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Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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the whereabouts of Tarzan, or the authorship of the raid upon the
bungalow, as well as the fate of Lady Greystoke; but as he was
confined to the accidents of conversation for this information, not
daring to acquaint Werper with his true identity, and as Werper was
equally anxious to conceal from the world his part in the destruction
of his host's home and happiness, Mugambi learned nothing--at least
in this way.

But there came a time when he learned a very surprising thing, by
accident.

The party had camped early in the afternoon of a sultry day, upon
the banks of a clear and beautiful stream. The bottom of the river
was gravelly, there was no indication of crocodiles, those menaces
to promiscuous bathing in the rivers of certain portions of the dark
continent, and so the Abyssinians took advantage of the opportunity
to perform long-deferred, and much needed, ablutions.

As Werper, who, with Mugambi, had been given permission to enter
the water, removed his clothing, the black noted the care with
which he unfastened something which circled his waist, and which
he took off with his shirt, keeping the latter always around and
concealing the object of his suspicious solicitude.

It was this very carefulness which attracted the black's attention
to the thing, arousing a natural curiosity in the warrior's mind,
and so it chanced that when the Belgian, in the nervousness of
overcaution, fumbled the hidden article and dropped it, Mugambi saw
it as it fell upon the ground, spilling a portion of its contents
on the sward.

Now Mugambi had been to London with his master. He was not the
unsophisticated savage that his apparel proclaimed him. He had
mingled with the cosmopolitan hordes of the greatest city in the
world; he had visited museums and inspected shop windows; and,
besides, he was a shrewd and intelligent man.

The instant that the jewels of Opar rolled, scintillating, before
his astonished eyes, he recognized them for what they were; but
he recognized something else, too, that interested him far more
deeply than the value of the stones. A thousand times he had seen
the leathern pouch which dangled at his master's side, when Tarzan
of the Apes had, in a spirit of play and adventure, elected to
return for a few hours to the primitive manners and customs of his
boyhood, and surrounded by his naked warriors hunt the lion and
the leopard, the buffalo and the elephant after the manner he loved
best.

Werper saw that Mugambi had seen the pouch and the stones. Hastily
he gathered up the precious gems and returned them to their container,
while Mugambi, assuming an air of indifference, strolled down to
the river for his bath.

The following morning Abdul Mourak was enraged and chagrined
to discover that this huge, black prisoner had escaped during the
night, while Werper was terrified for the same reason, until his
trembling fingers discovered the pouch still in its place beneath
his shirt, and within it the hard outlines of its contents.

16

Tarzan Again Leads the Mangani

Achmet Zek with two of his followers had circled far to the south
to intercept the flight of his deserting lieutenant, Werper. Others
had spread out in various directions, so that a vast circle had
been formed by them during the night, and now they were beating in
toward the center.

Achmet and the two with him halted for a short rest just before
noon. They squatted beneath the trees upon the southern edge of
a clearing. The chief of the raiders was in ill humor. To have
been outwitted by an unbeliever was bad enough; but to have, at
the same time, lost the jewels upon which he had set his avaricious
heart was altogether too much--Allah must, indeed be angry with
his servant.

Well, he still had the woman. She would bring a fair price in the
north, and there was, too, the buried treasure beside the ruins of
the Englishman's house.

A slight noise in the jungle upon the opposite side of the clearing
brought Achmet Zek to immediate and alert attention. He gathered
his rifle in readiness for instant use, at the same time motioning
his followers to silence and concealment. Crouching behind the
bushes the three waited, their eyes fastened upon the far side of
the open space.

Presently the foliage parted and a woman's face appeared, glancing
fearfully from side to side. A moment later, evidently satisfied
that no immediate danger lurked before her, she stepped out into
the clearing in full view of the Arab.

Achmet Zek caught his breath with a muttered exclamation of
incredulity and an imprecation. The woman was the prisoner he had
thought safely guarded at his camp!

Apparently she was alone, but Achmet Zek waited that he might make
sure of it before seizing her. Slowly Jane Clayton started across
the clearing. Twice already since she had quitted the village
of the raiders had she barely escaped the fangs of carnivora, and
once she had almost stumbled into the path of one of the searchers.
Though she was almost despairing of ever reaching safety she still
was determined to fight on, until death or success terminated her
endeavors.

