full hour before the angry brute
gave up his vigil and strode majestically away across the plain.
When he was at a safe distance the boy extricated himself from the
thorn tree; but not without inflicting new wounds upon his already
It was many days before the outward evidence of the lesson
he had learned had left him; while the impression upon his mind
was one that was to remain with him for life. Never again did
he uselessly tempt fate.
He took long chances often in his after life; but only when the
taking of chances might further the attainment of some cherished
end--and, always thereafter, he practiced pole-vaulting.
For several days the boy and the ape lay up while the former
recovered from the painful wounds inflicted by the sharp thorns.
The great anthropoid licked the wounds of his human friend,
nor, aside from this, did they receive other treatment, but they
soon healed, for healthy flesh quickly replaces itself.
When the lad felt fit again the two continued their journey
toward the coast, and once more the boy's mind was filled with
And at last the much dreamed of moment came. They were
passing through a tangled forest when the boy's sharp eyes
discovered from the lower branches through which he was
traveling an old but well-marked spoor--a spoor that set his
heart to leaping--the spoor of man, of white men, for among
the prints of naked feet were the well defined outlines of
European made boots. The trail, which marked the passage of
a good-sized company, pointed north at right angles to the
course the boy and the ape were taking toward the coast.
Doubtless these white men knew the nearest coast settlement.
They might even be headed for it now. At any rate it would be
worth while overtaking them if even only for the pleasure of
meeting again creatures of his own kind. The lad was all excitement; palpitant
with eagerness to be
off in pursuit. Akut demurred.
He wanted nothing of men. To him the lad was a fellow ape,
for he was the son of the king of apes. He tried to dissuade
the boy, telling him that soon they should come upon a tribe of
their own folk where some day when he was older the boy should
be king as his father had before him. But Jack was obdurate.
He insisted that he wanted to see white men again. He wanted to
send a message to his parents. Akut listened and as he listened
the intuition of the beast suggested the truth to him--the boy
was planning to return to his own kind.
The thought filled the old ape with sorrow. He loved the boy
as he had loved the father, with the loyalty and faithfulness of
a hound for its master. In his ape brain and his ape heart he had
nursed the hope that he and the lad would never be separated.
He saw all his fondly cherished plans fading away, and yet he
remained loyal to the lad and to his wishes. Though disconsolate
he gave in to the boy's determination to pursue the safari of
the white men, accompanying him upon what he believed would be
their last journey together.
The spoor was but a couple of days old when the two discovered it,
which meant that the slow-moving caravan was but a few hours
distant from them whose trained and agile muscles could carry
their bodies swiftly through the branches above the tangled
undergrowth which had impeded the progress of the laden carriers
of the white men.
The boy was in the lead, excitement and anticipation carrying
him ahead of his companion to whom the attainment of their
goal meant only sorrow. And it was the boy who first saw the
rear guard of the caravan and the white men he had been so
anxious to overtake.
Stumbling along the tangled trail of those ahead a dozen
heavily laden blacks who, from fatigue or sickness, had dropped
behind were being prodded by the black soldiers of the rear
guard, kicked when they fell, and then roughly jerked to their
feet and hustled onward. On either side walked a giant white
man, heavy blonde beards almost obliterating their countenances.
The boy's lips formed a glad cry of salutation as his eyes first
discovered the whites--a cry that was never uttered, for almost
immediately he witnessed that which turned his happiness to anger
as he saw that both the white men were wielding heavy whips
brutally upon the naked backs of the poor devils staggering along
beneath loads that would have overtaxed the strength and endurance
of strong men at the beginning of a new day.
Every now and then the rear guard and the white men cast
apprehensive glances rearward as though momentarily expecting the
materialization of some long expected danger from that quarter.
The boy had paused after his first sight of the caravan, and now
was following slowly in the wake of the sordid, brutal spectacle.
Presently Akut came up with him. To the beast there was less of
horror in the sight than to the lad, yet even the great ape growled
beneath his breath at useless torture being inflicted upon the
helpless slaves. He looked at the boy. Now that he had caught
up with the creatures of his own kind, why was it that he did not
rush forward and greet them? He put the question to his companion.
"They are fiends," muttered the boy. "I would not travel
with such as they, for if I did I should set upon them and kill
them the first time they beat their people as they are beating
them now; but," he added, after a moment's thought, "I can
ask them the whereabouts of the nearest port, and then, Akut,
we can leave them."
The ape made no reply, and the boy swung to the ground and
started at a brisk walk toward the safari. He was a hundred
yards away, perhaps, when one of the whites caught sight of him.
The man gave a shout of alarm, instantly levelling his rifle upon
the boy and firing. The bullet struck just in front of its mark,
scattering turf and fallen leaves against the lad's legs. A second
later the other white and the black soldiers of the rear guard were
firing hysterically at the boy.
Jack leaped behind a tree, unhit. Days of panic ridden flight
through the jungle had filled Carl Jenssen and Sven Malbihn with
jangling nerves and their native boys with unreasoning terror.
Every new note from behind sounded to their frightened ears the
coming of The Sheik and his bloodthirsty entourage. They were
in a blue funk, and the sight of the naked white warrior stepping
silently out of the jungle through which they had just passed had
been sufficient shock to let loose in action all the pent nerve energy
of Malbihn, who had been the first to see the strange apparition.
And Malbihn's shout and shot had set the others going.
When their nervous energy had spent itself and they came to
take stock of what they had been fighting it developed that
Malbihn alone had seen anything clearly. Several of the blacks
averred that they too had obtained a good view of the creature
but their descriptions of it varied so greatly that Jenssen, who
had seen nothing himself, was inclined to be a trifle skeptical.
One of the blacks insisted that the thing had been eleven feet
tall, with a man's body and the head of an elephant. Another had
seen THREE immense Arabs with huge, black beards; but when,
after conquering their nervousness, the rear guard advanced upon
the enemy's position to investigate they found nothing, for Akut
and the boy had retreated out of range of the unfriendly guns.
Jack was disheartened and sad. He had not entirely recovered
from the depressing effect of the unfriendly reception he had
received at the hands of the blacks, and now he had found an
even more hostile one accorded him by men of his own color.
"The lesser beasts flee from me in terror," he murmured, half
himself, "the greater beasts are ready to tear me to pieces
at sight. Black men would kill me with their spears or arrows.
And now white men, men of my own kind, have fired upon me
and driven me away. Are all the creatures of the world
my enemies? Has the son of Tarzan no friend other than Akut?"
The old ape drew closer to the boy.
"There are the great apes," he said. "They only will be the
friends of Akut's friend. Only the great apes will welcome the
son of Tarzan. You have seen that men want nothing of you. Let us
go now and continue our search for the great apes--our people."
The language of the great apes is a combination of monosyllabic
gutturals, amplified by gestures and signs. It may not be
literally translated into human speech; but as near as may be
this is what Akut said to the boy.
The two proceeded in silence for some time after Akut had spoken.
The boy was immersed in deep thought--bitter thoughts in which
hatred and revenge predominated. Finally he spoke: "Very well,
Akut," he said, "we will find our friends, the great apes."
The anthropoid was overjoyed; but he gave no outward demonstration
of his pleasure. A low grunt was his only response, and a moment
later he had leaped nimbly upon a small and unwary rodent that had
been surprised at a fatal distance from its burrow. Tearing the
unhappy creature in two Akut handed the lion's share to the lad.
A year had passed since the two Swedes had been driven in terror
from the savage country where The Sheik held sway. Little Meriem
still played with Geeka, lavishing all her childish love upon the
now almost hopeless ruin of what had never, even in its palmiest
days, possessed even a slight degree of loveliness. But to Meriem,
Geeka was all that was sweet and adorable. She carried to the deaf
ears of the battered ivory head all her sorrows all her hopes and
all her ambitions, for even in the face of hopelessness, in the
clutches of the dread authority from which there was no escape,
little Meriem yet cherished hopes and ambitions. It is true that
her ambitions were rather nebulous in form, consisting chiefly of
a desire to escape with Geeka to some remote and unknown spot where
there were no Sheiks, no Mabunus--where El Adrea could find no
entrance, and where she might play all day surrounded only by flowers
and birds and the harmless little monkeys playing in the tree tops.
The Sheik had been away for a long time, conducting a caravan
of ivory, skins, and rubber far into the north. The interim
had been one of great peace for Meriem. It is true that Mabunu
had still been with her, to pinch or beat her as the mood seized
the villainous old hag; but Mabunu was only one. When The
Sheik was there also there were two of them, and The Sheik was
stronger and more brutal even than Mabunu. Little Meriem often
wondered why the grim old man hated her so. It is true that he was
cruel and unjust to all with whom he came in contact, but to Meriem
he reserved his greatest cruelties, his most studied injustices.
Today Meriem was squatting at the foot of a large tree which grew
inside the palisade close to the edge of the village. She was
fashioning a tent of leaves for Geeka. Before the tent were
some pieces of wood and small leaves and a few stones. These were
the household utensils. Geeka was cooking dinner. As the
little girl played she prattled continuously to her companion,
propped in a sitting position with a couple of twigs. She was
totally absorbed in the domestic duties of Geeka--so much so
that she did not note the gentle swaying of the branches of the
tree above her as they bent to the body of the creature that had
entered them stealthily from the jungle.
In happy ignorance the little girl played on, while from above
two steady eyes looked down upon her--unblinking, unwavering.
There was none other than the little girl in this part of the
village, which had been almost deserted since The Sheik had
left long months before upon his journey toward the north.
And out in the jungle, an hour's march from the village, The
Sheik was leading his returning caravan homeward.
A year had passed since the white men had fired upon the lad and
driven him back into the jungle to take up his search for the only
remaining creatures to whom he might look for companionship--the
great apes. For months the two had wandered eastward, deeper and
deeper into the jungle. The year had done much for the boy--turning
his already mighty muscles to thews of steel, developing his
woodcraft to a point where it verged upon the uncanny, perfecting
his arboreal instincts, and training him in the use of both natural
and artificial weapons.
He had become at last a creature of marvelous physical powers
and mental cunning. He was still but a boy, yet so great was
his strength that the powerful anthropoid with which he often
engaged in mimic battle was no match for him. Akut had taught
him to fight as the bull ape fights, nor ever was there a teacher
better fitted to instruct in the savage warfare of primordial man,
or a pupil better equipped to profit by the lessons of a master.
As the two searched for a band of the almost extinct species
of ape to which Akut belonged they lived upon the best the
jungle afforded. Antelope and zebra fell to the boy's spear,
or were dragged down by the two powerful beasts of prey who
leaped upon them from some overhanging limb or from the ambush
of the undergrowth beside the trail to the water hole or the ford.
The pelt of a leopard covered the nakedness of the youth; but the
wearing of it had not been dictated by any prompting of modesty.
With the rifle shots of the white men showering about him he had
reverted to the savagery of the beast that is inherent in each of
us, but that flamed more strongly in this boy whose father had been
raised a beast of prey. He wore his leopard skin at first in
response to a desire to parade a trophy of his prowess, for he
had slain the leopard with his knife in a hand-to-hand combat.
He saw that the skin was beautiful, which appealed to his barbaric
sense of ornamentation, and when it stiffened and later commenced
to decompose because of his having no knowledge of how to cure or
tan it was with sorrow and regret that he discarded it. Later, when
he chanced upon a lone, black warrior wearing the counterpart of it,
soft and clinging and beautiful from proper curing, it required but
an instant to leap from above upon the shoulders of the unsuspecting
black, sink a keen blade into his heart and possess the rightly
There were no after-qualms of conscience. In the jungle might
is right, nor does it take long to inculcate this axiom in the mind
of a jungle dweller, regardless of what his past training may
have been. That the black would have killed him had he had the
chance the boy knew full well. Neither he nor the black were
any more sacred than the lion, or the buffalo, the zebra or the
deer, or any other of the countless creatures who roamed, or
slunk, or flew, or wriggled through the dark mazes of the forest.
Each had but a single life, which was sought by many. The greater
number of enemies slain the better chance to prolong that life.
So the boy smiled and donned the finery of the vanquished, and
went his way with Akut, searching, always searching for the
elusive anthropoids who were to welcome them with open arms.
And at last they found them. Deep in the jungle, buried far from
sight of man, they came upon such another little natural arena
as had witnessed the wild ceremony of the Dum-Dum in which the
boy's father had taken part long years before.
First, at a great distance, they heard the beating of the drum
of the great apes. They were sleeping in the safety of a huge
tree when the booming sound smote upon their ears. Both awoke
at once. Akut was the first to interpret the strange cadence.
"The great apes!" he growled. "They dance the Dum-Dum.
Come, Korak, son of Tarzan, let us go to our people."
Months before Akut had given the boy a name of his own choosing,
since he could not master the man given name of Jack. Korak is
as near as it may be interpreted into human speech. In the
language of the apes it means Killer. Now the Killer rose
upon the branch of the great tree where he had been sleeping
with his back braced against the stem. He stretched his lithe
young muscles, the moonlight filtering through the foliage from
above dappling his brown skin with little patches of light.
The ape, too, stood up, half squatting after the manner of
his kind. Low growls rumbled from the bottom of his deep chest--
growls of excited anticipation. The boy growled in harmony
with the ape. Then the anthropoid slid softly to the ground.
Close by, in the direction of the booming drum, lay a clearing
which they must cross. The moon flooded it with silvery light.
Half-erect, the great ape shuffled into the full glare of the moon.
At his side, swinging gracefully along in marked contrast to the
awkwardness of his companion, strode the boy, the dark, shaggy
coat of the one brushing against the smooth, clear hide of
the other. The lad was humming now, a music hall air that had
found its way to the forms of the great English public school
that was to see him no more. He was happy and expectant.
The moment he had looked forward to for so long was about to
be realized. He was coming into his own. He was coming home.
As the months had dragged or flown along, retarded or spurred
on as privation or adventure predominated, thoughts of his own
home, while oft recurring, had become less vivid. The old life
had grown to seem more like a dream than a reality, and the
balking of his determination to reach the coast and return to
London had finally thrown the hope of realization so remotely
into the future that it too now seemed little more than a
pleasant but hopeless dream.
Now all thoughts of London and civilization were crowded so far
into the background of his brain that they might as well have
been non-existent. Except for form and mental development he
was as much an ape as the great, fierce creature at his side.
In the exuberance of his joy he slapped his companion roughly on
the side of the head. Half in anger, half in play the anthropoid
turned upon him, his fangs bared and glistening. Long, hairy
arms reached out to seize him, and, as they had done a thousand
times before, the two clinched in mimic battle, rolling upon the
sward, striking, growling and biting, though never closing their
teeth in more than a rough pinch. It was wondrous practice for
them both. The boy brought into play wrestling tricks that he
had learned at school, and many of these Akut learned to use
and to foil. And from the ape the boy learned the methods that
had been handed down to Akut from some common ancestor of
them both, who had roamed the teeming earth when ferns were
trees and crocodiles were birds.
But there was one art the boy possessed which Akut could not
master, though he did achieve fair proficiency in it for an
ape--boxing. To have his bull-like charges stopped and crumpled
with a suddenly planted fist upon the end of his snout, or a
painful jolt in the short ribs, always surprised Akut. It angered
him too, and at such times his mighty jaws came nearer to closing
in the soft flesh of his friend than at any other, for he was still
an ape, with an ape's short temper and brutal instincts; but the
difficulty was in catching his tormentor while his rage lasted, for
when he lost his head and rushed madly into close quarters with
the boy he discovered that the stinging hail of blows released
upon him always found their mark and effectually stopped
him--effectually and painfully. Then he would withdraw growling
viciously, backing away with grinning jaws distended, to sulk for
an hour or so.
Tonight they did not box. Just for a moment or two they wrestled
playfully, until the scent of Sheeta, the panther, brought them
to their feet, alert and wary. The great cat was passing through
the jungle in front of them. For a moment it paused, listening.
The boy and the ape growled menacingly in chorus and the carnivore
Then the two took up their journey toward the sound of the Dum-Dum.
Louder and louder came the beating of the drum. Now, at last,
they could hear the growling of the dancing apes, and strong to
their nostrils came the scent of their kind. The lad trembled
with excitement. The hair down Akut's spine stiffened--the
symptoms of happiness and anger are often similar.
Silently they crept through the jungle as they neared the meeting
place of the apes. Now they were in the trees, worming their way
forward, alert for sentinels. Presently through a break in the
foliage the scene burst upon the eager eyes of the boy. To Akut
it was a familiar one; but to Korak it was all new. His nerves
tingled at the savage sight. The great bulls were dancing in the
moonlight, leaping in an irregular circle about the flat-topped
earthen drum about which three old females sat beating its
resounding top with sticks worn smooth by long years of use.
Akut, knowing the temper and customs of his kind, was too wise
to make their presence known until the frenzy of the dance
had passed. After the drum was quiet and the bellies of the tribe
well-filled he would hail them. Then would come a parley, after
which he and Korak would be accepted into membership by the community.
There might be those who would object; but such could be overcome by
brute force, of which he and the lad had an ample surplus. For weeks,
possibly months, their presence might cause ever decreasing suspicion
among others of the tribe; but eventually they would become as born
brothers to these strange apes.
He hoped that they had been among those who had known Tarzan,
for that would help in the introduction of the lad and in the
consummation of Akut's dearest wish, that Korak should become
king of the apes. It was with difficulty, however, that Akut
kept the boy from rushing into the midst of the dancing
anthropoids--an act that would have meant the instant extermination
of them both, since the hysterical frenzy into which the great
apes work themselves during the performance of their strange
rites is of such a nature that even the most ferocious of the
carnivora give them a wide berth at such times.
As the moon declined slowly toward the lofty, foliaged horizon
of the amphitheater the booming of the drum decreased and
lessened were the exertions of the dancers, until, at last, the
final note was struck and the huge beasts turned to fall upon the
feast they had dragged hither for the orgy.
From what he had seen and heard Akut was able to explain
to Korak that the rites proclaimed the choosing of a new king,
and he pointed out to the boy the massive figure of the shaggy
monarch, come into his kingship, no doubt, as many human
rulers have come into theirs--by the murder of his predecessor.
When the apes had filled their bellies and many of them had
sought the bases of the trees to curl up in sleep Akut plucked
Korak by the arm.
"Come," he whispered. "Come slowly. Follow me. Do as Akut
Then he advanced slowly through the trees until he stood upon
a bough overhanging one side of the amphitheater. Here he
stood in silence for a moment. Then he uttered a low growl.
Instantly a score of apes leaped to their feet. There savage
little eyes sped quickly around the periphery of the clearing.
The king ape was the first to see the two figures upon the branch.
He gave voice to an ominous growl. Then he took a few lumbering
steps in the direction of the intruders. His hair was bristling.
His legs were stiff, imparting a halting, jerky motion to his gait.
Behind him pressed a number of bulls.
He stopped just a little before he came beneath the two--just
far enough to be beyond their spring. Wary king! Here he stood
rocking himself to and fro upon his short legs, baring his fangs
in hideous grinnings, rumbling out an ever increasing volume of
growls, which were slowly but steadily increasing to the proportions
of roars. Akut knew that he was planning an attack upon them.
The old ape did not wish to fight. He had come with the boy to
cast his lot with the tribe.
"I am Akut," he said. "This is Korak. Korak is the son of
Tarzan who was king of the apes. I, too, was king of the apes
who dwelt in the midst of the great waters. We have come to
hunt with you, to fight with you. We are great hunters. We are
mighty fighters. Let us come in peace."
The king ceased his rocking. He eyed the pair from beneath
his beetling brows. His bloodshot eyes were savage and crafty.
His kingship was very new and he was jealous of it. He feared
the encroachments of two strange apes. The sleek, brown, hairless
body of the lad spelled "man," and man he feared and hated.
"Go away!" he growled. "Go away, or I will kill you."
The eager lad, standing behind the great Akut, had been pulsing
with anticipation and happiness. He wanted to leap down
among these hairy monsters and show them that he was their
friend, that he was one of them. He had expected that they would
receive him with open arms, and now the words of the king ape
filled him with indignation and sorrow. The blacks had set upon
him and driven him away. Then he had turned to the white
men--to those of his own kind--only to hear the ping of bullets
where he had expected words of cordial welcome. The great
apes had remained his final hope. To them he looked for the
companionship man had denied him. Suddenly rage overwhelmed him.
The king ape was almost directly beneath him. The others were
formed in a half circle several yards behind the king. They were
watching events interestedly. Before Akut could guess his
intention, or prevent, the boy leaped to the ground directly in
the path of the king, who had now succeeded in stimulating
himself to a frenzy of fury.
"I am Korak!" shouted the boy. "I am the Killer. I came
to live among you as a friend. You want to drive me away.
Very well, then, I shall go; but before I go I shall show
you that the son of Tarzan is your master, as his father was
before him--that he is not afraid of your king or you."
For an instant the king ape had stood motionless with surprise.
He had expected no such rash action upon the part of either of
the intruders. Akut was equally surprised. Now he shouted
excitedly for Korak to come back, for he knew that in the
sacred arena the other bulls might be expected to come to the
assistance of their king against an outsider, though there was
small likelihood that the king would need assistance. Once those
mighty jaws closed upon the boy's soft neck the end would come quickly.
To leap to his rescue would mean death for Akut, too; but the brave
old ape never hesitated. Bristling and growling, he dropped to
the sward just as the king ape charged.
The beast's hands clutched for their hold as the animal sprang
upon the lad. The fierce jaws were wide distended to bury the
yellow fangs deeply in the brown hide. Korak, too, leaped
forward to meet the attack; but leaped crouching, beneath the
outstretched arms. At the instant of contact the lad pivoted on
one foot, and with all the weight of his body and the strength of
his trained muscles drove a clenched fist into the bull's stomach.
With a gasping shriek the king ape collapsed, clutching futilely
for the agile, naked creature nimbly sidestepping from his grasp.
Howls of rage and dismay broke from the bull apes behind the
fallen king, as with murder in their savage little hearts they
rushed forward upon Korak and Akut; but the old ape was too
wise to court any such unequal encounter. To have counseled
the boy to retreat now would have been futile, and Akut knew it.
To delay even a second in argument would have sealed the
death warrants of them both. There was but a single hope and
Akut seized it. Grasping the lad around the waist he lifted him
bodily from the ground, and turning ran swiftly toward another
tree which swung low branches above the arena. Close upon
their heels swarmed the hideous mob; but Akut, old though he
was and burdened by the weight of the struggling Korak, was
still fleeter than his pursuers.
With a bound he grasped a low limb, and with the agility of
a little monkey swung himself and the boy to temporary safety.
Nor did he hesitate even here; but raced on through the jungle
night, bearing his burden to safety. For a time the bulls pursued;
but presently, as the swifter outdistanced the slower and found
themselves separated from their fellows they abandoned the chase,
standing roaring and screaming until the jungle reverberated to
their hideous noises. Then they turned and retraced their way
to the amphitheater.
When Akut felt assured that they were no longer pursued he
stopped and released Korak. The boy was furious.
"Why did you drag me away?" he cried. "I would have taught
I would have taught them all! Now they will think that I am
afraid of them."
"What they think cannot harm you," said Akut. "You are alive.
If I had not brought you away you would be dead now and so
would I. Do you not know that even Numa slinks from the path
of the great apes when there are many of them and they are mad?"
It was an unhappy Korak who wandered aimlessly through the
jungle the day following his inhospitable reception by the
great apes. His heart was heavy from disappointment.
Unsatisfied vengeance smoldered in his breast. He looked with
hatred upon the denizens of his jungle world, bearing his fighting
fangs and growling at those that came within radius of his senses.
The mark of his father's early life was strong upon him and enhanced
by months of association with beasts, from whom the imitative
faculty of youth had absorbed a countless number of little
mannerisms of the predatory creatures of the wild.
He bared his fangs now as naturally and upon as slight
provocation as Sheeta, the panther, bared his. He growled as
ferociously as Akut himself. When he came suddenly upon another
beast his quick crouch bore a strange resemblance to the arching
of a cat's back. Korak, the killer, was looking for trouble.
In his heart of hearts he hoped to meet the king ape who had
driven him from the amphitheater. To this end he insisted upon
remaining in the vicinity; but the exigencies of the perpetual
search for food led them several miles further away during day.
They were moving slowly down wind, and warily because the
advantage was with whatever beast might chance to be hunting
ahead of them, where their scent-spoor was being borne by the
light breeze. Suddenly the two halted simultaneously. Two heads
were cocked upon one side. Like creatures hewn from solid rock
they stood immovable, listening. Not a muscle quivered.
For several seconds they remained thus, then Korak advanced
cautiously a few yards and leaped nimbly into a tree. Akut followed
close upon his heels. Neither had made a noise that would have
been appreciable to human ears at a dozen paces.
Stopping often to listen they crept forward through the trees.
That both were greatly puzzled was apparent from the questioning
looks they cast at one another from time to time. Finally the
lad caught a glimpse of a palisade a hundred yards ahead, and
beyond it the tops of some goatskin tents and a number of
thatched huts. His lip upcurled in a savage snarl. Blacks!
How he hated them. He signed to Akut to remain where he was
while he advanced to reconnoiter.
Woe betide the unfortunate villager whom The Killer came
upon now. Slinking through the lower branches of the trees,
leaping lightly from one jungle giant to its neighbor where the
distance was not too great, or swinging from one hand hold to
another Korak came silently toward the village. He heard a voice
beyond the palisade and toward that he made his way. A great
tree overhung the enclosure at the very point from which the
voice came. Into this Korak crept. His spear was ready in
his hand. His ears told him of the proximity of a human being.
All that his eyes required was a single glance to show him his target.
Then, lightning like, the missile would fly to its goal. With raised
spear he crept among the branches of the tree glaring narrowly
downward in search of the owner of the voice which rose to him
At last he saw a human back. The spear hand flew to the limit
of the throwing position to gather the force that would send
the iron shod missile completely through the body of the
unconscious victim. And then The Killer paused. He leaned forward
a little to get a better view of the target. Was it to insure more
perfect aim, or had there been that in the graceful lines and the
childish curves of the little body below him that had held in
check the spirit of murder running riot in his veins?
He lowered his spear cautiously that it might make no noise
by scraping against foliage or branches. Quietly he crouched in
a comfortable position along a great limb and there he lay with
wide eyes looking down in wonder upon the creature he had crept
upon to kill--looking down upon a little girl, a little nut
brown maiden. The snarl had gone from his lip. His only
expression was one of interested attention--he was trying to
discover what the girl was doing. Suddenly a broad grin overspread
his face, for a turn of the girl's body had revealed Geeka of the
ivory head and the rat skin torso--Geeka of the splinter limbs and
the disreputable appearance. The little girl raised the marred
face to hers and rocking herself backward and forward crooned
a plaintive Arab lullaby to the doll. A softer light entered the
eyes of The Killer. For a long hour that passed very quickly to
him Korak lay with gaze riveted upon the playing child. Not once
had he had a view of the girl's full face. For the most part he
saw only a mass of wavy, black hair, one brown little shoulder
exposed upon the side from where her single robe was caught
beneath her arm, and a shapely knee protruding from beneath
her garment as she sat cross legged upon the ground. A tilt of
the head as she emphasized some maternal admonition to the
passive Geeka revealed occasionally a rounded cheek or a piquant
little chin. Now she was shaking a slim finger at Geeka,
reprovingly, and again she crushed to her heart this only
object upon which she might lavish the untold wealth of her
Korak, momentarily forgetful of his bloody mission, permitted
the fingers of his spear hand to relax a little their grasp upon
the shaft of his formidable weapon. It slipped, almost falling;
but the occurrence recalled The Killer to himself. It reminded him
of his purpose in slinking stealthily upon the owner of the voice
that had attracted his vengeful attention. He glanced at the spear,
with its well-worn grip and cruel, barbed head. Then he let his
eyes wander again to the dainty form below him. In imagination
he saw the heavy weapon shooting downward. He saw it pierce the
tender flesh, driving its way deep into the yielding body. He saw
the ridiculous doll drop from its owner's arms to lie sprawled
and pathetic beside the quivering body of the little girl.
The Killer shuddered, scowling at the inanimate iron and
wood of the spear as though they constituted a sentient being
endowed with a malignant mind.
Korak wondered what the girl would do were he to drop suddenly
from the tree to her side. Most likely she would scream
and run away. Then would come the men of the village with
spears and guns and set upon him. They would either kill him
or drive him away. A lump rose in the boy's throat. He craved
the companionship of his own kind, though he scarce realized
how greatly. He would have liked to slip down beside the little
girl and talk with her, though he knew from the words he had
overheard that she spoke a language with which he was unfamiliar.
They could have talked by signs a little. That would have
been better than nothing. Too, he would have been glad to see
her face. What he had glimpsed assured him that she was pretty;
but her strongest appeal to him lay in the affectionate nature
revealed by her gentle mothering of the grotesque doll.
At last he hit upon a plan. He would attract her attention,
and reassure her by a smiling greeting from a greater distance.
Silently he wormed his way back into the tree. It was his
intention to hail her from beyond the palisade, giving her
the feeling of security which he imagined the stout barricade
He had scarcely left his position in the tree when his attention
was attracted by a considerable noise upon the opposite side of
the village. By moving a little he could see the gate at the far
end of the main street. A number of men, women and children
were running toward it. It swung open, revealing the head of a
caravan upon the opposite side. In trooped the motley organization--
black slaves and dark hued Arabs of the northern deserts; cursing
camel drivers urging on their vicious charges; overburdened
donkeys, waving sadly pendulous ears while they endured with
stoic patience the brutalities of their masters; goats, sheep
and horses. Into the village they all trooped behind a tall,
sour, old man, who rode without greetings to those who shrunk
from his path directly to a large goatskin tent in the center of
the village. Here he spoke to a wrinkled hag.
Korak, from his vantage spot, could see it all. He saw the old
man asking questions of the black woman, and then he saw the
latter point toward a secluded corner of the village which was
hidden from the main street by the tents of the Arabs and the
huts of the natives in the direction of the tree beneath which the
little girl played. This was doubtless her father, thought Korak.
He had been away and his first thought upon returning was of
his little daughter. How glad she would be to see him! How she
would run and throw herself into his arms, to be crushed to his
breast and covered with his kisses. Korak sighed. He thought of
his own father and mother far away in london.
He returned to his place in the tree above the girl. If he
couldn't have happiness of this sort himself he wanted to enjoy
the happiness of others. Possibly if he made himself known to
the old man he might be permitted to come to the village occasionally
as a friend. It would be worth trying. He would wait until the
old Arab had greeted his daughter, then he would make his
presence known with signs of peace.
The Arab was striding softly toward the girl. In a moment he
would be beside her, and then how surprised and delighted she
would be! Korak's eyes sparkled in anticipation--and now the
old man stood behind the little girl. His stern old face was
still unrelaxed. The child was yet unconscious of his presence.
She prattled on to the unresponsive Geeka. Then the old man coughed.
With a start the child glanced quickly up over her shoulder.
Korak could see her full face now. It was very beautiful in its
sweet and innocent childishness--all soft and lovely curves.
He could see her great, dark eyes. He looked for the happy love
light that would follow recognition; but it did not come.
Instead, terror, stark, paralyzing terror, was mirrored in
her eyes, in the expression of her mouth, in the tense, cowering
attitude of her body. A grim smile curved the thin, cruel lip of
the Arab. The child essayed to crawl away; but before she could
get out of his reach the old man kicked her brutally, sending her
sprawling upon the grass. Then he followed her up to seize and
strike her as was his custom.
Above them, in the tree, a beast crouched where a moment
before had been a boy--a beast with dilating nostrils and bared
fangs--a beast that trembled with rage.
The Sheik was stooping to reach for the girl when The Killer
dropped to the ground at his side. His spear was still in his left
hand but he had forgotten it. Instead his right fist was clenched
and as The Sheik took a backward step, astonished by the sudden materialization
of this strange
apparition apparently out of
clear air, the heavy fist landed full upon his mouth backed by
the weight of the young giant and the terrific power of his more
than human muscles.
Bleeding and senseless The Sheik sank to earth. Korak turned
toward the child. She had regained her feet and stood wide eyed
and frightened, looking first into his face and then, horror struck,
at the recumbent figure of The Sheik. In an involuntary gesture
of protection The Killer threw an arm about the girl's shoulders
and stood waiting for the Arab to regain consciousness. For a
moment they remained thus, when the girl spoke.
"When he regains his senses he will kill me," she said, in Arabic.
Korak could not understand her. He shook his head, speaking
to her first in English and then in the language of the great apes;
but neither of these was intelligible to her. She leaned forward
and touched the hilt of the long knife that the Arab wore. Then she
raised her clasped hand above her head and drove an imaginary blade
into her breast above her heart. Korak understood. The old man
would kill her. The girl came to his side again and stood
there trembling. She did not fear him. Why should she?
He had saved her from a terrible beating at the hands of
The Sheik. Never, in her memory, had another so befriended her.
She looked up into his face. It was a boyish, handsome face,
nut-brown like her own. She admired the spotted leopard skin
that circled his lithe body from one shoulder to his knees.
The metal anklets and armlets adorning him aroused her envy.
Always had she coveted something of the kind; but never had The
Sheik permitted her more than the single cotton garment that
barely sufficed to cover her nakedness. No furs or silks or
jewelry had there ever been for little Meriem.
And Korak looked at the girl. He had always held girls in a
species of contempt. Boys who associated with them were, in
his estimation, mollycoddles. He wondered what he should do.
Could he leave her here to be abused, possibly murdered, by
the villainous old Arab? No! But, on the other hand, could he
take her into the jungle with him? What could he accomplish
burdened by a weak and frightened girl? She would scream at
her own shadow when the moon came out upon the jungle night
and the great beasts roamed, moaning and roaring, through
He stood for several minutes buried in thought. The girl
watched his face, wondering what was passing in his mind.
She, too, was thinking of the future. She feared to remain
and suffer the vengeance of The Sheik. There was no one in
all the world to whom she might turn, other than this half-naked
stranger who had dropped miraculously from the clouds to save
her from one of The Sheik's accustomed beatings. Would her new
friend leave her now? Wistfully she gazed at his intent face.
She moved a little closer to him, laying a slim, brown hand upon
his arm. The contact awakened the lad from his absorption.
He looked down at her, and then his arm went about her shoulder
once more, for he saw tears upon her lashes.
"Come," he said. "The jungle is kinder than man. You shall
live in the jungle and Korak and Akut will protect you."
She did not understand his words, but the pressure of his arm
drawing her away from the prostrate Arab and the tents was
quite intelligible. One little arm crept about his waist and
together they walked toward the palisade. Beneath the great tree
that had harbored Korak while he watched the girl at play he
lifted her in his arms and throwing her lightly across his
shoulder leaped nimbly into the lower branches. Her arms were
about his neck and from one little hand Geeka dangled down his
And so Meriem entered the jungle with Korak, trusting, in
her childish innocence, the stranger who had befriended her,
and perhaps influenced in her belief in him by that strange
intuitive power possessed by woman. She had no conception of
what the future might hold. She did not know, nor could she
have guessed the manner of life led by her protector. Possibly she
pictured a distant village similar to that of The Sheik in which
lived other white men like the stranger. That she was to be
taken into the savage, primeval life of a jungle beast could
not have occurred to her. Had it, her little heart would have
palpitated with fear. Often had she wished to run away from the
cruelties of The Sheik and Mabunu; but the dangers of the jungle
always had deterred her.
The two had gone but a short distance from the village when
the girl spied the huge proportions of the great Akut. With a
half-stifled scream she clung more closely to Korak, and pointed
fearfully toward the ape.
Akut, thinking that The Killer was returning with a prisoner,
came growling toward them--a little girl aroused no more sympathy
in the beast's heart than would a full-grown bull ape. She was
a stranger and therefore to be killed. He bared his yellow
fangs as he approached, and to his surprise The Killer bared his
likewise, but he bared them at Akut, and snarled menacingly.
"Ah," thought Akut, "The Killer has taken a mate," and
obedient to the tribal laws of his kind, he left them alone,
becoming suddenly absorbed in a fuzzy caterpillar of peculiarly
succulent appearance. The larva disposed of, he glanced from
the corner of an eye at Korak. The youth had deposited his
burden upon a large limb, where she clung desperately to keep
"She will accompany us," said Korak to Akut, jerking a thumb
in the direction of the girl. "Do not harm her. We will
Akut shrugged. To be burdened by the young of man was in no
way to his liking. He could see from her evident fright at her
position on the branch, and from the terrified glances she cast
in his direction that she was hopelessly unfit. By all the ethics
of Akut's training and inheritance the unfit should be eliminated;
but if The Killer wished this there was nothing to be done about
it but to tolerate her. Akut certainly didn't want her--of that
he was quite positive. Her skin was too smooth and hairless.
Quite snake-like, in fact, and her face was most unattractive.
Not at all like that of a certain lovely she he had particularly
noticed among the apes in the amphitheater the previous night.
Ah, there was true feminine beauty for one!--a great, generous
mouth; lovely, yellow fangs, and the cutest, softest side whiskers!
Akut sighed. Then he rose, expanded his great chest and
strutted back and forth along a substantial branch, for even a
puny thing like this she of Korak's might admire his fine coat
and his graceful carriage.
But poor little Meriem only shrank closer to Korak and almost
wished that she were back in the village of The Sheik where
the terrors of existence were of human origin, and so more or
less familiar. The hideous ape frightened her. He was so large
and so ferocious in appearance. His actions she could only
interpret as a menace, for how could she guess that he was
parading to excite admiration? Nor could she know of the bond
of fellowship which existed between this great brute and the
godlike youth who had rescued her from the Sheik.
Meriem spent an evening and a night of unmitigated terror.
Korak and Akut led her along dizzy ways as they searched for food.
Once they hid her in the branches of a tree while they stalked
a near-by buck. Even her natural terror of being left alone in
the awful jungle was submerged in a greater horror as she saw the
man and the beast spring simultaneously upon their prey and drag
it down, as she saw the handsome face of her preserver contorted
in a bestial snarl; as she saw his strong, white teeth buried in
the soft flesh of the kill.
When he came back to her blood smeared his face and hands
and breast and she shrank from him as he offered her a huge
hunk of hot, raw meat. He was evidently much disturbed by her
refusal to eat, and when, a moment later, he scampered away
into the forest to return with fruit for her she was once more
forced to alter her estimation of him. This time she did not
shrink, but acknowledged his gift with a smile that, had she
known it, was more than ample payment to the affection starved boy.
The sleeping problem vexed Korak. He knew that the girl
could not balance herself in safety in a tree crotch while she
slept, nor would it be safe to permit her to sleep upon the ground
open to the attacks of prowling beasts of prey. There was but a
single solution that presented itself--he must hold her in his
arms all night. And that he did, with Akut braced upon one side
of her and he upon the other, so that she was warmed by the
bodies of them both.
She did not sleep much until the night was half spent; but at
last Nature overcame her terrors of the black abyss beneath and
the hairy body of the wild beast at her side, and she fell into a
deep slumber which outlasted the darkness. When she opened
her eyes the sun was well up. At first she could not believe in
the reality of her position. Her head had rolled from Korak's
shoulder so that her eyes were directed upon the hairy back of
the ape. At sight of it she shrank away. Then she realized
that someone was holding her, and turning her head she saw the
smiling eyes of the youth regarding her. When he smiled she
could not fear him, and now she shrank closer against him in
natural revulsion toward the rough coat of the brute upon her
Korak spoke to her in the language of the apes; but she shook
her head, and spoke to him in the language of the Arab, which
was as unintelligible to him as was ape speech to her. Akut sat
up and looked at them. He could understand what Korak said
but the girl made only foolish noises that were entirely
unintelligible and ridiculous. Akut could not understand what
Korak saw in her to attract him. He looked at her long and
steadily, appraising her carefully, then he scratched his head,
rose and shook himself.
His movement gave the girl a little start--she had forgotten
Akut for the moment. Again she shrank from him. The beast
saw that she feared him, and being a brute enjoyed the evidence
of the terror his brutishness inspired. Crouching, he extended his
huge hand stealthily toward her, as though to seize her. She shrank
still further away. Akut's eyes were busy drinking in the humor
of the situation--he did not see the narrowing eyes of the boy
upon him, nor the shortening neck as the broad shoulders rose
in a characteristic attitude of preparation for attack. As the
ape's fingers were about to close upon the girl's arm the youth rose
suddenly with a short, vicious growl. A clenched fist flew before
Meriem's eyes to land full upon the snout of the astonished Akut.
With an explosive bellow the anthropoid reeled backward and
tumbled from the tree.
Korak stood glaring down upon him when a sudden swish in the
bushes close by attracted his attention. The girl too was
looking down; but she saw nothing but the angry ape scrambling
to his feet. Then, like a bolt from a cross bow, a mass of spotted,
yellow fur shot into view straight for Akut's back. It was Sheeta,
As the leopard leaped for the great ape Meriem gasped in surprise
and horror--not for the impending fate of the anthropoid, but at
the act of the youth who but for an instant before had angrily
struck his strange companion; for scarce had the carnivore burst
into view than with drawn knife the youth had leaped far out above
him, so that as Sheeta was almost in the act of sinking fangs
and talons in Akut's broad back The Killer landed full upon the
The cat halted in mid air, missed the ape by but a hair's
breadth, and with horrid snarlings rolled over upon its back,
clutching and clawing in an effort to reach and dislodge the
antagonist biting at its neck and knifing it in the side.
Akut, startled by the sudden rush from his rear, and following
hoary instinct, was in the tree beside the girl with an agility
little short of marvelous in so heavy a beast. But the moment
that he turned to see what was going on below him brought him as
quickly to the ground again. Personal differences were quickly
forgotten in the danger which menaced his human companion, nor
was he a whit less eager to jeopardize his own safety in the
service of his friend than Korak had been to succor him.
The result was that Sheeta presently found two ferocious creatures
tearing him to ribbons. Shrieking, snarling and growling, the
three rolled hither and thither among the underbrush, while
with staring eyes the sole spectator of the battle royal crouched
trembling in the tree above them hugging Geeka frantically to
It was the boy's knife which eventually decided the battle, and
as the fierce feline shuddered convulsively and rolled over upon
its side the youth and the ape rose and faced one another across
the prostrate carcass. Korak jerked his head in the direction of
the little girl in the tree.
"Leave her alone," he said; "she is mine."
Akut grunted, blinked his blood-shot eyes, and turned toward
the body of Sheeta. Standing erect upon it he threw out his
great chest, raised his face toward the heavens and gave voice
to so horrid a scream that once again the little girl shuddered
and shrank. It was the victory cry of the bull ape that has made
a kill. The boy only looked on for a moment in silence; then he
leaped into the tree again to the girl's side. Akut presently
rejoined them. For a few minutes he busied himself licking his
wounds, then he wandered off to hunt his breakfast.
For many months the strange life of the three went on unmarked
by any unusual occurrences. At least without any occurrences
that seemed unusual to the youth or the ape; but to the little
girl it was a constant nightmare of horrors for days and weeks,
until she too became accustomed to gazing into the eyeless sockets
of death and to the feel of the icy wind of his shroud-like mantle.
Slowly she learned the rudiments of the only common medium of
thought exchange which her companions possessed--the language of
the great apes. More quickly she perfected herself in jungle craft,
so that the time soon came when she was an important factor in the
chase, watching while the others slept, or helping them to trace the
spoor of whatever prey they might be stalking. Akut accepted her on
a footing which bordered upon equality when it was necessary for them
to come into close contact; but for the most part he avoided her.
The youth always was kind to her, and if there were many occasions
upon which he felt the burden of her presence he hid it from her.
Finding that the night damp and chill caused her discomfort and even
suffering, Korak constructed a tight little shelter high among the
swaying branches of a giant tree. Here little Meriem slept in
comparative warmth and safety, while The Killer and the ape perched
upon near-by branches, the former always before the entrance to the
lofty domicile, where he best could guard its inmate from the dangers
of arboreal enemies. They were too high to feel much fear of Sheeta;
but there was always Histah, the snake, to strike terror to one's soul,
and the great baboons who lived near-by, and who, while never attacking
always bared their fangs and barked at any of the trio when they passed
After the construction of the shelter the activities of the three
became localized. They ranged less widely, for there was always
the necessity of returning to their own tree at nightfall. A river
flowed near by. Game and fruit were plentiful, as were fish also.
Existence had settled down to the daily humdrum of the wild--
the search for food and the sleeping upon full bellies. They looked
no further ahead than today. If the youth thought of his
past and of those who longed for him in the distant metropolis
it was in a detached and impersonal sort of way as though that
other life belonged to another creature than himself. He had
given up hope of returning to civilization, for since his various
rebuffs at the hands of those to whom he had looked for friendship
he had wandered so far inland as to realize that he was completely
lost in the mazes of the jungle.
Then, too, since the coming of Meriem he had found in her
that one thing which he had most missed before in his savage,
jungle life--human companionship. In his friendship for her
there was appreciable no trace of sex influence of which he
was cognizant. They were friends--companions--that was all.
Both might have been boys, except for the half tender and always
masterful manifestation of the protective instinct which was
apparent in Korak's attitude.
The little girl idolized him as she might have idolized an
indulgent brother had she had one. Love was a thing unknown to
either; but as the youth neared manhood it was inevitable that it
should come to him as it did to every other savage, jungle male.
As Meriem became proficient in their common language the
pleasures of their companionship grew correspondingly, for
now they could converse and aided by the mental powers of
their human heritage they amplified the restricted vocabulary
of the apes until talking was transformed from a task into an
enjoyable pastime. When Korak hunted, Meriem usually accompanied
him, for she had learned the fine art of silence, when silence
was desirable. She could pass through the branches of the great
trees now with all the agility and stealth of The Killer himself.
Great heights no longer appalled her. She swung from limb to
limb, or she raced through the mighty branches, surefooted,
lithe, and fearless. Korak was very proud of her, and even old
Akut grunted in approval where before he had growled in contempt.
A distant village of blacks had furnished her with a mantle of
fur and feathers, with copper ornaments, and weapons, for Korak
would not permit her to go unarmed, or unversed in the use of
the weapons he stole for her. A leather thong over one shoulder
supported the ever present Geeka who was still the recipient
of her most sacred confidences. A light spear and a long knife
were her weapons of offense or defense. Her body, rounding
into the fulness of an early maturity, followed the lines of a
Greek goddess; but there the similarity ceased, for her face
As she grew more accustomed to the jungle and the ways of
its wild denizens fear left her. As time wore on she even hunted
alone when Korak and Akut were prowling at a great distance,
as they were sometimes forced to do when game was scarce in
their immediate vicinity. Upon these occasions she usually
confined her endeavors to the smaller animals though sometimes
she brought down a deer, and once even Horta, the boar--a great
tusker that even Sheeta might have thought twice before attacking.
In their stamping grounds in the jungle the three were
familiar figures. The little monkeys knew them well, often coming
close to chatter and frolic about them. When Akut was by, the small
folk kept their distance, but with Korak they were less shy and
when both the males were gone they would come close to Meriem,
tugging at her ornaments or playing with Geeka, who was a never
ending source of amusement to them. The girl played with them
and fed them, and when she was alone they helped her to pass
the long hours until Korak's return.
Nor were they worthless as friends. In the hunt they helped
her locate her quarry. Often they would come racing through
the trees to her side to announce the near presence of antelope
or giraffe, or with excited warnings of the proximity of Sheeta
or Numa. Luscious, sun-kissed fruits which hung far out upon
the frail bough of the jungle's waving crest were brought to her
by these tiny, nimble allies. Sometimes they played tricks upon
her; but she was always kind and gentle with them and in their
wild, half-human way they were kind to her and affectionate.
Their language being similar to that of the great apes Meriem
could converse with them though the poverty of their vocabulary
rendered these exchanges anything but feasts of reason. For familiar
objects they had names, as well as for those conditions which
induced pain or pleasure, joy, sorrow, or rage. These root
words were so similar to those in use among the great anthropoids
as to suggest that the language of the Manus was the mother tongue.
Dreams, aspirations, hopes, the past, the sordid exchange.
Dreams, aspirations, hopes, the past, the future held no place
in the conversation of Manu, the monkey. All was of the present--
particularly of filling his belly and catching lice.
Poor food was this to nourish the mental appetite of a girl
just upon the brink of womanhood. And so, finding Manu only
amusing as an occasional playfellow or pet, Meriem poured out
her sweetest soul thoughts into the deaf ears of Geeka's
ivory head. To Geeka she spoke in Arabic, knowing that Geeka,
being but a doll, could not understand the language of Korak and
Akut, and that the language of Korak and Akut being that of
male apes contained nothing of interest to an Arab doll.
Geeka had undergone a transformation since her little mother
had left the village of The Sheik. Her garmenture now reflected
in miniature that of Meriem. A tiny bit of leopard skin covered
her ratskin torso from shoulder to splinter knee. A band of
braided grasses about her brow held in place a few gaudy feathers
from the parakeet, while other bits of grass were fashioned into
imitations of arm and leg ornaments of metal. Geeka was a perfect
little savage; but at heart she was unchanged, being the same
omnivorous listener as of yore. An excellent trait in Geeka was
that she never interrupted in order to talk about herself. Today was
no exception. She had been listening attentively to Meriem for
an hour, propped against the bole of a tree while her lithe,
young mistress stretched catlike and luxurious along a swaying
branch before her.
"Little Geeka," said Meriem, "our Korak has been gone for
a long time today. We miss him, little Geeka, do we not? It is
dull and lonesome in the great jungle when our Korak is away.
What will he bring us this time, eh? Another shining band of
metal for Meriem's ankle? Or a soft, doeskin loin cloth from
the body of a black she? He tells me that it is harder to get the
possessions of the shes, for he will not kill them as he does the
males, and they fight savagely when he leaps upon them to wrest
their ornaments from them. Then come the males with spears
and arrows and Korak takes to the trees. Sometimes he takes
the she with him and high among the branches divests her of the
things he wishes to bring home to Meriem. He says that the
blacks fear him now, and at first sight of him the women and
children run shrieking to their huts; but he follows them within,
and it is not often that he returns without arrows for himself
and a present for Meriem. Korak is mighty among the jungle
people--our Korak, Geeka--no, MY Korak!"
Meriem's conversation was interrupted by the sudden plunge
of an excited little monkey that landed upon her shoulders in a
flying leap from a neighboring tree.
"Climb!" he cried. "Climb! The Mangani are coming."
Meriem glanced lazily over her shoulder at the excited disturber
of her peace.
"Climb, yourself, little Manu," she said. "The only Mangani
in our jungle are Korak and Akut. It is they you have seen
returning from the hunt. Some day you will see your own
shadow, little Manu, and then you will be frightened to death."
But the monkey only screamed his warning more lustily before
he raced upward toward the safety of the high terrace where
Mangani, the great ape, could not follow. Presently Meriem
heard the sound of approaching bodies swinging through the trees.
She listened attentively. There were two and they were great
apes--Korak and Akut. To her Korak was an ape--a Mangani, for
as such the three always described themselves. Man was an
enemy, so they did not think of themselves as belonging any
longer to the same genus. Tarmangani, or great white ape, which
described the white man in their language, did not fit them all.
Gomangani--great black ape, or Negro--described none of them so
they called themselves plain Mangani.
Meriem decided that she would feign slumber and play a joke
on Korak. So she lay very still with eyes tightly closed.
She heard the two approaching closer and closer. They were in
the adjoining tree now and must have discovered her, for they
had halted. Why were they so quiet? Why did not Korak call
out his customary greeting? The quietness was ominous. It was
followed presently by a very stealthy sound--one of them was
creeping upon her. Was Korak planning a joke upon his own account?
Well, she would fool him. Cautiously she opened her eyes the
tiniest bit, and as she did so her heart stood still.
Creeping silently toward her was a huge bull ape that she
never before had seen. Behind him was another like him.
With the agility of a squirrel Meriem was upon her feet and
at the same instant the great bull lunged for her. Leaping from
limb to limb the girl fled through the jungle while close behind
her came the two great apes. Above them raced a bevy of screaming,
chattering monkeys, hurling taunts and insults at the Mangani,
and encouragement and advice to the girl.
From tree to tree swung Meriem working ever upward toward the
smaller branches which would not bear the weight of her pursuers.
Faster and faster came the bull apes after her. The clutching
fingers of the foremost were almost upon her again and again,
but she eluded them by sudden bursts of speed or reckless
chances as she threw herself across dizzy spaces.
Slowly she was gaining her way to the greater heights where
safety lay, when, after a particularly daring leap, the swaying
branch she grasped bent low beneath her weight, nor whipped
upward again as it should have done. Even before the rending
sound which followed Meriem knew that she had misjudged the
strength of the limb. It gave slowly at first. Then there was a
ripping as it parted from the trunk. Releasing her hold Meriem
dropped among the foliage beneath, clutching for a new support.
She found it a dozen feet below the broken limb. She had
fallen thus many times before, so that she had no particular
terror of a fall--it was the delay which appalled her most, and
rightly, for scarce had she scrambled to a place of safety than
the body of the huge ape dropped at her side and a great, hairy
arm went about her waist.
Almost at once the other ape reached his companion's side.
He made a lunge at Meriem; but her captor swung her to one
side, bared his fighting fangs and growled ominously.
Meriem struggled to escape. She struck at the hairy breast
and bearded cheek. She fastened her strong, white teeth in
one shaggy forearm. The ape cuffed her viciously across the
face, then he had to turn his attention to his fellow who quite
evidently desired the prize for his own.
The captor could not fight to advantage upon the swaying bough,
burdened as he was by a squirming, struggling captive, so he
dropped quickly to the ground beneath. The other followed him,
and here they fought, occasionally abandoning their duel to
pursue and recapture the girl who took every advantage of her
captors' preoccupation in battle to break away in attempted
escape; but always they overtook her, and first one and then
the other possessed her as they struggled to tear one another
to pieces for the prize.
Often the girl came in for many blows that were intended for
a hairy foe, and once she was felled, lying unconscious while
the apes, relieved of the distraction of detaining her by force,
tore into one another in fierce and terrible combat.
Above them screamed the little monkeys, racing hither and thither
in a frenzy of hysterical excitement. Back and forth over the
battle field flew countless birds of gorgeous plumage, squawking
their hoarse cries of rage and defiance. In the distance a lion roared.
The larger bull was slowly tearing his antagonist to pieces.
They rolled upon the ground biting and striking. Again, erect
upon their hind legs they pulled and tugged like human wrestlers;
but always the giant fangs found their bloody part to play until
both combatants and the ground about them were red with gore.
Meriem, through it all, lay still and unconscious upon the ground.
At last one found a permanent hold upon the jugular of the other
and thus they went down for the last time. For several minutes
they lay with scarce a struggle. It was the larger bull who
arose alone from the last embrace. He shook himself. A deep
growl rumbled from his hairy throat. He waddled back and forth
between the body of the girl and that of his vanquished foe.
Then he stood upon the latter and gave tongue to his hideous challenge.
The little monkeys broke, screaming, in all directions as the
terrifying noise broke upon their ears. The gorgeous birds took
wing and fled. Once again the lion roared, this time at a
The great ape waddled once more to the girl's side. He turned
her over upon her back, and stooping commenced to sniff and
listen about her face and breast. She lived. The monkeys
were returning. They came in swarms, and from above hurled
down insults upon the victor.
The ape showed his displeasure by baring his teeth and growling
up at them. Then he stooped and lifting the girl to his shoulder
waddled off through the jungle. In his wake followed the angry mob.
Korak, returning from the hunt, heard the jabbering of the
excited monkeys. He knew that something was seriously amiss.
Histah, the snake, had doubtless coiled his slimy folds about
some careless Manu. The youth hastened ahead. The monkeys
were Meriem's friends. He would help them if he could.
He traveled rapidly along the middle terrace. In the tree
by Meriem's shelter he deposited his trophies of the hunt and
called aloud to her. There was no answer. He dropped quickly
to a lower level. She might be hiding from him.
Upon a great branch where Meriem often swung at indolent
ease he saw Geeka propped against the tree's great bole.
What could it mean? Meriem had never left Geeka thus alone before.
Korak picked up the doll and tucked it in his belt. He called
again, more loudly; but no Meriem answered his summons. In the
distance the jabbering of the excited Manus was growing
Could their excitement be in any way connected with
Meriem's disappearance? The bare thought was enough.
Without waiting for Akut who was coming slowly along some
distance in his rear, Korak swung rapidly in the direction
of the chattering mob. But a few minutes sufficed to overtake
the rearmost. At sight of him they fell to screaming and
pointing downward ahead of them, and a moment later Korak
came within sight of the cause of their rage.
The youth's heart stood still in terror as he saw the limp body
of the girl across the hairy shoulders of a great ape. That she
was dead he did not doubt, and in that instant there arose within
him a something which he did not try to interpret nor could have
hade he tried; but all at once the whole world seemed centered
in that tender, graceful body, that frail little body, hanging so
pitifully limp and helpless across the bulging shoulders of the brute.
He knew then that little Meriem was his world--his sun, his
moon, his stars--with her going had gone all light and warmth
and happiness. A groan escaped his lips, and after that a series
of hideous roars, more bestial than the beasts', as he dropped
plummet-like in mad descent toward the perpetrator of this hideous crime.
The bull ape turned at the first note of this new and menacing
voice, and as he turned a new flame was added to the rage and
hatred of The Killer, for he saw that the creature before him was
none other than the king ape which had driven him away from the
great anthropoids to whom he had looked for friendship and asylum.
Dropping the body of the girl to the ground the bull turned to
battle anew for possession of his expensive prize; but this time
he looked for an easy conquest. He too recognized Korak. Had he
not chased him away from the amphitheater without even having
to lay a fang or paw upon him? With lowered head and bulging
shoulders he rushed headlong for the smooth-skinned creature
who was daring to question his right to his prey.
They met head on like two charging bulls, to go down together
tearing and striking. Korak forgot his knife. Rage and bloodlust
such as his could be satisfied only by the feel of hot flesh
between rending fangs, by the gush of new life blood against his
bare skin, for, though he did not realize it, Korak, The Killer,
was fighting for something more compelling than hate or revenge--
he was a great male fighting another male for a she of his own kind.
So impetuous was the attack of the man-ape that he found his
hold before the anthropoid could prevent him--a savage hold,
with strong jaws closed upon a pulsing jugular, and there he
clung, with closed eyes, while his fingers sought another hold
upon the shaggy throat.
It was then that Meriem opened her eyes. At the sight before
her they went wide.
"Korak!" she cried. "Korak! My Korak! I knew that you
would come. Kill him, Korak! Kill him!" And with flashing
eyes and heaving bosom the girl, coming to her feet, ran to
Korak's side to encourage him. Nearby lay The Killer's spear,
where he had flung it as he charged the ape. The girl saw it and
snatched it up. No faintness overcame her in the face of this
battle primeval at her feet. For her there was no hysterical
reaction from the nerve strain of her own personal encounter with
the bull. She was excited; but cool and entirely unafraid.
Her Korak was battling with another Mangani that would have stolen
her; but she did not seek the safety of an overhanging bough
there to watch the battle from afar, as would a she Mangani.
Instead she placed the point of Korak's spear against the bull
ape's side and plunged the sharp point deep into the savage heart.
Korak had not needed her aid, for the great bull had been already
as good as dead, with the blood gushing from his torn jugular;
but Korak rose smiling with a word of approbation for his helper.
How tall and fine she was! Had she changed suddenly within
the few hours of his absence, or had his battle with the ape
affected his vision? He might have been looking at Meriem
through new eyes for the many startling and wonderful surprises
his gaze revealed. How long it had been since he had found her
in her father's village, a little Arab girl, he did not know, for
time is of no import in the jungle and so he had kept no track
of the passing days. But he realized, as he looked upon her now,
that she was no longer such a little girl as he had first seen
playing with Geeka beneath the great tree just within the palisade.
The change must have been very gradual to have eluded his notice
until now. And what was it that had caused him to realize it
so suddenly? His gaze wandered from the girl to the body of
the dead bull. For the first time there flashed to his
understanding the explanation of the reason for the girl's
attempted abduction. Korak's eyes went wide and then they closed
to narrow slits of rage as he stood glaring down upon the abysmal
brute at his feet. When next his glance rose to Meriem's face
a slow flush suffused his own. Now, indeed, was he looking
upon her through new eyes--the eyes of a man looking upon a maid.
Akut had come up just as Meriem had speared Korak's antagonist.
The exultation of the old ape was keen. He strutted, stiff-legged
and truculent about the body of the fallen enemy. He growled
and upcurved his long, flexible lip. His hair bristled.
He was paying no attention to Meriem and Korak. Back in the
uttermost recesses of his little brain something was stirring--
something which the sight and smell of the great bull had aroused.
The outward manifestation of the germinating idea was one of
bestial rage; but the inner sensations were pleasurable in
the extreme. The scent of the great bull and the sight of his huge
and hairy figure had wakened in the heart of Akut a longing for
the companionship of his own kind. So Korak was not alone
undergoing a change.
And Meriem? She was a woman. It is woman's divine right
to love. Always she had loved Korak. He was her big brother.
Meriem alone underwent no change. She was still happy in the
companionship of her Korak. She still loved him--as a sister
loves an indulgent brother--and she was very, very proud of him.
In all the jungle there was no other creature so strong, so
handsome, or so brave.
Korak came close to her. There was a new light in his eyes
as she looked up into them; but she did not understand it.
She did not realize how close they were to maturity, nor aught of
all the difference in their lives the look in Korak's eyes might mean.
"Meriem," he whispered and his voice was husky as he laid
a brown hand upon her bare shoulder. "Meriem!" Suddenly he
crushed her to him. She looked up into his face, laughing,
and then he bent and kissed her full upon the mouth. Even then
she did not understand. She did not recall ever having been
kissed before. It was very nice. Meriem liked it. She thought
it was Korak's way of showing how glad he was that the great ape
had not succeeded in running away with her. She was glad too,
so she put her arms about The Killer's neck and kissed him again
and again. Then, discovering the doll in his belt she transferred
it to her own possession, kissing it as she had kissed Korak.
Korak wanted her to say something. He wanted to tell her how
he loved her; but the emotion of his love choked him and the
vocabulary of the Mangani was limited.
There came a sudden interruption. It was from Akut--a sudden,
low growl, no louder than those he had been giving vent to the
while he pranced about the dead bull, nor half so loud in fact;
but of a timbre that bore straight to the perceptive faculties
of the jungle beast ingrained in Korak. It was a warning. Korak
looked quickly up from the glorious vision of the sweet face so
close to his. Now his other faculties awoke. His ears, his nostrils
were on the alert. Something was coming!
The Killer moved to Akut's side. Meriem was just behind them.
The three stood like carved statues gazing into the leafy
tangle of the jungle. The noise that had attracted their attention
increased, and presently a great ape broke through the underbrush
a few paces from where they stood. The beast halted at sight
of them. He gave a warning grunt back over his shoulder,
and a moment later coming cautiously another bull appeared.
He was followed by others--both bulls and females with young,
until two score hairy monsters stood glaring at the three. It was
the tribe of the dead king ape. Akut was the first to speak.
He pointed to the body of the dead bull.
"Korak, mighty fighter, has killed your king," he grunted.
"There is none greater in all the jungle than Korak, son of Tarzan.
Now Korak is king. What bull is greater than Korak?" It was a
challenge to any bull who might care to question Korak's right to
the kingship. The apes jabbered and chattered and growled among
themselves for a time. At last a young bull came slowly forward
rocking upon his short legs, bristling, growling, terrible.
The beast was enormous, and in the full prime of his strength.
He belonged to that almost extinct species for which white men
have long sought upon the information of the natives of the more
inaccessible jungles. Even the natives seldom see these great,
hairy, primordial men.
Korak advanced to meet the monster. He, too, was growling.
In his mind a plan was revolving. To close with this powerful,
untired brute after having just passed through a terrific battle
with another of his kind would have been to tempt defeat. He must
find an easier way to victory. Crouching, he prepared to meet
the charge which he knew would soon come, nor did he have long
to wait. His antagonist paused only for sufficient time to
permit him to recount for the edification of the audience and the
confounding of Korak a brief resume of his former victories, of
his prowess, and of what he was about to do to this puny Tarmangani.
Then he charged.
With clutching fingers and wide opened jaws he came down
upon the waiting Korak with the speed of an express train.
Korak did not move until the great arms swung to embrace him,
then he dropped low beneath them, swung a terrific right to the
side of the beast's jaw as he side-stepped his rushing body, and
swinging quickly about stood ready over the fallen ape where
he sprawled upon the ground.
It was a surprised anthropoid that attempted to scramble to
its feet. Froth flecked its hideous lips. Red were the little eyes.
Blood curdling roars tumbled from the deep chest. But it did
not reach its feet. The Killer stood waiting above it, and the
moment that the hairy chin came upon the proper level another
blow that would have felled an ox sent the ape over backward.
Again and again the beast struggled to arise, but each time
the mighty Tarmangani stood waiting with ready fist and pile
driver blow to bowl him over. Weaker and weaker became the
efforts of the bull. Blood smeared his face and breast. A red
stream trickled from nose and mouth. The crowd that had cheered
him on at first with savage yells, now jeered him--their
approbation was for the Tarmangani.
"Kagoda?" inquired Korak, as he sent the bull down once more.
Again the stubborn bull essayed to scramble to his feet.
Again The Killer struck him a terrific blow. Again he put
the question, kagoda--have you had enough?
For a moment the bull lay motionless. Then from between
battered lips came the single word: "Kagoda!"
"Then rise and go back among your people," said Korak.
"I do not wish to be king among people who once drove me
from them. Keep your own ways, and we will keep ours.
When we meet we may be friends, but we shall not live together."
An old bull came slowly toward The Killer.
"You have killed our king," he said. "You have defeated him
who would have been king. You could have killed him had
you wished. What shall we do for a king?"
Korak turned toward Akut.
"There is your king," he said. But Akut did not want to be
separated from Korak, although he was anxious enough to remain
with his own kind. He wanted Korak to remain, too. He said as much.
The youth was thinking of Meriem--of what would be best and
safest for her. If Akut went away with the apes there would
be but one to watch over and protect her. On the other hand
were they to join the tribe he would never feel safe to leave
Meriem behind when he went out to hunt, for the passions of
the ape-folk are not ever well controlled. Even a female might
develop an insane hatred for the slender white girl and kill her
during Korak's absence.
"We will live near you," he said, at last. "When you change
your hunting ground we will change ours, Meriem and I, and
so remain near you; but we shall not dwell among you."
Akut raised objections to this plan. He did not wish to be
separated from Korak. At first he refused to leave his human
friend for the companionship of his own kind; but when he saw
the last of the tribe wandering off into the jungle again and his
glance rested upon the lithe figure of the dead king's young mate
as she cast admiring glances at her lord's successor the call of
blood would not be denied. With a farewell glance toward his
beloved Korak he turned and followed the she ape into the
labyrinthine mazes of the wood.
After Korak had left the village of the blacks following his
last thieving expedition, the screams of his victim and those of
the other women and children had brought the warriors in from
the forest and the river. Great was the excitement and hot
was the rage of the men when they learned that the white devil
had again entered their homes, frightened their women and
stolen arrows and ornaments and food.
Even their superstitious fear of this weird creature who hunted
with a huge bull ape was overcome in their desire to wreak
vengeance upon him and rid themselves for good and all of the
menace of his presence in the jungle.
And so it was that a score of the fleetest and most doughty
warriors of the tribe set out in pursuit of Korak and Akut but
a few minutes after they had left the scene of The Killer's
The youth and the ape had traveled slowly and with no precautions
against a successful pursuit. Nor was their attitude of
careless indifference to the blacks at all remarkable. So many
similar raids had gone unpunished that the two had come to look
upon the Negroes with contempt. The return journey led them
straight up wind. The result being that the scent of their pursuers
was borne away from them, so they proceeded upon their way
in total ignorance of the fact that tireless trackers but
little less expert in the mysteries of woodcraft than themselves
were dogging their trail with savage insistence.
The little party of warriors was led by Kovudoo, the chief; a
middle-aged savage of exceptional cunning and bravery. It was
he who first came within sight of the quarry which they had
followed for hours by the mysterious methods of their almost
uncanny powers of observation, intuition, and even scent.
Kovudoo and his men came upon Korak, Akut and Meriem after
the killing of the king ape, the noise of the combat having
led them at last straight to their quarry. The sight of the
slender white girl had amazed the savage chief and held him
gazing at the trio for a moment before ordering his warriors to
rush out upon their prey. In that moment it was that the great
apes came and again the blacks remained awestruck witnesses to
the palaver, and the battle between Korak and the young bull.
But now the apes had gone, and the white youth and the white
maid stood alone in the jungle. One of Kovudoo's men leaned
close to the ear of his chief. "Look!" he whispered, and pointed
to something that dangled at the girl's side. "When my brother
and I were slaves in the village of The Sheik my brother made
that thing for The Sheik's little daughter--she played with it
always and called it after my brother, whose name is Geeka.
Just before we escaped some one came and struck down The
Sheik, stealing his daughter away. If this is she The Sheik
will pay you well for her return."
Korak's arm had again gone around the shoulders of Meriem.
Love raced hot through his young veins. Civilization was but
a half-remembered state--London as remote as ancient Rome.
In all the world there were but they two--Korak, The Killer, and
Meriem, his mate. Again he drew her close to him and covered
her willing lips with his hot kisses. And then from behind him
broke a hideous bedlam of savage war cries and a score of
shrieking blacks were upon them.
Korak turned to give battle. Meriem with her own light spear
stood by his side. An avalanche of barbed missiles flew
about them. One pierced Korak's shoulder, another his leg,
and he went down.
Meriem was unscathed for the blacks had intentionally spared her.
Now they rushed forward to finish Korak and made good the girl's
capture; but as they came there came also from another point in
the jungle the great Akut and at his heels the huge bulls of his
Snarling and roaring they rushed upon the black warriors when
they saw the mischief they had already wrought. Kovudoo, realizing
the danger of coming to close quarters with these mighty
ape-men, seized Meriem and called upon his warriors to retreat.
For a time the apes followed them, and several of the blacks
were badly mauled and one killed before they succeeded in escaping.
Nor would they have gotten off thus easily had Akut not
been more concerned with the condition of the wounded Korak
than with the fate of the girl upon whom he had always looked
as more or less of an interloper and an unquestioned burden.
Korak lay bleeding and unconscious when Akut reached his side.
The great ape tore the heavy spears from his flesh, licked
the wounds and then carried his friend to the lofty shelter that
Korak had constructed for Meriem. Further than this the brute
could do nothing. Nature must accomplish the rest unaided or
Korak must die.
He did not die, however. For days he lay helpless with fever,
while Akut and the apes hunted close by that they might protect
him from such birds and beasts as might reach his lofty retreat.
Occasionally Akut brought him juicy fruits which helped to slake
his thirst and allay his fever, and little by little his powerful
constitution overcame the effects of the spear thrusts. The wounds
healed and his strength returned. All during his rational
moments as he had lain upon the soft furs which lined Meriem's
nest he had suffered more acutely from fears for Meriem than
from the pain of his own wounds. For her he must live. For her
he must regain his strength that he might set out in search of her.
What had the blacks done to her? Did she still live, or had
they sacrificed her to their lust for torture and human flesh?
Korak almost trembled with terror as the most hideous possibilities
of the girl's fate suggested themselves to him out of his
knowledge of the customs of Kovudoo's tribe.
The days dragged their weary lengths along, but at last he had
sufficiently regained his strength to crawl from the shelter and
make his way unaided to the ground. Now he lived more upon
raw meat, for which he was entirely dependent on Akut's skill
and generosity. With the meat diet his strength returned more
rapidly, and at last he felt that he was fit to undertake the
journey to the village of the blacks.
Two tall, bearded white men moved cautiously through the
jungle from their camp beside a wide river. They were Carl
Jenssen and Sven Malbihn, but little altered in appearance
since the day, years before, that they and their safari
had been so badly frightened by Korak and Akut as the former
sought haven with them.
Every year had they come into the jungle to trade with the
natives, or to rob them; to hunt and trap; or to guide other
white men in the land they knew so well. Always since their
experience with The Sheik had they operated at a safe distance
from his territory.
Now they were closer to his village than they had been for
years, yet safe enough from discovery owing to the uninhabited
nature of the intervening jungle and the fear and enmity of
Kovudoo's people for The Sheik, who, in time past, had raided
and all but exterminated the tribe.
This year they had come to trap live specimens for a European
zoological garden, and today they were approaching a trap which
they had set in the hope of capturing a specimen of the large
baboons that frequented the neighborhood. As they approached
the trap they became aware from the noises emanating from its
vicinity that their efforts had been crowned with success.
The barking and screaming of hundreds of baboons could mean
naught else than that one or more of their number had fallen a
victim to the allurements of the bait.
The extreme caution of the two men was prompted by former
experiences with the intelligent and doglike creatures with which
they had to deal. More than one trapper has lost his life in battle
with enraged baboons who will hesitate to attack nothing upon
one occasion, while upon another a single gun shot will disperse
hundreds of them.
Heretofore the Swedes had always watched near-by their trap,
for as a rule only the stronger bulls are thus caught, since in
their greediness they prevent the weaker from approaching the
covered bait, and when once within the ordinary rude trap woven
on the spot of interlaced branches they are able, with the aid of
their friends upon the outside, to demolish their prison and escape.
But in this instance the trappers had utilized a special steel
cage which could withstand all the strength and cunning of a baboon.
It was only necessary, therefore, to drive away the herd which
they knew were surrounding the prison and wait for their boys who
were even now following them to the trap.
As they came within sight of the spot they found conditions
precisely as they had expected. A large male was battering
frantically against the steel wires of the cage that held
him captive. Upon the outside several hundred other baboons were
tearing and tugging in his aid, and all were roaring and jabbering
and barking at the top of their lungs.
But what neither the Swedes nor the baboons saw was the
half-naked figure of a youth hidden in the foliage of a
nearby tree. He had come upon the scene at almost the same
instant as Jenssen and Malbihn, and was watching the activities
of the baboons with every mark of interest.
Korak's relations with the baboons had never been over friendly.
A species of armed toleration had marked their occasional meetings.
The baboons and Akut had walked stiff legged and growling past
one another, while Korak had maintained a bared fang neutrality.
So now he was not greatly disturbed by the predicament of their king.
Curiosity prompted him to tarry a moment, and in that moment his
quick eyes caught the unfamiliar coloration of the clothing of the
two Swedes behind a bush not far from him. Now he was all alertness.
Who were these interlopers? What was their business in the jungle
of the Mangani? Korak slunk noiselessly around them to a point
where he might get their scent as well as a better view of them,
and scarce had he done so when he recognized them--they were the
men who had fired upon him years before. His eyes blazed. He could
feel the hairs upon his scalp stiffen at the roots. He watched them
with the intentness of a panther about to spring upon its prey.
He saw them rise and, shouting, attempt to frighten away the
baboons as they approached the cage. Then one of them raised
his rifle and fired into the midst of the surprised and angry herd.
For an instant Korak thought that the baboons were about to
charge, but two more shots from the rifles of the white men sent
them scampering into the trees. Then the two Europeans advanced
upon the cage. Korak thought that they were going to kill the king.
He cared nothing for the king but he cared less for the two
white men. The king had never attempted to kill him--
the white men had. The king was a denizen of his own beloved
jungle--the white men were aliens. His loyalty therefore was to
the baboon against the human. He could speak the language
of the baboon--it was identical to that of the great apes.
Across the clearing he saw the jabbering horde watching.
Raising his voice he shouted to them. The white men turned
at the sound of this new factor behind them. They thought it was
another baboon that had circled them; but though they searched
the trees with their eyes they saw nothing of the now silent figure
hidden by the foliage. Again Korak shouted.
"I am The Killer," he cried. "These men are my enemies
and yours. I will help you free your king. Run out upon the
strangers when you see me do so, and together we will drive
them away and free your king."
And from the baboons came a great chorus: "We will do what
you say, Korak."
Dropping from his tree Korak ran toward the two Swedes, and
at the same instant three hundred baboons followed his example.
At sight of the strange apparition of the half-naked
white warrior rushing upon them with uplifted spear Jenssen
and Malbihn raised their rifles and fired at Korak; but in the
excitement both missed and a moment later the baboons were
upon them. Now their only hope of safety lay in escape, and
dodging here and there, fighting off the great beasts that leaped
upon their backs, they ran into the jungle. Even then they would
have died but for the coming of their men whom they met a
couple of hundred yards from the cage.
Once the white men had turned in flight Korak gave them no
further attention, turning instead to the imprisoned baboon.
The fastenings of the door that had eluded the mental powers of
the baboons, yielded their secret immediately to the human
intelligence of The Killer, and a moment later the king baboon
stepped forth to liberty. He wasted no breath in thanks to Korak,
nor did the young man expect thanks. He knew that none of the
baboons would ever forget his service, though as a matter of fact
he did not care if they did. What he had done had been prompted
by a desire to be revenged upon the two white men. The baboons
could never be of service to him. Now they were racing in the
direction of the battle that was being waged between their fellows
and the followers of the two Swedes, and as the din of battle
subsided in the distance, Korak turned and resumed his journey
toward the village of Kovudoo.
On the way he came upon a herd of elephants standing in an
open forest glade. Here the trees were too far apart to permit
Korak to travel through the branches--a trail he much preferred
not only because of its freedom from dense underbrush and the wider
field of vision it gave him but from pride in his arboreal ability.
It was exhilarating to swing from tree to tree; to test the
prowess of his mighty muscles; to reap the pleasurable fruits of
his hard won agility. Korak joyed in the thrills of the highflung
upper terraces of the great forest, where, unhampered and unhindered,
he might laugh down upon the great brutes who must keep forever
to the darkness and the gloom of the musty soil.
But here, in this open glade where Tantor flapped his giant
ears and swayed his huge bulk from side to side, the ape-man
must pass along the surface of the ground--a pygmy amongst giants.
A great bull raised his trunk to rattle a low warning as he
sensed the coming of an intruder. His weak eyes roved hither
and thither but it was his keen scent and acute hearing which
first located the ape-man. The herd moved restlessly, prepared
for fight, for the old bull had caught the scent of man.
"Peace, Tantor," called The Killer. "It is I, Korak, Tarmangani."
The bull lowered his trunk and the herd resumed their
interrupted meditations. Korak passed within a foot of the
great bull. A sinuous trunk undulated toward him, touching his
brown hide in a half caress. Korak slapped the great shoulder
affectionately as he went by. For years he had been upon good
terms with Tantor and his people. Of all the jungle folk he
loved best the mighty pachyderm--the most peaceful and at the
same time the most terrible of them all. The gentle gazelle
feared him not, yet Numa, lord of the jungle, gave him a
wide berth. Among the younger bulls, the cows and the calves
Korak wound his way. Now and then another trunk would run out to
touch him, and once a playful calf grasped his legs and upset him.
The afternoon was almost spent when Korak arrived at the
village of Kovudoo. There were many natives lolling in shady
spots beside the conical huts or beneath the branches of the
several trees which had been left standing within the enclosure.
Warriors were in evidence upon hand. It was not a good time
for a lone enemy to prosecute a search through the village.
Korak determined to await the coming of darkness. He was a match
for many warriors; but he could not, unaided, overcome an
entire tribe--not even for his beloved Meriem. While he waited
among the branches and foliage of a near-by tree he searched
the village constantly with his keen eyes, and twice he circled
it, sniffing the vagrant breezes which puffed erratically from first
one point of the compass and then another. Among the various
stenches peculiar to a native village the ape-man's sensitive
nostrils were finally rewarded by cognizance of the delicate aroma
which marked the presence of her he sought. Meriem was there--
in one of those huts! But which one he could not know without
closer investigation, and so he waited, with the dogged patience
of a beast of prey, until night had fallen.
The camp fires of the blacks dotted the gloom with little points
of light, casting their feeble rays in tiny circles of luminosity
that brought into glistening relief the naked bodies of those who
lay or squatted about them. It was then that Korak slid silently
from the tree that had hidden him and dropped lightly to the
ground within the enclosure.