As the Arabs watched her from the safety of their concealment, and
Achmet Zek noted with satisfaction that she was walking directly
into his clutches, another pair of eyes looked down upon the entire
scene from the foliage of an adjacent tree.

Puzzled, troubled eyes they were, for all their gray and savage
glint, for their owner was struggling with an intangible suggestion
of the familiarity of the face and figure of the woman below him.

A sudden crashing of the bushes at the point from which Jane
Clayton had emerged into the clearing brought her to a sudden stop
and attracted the attention of the Arabs and the watcher in the
tree to the same point.

The woman wheeled about to see what new danger menaced her from
behind, and as she did so a great, anthropoid ape waddled into
view. Behind him came another and another; but Lady Greystoke did
not wait to learn how many more of the hideous creatures were so
close upon her trail.

With a smothered scream she rushed toward the opposite jungle, and
as she reached the bushes there, Achmet Zek and his two henchmen
rose up and seized her. At the same instant a naked, brown giant
dropped from the branches of a tree at the right of the clearing.

Turning toward the astonished apes he gave voice to a short volley
of low gutturals, and without waiting to note the effect of his
words upon them, wheeled and charged for the Arabs.

Achmet Zek was dragging Jane Clayton toward his tethered horse.
His two men were hastily unfastening all three mounts. The woman,
struggling to escape the Arab, turned and saw the ape-man running
toward her. A glad light of hope illuminated her face.

"John!" she cried. "Thank God that you have come in time."

Behind Tarzan came the great apes, wondering, but obedient to his
summons. The Arabs saw that they would not have time to mount and
make their escape before the beasts and the man were upon them.
Achmet Zek recognized the latter as the redoubtable enemy of such
as he, and he saw, too, in the circumstance an opportunity to rid
himself forever of the menace of the ape-man's presence.

Calling to his men to follow his example he raised his rifle and
leveled it upon the charging giant. His followers, acting with no
less alacrity than himself, fired almost simultaneously, and with
the reports of the rifles, Tarzan of the Apes and two of his hairy
henchmen pitched forward among the jungle grasses.

The noise of the rifle shots brought the balance of the apes to a
wondering pause, and, taking advantage of their momentary distraction,
Achmet Zek and his fellows leaped to their horses' backs and galloped
away with the now hopeless and grief-stricken woman.

Back to the village they rode, and once again Lady Greystoke found
herself incarcerated in the filthy, little hut from which she had
thought to have escaped for good. But this time she was not only
guarded by an additional sentry, but bound as well.

Singly and in twos the searchers who had ridden out with Achmet
Zek upon the trail of the Belgian, returned empty handed. With
the report of each the raider's rage and chagrin increased, until
he was in such a transport of ferocious anger that none dared approach
him. Threatening and cursing, Achmet Zek paced up and down the
floor of his silken tent; but his temper served him naught--Werper
was gone and with him the fortune in scintillating gems which had
aroused the cupidity of his chief and placed the sentence of death
upon the head of the lieutenant.

With the escape of the Arabs the great apes had turned their
attention to their fallen comrades. One was dead, but another and
the great white ape still breathed. The hairy monsters gathered
about these two, grumbling and muttering after the fashion of their
kind.

Tarzan was the first to regain consciousness. Sitting up, he looked
about him. Blood was flowing from a wound in his shoulder. The
shock had thrown him down and dazed him; but he was far from dead.
Rising slowly to his feet he let his eyes wander toward the spot
where last he had seen the she, who had aroused within his savage
breast such strange emotions.

"Where is she?" he asked.

"The Tarmangani took her away," replied one of the apes. "Who are
you who speak the language of the Mangani?"

"I am Tarzan," replied the ape-man; "mighty hunter, greatest
of fighters. When I roar, the jungle is silent and trembles with
terror. I am Tarzan of the Apes. I have been away; but now I have
come back to my people."

"Yes," spoke up an old ape, "he is Tarzan. I know him. It is well
that he has come back. Now we shall have good hunting."

The other apes came closer and sniffed at the ape-man. Tarzan
stood very still, his fangs half bared, and his muscles tense and
ready for action; but there was none there to question his right
to be with them, and presently, the inspection satisfactorily
concluded, the apes again returned their attention to the other
survivor.

He too was but slightly wounded, a bullet, grazing his skull,
having stunned him, so that when he regained consciousness he was
apparently as fit as ever.