Keeping well in the shadows of the huts he commenced a
systematic search of the village--ears, eyes and nose constantly
upon the alert for the first intimation of the near presence
of Meriem. His progress must of necessity be slow since not even
the keen-eared curs of the savages must guess the presence of a
stranger within the gates. How close he came to a detection on
several occasions The Killer well knew from the restless whining
of several of them.
It was not until he reached the back of a hut at the head of the
wide village street that Korak caught again, plainly, the scent
of Meriem. With nose close to the thatched wall Korak sniffed
eagerly about the structure--tense and palpitant as a hunting hound.
Toward the front and the door he made his way when once his nose
had assured him that Meriem lay within; but as he rounded the
side and came within view of the entrance he saw a burly Negro
armed with a long spear squatting at the portal of the girl's prison.
The fellow's back was toward him, his figure outlined against the
glow of cooking fires further down the street. He was alone.
The nearest of his fellows were beside a fire sixty or seventy
feet beyond. To enter the hut Korak must either silence the sentry
or pass him unnoticed. The danger in the accomplishment of the
former alternative lay in the practical certainty of alarming the
warriors near by and bringing them and the balance of the village
down upon him. To achieve the latter appeared practically impossible.
To you or me it would have been impossible; but Korak, The Killer,
was not as you or I.
There was a good twelve inches of space between the broad
back of the black and the frame of the doorway. Could Korak
pass through behind the savage warrior without detection?
The light that fell upon the glistening ebony of the sentry's
black skin fell also upon the light brown of Korak's. Should one
of the many further down the street chance to look long in this
direction they must surely note the tall, light-colored, moving
figure; but Korak depended upon their interest in their own gossip to
hold their attention fast where it already lay, and upon the firelight
near them to prevent them seeing too plainly at a distance into the
darkness at the village end where his work lay.
Flattened against the side of the hut, yet not arousing a single
warning rustle from its dried thatching, The Killer came closer
and closer to the watcher. Now he was at his shoulder. Now he
had wormed his sinuous way behind him. He could feel the heat
of the naked body against his knees. He could hear the man breathe.
He marveled that the dull-witted creature had not long since
been alarmed; but the fellow sat there as ignorant of the presence
of another as though that other had not existed.
Korak moved scarcely more than an inch at a time, then he
would stand motionless for a moment. Thus was he worming
his way behind the guard when the latter straightened up, opened
his cavernous mouth in a wide yawn, and stretched his arms
above his head. Korak stood rigid as stone. Another step and he
would be within the hut. The black lowered his arms and relaxed.
Behind him was the frame work of the doorway. Often before had
it supported his sleepy head, and now he leaned back to enjoy
the forbidden pleasure of a cat nap.
But instead of the door frame his head and shoulders came in
contact with the warm flesh of a pair of living legs.
The exclamation of surprise that almost burst from his lips
was throttled in his throat by steel-thewed fingers that closed
about his windpipe with the suddenness of thought. The black
struggled to arise--to turn upon the creature that had seized
him--to wriggle from its hold; but all to no purpose. As he had
been held in a mighty vise of iron he could not move. He could
not scream. Those awful fingers at his throat but closed more
and more tightly. His eyes bulged from their sockets. His face
turned an ashy blue. Presently he relaxed once more--this time
in the final dissolution from which there is no quickening.
Korak propped the dead body against the door frame. There it sat,
lifelike in the gloom. Then the ape-man turned and glided into
the Stygian darkness of the hut's interior.
"Meriem!" he whispered.
"Korak! My Korak!" came an answering cry, subdued by fear of
alarming her captors, and half stifled by a sob of joyful welcome.
The youth knelt and cut the bonds that held the girl's wrists
and ankles. A moment later he had lifted her to her feet, and
grasping her by the hand led her towards the entrance. Outside the
grim sentinel of death kept his grisly vigil. Sniffing at his
dead feet whined a mangy native cur. At sight of the two emerging
from the hut the beast gave an ugly snarl and an instant later
as it caught the scent of the strange white man it raised a series
of excited yelps. Instantly the warriors at the near-by fire
were attracted. They turned their heads in the direction of
the commotion. It was impossible that they should fail to see
the white skins of the fugitives.
Korak slunk quickly into the shadows at the hut's side, drawing
Meriem with him; but he was too late. The blacks had seen
enough to arouse their suspicions and a dozen of them were now
running to investigate. The yapping cur was still at Korak's heels
leading the searchers unerringly in pursuit. The youth struck
viciously at the brute with his long spear; but, long accustomed
to dodging blows, the wily creature made a most uncertain target.
Other blacks had been alarmed by the running and shouting
of their companions and now the entire population of the village
was swarming up the street to assist in the search. Their first
discovery was the dead body of the sentry, and a moment later
one of the bravest of them had entered the hut and discovered
the absence of the prisoner. These startling announcements filled
the blacks with a combination of terror and rage; but, seeing no
foe in evidence they were enabled to permit their rage to get the
better of their terror, and so the leaders, pushed on by those
behind them, ran rapidly around the hut in the direction of the
yapping of the mangy cur. Here they found a single white warrior
making away with their captive, and recognizing him as the
author of numerous raids and indignities and believing that they
had him cornered and at a disadvantage, they charged savagely
Korak, seeing that they were discovered, lifted Meriem to his
shoulders and ran for the tree which would give them egress
from the village. He was handicapped in his flight by the weight
of the girl whose legs would but scarce bear her weight, to say
nothing of maintaining her in rapid flight, for the tightly drawn
bonds that had been about her ankles for so long had stopped
circulation and partially paralyzed her extremities.
Had this not been the case the escape of the two would have
been a feat of little moment, since Meriem was scarcely a whit
less agile than Korak, and fully as much at home in the trees
as he. But with the girl on his shoulder Korak could not both
run and fight to advantage, and the result was that before he had
covered half the distance to the tree a score of native curs
attracted by the yelping of their mate and the yells and shouts of
their masters had closed in upon the fleeing white man, snapping
at his legs and at last succeeding in tripping him. As he went
down the hyena-like brutes were upon him, and as he struggled
to his feet the blacks closed in.
A couple of them seized the clawing, biting Meriem, and
subdued her--a blow upon the head was sufficient. For the ape-
man they found more drastic measures would be necessary.
Weighted down as he was by dogs and warriors he still managed
to struggle to his feet. To right and left he swung crushing blows
to the faces of his human antagonists--to the dogs he paid not
the slightest attention other than to seize the more persistent and
wring their necks with a single quick movement of the wrist.
A knob stick aimed at him by an ebon Hercules he caught and
wrested from his antagonist, and then the blacks experienced to
the full the possibilities for punishment that lay within those
smooth flowing muscles beneath the velvet brown skin of the
strange, white giant. He rushed among them with all the force
and ferocity of a bull elephant gone mad. Hither and thither he
charged striking down the few who had the temerity to stand
against him, and it was evident that unless a chance spear thrust
brought him down he would rout the entire village and regain
his prize. But old Kovudoo was not to be so easily robbed of
the ransom which the girl represented, and seeing that their
attack which had up to now resulted in a series of individual
combats with the white warrior, he called his tribesmen off, and
forming them in a compact body about the girl and the two who
watched over her bid them do nothing more than repel the assaults
of the ape-man.
Again and again Korak rushed against this human barricade
bristling with spear points. Again and again he was repulsed,
often with severe wounds to caution him to greater wariness.
From head to foot he was red with his own blood, and at last,
weakening from the loss of it, he came to the bitter realization
that alone he could do no more to succor his Meriem.
Presently an idea flashed through his brain. He called aloud
to the girl. She had regained consciousness now and replied.
"Korak goes," he shouted; "but he will return and take you
from the Gomangani. Good-bye, my Meriem. Korak will come
for you again."
"Good-bye!" cried the girl. "Meriem will look for you until
Like a flash, and before they could know his intention or
prevent him, Korak wheeled, raced across the village and with
a single leap disappeared into the foliage of the great tree that
was his highroad to the village of Kovudoo. A shower of spears
followed him, but their only harvest was a taunting laugh flung
back from out the darkness of the jungle.
Meriem, again bound and under heavy guard in Kovudoo's own hut,
saw the night pass and the new day come without bringing the
momentarily looked for return of Korak. She had no doubt but
that he would come back and less still that he would easily
free her from her captivity. To her Korak was little short
of omnipotent. He embodied for her all that was finest and
strongest and best in her savage world. She gloried in his
prowess and worshipped him for the tender thoughtfulness
that always had marked his treatment of her. No other within
the ken of her memory had ever accorded her the love and
gentleness that was his daily offering to her. Most of the
gentler attributes of his early childhood had long since been
forgotten in the fierce battle for existence which the customs
of the mysterious jungle had forced upon him. He was more often
savage and bloodthirsty than tender and kindly. His other friends
of the wild looked for no gentle tokens of his affection. That he
would hunt with them and fight for them was sufficient. If he
growled and showed his fighting fangs when they trespassed upon
his inalienable rights to the fruits of his kills they felt no
anger toward him--only greater respect for the efficient and the
fit--for him who could not only kill but protect the flesh of his kill.
But toward Meriem he always had shown more of his human side.
He killed primarily for her. It was to the feet of Meriem that
he brought the fruits of his labors. It was for Meriem more
than for himself that he squatted beside his flesh and growled
ominously at whosoever dared sniff too closely to it. When he
was cold in the dark days of rain, or thirsty in a prolonged
drouth, his discomfort engendered first of all thoughts of
Meriem's welfare--after she had been made warm, after her
thirst had been slaked, then he turned to the affair of
ministering to his own wants.
The softest skins fell gracefully from the graceful shoulders
of his Meriem. The sweetest-scented grasses lined her bower
where other soft, furry pelts made hers the downiest couch in
all the jungle.
What wonder then that Meriem loved her Korak? But she loved him
as a little sister might love a big brother who was very good
to her. As yet she knew naught of the love of a maid for a man.
So now as she lay waiting for him she dreamed of him and of
all that he meant to her. She compared him with The Sheik,
her father, and at thought of the stern, grizzled, old Arab
she shuddered. Even the savage blacks had been less harsh to
her than he. Not understanding their tongue she could not guess
what purpose they had in keeping her a prisoner. She knew that
man ate man, and she had expected to be eaten; but she had
been with them for some time now and no harm had befallen her.
She did not know that a runner had been dispatched to the distant
village of The Sheik to barter with him for a ransom. She did
not know, nor did Kovudoo, that the runner had never reached
his destination--that he had fallen in with the safari of
Jenssen and Malbihn and with the talkativeness of a native to
other natives had unfolded his whole mission to the black servants
of the two Swedes. These had not been long in retailing the matter
to their masters, and the result was that when the runner left
their camp to continue his journey he had scarce passed from
sight before there came the report of a rifle and he rolled
lifeless into the underbrush with a bullet in his back.
A few moments later Malbihn strolled back into the encampment,
where he went to some pains to let it be known that he had
had a shot at a fine buck and missed. The Swedes knew that
their men hated them, and that an overt act against Kovudoo
would quickly be carried to the chief at the first opportunity.
Nor were they sufficiently strong in either guns or loyal
followers to risk antagonizing the wily old chief.
Following this episode came the encounter with the baboons and
the strange, white savage who had allied himself with the beasts
against the humans. Only by dint of masterful maneuvering and
the expenditure of much power had the Swedes been able to repulse
the infuriated apes, and even for hours afterward their camp was
constantly besieged by hundreds of snarling, screaming devils.
The Swedes, rifles in hand, repelled numerous savage charges
which lacked only efficient leadership to have rendered them as
effective in results as they were terrifying in appearance.
Time and time again the two men thought they saw the smooth-skinned
body of the wild ape-man moving among the baboons in the
forest, and the belief that he might head a charge upon them
proved most disquieting. They would have given much for a
clean shot at him, for to him they attributed the loss of their
specimen and the ugly attitude of the baboons toward them.
"The fellow must be the same we fired on several years ago,"
said Malbihn. "That time he was accompanied by a gorilla.
Did you get a good look at him, Carl?"
"Yes," replied Jenssen. "He was not five paces from me when
I fired at him. He appears to be an intelligent looking
European--and not much more than a lad. There is nothing of
the imbecile or degenerate in his features or expression, as is
usually true in similar cases, where some lunatic escapes into
the woods and by living in filth and nakedness wins the title of
wild man among the peasants of the neighborhood. No, this
fellow is of different stuff--and so infinitely more to be feared.
As much as I should like a shot at him I hope he stays away.
Should he ever deliberately lead a charge against us I wouldn't
give much for our chances if we happened to fail to bag him at
the first rush."
But the white giant did not appear again to lead the baboons
against them, and finally the angry brutes themselves wandered
off into the jungle leaving the frightened safari in peace.
The next day the Swedes set out for Kovudoo's village bent
on securing possession of the person of the white girl whom
Kovudoo's runner had told them lay captive in the chief's village.
How they were to accomplish their end they did not know. Force was
out of the question, though they would not have hesitated to use
it had they possessed it. In former years they had marched
rough shod over enormous areas, taking toll by brute force even
when kindliness or diplomacy would have accomplished more;
but now they were in bad straits--so bad that they had shown
their true colors scarce twice in a year and then only when they
came upon an isolated village, weak in numbers and poor in courage.
Kovudoo was not as these, and though his village was in a
way remote from the more populous district to the north his
power was such that he maintained an acknowledged suzerainty
over the thin thread of villages which connected him with the
savage lords to the north. To have antagonized him would have
spelled ruin for the Swedes. It would have meant that they might
never reach civilization by the northern route. To the west,
the village of The Sheik lay directly in their path, barring
them effectually. To the east the trail was unknown to them,
and to the south there was no trail. So the two Swedes approached
the village of Kovudoo with friendly words upon their tongues and
deep craft in their hearts.
Their plans were well made. There was no mention of the
white prisoner--they chose to pretend that they were not aware
that Kovudoo had a white prisoner. They exchanged gifts with
the old chief, haggling with his plenipotentiaries over the value
of what they were to receive for what they gave, as is customary
and proper when one has no ulterior motives. Unwarranted generosity
would have aroused suspicion.
During the palaver which followed they retailed the gossip of
the villages through which they had passed, receiving in exchange
such news as Kovudoo possessed. The palaver was long and tiresome,
as these native ceremonies always are to Europeans. Kovudoo made
no mention of his prisoner and from his generous offers of guides
and presents seemed anxious to assure himself of the speedy
departure of his guests. It was Malbihn who, quite casually,
near the close of their talk, mentioned the fact that The Sheik
was dead. Kovudoo evinced interest and surprise.
"You did not know it?" asked Malbihn. "That is strange. It
during the last moon. He fell from his horse when the beast
stepped in a hole. The horse fell upon him. When his men came
up The Sheik was quite dead."
Kovudoo scratched his head. He was much disappointed. No Sheik
meant no ransom for the white girl. Now she was worthless,
unless he utilized her for a feast or--a mate. The latter
thought aroused him. He spat at a small beetle crawling through
the dust before him. He eyed Malbihn appraisingly. These white
men were peculiar. They traveled far from their own villages
without women. Yet he knew they cared for women. But how much did
they care for them?--that was the question that disturbed Kovudoo.
"I know where there is a white girl," he said, unexpectedly.
"If you wish to buy her she may be had cheap."
Malbihn shrugged. "We have troubles enough, Kovudoo," he said,
"without burdening ourselves with an old she-hyena, and as
for paying for one--" Malbihn snapped his fingers in derision.
"She is young," said Kovudoo, "and good looking."
The Swedes laughed. "There are no good looking white women
in the jungle, Kovudoo," said Jenssen. "You should be
ashamed to try to make fun of old friends."
Kovudoo sprang to his feet. "Come," he said, "I will show
you that she is all I say."
Malbihn and Jenssen rose to follow him and as they did so their
eyes met, and Malbihn slowly drooped one of his lids in a sly wink.
Together they followed Kovudoo toward his hut. In the dim
interior they discerned the figure of a woman lying bound upon
a sleeping mat.
Malbihn took a single glance and turned away. "She must be
a thousand years old, Kovudoo," he said, as he left the hut.
"She is young," cried the savage. "It is dark in here.
You cannot see. Wait, I will have her brought out into the
sunlight," and he commanded the two warriors who watched the
girl to cut the bonds from her ankles and lead her forth
Malbihn and Jenssen evinced no eagerness, though both were
fairly bursting with it--not to see the girl but to obtain
possession of her. They cared not if she had the face of
a marmoset, or the figure of pot-bellied Kovudoo himself.
All that they wished to know was that she was the girl
who had been stolen from The Sheik several years before.
They thought that they would recognize her for such if she
was indeed the same, but even so the testimony of the runner
Kovudoo had sent to The Sheik was such as to assure them that
the girl was the one they had once before attempted to abduct.
As Meriem was brought forth from the darkness of the hut's
interior the two men turned with every appearance of
disinterestedness to glance at her. It was with difficulty
that Malbihn suppressed an ejaculation of astonishment.
The girl's beauty fairly took his breath from him; but
instantly he recovered his poise and turned to Kovudoo.
"Well?" he said to the old chief.
"Is she not both young and good looking?" asked Kovudoo.
"She is not old," replied Malbihn; "but even so she will
a burden. We did not come from the north after wives--there
are more than enough there for us."
Meriem stood looking straight at the white men. She expected
nothing from them--they were to her as much enemies as the
black men. She hated and feared them all. Malbihn spoke to her
"We are friends," he said. "Would you like to have us take
you away from here?"
Slowly and dimly as though from a great distance recollection
of the once familiar tongue returned to her.
"I should like to go free," she said, "and go back to Korak."
"You would like to go with us?" persisted Malbihn.
"No," said Meriem.
Malbihn turned to Kovudoo. "She does not wish to go with us,"
"You are men," returned the black. "Can you not take her
"It would only add to our troubles," replied the Swede.
"No, Kovudoo, we do not wish her; though, if you wish to
be rid of her, we will take her away because of our friendship
Now Kovudoo knew that he had made a sale. They wanted her.
So he commenced to bargain, and in the end the person of
Meriem passed from the possession of the black chieftain into
that of the two Swedes in consideration of six yards of Amerikan,
three empty brass cartridge shells and a shiny, new jack
knife from New Jersey. And all but Meriem were more than
pleased with the bargain.
Kovudoo stipulated but a single condition and that was that
the Europeans were to leave his village and take the girl
with them as early the next morning as they could get started.
After the sale was consummated he did not hesitate to explain his
reasons for this demand. He told them of the strenuous attempt
of the girl's savage mate to rescue her, and suggested that the
sooner they got her out of the country the more likely they were
to retain possession of her.
Meriem was again bound and placed under guard, but this
time in the tent of the Swedes. Malbihn talked to her, trying to
persuade her to accompany them willingly. He told her that they
would return her to her own village; but when he discovered that
she would rather die than go back to the old sheik, he assured
her that they would not take her there, nor, as a matter of fact,
had they had an intention of so doing. As he talked with the girl
the Swede feasted his eyes upon the beautiful lines of her face
and figure. She had grown tall and straight and slender toward
maturity since he had seen her in The Sheik's village on that
long gone day. For years she had represented to him a certain
fabulous reward. In his thoughts she had been but the
personification of the pleasures and luxuries that many francs
would purchase. Now as she stood before him pulsing with life and
loveliness she suggested other seductive and alluring possibilities.
He came closer to her and laid his hand upon her. The girl
shrank from him. He seized her and she struck him heavily in
the mouth as he sought to kiss her. Then Jenssen entered the tent.
"Malbihn!" he almost shouted. "You fool!"
Sven Malbihn released his hold upon the girl and turned toward
his companion. His face was red with mortification.
"What the devil are you trying to do?" growled Jenssen.
"Would you throw away every chance for the reward? If we
maltreat her we not only couldn't collect a sou, but they'd send
us to prison for our pains. I thought you had more sense, Malbihn."
"I'm not a wooden man," growled Malbihn.
"You'd better be," rejoined Jenssen, "at least until we have
delivered her over in safety and collected what will be coming
"Oh, hell," cried Malbihn. "What's the use? They'll be glad
enough to have her back, and by the time we get there with her
she'll be only too glad to keep her mouth shut. Why not?"
"Because I say not," growled Jenssen. "I've always let you
boss things, Sven; but here's a case where what I say has got to
go--because I'm right and you're wrong, and we both know it."
"You're getting damned virtuous all of a sudden," growled Malbihn.
"Perhaps you think I have forgotten about the inn keeper's
daughter, and little Celella, and that nigger at--"
"Shut up!" snapped Jenssen. "It's not a matter of virtue
you are as well aware of that as I. I don't want to quarrel with
you, but so help me God, Sven, you're not going to harm this
girl if I have to kill you to prevent it. I've suffered and slaved
and been nearly killed forty times in the last nine or ten years
trying to accomplish what luck has thrown at our feet at last,
and now I'm not going to be robbed of the fruits of success
because you happen to be more of a beast than a man. Again I
warn you, Sven--" and he tapped the revolver that swung in its
holster at his hip.
Malbihn gave his friend an ugly look, shrugged his shoulders,
and left the tent. Jenssen turned to Meriem.
"If he bothers you again, call me," he said. "I shall always
The girl had not understood the conversation that had been
carried on by her two owners, for it had been in Swedish; but
what Jenssen had just said to her in Arabic she understood and
from it grasped an excellent idea of what had passed between
the two. The expressions upon their faces, their gestures,
and Jenssen's final tapping of his revolver before Malbihn
had left the tent had all been eloquent of the seriousness of
their altercation. Now, toward Jenssen she looked for friendship,
and with the innocence of youth she threw herself upon his mercy,
begging him to set her free, that she might return to Korak and her
jungle life; but she was doomed to another disappointment, for
the man only laughed at her roughly and told her that if she tried
to escape she would be punished by the very thing that he had
just saved her from.
All that night she lay listening for a signal from Korak. All about
the jungle life moved through the darkness. To her sensitive ears
came sounds that the others in the camp could not hear--sounds
that she interpreted as we might interpret the speech of a friend,
but not once came a single note that reflected the presence
of Korak. But she knew that he would come. Nothing short of
death itself could prevent her Korak from returning for her.
What delayed him though?
When morning came again and the night had brought no succoring
Korak, Meriem's faith and loyalty were still unshaken though
misgivings began to assail her as to the safety of her friend.
It seemed unbelievable that serious mishap could have
overtaken her wonderful Korak who daily passed unscathed
through all the terrors of the jungle. Yet morning came, the
morning meal was eaten, the camp broken and the disreputable
safari of the Swedes was on the move northward with still no
sign of the rescue the girl momentarily expected.
All that day they marched, and the next and the next, nor did
Korak even so much as show himself to the patient little waiter
moving, silently and stately, beside her hard captors.
Malbihn remained scowling and angry. He replied to Jenssen's
friendly advances in curt monosyllables. To Meriem he did
not speak, but on several occasions she discovered him glaring
at her from beneath half closed lids--greedily. The look sent a
shudder through her. She hugged Geeka closer to her breast and
doubly regretted the knife that they had taken from her when
she was captured by Kovudoo.
It was on the fourth day that Meriem began definitely to
give up hope. Something had happened to Korak. She knew it.
He would never come now, and these men would take her far away.
Presently they would kill her. She would never see her Korak again.
On this day the Swedes rested, for they had marched rapidly
and their men were tired. Malbihn and Jenssen had gone from
camp to hunt, taking different directions. They had been gone
about an hour when the door of Meriem's tent was lifted and
Malbihn entered. The look of a beast was on his face.
With wide eyes fixed upon him, like a trapped creature
horrified beneath the mesmeric gaze of a great serpent,
the girl watched the approach of the man. Her hands were free,
the Swedes having secured her with a length of ancient slave
chain fastened at one end to an iron collar padlocked about her
neck and at the other to a long stake driven deep into the ground.
Slowly Meriem shrank inch by inch toward the opposite end of
the tent. Malbihn followed her. His hands were extended and
his fingers half-opened--claw-like--to seize her. His lips were
parted, and his breath came quickly, pantingly.
The girl recalled Jenssen's instructions to call him should
Malbihn molest her; but Jenssen had gone into the jungle to hunt.
Malbihn had chosen his time well. Yet she screamed, loud and
shrill, once, twice, a third time, before Malbihn could leap
across the tent and throttle her alarming cries with his
brute fingers. Then she fought him, as any jungle she might fight,
with tooth and nail. The man found her no easy prey. In that
slender, young body, beneath the rounded curves and the fine,
soft skin, lay the muscles of a young lioness. But Malbihn was
no weakling. His character and appearance were brutal, nor did
they belie his brawn. He was of giant stature and of giant strength.
Slowly he forced the girl back upon the ground, striking her in
the face when she hurt him badly either with teeth or nails.
Meriem struck back, but she was growing weaker from the choking
fingers at her throat.
Out in the jungle Jenssen had brought down two bucks. His hunting
had not carried him far afield, nor was he prone to permit it to
do so. He was suspicious of Malbihn. The very fact that his
companion had refused to accompany him and elected instead to hunt
alone in another direction would not, under ordinary circumstances,
have seemed fraught with sinister suggestion; but Jenssen knew
Malbihn well, and so, having secured meat, he turned immediately
back toward camp, while his boys brought in his kill.
He had covered about half the return journey when a scream
came faintly to his ears from the direction of camp. He halted
to listen. It was repeated twice. Then silence. With a muttered
curse Jenssen broke into a rapid run. He wondered if he would
be too late. What a fool Malbihn was indeed to thus chance
jeopardizing a fortune!
Further away from camp than Jenssen and upon the opposite
side another heard Meriem's screams--a stranger who was not
even aware of the proximity of white men other than himself--
a hunter with a handful of sleek, black warriors. He, too,
listened intently for a moment. That the voice was that of a woman
in distress he could not doubt, and so he also hastened at a run
in the direction of the affrighted voice; but he was much further
away than Jenssen so that the latter reached the tent first.
What the Swede found there roused no pity within his calloused heart,
only anger against his fellow scoundrel. Meriem was still fighting
off her attacker. Malbihn still was showering blows upon her.
Jenssen, streaming foul curses upon his erstwhile friend,
burst into the tent. Malbihn, interrupted, dropped his victim
and turned to meet Jenssen's infuriated charge. He whipped a
revolver from his hip. Jenssen, anticipating the lightning move
of the other's hand, drew almost simultaneously, and both men
fired at once. Jenssen was still moving toward Malbihn at the
time, but at the flash of the explosion he stopped. His revolver
dropped from nerveless fingers. For a moment he staggered drunkenly.
Deliberately Malbihn put two more bullets into his friend's body
at close range. Even in the midst of the excitement and her
terror Meriem found herself wondering at the tenacity of life
which the hit man displayed. His eyes were closed, his head
dropped forward upon his breast, his hands hung limply before him.
Yet still he stood there upon his feet, though he reeled horribly.
It was not until the third bullet had found its mark within his
body that he lunged forward upon his face. Then Malbihn
approached him, and with an oath kicked him viciously. Then he
returned once more to Meriem. Again he seized her, and at the
same instant the flaps of the tent opened silently and a tall
white man stood in the aperture. Neither Meriem or Malbihn
saw the newcomer. The latter's back was toward him while his
body hid the stranger from Meriem's eyes.
He crossed the tent quickly, stepping over Jenssen's body.
The first intimation Malbihn had that he was not to carry out
his design without further interruption was a heavy hand upon
his shoulder. He wheeled to face an utter stranger--a tall,
black-haired, gray-eyed stranger clad in khaki and pith helmet.
Malbihn reached for his gun again, but another hand had been
quicker than his and he saw the weapon tossed to the ground at
the side of the tent--out of reach.
"What is the meaning of this?" the stranger addressed his
question to Meriem in a tongue she did not understand. She shook
her head and spoke in Arabic. Instantly the man changed his
question to that language.
"These men are taking me away from Korak," explained the girl.
"This one would have harmed me. The other, whom he had just
killed, tried to stop him. They were both very bad men; but
this one is the worse. If my Korak were here he would kill him.
I suppose you are like them, so you will not kill him."
The stranger smiled. "He deserves killing?" he said. "There
no doubt of that. Once I should have killed him; but not now.
I will see, though, that he does not bother you any more."
He was holding Malbihn in a grasp the giant Swede could not
break, though he struggled to do so, and he was holding him as
easily as Malbihn might have held a little child, yet Malbihn was
a huge man, mightily thewed. The Swede began to rage and curse.
He struck at his captor, only to be twisted about and held at
arm's length. Then he shouted to his boys to come and kill
the stranger. In response a dozen strange blacks entered the tent.
They, too, were powerful, clean-limbed men, not at all like the
mangy crew that followed the Swedes.
"We have had enough foolishness," said the stranger to Malbihn.
"You deserve death, but I am not the law. I know now who
you are. I have heard of you before. You and your friend
here bear a most unsavory reputation. We do not want you in
our country. I shall let you go this time; but should you ever
return I shall take the law into my own hands. You understand?"
Malbihn blustered and threatened, finishing by applying a
most uncomplimentary name to his captor. For this he received
a shaking that rattled his teeth. Those who know say that the
most painful punishment that can be inflicted upon an adult
male, short of injuring him, is a good, old fashioned shaking.
Malbihn received such a shaking.
"Now get out," said the stranger, "and next time you see
remember who I am," and he spoke a name in the Swede's
ear--a name that more effectually subdued the scoundrel than
many beatings--then he gave him a push that carried him bodily
through the tent doorway to sprawl upon the turf beyond.
"Now," he said, turning toward Meriem, "who has the key
to this thing about your neck?"
The girl pointed to Jenssen's body. "He carried it always,"
The stranger searched the clothing on the corpse until he came
upon the key. A moment more Meriem was free.
"Will you let me go back to my Korak?" she asked.
"I will see that you are returned to your people," he replied.
"Who are they and where is their village?"
He had been eyeing her strange, barbaric garmenture wonderingly.
From her speech she was evidently an Arab girl; but he had
never before seen one thus clothed.
"Who are your people? Who is Korak?" he asked again.
"Korak! Why Korak is an ape. I have no other people. Korak and
I live in the jungle alone since A'ht went to be king of the apes."
She had always thus pronounced Akut's name, for so it had sounded
to her when first she came with Korak and the ape. "Korak could
have been kind, but he would not."
A questioning expression entered the stranger's eyes. He looked
at the girl closely.
"So Korak is an ape?" he said. "And what, pray, are you?"
"I am Meriem. I, also, am an ape."
"M-m," was the stranger's only oral comment upon this startling
announcement; but what he thought might have been partially
interpreted through the pitying light that entered his eyes.
He approached the girl and started to lay his hand upon
her forehead. She drew back with a savage little growl.
A smile touched his lips.
"You need not fear me," he said. "I shall not harm you. I
wish to discover if you have fever--if you are entirely well.
If you are we will set forth in search of Korak."
Meriem looked straight into the keen gray eyes. She must
have found there an unquestionable assurance of the honorableness
of their owner, for she permitted him to lay his palm upon her
forehead and feel her pulse. Apparently she had no fever.
"How long have you been an ape?" asked the man.
"Since I was a little girl, many, many years ago, and Korak
came and took me from my father who was beating me. Since then
I have lived in the trees with Korak and A'ht."
"Where in the jungle lives Korak?" asked the stranger.
Meriem pointed with a sweep of her hand that took in, generously,
half the continent of Africa.
"Could you find your way back to him?"
"I do not know," she replied; "but he will find his way to
"Then I have a plan," said the stranger. "I live but a few
marches from here. I shall take you home where my wife will
look after you and care for you until we can find Korak or Korak
finds us. If he could find you here he can find you at my village.
Is it not so?"
Meriem thought that it was so; but she did not like the idea
of not starting immediately back to meet Korak. On the other
hand the man had no intention of permitting this poor, insane
child to wander further amidst the dangers of the jungle.
From whence she had come, or what she had undergone he could not
guess, but that her Korak and their life among the apes was but
a figment of a disordered mind he could not doubt. He knew
the jungle well, and he knew that men have lived alone and
naked among the savage beasts for years; but a frail and
slender girl! No, it was not possible.
Together they went outside. Malbihn's boys were striking camp
in preparation for a hasty departure. The stranger's blacks
were conversing with them. Malbihn stood at a distance, angry
and glowering. The stranger approached one of his own men.
"Find out where they got this girl," he commanded.
The Negro thus addressed questioned one of Malbihn's followers.
Presently he returned to his master.
"They bought her from old Kovudoo," he said. "That is all
this fellow will tell me. He pretends that he knows nothing
more, and I guess that he does not. These two white men were
very bad men. They did many things that their boys knew not
the meanings of. It would be well, Bwana, to kill the other."
"I wish that I might; but a new law is come into this part
of the jungle. It is not as it was in the old days, Muviri,"
replied the master.
The stranger remained until Malbihn and his safari had
disappeared into the jungle toward the north. Meriem, trustful
now, stood at his side, Geeka clutched in one slim, brown hand.
They talked together, the man wondering at the faltering Arabic
of the girl, but attributing it finally to her defective mentality.
Could he have known that years had elapsed since she had used it
until she was taken by the Swedes he would not have wondered that
she had half forgotten it. There was yet another reason why the
language of The Sheik had thus readily eluded her; but of that
reason she herself could not have guessed the truth any better
than could the man.
He tried to persuade her to return with him to his "village"
as he called it, or douar, in Arabic; but she was insistent upon
searching immediately for Korak. As a last resort he determined
to take her with him by force rather than sacrifice her life to the
insane hallucination which haunted her; but, being a wise man,
he determined to humor her first and then attempt to lead her as
he would have her go. So when they took up their march it was
in the direction of the south, though his own ranch lay almost
By degrees he turned the direction of their way more and more
eastward, and greatly was he pleased to note that the girl failed
to discover that any change was being made. Little by little she
became more trusting. At first she had had but her intuition to
guide her belief that this big Tarmangani meant her no harm, but
as the days passed and she saw that his kindness and consideration
never faltered she came to compare him with Korak, and to be very
fond of him; but never did her loyalty to her apeman flag.
On the fifth day they came suddenly upon a great plain and
from the edge of the forest the girl saw in the distance fenced
fields and many buildings. At the sight she drew back in astonishment.
"Where are we?" she asked, pointing.
"We could not find Korak," replied the man, "and as our way
near my douar I have brought you here to wait and rest
with my wife until my men can find your ape, or he finds you.
It is better thus, little one. You will be safer with us, and
you will be happier."
"I am afraid, Bwana," said the girl. "In thy douar they
will beat me as did The Sheik, my father. Let me go back into
the jungle. There Korak will find me. He would not think to look
for me in the douar of a white man."
"No one will beat you, child," replied the man. "I have not
done so, have I? Well, here all belong to me. They will treat
you well. Here no one is beaten. My wife will be very good to
you, and at last Korak will come, for I shall send men to search
The girl shook her head. "They could not bring him, for he
would kill them, as all men have tried to kill him. I am afraid.
Let me go, Bwana."
"You do not know the way to your own country. You would
be lost. The leopards or the lions would get you the first night,
and after all you would not find your Korak. It is better that you
stay with us. Did I not save you from the bad man? Do you not
owe me something for that? Well, then remain with us for a few
weeks at least until we can determine what is best for you.
You are only a little girl--it would be wicked to permit you to
go alone into the jungle."
Meriem laughed. "The jungle," she said, "is my father and
my mother. It has been kinder to me than have men. I am not
afraid of the jungle. Nor am I afraid of the leopard or the lion.
When my time comes I shall die. It may be that a leopard or a
lion shall kill me, or it may be a tiny bug no bigger than the end
of my littlest finger. When the lion leaps upon me, or the little
bug stings me I shall be afraid--oh, then I shall be terribly
afraid, I know; but life would be very miserable indeed were I
to spend it in terror of the thing that has not yet happened. If it
be the lion my terror shall be short of life; but if it be the little
bug I may suffer for days before I die. And so I fear the lion
least of all. He is great and noisy. I can hear him, or see him,
or smell him in time to escape; but any moment I may place a
hand or foot on the little bug, and never know that he is there
until I feel his deadly sting. No, I do not fear the jungle.
I love it. I should rather die than leave it forever; but your
douar is close beside the jungle. You have been good to me.
I will do as you wish, and remain here for a while to wait the
coming of my Korak."
"Good!" said the man, and he led the way down toward the
flower-covered bungalow behind which lay the barns and out-
houses of a well-ordered African farm.
As they came nearer a dozen dogs ran barking toward them--
gaunt wolf hounds, a huge great Dane, a nimble-footed collie
and a number of yapping, quarrelsome fox terriers. At first
their appearance was savage and unfriendly in the extreme; but
once they recognized the foremost black warriors, and the white
man behind them their attitude underwent a remarkable change.
The collie and the fox terriers became frantic with delirious
joy, and while the wolf hounds and the great Dane were not a whit
less delighted at the return of their master their greetings were
of a more dignified nature. Each in turn sniffed at Meriem who
displayed not the slightest fear of any of them.
The wolf hounds bristled and growled at the scent of wild
beasts that clung to her garment; but when she laid her hand
upon their heads and her soft voice murmured caressingly they
half-closed their eyes, lifting their upper lips in contented
canine smiles. The man was watching them and he too smiled, for it
was seldom that these savage brutes took thus kindly to strangers.
It was as though in some subtile way the girl had breathed a
message of kindred savagery to their savage hearts.
With her slim fingers grasping the collar of a wolf hound upon
either side of her Meriem walked on toward the bungalow upon
the porch of which a woman dressed in white waved a welcome
to her returning lord. There was more fear in the girl's eyes now
than there had been in the presence of strange men or savage beasts.
She hesitated, turning an appealing glance toward the man.
"This is my wife," he said. "She will be glad to welcome
The woman came down the path to meet them. The man kissed her,
and turning toward Meriem introduced them, speaking in the Arab
tongue the girl understood.
"This is Meriem, my dear," he said, and he told the story of
the jungle waif in so far as he knew it.
Meriem saw that the woman was beautiful. She saw that sweetness
and goodness were stamped indelibly upon her countenance. She no
longer feared her, and when her brief story had been narrated and
the woman came and put her arms about her and kissed her and called
her "poor little darling" something snapped in Meriem's little
She buried her face on the bosom of this new friend in whose voice
was the mother tone that Meriem had not heard for so many years
that she had forgotten its very existence. She buried her face
on the kindly bosom and wept as she had not wept before in all her
life--tears of relief and joy that she could not fathom.
And so came Meriem, the savage little Mangani, out of her beloved
jungle into the midst of a home of culture and refinement.
Already "Bwana" and "My Dear," as she first heard them
and continued to call them, were as father and mother to her.
Once her savage fears allayed, she went to the opposite extreme
of trustfulness and love. Now she was willing to wait here until
they found Korak, or Korak found her. She did not give up that
thought--Korak, her Korak always was first.
And out in the jungle, far away, Korak, covered with wounds,
stiff with clotted blood, burning with rage and sorrow, swung
back upon the trail of the great baboons. He had not found them
where he had last seen them, nor in any of their usual haunts;
but he sought them along the well-marked spoor they had left
behind them, and at last he overtook them. When first he came
upon them they were moving slowly but steadily southward in
one of those periodic migrations the reasons for which the baboon
himself is best able to explain. At sight of the white warrior
who came upon them from down wind the herd halted in response to
the warning cry of the sentinel that had discovered him. There was
much growling and muttering; much stiff-legged circling on the
part of the bulls. The mothers, in nervous, high pitched tones,
called their young to their sides, and with them moved to safety
behind their lords and masters.
Korak called aloud to the king, who, at the familiar voice,
advanced slowly, warily, and still stiff-legged. He must have the
confirmatory evidence of his nose before venturing to rely too
implicitly upon the testimony of his ears and eyes. Korak stood
perfectly still. To have advanced then might have precipitated
an immediate attack, or, as easily, a panic of flight. Wild beasts
are creatures of nerves. It is a relatively simple thing to throw
them into a species of hysteria which may induce either a mania
for murder, or symptoms of apparent abject cowardice--it is a
question, however, if a wild animal ever is actually a coward.
The king baboon approached Korak. He walked around him
in an ever decreasing circle--growling, grunting, sniffing.
Korak spoke to him.
"I am Korak," he said. "I opened the cage that held you.