The apes told Tarzan that they had been traveling toward the east
when the scent spoor of the she had attracted them and they had
stalked her. Now they wished to continue upon their interrupted
march; but Tarzan preferred to follow the Arabs and take the woman
from them. After a considerable argument it was decided that they
should first hunt toward the east for a few days and then return
and search for the Arabs, and as time is of little moment to the
ape folk, Tarzan acceded to their demands, he, himself, having
reverted to a mental state but little superior to their own.

Another circumstance which decided him to postpone pursuit of the
Arabs was the painfulness of his wound. It would be better to
wait until that had healed before he pitted himself again against
the guns of the Tarmangani.

And so, as Jane Clayton was pushed into her prison hut and her hands
and feet securely bound, her natural protector roamed off toward
the east in company with a score of hairy monsters, with whom he
rubbed shoulders as familiarly as a few months before he had mingled
with his immaculate fellow-members of one of London's most select
and exclusive clubs.

But all the time there lurked in the back of his injured brain a
troublesome conviction that he had no business where he was--that
he should be, for some unaccountable reason, elsewhere and among
another sort of creature. Also, there was the compelling urge to
be upon the scent of the Arabs, undertaking the rescue of the woman
who had appealed so strongly to his savage sentiments; though the
thought-word which naturally occurred to him in the contemplation
of the venture, was "capture," rather than "rescue."

To him she was as any other jungle she, and he had set his heart
upon her as his mate. For an instant, as he had approached closer
to her in the clearing where the Arabs had seized her, the subtle
aroma which had first aroused his desires in the hut that had
imprisoned her had fallen upon his nostrils, and told him that
he had found the creature for whom he had developed so sudden and
inexplicable a passion.

The matter of the pouch of jewels also occupied his thoughts to
some extent, so that he found a double urge for his return to the
camp of the raiders. He would obtain possession of both his pretty
pebbles and the she. Then he would return to the great apes with
his new mate and his baubles, and leading his hairy companions into
a far wilderness beyond the ken of man, live out his life, hunting
and battling among the lower orders after the only manner which he
now recollected.

He spoke to his fellow-apes upon the matter, in an attempt to
persuade them to accompany him; but all except Taglat and Chulk
refused. The latter was young and strong, endowed with a greater
intelligence than his fellows, and therefore the possessor of better
developed powers of imagination. To him the expedition savored
of adventure, and so appealed, strongly. With Taglat there was
another incentive--a secret and sinister incentive, which, had
Tarzan of the Apes had knowledge of it, would have sent him at the
other's throat in jealous rage.

Taglat was no longer young; but he was still a formidable beast,
mightily muscled, cruel, and, because of his greater experience,
crafty and cunning. Too, he was of giant proportions, the very
weight of his huge bulk serving ofttimes to discount in his favor
the superior agility of a younger antagonist.

He was of a morose and sullen disposition that marked him even
among his frowning fellows, where such characteristics are the rule
rather than the exception, and, though Tarzan did not guess it,
he hated the ape-man with a ferocity that he was able to hide only
because the dominant spirit of the nobler creature had inspired
within him a species of dread which was as powerful as it was
inexplicable to him.

These two, then, were to be Tarzan's companions upon his return
to the village of Achmet Zek. As they set off, the balance of the
tribe vouchsafed them but a parting stare, and then resumed the
serious business of feeding.

Tarzan found difficulty in keeping the minds of his fellows set
upon the purpose of their adventure, for the mind of an ape lacks
the power of long-sustained concentration. To set out upon a long
journey, with a definite destination in view, is one thing, to
remember that purpose and keep it uppermost in one's mind continually
is quite another. There are so many things to distract one's
attention along the way.

Chulk was, at first, for rushing rapidly ahead as though the
village of the raiders lay but an hour's march before them instead
of several days; but within a few minutes a fallen tree attracted
his attention with its suggestion of rich and succulent forage
beneath, and when Tarzan, missing him, returned in search, he found
Chulk squatting beside the rotting bole, from beneath which he was
assiduously engaged in digging out the grubs and beetles, whose
kind form a considerable proportion of the diet of the apes.

Unless Tarzan desired to fight there was nothing to do but wait
until Chulk had exhausted the storehouse, and this he did, only to
discover that Taglat was now missing. After a considerable search,
he found that worthy gentleman contemplating the sufferings of
an injured rodent he had pounced upon. He would sit in apparent
indifference, gazing in another direction, while the crippled
creature, wriggled slowly and painfully away from him, and then,
just as his victim felt assured of escape, he would reach out a
giant palm and slam it down upon the fugitive. Again and again he
repeated this operation, until, tiring of the sport, he ended the
sufferings of his plaything by devouring it.

Such were the exasperating causes of delay which retarded Tarzan's
return journey toward the village of Achmet Zek; but the ape-man
was patient, for in his mind was a plan which necessitated the
presence of Chulk and Taglat when he should have arrived at his
destination.

It was not always an easy thing to maintain in the vacillating minds
of the anthropoids a sustained interest in their venture. Chulk
was wearying of the continued marching and the infrequency and
short duration of the rests. He would gladly have abandoned this
search for adventure had not Tarzan continually filled his mind
with alluring pictures of the great stores of food which were to
be found in the village of Tarmangani.

Taglat nursed his secret purpose to better advantage than might
have been expected of an ape, yet there were times when he, too,
would have abandoned the adventure had not Tarzan cajoled him on.

It was mid-afternoon of a sultry, tropical day when the keen
senses of the three warned them of the proximity of the Arab camp.
Stealthily they approached, keeping to the dense tangle of growing
things which made concealment easy to their uncanny jungle craft.

First came the giant ape-man, his smooth, brown skin glistening
with the sweat of exertion in the close, hot confines of the jungle.
Behind him crept Chulk and Taglat, grotesque and shaggy caricatures
of their godlike leader.

Silently they made their way to the edge of the clearing which
surrounded the palisade, and here they clambered into the lower
branches of a large tree overlooking the village occupied by the
enemy, the better to spy upon his goings and comings.

A horseman, white burnoosed, rode out through the gateway of the
village. Tarzan, whispering to Chulk and Taglat to remain where
they were, swung, monkey-like, through the trees in the direction
of the trail the Arab was riding. From one jungle giant to the
next he sped with the rapidity of a squirrel and the silence of a
ghost.

The Arab rode slowly onward, unconscious of the danger hovering
in the trees behind him. The ape-man made a slight detour and
increased his speed until he had reached a point upon the trail in
advance of the horseman. Here he halted upon a leafy bough which
overhung the narrow, jungle trail. On came the victim, humming a
wild air of the great desert land of the north. Above him poised
the savage brute that was today bent upon the destruction of a human
life--the same creature who a few months before, had occupied his
seat in the House of Lords at London, a respected and distinguished
member of that august body.

The Arab passed beneath the overhanging bough, there was a slight
rustling of the leaves above, the horse snorted and plunged as
a brown-skinned creature dropped upon its rump. A pair of mighty
arms encircled the Arab and he was dragged from his saddle to the
trail.

Ten minutes later the ape-man, carrying the outer garments of an
Arab bundled beneath an arm, rejoined his companions. He exhibited
his trophies to them, explaining in low gutturals the details of
his exploit. Chulk and Taglat fingered the fabrics, smelled of
them, and, placing them to their ears, tried to listen to them.

Then Tarzan led them back through the jungle to the trail, where
the three hid themselves and waited. Nor had they long to wait
before two of Achmet Zek's blacks, clothed in habiliments similar
to their master's, came down the trail on foot, returning to the
camp.

One moment they were laughing and talking together--the next they
lay stretched in death upon the trail, three mighty engines of
destruction bending over them. Tarzan removed their outer garments
as he had removed those of his first victim, and again retired
with Chulk and Taglat to the greater seclusion of the tree they
had first selected.

Here the ape-man arranged the garments upon his shaggy fellows and
himself, until, at a distance, it might have appeared that three
white-robed Arabs squatted silently among the branches of the
forest.

Until dark they remained where they were, for from his point of
vantage, Tarzan could view the enclosure within the palisade. He
marked the position of the hut in which he had first discovered the
scent spoor of the she he sought. He saw the two sentries standing
before its doorway, and he located the habitation of Achmet Zek,
where something told him he would most likely find the missing
pouch and pebbles.

Chulk and Taglat were, at first, greatly interested in their
wonderful raiment. They fingered the fabric, smelled of it, and
regarded each other intently with every mark of satisfaction and
pride. Chulk, a humorist in his way, stretched forth a long and
hairy arm, and grasping the hood of Taglat's burnoose pulled it
down over the latter's eyes, extinguishing him, snuffer-like, as
it were.