I saved you from the Tarmangani. I am Korak, The Killer.
I am your friend."
"Huh," grunted the king. "Yes, you are Korak. My ears told
me that you were Korak. My eyes told you that you were Korak.
Now my nose tells me that you are Korak. My nose is never wrong.
I am your friend. Come, we shall hunt together."
"Korak cannot hunt now," replied the ape-man. "The Gomangani
have stolen Meriem. They have tied her in their village.
They will not let her go. Korak, alone, was unable to set
her free. Korak set you free. Now will you bring your people
and set Korak's Meriem free?"
"The Gomangani have many sharp sticks which they throw.
They pierce the bodies of my people. They kill us.
The gomangani are bad people. They will kill us all if we
enter their village."
"The Tarmangani have sticks that make a loud noise and kill
at a great distance," replied Korak. "They had these when
Korak set you free from their trap. If Korak had run away
from them you would now be a prisoner among the Tarmangani."
The baboon scratched his head. In a rough circle about him
and the ape-man squatted the bulls of his herd. They blinked
their eyes, shouldered one another about for more advantageous
positions, scratched in the rotting vegetation upon the chance of
unearthing a toothsome worm, or sat listlessly eyeing their king
and the strange Mangani, who called himself thus but who more
closely resembled the hated Tarmangani. The king looked at
some of the older of his subjects, as though inviting suggestion.
"We are too few," grunted one.
"There are the baboons of the hill country," suggested another.
"They are as many as the leaves of the forest. They, too,
hate the Gomangani. They love to fight. They are very savage.
Let us ask them to accompany us. Then can we kill all the
Gomangani in the jungle." He rose and growled horribly,
bristling his stiff hair.
"That is the way to talk," cried The Killer, "but we do not
need the baboons of the hill country. We are enough. It will
take a long time to fetch them. Meriem may be dead and eaten
before we could free her. Let us set out at once for the village
of the Gomangani. If we travel very fast it will not take long to
reach it. Then, all at the same time, we can charge into the
village, growling and barking. The Gomangani will be very
frightened and will run away. While they are gone we can seize
Meriem and carry her off. We do not have to kill or be killed--
all that Korak wishes is his Meriem."
"We are too few," croaked the old ape again.
"Yes, we are too few," echoed others.
Korak could not persuade them. They would help him, gladly;
but they must do it in their own way and that meant enlisting
the services of their kinsmen and allies of the hill country.
So Korak was forced to give in. All he could do for the present
was to urge them to haste, and at his suggestion the king baboon
with a dozen of his mightiest bulls agreed to go to the hill
country with Korak, leaving the balance of the herd behind.
Once enlisted in the adventure the baboons became quite
enthusiastic about it. The delegation set off immediately.
They traveled swiftly; but the ape-man found no difficulty in
keeping up with them. They made a tremendous racket as they
passed through the trees in an endeavor to suggest to enemies
in their front that a great herd was approaching, for when the
baboons travel in large numbers there is no jungle creature who
cares to molest them. When the nature of the country required
much travel upon the level, and the distance between trees was
great, they moved silently, knowing that the lion and the leopard
would not be fooled by noise when they could see plainly for
themselves that only a handful of baboons were on the trail.
For two days the party raced through the savage country, passing
out of the dense jungle into an open plain, and across this
to timbered mountain slopes. Here Korak never before had been.
It was a new country to him and the change from the monotony
of the circumscribed view in the jungle was pleasing. But he
had little desire to enjoy the beauties of nature at this time.
Meriem, his Meriem was in danger. Until she was freed and
returned to him he had little thought for aught else.
Once in the forest that clothed the mountain slopes the baboons
advanced more slowly. Constantly they gave tongue to a
plaintive note of calling. Then would follow silence while
they listened. At last, faintly from the distance straight
ahead came an answer.
The baboons continued to travel in the direction of the voices
that floated through the forest to them in the intervals of their
own silence. Thus, calling and listening, they came closer to
their kinsmen, who, it was evident to Korak, were coming to
meet them in great numbers; but when, at last, the baboons of
the hill country came in view the ape-man was staggered at the
reality that broke upon his vision.
What appeared a solid wall of huge baboons rose from the
ground through the branches of the trees to the loftiest terrace
to which they dared entrust their weight. Slowly they were
approaching, voicing their weird, plaintive call, and behind them,
as far as Korak's eyes could pierce the verdure, rose solid walls
of their fellows treading close upon their heels. There were
thousands of them. The ape-man could not but think of the fate
of his little party should some untoward incident arouse even
momentarily the rage of fear of a single one of all these thousands.
But nothing such befell. The two kings approached one another,
as was their custom, with much sniffing and bristling.
They satisfied themselves of each other's identity. Then each
scratched the other's back. After a moment they spoke together.
Korak's friend explained the nature of their visit, and for the
first time Korak showed himself. He had been hiding behind a bush.
The excitement among the hill baboons was intense at sight of him.
For a moment Korak feared that he should be torn to pieces;
but his fear was for Meriem. Should he die there would be none
to succor her.
The two kings, however, managed to quiet the multitude, and
Korak was permitted to approach. Slowly the hill baboons came
closer to him. They sniffed at him from every angle. When he
spoke to them in their own tongue they were filled with wonder
and delight. They talked to him and listened while he spoke.
He told them of Meriem, and of their life in the jungle where they
were the friends of all the ape folk from little Manu to Mangani,
the great ape.
"The Gomangani, who are keeping Meriem from me, are no friends
of yours," he said. "They kill you. The baboons of the
low country are too few to go against them. They tell me that
you are very many and very brave--that your numbers are as
the numbers of the grasses upon the plains or the leaves within
the forest, and that even Tantor, the elephant, fears you, so brave
you are. They told me that you would be happy to accompany
us to the village of the Gomangani and punish these bad people
while I, Korak, The Killer, carry away my Meriem."
The king ape puffed out his chest and strutted about very stiff-
legged indeed. So also did many of the other great bulls of
his nation. They were pleased and flattered by the words of
the strange Tarmangani, who called himself Mangani and spoke the
language of the hairy progenitors of man.
"Yes," said one, "we of the hill country are mighty fighters.
Tantor fears us. Numa fears us. Sheeta fears us. The Gomangani
of the hill country are glad to pass us by in peace. I, for one,
will come with you to the village of the Gomangani of the low places.
I am the king's first he-child. Alone can I kill all the Gomangani
of the low country," and he swelled his chest and strutted proudly
back and forth, until the itching back of a comrade commanded his
"I am Goob," cried another. "My fighting fangs are long.
They are sharp. They are strong. Into the soft flesh of many a
Gomangani have they been buried. Alone I slew the sister of Sheeta.
Goob will go to the low country with you and kill so many of the
Gomangani that there will be none left to count the dead," and
then he, too, strutted and pranced before the admiring eyes of the
shes and the young.
Korak looked at the king, questioningly.
"Your bulls are very brave," he said; "but braver than any
Thus addressed, the shaggy bull, still in his prime--else he
had been no longer king--growled ferociously. The forest
echoed to his lusty challenges. The little baboons clutched
fearfully at their mothers' hairy necks. The bulls, electrified,
leaped high in air and took up the roaring challenge of their king.
The din was terrific.
Korak came close to the king and shouted in his ear, "Come."
Then he started off through the forest toward the plain that they
must cross on their long journey back to the village of Kovudoo,
the Gomangani. The king, still roaring and shrieking, wheeled
and followed him. In their wake came the handful of low country
baboons and the thousands of the hill clan--savage, wiry, dog-like
creatures, athirst for blood.
And so they came, upon the second day, to the village of Kovudoo.
It was mid-afternoon. The village was sunk in the quiet of the
great equatorial sun-heat. The mighty herd traveled quietly now.
Beneath the thousands of padded feet the forest gave forth no
greater sound than might have been produced by the increased
soughing of a stronger breeze through the leafy branches of
Korak and the two kings were in the lead. Close beside the
village they halted until the stragglers had closed up. Now utter
silence reigned. Korak, creeping stealthily, entered the tree
that overhung the palisade. He glanced behind him. The pack were
close upon his heels. The time had come. He had warned them
continuously during the long march that no harm must befall
the white she who lay a prisoner within the village. All others
were their legitimate prey. Then, raising his face toward the sky,
he gave voice to a single cry. It was the signal.
In response three thousand hairy bulls leaped screaming and
barking into the village of the terrified blacks. Warriors poured
from every hut. Mothers gathered their babies in their arms and
fled toward the gates as they saw the horrid horde pouring into
the village street. Kovudoo marshaled his fighting men about
him and, leaping and yelling to arouse their courage, offered a
bristling, spear tipped front to the charging horde.
Korak, as he had led the march, led the charge. The blacks
were struck with horror and dismay at the sight of this white-
skinned youth at the head of a pack of hideous baboons. For an
instant they held their ground, hurling their spears once at the
advancing multitude; but before they could fit arrows to their
bows they wavered, gave, and turned in terrified rout. Into their
ranks, upon their backs, sinking strong fangs into the muscles
of their necks sprang the baboons and first among them, most
ferocious, most blood-thirsty, most terrible was Korak, The Killer.
At the village gates, through which the blacks poured in panic,
Korak left them to the tender mercies of his allies and turned
himself eagerly toward the hut in which Meriem had been a prisoner.
It was empty. One after another the filthy interiors revealed
the same disheartening fact--Meriem was in none of them.
That she had not been taken by the blacks in their flight
from the village Korak knew for he had watched carefully for a
glimpse of her among the fugitives.
To the mind of the ape-man, knowing as he did the proclivities
of the savages, there was but a single explanation--Meriem had
been killed and eaten. With the conviction that Meriem was dead
there surged through Korak's brain a wave of blood red rage
against those he believed to be her murderer. In the distance he
could hear the snarling of the baboons mixed with the screams
of their victims, and towards this he made his way. When he
came upon them the baboons had commenced to tire of the sport
of battle, and the blacks in a little knot were making a new stand,
using their knob sticks effectively upon the few bulls who still
persisted in attacking them.
Among these broke Korak from the branches of a tree above
them--swift, relentless, terrible, he hurled himself upon the
savage warriors of Kovudoo. Blind fury possessed him. Too, it
protected him by its very ferocity. Like a wounded lioness he
was here, there, everywhere, striking terrific blows with hard
fists and with the precision and timeliness of the trained fighter.
Again and again he buried his teeth in the flesh of a foeman.
He was upon one and gone again to another before an effective blow
could be dealt him. Yet, though great was the weight of his
execution in determining the result of the combat, it was
outweighed by the terror which he inspired in the simple,
superstitious minds of his foeman. To them this white warrior,
who consorted with the great apes and the fierce baboons, who
growled and snarled and snapped like a beast, was not human.
He was a demon of the forest--a fearsome god of evil whom
they had offended, and who had come out of his lair deep in the
jungle to punish them. And because of this belief there were
many who offered but little defense, feeling as they did the
futility of pitting their puny mortal strength against that
of a deity.
Those who could fled, until at last there were no more to pay
the penalty for a deed, which, while not beyond them, they
were, nevertheless, not guilty of. Panting and bloody, Korak
paused for want of further victims. The baboons gathered about
him, sated themselves with blood and battle. They lolled upon
the ground, fagged.
In the distance Kovudoo was gathering his scattered tribesmen,
and taking account of injuries and losses. His people were
panic stricken. Nothing could prevail upon them to remain longer
in this country. They would not even return to the village for
their belongings. Instead they insisted upon continuing their
flight until they had put many miles between themselves and the
stamping ground of the demon who had so bitterly attacked them.
And thus it befell that Korak drove from their homes the
only people who might have aided him in a search for Meriem,
and cut off the only connecting link between him and her from
whomsoever might come in search of him from the douar of the
kindly Bwana who had befriended his little jungle sweetheart.
It was a sour and savage Korak who bade farewell to his baboon
allies upon the following morning. They wished him to
accompany him; but the ape-man had no heart for the society
of any. Jungle life had encouraged taciturnity in him. His sorrow
had deepened this to a sullen moroseness that could not brook
even the savage companionship of the ill-natured baboons.
Brooding and despondent he took his solitary way into the
deepest jungle. He moved along the ground when he knew that
Numa was abroad and hungry. He took to the same trees that
harbored Sheeta, the panther. He courted death in a hundred
ways and a hundred forms. His mind was ever occupied with
reminiscences of Meriem and the happy years that they had
spent together. He realized now to the full what she had meant
to him. The sweet face, the tanned, supple, little body, the
bright smile that always had welcomed his return from the hunt
haunted him continually.
Inaction soon threatened him with madness. He must be on
the go. He must fill his days with labor and excitement that he
might forget--that night might find him so exhausted that he
should sleep in blessed unconsciousness of his misery until a
new day had come.
Had he guessed that by any possibility Meriem might still live
he would at least have had hope. His days could have been
devoted to searching for her; but he implicitly believed that
she was dead.
For a long year he led his solitary, roaming life. Occasionally he
fell in with Akut and his tribe, hunting with them for a day or two;
or he might travel to the hill country where the baboons had come
to accept him as a matter of course; but most of all was he with
Tantor, the elephant--the great gray battle ship of the jungle--the
super-dreadnaught of his savage world.
The peaceful quiet of the monster bulls, the watchful solicitude
of the mother cows, the awkward playfulness of the calves rested,
interested, and amused Korak. The life of the huge beasts
took his mind, temporarily from his own grief. He came to love
them as he loved not even the great apes, and there was one
gigantic tusker in particular of which he was very fond--the lord
of the herd--a savage beast that was wont to charge a stranger
upon the slightest provocation, or upon no provocation whatsoever.
And to Korak this mountain of destruction was docile and
affectionate as a lap dog.
He came when Korak called. He wound his trunk about the
ape-man's body and lifted him to his broad neck in response to
a gesture, and there would Korak lie at full length kicking his
toes affectionately into the thick hide and brushing the flies from
about the tender ears of his colossal chum with a leafy branch
torn from a nearby tree by Tantor for the purpose.
And all the while Meriem was scarce a hundred miles away.
To Meriem, in her new home, the days passed quickly. At first
she was all anxiety to be off into the jungle searching for
her Korak. Bwana, as she insisted upon calling her benefactor,
dissuaded her from making the attempt at once by dispatching
a head man with a party of blacks to Kovudoo's village
with instructions to learn from the old savage how he came
into possession of the white girl and as much of her antecedents
as might be culled from the black chieftain. Bwana particularly
charged his head man with the duty of questioning Kovudoo relative
to the strange character whom the girl called Korak, and of
searching for the ape-man if he found the slightest evidence upon
which to ground a belief in the existence of such an individual.
Bwana was more than fully convinced that Korak was a creature of
the girl's disordered imagination. He believed that the terrors
and hardships she had undergone during captivity among the blacks
and her frightful experience with the two Swedes had unbalanced
her mind but as the days passed and he became better acquainted
with her and able to observe her under the ordinary conditions of
the quiet of his African home he was forced to admit that her
strange tale puzzled him not a little, for there was no other
evidence whatever that Meriem was not in full possession of her
The white man's wife, whom Meriem had christened "My Dear"
from having first heard her thus addressed by Bwana, took not
only a deep interest in the little jungle waif because of her
forlorn and friendless state, but grew to love her as well for her
sunny disposition and natural charm of temperament. And Meriem,
similarly impressed by little attributes in the gentle, cultured
woman, reciprocated the other's regard and affection.
And so the days flew by while Meriem waited the return of the
head man and his party from the country of Kovudoo. They were
short days, for into them were crowded many hours of insidious
instruction of the unlettered child by the lonely woman.
She commenced at once to teach the girl English without forcing
it upon her as a task. She varied the instruction with lessons
in sewing and deportment, nor once did she let Meriem guess that
it was not all play. Nor was this difficult, since the girl was
avid to learn. Then there were pretty dresses to be made to take
the place of the single leopard skin and in this she found the child
as responsive and enthusiastic as any civilized miss of her acquaintance.
A month passed before the head man returned--a month that
had transformed the savage, half-naked little tarmangani into a
daintily frocked girl of at least outward civilization. Meriem had
progressed rapidly with the intricacies of the English language,
for Bwana and My Dear had persistently refused to speak Arabic
from the time they had decided that Meriem must learn English,
which had been a day or two after her introduction into their home.
The report of the head man plunged Meriem into a period of
despondency, for he had found the village of Kovudoo deserted
nor, search as he would, could he discover a single native
anywhere in the vicinity. For some time he had camped near the
village, spending the days in a systematic search of the environs
for traces of Meriem's Korak; but in this quest, too, had he failed.
He had seen neither apes nor ape-man. Meriem at first insisted
upon setting forth herself in search of Korak, but Bwana prevailed
upon her to wait. He would go himself, he assured her, as soon as
he could find the time, and at last Meriem consented to abide by
his wishes; but it was months before she ceased to mourn almost
hourly for her Korak.
My Dear grieved with the grieving girl and did her best to
comfort and cheer her. She told her that if Korak lived he would
find her; but all the time she believed that Korak had never
existed beyond the child's dreams. She planned amusements to
distract Meriem's attention from her sorrow, and she instituted
a well-designed campaign to impress upon the child the desirability
of civilized life and customs. Nor was this difficult, as she was
soon to learn, for it rapidly became evident that beneath the uncouth
savagery of the girl was a bed rock of innate refinement--a nicety
of taste and predilection that quite equaled that of her instructor.
My Dear was delighted. She was lonely and childless, and so
she lavished upon this little stranger all the mother love that
would have gone to her own had she had one. The result was
that by the end of the first year none might have guessed that
Meriem ever had existed beyond the lap of culture and luxury.
She was sixteen now, though she easily might have passed for
nineteen, and she was very good to look upon, with her black
hair and her tanned skin and all the freshness and purity of health
and innocence. Yet she still nursed her secret sorrow, though
she no longer mentioned it to My Dear. Scarce an hour passed
that did not bring its recollection of Korak, and its poignant
yearning to see him again.
Meriem spoke English fluently now, and read and wrote it as well.
One day My Dear spoke jokingly to her in French and to her
surprise Meriem replied in the same tongue--slowly, it is true,
and haltingly; but none the less in excellent French, such,
though, as a little child might use. Thereafter they spoke a
little French each day, and My Dear often marveled that the
girl learned this language with a facility that was at times
almost uncanny. At first Meriem had puckered her narrow, arched,
little eye brows as though trying to force recollection of
something all but forgotten which the new words suggested, and then,
to her own astonishment as well as to that of her teacher she had
used other French words than those in the lessons--used them
properly and with a pronunciation that the English woman knew
was more perfect than her own; but Meriem could neither read
nor write what she spoke so well, and as My Dear considered a
knowledge of correct English of the first importance,
other than conversational French was postponed for a later day.
"You doubtless heard French spoken at times in your father's douar,"
suggested My Dear, as the most reasonable explanation.
Meriem shook her head.
"It may be," she said, "but I do not recall ever having seen
a Frenchman in my father's company--he hated them and would
have nothing whatever to do with them, and I am quite sure that
I never heard any of these words before, yet at the same time I
find them all familiar. I cannot understand it."
"Neither can I," agreed My Dear.
It was about this time that a runner brought a letter that,
when she learned the contents, filled Meriem with excitement.
Visitors were coming! A number of English ladies and gentlemen
had accepted My Dear's invitation to spend a month of hunting
and exploring with them. Meriem was all expectancy. What would
these strangers be like? Would they be as nice to her as had
Bwana and My Dear, or would they be like the other white folk
she had known--cruel and relentless. My Dear assured her that
they all were gentle folk and that she would find them kind,
considerate and honorable.
To My Dear's surprise there was none of the shyness of the
wild creature in Meriem's anticipation of the visit of strangers.
She looked forward to their coming with curiosity and with a
certain pleasurable anticipation when once she was assured that
they would not bite her. In fact she appeared no different than
would any pretty young miss who had learned of the expected
coming of company.
Korak's image was still often in her thoughts, but it aroused
now a less well-defined sense of bereavement. A quiet sadness
pervaded Meriem when she thought of him; but the poignant
grief of her loss when it was young no longer goaded her
to desperation. Yet she was still loyal to him. She still hoped
that some day he would find her, nor did she doubt for a moment
but that he was searching for her if he still lived. It was this
last suggestion that caused her the greatest perturbation.
Korak might be dead. It scarce seemed possible that one so
well-equipped to meet the emergencies of jungle life should have
succumbed so young; yet when she had last seen him he had been
beset by a horde of armed warriors, and should he have returned
to the village again, as she well knew he must have, he may have
been killed. Even her Korak could not, single handed, slay an
At last the visitors arrived. There were three men and two
women--the wives of the two older men. The youngest member
of the party was Hon. Morison Baynes, a young man of considerable
wealth who, having exhausted all the possibilities for pleasure
offered by the capitals of Europe, had gladly seized upon this
opportunity to turn to another continent for excitement
He looked upon all things un-European as rather more than
less impossible, still he was not at all averse to enjoying
the novelty of unaccustomed places, and making the most of
strangers indigenous thereto, however unspeakable they might
have seemed to him at home. In manner he was suave and courteous
to all--if possible a trifle more punctilious toward those
he considered of meaner clay than toward the few he mentally
admitted to equality.
Nature had favored him with a splendid physique and a handsome
face, and also with sufficient good judgment to appreciate
that while he might enjoy the contemplation of his superiority
to the masses, there was little likelihood of the masses being
equally entranced by the same cause. And so he easily maintained
the reputation of being a most democratic and likeable fellow,
and indeed he was likable. Just a shade of his egotism was
occasionally apparent--never sufficient to become a burden
to his associates. And this, briefly, was the Hon. Morison Baynes
of luxurious European civilization. What would be the Hon.
Morison Baynes of central Africa it were difficult to guess.
Meriem, at first, was shy and reserved in the presence of
the strangers. Her benefactors had seen fit to ignore mention
of her strange past, and so she passed as their ward whose
antecedents not having been mentioned were not to be inquired into.
The guests found her sweet and unassuming, laughing, vivacious and
a never exhausted storehouse of quaint and interesting jungle lore.
She had ridden much during her year with Bwana and My Dear.
She knew each favorite clump of concealing reeds along the river
that the buffalo loved best. She knew a dozen places where lions
laired, and every drinking hole in the drier country twenty-five
miles back from the river. With unerring precision that was almost
uncanny she could track the largest or the smallest beast to his
hiding place. But the thing that baffled them all was her instant
consciousness of the presence of carnivora that others, exerting
their faculties to the utmost, could neither see nor hear.
The Hon. Morison Baynes found Meriem a most beautiful and
charming companion. He was delighted with her from the first.
Particularly so, it is possible, because he had not thought to
find companionship of this sort upon the African estate of his
London friends. They were together a great deal as they were
the only unmarried couple in the little company. Meriem, entirely
unaccustomed to the companionship of such as Baynes, was
fascinated by him. His tales of the great, gay cities with
which he was familiar filled her with admiration and with wonder.
If the Hon. Morison always shone to advantage in these
narratives Meriem saw in that fact but a most natural consequence
to his presence upon the scene of his story--wherever Morison
might be he must be a hero; so thought the girl.
With the actual presence and companionship of the young
Englishman the image of Korak became less real. Where before
it had been an actuality to her she now realized that Korak was
but a memory. To that memory she still was loyal; but what
weight has a memory in the presence of a fascinating reality?
Meriem had never accompanied the men upon a hunt since the
arrival of the guests. She never had cared particularly for the
sport of killing. The tracking she enjoyed; but the mere killing
for the sake of killing she could not find pleasure in--little
savage that she had been, and still, to some measure, was.
When Bwana had gone forth to shoot for meat she had always been
his enthusiastic companion; but with the coming of the London
guests the hunting had deteriorated into mere killing. Slaughter the
host would not permit; yet the purpose of the hunts were for heads
and skins and not for food. So Meriem remained behind and spent
her days either with My Dear upon the shaded verandah, or riding
her favorite pony across the plains or to the forest edge.
Here she would leave him untethered while she took to the trees
for the moment's unalloyed pleasures of a return to the wild,
free existence of her earlier childhood.
Then would come again visions of Korak, and, tired at last
of leaping and swinging through the trees, she would stretch
herself comfortably upon a branch and dream. And presently,
as today, she found the features of Korak slowly dissolve and
merge into those of another, and the figure of a tanned, half-
naked tarmangani become a khaki clothed Englishman astride
a hunting pony.
And while she dreamed there came to her ears from a distance,
faintly, the terrified bleating of a kid. Meriem was
instantly alert. You or I, even had we been able to hear the
pitiful wail at so great distance, could not have interpreted it;
but to Meriem it meant a species of terror that afflicts the
ruminant when a carnivore is near and escape impossible.
It had been both a pleasure and a sport of Korak's to rob Numa
of his prey whenever possible, and Meriem too had often enjoyed
in the thrill of snatching some dainty morsel almost from the
very jaws of the king of beasts. Now, at the sound of the kid's
bleat, all the well remembered thrills recurred. Instantly she
was all excitement to play again the game of hide and seek with death.
Quickly she loosened her riding skirt and tossed it aside--it
was a heavy handicap to successful travel in the trees. Her boots
and stockings followed the skirt, for the bare sole of the human
foot does not slip upon dry or even wet bark as does the hard
leather of a boot. She would have liked to discard her riding
breeches also, but the motherly admonitions of My Dear had
convinced Meriem that it was not good form to go naked through
At her hip hung a hunting knife. Her rifle was still in its boot
at her pony's withers. Her revolver she had not brought.
The kid was still bleating as Meriem started rapidly in its
direction, which she knew was straight toward a certain water
hole which had once been famous as a rendezvous for lions.
Of late there had been no evidence of carnivora in the neighborhood
of this drinking place; but Meriem was positive that the bleating
of the kid was due to the presence of either lion or panther.
But she would soon know, for she was rapidly approaching
the terrified animal. She wondered as she hastened onward that
the sounds continued to come from the same point. Why did the
kid not run away? And then she came in sight of the little
animal and knew. The kid was tethered to a stake beside
Meriem paused in the branches of a near-by tree and scanned
the surrounding clearing with quick, penetrating eyes. Where was
the hunter? Bwana and his people did not hunt thus. Who could
have tethered this poor little beast as a lure to Numa?
Bwana never countenanced such acts in his country and his word
was law among those who hunted within a radius of many miles
of his estate.
Some wandering savages, doubtless, thought Meriem; but
where were they? Not even her keen eyes could discover them.
And where was Numa? Why had he not long since sprung upon
this delicious and defenseless morsel? That he was close by was
attested by the pitiful crying of the kid. Ah! Now she saw him.
He was lying close in a clump of brush a few yards to her right.
The kid was down wind from him and getting the full benefit of
his terrorizing scent, which did not reach Meriem.
To circle to the opposite side of the clearing where the trees
approached closer to the kid. To leap quickly to the little
animal's side and cut the tether that held him would be the work
of but a moment. In that moment Numa might charge, and then
there would be scarce time to regain the safety of the trees, yet
it might be done. Meriem had escaped from closer quarters than
that many times before.
The doubt that gave her momentary pause was caused by fear
of the unseen hunters more than by fear of Numa. If they were
stranger blacks the spears that they held in readiness for Numa
might as readily be loosed upon whomever dared release their
bait as upon the prey they sought thus to trap. Again the kid
struggled to be free. Again his piteous wail touched the tender
heart strings of the girl. Tossing discretion aside, she
commenced to circle the clearing. Only from Numa did she attempt
to conceal her presence. At last she reached the opposite trees.
An instant she paused to look toward the great lion, and at the
same moment she saw the huge beast rise slowly to his full height.
A low roar betokened that he was ready.
Meriem loosened her knife and leaped to the ground. A quick
run brought her to the side of the kid. Numa saw her. He lashed
his tail against his tawny sides. He roared terribly; but, for an
instant, he remained where he stood--surprised into inaction,
doubtless, by the strange apparition that had sprung so unexpectedly
from the jungle.
Other eyes were upon Meriem, too--eyes in which were no less
surprise than that reflected in the yellow-green orbs of the carnivore.
A white man, hiding in a thorn boma, half rose as the young girl leaped
into the clearing and dashed toward the kid. He saw Numa hesitate.
He raised his rifle and covered the beast's breast. The girl reached
the kid's side. Her knife flashed, and the little prisoner was free.
With a parting bleat it dashed off into the jungle. Then the girl
turned to retreat toward the safety of the tree from which she had
dropped so suddenly and unexpectedly into the surprised view of the lion,
the kid and the man.
As she turned the girl's face was turned toward the hunter.
His eyes went wide as he saw her features. He gave a little gasp
of surprise; but now the lion demanded all his attention--the
baffled, angry beast was charging. His breast was still covered
by the motionless rifle. The man could have fired and stopped
the charge at once; but for some reason, since he had seen the
girl's face, he hesitated. Could it be that he did not care to
save her? Or, did he prefer, if possible, to remain unseen by her?
It must have been the latter cause which kept the trigger finger of
the steady hand from exerting the little pressure that would have
brought the great beast to at least a temporary pause.
Like an eagle the man watched the race for life the girl
was making. A second or two measured the time which the whole
exciting event consumed from the moment that the lion broke
into his charge. Nor once did the rifle sights fail to cover the
broad breast of the tawny sire as the lion's course took him a
little to the man's left. Once, at the very last moment, when
escape seemed impossible, the hunter's finger tightened ever so
little upon the trigger, but almost coincidentally the girl leaped
for an over hanging branch and seized it. The lion leaped too;
but the nimble Meriem had swung herself beyond his reach
without a second or an inch to spare.
The man breathed a sigh of relief as he lowered his rifle.
He saw the girl fling a grimace at the angry, roaring, maneater
beneath her, and then, laughing, speed away into the forest.
For an hour the lion remained about the water hole. A hundred times
could the hunter have bagged his prey. Why did he fail to do so?
Was he afraid that the shot might attract the girl and cause her
At last Numa, still roaring angrily, strode majestically into
the jungle. The hunter crawled from his boma, and half
an hour later was entering a little camp snugly hidden in
the forest. A handful of black followers greeted his return
with sullen indifference. He was a great bearded man, a huge,
yellow-bearded giant, when he entered his tent. Half an hour
later he emerged smooth shaven.
His blacks looked at him in astonishment.
"Would you know me?" he asked.
"The hyena that bore you would not know you, Bwana," replied one.
The man aimed a heavy fist at the black's face; but long
experience in dodging similar blows saved the presumptuous one.
Meriem returned slowly toward the tree in which she had left
her skirt, her shoes and her stockings. She was singing
blithely; but her song came to a sudden stop when she came
within sight of the tree, for there, disporting themselves
with glee and pulling and hauling upon her belongings, were a
number of baboons. When they saw her they showed no signs
of terror. Instead they bared their fangs and growled at her.
What was there to fear in a single she-Tarmangani?
Nothing, absolutely nothing.
In the open plain beyond the forest the hunters were returning
from the day's sport. They were widely separated, hoping to
raise a wandering lion on the homeward journey across the plain.
The Hon. Morison Baynes rode closest to the forest. As his eyes
wandered back and forth across the undulating, shrub sprinkled
ground they fell upon the form of a creature close beside the
thick jungle where it terminated abruptly at the plain's edge.
He reined his mount in the direction of his discovery. It was
yet too far away for his untrained eyes to recognize it; but as
he came closer he saw that it was a horse, and was about to resume
the original direction of his way when he thought that he discerned
a saddle upon the beast's back. He rode a little closer. Yes, the
animal was saddled. The Hon. Morison approached yet nearer, and as
he did so his eyes expressed a pleasurable emotion of anticipation,
for they had now recognized the pony as the special favorite of Meriem.
He galloped to the animal's side. Meriem must be within the wood.
The man shuddered a little at the thought of an unprotected girl
alone in the jungle that was still, to him, a fearful place of
terrors and stealthily stalking death. He dismounted and
left his horse beside Meriem's. On foot he entered the jungle.
He knew that she was probably safe enough and he wished to
surprise her by coming suddenly upon her.
He had gone but a short distance into the wood when he heard
a great jabbering in a near-by tree. Coming closer he saw a band
of baboons snarling over something. Looking intently he saw
that one of them held a woman's riding skirt and that others had
boots and stockings. His heart almost ceased to beat as he quite
naturally placed the most direful explanation upon the scene.
The baboons had killed Meriem and stripped this clothing from
her body. Morison shuddered.
He was about to call aloud in the hope that after all the girl
still lived when he saw her in a tree close beside that was
occupied by the baboons, and now he saw that they were snarling
and jabbering at her. To his amazement he saw the girl swing,
ape-like, into the tree below the huge beasts. He saw her pause
upon a branch a few feet from the nearest baboon. He was about
to raise his rifle and put a bullet through the hideous creature
that seemed about to leap upon her when he heard the girl speak.
He almost dropped his rifle from surprise as a strange jabbering,
identical with that of the apes, broke from Meriem's lips.
The baboons stopped their snarling and listened. It was quite
evident that they were as much surprised as the Hon. Morison Baynes.
Slowly and one by one they approached the girl. She gave not
the slightest evidence of fear of them. They quite surrounded
her now so that Baynes could not have fired without endangering
the girl's life; but he no longer desired to fire. He was
consumed with curiosity.
For several minutes the girl carried on what could be nothing
less than a conversation with the baboons, and then with seeming
alacrity every article of her apparel in their possession was
handed over to her. The baboons still crowded eagerly about her
as she donned them. They chattered to her and she chattered back.
The Hon. Morison Baynes sat down at the foot of a tree and mopped
his perspiring brow. Then he rose and made his way back to his mount.
When Meriem emerged from the forest a few minutes later
she found him there, and he eyed her with wide eyes in which
were both wonder and a sort of terror.
"I saw your horse here," he explained, "and thought that
would wait and ride home with you--you do not mind?"
"Of course not," she replied. "It will be lovely."
As they made their way stirrup to stirrup across the plain the
Hon. Morison caught himself many times watching the girl's
regular profile and wondering if his eyes had deceived him or
if, in truth, he really had seen this lovely creature consorting
with grotesque baboons and conversing with them as fluently as
she conversed with him. The thing was uncanny--impossible;
yet he had seen it with his own eyes.
And as he watched her another thought persisted in obtruding
itself into his mind. She was most beautiful and very desirable;
but what did he know of her? Was she not altogether impossible?
Was the scene that he had but just witnessed not sufficient proof
of her impossibility? A woman who climbed trees and conversed
with the baboons of the jungle! It was quite horrible!
Again the Hon. Morison mopped his brow. Meriem glanced
"You are warm," she said. "Now that the sun is setting I
find it quite cool. Why do you perspire now?"
He had not intended to let her know that he had seen her with
the baboons; but quite suddenly, before he realized what he was
saying, he had blurted it out.
"I perspire from emotion," he said. "I went into the jungle
when I discovered your pony. I wanted to surprise you; but it
was I who was surprised. I saw you in the trees with the baboons."
"Yes?" she said quite unemotionally, as though it was a matter
of little moment that a young girl should be upon intimate
terms with savage jungle beasts.
"It was horrible!" ejaculated the Hon. Morison.
"Horrible?" repeated Meriem, puckering her brows in bewilderment.
"What was horrible about it? They are my friends. Is it horrible
to talk with one's friends?"
"You were really talking with them, then?" cried the Hon. Morison.
"You understood them and they understood you?"
"But they are hideous creatures--degraded beasts of a lower order.
How could you speak the language of beasts?"
"They are not hideous, and they are not degraded," replied Meriem.
"Friends are never that. I lived among them for years
before Bwana found me and brought me here. I scarce knew
any other tongue than that of the mangani. Should I refuse to
know them now simply because I happen, for the present, to
live among humans?"
"For the present!" ejaculated the Hon. Morison. "You cannot
that you expect to return to live among them? Come, come, what
foolishness are we talking! The very idea! You are spoofing me,
Miss Meriem. You have been kind to these baboons here and they
know you and do not molest you; but that you once lived among
them--no, that is preposterous."
"But I did, though," insisted the girl, seeing the real horror
that the man felt in the presence of such an idea reflected in his
tone and manner, and rather enjoying baiting him still further.
"Yes, I lived, almost naked, among the great apes and the lesser apes.
I dwelt among the branches of the trees. I pounced upon the
smaller prey and devoured it--raw. With Korak and A'ht I
hunted the antelope and the boar, and I sat upon a tree limb and
made faces at Numa, the lion, and threw sticks at him and annoyed
him until he roared so terribly in his rage that the earth shook.
"And Korak built me a lair high among the branches of a
mighty tree. He brought me fruits and flesh. He fought for me
and was kind to me--until I came to Bwana and My Dear I do
not recall that any other than Korak was ever kind to me."
There was a wistful note in the girl's voice now and she had
forgotten that she was bantering the Hon. Morison. She was
thinking of Korak. She had not thought of him a great deal
For a time both were silently absorbed in their own reflections
as they rode on toward the bungalow of their host. The girl was
thinking of a god-like figure, a leopard skin half concealing his
smooth, brown hide as he leaped nimbly through the trees to
lay an offering of food before her on his return from a
successful hunt. Behind him, shaggy and powerful, swung a
huge anthropoid ape, while she, Meriem, laughing and shouting
her welcome, swung upon a swaying limb before the entrance to her
sylvan bower. It was a pretty picture as she recalled it. The other
side seldom obtruded itself upon her memory--the long, black
nights--the chill, terrible jungle nights--the cold and damp and
discomfort of the rainy season--the hideous mouthings of the
savage carnivora as they prowled through the Stygian darkness
beneath--the constant menace of Sheeta, the panther, and Histah, the snake--the
insects--the loathesome vermin. For, in truth,
all these had been outweighed by the happiness of the sunny days,
the freedom of it all, and, most, the companionship of Korak.
The man's thoughts were rather jumbled. He had suddenly
realized that he had come mighty near falling in love with this
girl of whom he had known nothing up to the previous moment
when she had voluntarily revealed a portion of her past to him.
The more he thought upon the matter the more evident it became
to him that he had given her his love--that he had been upon the
verge of offering her his honorable name. He trembled a little
at the narrowness of his escape. Yet, he still loved her.
There was no objection to that according to the ethics of the
Hon. Morison Baynes and his kind. She was a meaner clay than he.
He could no more have taken her in marriage than he could have
taken one of her baboon friends, nor would she, of course,
expect such an offer from him. To have his love would be
sufficient honor for her--his name he would, naturally, bestow
upon one in his own elevated social sphere.
A girl who had consorted with apes, who, according to her
own admission, had lived almost naked among them, could have
no considerable sense of the finer qualities of virtue. The love
that he would offer her, then, would, far from offending her,
probably cover all that she might desire or expect.
The more the Hon. Morison Baynes thought upon the subject
the more fully convinced he became that he was contemplating
a most chivalrous and unselfish act. Europeans will better
understand his point of view than Americans, poor, benighted
provincials, who are denied a true appreciation of caste and of
the fact that "the king can do no wrong." He did not even have
to argue the point that she would be much happier amidst the
luxuries of a London apartment, fortified as she would be by
both his love and his bank account, than lawfully wed to such a
one as her social position warranted. There was one question
however, which he wished to have definitely answered before
he committed himself even to the program he was considering.
"Who were Korak and A'ht?" he asked.
"A'ht was a Mangani," replied Meriem, "and Korak a Tarmangani."
"And what, pray, might a Mangani be, and a Tarmangani?"
The girl laughed.
"You are a Tarmangani," she replied. "The Mangani are covered
with hair--you would call them apes."
"Then Korak was a white man?" he asked.
"And he was--ah--your--er--your--?" He paused, for he found
it rather difficult to go on with that line of questioning
while the girl's clear, beautiful eyes were looking straight
"My what?" insisted Meriem, far too unsophisticated in her
unspoiled innocence to guess what the Hon. Morison was driving at.
"Why--ah--your brother?" he stumbled.
"No, Korak was not my brother," she replied.
"Was he your husband, then?" he finally blurted.
Far from taking offense, Meriem broke into a merry laugh.
"My husband!" she cried. "Why how old do you think I am?
I am too young to have a husband. I had never thought of such
a thing. Korak was--why--," and now she hesitated, too, for
she never before had attempted to analyse the relationship that
existed between herself and Korak--"why, Korak was just Korak,"
and again she broke into a gay laugh as she realized the
illuminating quality of her description.
Looking at her and listening to her the man beside her could
not believe that depravity of any sort or degree entered into the
girl's nature, yet he wanted to believe that she had not been
virtuous, for otherwise his task was less a sinecure--the Hon.
Morison was not entirely without conscience.
For several days the Hon. Morison made no appreciable progress
toward the consummation of his scheme. Sometimes he almost
abandoned it for he found himself time and again wondering how
slight might be the provocation necessary to trick him into
making a bona-fide offer of marriage to Meriem if he permitted
himself to fall more deeply in love with her, and it was
difficult to see her daily and not love her. There was a
quality about her which, all unknown to the Hon. Morison, was
making his task an extremely difficult one--it was that quality
of innate goodness and cleanness which is a good girl's stoutest
bulwark and protection--an impregnable barrier that only
degeneracy has the effrontery to assail. The Hon. Morison Baynes
would never be considered a degenerate.
He was sitting with Meriem upon the verandah one evening after
the others had retired. Earlier they had been playing tennis--
a game in which the Hon. Morison shone to advantage, as, in truth,
he did in most all manly sports. He was telling Meriem stories
of London and Paris, of balls and banquets, of the wonderful women
and their wonderful gowns, of the pleasures and pastimes of the
rich and powerful. The Hon. Morison was a past master in the
art of insidious boasting. His egotism was never flagrant or
tiresome--he was never crude in it, for crudeness was a
plebeianism that the Hon. Morison studiously avoided, yet
the impression derived by a listener to the Hon. Morison was
one that was not at all calculated to detract from the glory of
the house of Baynes, or from that of its representative.
Meriem was entranced. His tales were like fairy stories to this
little jungle maid. The Hon. Morison loomed large and wonderful
and magnificent in her mind's eye. He fascinated her, and
when he drew closer to her after a short silence and took her
hand she thrilled as one might thrill beneath the touch of a
deity--a thrill of exaltation not unmixed with fear.
He bent his lips close to her ear.
"Meriem!" he whispered. "My little Meriem! May I hope
to have the right to call you `my little Meriem'?"
The girl turned wide eyes upward to his face; but it was
in shadow. She trembled but she did not draw away. The man
put an arm about her and drew her closer.
"I love you!" he whispered.
She did not reply. She did not know what to say. She knew
nothing of love. She had never given it a thought; but she did
know that it was very nice to be loved, whatever it meant.
It was nice to have people kind to one. She had known so
little of kindness or affection.
"Tell me," he said, "that you return my love."
His lips came steadily closer to hers. They had almost touched
when a vision of Korak sprang like a miracle before her eyes.
She saw Korak's face close to hers, she felt his lips hot against
hers, and then for the first time in her life she guessed what
love meant. She drew away, gently.
"I am not sure," she said, "that I love you. Let us wait.
There is plenty of time. I am too young to marry yet, and I am
not sure that I should be happy in London or Paris--they rather
How easily and naturally she had connected his avowal of love
with the idea of marriage! The Hon. Morison was perfectly
sure that he had not mentioned marriage--he had been particularly
careful not to do so. And then she was not sure that she loved him!
That, too, came rather in the nature of a shock to his vanity.
It seemed incredible that this little barbarian should have any
doubts whatever as to the desirability of the Hon. Morison Baynes.
The first flush of passion cooled, the Hon. Morison was enabled
to reason more logically. The start had been all wrong. It would
be better now to wait and prepare her mind gradually for the
only proposition which his exalted estate would permit him
to offer her. He would go slow. He glanced down at the
girl's profile. It was bathed in the silvery light of the
great tropic moon. The Hon. Morison Baynes wondered if it were
to be so easy a matter to "go slow." She was most alluring.
Meriem rose. The vision of Korak was still before her.
"Good night," she said. "It is almost too beautiful to leave,"
she waved her hand in a comprehensive gesture which took in
the starry heavens, the great moon, the broad, silvered plain,
and the dense shadows in the distance, that marked the jungle.
"Oh, how I love it!"
"You would love London more," he said earnestly. "And London
would love you. You would be a famous beauty in any capital
of Europe. You would have the world at your feet, Meriem."
"Good night!" she repeated, and left him.
The Hon. Morison selected a cigarette from his crested case,
lighted it, blew a thin line of blue smoke toward the moon,
Meriem and Bwana were sitting on the verandah together the
following day when a horseman appeared in the distance riding
across the plain toward the bungalow. Bwana shaded his eyes
with his hand and gazed out toward the oncoming rider.
He was puzzled. Strangers were few in Central Africa. Even the
blacks for a distance of many miles in every direction were well
known to him. No white man came within a hundred miles that
word of his coming did not reach Bwana long before the stranger.
His every move was reported to the big Bwana--just what animals
he killed and how many of each species, how he killed them,
too, for Bwana would not permit the use of prussic acid or
strychnine; and how he treated his "boys."
Several European sportsmen had been turned back to the coast
by the big Englishman's orders because of unwarranted cruelty
to their black followers, and one, whose name had long been
heralded in civilized communities as that of a great sportsman,
was driven from Africa with orders never to return when Bwana
found that his big bag of fourteen lions had been made by the
diligent use of poisoned bait.
The result was that all good sportsmen and all the natives
loved and respected him. His word was law where there had
never been law before. There was scarce a head man from coast
to coast who would not heed the big Bwana's commands in
preference to those of the hunters who employed them, and so
it was easy to turn back any undesirable stranger--Bwana had
simply to threaten to order his boys to desert him.
But there was evidently one who had slipped into the
country unheralded. Bwana could not imagine who the approaching
horseman might be. After the manner of frontier hospitality the
globe round he met the newcomer at the gate, welcoming him
even before he had dismounted. He saw a tall, well knit man of
thirty or over, blonde of hair and smooth shaven. There was a
tantalizing familiarity about him that convinced Bwana that he
should be able to call the visitor by name, yet he was unable to
do so. The newcomer was evidently of Scandinavian origin--
both his appearance and accent denoted that. His manner was
rough but open. He made a good impression upon the Englishman,
who was wont to accept strangers in this wild and savage country
at their own valuation, asking no questions and assuming the best
of them until they proved themselves undeserving of his friendship
"It is rather unusual that a white man comes unheralded,"
he said, as they walked together toward the field into which he
had suggested that the traveler might turn his pony. "My friends,
the natives, keep us rather well-posted."
"It is probably due to the fact that I came from the south,"
explained the stranger, "that you did not hear of my coming.
I have seen no village for several marches."
"No, there are none to the south of us for many miles,"
replied Bwana. "Since Kovudoo deserted his country I rather
doubt that one could find a native in that direction under two
or three hundred miles."
Bwana was wondering how a lone white man could have made
his way through the savage, unhospitable miles that lay toward
the south. As though guessing what must be passing through the
other's mind, the stranger vouchsafed an explanation.
"I came down from the north to do a little trading and hunting,"
he said, "and got way off the beaten track. My head man,
who was the only member of the safari who had ever before
been in the country, took sick and died. We could find no natives
to guide us, and so I simply swung back straight north. We have
been living on the fruits of our guns for over a month. Didn't have
an idea there was a white man within a thousand miles of us when
we camped last night by a water hole at the edge of the plain.
This morning I started out to hunt and saw the smoke from your
chimney, so I sent my gun bearer back to camp with the good news
and rode straight over here myself. Of course I've heard of
you--everybody who comes into Central Africa does--and I'd be
mighty glad of permission to rest up and hunt around here for
a couple of weeks."
"Certainly," replied Bwana. "Move your camp up close to
the river below my boys' camp and make yourself at home."
They had reached the verandah now and Bwana was introducing
the stranger to Meriem and My Dear, who had just come from
the bungalow's interior.
"This is Mr. Hanson," he said, using the name the man had
given him. "He is a trader who has lost his way in the jungle
to the south."
My Dear and Meriem bowed their acknowledgments of the introduction.
The man seemed rather ill at ease in their presence. His host
attributed this to the fact that his guest was unaccustomed to
the society of cultured women, and so found a pretext to quickly
extricate him from his seemingly unpleasant position and lead him
away to his study and the brandy and soda which were evidently
much less embarrassing to Mr. Hanson.
When the two had left them Meriem turned toward My Dear.
"It is odd," she said, "but I could almost swear that I had
known Mr. Hanson in the past. It is odd, but quite impossible,"
and she gave the matter no further thought.
Hanson did not accept Bwana's invitation to move his camp
closer to the bungalow. He said his boys were inclined to be
quarrelsome, and so were better off at a distance; and he,
himself, was around but little, and then always avoided coming
into contact with the ladies. A fact which naturally aroused only
laughing comment on the rough trader's bashfulness. He accompanied
the men on several hunting trips where they found him perfectly
at home and well versed in all the finer points of big game hunting.
Of an evening he often spent much time with the white foreman of
the big farm, evidently finding in the society of this rougher
man more common interests than the cultured guests of Bwana
possessed for him. So it came that his was a familiar figure
about the premises by night. He came and went as he saw fit,
often wandering along in the great flower garden that was the
especial pride and joy of My Dear and Meriem. The first time
that he had been surprised there he apologized gruffly, explaining
that he had always been fond of the good old blooms of northern
Europe which My Dear had so successfully transplanted in African soil.
Was it, though, the ever beautiful blossoms of hollyhocks and
phlox that drew him to the perfumed air of the garden, or that
other infinitely more beautiful flower who wandered often among
the blooms beneath the great moon--the black-haired, suntanned Meriem?
For three weeks Hanson had remained. During this time he said
that his boys were resting and gaining strength after their
terrible ordeals in the untracked jungle to the south; but he had
not been as idle as he appeared to have been. He divided his
small following into two parties, entrusting the leadership of
each to men whom he believed that he could trust. To them he
explained his plans and the rich reward that they would win
from him if they carried his designs to a successful conclusion.
One party he moved very slowly northward along the trail that
connects with the great caravan routes entering the Sahara from
the south. The other he ordered straight westward with orders to
halt and go into permanent camp just beyond the great river
which marks the natural boundary of the country that the big
Bwana rightfully considers almost his own.
To his host he explained that he was moving his safari slowly
toward the north--he said nothing of the party moving westward.
Then, one day, he announced that half his boys had deserted, for
a hunting party from the bungalow had come across his northerly
camp and he feared that they might have noticed the reduced numbers
of his following.
And thus matters stood when, one hot night, Meriem, unable
to sleep, rose and wandered out into the garden. The Hon.
Morison had been urging his suit once more that evening, and the
girl's mind was in such a turmoil that she had been unable to sleep.
The wide heavens about her seemed to promise a greater freedom
from doubt and questioning. Baynes had urged her to tell
him that she loved him. A dozen times she thought that she
might honestly give him the answer that he demanded. Korak fast
was becoming but a memory. That he was dead she had come to
believe, since otherwise he would have sought her out. She did
not know that he had even better reason to believe her dead,
and that it was because of that belief he had made no effort
to find her after his raid upon the village of Kovudoo.
Behind a great flowering shrub Hanson lay gazing at the stars
and waiting. He had lain thus and there many nights before.
For what was he waiting, or for whom? He heard the girl
approaching, and half raised himself to his elbow. A dozen
paces away, the reins looped over a fence post, stood his pony.
Meriem, walking slowly, approached the bush behind which the
waiter lay. Hanson drew a large bandanna handkerchief from
his pocket and rose stealthily to his knees. A pony neighed
down at the corrals. Far out across the plain a lion roared.
Hanson changed his position until he squatted upon both feet,
ready to come erect quickly.
Again the pony neighed--this time closer. There was the
sound of his body brushing against shrubbery. Hanson heard
and wondered how the animal had gotten from the corral, for it
was evident that he was already in the garden. The man turned
his head in the direction of the beast. What he saw sent him to
the ground, huddled close beneath the shrubbery--a man was
coming, leading two ponies.
Meriem heard now and stopped to look and listen. A moment
later the Hon. Morison Baynes drew near, the two saddled
mounts at his heels.
Meriem looked up at him in surprise. The Hon. Morison
"I couldn't sleep," he explained, "and was going for a bit
a ride when I chanced to see you out here, and I thought you'd
like to join me. Ripping good sport, you know, night riding.
Meriem laughed. The adventure appealed to her.
"All right," she said.
Hanson swore beneath his breath. The two led their horses
from the garden to the gate and through it. There they
discovered Hanson's mount.
"Why here's the trader's pony," remarked Baynes.
"He's probably down visiting with the foreman," said Meriem.
"Pretty late for him, isn't it?" remarked the Hon. Morison.
"I'd hate to have to ride back through that jungle at night
to his camp."
As though to give weight to his apprehensions the distant lion
roared again. The Hon. Morison shivered and glanced at the
girl to note the effect of the uncanny sound upon her.
She appeared not to have noticed it.
A moment later the two had mounted and were moving slowly
across the moon-bathed plain. The girl turned her pony's head
straight toward the jungle. It was in the direction of the roaring
of the hungry lion.
"Hadn't we better steer clear of that fellow?" suggested the
Hon. Morison. "I guess you didn't hear him."
"Yes, I heard him," laughed Meriem. "Let's ride over and
call on him."
The Hon. Morison laughed uneasily. He didn't care to appear
at a disadvantage before this girl, nor did he care, either, to
approach a hungry lion too closely at night. He carried his rifle
in his saddle boot; but moonlight is an uncertain light to shoot
by, nor ever had he faced a lion alone--even by day. The thought
gave him a distinct nausea. The beast ceased his roaring now.
They heard him no more and the Hon. Morison gained courage accordingly.
They were riding down wind toward the jungle. The lion lay in a
little swale to their right. He was old. For two nights he had
not fed, for no longer was his charge as swift or his spring as
mighty as in the days of his prime when he spread terror among
the creatures of his wild domain. For two nights and days he had
gone empty, and for long time before that he had fed only
upon carrion. He was old; but he was yet a terrible engine
At the edge of the forest the Hon. Morison drew rein. He had
no desire to go further. Numa, silent upon his padded feet, crept
into the jungle beyond them. The wind, now, was blowing gently
between him and his intended prey. He had come a long way in
search of man, for even in his youth he had tasted human flesh
and while it was poor stuff by comparison with eland and zebra
it was less difficult to kill. In Numa's estimation man was a
slow-witted, slow-footed creature which commanded no respect
unless accompanied by the acrid odor which spelled to the
monarch's sensitive nostrils the great noise and the blinding flash
of an express rifle.
He caught the dangerous scent tonight; but he was ravenous
to madness. He would face a dozen rifles, if necessary, to fill
his empty belly. He circled about into the forest that he might
again be down wind from his victims, for should they get his
scent he could not hope to overtake them. Numa was famished;
but he was old and crafty.
Deep in the jungle another caught faintly the scent of man
and of Numa both. He raised his head and sniffed. He cocked
it upon one side and listened.
"Come on," said Meriem, "let's ride in a way--the forest
wonderful at night. It is open enough to permit us to ride."
The Hon. Morison hesitated. He shrank from revealing his
fear in the presence of the girl. A braver man, sure of his own
position, would have had the courage to have refused uselessly
to expose the girl to danger. He would not have thought of himself
at all; but the egotism of the Hon. Morison required that he
think always of self first. He had planned the ride to get Meriem
away from the bungalow. He wanted to talk to her alone and far
enough away so should she take offense at his purposed suggestion
he would have time in which to attempt to right himself in her
eyes before they reached home. He had little doubt, of course,
but that he should succeed; but it is to his credit that he did
have some slight doubts.
"You needn't be afraid of the lion," said Meriem, noting his
slight hesitancy. "There hasn't been a man eater around here
for two years, Bwana says, and the game is so plentiful that
there is no necessity to drive Numa to human flesh. Then, he
has been so often hunted that he rather keeps out of man's way."
"Oh, I'm not afraid of lions," replied the Hon. Morison. "I
just thinking what a beastly uncomfortable place a forest is
to ride in. What with the underbrush and the low branches and
all that, you know, it's not exactly cut out for pleasure riding."
"Let's go a-foot then," suggested Meriem, and started to dismount.
"Oh, no," cried the Hon. Morison, aghast at this suggestion.
"Let's ride," and he reined his pony into the dark shadows of
the wood. Behind him came Meriem and in front, prowling
ahead waiting a favorable opportunity, skulked Numa, the lion.
Out upon the plain a lone horseman muttered a low curse as
he saw the two disappear from sight. It was Hanson. He had
followed them from the bungalow. Their way led in the direction
of his camp, so he had a ready and plausible excuse should they
discover him; but they had not seen him for they had not turned
their eyes behind.
Now he turned directly toward the spot at which they had
entered the jungle. He no longer cared whether he was observed
or not. There were two reasons for his indifference. The first
was that he saw in Baynes' act a counterpart of his own
planned abduction of the girl. In some way he might turn the
thing to his own purposes. At least he would keep in touch with
them and make sure that Baynes did not get her. His other reason
was based on his knowledge of an event that had transpired at
his camp the previous night--an event which he had not mentioned
at the bungalow for fear of drawing undesired attention to his
movements and bringing the blacks of the big Bwana into dangerous
intercourse with his own boys. He had told at the bungalow that
half his men had deserted. That story might be quickly disproved
should his boys and Bwana's grow confidential.
The event that he had failed to mention and which now urged
him hurriedly after the girl and her escort had occurred during
his absence early the preceding evening. His men had been sitting
around their camp fire, entirely encircled by a high, thorn boma,
when, without the slightest warning, a huge lion had leaped
amongst them and seized one of their number. It had been solely
due to the loyalty and courage of his comrades that his life
had been saved, and then only after a battle royal with the
hunger-enraged beast had they been able to drive him off
with burning brands, spears, and rifles.
From this Hanson knew that a man eater had wandered into
the district or been developed by the aging of one of the many
lions who ranged the plains and hills by night, or lay up in the
cool wood by day. He had heard the roaring of a hungry lion
not half an hour before, and there was little doubt in his mind
but that the man eater was stalking Meriem and Baynes. He cursed
the Englishman for a fool, and spurred rapidly after them.
Meriem and Baynes had drawn up in a small, natural clearing.
A hundred yards beyond them Numa lay crouching in the underbrush,
his yellow-green eyes fixed upon his prey, the tip of his sinuous
tail jerking spasmodically. He was measuring the distance
between him and them. He was wondering if he dared venture
a charge, or should he wait yet a little longer in the hope
that they might ride straight into his jaws. He was very hungry;
but also was he very crafty. He could not chance losing his meat
by a hasty and ill-considered rush. Had he waited the night
before until the blacks slept he would not have been forced to
go hungry for another twenty-four hours.
Behind him the other that had caught his scent and that of
man together came to a sitting posture upon the branch of a
tree in which he had reposed himself for slumber. Beneath him
a lumbering gray hulk swayed to and fro in the darkness.
The beast in the tree uttered a low guttural and dropped to the
back of the gray mass. He whispered a word in one of the great
ears and Tantor, the elephant, raised his trunk aloft, swinging
it high and low to catch the scent that the word had warned him of.
There was another whispered word--was it a command?--and the
lumbering beast wheeled into an awkward, yet silent shuffle,
in the direction of Numa, the lion, and the stranger Tarmangani
his rider had scented.
Onward they went, the scent of the lion and his prey becoming
stronger and stronger. Numa was becoming impatient. How much
longer must he wait for his meat to come his way? He lashed his
tail viciously now. He almost growled. All unconscious of their
danger the man and the girl sat talking in the little clearing.
Their horses were pressed side by side. Baynes had found
Meriem's hand and was pressing it as he poured words of love
into her ear, and Meriem was listening.
"Come to London with me," urged the Hon. Morison. "I can
gather a safari and we can be a whole day upon the way
to the coast before they guess that we have gone."
"Why must we go that way?" asked the girl. "Bwana and
My Dear would not object to our marriage."
"I cannot marry you just yet," explained the Hon. Morison,
"there are some formalities to be attended to first--you do
not understand. It will be all right. We will go to London.
I cannot wait. If you love me you will come. What of the apes
you lived with? Did they bother about marriage? They love as
we love. Had you stayed among them you would have mated as
they mate. It is the law of nature--no man-made law can
abrogate the laws of God. What difference does it make if we
love one another? What do we care for anyone in the world besides
ourselves? I would give my life for you--will you give nothing
"You love me?" she said. "You will marry me when we have
"I swear it," he cried.
"I will go with you," she whispered, "though I do not understand
why it is necessary." She leaned toward him and he took her in
his arms and bent to press his lips to hers.
At the same instant the head of a huge tusker poked through
the trees that fringed the clearing. The Hon. Morison and Meriem,
with eyes and ears for one another alone, did not see or hear;
but Numa did. The man upon Tantor's broad head saw the
girl in the man's arms. It was Korak; but in the trim figure of
the neatly garbed girl he did not recognize his Meriem. He only
saw a Tarmangani with his she. And then Numa charged.
With a frightful roar, fearful lest Tantor had come to frighten
away his prey, the great beast leaped from his hiding place.
The earth trembled to his mighty voice. The ponies stood for
an instant transfixed with terror. The Hon. Morison Baynes went
white and cold. The lion was charging toward them full in the
brilliant light of the magnificent moon. The muscles of the Hon.
Morison no longer obeyed his will--they flexed to the urge of a
greater power--the power of Nature's first law. They drove his
spurred heels deep into his pony's flanks, they bore the rein
against the brute's neck that wheeled him with an impetuous
drive toward the plain and safety.
The girl's pony, squealing in terror, reared and plunged upon
the heels of his mate. The lion was close upon him. Only the
girl was cool--the girl and the half-naked savage who bestrode
the neck of his mighty mount and grinned at the exciting spectacle
chance had staked for his enjoyment.
To Korak here were but two strange Tarmangani pursued by Numa,
who was empty. It was Numa's right to prey; but one was a she.
Korak felt an intuitive urge to rush to her protection.
Why, he could not guess. All Tarmangani were enemies now.
He had lived too long a beast to feel strongly the humanitarian
impulses that were inherent in him--yet feel them he did, for
the girl at least.
He urged Tantor forward. He raised his heavy spear and hurled
it at the flying target of the lion's body. The girl's pony
had reached the trees upon the opposite side of the clearing.
Here he would become easy prey to the swiftly moving lion; but
Numa, infuriated, preferred the woman upon his back. It was
for her he leaped.
Korak gave an exclamation of astonishment and approval as
Numa landed upon the pony's rump and at the same instant the
girl swung free of her mount to the branches of a tree above her.
Korak's spear struck Numa in the shoulder, knocking him
from his precarious hold upon the frantically plunging horse.
Freed of the weight of both girl and lion the pony raced ahead
toward safety. Numa tore and struck at the missile in his
shoulder but could not dislodge it. Then he resumed the chase.
Korak guided Tantor into the seclusion of the jungle. He did
not wish to be seen, nor had he.
Hanson had almost reached the wood when he heard the lion's
terrific roars, and knew that the charge had come. An instant
later the Hon. Morison broke upon his vision, racing like mad
for safety. The man lay flat upon his pony's back hugging the
animal's neck tightly with both arms and digging the spurs into
his sides. An instant later the second pony appeared--riderless.
Hanson groaned as he guessed what had happened out of sight in
the jungle. With an oath he spurred on in the hope of driving
the lion from his prey--his rifle was ready in his hand. And then
the lion came into view behind the girl's pony. Hanson could
not understand. He knew that if Numa had succeeded in seizing
the girl he would not have continued in pursuit of the others.
He drew in his own mount, took quick aim and fired. The lion
stopped in his tracks, turned and bit at his side, then rolled
over dead. Hanson rode on into the forest, calling aloud to
"Here I am," came a quick response from the foliage of the
trees just ahead. "Did you hit him?"
"Yes," replied Hanson. "Where are you? You had a mighty
narrow escape. It will teach you to keep out of the jungle
Together they returned to the plain where they found the Hon.
Morison riding slowly back toward them. He explained that his
pony had bolted and that he had had hard work stopping him at all.
Hanson grinned, for he recalled the pounding heels that he
had seen driving sharp spurs into the flanks of Baynes' mount;
but he said nothing of what he had seen. He took Meriem up
behind him and the three rode in silence toward the bungalow.
Behind them Korak emerged from the jungle and recovered
his spear from Numa's side. He still was smiling. He had
enjoyed the spectacle exceedingly. There was one thing that
troubled him--the agility with which the she had clambered
from her pony's back into the safety of the tree ABOVE her.
That was more like mangani--more like his lost Meriem. He sighed.
His lost Meriem! His little, dead Meriem! He wondered if this
she stranger resembled his Meriem in other ways. A great longing
to see her overwhelmed him. He looked after the three figures
moving steadily across the plain. He wondered where might lie
their destination. A desire to follow them came over him, but
he only stood there watching until they had disappeared in
the distance. The sight of the civilized girl and the dapper,
khaki clad Englishman had aroused in Korak memories long dormant.
Once he had dreamed of returning to the world of such as
these; but with the death of Meriem hope and ambition seemed
to have deserted him. He cared now only to pass the remainder
of his life in solitude, as far from man as possible. With a
sigh he turned slowly back into the jungle.
Tantor, nervous by nature, had been far from reassured by
close proximity to the three strange whites, and with the report
of Hanson's rifle had turned and ambled away at his long,
swinging shuffle. He was nowhere in sight when Korak returned
to look for him. The ape-man, however, was little concerned by
the absence of his friend. Tantor had a habit of wandering
off unexpectedly. For a month they might not see one another,
for Korak seldom took the trouble to follow the great pachyderm,
nor did he upon this occasion. Instead he found a comfortable
perch in a large tree and was soon asleep.
At the bungalow Bwana had met the returning adventurers on
the verandah. In a moment of wakefulness he had heard the
report of Hanson's rifle far out across the plain, and wondered
what it might mean. Presently it had occurred to him that the
man whom he considered in the light of a guest might have met
with an accident on his way back to camp, so he had arisen and
gone to his foreman's quarters where he had learned that Hanson
had been there earlier in the evening but had departed several
hours before. Returning from the foreman's quarters Bwana had
noticed that the corral gate was open and further investigation
revealed the fact that Meriem's pony was gone and also the one
most often used by Baynes. Instantly Bwana assumed that the
shot had been fired by Hon. Morison, and had again aroused
his foreman and was making preparations to set forth in
investigation when he had seen the party approaching across
Explanation on the part of the Englishman met a rather chilly
reception from his host. Meriem was silent. She saw that Bwana
was angry with her. It was the first time and she was heart broken.
"Go to your room, Meriem," he said; "and Baynes, if you will
into my study, I'd like to have a word with you in a moment."
He stepped toward Hanson as the others turned to obey him.
There was something about Bwana even in his gentlest moods
that commanded instant obedience.
"How did you happen to be with them, Hanson?" he asked.
"I'd been sitting in the garden," replied the trader, "after
leaving Jervis' quarters. I have a habit of doing that as your
lady probably knows. Tonight I fell asleep behind a bush, and was
awakened by them two spooning. I couldn't hear what they said,
but presently Baynes brings two ponies and they ride off. I didn't
like to interfere for it wasn't any of my business, but I knew
they hadn't ought to be ridin' about that time of night, leastways
not the girl--it wasn't right and it wasn't safe. So I follows them
and it's just as well I did. Baynes was gettin' away from the lion
as fast as he could, leavin' the girl to take care of herself, when
I got a lucky shot into the beast's shoulder that fixed him."
Hanson paused. Both men were silent for a time. Presently the
trader coughed in an embarrassed manner as though there was
something on his mind he felt in duty bound to say, but hated to.
"What is it, Hanson?" asked Bwana. "You were about to
say something weren't you?"
"Well, you see it's like this," ventured Hanson. "Bein'
around here evenings a good deal I've seen them two together a
lot, and, beggin' your pardon, sir, but I don't think Mr. Baynes
means the girl any good. I've overheard enough to make me
think he's tryin' to get her to run off with him." Hanson, to fit
his own ends, hit nearer the truth than he knew. He was afraid
that Baynes would interfere with his own plans, and he had hit
upon a scheme to both utilize the young Englishman and get rid
of him at the same time.
"And I thought," continued the trader, "that inasmuch as
I'm about due to move you might like to suggest to Mr. Baynes
that he go with me. I'd be willin' to take him north to the
caravan trails as a favor to you, sir."
Bwana stood in deep thought for a moment. Presently he
"Of course, Hanson, Mr. Baynes is my guest," he said, a grim
twinkle in his eye. "Really I cannot accuse him of planning
to run away with Meriem on the evidence that we have, and as
he is my guest I should hate to be so discourteous as to ask him
to leave; but, if I recall his words correctly, it seems to me
that he has spoken of returning home, and I am sure that nothing
would delight him more than going north with you--you say you
start tomorrow? I think Mr. Baynes will accompany you. Drop over
in the morning, if you please, and now good night, and thank you
for keeping a watchful eye on Meriem."
Hanson hid a grin as he turned and sought his saddle. Bwana stepped
from the verandah to his study, where he found the Hon. Morison
pacing back and forth, evidently very ill at ease.
"Baynes," said Bwana, coming directly to the point, "Hanson
leaving for the north tomorrow. He has taken a great fancy
to you, and just asked me to say to you that he'd be glad to have
you accompany him. Good night, Baynes."
At Bwana's suggestion Meriem kept to her room the following
morning until after the Hon. Morison Baynes had departed.
Hanson had come for him early--in fact he had remained all
night with the foreman, Jervis, that they might get an early start.
The farewell exchanges between the Hon. Morison and his
host were of the most formal type, and when at last the guest
rode away Bwana breathed a sigh of relief. It had been an
unpleasant duty and he was glad that it was over; but he did not
regret his action. He had not been blind to Baynes' infatuation
for Meriem, and knowing the young man's pride in caste he had
never for a moment believed that his guest would offer his name
to this nameless Arab girl, for, extremely light in color though
she was for a full blood Arab, Bwana believed her to be such.
He did not mention the subject again to Meriem, and in this
he made a mistake, for the young girl, while realizing the debt
of gratitude she owed Bwana and My Dear, was both proud and
sensitive, so that Bwana's action in sending Baynes away and
giving her no opportunity to explain or defend hurt and
mortified her. Also it did much toward making a martyr of
Baynes in her eyes and arousing in her breast a keen feeling
of loyalty toward him.
What she had half-mistaken for love before, she now wholly
mistook for love. Bwana and My Dear might have told her much
of the social barriers that they only too well knew Baynes must
feel existed between Meriem and himself, but they hesitated to
wound her. It would have been better had they inflicted this
lesser sorrow, and saved the child the misery that was to follow
because of her ignorance.
As Hanson and Baynes rode toward the former's camp the Englishman
maintained a morose silence. The other was attempting to
formulate an opening that would lead naturally to the proposition
he had in mind. He rode a neck behind his companion, grinning as
he noted the sullen scowl upon the other's patrician face.
"Rather rough on you, wasn't he?" he ventured at last,
jerking his head back in the direction of the bungalow as Baynes
turned his eyes upon him at the remark. "He thinks a lot of the
girl," continued Hanson, "and don't want nobody to marry her
and take her away; but it looks to me as though he was doin'
her more harm than good in sendin' you away. She ought to
marry some time, and she couldn't do better than a fine young
gentleman like you."
Baynes, who had at first felt inclined to take offense at the
mention of his private affairs by this common fellow, was
mollified by Hanson's final remark, and immediately commenced
to see in him a man of fine discrimination.
"He's a darned bounder," grumbled the Hon. Morison; "but
I'll get even with him. He may be the whole thing in Central
Africa but I'm as big as he is in London, and he'll find it out
when he comes home."
"If I was you," said Hanson, "I wouldn't let any man keep
gettin' the girl I want. Between you and me I ain't got no use
for him either, and if I can help you any way just call on me."
"It's mighty good of you, Hanson," replied Baynes, warming up
bit; "but what can a fellow do here in this God-forsaken hole?"
"I know what I'd do," said Hanson. "I'd take the girl along
with me. If she loves you she'll go, all right."
"It can't be done," said Baynes. "He bosses this whole
blooming country for miles around. He'd be sure to catch us."
"No, he wouldn't, not with me running things," said Hanson.
"I've been trading and hunting here for ten years and I know
as much about the country as he does. If you want to take
the girl along I'll help you, and I'll guarantee that there won't
nobody catch up with us before we reach the coast. I'll tell you
what, you write her a note and I'll get it to her by my head man.
Ask her to meet you to say goodbye--she won't refuse that. In the
meantime we can be movin' camp a little further north all the
time and you can make arrangements with her to be all ready
on a certain night. Tell her I'll meet her then while you wait for
us in camp. That'll be better for I know the country well and
can cover it quicker than you. You can take care of the safari
and be movin' along slow toward the north and the girl and I'll
catch up to you."
"But suppose she won't come?" suggested Baynes.
"Then make another date for a last good-bye," said Hanson,
"and instead of you I'll be there and I'll bring her along anyway.
She'll have to come, and after it's all over she won't feel so bad
about it--especially after livin' with you for two months while
we're makin' the coast."
A shocked and angry protest rose to Baynes' lips; but he did
not utter it, for almost simultaneously came the realization
that this was practically the same thing he had been planning
upon himself. It had sounded brutal and criminal from the lips
of the rough trader; but nevertheless the young Englishman saw
that with Hanson's help and his knowledge of African travel the
possibilities of success would be much greater than as though the
Hon. Morison were to attempt the thing single handed. And so
he nodded a glum assent.
The balance of the long ride to Hanson's northerly camp was
made in silence, for both men were occupied with their own
thoughts, most of which were far from being either complimentary
or loyal to the other. As they rode through the wood the
sounds of their careless passage came to the ears of another
jungle wayfarer. The Killer had determined to come back to the
place where he had seen the white girl who took to the trees
with the ability of long habitude. There was a compelling
something in the recollection of her that drew him irresistibly
toward her. He wished to see her by the light of day, to see her
features, to see the color of her eyes and hair. It seemed to him
that she must bear a strong resemblance to his lost Meriem, and
yet he knew that the chances were that she did not. The fleeting
glimpse that he had had of her in the moonlight as she swung from
the back of her plunging pony into the branches of the tree above
her had shown him a girl of about the same height as his Meriem;
but of a more rounded and developed femininity.
Now he was moving lazily back in the direction of the spot
where he had seen the girl when the sounds of the approaching
horsemen came to his sharp ears. He moved stealthily through
the branches until he came within sight of the riders. The younger
man he instantly recognized as the same he had seen with his
arms about the girl in the moonlit glade just the instant before
Numa charged. The other he did not recognize though there was
a familiarity about his carriage and figure that puzzled Korak.
The ape-man decided that to find the girl again he would but
have to keep in touch with the young Englishman, and so he fell
in behind the pair, following them to Hanson's camp. Here the
Hon. Morison penned a brief note, which Hanson gave into the
keeping of one of his boys who started off forthwith toward
Korak remained in the vicinity of the camp, keeping a careful
watch upon the Englishman. He had half expected to find the
girl at the destination of the two riders and had been
disappointed when no sign of her materialized about the camp.
Baynes was restless, pacing back and forth beneath the trees
when he should have been resting against the forced marches of
the coming flight. Hanson lay in his hammock and smoked.
They spoke but little. Korak lay stretched upon a branch
among the dense foliage above them. Thus passed the balance
of the afternoon. Korak became hungry and thirsty. He doubted
that either of the men would leave camp now before morning, so he
withdrew, but toward the south, for there it seemed most likely
the girl still was.
In the garden beside the bungalow Meriem wandered thoughtfully
in the moonlight. She still smarted from Bwana's, to her,
unjust treatment of the Hon. Morison Baynes. Nothing had been
explained to her, for both Bwana and My Dear had wished to
spare her the mortification and sorrow of the true explanation
of Baynes' proposal. They knew, as Meriem did not, that the
man had no intention of marrying her, else he would have
come directly to Bwana, knowing full well that no objection
would be interposed if Meriem really cared for him.
Meriem loved them both and was grateful to them for all that
they had done for her; but deep in her little heart surged the
savage love of liberty that her years of untrammeled freedom in
the jungle had made part and parcel of her being. Now, for the
first time since she had come to them, Meriem felt like a prisoner
in the bungalow of Bwana and My Dear.
Like a caged tigress the girl paced the length of the enclosure.
Once she paused near the outer fence, her head upon one
side--listening. What was it she had heard? The pad of naked
human feet just beyond the garden. She listened for a moment.
The sound was not repeated. Then she resumed her restless walking.
Down to the opposite end of the garden she passed, turned and
retraced her steps toward the upper end. Upon the sward near
the bushes that hid the fence, full in the glare of the moonlight,
lay a white envelope that had not been there when she had turned
almost upon the very spot a moment before.
Meriem stopped short in her tracks, listening again, and
sniffing--more than ever the tigress; alert, ready. Beyond the
bushes a naked black runner squatted, peering through the foliage.
He saw her take a step closer to the letter. She had seen it.
He rose quietly and following the shadows of the bushes that ran
down to the corral was soon gone from sight.
Meriem's trained ears heard his every move. She made no
attempt to seek closer knowledge of his identity. Already she
had guessed that he was a messenger from the Hon. Morison.
She stooped and picked up the envelope. Tearing it open she
easily read the contents by the moon's brilliant light. It was, as
she had guessed, from Baynes.
"I cannot go without seeing you again," it read. "Come to
the clearing early tomorrow morning and say good-bye to me.
There was a little more--words that made her heart beat faster
and a happy flush mount her cheek.
It was still dark when the Hon. Morison Baynes set forth for
the trysting place. He insisted upon having a guide, saying
that he was not sure that he could find his way back to the
little clearing. As a matter of fact the thought of that lonely
ride through the darkness before the sun rose had been too much
for his courage, and he craved company. A black, therefore,
preceded him on foot. Behind and above him came Korak, whom
the noise in the camp had awakened.
It was nine o'clock before Baynes drew rein in the clearing.
Meriem had not yet arrived. The black lay down to rest.
Baynes lolled in his saddle. Korak stretched himself comfortably
upon a lofty limb, where he could watch those beneath him without
An hour passed. Baynes gave evidence of nervousness. Korak had
already guessed that the young Englishman had come here to meet
another, nor was he at all in doubt as to the identity of
that other. The Killer was perfectly satisfied that he was soon
again to see the nimble she who had so forcefully reminded him
Presently the sound of an approaching horse came to Korak's ears.
She was coming! She had almost reached the clearing before
Baynes became aware of her presence, and then as he looked up,
the foliage parted to the head and shoulders of her mount and
Meriem rode into view. Baynes spurred to meet her. Korak looked
searchingly down upon her, mentally anathematizing the broad-brimmed
hat that hid her features from his eyes. She was abreast the
Englishman now. Korak saw the man take both her hands and draw
her close to his breast. He saw the man's face concealed for a
moment beneath the same broad brim that hid the girl's. He could
imagine their lips meeting, and a twinge of sorrow and sweet
recollection combined to close his eyes for an instant in that
involuntary muscular act with which we attempt to shut out from
the mind's eye harrowing reflections.
When he looked again they had drawn apart and were
conversing earnestly. Korak could see the man urging something.
It was equally evident that the girl was holding back. There were
many of her gestures, and the way in which she tossed her head
up and to the right, tip-tilting her chin, that reminded Korak
still more strongly of Meriem. And then the conversation was
over and the man took the girl in his arms again to kiss her
good-bye. She turned and rode toward the point from which she
had come. The man sat on his horse watching her. At the edge of
the jungle she turned to wave him a final farewell.
"Tonight!" she cried, throwing back her head as she called
the words to him across the little distance which separated
them--throwing back her head and revealing her face for the
first time to the eyes of The Killer in the tree above.
Korak started as though pierced through the heart with an arrow.
He trembled and shook like a leaf. He closed his eyes, pressing
his palms across them, and then he opened them again and looked
but the girl was gone--only the waving foliage of the jungle's
rim marked where she had disappeared. It was impossible! It could
not be true! And yet, with his own eyes he had seen his Meriem--
older a little, with figure more rounded by nearer maturity, and
subtly changed in other ways; more beautiful than ever, yet still
his little Meriem. Yes, he had seen the dead alive again;
he had seen his Meriem in the flesh. She lived! She had not died!