The older ape, pessimistic by nature, recognized no such thing as
humor. Creatures laid their paws upon him for but two things--to
search for fleas and to attack. The pulling of the Tarmangani-scented
thing about his head and eyes could not be for the performance of
the former act; therefore it must be the latter. He was attacked!
Chulk had attacked him.

With a snarl he was at the other's throat, not even waiting to lift
the woolen veil which obscured his vision. Tarzan leaped upon the
two, and swaying and toppling upon their insecure perch the three
great beasts tussled and snapped at one another until the ape-man
finally succeeded in separating the enraged anthropoids.

An apology is unknown to these savage progenitors of man, and
explanation a laborious and usually futile process, Tarzan bridged
the dangerous gulf by distracting their attention from their
altercation to a consideration of their plans for the immediate
future. Accustomed to frequent arguments in which more hair than
blood is wasted, the apes speedily forget such trivial encounters,
and presently Chulk and Taglat were again squatting in close
proximity to each other and peaceful repose, awaiting the moment
when the ape-man should lead them into the village of the Tarmangani.

It was long after darkness had fallen, that Tarzan led his companions
from their hiding place in the tree to the ground and around the
palisade to the far side of the village.

Gathering the skirts of his burnoose, beneath one arm, that his legs
might have free action, the ape-man took a short running start, and
scrambled to the top of the barrier. Fearing lest the apes should
rend their garments to shreds in a similar attempt, he had directed
them to wait below for him, and himself securely perched upon the
summit of the palisade he unslung his spear and lowered one end of
it to Chulk.

The ape seized it, and while Tarzan held tightly to the upper end,
the anthropoid climbed quickly up the shaft until with one paw he
grasped the top of the wall. To scramble then to Tarzan's side was
the work of but an instant. In like manner Taglat was conducted to
their sides, and a moment later the three dropped silently within
the enclosure.

Tarzan led them first to the rear of the hut in which Jane Clayton
was confined, where, through the roughly repaired aperture in the
wall, he sought with his sensitive nostrils for proof that the she
he had come for was within.

Chulk and Taglat, their hairy faces pressed close to that of the
patrician, sniffed with him. Each caught the scent spoor of the
woman within, and each reacted according to his temperament and
his habits of thought.

It left Chulk indifferent. The she was for Tarzan--all that he
desired was to bury his snout in the foodstuffs of the Tarmangani.
He had come to eat his fill without labor--Tarzan had told him that
that should be his reward, and he was satisfied.

But Taglat's wicked, bloodshot eyes, narrowed to the realization of
the nearing fulfillment of his carefully nursed plan. It is true
that sometimes during the several days that had elapsed since they
had set out upon their expedition it had been difficult for Taglat
to hold his idea uppermost in his mind, and on several occasions
he had completely forgotten it, until Tarzan, by a chance word,
had recalled it to him, but, for an ape, Taglat had done well.

Now, he licked his chops, and he made a sickening, sucking noise
with his flabby lips as he drew in his breath.

Satisfied that the she was where he had hoped to find her, Tarzan
led his apes toward the tent of Achmet Zek. A passing Arab and
two slaves saw them, but the night was dark and the white burnooses
hid the hairy limbs of the apes and the giant figure of their leader,
so that the three, by squatting down as though in conversation, were
passed by, unsuspected. To the rear of the tent they made their
way. Within, Achmet Zek conversed with several of his lieutenants.
Without, Tarzan listened.

17

The Deadly Peril of Jane Clayton

Lieutenant Albert Werper, terrified by contemplation of the fate
which might await him at Adis Abeba, cast about for some scheme
of escape, but after the black Mugambi had eluded their vigilance
the Abyssinians redoubled their precautions to prevent Werper
following the lead of the Negro.

For some time Werper entertained the idea of bribing Abdul Mourak
with a portion of the contents of the pouch; but fearing that the
man would demand all the gems as the price of liberty, the Belgian,
influenced by avarice, sought another avenue from his dilemma.

It was then that there dawned upon him the possibility of the success
of a different course which would still leave him in possession
of the jewels, while at the same time satisfying the greed of the
Abyssinian with the conviction that he had obtained all that Werper
had to offer.