He had seen her--he had seen his Meriem--IN THE ARMS OF ANOTHER MAN!
And that man sat below him now, within easy reach. Korak, The Killer,
fondled his heavy spear. He played with the grass rope dangling
from his gee-string. He stroked the hunting knife at his hip.
And the man beneath him called to his drowsy guide,
bent the rein to his pony's neck and moved off toward the north.
Still sat Korak, The Killer, alone among the trees.
Now his hands hung idly at his sides. His weapons
and what he had intended were forgotten for the moment.
Korak was thinking. He had noted that subtle change in Meriem.
When last he had seen her she had been his little, half-naked
Mangani--wild, savage, and uncouth. She had not seemed uncouth
to him then; but now, in the change that had come over her,
he knew that such she had been; yet no more uncouth than he,
and he was still uncouth.
In her had taken place the change. In her he had just seen a
sweet and lovely flower of refinement and civilization, and he
shuddered as he recalled the fate that he himself had planned for
her--to be the mate of an ape-man, his mate, in the savage jungle.
Then he had seen no wrong in it, for he had loved her, and the
way he had planned had been the way of the jungle which they two
had chosen as their home; but now, after having seen the Meriem
of civilized attire, he realized the hideousness of his once
cherished plan, and he thanked God that chance and the blacks of
Kovudoo had thwarted him.
Yet he still loved her, and jealousy seared his soul as
he recalled the sight of her in the arms of the dapper
young Englishman. What were his intentions toward her?
Did he really love her? How could one not love her? And she
loved him, of that Korak had had ample proof. Had she not
loved him she would not have accepted his kisses. His Meriem
loved another! For a long time he let that awful truth sink deep,
and from it he tried to reason out his future plan of action.
In his heart was a great desire to follow the man and slay him;
but ever there rose in his consciousness the thought: She loves him.
Could he slay the creature Meriem loved? Sadly he shook his head.
No, he could not. Then came a partial decision to follow Meriem
and speak with her. He half started, and then glanced down at his
nakedness and was ashamed. He, the son of a British peer, had thus
thrown away his life, had thus degraded himself to the level of
a beast that he was ashamed to go to the woman he loved and
lay his love at her feet. He was ashamed to go to the little Arab
maid who had been his jungle playmate, for what had he to offer her?
For years circumstances had prevented a return to his father
and mother, and at last pride had stepped in and expunged from
his mind the last vestige of any intention to return. In a
spirit of boyish adventure he had cast his lot with the jungle ape.
The killing of the crook in the coast inn had filled his childish
mind with terror of the law, and driven him deeper into the wilds.
The rebuffs that he had met at the hands of men, both black and
white, had had their effect upon his mind while yet it was in a
formative state, and easily influenced.
He had come to believe that the hand of man was against him,
and then he had found in Meriem the only human association
he required or craved. When she had been snatched from him
his sorrow had been so deep that the thought of ever mingling
again with human beings grew still more unutterably distasteful.
Finally and for all time, he thought, the die was cast. Of his
own volition he had become a beast, a beast he had lived, a
beast he would die.
Now that it was too late, he regretted it. For now Meriem,
still living, had been revealed to him in a guise of progress and
advancement that had carried her completely out of his life.
Death itself could not have further removed her from him.
In her new world she loved a man of her own kind. And Korak
knew that it was right. She was not for him--not for the naked,
savage ape. No, she was not for him; but he still was hers. If he
could not have her and happiness, he would at least do all that
lay in his power to assure happiness to her. He would follow the
young Englishman. In the first place he would know that he
meant Meriem no harm, and after that, though jealously
wrenched his heart, he would watch over the man Meriem loved, for
Meriem's sake; but God help that man if he thought to wrong her!
Slowly he aroused himself. He stood erect and stretched his
great frame, the muscles of his arms gliding sinuously beneath
his tanned skin as he bent his clenched fists behind his head.
A movement on the ground beneath caught his eye. An antelope
was entering the clearing. Immediately Korak became aware
that he was empty--again he was a beast. For a moment love
had lifted him to sublime heights of honor and renunciation.
The antelope was crossing the clearing. Korak dropped to the
ground upon the opposite side of the tree, and so lightly that not
even the sensitive ears of the antelope apprehended his presence.
He uncoiled his grass rope--it was the latest addition to his
armament, yet he was proficient with it. Often he traveled with
nothing more than his knife and his rope--they were light and easy
to carry. His spear and bow and arrows were cumbersome and he
usually kept one or all of them hidden away in a private cache.
Now he held a single coil of the long rope in his right hand,
and the balance in his left. The antelope was but a few paces
from him. Silently Korak leaped from his hiding place swinging
the rope free from the entangling shrubbery. The antelope sprang
away almost instantly; but instantly, too, the coiled rope, with
its sliding noose, flew through the air above him. With unerring
precision it settled about the creature's neck. There was a quick
wrist movement of the thrower, the noose tightened. The Killer
braced himself with the rope across his hip, and as the antelope
tautened the singing strands in a last frantic bound for liberty
he was thrown over upon his back.
Then, instead of approaching the fallen animal as a roper of the
western plains might do, Korak dragged his captive to himself,
pulling him in hand over hand, and when he was within reach
leaping upon him even as Sheeta the panther might have done,
and burying his teeth in the animal's neck while he found its
heart with the point of his hunting knife. Recoiling his rope,
he cut a few generous strips from his kill and took to the trees
again, where he ate in peace. Later he swung off in the direction
of a nearby water hole, and then he slept.
In his mind, of course, was the suggestion of another meeting
between Meriem and the young Englishman that had been borne
to him by the girl's parting: "Tonight!"
He had not followed Meriem because he knew from the direction
from which she had come and in which she returned that
wheresoever she had found an asylum it lay out across the plains
and not wishing to be discovered by the girl he had not cared to
venture into the open after her. It would do as well to keep in
touch with the young man, and that was precisely what he intended doing.
To you or me the possibility of locating the Hon. Morison in
the jungle after having permitted him to get such a considerable
start might have seemed remote; but to Korak it was not at all so.
He guessed that the white man would return to his camp;
but should he have done otherwise it would be a simple matter
to The Killer to trail a mounted man accompanied by another
on foot. Days might pass and still such a spoor would be
sufficiently plain to lead Korak unfalteringly to its end;
while a matter of a few hours only left it as clear to him as
though the makers themselves were still in plain sight.
And so it came that a few minutes after the Hon. Morison
Baynes entered the camp to be greeted by Hanson, Korak slipped
noiselessly into a near-by tree. There he lay until late afternoon
and still the young Englishman made no move to leave camp.
Korak wondered if Meriem were coming there. A little later
Hanson and one of his black boys rode out of camp. Korak merely
noted the fact. He was not particularly interested in what
any other member of the company than the young Englishman did.
Darkness came and still the young man remained. He ate his evening
meal, afterward smoking numerous cigarettes. Presently he began
to pace back and forth before his tent. He kept his boy busy
replenishing the fire. A lion coughed and he went into his tent
to reappear with an express rifle. Again he admonished the boy to
throw more brush upon the fire. Korak saw that he was nervous
and afraid, and his lip curled in a sneer of contempt.
Was this the creature who had supplanted him in the heart of
his Meriem? Was this a man, who trembled when Numa coughed?
How could such as he protect Meriem from the countless dangers
of the jungle? Ah, but he would not have to. They would live
in the safety of European civilization, where men in uniforms
were hired to protect them. What need had a European of
prowess to protect his mate? Again the sneer curled Korak's lip.
Hanson and his boy had ridden directly to the clearing. It was
already dark when they arrived. Leaving the boy there Hanson rode
to the edge of the plain, leading the boy's horse. There he waited.
It was nine o'clock before he saw a solitary figure galloping
toward him from the direction of the bungalow. A few moments
later Meriem drew in her mount beside him. She was nervous
and flushed. When she recognized Hanson she drew back, startled.
"Mr. Baynes' horse fell on him and sprained his ankle,"
Hanson hastened to explain. "He couldn't very well come so he
sent me to meet you and bring you to camp."
The girl could not see in the darkness the gloating, triumphant
expression on the speaker's face.
"We had better hurry," continued Hanson, "for we'll have
to move along pretty fast if we don't want to be overtaken."
"Is he hurt badly?" asked Meriem.
"Only a little sprain," replied Hanson. "He can ride all
but we both thought he'd better lie up tonight, and rest, for he'll
have plenty hard riding in the next few weeks."
"Yes," agreed the girl.
Hanson swung his pony about and Meriem followed him. They rode
north along the edge of the jungle for a mile and then turned
straight into it toward the west. Meriem, following, payed
little attention to directions. She did not know exactly where
Hanson's camp lay and so she did not guess that he was not
leading her toward it. All night they rode, straight toward
the west. When morning came, Hanson permitted a short halt for
breakfast, which he had provided in well-filled saddle bags before
leaving his camp. Then they pushed on again, nor did they
halt a second time until in the heat of the day he stopped and
motioned the girl to dismount.
"We will sleep here for a time and let the ponies graze," he said.
"I had no idea the camp was so far away," said Meriem.
"I left orders that they were to move on at day break," explained
the trader, "so that we could get a good start. I knew that you
and I could easily overtake a laden safari. It may not be
until tomorrow that we'll catch up with them."
But though they traveled part of the night and all the following
day no sign of the safari appeared ahead of them. Meriem, an
adept in jungle craft, knew that none had passed ahead of them
for many days. Occasionally she saw indications of an old spoor,
a very old spoor, of many men. For the most part they followed
this well-marked trail along elephant paths and through park-
like groves. It was an ideal trail for rapid traveling.
Meriem at last became suspicious. Gradually the attitude of the
man at her side had begun to change. Often she surprised him
devouring her with his eyes. Steadily the former sensation of
previous acquaintanceship urged itself upon her. Somewhere, sometime
before she had known this man. It was evident that he had not
shaved for several days. A blonde stubble had commenced to cover
his neck and cheeks and chin, and with it the assurance that he was
no stranger continued to grow upon the girl.
It was not until the second day, however, that Meriem rebelled.
She drew in her pony at last and voiced her doubts. Hanson assured
her that the camp was but a few miles further on.
"We should have overtaken them yesterday," he said. "They
have marched much faster than I had believed possible."
"They have not marched here at all," said Meriem. "The spoor
that we have been following is weeks old."
"Oh, that's it, is it?" he cried. "Why didn't you say so
I could have easily explained. We are not coming by the same
route; but we'll pick up their trail sometime today, even if we
don't overtake them."
Now, at last, Meriem knew the man was lying to her. What a
fool he must be to think that anyone could believe such a
ridiculous explanation? Who was so stupid as to believe that
they could have expected to overtake another party, and he had
certainly assured her that momentarily he expected to do so, when
that party's route was not to meet theirs for several miles yet?
She kept her own counsel however, planning to escape at the
first opportunity when she might have a sufficient start of her
captor, as she now considered him, to give her some assurance
of outdistancing him. She watched his face continually when
she could without being observed. Tantalizingly the placing of
his familiar features persisted in eluding her. Where had she
known him? Under what conditions had they met before she had
seen him about the farm of Bwana? She ran over in her mind all
the few white men she ever had known. There were some who
had come to her father's douar in the jungle. Few it is
true, but there had been some. Ah, now she had it! She had
seen him there! She almost seized upon his identity and then
in an instant, it had slipped from her again.
It was mid afternoon when they suddenly broke out of the
jungle upon the banks of a broad and placid river. Beyond, upon
the opposite shore, Meriem described a camp surrounded by a
high, thorn boma.
"Here we are at last," said Hanson. He drew his revolver and
fired in the air. Instantly the camp across the river was astir.
Black men ran down the river's bank. Hanson hailed them. But there
was no sign of the Hon. Morison Baynes.
In accordance with their master's instructions the blacks
manned a canoe and rowed across. Hanson placed Meriem in
the little craft and entered it himself, leaving two boys to watch
the horses, which the canoe was to return for and swim across
to the camp side of the river.
Once in the camp Meriem asked for Baynes. For the moment
her fears had been allayed by the sight of the camp, which she
had come to look upon as more or less a myth. Hanson pointed
toward the single tent that stood in the center of the enclosure.
"There," he said, and preceded her toward it. At the entrance
he held the flap aside and motioned her within. Meriem entered
and looked about. The tent was empty. She turned toward Hanson.
There was a broad grin on his face.
"Where is Mr. Baynes?" she demanded.
"He ain't here," replied Hanson. "Leastwise I don't see him,
do you? But I'm here, and I'm a damned sight better man than
that thing ever was. You don't need him no more--you got me,"
and he laughed uproariously and reached for her.
Meriem struggled to free herself. Hanson encircled her arms
and body in his powerful grip and bore her slowly backward
toward the pile of blankets at the far end of the tent. His face
was bent close to hers. His eyes were narrowed to two slits of
heat and passion and desire. Meriem was looking full into his
face as she fought for freedom when there came over her a
sudden recollection of a similar scene in which she had been a
participant and with it full recognition of her assailant. He was
the Swede Malbihn who had attacked her once before, who had
shot his companion who would have saved her, and from whom
she had been rescued by Bwana. His smooth face had deceived
her; but now with the growing beard and the similarity of
conditions recognition came swift and sure.
But today there would be no Bwana to save her.
The black boy whom Malbihn had left awaiting him in the
clearing with instructions to remain until he returned sat
crouched at the foot of a tree for an hour when he was suddenly
startled by the coughing grunt of a lion behind him. With celerity
born of the fear of death the boy clambered into the branches
of the tree, and a moment later the king of beasts entered the
clearing and approached the carcass of an antelope which, until
now, the boy had not seen.
Until daylight the beast fed, while the black clung, sleepless,
to his perch, wondering what had become of his master and the
two ponies. He had been with Malbihn for a year, and so was
fairly conversant with the character of the white. His knowledge
presently led him to believe that he had been purposely abandoned.
Like the balance of Malbihn's followers, this boy hated his master
cordially--fear being the only bond that held him to the white man.
His present uncomfortable predicament but added fuel to the fires
of his hatred.
As the sun rose the lion withdrew into the jungle and the black
descended from his tree and started upon his long journey back
to camp. In his primitive brain revolved various fiendish plans
for a revenge that he would not have the courage to put into
effect when the test came and he stood face to face with one of
the dominant race.
A mile from the clearing he came upon the spoor of two ponies
crossing his path at right angles. A cunning look entered the
black's eyes. He laughed uproariously and slapped his thighs.
Negroes are tireless gossipers, which, of course, is but a
roundabout way of saying that they are human. Malbihn's boys
had been no exception to the rule and as many of them had been
with him at various times during the past ten years there was
little about his acts and life in the African wilds that was not
known directly or by hearsay to them all.
And so, knowing his master and many of his past deeds, knowing,
too, a great deal about the plans of Malbihn and Baynes that had
been overheard by himself, or other servants; and knowing well
from the gossip of the head-men that half of Malbihn's party lay
in camp by the great river far to the west, it was not difficult
for the boy to put two and two together and arrive at four as the
sum--the four being represented by a firm conviction that his
master had deceived the other white man and taken the latter's
woman to his western camp, leaving the other to suffer capture
and punishment at the hands of the Big Bwana whom all feared.
Again the boy bared his rows of big, white teeth and laughed aloud.
Then he resumed his northward way, traveling at a dogged trot that
ate up the miles with marvelous rapidity.
In the Swede's camp the Hon. Morison had spent an almost
sleepless night of nervous apprehension and doubts and fears.
Toward morning he had slept, utterly exhausted. It was the
headman who awoke him shortly after sun rise to remind him that
they must at once take up their northward journey. Baynes hung back.
He wanted to wait for "Hanson" and Meriem. The headman urged
upon him the danger that lay in loitering. The fellow knew his
master's plans sufficiently well to understand that he had done
something to arouse the ire of the Big Bwana and that it would
fare ill with them all if they were overtaken in Big Bwana's country.
At the suggestion Baynes took alarm.
What if the Big Bwana, as the head-man called him, had
surprised "Hanson" in his nefarious work. Would he not guess
the truth and possibly be already on the march to overtake and
punish him? Baynes had heard much of his host's summary
method of dealing out punishment to malefactors great and
small who transgressed the laws or customs of his savage little
world which lay beyond the outer ramparts of what men are
pleased to call frontiers. In this savage world where there was
no law the Big Bwana was law unto himself and all who dwelt
about him. It was even rumored that he had extracted the death
penalty from a white man who had maltreated a native girl.
Baynes shuddered at the recollection of this piece of gossip
as he wondered what his host would exact of the man who had
attempted to steal his young, white ward. The thought brought
him to his feet.
"Yes," he said, nervously, "we must get away from here at
Do you know the trail to the north?"
The head-man did, and he lost no time in getting the safari
upon the march.
It was noon when a tired and sweat-covered runner overtook
the trudging little column. The man was greeted with shouts of
welcome from his fellows, to whom he imparted all that he knew
and guessed of the actions of their master, so that the entire
safari was aware of matters before Baynes, who marched close
to the head of the column, was reached and acquainted with the
facts and the imaginings of the black boy whom Malbihn had
deserted in the clearing the night before.
When the Hon. Morison had listened to all that the boy had
to say and realized that the trader had used him as a tool whereby
he himself might get Meriem into his possession, his blood ran hot
with rage and he trembled with apprehension for the girl's safety.
That another contemplated no worse a deed than he had contemplated
in no way palliated the hideousness of the other's offense.
At first it did not occur to him that he would have wronged
Meriem no less than he believed "Hanson" contemplated wronging
Now his rage was more the rage of a man beaten at his own game
and robbed of the prize that he had thought already his.
"Do you know where your master has gone?" he asked the black.
"Yes, Bwana," replied the boy. "He has gone to the other
beside the big afi that flows far toward the setting sun.
"Can you take me to him?" demanded Baynes.
The boy nodded affirmatively. Here he saw a method of revenging
himself upon his hated Bwana and at the same time of escaping
the wrath of the Big Bwana whom all were positive would first
follow after the northerly safari.
"Can you and I, alone, reach his camp?" asked the Hon. Morison.
"Yes, Bwana," assured the black.
Baynes turned toward the head-man. He was conversant with
"Hanson's" plans now. He understood why he had wished to
move the northern camp as far as possible toward the northern
boundary of the Big Bwana's country--it would give him far
more time to make his escape toward the West Coast while the
Big Bwana was chasing the northern contingent. Well, he would
utilize the man's plans to his own end. He, too, must keep out
of the clutches of his host.
"You may take the men north as fast as possible," he said to
the head-man. "I shall return and attempt to lead the Big Bwana
to the west."
The Negro assented with a grunt. He had no desire to follow
this strange white man who was afraid at night; he had less to
remain at the tender mercies of the Big Bwana's lusty warriors,
between whom and his people there was long-standing blood
feud; and he was more than delighted, into the bargain, for a
legitimate excuse for deserting his much hated Swede master.
He knew a way to the north and his own country that the white
men did not know--a short cut across an arid plateau where lay
water holes of which the white hunters and explorers that had
passed from time to time the fringe of the dry country had
never dreamed. He might even elude the Big Bwana should he follow
them, and with this thought uppermost in his mind he gathered
the remnants of Malbihn's safari into a semblance of order and
moved off toward the north. And toward the southwest the black
boy led the Hon. Morison Baynes into the jungles.
Korak had waited about the camp, watching the Hon. Morison
until the safari had started north. Then, assured that the
young Englishman was going in the wrong direction to meet
Meriem he had abandoned him and returned slowly to the point
where he had seen the girl, for whom his heart yearned, in the
arms of another.
So great had been his happiness at seeing Meriem alive that,
for the instant, no thought of jealousy had entered his mind.
Later these thoughts had come--dark, bloody thoughts that
would have made the flesh of the Hon. Morison creep could he
have guessed that they were revolving in the brain of a savage
creature creeping stealthily among the branches of the forest
giant beneath which he waited the coming of "Hanson" and the girl.
And with passing of the hours had come subdued reflection
in which he had weighed himself against the trimly clad English
gentleman and--found that he was wanting. What had he to offer
her by comparison with that which the other man might offer?
What was his "mess of pottage" to the birthright that the other
had preserved? How could he dare go, naked and unkempt, to that
fair thing who had once been his jungle-fellow and propose the
thing that had been in his mind when first the realization of his
love had swept over him? He shuddered as he thought of the
irreparable wrong that his love would have done the innocent
child but for the chance that had snatched her from him before
it was too late. Doubtless she knew now the horror that had
been in his mind. Doubtless she hated and loathed him as he
hated and loathed himself when he let his mind dwell upon it.
He had lost her. No more surely had she been lost when he
thought her dead than she was in reality now that he had seen
her living--living in the guise of a refinement that had
transfigured and sanctified her.
He had loved her before, now he worshipped her. He knew
that he might never possess her now, but at least he might
see her. From a distance he might look upon her. Perhaps he
might serve her; but never must she guess that he had found her
or that he lived.
He wondered if she ever thought of him--if the happy days
that they had spent together never recurred to her mind.
It seemed unbelievable that such could be the case, and yet,
too, it seemed almost equally unbelievable that this beautiful
girl was the same disheveled, half naked, little sprite who
skipped nimbly among the branches of the trees as they ran and
played in the lazy, happy days of the past. It could not be
that her memory held more of the past than did her new appearance.
It was a sad Korak who ranged the jungle near the plain's edge
waiting for the coming of his Meriem--the Meriem who never came.
But there came another--a tall, broad-shouldered man in khaki
at the head of a swarthy crew of ebon warriors. The man's face
was set in hard, stern lines and the marks of sorrow were writ
deep about his mouth and eyes--so deep that the set expression
of rage upon his features could not obliterate them.
Korak saw the man pass beneath him where he hid in the great
tree that had harbored him before upon the edge of that fateful
little clearing. He saw him come and he set rigid and frozen and
suffering above him. He saw him search the ground with his
keen eyes, and he only sat there watching with eyes that glazed
from the intensity of his gaze. He saw him sign to his men that
he had come upon that which he sought and he saw him pass
out of sight toward the north, and still Korak sat like a graven
image, with a heart that bled in dumb misery. An hour later
Korak moved slowly away, back into the jungle toward the west.
He went listlessly, with bent head and stooped shoulders, like
an old man who bore upon his back the weight of a great sorrow.
Baynes, following his black guide, battled his way through
the dense underbrush, riding stooped low over his horse's neck,
or often he dismounted where the low branches swept too close
to earth to permit him to remain in the saddle. The black was
taking him the shortest way, which was no way at all for a
horseman, and after the first day's march the young Englishman
was forced to abandon his mount, and follow his nimble guide
entirely on foot.
During the long hours of marching the Hon. Morison had
much time to devote to thought, and as he pictured the probable
fate of Meriem at the hands of the Swede his rage against the
man became the greater. But presently there came to him a
realization of the fact that his own base plans had led the girl
into this terrible predicament, and that even had she escaped
"Hanson" she would have found but little better deserts awaiting
her with him.
There came too, the realization that Meriem was infinitely
more precious to him than he had imagined. For the first time
he commenced to compare her with other women of his acquaintance--
women of birth and position--and almost to his surprise--he
discovered that the young Arab girl suffered less than they by
the comparison. And then from hating "Hanson" he came to look
upon himself with hate and loathing--to see himself and his
perfidious act in all their contemptible hideousness.
Thus, in the crucible of shame amidst the white heat of naked
truths, the passion that the man had felt for the girl he had
considered his social inferior was transmuted into love. And as
he staggered on there burned within him beside his newborn
love another great passion--the passion of hate urging him on
to the consummation of revenge.
A creature of ease and luxury, he had never been subjected
to the hardships and tortures which now were his constant
companionship, yet, his clothing torn, his flesh scratched
and bleeding, he urged the black to greater speed, though with
every dozen steps he himself fell from exhaustion.
It was revenge which kept him going--that and a feeling that
in his suffering he was partially expiating the great wrong he
had done the girl he loved--for hope of saving her from the fate
into which he had trapped her had never existed. "Too late!
Too late!" was the dismal accompaniment of thought to which
he marched. "Too late! Too late to save; but not too late
to avenge!" That kept him up.
Only when it became too dark to see would he permit of a halt.
A dozen times in the afternoon he had threatened the black
with instant death when the tired guide insisted upon resting.
The fellow was terrified. He could not understand the remarkable
change that had so suddenly come over the white man who had
been afraid in the dark the night before. He would have
deserted this terrifying master had he had the opportunity; but
Baynes guessed that some such thought might be in the other's
mind, and so gave the fellow none. He kept close to him by day
and slept touching him at night in the rude thorn boma they
constructed as a slight protection against prowling carnivora.
That the Hon. Morison could sleep at all in the midst of the
savage jungle was sufficient indication that he had changed
considerably in the past twenty-four hours, and that he could
lie close beside a none-too-fragrant black man spoke of
possibilities for democracy within him yet all undreamed of.
Morning found him stiff and lame and sore, but none the less
determined to push on in pursuit of "Hanson" as rapidly as possible.
With his rifle he brought down a buck at a ford in a small stream
shortly after they broke camp, breakfastless. Begrudgingly he
permitted a halt while they cooked and ate, and then on again
through the wilderness of trees and vines and underbrush.
And in the meantime Korak wandered slowly westward, coming
upon the trail of Tantor, the elephant, whom he overtook
browsing in the deep shade of the jungle. The ape-man, lonely
and sorrowing, was glad of the companionship of his huge friend.
Affectionately the sinuous trunk encircled him, and he was
swung to the mighty back where so often before he had lolled
and dreamed the long afternoon away.
Far to the north the Big Bwana and his black warriors clung
tenaciously to the trail of the fleeing safari that was
luring them further and further from the girl they sought to
save, while back at the bungalow the woman who had loved Meriem
as though she had been her own waited impatiently and in sorrow
for the return of the rescuing party and the girl she was positive
her invincible lord and master would bring back with him.
As Meriem struggled with Malbihn, her hands pinioned to her
sides by his brawny grip, hope died within her. She did not
utter a sound for she knew that there was none to come to her
assistance, and, too, the jungle training of her earlier life
had taught her the futility of appeals for succor in the savage
world of her up-bringing.
But as she fought to free herself one hand came in contact with
the butt of Malbihn's revolver where it rested in the holster at
his hip. Slowly he was dragging her toward the blankets, and
slowly her fingers encircled the coveted prize and drew it from
its resting place.
Then, as Malbihn stood at the edge of the disordered pile of
blankets, Meriem suddenly ceased to draw away from him, and
as quickly hurled her weight against him with the result that
he was thrown backward, his feet stumbled against the bedding
and he was hurled to his back. Instinctively his hands flew out
to save himself and at the same instant Meriem leveled the
revolver at his breast and pulled the trigger.
But the hammer fell futilely upon an empty shell, and Malbihn
was again upon his feet clutching at her. For a moment she
eluded him, and ran toward the entrance to the tent, but at the
very doorway his heavy hand fell upon her shoulder and dragged
her back. Wheeling upon him with the fury of a wounded lioness
Meriem grasped the long revolver by the barrel, swung it high
above her head and crashed it down full in Malbihn's face.
With an oath of pain and rage the man staggered backward,
releasing his hold upon her and then sank unconscious to
the ground. Without a backward look Meriem turned and fled
into the open. Several of the blacks saw her and tried to
intercept her flight, but the menace of the empty weapon kept
them at a distance. And so she won beyond the encircling
boma and disappeared into the jungle to the south.
Straight into the branches of a tree she went, true to the
arboreal instincts of the little mangani she had been, and
here she stripped off her riding skirt, her shoes and her
stockings, for she knew that she had before her a journey and
a flight which would not brook the burden of these garments.
Her riding breeches and jacket would have to serve as protection
from cold and thorns, nor would they hamper her over much;
but a skirt and shoes were impossible among the trees.
She had not gone far before she commenced to realize how slight
were her chances for survival without means of defense or a
weapon to bring down meat. Why had she not thought to strip
the cartridge belt from Malbihn's waist before she had left
his tent! With cartridges for the revolver she might hope to
bag small game, and to protect herself from all but the most
ferocious of the enemies that would beset her way back to the
beloved hearthstone of Bwana and My Dear.
With the thought came determination to return and obtain
the coveted ammunition. She realized that she was taking
great chances of recapture; but without means of defense
and of obtaining meat she felt that she could never hope to
reach safety. And so she turned her face back toward the
camp from which she had but just escaped.
She thought Malbihn dead, so terrific a blow had she dealt him,
and she hoped to find an opportunity after dark to enter the
camp and search his tent for the cartridge belt; but scarcely
had she found a hiding place in a great tree at the edge of the
boma where she could watch without danger of being discovered,
when she saw the Swede emerge from his tent, wiping blood from
his face, and hurling a volley of oaths and questions at his
Shortly after the entire camp set forth in search of her and
when Meriem was positive that all were gone she descended
from her hiding place and ran quickly across the clearing to
Malbihn's tent. A hasty survey of the interior revealed no
ammunition; but in one corner was a box in which were packed
the Swede's personal belongings that he had sent along by his
headman to this westerly camp.
Meriem seized the receptacle as the possible container of
extra ammunition. Quickly she loosed the cords that held the
canvas covering about the box, and a moment later had raised the
lid and was rummaging through the heterogeneous accumulation of
odds and ends within. There were letters and papers and cuttings
from old newspapers, and among other things the photograph of a
little girl upon the back of which was pasted a cutting from a
Paris daily--a cutting that she could not read, yellowed and
dimmed by age and handling--but something about the photograph
of the little girl which was also reproduced in the newspaper
cutting held her attention. Where had she seen that picture before?
And then, quite suddenly, it came to her that this was a picture
of herself as she had been years and years before.
Where had it been taken? How had it come into the possession of
this man? Why had it been reproduced in a newspaper? What was
the story that the faded type told of it?
Meriem was baffled by the puzzle that her search for ammunition
had revealed. She stood gazing at the faded photograph for a
time and then bethought herself of the ammunition for which she
had come. Turning again to the box she rummaged to the bottom
and there in a corner she came upon a little box of cartridges.
A single glance assured her that they were intended for the weapon
she had thrust inside the band of her riding breeches, and slipping
them into her pocket she turned once more for an examination of the
baffling likeness of herself that she held in her hand.
As she stood thus in vain endeavor to fathom this inexplicable
mystery the sound of voices broke upon her ears. Instantly she
was all alert. They were coming closer! A second later she
recognized the lurid profanity of the Swede. Malbihn, her
persecutor, was returning! Meriem ran quickly to the opening of
the tent and looked out. It was too late! She was fairly cornered!
The white man and three of his black henchmen were coming straight
across the clearing toward the tent. What was she to do? She slipped
the photograph into her waist. Quickly she slipped a cartridge
into each of the chambers of the revolver. Then she backed toward
the end of the tent, keeping the entrance covered by her weapon.
The man stopped outside, and Meriem could hear Malbihn profanely
issuing instructions. He was a long time about it, and while he
talked in his bellowing, brutish voice, the girl sought some
avenue of escape. Stooping, she raised the bottom of the canvas
and looked beneath and beyond. There was no one in sight upon
that side. Throwing herself upon her stomach she wormed beneath
the tent wall just as Malbihn, with a final word to his men,
entered the tent.
Meriem heard him cross the floor, and then she rose and, stooping
low, ran to a native hut directly behind. Once inside this she
turned and glanced back. There was no one in sight. She had not
been seen. And now from Malbihn's tent she heard a great cursing.
The Swede had discovered the rifling of his box. He was shouting
to his men, and as she heard them reply Meriem darted from the hut
and ran toward the edge of the boma furthest from Malbihn's tent.
Overhanging the boma at this point was a tree that had been too
large, in the eyes of the rest-loving blacks, to cut down. So they
had terminated the boma just short of it. Meriem was thankful
for whatever circumstance had resulted in the leaving of that
particular tree where it was, since it gave her the much-needed
avenue of escape which she might not otherwise have had.
From her hiding place she saw Malbihn again enter the jungle, this
time leaving a guard of three of his boys in the camp. He went
toward the south, and after he had disappeared, Meriem skirted
the outside of the enclosure and made her way to the river.
Here lay the canoes that had been used in bringing the party from
the opposite shore. They were unwieldy things for a lone girl to
handle, but there was no other way and she must cross the river.
The landing place was in full view of the guard at the camp.
To risk the crossing under their eyes would have meant
undoubted capture. Her only hope lay in waiting until
darkness had fallen, unless some fortuitous circumstance
should arise before. For an hour she lay watching the guard,
one of whom seemed always in a position where he would
immediately discover her should she attempt to launch one
of the canoes.
Presently Malbihn appeared, coming out of the jungle, hot
and puffing. He ran immediately to the river where the canoes
lay and counted them. It was evident that it had suddenly
occurred to him that the girl must cross here if she wished to
return to her protectors. The expression of relief on his face
when he found that none of the canoes was gone was ample evidence
of what was passing in his mind. He turned and spoke hurriedly
to the head man who had followed him out of the jungle and
with whom were several other blacks.
Following Malbihn's instructions they launched all the canoes
but one. Malbihn called to the guards in the camp and a moment
later the entire party had entered the boats and were paddling
Meriem watched them until a bend in the river directly above
the camp hid them from her sight. They were gone! She was
alone, and they had left a canoe in which lay a paddle! She could
scarce believe the good fortune that had come to her. To delay
now would be suicidal to her hopes. Quickly she ran from her
hiding place and dropped to the ground. A dozen yards lay
between her and the canoe.
Up stream, beyond the bend, Malbihn ordered his canoes in
to shore. He landed with his head man and crossed the little
point slowly in search of a spot where he might watch the canoe
he had left at the landing place. He was smiling in anticipation
of the almost certain success of his stratagem--sooner or later
the girl would come back and attempt to cross the river in one
of their canoes. It might be that the idea would not occur to her
for some time. They might have to wait a day, or two days; but
that she would come if she lived or was not captured by the men
he had scouting the jungle for her Malbihn was sure. That she
would come so soon, however, he had not guessed, and so when
he topped the point and came again within sight of the river he
saw that which drew an angry oath from his lips--his quarry
already was half way across the river.
Turning, he ran rapidly back to his boats, the head man at
his heels. Throwing themselves in, Malbihn urged his paddlers
to their most powerful efforts. The canoes shot out into the
stream and down with the current toward the fleeing quarry.
She had almost completed the crossing when they came in sight
of her. At the same instant she saw them, and redoubled her
efforts to reach the opposite shore before they should
overtake her. Two minutes' start of them was all Meriem
cared for. Once in the trees she knew that she could
outdistance and elude them. Her hopes were high--they could
not overtake her now--she had had too good a start of them.
Malbihn, urging his men onward with a stream of hideous oaths
and blows from his fists, realized that the girl was again
slipping from his clutches. The leading canoe, in the bow of
which he stood, was yet a hundred yards behind the fleeing
Meriem when she ran the point of her craft beneath the
overhanging trees on the shore of safety.
Malbihn screamed to her to halt. He seemed to have gone mad
with rage at the realization that he could not overtake her,
and then he threw his rifle to his shoulder, aimed carefully at
the slim figure scrambling into the trees, and fired.
Malbihn was an excellent shot. His misses at so short a distance
were practically non-existent, nor would he have missed this time
but for an accident occurring at the very instant that his finger
tightened upon the trigger--an accident to which Meriem owed her
life--the providential presence of a water-logged tree trunk, one
end of which was embedded in the mud of the river bottom and the
other end of which floated just beneath the surface where the prow
of Malbihn's canoe ran upon it as he fired. The slight deviation
of the boat's direction was sufficient to throw the muzzle of the
rifle out of aim. The bullet whizzed harmlessly by Meriem's head
and an instant later she had disappeared into the foliage of the tree.
There was a smile on her lips as she dropped to the ground to
cross a little clearing where once had stood a native village
surrounded by its fields. The ruined huts still stood in
crumbling decay. The rank vegetation of the jungle overgrew the
cultivated ground. Small trees already had sprung up in what had
been the village street; but desolation and loneliness hung like a
pall above the scene. To Meriem, however, it presented but a place
denuded of large trees which she must cross quickly to regain the
jungle upon the opposite side before Malbihn should have landed.
The deserted huts were, to her, all the better because they were
deserted--she did not see the keen eyes watching her from a dozen
points, from tumbling doorways, from behind tottering granaries.
In utter unconsciousness of impending danger she started up the
village street because it offered the clearest pathway to the jungle.
A mile away toward the east, fighting his way through the
jungle along the trail taken by Malbihn when he had brought
Meriem to his camp, a man in torn khaki--filthy, haggard,
unkempt--came to a sudden stop as the report of Malbihn's rifle
resounded faintly through the tangled forest. The black man just
ahead of him stopped, too.
"We are almost there, Bwana," he said. There was awe and
respect in his tone and manner.
The white man nodded and motioned his ebon guide forward
once more. It was the Hon. Morison Baynes--the fastidious--
the exquisite. His face and hands were scratched and smeared
with dried blood from the wounds he had come by in thorn
and thicket. His clothes were tatters. But through the blood
and the dirt and the rags a new Baynes shone forth--a handsomer
Baynes than the dandy and the fop of yore.
In the heart and soul of every son of woman lies the germ of
manhood and honor. Remorse for a scurvy act, and an honorable
desire to right the wrong he had done the woman he now knew he
really loved had excited these germs to rapid growth in Morison
Baynes--and the metamorphosis had taken place.
Onward the two stumbled toward the point from which the single
rifle shot had come. The black was unarmed--Baynes, fearing his
loyalty had not dared trust him even to carry the rifle which
the white man would have been glad to be relieved of many times
upon the long march; but now that they were approaching their goal,
and knowing as he did that hatred of Malbihn burned hot in the
black man's brain, Baynes handed him the rifle, for he guessed
that there would be fighting--he intended that there should, or
he had come to avenge. Himself, an excellent revolver shot,
would depend upon the smaller weapon at his side.
As the two forged ahead toward their goal they were startled
by a volley of shots ahead of them. Then came a few scattering
reports, some savage yells, and silence. Baynes was frantic in
his endeavors to advance more rapidly, but there the jungle
seemed a thousand times more tangled than before. A dozen
times he tripped and fell. Twice the black followed a blind trail
and they were forced to retrace their steps; but at last they came
out into a little clearing near the big afi--a clearing that once
held a thriving village, but lay somber and desolate in decay and ruin.
In the jungle vegetation that overgrew what had once been the
main village street lay the body of a black man, pierced through
the heart with a bullet, and still warm. Baynes and his companion
looked about in all directions; but no sign of living being
could they discover. They stood in silence listening intently.
What was that! Voices and the dip of paddles out upon the river?
Baynes ran across the dead village toward the fringe of jungle
upon the river's brim. The black was at his side. Together they
forced their way through the screening foliage until they could
obtain a view of the river, and there, almost to the other shore,
they saw Malbihn's canoes making rapidly for camp. The black
recognized his companions immediately.
"How can we cross?" asked Baynes.
The black shook his head. There was no canoe and the crocodiles
made it equivalent to suicide to enter the water in an attempt to
swim across. Just then the fellow chanced to glance downward.
Beneath him, wedged among the branches of a tree, lay the canoe
in which Meriem had escaped. The Negro grasped Baynes' arm and
pointed toward his find. The Hon. Morison could scarce repress
a shout of exultation. Quickly the two slid down the drooping
branches into the boat. The black seized the paddle and Baynes
shoved them out from beneath the tree. A second later the canoe
shot out upon the bosom of the river and headed toward the
opposite shore and the camp of the Swede. Baynes squatted in
the bow, straining his eyes after the men pulling the other
canoes upon the bank across from him. He saw Malbihn step from
the bow of the foremost of the little craft. He saw him turn
and glance back across the river. He could see his start of
surprise as his eyes fell upon the pursuing canoe, and called
the attention of his followers to it.
Then he stood waiting, for there was but one canoe and
two men--little danger to him and his followers in that.
Malbihn was puzzled. Who was this white man? He did not
recognize him though Baynes' canoe was now in mid stream
and the features of both its occupants plainly discernible
to those on shore. One of Malbihn's blacks it was who first
recognized his fellow black in the person of Baynes' companion.
Then Malbihn guessed who the white man must be, though he could
scarce believe his own reasoning. It seemed beyond the pale
of wildest conjecture to suppose that the Hon. Morison Baynes
had followed him through the jungle with but a single companion--
and yet it was true. Beneath the dirt and dishevelment he
recognized him at last, and in the necessity of admitting that
it was he, Malbihn was forced to recognize the incentive that
had driven Baynes, the weakling and coward, through the savage
jungle upon his trail.
The man had come to demand an accounting and to avenge.
It seemed incredible, and yet there could be no other explanation.
Malbihn shrugged. Well, others had sought Malbihn for similar
reasons in the course of a long and checkered career. He fingered
his rifle, and waited.
Now the canoe was within easy speaking distance of the shore.
"What do you want?" yelled Malbihn, raising his weapon threateningly.
The Hon. Morison Baynes leaped to his feet.
"You, damn you!" he shouted, whipping out his revolver and
firing almost simultaneously with the Swede.
As the two reports rang out Malbihn dropped his rifle, clutched
frantically at his breast, staggered, fell first to his knees
and then lunged upon his face. Baynes stiffened. His head flew
back spasmodically. For an instant he stood thus, and then
crumpled very gently into the bottom of the boat.
The black paddler was at a loss as to what to do. If Malbihn
really were dead he could continue on to join his fellows without
fear; but should the Swede only be wounded he would be safer
upon the far shore. Therefore he hesitated, holding the canoe
in mid stream. He had come to have considerable respect for his
new master and was not unmoved by his death. As he sat gazing
at the crumpled body in the bow of the boat he saw it move.
Very feebly the man essayed to turn over. He still lived.
The black moved forward and lifted him to a sitting position.
He was standing in front of him, his paddle in one hand, asking
Baynes where he was hit when there was another shot from
shore and the Negro pitched head long overboard, his paddle
still clutched in his dead fingers--shot through the forehead.
Baynes turned weakly in the direction of the shore to see
Malbihn drawn up upon his elbows levelling his rifle at him.
The Englishman slid to the bottom of the canoe as a bullet
whizzed above him. Malbihn, sore hit, took longer in aiming,
nor was his aim as sure as formerly. With difficulty Baynes
turned himself over on his belly and grasping his revolver in his
right hand drew himself up until he could look over the edge of
Malbihn saw him instantly and fired; but Baynes did not flinch
or duck. With painstaking care he aimed at the target upon the
shore from which he now was drifting with the current. His finger
closed upon the trigger--there was a flash and a report, and
Malbihn's giant frame jerked to the impact of another bullet.
But he was not yet dead. Again he aimed and fired, the bullet
splintering the gunwale of the canoe close by Baynes' face.
Baynes fired again as his canoe drifted further down stream and
Malbihn answered from the shore where he lay in a pool of his
own blood. And thus, doggedly, the two wounded men continued
to carry on their weird duel until the winding African river
had carried the Hon. Morison Baynes out of sight around a
Meriem had traversed half the length of the village street
when a score of white-robed Negroes and half-castes leaped
out upon her from the dark interiors of surrounding huts.
She turned to flee, but heavy hands seized her, and when she
turned at last to plead with them her eyes fell upon the face
of a tall, grim, old man glaring down upon her from beneath
the folds of his burnous.
At sight of him she staggered back in shocked and terrified surprise.
It was The Sheik!
Instantly all the old fears and terrors of her childhood returned
upon her. She stood trembling before this horrible old man,
as a murderer before the judge about to pass sentence of death
upon him. She knew that The Sheik recognized her. The years
and the changed raiment had not altered her so much but what one
who had known her features so well in childhood would know her now.
"So you have come back to your people, eh?" snarled The Sheik.
"Come back begging for food and protection, eh?"
"Let me go," cried the girl. "I ask nothing of you, but that
you let me go back to the Big Bwana."
"The Big Bwana?" almost screamed The Sheik, and then followed
a stream of profane, Arabic invective against the white man
whom all the transgressors of the jungle feared and hated.
"You would go back to the Big Bwana, would you? So that is
where you have been since you ran away from me, is it? And who
comes now across the river after you--the Big Bwana?"
"The Swede whom you once chased away from your country
when he and his companion conspired with Nbeeda to steal me
from you," replied Meriem.
The Sheik's eyes blazed, and he called his men to approach
the shore and hide among the bushes that they might ambush
and annihilate Malbihn and his party; but Malbihn already had
landed and crawling through the fringe of jungle was at that very
moment looking with wide and incredulous eyes upon the scene
being enacted in the street of the deserted village. He recognized
The Sheik the moment his eyes fell upon him. There were two
men in the world that Malbihn feared as he feared the devil.
One was the Big Bwana and the other The Sheik. A single glance
he took at that gaunt, familiar figure and then he turned tail
and scurried back to his canoe calling his followers after him.
And so it happened that the party was well out in the stream before
The Sheik reached the shore, and after a volley and a few parting
shots that were returned from the canoes the Arab called his
men off and securing his prisoner set off toward the South.
One of the bullets from Malbihn's force had struck a black
standing in the village street where he had been left with
another to guard Meriem, and his companions had left him where
he had fallen, after appropriating his apparel and belongings.
His was the body that Baynes had discovered when he had entered
The Sheik and his party had been marching southward along
the river when one of them, dropping out of line to fetch water,
had seen Meriem paddling desperately from the opposite shore.
The fellow had called The Sheik's attention to the strange sight--
a white woman alone in Central Africa and the old Arab had hidden
his men in the deserted village to capture her when she landed,
for thoughts of ransom were always in the mind of The Sheik.
More than once before had glittering gold filtered through
his fingers from a similar source. It was easy money and The
Sheik had none too much easy money since the Big Bwana had
so circumscribed the limits of his ancient domain that he dared
not even steal ivory from natives within two hundred miles of
the Big Bwana's douar. And when at last the woman had walked
into the trap he had set for her and he had recognized her as the
same little girl he had brutalized and mal-treated years before
his gratification had been huge. Now he lost no time in
establishing the old relations of father and daughter that had
existed between them in the past. At the first opportunity he
struck her a heavy blow across the face. He forced her to walk
when he might have dismounted one of his men instead, or had her
carried on a horse's rump. He seemed to revel in the discovery of
new methods for torturing or humiliating her, and among all his
followers she found no single one to offer her sympathy, or who
dared defend her, even had they had the desire to do so.
A two days' march brought them at last to the familiar scenes
of her childhood, and the first face upon which she set her eyes
as she was driven through the gates into the strong stockade was
that of the toothless, hideous Mabunu, her one time nurse. It was
as though all the years that had intervened were but a dream.
Had it not been for her clothing and the fact that she had grown in
stature she might well have believed it so. All was there as she
had left it--the new faces which supplanted some of the old were
of the same bestial, degraded type. There were a few young Arabs
who had joined The Sheik since she had been away. Otherwise all
was the same--all but one. Geeka was not there, and she found
herself missing Geeka as though the ivory-headed one had been a
flesh and blood intimate and friend. She missed her ragged little
confidante, into whose deaf ears she had been wont to pour her
many miseries and her occasional joys--Geeka, of the splinter limbs
and the ratskin torso--Geeka the disreputable--Geeka the beloved.
For a time the inhabitants of The Sheik's village who had not
been upon the march with him amused themselves by inspecting
the strangely clad white girl, whom some of them had known as a
little child. Mabunu pretended great joy at her return, baring
her toothless gums in a hideous grimace that was intended to be
indicative of rejoicing. But Meriem could but shudder as she
recalled the cruelties of this terrible old hag in the years gone by.
Among the Arabs who had come in her absence was a tall young
fellow of twenty--a handsome, sinister looking youth--who
stared at her in open admiration until The Sheik came and
ordered him away, and Abdul Kamak went, scowling.
At last, their curiosity satisfied, Meriem was alone. As of old,
she was permitted the freedom of the village, for the stockade
was high and strong and the only gates were well-guarded by day
and by night; but as of old she cared not for the companionship
of the cruel Arabs and the degraded blacks who formed the
following of The Sheik, and so, as had been her wont in the
sad days of her childhood, she slunk down to an unfrequented
corner of the enclosure where she had often played at house-
keeping with her beloved Geeka beneath the spreading branches
of the great tree that had overhung the palisade; but now the tree
was gone, and Meriem guessed the reason. It was from this tree
that Korak had descended and struck down The Sheik the day
that he had rescued her from the life of misery and torture that
had been her lot for so long that she could remember no other.
There were low bushes growing within the stockade, however,
and in the shade of these Meriem sat down to think. A little
glow of happiness warmed her heart as she recalled her first
meeting with Korak and then the long years that he had cared
for and protected her with the solicitude and purity of an
elder brother. For months Korak had not so occupied her
thoughts as he did today. He seemed closer and dearer now
than ever he had before, and she wondered that her heart had
drifted so far from loyalty to his memory. And then came the
image of the Hon. Morison, the exquisite, and Meriem was troubled.
Did she really love the flawless young Englishman? She thought
of the glories of London, of which he had told her in such
glowing language. She tried to picture herself admired and
honored in the midst of the gayest society of the great capital.
The pictures she drew were the pictures that the Hon. Morison
had drawn for her. They were alluring pictures, but through them
all the brawny, half-naked figure of the giant Adonis of the jungle
persisted in obtruding itself.
Meriem pressed her hand above her heart as she stifled a sigh,
and as she did so she felt the hard outlines of the photograph
she had hidden there as she slunk from Malbihn's tent. Now she
drew it forth and commenced to re-examine it more carefully than
she had had time to do before. She was sure that the baby face
was hers. She studied every detail of the picture. Half hidden
in the lace of the dainty dress rested a chain and locket.
Meriem puckered her brows. What tantalizing half-memories
it awakened! Could this flower of evident civilization be the
little Arab Meriem, daughter of The Sheik? It was impossible,
and yet that locket? Meriem knew it. She could not refute the
conviction of her memory. She had seen that locket before and it
had been hers. What strange mystery lay buried in her past?
As she sat gazing at the picture she suddenly became aware that
she was not alone--that someone was standing close behind her--
some one who had approached her noiselessly. Guiltily she thrust
the picture back into her waist. A hand fell upon her shoulder.
She was sure that it was The Sheik and she awaited in dumb terror
the blow that she knew would follow.
No blow came and she looked upward over her shoulder--into the
eyes of Abdul Kamak, the young Arab.
"I saw," he said, "the picture that you have just hidden.
you when you were a child--a very young child. May I see it again?"
Meriem drew away from him.
"I will give it back," he said. "I have heard of you and
I know that you have no love for The Sheik, your father.
Neither have I. I will not betray you. Let me see the picture."
Friendless among cruel enemies, Meriem clutched at the straw
that Abdul Kamak held out to her. Perhaps in him she might
find the friend she needed. Anyway he had seen the picture and
if he was not a friend he could tell The Sheik about it and it
would be taken away from her. So she might as well grant his
request and hope that he had spoken fairly, and would deal fairly.
She drew the photograph from its hiding place and handed it to him.
Abdul Kamak examined it carefully, comparing it, feature by feature
with the girl sitting on the ground looking up into his face.
Slowly he nodded his head.
"Yes," he said, "it is you, but where was it taken? How does
it happen that The Sheik's daughter is clothed in the garments
of the unbeliever?"
"I do not know," replied Meriem. "I never saw the picture
until a couple of days ago, when I found it in the tent of the
Abdul Kamak raised his eyebrows. He turned the picture over and
as his eyes fell upon the old newspaper cutting they went wide.
He could read French, with difficulty, it is true; but he could
read it. He had been to Paris. He had spent six months there
with a troupe of his desert fellows, upon exhibition, and he had
improved his time, learning many of the customs, some of the
language, and most of the vices of his conquerors. Now he
put his learning to use. Slowly, laboriously he read the
yellowed cutting. His eyes were no longer wide. Instead they
narrowed to two slits of cunning. When he had done he looked at
"You have read this?" he asked.
"It is French," she replied, "and I do not read French."
Abdul Kamak stood long in silence looking at the girl. She was
very beautiful. He desired her, as had many other men who had
seen her. At last he dropped to one knee beside her.
A wonderful idea had sprung to Abdul Kamak's mind. It was an
idea that might be furthered if the girl were kept in ignorance
of the contents of that newspaper cutting. It would certainly be
doomed should she learn its contents.
"Meriem," he whispered, "never until today have my eyes
beheld you, yet at once they told my heart that it must ever be
your servant. You do not know me, but I ask that you trust me.
I can help you. You hate The Sheik--so do I. Let me take you
away from him. Come with me, and we will go back to the
great desert where my father is a sheik mightier than is yours.
Will you come?"
Meriem sat in silence. She hated to wound the only one who
had offered her protection and friendship; but she did not want
Abdul Kamak's love. Deceived by her silence the man seized
her and strained her to him; but Meriem struggled to free herself.
"I do not love you," she cried. "Oh, please do not make me
hate you. You are the only one who has shown kindness toward
me, and I want to like you, but I cannot love you."
Abdul Kamak drew himself to his full height.
"You will learn to love me," he said, "for I shall take you
whether you will or no. You hate The Sheik and so you will not
tell him, for if you do I will tell him of the picture. I hate
The Sheik, and--"
"You hate The Sheik?" came a grim voice from behind them.
Both turned to see The Sheik standing a few paces from them.
Abdul still held the picture in his hand. Now he thrust it
within his burnous.
"Yes," he said, "I hate the Sheik," and as he spoke
toward the older man, felled him with a blow and dashed on
across the village to the line where his horse was picketed,
saddled and ready, for Abdul Kamak had been about to ride
forth to hunt when he had seen the stranger girl alone by
Leaping into the saddle Abdul Kamak dashed for the village gates.
The Sheik, momentarily stunned by the blow that had felled him,
now staggered to his feet, shouting lustily to his followers to
stop the escaped Arab. A dozen blacks leaped forward to intercept
the horseman, only to be ridden down or brushed aside by the muzzle
of Abdul Kamak's long musket, which he lashed from side to side
about him as he spurred on toward the gate. But here he must
surely be intercepted. Already the two blacks stationed there
were pushing the unwieldy portals to. Up flew the barrel of the
fugitive's weapon. With reins flying loose and his horse at a mad
gallop the son of the desert fired once--twice; and both the keepers
of the gate dropped in their tracks. With a wild whoop of exultation,
twirling his musket high above his head and turning in his saddle
to laugh back into the faces of his pursuers Abdul Kamak dashed
out of the village of The Sheik and was swallowed up by the jungle.
Foaming with rage The Sheik ordered immediate pursuit, and
then strode rapidly back to where Meriem sat huddled by the
bushes where he had left her.
"The picture!" he cried. "What picture did the dog speak
Where is it? Give it to me at once!"
"He took it," replied Meriem, dully.
"What was it?" again demanded The Sheik, seizing the girl
roughly by the hair and dragging her to her feet, where he shook
her venomously. "What was it a picture of?"
"Of me," said Meriem, "when I was a little girl. I stole
from Malbihn, the Swede--it had printing on the back cut from
an old newspaper."
The Sheik went white with rage.
"What said the printing?" he asked in a voice so low that she
but barely caught his words.
"I do not know. It was in French and I cannot read French."
The Sheik seemed relieved. He almost smiled, nor did he
again strike Meriem before he turned and strode away with the
parting admonition that she speak never again to any other than
Mabunu and himself. And along the caravan trail galloped Abdul
Kamak toward the north.
As his canoe drifted out of sight and range of the wounded
Swede the Hon. Morison sank weakly to its bottom where he
lay for long hours in partial stupor.
It was night before he fully regained consciousness. And then
he lay for a long time looking up at the stars and trying to
recollect where he was, what accounted for the gently rocking
motion of the thing upon which he lay, and why the position of
the stars changed so rapidly and miraculously. For a while
he thought he was dreaming, but when he would have moved to
shake sleep from him the pain of his wound recalled to him the
events that had led up to his present position. Then it was
that he realized that he was floating down a great African river
in a native canoe--alone, wounded, and lost.
Painfully he dragged himself to a sitting position. He noticed
that the wound pained him less than he had imagined it would.
He felt of it gingerly--it had ceased to bleed. Possibly it
was but a flesh wound after all, and nothing serious. If it
totally incapacitated him even for a few days it would mean
death, for by that time he would be too weakened by hunger and
pain to provide food for himself.
From his own troubles his mind turned to Meriem's. That she
had been with the Swede at the time he had attempted to reach
the fellow's camp he naturally believed; but he wondered what
would become of her now. Even if Hanson died of his wounds
would Meriem be any better off? She was in the power of equally
villainous men--brutal savages of the lowest order. Baynes buried
his face in his hands and rocked back and forth as the hideous
picture of her fate burned itself into his consciousness. And it
was he who had brought this fate upon her! His wicked desire
had snatched a pure and innocent girl from the protection of
those who loved her to hurl her into the clutches of the bestial
Swede and his outcast following! And not until it had become
too late had he realized the magnitude of the crime he himself
had planned and contemplated. Not until it had become too late
had he realized that greater than his desire, greater than his lust,
greater than any passion he had ever felt before was the newborn
love that burned within his breast for the girl he would have ruined.
The Hon. Morison Baynes did not fully realize the change
that had taken place within him. Had one suggested that he ever
had been aught than the soul of honor and chivalry he would
have taken umbrage forthwith. He knew that he had done a vile
thing when he had plotted to carry Meriem away to London, yet
he excused it on the ground of his great passion for the girl
having temporarily warped his moral standards by the intensity
of its heat. But, as a matter of fact, a new Baynes had been born.
Never again could this man be bent to dishonor by the intensity
of a desire. His moral fiber had been strengthened by the mental
suffering he had endured. His mind and his soul had been purged
by sorrow and remorse.
His one thought now was to atone--win to Meriem's side and
lay down his life, if necessary, in her protection. His eyes
sought the length of the canoe in search of the paddle, for a
determination had galvanized him to immediate action despite
his weakness and his wound. But the paddle was gone. He turned
his eyes toward the shore. Dimly through the darkness of a
moonless night he saw the awful blackness of the jungle, yet it
touched no responsive chord of terror within him now as it had
done in the past. He did not even wonder that he was unafraid, for
his mind was entirely occupied with thoughts of another's danger.
Drawing himself to his knees he leaned over the edge of the
canoe and commenced to paddle vigorously with his open palm.
Though it tired and hurt him he kept assiduously at his self
imposed labor for hours. Little by little the drifting canoe moved
nearer and nearer the shore. The Hon. Morison could hear a
lion roaring directly opposite him and so close that he felt he
must be almost to the shore. He drew his rifle closer to his side;
but he did not cease to paddle.
After what seemed to the tired man an eternity of time he felt
the brush of branches against the canoe and heard the swirl of
the water about them. A moment later he reached out and
clutched a leafy limb. Again the lion roared--very near it
seemed now, and Baynes wondered if the brute could have been
following along the shore waiting for him to land.
He tested the strength of the limb to which he clung. It seemed
strong enough to support a dozen men. Then he reached down
and lifted his rifle from the bottom of the canoe, slipping the
sling over his shoulder. Again he tested the branch, and then
reaching upward as far as he could for a safe hold he drew
himself painfully and slowly upward until his feet swung clear
of the canoe, which, released, floated silently from beneath him
to be lost forever in the blackness of the dark shadows down stream.
He had burned his bridges behind him. He must either climb aloft
or drop back into the river; but there had been no other way.
He struggled to raise one leg over the limb, but found himself
scarce equal to the effort, for he was very weak. For a time
he hung there feeling his strength ebbing. He knew that he
must gain the branch above at once or it would be too late.
Suddenly the lion roared almost in his ear. Baynes glanced up.
He saw two spots of flame a short distance from and above him.
The lion was standing on the bank of the river glaring at him,
and--waiting for him. Well, thought the Hon. Morison, let
him wait. Lions can't climb trees, and if I get into this
one I shall be safe enough from him.
The young Englishman's feet hunt almost to the surface of the
water--closer than he knew, for all was pitch dark below as
above him. Presently he heard a slight commotion in the river
beneath him and something banged against one of his feet,
followed almost instantly by a sound that he felt he could not
have mistaken--the click of great jaws snapping together.
"By George!" exclaimed the Hon. Morison, aloud. "The beggar
nearly got me," and immediately he struggled again to climb
higher and to comparative safety; but with that final effort
he knew that it was futile. Hope that had survived persistently
until now began to wane. He felt his tired, numbed fingers
slipping from their hold--he was dropping back into the river--
into the jaws of the frightful death that awaited him there.
And then he heard the leaves above him rustle to the movement of
a creature among them. The branch to which he clung bent beneath
an added weight--and no light weight, from the way it sagged; but
still Baynes clung desperately--he would not give up voluntarily
either to the death above or the death below.
He felt a soft, warm pad upon the fingers of one of his hands
where they circled the branch to which he clung, and then
something reached down out of the blackness above and dragged
him up among the branches of the tree.
Sometimes lolling upon Tantor's back, sometimes roaming the
jungle in solitude, Korak made his way slowly toward the West
and South. He made but a few miles a day, for he had a whole
lifetime before him and no place in particular to go. Possibly he
would have moved more rapidly but for the thought which continually
haunted him that each mile he traversed carried him further and
further away from Meriem--no longer his Meriem, as of yore, it
is true! but still as dear to him as ever.
Thus he came upon the trail of The Sheik's band as it traveled
down river from the point where The Sheik had captured Meriem
to his own stockaded village. Korak pretty well knew who it was
that had passed, for there were few in the great jungle with whom
he was not familiar, though it had been years since he had come
this far north. He had no particular business, however, with the
old Sheik and so he did not propose following him--the further
from men he could stay the better pleased he would be--he wished
that he might never see a human face again. Men always brought
him sorrow and misery.
The river suggested fishing and so he waddled upon its shores,
catching fish after a fashion of his own devising and eating
them raw. When night came he curled up in a great tree beside
the stream--the one from which he had been fishing during the
afternoon--and was soon asleep. Numa, roaring beneath him,
awoke him. He was about to call out in anger to his noisy
neighbor when something else caught his attention. He listened.
Was there something in the tree beside himself? Yes, he heard
the noise of something below him trying to clamber upward.
Presently he heard the click of a crocodile's jaws in the waters
beneath, and then, low but distinct: "By George! The beggar nearly
got me." The voice was familiar.
Korak glanced downward toward the speaker. Outlined against
the faint luminosity of the water he saw the figure of a man
clinging to a lower branch of the tree. Silently and swiftly the
ape-man clambered downward. He felt a hand beneath his foot.
He reached down and clutched the figure beneath him and dragged
it up among the branches. It struggled weakly and struck
at him; but Korak paid no more attention than Tantor to an ant.
He lugged his burden to the higher safety and greater comfort
of a broad crotch, and there he propped it in a sitting position
against the bole of the tree. Numa still was roaring beneath
them, doubtless in anger that he had been robbed of his prey.
Korak shouted down at him, calling him, in the language of the
great apes, "Old green-eyed eater of carrion," "Brother of
the hyena, and other choice appellations of jungle opprobrium.
The Hon. Morison Baynes, listening, felt assured that a gorilla
had seized upon him. He felt for his revolver, and as he was
drawing it stealthily from its holster a voice asked in perfectly
good English, "Who are you?"
Baynes started so that he nearly fell from the branch.
"My God!" he exclaimed. "Are you a man?"
"What did you think I was?" asked Korak.
"A gorilla," replied Baynes, honestly.
"Who are you?" he repeated.
"I'm an Englishman by the name of Baynes; but who the devil
are you?" asked the Hon. Morison.
"They call me The Killer," replied Korak, giving the English
translation of the name that Akut had given him. And then after
a pause during which the Hon. Morison attempted to pierce the
darkness and catch a glimpse of the features of the strange being
into whose hands he had fallen, "You are the same whom I saw
kissing the girl at the edge of the great plain to the East,
that time that the lion charged you?"
"Yes," replied Baynes.
"What are you doing here?"
"The girl was stolen--I am trying to rescue her."
"Stolen!" The word was shot out like a bullet from a gun.
"Who stole her?"
"The Swede trader, Hanson," replied Baynes.
"Where is he?"
Baynes related to Korak all that had transpired since he had
come upon Hanson's camp. Before he was done the first gray
dawn had relieved the darkness. Korak made the Englishman
comfortable in the tree. He filled his canteen from the river
and fetched him fruits to eat. Then he bid him good-bye.
"I am going to the Swede's camp," he announced. "I will
bring the girl back to you here."
"I shall go, too, then," insisted Baynes. "It is my right
my duty, for she was to have become my wife."
Korak winced. "You are wounded. You could not make the trip,"
he said. "I can go much faster alone."
"Go, then," replied Baynes; "but I shall follow. It is my
right and duty."
"As you will," replied Korak, with a shrug. If the man wanted
to be killed it was none of his affair. He wanted to kill him
himself, but for Meriem's sake he would not. If she loved him
then he must do what he could to preserve him, but he could
not prevent his following him, more than to advise him against
it, and this he did, earnestly.
And so Korak set out rapidly toward the North, and limping
slowly and painfully along, soon far to the rear, came the tired
and wounded Baynes. Korak had reached the river bank opposite
Malbihn's camp before Baynes had covered two miles. Late in the
afternoon the Englishman was still plodding wearily along,
forced to stop often for rest when he heard the sound of the
galloping feet of a horse behind him. Instinctively he drew into
the concealing foliage of the underbrush and a moment later a
white-robed Arab dashed by. Baynes did not hail the rider.
He had heard of the nature of the Arabs who penetrate thus far
to the South, and what he had heard had convinced him that a
snake or a panther would as quickly befriend him as one of these
villainous renegades from the Northland.
When Abdul Kamak had passed out of sight toward the North Baynes
resumed his weary march. A half hour later he was again surprised
by the unmistakable sound of galloping horses. This time there
were many. Once more he sought a hiding place; but it chanced
that he was crossing a clearing which offered little opportunity
for concealment. He broke into a slow trot--the best that he
could do in his weakened condition; but it did not suffice to
carry him to safety and before he reached the opposite side of
the clearing a band of white-robed horsemen dashed into view
At sight of him they shouted in Arabic, which, of course, he
could not understand, and then they closed about him, threatening
and angry. Their questions were unintelligible to him, and
no more could they interpret his English. At last, evidently out
of patience, the leader ordered two of his men to seize him,
which they lost no time in doing. They disarmed him and ordered
him to climb to the rump of one of the horses, and then the two
who had been detailed to guard him turned and rode back toward
the South, while the others continued their pursuit of Abdul Kamak.
As Korak came out upon the bank of the river across from
which he could see the camp of Malbihn he was at a loss as to
how he was to cross. He could see men moving about among the
huts inside the boma--evidently Hanson was still there.
Korak did not know the true identity of Meriem's abductor.
How was he to cross. Not even he would dare the perils of
the river--almost certain death. For a moment he thought, then
wheeled and sped away into the jungle, uttering a peculiar cry,
shrill and piercing. Now and again he would halt to listen as
though for an answer to his weird call, then on again, deeper
and deeper into the wood.
At last his listening ears were rewarded by the sound they
craved--the trumpeting of a bull elephant, and a few moments
later Korak broke through the trees into the presence of Tantor,
standing with upraised trunk, waving his great ears.
"Quick, Tantor!" shouted the ape-man, and the beast swung
him to his head. "Hurry!" and the mighty pachyderm lumbered
off through the jungle, guided by kicking of naked heels against
the sides of his head.
Toward the northwest Korak guided his huge mount, until they
came out upon the river a mile or more above the Swede's camp,
at a point where Korak knew that there was an elephant ford.
Never pausing the ape-man urged the beast into the river, and with
trunk held high Tantor forged steadily toward the opposite bank.
Once an unwary crocodile attacked him but the sinuous trunk dove
beneath the surface and grasping the amphibian about the middle
dragged it to light and hurled it a hundred feet down stream.
And so, in safety, they made the opposite shore, Korak perched
high and dry above the turgid flood.
Then back toward the South Tantor moved, steadily, relentlessly,
and with a swinging gait which took no heed of any obstacle other
than the larger jungle trees. At times Korak was forced to
abandon the broad head and take to the trees above, so close
the branches raked the back of the elephant; but at last they
came to the edge of the clearing where lay the camp of the
renegade Swede, nor even then did they hesitate or halt.
The gate lay upon the east side of the camp, facing the river.
Tantor and Korak approached from the north. There was no gate
there; but what cared Tantor or Korak for gates.
At a word from the ape man and raising his tender trunk high
above the thorns Tantor breasted the boma, walking through it
as though it had not existed. A dozen blacks squatted before
their huts looked up at the noise of his approach. With sudden
howls of terror and amazement they leaped to their feet and fled
for the open gates. Tantor would have pursued. He hated man,
and he thought that Korak had come to hunt these; but the ape
man held him back, guiding him toward a large, canvas tent that
rose in the center of the clearing--there should be the girl and
Malbihn lay in a hammock beneath canopy before his tent.
His wounds were painful and he had lost much blood. He was
very weak. He looked up in surprise as he heard the screams of
his men and saw them running toward the gate. And then from
around the corner of his tent loomed a huge bulk, and Tantor,
the great tusker, towered above him. Malbihn's boy, feeling
neither affection nor loyalty for his master, broke and ran at the
first glimpse of the beast, and Malbihn was left alone and helpless.
The elephant stopped a couple of paces from the wounded
man's hammock. Malbihn cowered, moaning. He was too weak
to escape. He could only lie there with staring eyes gazing in
horror into the blood rimmed, angry little orbs fixed upon him,
and await his death.
Then, to his astonishment, a man slid to the ground from the
elephant's back. Almost at once Malbihn recognized the strange
figure as that of the creature who consorted with apes and
baboons--the white warrior of the jungle who had freed the king
baboon and led the whole angry horde of hairy devils upon him
and Jenssen. Malbihn cowered still lower.
"Where is the girl?" demanded Korak, in English.
"What girl?" asked Malbihn. "There is no girl here--only
the women of my boys. Is it one of them you want?"
"The white girl," replied Korak. "Do not lie to me--you
lured her from her friends. You have her. Where is she?"
"It was not I," cried Malbihn. "It was an Englishman who
me to steal her. He wished to take her to London with him.
She was willing to go. His name is Baynes. Go to him, if you
want to know where the girl is."
"I have just come from him," said Korak. "He sent me to you.
The girl is not with him. Now stop your lying and tell me
the truth. Where is she?" Korak took a threatening step toward
Malbihn shrank from the anger in the other's face.
"I will tell you," he cried. "Do not harm me and I will tell
you all that I know. I had the girl here; but it was Baynes who
persuaded her to leave her friends--he had promised to marry her.
He does not know who she is; but I do, and I know that there is
a great reward for whoever takes her back to her people. It was
the only reward I wanted. But she escaped and crossed the river
in one of my canoes. I followed her, but The Sheik was there,
God knows how, and he captured her and attacked me and drove
me back. Then came Baynes, angry because he had lost the girl,
and shot me. If you want her, go to The Sheik and ask him for
her--she has passed as his daughter since childhood."
"She is not The Sheik's daughter?" asked Korak.
"She is not," replied Malbihn.
"Who is she then?" asked Korak.
Here Malbihn saw his chance. Possibly he could make use of his
knowledge after all--it might even buy back his life for him.
He was not so credulous as to believe that this savage ape-man
would have any compunctions about slaying him.
"When you find her I will tell you," he said, "if you will
promise to spare my life and divide the reward with me. If you
kill me you will never know, for only The Sheik knows and he
will never tell. The girl herself is ignorant of her origin."
"If you have told me the truth I will spare you," said Korak.
"I shall go now to The Sheik's village and if the girl is not there
I shall return and slay you. As for the other information you
have, if the girl wants it when we have found her we will find a
way to purchase it from you."
The look in the Killer's eyes and his emphasis of the word "purchase"
were none too reassuring to Malbihn. Evidently, unless he found
means to escape, this devil would have both his secret and his
life before he was done with him. He wished he would be gone
and take his evil-eyed companion away with him. The swaying bulk
towering high above him, and the ugly little eyes of the elephant
watching his every move made Malbihn nervous.
Korak stepped into the Swede's tent to assure himself that
Meriem was not hid there. As he disappeared from view Tantor,
his eyes still fixed upon Malbihn, took a step nearer the man.
An elephant's eyesight is none too good; but the great tusker
evidently had harbored suspicions of this yellow-bearded white
man from the first. Now he advanced his snake-like trunk toward
the Swede, who shrank still deeper into his hammock.
The sensitive member felt and smelled back and forth along
the body of the terrified Malbihn. Tantor uttered a low,
rumbling sound. His little eyes blazed. At last he had
recognized the creature who had killed his mate long
years before. Tantor, the elephant, never forgets and
never forgives. Malbihn saw in the demoniacal visage above
him the murderous purpose of the beast. He shrieked aloud
to Korak. "Help! Help! The devil is going to kill me!"
Korak ran from the tent just in time to see the enraged
elephant's trunk encircle the beast's victim, and then hammock,
canopy and man were swung high over Tantor's head. Korak leaped
before the animal, commanding him to put down his prey unharmed;
but as well might he have ordered the eternal river to reverse
its course. Tantor wheeled around like a cat, hurled Malbihn
to the earth and kneeled upon him with the quickness of a cat.
Then he gored the prostrate thing through and through with his
mighty tusks, trumpeting and roaring in his rage, and at last,
convinced that no slightest spark of life remained in the crushed
and lacerated flesh, he lifted the shapeless clay that had been
Sven Malbihn far aloft and hurled the bloody mass, still
entangled in canopy and hammock, over the boma and out into
Korak stood looking sorrowfully on at the tragedy he gladly
would have averted. He had no love for the Swede, in fact only
hatred; but he would have preserved the man for the sake of the
secret he possessed. Now that secret was gone forever unless
The Sheik could be made to divulge it; but in that possibility
Korak placed little faith.
The ape-man, as unafraid of the mighty Tantor as though he
had not just witnessed his shocking murder of a human being,
signalled the beast to approach and lift him to its head, and
Tantor came as he was bid, docile as a kitten, and hoisted The
Killer tenderly aloft.
From the safety of their hiding places in the jungle Malbihn's
boys had witnessed the killing of their master, and now, with
wide, frightened eyes, they saw the strange white warrior,
mounted upon the head of his ferocious charger, disappear into
the jungle at the point from which he had emerged upon their
The Sheik glowered at the prisoner which his two men brought
back to him from the North. He had sent the party after Abdul
Kamak, and he was wroth that instead of his erstwhile lieutenant
they had sent back a wounded and useless Englishman. Why had
they not dispatched him where they had found him? He was some
penniless beggar of a trader who had wandered from his own
district and became lost. He was worthless. The Sheik scowled
terribly upon him.
"Who are you?" he asked in French.
"I am the Hon. Morison Baynes of London," replied his prisoner.
The title sounded promising, and at once the wily old robber
had visions of ransom. His intentions, if not his attitude toward
the prisoner underwent a change--he would investigate further.
"What were you doing poaching in my country?" growled he.
"I was not aware that you owned Africa," replied the Hon. Morison.
"I was searching for a young woman who had been abducted from the
home of a friend. The abductor wounded me and I drifted down river
in a canoe--I was on my back to his camp when your men seized me."
"A young woman?" asked The Sheik. "Is that she?" and
to his left over toward a clump of bushes near the stockade.
Baynes looked in the direction indicated and his eyes went
wide, for there, sitting cross-legged upon the ground, her back
toward them, was Meriem.
"Meriem!" he shouted, starting toward her; but one of his
guards grasped his arm and jerked him back. The girl leaped to
her feet and turned toward him as she heard her name.
"Morison!" she cried.
"Be still, and stay where you are," snapped The Sheik, and
then to Baynes. "So you are the dog of a Christian who stole
my daughter from me?"
"Your daughter?" ejaculated Baynes. "She is your daughter?"
"She is my daughter," growled the Arab, "and she is not for
any unbeliever. You have earned death, Englishman, but if you
can pay for your life I will give it to you."
Baynes' eyes were still wide at the unexpected sight of
Meriem here in the camp of the Arab when he had thought her
in Hanson's power. What had happened? How had she escaped
the Swede? Had the Arab taken her by force from him, or had she
escaped and come voluntarily back to the protection of the man
who called her "daughter"? He would have given much for a
word with her. If she was safe here he might only harm her by
antagonizing the Arab in an attempt to take her away and return
her to her English friends. No longer did the Hon. Morison
harbor thoughts of luring the girl to London.
"Well?" asked The Sheik.
"Oh," exclaimed Baynes; "I beg your pardon--I was thinking
of something else. Why yes, of course, glad to pay, I'm sure.
How much do you think I'm worth?"
The Sheik named a sum that was rather less exorbitant than
the Hon. Morison had anticipated. The latter nodded his head
in token of his entire willingness to pay. He would have
promised a sum far beyond his resources just as readily, for
he had no intention of paying anything--his one reason for
seeming to comply with The Sheik's demands was that the wait
for the coming of the ransom money would give him the time and
the opportunity to free Meriem if he found that she wished to
be freed. The Arab's statement that he was her father naturally
raised the question in the Hon. Morison's mind as to precisely
what the girl's attitude toward escape might be. It seemed, of
course, preposterous that this fair and beautiful young woman
should prefer to remain in the filthy douar of an illiterate
old Arab rather than return to the comforts, luxuries, and
congenial associations of the hospitable African bungalow from
which the Hon. Morison had tricked her. The man flushed at the
thought of his duplicity which these recollections aroused--
thoughts which were interrupted by The Sheik, who instructed
the Hon. Morison to write a letter to the British consul at
Algiers, dictating the exact phraseology of it with a fluency
that indicated to his captive that this was not the first time
the old rascal had had occasion to negotiate with English
relatives for the ransom of a kinsman. Baynes demurred when
he saw that the letter was addressed to the consul at Algiers,
saying that it would require the better part of a year to get
the money back to him; but The Sheik would not listen to Baynes'
plan to send a messenger directly to the nearest coast town,
and from there communicate with the nearest cable state, sending
the Hon. Morison's request for funds straight to his own solicitors.
No, The Sheik was cautious and wary. He knew his own plan had
worked well in the past. In the other were too many untried elements.
He was in no hurry for the money--he could wait a year, or two
years if necessary; but it should not require over six months.
He turned to one of the Arabs who had been standing behind him
and gave the fellow instructions in relation to the prisoner.
Baynes could not understand the words, spoken in Arabic, but
the jerk of the thumb toward him showed that he was the subject
of conversation. The Arab addressed by The Sheik bowed to his
master and beckoned Baynes to follow him. The Englishman looked
toward The Sheik for confirmation. The latter nodded impatiently,
and the Hon. Morison rose and followed his guide toward a native
hut which lay close beside one of the outside goatskin tents.
In the dark, stifling interior his guard led him, then stepped
to the doorway and called to a couple of black boys squatting
before their own huts. They came promptly and in accordance
with the Arab's instructions bound Baynes' wrists and
ankles securely. The Englishman objected strenuously; but
as neither the blacks nor the Arab could understand a word he
said his pleas were wasted. Having bound him they left the hut.
The Hon. Morison lay for a long time contemplating the frightful
future which awaited him during the long months which must
intervene before his friends learned of his predicament and
could get succor to him. Now he hoped that they would send
the ransom--he would gladly pay all that he was worth to be out
of this hole. At first it had been his intention to cable his
solicitors to send no money but to communicate with the British
West African authorities and have an expedition sent to his aid.
His patrician nose wrinkled in disgust as his nostrils were
assailed by the awful stench of the hut. The nasty grasses upon
which he lay exuded the effluvium of sweaty bodies, of decayed
animal matter and of offal. But worse was yet to come. He had
lain in the uncomfortable position in which they had thrown him
but for a few minutes when he became distinctly conscious of
an acute itching sensation upon his hands, his neck and scalp.
He wriggled to a sitting posture horrified and disgusted.
The itching rapidly extended to other parts of his body--it
was torture, and his hands were bound securely at his back!
He tugged and pulled at his bonds until he was exhausted; but
not entirely without hope, for he was sure that he was working
enough slack out of the knot to eventually permit of his
withdrawing one of his hands. Night came. They brought him
neither food nor drink. He wondered if they expected him to
live on nothing for a year. The bites of the vermin grew less
annoying though not less numerous. The Hon. Morison saw a ray of
hope in this indication of future immunity through inoculation.