And so it was that a day or so after Mugambi had disappeared, Werper
asked for an audience with Abdul Mourak. As the Belgian entered
the presence of his captor the scowl upon the features of the
latter boded ill for any hope which Werper might entertain, still
he fortified himself by recalling the common weakness of mankind,
which permits the most inflexible of natures to bend to the consuming
desire for wealth.

Abdul Mourak eyed him, frowningly. "What do you want now?" he
asked.

"My liberty," replied Werper.

The Abyssinian sneered. "And you disturbed me thus to tell me what
any fool might know," he said.

"I can pay for it," said Werper.

Abdul Mourak laughed loudly. "Pay for it?" he cried. "What
with--the rags that you have upon your back? Or, perhaps you are
concealing beneath your coat a thousand pounds of ivory. Get out!
You are a fool. Do not bother me again or I shall have you whipped."

But Werper persisted. His liberty and perhaps his life depended
upon his success.

"Listen to me," he pleaded. "If I can give you as much gold as ten
men may carry will you promise that I shall be conducted in safety
to the nearest English commissioner?"

"As much gold as ten men may carry!" repeated Abdul Mourak. "You
are crazy. Where have you so much gold as that?"

"I know where it is hid," said Werper. "Promise, and I will lead
you to it--if ten loads is enough?"

Abdul Mourak had ceased to laugh. He was eyeing the Belgian
intently. The fellow seemed sane enough--yet ten loads of gold! It
was preposterous. The Abyssinian thought in silence for a moment.

"Well, and if I promise," he said. "How far is this gold?"

"A long week's march to the south," replied Werper.

"And if we do not find it where you say it is, do you realize what
your punishment will be?"

"If it is not there I will forfeit my life," replied the Belgian.
"I know it is there, for I saw it buried with my own eyes. And
more--there are not only ten loads, but as many as fifty men
may carry. It is all yours if you will promise to see me safely
delivered into the protection of the English."

"You will stake your life against the finding of the gold?" asked
Abdul.

Werper assented with a nod.

"Very well," said the Abyssinian, "I promise, and even if there be
but five loads you shall have your freedom; but until the gold is
in my possession you remain a prisoner."

"I am satisfied," said Werper. "Tomorrow we start?"

Abdul Mourak nodded, and the Belgian returned to his guards. The
following day the Abyssinian soldiers were surprised to receive
an order which turned their faces from the northeast to the south.
And so it happened that upon the very night that Tarzan and the
two apes entered the village of the raiders, the Abyssinians camped
but a few miles to the east of the same spot.

While Werper dreamed of freedom and the unmolested enjoyment of the
fortune in his stolen pouch, and Abdul Mourak lay awake in greedy
contemplation of the fifty loads of gold which lay but a few days
farther to the south of him, Achmet Zek gave orders to his lieutenants
that they should prepare a force of fighting men and carriers to
proceed to the ruins of the Englishman's DOUAR on the morrow and
bring back the fabulous fortune which his renegade lieutenant had
told him was buried there.

And as he delivered his instructions to those within, a silent
listener crouched without his tent, waiting for the time when
he might enter in safety and prosecute his search for the missing
pouch and the pretty pebbles that had caught his fancy.

At last the swarthy companions of Achmet Zek quitted his tent, and
the leader went with them to smoke a pipe with one of their number,
leaving his own silken habitation unguarded. Scarcely had they
left the interior when a knife blade was thrust through the fabric
of the rear wall, some six feet above the ground, and a swift
downward stroke opened an entrance to those who waited beyond.

Through the opening stepped the ape-man, and close behind him came
the huge Chulk; but Taglat did not follow them. Instead he turned
and slunk through the darkness toward the hut where the she who
had arrested his brutish interest lay securely bound. Before the
doorway the sentries sat upon their haunches, conversing in monotones.
Within, the young woman lay upon a filthy sleeping mat, resigned,
through utter hopelessness to whatever fate lay in store for her
until the opportunity arrived which would permit her to free herself
by the only means which now seemed even remotely possible--the
hitherto detested act of self-destruction.

Creeping silently toward the sentries, a white-burnoosed figure
approached the shadows at one end of the hut. The meager intellect
of the creature denied it the advantage it might have taken of its
disguise. Where it could have walked boldly to the very sides of
the sentries, it chose rather to sneak upon them, unseen, from the
rear.