He still worked weakly at his bonds, and then the rats came.
If the vermin were disgusting the rats were terrifying.
They scurried over his body, squealing and fighting.
Finally one commenced to chew at one of his ears. With an
oath, the Hon. Morison struggled to a sitting posture.
The rats retreated. He worked his legs beneath him and
came to his knees, and then, by superhuman effort, rose to
his feet. There he stood, reeling drunkenly, dripping with
"God!" he muttered, "what have I done to deserve--"
What had he done? He thought of the girl in another tent in that
accursed village. He was getting his deserts. He set his jaws
firmly with the realization. He would never complain again!
At that moment he became aware of voices raised angrily in the
goatskin tent close beside the hut in which he lay. One of
them was a woman's. Could it be Meriem's? The language was
probably Arabic--he could not understand a word of it; but the
tones were hers.
He tried to think of some way of attracting her attention to his
near presence. If she could remove his bonds they might escape
together--if she wished to escape. That thought bothered him.
He was not sure of her status in the village. If she were the
petted child of the powerful Sheik then she would probably not
care to escape. He must know, definitely.
At the bungalow he had often heard Meriem sing God Save
the King, as My Dear accompanied her on the piano. Raising his
voice he now hummed the tune. Immediately he heard Meriem's
voice from the tent. She spoke rapidly.
"Good bye, Morison," she cried. "If God is good I shall be
dead before morning, for if I still live I shall be worse than
dead after tonight."
Then he heard an angry exclamation in a man's voice, followed
by the sounds of a scuffle. Baynes went white with horror.
He struggled frantically again with his bonds. They were giving.
A moment later one hand was free. It was but the work of an
instant then to loose the other. Stooping, he untied the rope from
his ankles, then he straightened and started for the hut doorway
bent on reaching Meriem's side. As he stepped out into the night
the figure of a huge black rose and barred his progress.
When speed was required of him Korak depended upon no
other muscles than his own, and so it was that the moment
Tantor had landed him safely upon the same side of the river as
lay the village of The Sheik, the ape-man deserted his bulky
comrade and took to the trees in a rapid race toward the south
and the spot where the Swede had told him Meriem might be.
It was dark when he came to the palisade, strengthened
considerably since the day that he had rescued Meriem from her
pitiful life within its cruel confines. No longer did the giant
tree spread its branches above the wooden rampart; but ordinary
man-made defenses were scarce considered obstacles by Korak.
Loosening the rope at his waist he tossed the noose over one of
the sharpened posts that composed the palisade. A moment later
his eyes were above the level of the obstacle taking in all within
their range beyond. There was no one in sight close by, and Korak
drew himself to the top and dropped lightly to the ground within
Then he commenced his stealthy search of the village.
First toward the Arab tents he made his way, sniffing
and listening. He passed behind them searching for some
sign of Meriem. Not even the wild Arab curs heard his
passage, so silently he went--a shadow passing through shadows.
The odor of tobacco told him that the Arabs were smoking before
their tents. The sound of laughter fell upon his ears, and then
from the opposite side of the village came the notes of a once
familiar tune: God Save the King. Korak halted in perplexity.
Who might it be--the tones were those of a man. He recalled
the young Englishman he had left on the river trail and who had
disappeared before he returned. A moment later there came to him
a woman's voice in reply--it was Meriem's, and The Killer,
quickened into action, slunk rapidly in the direction of these
The evening meal over Meriem had gone to her pallet in the
women's quarters of The Sheik's tent, a little corner screened
off in the rear by a couple of priceless Persian rugs to form
a partition. In these quarters she had dwelt with Mabunu alone,
for The Sheik had no wives. Nor were conditions altered now
after the years of her absence--she and Mabunu were alone in
the women's quarters.
Presently The Sheik came and parted the rugs. He glared
through the dim light of the interior.
"Meriem!" he called. "Come hither."
The girl arose and came into the front of the tent. There the
light of a fire illuminated the interior. She saw Ali ben Kadin,
The Sheik's half brother, squatted upon a rug, smoking. The Sheik
was standing. The Sheik and Ali ben Kadin had had the same father,
but Ali ben Kadin's mother had been a slave--a West Coast Negress.
Ali ben Kadin was old and hideous and almost black. His nose and
part of one cheek were eaten away by disease. He looked up and
grinned as Meriem entered.
The Sheik jerked his thumb toward Ali ben Kadin and addressed Meriem.
"I am getting old," he said, "I shall not live much longer.
Therefore I have given you to Ali ben Kadin, my brother."
That was all. Ali ben Kadin rose and came toward her.
Meriem shrank back, horrified. The man seized her wrist.
"Come!" he commanded, and dragged her from The Sheik's tent
and to his own.
After they had gone The Sheik chuckled. "When I send her
north in a few months," he soliloquized, "they will know the
reward for slaying the son of the sister of Amor ben Khatour."
And in Ali ben Kadin's tent Meriem pleaded and threatened, but
all to no avail. The hideous old halfcaste spoke soft words
at first, but when Meriem loosed upon him the vials of her horror
and loathing he became enraged, and rushing upon her seized
her in his arms. Twice she tore away from him, and in one of
the intervals during which she managed to elude him she heard
Baynes' voice humming the tune that she knew was meant for
her ears. At her reply Ali ben Kadin rushed upon her once again.
This time he dragged her back into the rear apartment of his tent
where three Negresses looked up in stolid indifference to the
tragedy being enacted before them.
As the Hon. Morison saw his way blocked by the huge frame of
the giant black his disappointment and rage filled him with a
bestial fury that transformed him into a savage beast. With an
oath he leaped upon the man before him, the momentum of his body
hurling the black to the ground. There they fought, the black
to draw his knife, the white to choke the life from the black.
Baynes' fingers shut off the cry for help that the other would
have been glad to voice; but presently the Negro succeeded in
drawing his weapon and an instant later Baynes felt the sharp
steel in his shoulder. Again and again the weapon fell. The white
man removed one hand from its choking grip upon the black throat.
He felt around upon the ground beside him searching for some
missile, and at last his fingers touched a stone and closed
upon it. Raising it above his antagonist's head the Hon. Morison
drove home a terrific blow. Instantly the black relaxed--stunned.
Twice more Baynes struck him. Then he leaped to his feet and
ran for the goat skin tent from which he had heard the voice of
Meriem in distress.
But before him was another. Naked but for his leopard skin
and his loin cloth, Korak, The Killer, slunk into the shadows at
the back of Ali ben Kadin's tent. The half-caste had just dragged
Meriem into the rear chamber as Korak's sharp knife slit a six
foot opening in the tent wall, and Korak, tall and mighty, sprang
through upon the astonished visions of the inmates.
Meriem saw and recognized him the instant that he entered
the apartment. Her heart leaped in pride and joy at the sight
of the noble figure for which it had hungered for so long.
"Korak!" she cried.
"Meriem!" He uttered the single word as he hurled himself
upon the astonished Ali ben Kadin. The three Negresses leaped
from their sleeping mats, screaming. Meriem tried to prevent
them from escaping; but before she could succeed the terrified
blacks had darted through the hole in the tent wall made by
Korak's knife, and were gone screaming through the village.
The Killer's fingers closed once upon the throat of the hideous Ali.
Once his knife plunged into the putrid heart--and Ali ben Kadin
lay dead upon the floor of his tent. Korak turned toward Meriem
and at the same moment a bloody and disheveled apparition leaped
into the apartment.
"Morison!" cried the girl.
Korak turned and looked at the new comer. He had been about
to take Meriem in his arms, forgetful of all that might have
transpired since last he had seen her. Then the coming of the
young Englishman recalled the scene he had witnessed in the
little clearing, and a wave of misery swept over the ape man.
Already from without came the sounds of the alarm that the
three Negresses had started. Men were running toward the tent
of Ali ben Kadin. There was no time to be lost.
"Quick!" cried Korak, turning toward Baynes, who had scarce
yet realized whether he was facing a friend or foe. "Take her
to the palisade, following the rear of the tents. Here is
my rope. With it you can scale the wall and make your escape."
"But you, Korak?" cried Meriem.
"I will remain," replied the ape-man. "I have business with
Meriem would have demurred, but The Killer seized them both
by the shoulders and hustled them through the slit wall and
out into the shadows beyond.
"Now run for it," he admonished, and turned to meet and
hold those who were pouring into the tent from the front.
The ape-man fought well--fought as he had never fought before;
but the odds were too great for victory, though he won that which
he most craved--time for the Englishman to escape with Meriem.
Then he was overwhelmed by numbers, and a few minutes later,
bound and guarded, he was carried to The Sheik's tent.
The old men eyed him in silence for a long time. He was
trying to fix in his own mind some form of torture that would
gratify his rage and hatred toward this creature who twice had
been the means of his losing possession of Meriem. The killing
of Ali ben Kadin caused him little anger--always had he hated
the hideous son of his father's hideous slave. The blow that this
naked white warrior had once struck him added fuel to his rage.
He could think of nothing adequate to the creature's offense.
And as he sat there looking upon Korak the silence was broken by
the trumpeting of an elephant in the jungle beyond the palisade.
A half smile touched Korak's lips. He turned his head a trifle
in the direction from which the sound had come and then there
broke from his lips, a low, weird call. One of the blacks
guarding him struck him across the mouth with the haft of his
spear; but none there knew the significance of his cry.
In the jungle Tantor cocked his ears as the sound of Korak's
voice fell upon them. He approached the palisade and lifting his
trunk above it, sniffed. Then he placed his head against the
wooden logs and pushed; but the palisade was strong and only
gave a little to the pressure.
In The Sheik's tent The Sheik rose at last, and, pointing
toward the bound captive, turned to one of his lieutenants.
"Burn him," he commanded. "At once. The stake is set."
The guard pushed Korak from The Sheik's presence. They dragged
him to the open space in the center of the village, where a high
stake was set in the ground. It had not been intended for
burnings, but offered a convenient place to tie up refractory
slaves that they might be beaten--ofttimes until death relieved
To this stake they bound Korak. Then they brought brush and
piled about him, and The Sheik came and stood by that he might
watch the agonies of his victim. But Korak did not wince even
after they had fetched a brand and the flames had shot up among
the dry tinder.
Once, then, he raised his voice in the low call that he had
given in The Sheik's tent, and now, from beyond the palisade,
came again the trumpeting of an elephant.
Old Tantor had been pushing at the palisade in vain. The sound
of Korak's voice calling him, and the scent of man, his enemy,
filled the great beast with rage and resentment against the
dumb barrier that held him back. He wheeled and shuffled
back a dozen paces, then he turned, lifted his trunk and gave
voice to a mighty roaring, trumpet-call of anger, lowered his
head and charged like a huge battering ram of flesh and bone
and muscle straight for the mighty barrier.
The palisade sagged and splintered to the impact, and through
the breach rushed the infuriated bull. Korak heard the sounds
that the others heard, and he interpreted them as the others
did not. The flames were creeping closer to him when one of the
blacks, hearing a noise behind him turned to see the enormous
bulk of Tantor lumbering toward them. The man screamed and
fled, and then the bull elephant was among them tossing Negroes
and Arabs to right and left as he tore through the flames he
feared to the side of the comrade he loved.
The Sheik, calling orders to his followers, ran to his tent to get
his rifle. Tantor wrapped his trunk about the body of Korak and
the stake to which it was bound, and tore it from the ground.
The flames were searing his sensitive hide--sensitive for all its
thickness--so that in his frenzy to both rescue his friend and
escape the hated fire he had all but crushed the life from the ape-man.
Lifting his burden high above his head the giant beast wheeled
and raced for the breach that he had just made in the palisade.
The Sheik, rifle in hand, rushed from his tent directly into the
path of the maddened brute. He raised his weapon and fired
once, the bullet missed its mark, and Tantor was upon him,
crushing him beneath those gigantic feet as he raced over him
as you and I might crush out the life of an ant that chanced to
be in our pathway.
And then, bearing his burden carefully, Tantor, the elephant,
entered the blackness of the jungle.
Meriem, dazed by the unexpected sight of Korak whom she had
long given up as dead, permitted herself to be led away
by Baynes. Among the tents he guided her safely to the
palisade, and there, following Korak's instructions, the
Englishman pitched a noose over the top of one of the
upright logs that formed the barrier. With difficulty he
reached the top and then lowered his hand to assist Meriem
to his side.
"Come!" he whispered. "We must hurry." And then, as
though she had awakened from a sleep, Meriem came to herself.
Back there, fighting her enemies, alone, was Korak--her Korak.
Her place was by his side, fighting with him and for him.
She glanced up at Baynes.
"Go!" she called. "Make your way back to Bwana and bring
My place is here. You can do no good remaining. Get away
while you can and bring the Big Bwana back with you."
Silently the Hon. Morison Baynes slid to the ground inside
the palisade to Meriem's side.
"It was only for you that I left him," he said, nodding toward
the tents they had just left. "I knew that he could hold them
longer than I and give you a chance to escape that I might not be
able to have given you. It was I though who should have remained.
I heard you call him Korak and so I know now who he is.
He befriended you. I would have wronged you. No--don't interrupt.
I'm going to tell you the truth now and let you know just what
a beast I have been. I planned to take you to London, as you know;
but I did not plan to marry you. Yes, shrink from me--I deserve it.
I deserve your contempt and loathing; but I didn't know then what
love was. Since I have learned that I have learned something
else--what a cad and what a coward I have been all my life.
I looked down upon those whom I considered my social inferiors.
I did not think you good enough to bear my name. Since Hanson
tricked me and took you for himself I have been through hell;
but it has made a man of me, though too late. Now I can come to
you with an offer of honest love, which will realize the honor of
having such as you share my name with me."
For a moment Meriem was silent, buried in thought. Her first
question seemed irrelevant.
"How did you happen to be in this village?" she asked.
He told her all that had transpired since the black had told
him of Hanson's duplicity.
"You say that you are a coward," she said, "and yet you have
done all this to save me? The courage that it must have taken to
tell me the things that you told me but a moment since, while
courage of a different sort, proves that you are no moral coward,
and the other proves that you are not a physical coward. I could
not love a coward."
"You mean that you love me?" he gasped in astonishment, taking
a step toward her as though to gather her into his arms; but
she placed her hand against him and pushed him gently away,
as much as to say, not yet. What she did mean she scarcely knew.
She thought that she loved him, of that there can be no question;
nor did she think that love for this young Englishman was
disloyalty to Korak, for her love for Korak was undiminished--the
love of a sister for an indulgent brother. As they stood
there for the moment of their conversation the sounds of tumult
in the village subsided.
"They have killed him," whispered Meriem.
The statement brought Baynes to a realization of the cause of
"Wait here," he said. "I will go and see. If he is dead we
can do him no good. If he lives I will do my best to free him."
"We will go together," replied Meriem. "Come!" And she
the way back toward the tent in which they last had seen Korak.
As they went they were often forced to throw themselves to the
ground in the shadow of a tent or hut, for people were passing
hurriedly to and fro now--the whole village was aroused and
moving about. The return to the tent of Ali ben Kadin took
much longer than had their swift flight to the palisade.
Cautiously they crept to the slit that Korak's knife had made in
the rear wall. Meriem peered within--the rear apartment was empty.
She crawled through the aperture, Baynes at her heels, and then
silently crossed the space to the rugs that partitioned the tent
into two rooms. Parting the hangings Meriem looked into the
front room. It, too, was deserted. She crossed to the door of
the tent and looked out. Then she gave a little gasp of horror.
Baynes at her shoulder looked past her to the sight that had
startled her, and he, too, exclaimed; but his was an oath of anger.
A hundred feet away they saw Korak bound to a stake--the
brush piled about him already alight. The Englishman pushed
Meriem to one side and started to run for the doomed man.
What he could do in the face of scores of hostile blacks and
Arabs he did not stop to consider. At the same instant Tantor
broke through the palisade and charged the group. In the face
of the maddened beast the crowd turned and fled, carrying
Baynes backward with them. In a moment it was all over, and
the elephant had disappeared with his prize; but pandemonium
reigned throughout the village. Men, women and children ran
helter skelter for safety. Curs fled, yelping. The horses and
camels and donkeys, terrorized by the trumpeting of the pachyderm,
kicked and pulled at their tethers. A dozen or more broke loose,
and it was the galloping of these past him that brought a sudden
idea into Baynes' head. He turned to search for Meriem only to
find her at his elbow.
"The horses!" he cried. "If we can get a couple of them!"
Filled with the idea Meriem led him to the far end of the village.
"Loosen two of them," she said, "and lead them back into
shadows behind those huts. I know where there are saddles.
I will bring them and the bridles," and before he could stop
her she was gone.
Baynes quickly untied two of the restive animals and led them
to the point designated by Meriem. Here he waited impatiently
for what seemed an hour; but was, in reality, but a few minutes.
Then he saw the girl approaching beneath the burden of two saddles.
Quickly they placed these upon the horses. They could see by the
light of the torture fire that still burned that the blacks and
Arabs were recovering from their panic. Men were running about
gathering in the loose stock, and two or three were already
leading their captives back to the end of the village where
Meriem and Baynes were busy with the trappings of their mounts.
Now the girl flung herself into the saddle.
"Hurry!" she whispered. "We shall have to run for it.
Ride through the gap that Tantor made," and as she saw Baynes
swing his leg over the back of his horse, she shook the reins
free over her mount's neck. With a lunge, the nervous beast
leaped forward. The shortest path led straight through the
center of the village, and this Meriem took. Baynes was close
behind her, their horses running at full speed.
So sudden and impetuous was their dash for escape that it
carried them half-way across the village before the surprised
inhabitants were aware of what was happening. Then an Arab
recognized them, and, with a cry of alarm, raised his rifle
and fired. The shot was a signal for a volley, and amid the
rattle of musketry Meriem and Baynes leaped their flying mounts
through the breach in the palisade and were gone up the well-worn
trail toward the north.
Tantor carried him deep into the jungle, nor paused until no
sound from the distant village reached his keen ears. Then he
laid his burden gently down. Korak struggled to free himself
from his bonds, but even his great strength was unable to cope
with the many strands of hard-knotted cord that bound him.
While he lay there, working and resting by turns, the elephant
stood guard above him, nor was there jungle enemy with the
hardihood to tempt the sudden death that lay in that mighty bulk.
Dawn came, and still Korak was no nearer freedom than before.
He commenced to believe that he should die there of thirst
and starvation with plenty all about him, for he knew that
Tantor could not unloose the knots that held him.
And while he struggled through the night with his bonds, Baynes
and Meriem were riding rapidly northward along the river.
The girl had assured Baynes that Korak was safe in the jungle
with Tantor. It had not occurred to her that the ape-man
might not be able to burst his bonds. Baynes had been wounded
by a shot from the rifle of one of the Arabs, and the girl wanted
to get him back to Bwana's home, where he could be properly
"Then," she said, "I shall get Bwana to come with me and
search for Korak. He must come and live with us."
All night they rode, and the day was still young when they came
suddenly upon a party hurrying southward. It was Bwana himself
and his sleek, black warriors. At sight of Baynes the big
Englishman's brows contracted in a scowl; but he waited to hear
Meriem's story before giving vent to the long anger in his breast.
When she had finished he seemed to have forgotten Baynes.
His thoughts were occupied with another subject.
"You say that you found Korak?" he asked. "You really saw
"Yes," replied Meriem; "as plainly as I see you, and I want
you to come with me, Bwana, and help me find him again."
"Did you see him?" He turned toward the Hon. Morison.
"Yes, sir," replied Baynes; "very plainly."
"What sort of appearing man is he?" continued Bwana.
"About how old, should you say?"
"I should say he was an Englishman, about my own age,"
replied Baynes; "though he might be older. He is remarkably
muscled, and exceedingly tanned."
"His eyes and hair, did you notice them?" Bwana spoke
rapidly, almost excitedly. It was Meriem who answered him.
"Korak's hair is black and his eyes are gray," she said.
Bwana turned to his headman.
"Take Miss Meriem and Mr. Baynes home," he said. "I am going
into the jungle."
"Let me go with you, Bwana," cried Meriem. "You are going
search for Korak. Let me go, too."
Bwana turned sadly but firmly upon the girl.
"Your place," he said, "is beside the man you love."
Then he motioned to his head-man to take his horse and commence
the return journey to the farm. Meriem slowly mounted the tired
Arab that had brought her from the village of The Sheik. A litter
was rigged for the now feverish Baynes, and the little cavalcade
was soon slowly winding off along the river trail.
Bwana stood watching them until they were out of sight.
Not once had Meriem turned her eyes backward. She rode with
bowed head and drooping shoulders. Bwana sighed. He loved
the little Arab girl as he might have loved an own daughter.
He realized that Baynes had redeemed himself, and so he could
interpose no objections now if Meriem really loved the man;
but, somehow, some way, Bwana could not convince himself that
the Hon. Morison was worthy of his little Meriem. Slowly he
turned toward a nearby tree. Leaping upward he caught a
lower branch and drew himself up among the branches.
His movements were cat-like and agile. High into the trees
he made his way and there commenced to divest himself of
his clothing. From the game bag slung across one shoulder he
drew a long strip of doe-skin, a neatly coiled rope, and a
wicked looking knife. The doe-skin, he fashioned into a loin
cloth, the rope he looped over one shoulder, and the knife he
thrust into the belt formed by his gee string.
When he stood erect, his head thrown back and his great chest
expanded a grim smile touched his lips for a moment. His nostrils
dilated as he sniffed the jungle odors. His gray eyes narrowed.
He crouched and leaped to a lower limb and was away through the
trees toward the southeast, bearing away from the river. He moved
swiftly, stopping only occasionally to raise his voice in a weird
and piercing scream, and to listen for a moment after for a reply.
He had traveled thus for several hours when, ahead of him
and a little to his left, he heard, far off in the jungle, a faint
response--the cry of a bull ape answering his cry. His nerves
tingled and his eyes lighted as the sound fell upon his ears.
Again he voiced his hideous call, and sped forward in the
Korak, finally becoming convinced that he must die if he
remained where he was, waiting for the succor that could not
come, spoke to Tantor in the strange tongue that the great
beast understood. He commanded the elephant to lift him and
carry him toward the northeast. There, recently, Korak had seen
both white men and black. If he could come upon one of the latter
it would be a simple matter to command Tantor to capture the
fellow, and then Korak could get him to release him from the stake.
It was worth trying at least--better than lying there in the jungle
until he died. As Tantor bore him along through the forest
Korak called aloud now and then in the hope of attracting Akut's
band of anthropoids, whose wanderings often brought them into
their neighborhood. Akut, he thought, might possibly be able
to negotiate the knots--he had done so upon that other occasion
when the Russian had bound Korak years before; and Akut, to
the south of him, heard his calls faintly, and came. There was
another who heard them, too.
After Bwana had left his party, sending them back toward the
farm, Meriem had ridden for a short distance with bowed head.
What thoughts passed through that active brain who may say?
Presently she seemed to come to a decision. She called the
headman to her side.
"I am going back with Bwana," she announced.
The black shook his head. "No!" he announced. "Bwana says
take you home. So I take you home."
"You refuse to let me go?" asked the girl.
The black nodded, and fell to the rear where he might better
watch her. Meriem half smiled. Presently her horse passed
beneath a low-hanging branch, and the black headman found
himself gazing at the girl's empty saddle. He ran forward to
the tree into which she had disappeared. He could see nothing
of her. He called; but there was no response, unless it might
have been a low, taunting laugh far to the right. He sent his
men into the jungle to search for her; but they came back
empty handed. After a while he resumed his march toward the
farm, for Baynes, by this time, was delirious with fever.
Meriem raced straight back toward the point she imagined
Tantor would make for--a point where she knew the elephants
often gathered deep in the forest due east of The Sheik's village.
She moved silently and swiftly. From her mind she had expunged
all thoughts other than that she must reach Korak and bring him
back with her. It was her place to do that. Then, too, had
come the tantalizing fear that all might not be well with him.
She upbraided herself for not thinking of that before--of letting
her desire to get the wounded Morison back to the bungalow blind
her to the possibilities of Korak's need for her. She had been
traveling rapidly for several hours without rest when she heard
ahead of her the familiar cry of a great ape calling to his kind.
She did not reply, only increased her speed until she almost flew.
Now there came to her sensitive nostrils the scent of Tantor
and she knew that she was on the right trail and close to him
she sought. She did not call out because she wished to surprise
him, and presently she did, breaking into sight of them as the
great elephant shuffled ahead balancing the man and the heavy
stake upon his head, holding them there with his upcurled trunk.
"Korak!" cried Meriem from the foliage above him.
Instantly the bull swung about, lowered his burden to the
ground and, trumpeting savagely, prepared to defend his comrade.
The ape-man, recognizing the girl's voice, felt a sudden lump
in his throat.
"Meriem!" he called back to her.
Happily the girl clambered to the ground and ran forward to
release Korak; but Tantor lowered his head ominously and
trumpeted a warning.
"Go back! Go back!" cried Korak. "He will kill you."
Meriem paused. "Tantor!" she called to the huge brute.
"Don't you remember me? I am little Meriem. I used to ride
on your broad back;" but the bull only rumbled in his throat
and shook his tusks in angry defiance. Then Korak tried to
placate him. Tried to order him away, that the girl might
approach and release him; but Tantor would not go. He saw in
every human being other than Korak an enemy. He thought the
girl bent upon harming his friend and he would take no chances.
For an hour the girl and the man tried to find some means
whereby they might circumvent the beast's ill directed
guardianship, but all to no avail; Tantor stood his ground
in grim determination to let no one approach Korak.
Presently the man hit upon a scheme. "Pretend to go away,"
he called to the girl. "Keep down wind from us so that Tantor
won't get your scent, then follow us. After a while I'll have
him put me down, and find some pretext for sending him away.
While he is gone you can slip up and cut my bonds--have you
"Yes, I have a knife," she replied. "I'll go now--I think
be able to fool him; but don't be too sure--Tantor invented cunning."
Korak smiled, for he knew that the girl was right. Presently she
had disappeared. The elephant listened, and raised his trunk
to catch her scent. Korak commanded him to raise him to his
head once more and proceed upon their way. After a moment's
hesitation he did as he was bid. It was then that Korak heard
the distant call of an ape.
"Akut!" he thought. "Good! Tantor knew Akut well. He would
let him approach." Raising his voice Korak replied to the call
of the ape; but he let Tantor move off with him through the
jungle; it would do no harm to try the other plan. They had
come to a clearing and plainly Korak smelled water. Here was
a good place and a good excuse. He ordered Tantor to lay him
down, and go and fetch him water in his trunk. The big beast
deposited him upon the grass in the center of the clearing, then
he stood with cocked ears and attentive trunk, searching for the
slightest indication of danger--there seemed to be none and he
moved away in the direction of the little brook that Korak knew
was some two or three hundred yards away. The ape-man could
scarce help smiling as he thought how cleverly he had tricked
his friend; but well as he knew Tantor he little guessed the guile
of his cunning brain. The animal ambled off across the clearing
and disappeared in the jungle beyond in the direction of the
stream; but scarce had his great bulk been screened by the dense
foliage than he wheeled about and came cautiously back to the
edge of the clearing where he could see without being seen.
Tantor, by nature, is suspicious. Now he still feared the return
of the she Tarmangani who had attempted to attack his Korak.
He would just stand there for a moment and assure himself that
all was well before he continued on toward the water. Ah! It
was well that he did! There she was now dropping from the
branches of a tree across the clearing and running swiftly toward
the ape-man. Tantor waited. He would let her reach Korak before
he charged--that would ensure that she had no chance of escape.
His little eyes blazed savagely. His tail was elevated stiffly.
He could scarce restrain a desire to trumpet forth his rage
to the world. Meriem was almost at Korak's side when Tantor
saw the long knife in her hand, and then he broke forth from the
jungle, bellowing horribly, and charged down upon the frail girl.
Korak screamed commands to his huge protector, in an effort
to halt him; but all to no avail. Meriem raced toward the
bordering trees with all the speed that lay in her swift, little
feet; but Tantor, for all his huge bulk, drove down upon her with
the rapidity of an express train.
Korak lay where he could see the whole frightful tragedy.
The cold sweat broke out upon his body. His heart seemed to
have stopped its beating. Meriem might reach the trees before
Tantor overtook her, but even her agility would not carry her
beyond the reach of that relentless trunk--she would be dragged
down and tossed. Korak could picture the whole frightful scene.
Then Tantor would follow her up, goring the frail, little body
with his relentless tusks, or trampling it into an unrecognizable
mass beneath his ponderous feet.
He was almost upon her now. Korak wanted to close his eyes,
but could not. His throat was dry and parched. Never in all his
savage existence had he suffered such blighting terror--never
before had he known what terror meant. A dozen more strides
and the brute would seize her. What was that? Korak's eyes
started from their sockets. A strange figure had leaped from the
tree the shade of which Meriem already had reached--leaped
beyond the girl straight into the path of the charging elephant.
It was a naked white giant. Across his shoulder a coil of rope
was looped. In the band of his gee string was a hunting knife.
Otherwise he was unarmed. With naked hands he faced the
maddening Tantor. A sharp command broke from the stranger's
lips--the great beast halted in his tracks--and Meriem swung
herself upward into the tree to safety. Korak breathed a sigh
of relief not unmixed with wonder. He fastened his eyes upon the
face of Meriem's deliverer and as recognition slowly filtered into
his understanding they went wide in incredulity and surprise.
Tantor, still rumbling angrily, stood swaying to and fro close
before the giant white man. Then the latter stepped straight
beneath the upraised trunk and spoke a low word of command.
The great beast ceased his muttering. The savage light died from
his eyes, and as the stranger stepped forward toward Korak,
Tantor trailed docilely at his heels.
Meriem was watching, too, and wondering. Suddenly the man
turned toward her as though recollecting her presence after a
moment of forgetfulness. "Come! Meriem," he called, and then
she recognized him with a startled: "Bwana!" Quickly the girl
dropped from the tree and ran to his side. Tantor cocked a
questioning eye at the white giant, but receiving a warning
word let Meriem approach. Together the two walked to where
Korak lay, his eyes wide with wonder and filled with a pathetic
appeal for forgiveness, and, mayhap, a glad thankfulness for the
miracle that had brought these two of all others to his side.
"Jack!" cried the white giant, kneeling at the ape-man's side.
"Father!" came chokingly from The Killer's lips. "Thank God
that it was you. No one else in all the jungle could have
Quickly the man cut the bonds that held Korak, and as the
youth leaped to his feet and threw his arms about his father,
the older man turned toward Meriem.
"I thought," he said, sternly, "that I told you to return
Korak was looking at them wonderingly. In his heart was a
great yearning to take the girl in his arms; but in time he
remembered the other--the dapper young English gentleman--
and that he was but a savage, uncouth ape-man.
Meriem looked up pleadingly into Bwana's eyes.
"You told me," she said, in a very small voice, "that my
place was beside the man I loved," and she turned her eyes
toward Korak all filled with the wonderful light that no other
man had yet seen in them, and that none other ever would.
The Killer started toward her with outstretched arms; but
suddenly he fell upon one knee before her, instead, and lifting
her hand to his lips kissed it more reverently than he could have
kissed the hand of his country's queen.
A rumble from Tantor brought the three, all jungle bred, to
instant alertness. Tantor was looking toward the trees behind
them, and as their eyes followed his gaze the head and shoulders
of a great ape appeared amidst the foliage. For a moment the
creature eyed them, and then from its throat rose a loud scream
of recognition and of joy, and a moment later the beast had
leaped to the ground, followed by a score of bulls like himself,
and was waddling toward them, shouting in the primordial tongue
of the anthropoid:
"Tarzan has returned! Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle!"
It was Akut, and instantly he commenced leaping and bounding
about the trio, uttering hideous shrieks and mouthings that
to any other human beings might have indicated the most
ferocious rage; but these three knew that the king of the
apes was doing homage to a king greater than himself. In his
wake leaped his shaggy bulls, vying with one another as to
which could spring the highest and which utter the most
Korak laid his hand affectionately upon his father's shoulder.
"There is but one Tarzan," he said. "There can never be another."
Two days later the three dropped from the trees on the edge
of the plain across which they could see the smoke rising from
the bungalow and the cook house chimneys. Tarzan of the Apes
had regained his civilized clothing from the tree where he had
hidden it, and as Korak refused to enter the presence of his
mother in the savage half-raiment that he had worn so long and
as Meriem would not leave him, for fear, as she explained, that
he would change his mind and run off into the jungle again, the
father went on ahead to the bungalow for horses and clothes.
My Dear met him at the gate, her eyes filled with questioning
and sorrow, for she saw that Meriem was not with him.
"Where is she?" she asked, her voice trembling. "Muviri told
me that she disobeyed your instructions and ran off into the
jungle after you had left them. Oh, John, I cannot bear to lose
her, too!" And Lady Greystoke broke down and wept, as she
pillowed her head upon the broad breast where so often before
she had found comfort in the great tragedies of her life.
Lord Greystoke raised her head and looked down into her
eyes, his own smiling and filled with the light of happiness.
"What is it, John?" she cried. "You have good news--do not
keep me waiting for it."
"I want to be quite sure that you can stand hearing the best
news that ever came to either of us," he said.
"Joy never kills," she cried. "You have found--her?"
not bring herself to hope for the impossible.
"Yes, Jane," he said, and his voice was husky with emotion;
"I have found her, and--HIM!"
"Where is he? Where are they?" she demanded.
"Out there at the edge of the jungle. He wouldn't come to
you in his savage leopard skin and his nakedness--he sent me
to fetch him civilized clothing."
She clapped her hands in ecstasy, and turned to run toward
the bungalow. "Wait!" she cried over her shoulder. "I have
his little suits--I have saved them all. I will bring one to you."
Tarzan laughed and called to her to stop.
"The only clothing on the place that will fit him," he said,
"is mine--if it isn't too small for him--your little boy has
She laughed, too; she felt like laughing at everything, or
at nothing. The world was all love and happiness and joy once
more--the world that had been shrouded in the gloom of her
great sorrow for so many years. So great was her joy that for
the moment she forgot the sad message that awaited Meriem.
She called to Tarzan after he had ridden away to prepare her
for it, but he did not hear and rode on without knowing himself
what the event was to which his wife referred.
And so, an hour later, Korak, The Killer, rode home to his
mother--the mother whose image had never faded in his boyish
heart--and found in her arms and her eyes the love and
forgiveness that he plead for.
And then the mother turned toward Meriem, an expression of
pitying sorrow erasing the happiness from her eyes.
"My little girl," she said, "in the midst of our happiness
great sorrow awaits you--Mr. Baynes did not survive his wound."
The expression of sorrow in Meriem's eyes expressed only
what she sincerely felt; but it was not the sorrow of a woman
bereft of her best beloved.
"I am sorry," she said, quite simply. "He would have done
me a great wrong; but he amply atoned before he died. Once I
thought that I loved him. At first it was only fascination for
a type that was new to me--then it was respect for a brave man
who had the moral courage to admit a sin and the physical courage
to face death to right the wrong he had committed. But it was
not love. I did not know what love was until I knew that
Korak lived," and she turned toward The Killer with a smile.
Lady Greystoke looked quickly up into the eyes of her son--
the son who one day would be Lord Greystoke. No thought of
the difference in the stations of the girl and her boy entered
her mind. To her Meriem was fit for a king. She only wanted to
know that Jack loved the little Arab waif. The look in his eyes
answered the question in her heart, and she threw her arms about
them both and kissed them each a dozen times.
"Now," she cried, "I shall really have a daughter!"
It was several weary marches to the nearest mission; but they
only waited at the farm a few days for rest and preparation for
the great event before setting out upon the journey, and after
the marriage ceremony had been performed they kept on to the
coast to take passage for England. Those days were the most
wonderful of Meriem's life. She had not dreamed even vaguely of
the marvels that civilization held in store for her. The great
ocean and the commodious steamship filled her with awe. The noise,
and bustle and confusion of the English railway station frightened her.
"If there was a good-sized tree at hand," she confided to Korak,
"I know that I should run to the very top of it in terror of my life."
"And make faces and throw twigs at the engine?" he laughed back.
"Poor old Numa," sighed the girl. "What will he do without
"Oh, there are others to tease him, my little Mangani," assured
The Greystoke town house quite took Meriem's breath away;
but when strangers were about none might guess that she had
not been to the manner born.
They had been home but a week when Lord Greystoke received
a message from his friend of many years, D'Arnot.
It was in the form of a letter of introduction brought by one
General Armand Jacot. Lord Greystoke recalled the name, as
who familiar with modern French history would not, for Jacot
was in reality the Prince de Cadrenet--that intense republican
who refused to use, even by courtesy, a title that had belonged
to his family for four hundred years.
"There is no place for princes in a republic," he was wont
Lord Greystoke received the hawk-nosed, gray mustached
soldier in his library, and after a dozen words the two men had
formed a mutual esteem that was to endure through life.
"I have come to you," explained General Jacot, "because our
dear Admiral tells me that there is no one in all the world
who is more intimately acquainted with Central Africa than you.
"Let me tell you my story from the beginning. Many years
ago my little daughter was stolen, presumably by Arabs, while
I was serving with the Foreign Legion in Algeria. We did all
that love and money and even government resources could do to
discover her; but all to no avail. Her picture was published in
the leading papers of every large city in the world, yet never
did we find a man or woman who ever had seen her since the day
she mysteriously disappeared.
"A week since there came to me in Paris a swarthy Arab, who called
himself Abdul Kamak. He said that he had found my daughter and
could lead me to her. I took him at once to Admiral d'Arnot,
whom I knew had traveled some in Central Africa. The man's story
led the Admiral to believe that the place where the white girl
the Arab supposed to be my daughter was held in captivity was not
far from your African estates, and he advised that I come at once
and call upon you--that you would know if such a girl were in
"What proof did the Arab bring that she was your daughter?"
asked Lord Greystoke.
"None," replied the other. "That is why we thought best to
consult you before organizing an expedition. The fellow had only
an old photograph of her on the back of which was pasted a
newspaper cutting describing her and offering a reward. We feared
that having found this somewhere it had aroused his cupidity and
led him to believe that in some way he could obtain the reward,
possibly by foisting upon us a white girl on the chance that so
many years had elapsed that we would not be able to recognize an
imposter as such."
"Have you the photograph with you?" asked Lord Greystoke.
The General drew an envelope from his pocket, took a yellowed
photograph from it and handed it to the Englishman.
Tears dimmed the old warrior's eyes as they fell again upon
the pictured features of his lost daughter.
Lord Greystoke examined the photograph for a moment. A queer
expression entered his eyes. He touched a bell at his elbow,
and an instant later a footman entered.
"Ask my son's wife if she will be so good as to come to the
library," he directed.
The two men sat in silence. General Jacot was too well bred
to show in any way the chagrin and disappointment he felt in
the summary manner in which Lord Greystoke had dismissed the
subject of his call. As soon as the young lady had come and
he had been presented he would make his departure. A moment
later Meriem entered.
Lord Greystoke and General Jacot rose and faced her.
The Englishman spoke no word of introduction--he wanted to
mark the effect of the first sight of the girl's face on
the Frenchman, for he had a theory--a heaven-born theory that
had leaped into his mind the moment his eyes had rested on the
baby face of Jeanne Jacot.
General Jacot took one look at Meriem, then he turned toward
"How long have you known it?" he asked, a trifle accusingly.
"Since you showed me that photograph a moment ago," replied
"It is she," said Jacot, shaking with suppressed emotion;
"but she does not recognize me--of course she could not."
Then he turned to Meriem. "My child," he said, "I am your--"
But she interrupted him with a quick, glad cry, as she ran
toward him with outstretched arms.
"I know you! I know you!" she cried. "Oh, now I remember,"
and the old man folded her in his arms.
Jack Clayton and his mother were summoned, and when the story
had been told them they were only glad that little Meriem had
found a father and a mother.
"And really you didn't marry an Arab waif after all," said Meriem.
"Isn't it fine!"
"You are fine," replied The Killer. "I married my little
and I don't care, for my part, whether she is an Arab, or just a
"She is neither, my son," said General Armand Jacot. "She
a princess in her own right."