It came to the corner of the hut and peered around. The sentries
were but a few paces away; but the ape did not dare expose himself,
even for an instant, to those feared and hated thunder-sticks which
the Tarmangani knew so well how to use, if there were another and
safer method of attack.

Taglat wished that there was a tree nearby from the over-hanging
branches of which he might spring upon his unsuspecting prey; but,
though there was no tree, the idea gave birth to a plan. The eaves
of the hut were just above the heads of the sentries--from them
he could leap upon the Tarmangani, unseen. A quick snap of those
mighty jaws would dispose of one of them before the other realized
that they were attacked, and the second would fall an easy prey to
the strength, agility and ferocity of a second quick charge.

Taglat withdrew a few paces to the rear of the hut, gathered himself
for the effort, ran quickly forward and leaped high into the air.
He struck the roof directly above the rear wall of the hut, and
the structure, reinforced by the wall beneath, held his enormous
weight for an instant, then he moved forward a step, the roof
sagged, the thatching parted and the great anthropoid shot through
into the interior.

The sentries, hearing the crashing of the roof poles, leaped to
their feet and rushed into the hut. Jane Clayton tried to roll
aside as the great form lit upon the floor so close to her that
one foot pinned her clothing to the ground.

The ape, feeling the movement beside him, reached down and gathered
the girl in the hollow of one mighty arm. The burnoose covered the
hairy body so that Jane Clayton believed that a human arm supported
her, and from the extremity of hopelessness a great hope sprang
into her breast that at last she was in the keeping of a rescuer.

The two sentries were now within the hut, but hesitating because
of doubt as to the nature of the cause of the disturbance. Their
eyes, not yet accustomed to the darkness of the interior, told them
nothing, nor did they hear any sound, for the ape stood silently
awaiting their attack.

Seeing that they stood without advancing, and realizing that,
handicapped as he was by the weight of the she, he could put up but
a poor battle, Taglat elected to risk a sudden break for liberty.
Lowering his head, he charged straight for the two sentries who
blocked the doorway. The impact of his mighty shoulders bowled
them over upon their backs, and before they could scramble to their
feet, the ape was gone, darting in the shadows of the huts toward
the palisade at the far end of the village.

The speed and strength of her rescuer filled Jane Clayton with
wonder. Could it be that Tarzan had survived the bullet of the
Arab? Who else in all the jungle could bear the weight of a grown
woman as lightly as he who held her? She spoke his name; but there
was no response. Still she did not give up hope.

At the palisade the beast did not even hesitate. A single mighty
leap carried it to the top, where it poised but for an instant
before dropping to the ground upon the opposite side. Now the girl
was almost positive that she was safe in the arms of her husband,
and when the ape took to the trees and bore her swiftly into the
jungle, as Tarzan had done at other times in the past, belief became
conviction.

In a little moonlit glade, a mile or so from the camp of the raiders,
her rescuer halted and dropped her to the ground. His roughness
surprised her, but still she had no doubts. Again she called
him by name, and at the same instant the ape, fretting under the
restraints of the unaccustomed garments of the Tarmangani, tore
the burnoose from him, revealing to the eyes of the horror-struck
woman the hideous face and hairy form of a giant anthropoid.

With a piteous wail of terror, Jane Clayton swooned, while, from
the concealment of a nearby bush, Numa, the lion, eyed the pair
hungrily and licked his chops.

Tarzan, entering the tent of Achmet Zek, searched the interior
thoroughly. He tore the bed to pieces and scattered the contents
of box and bag about the floor. He investigated whatever his eyes
discovered, nor did those keen organs overlook a single article
within the habitation of the raider chief; but no pouch or pretty
pebbles rewarded his thoroughness.

Satisfied at last that his belongings were not in the possession
of Achmet Zek, unless they were on the person of the chief himself,
Tarzan decided to secure the person of the she before further
prosecuting his search for the pouch.

Motioning for Chulk to follow him, he passed out of the tent by
the same way that he had entered it, and walking boldly through
the village, made directly for the hut where Jane Clayton had been
imprisoned.

He noted with surprise the absence of Taglat, whom he had expected
to find awaiting him outside the tent of Achmet Zek; but, accustomed
as he was to the unreliability of apes, he gave no serious attention
to the present defection of his surly companion. So long as Taglat
did not cause interference with his plans, Tarzan was indifferent
to his absence.

As he approached the hut, the ape-man noticed that a crowd
had collected about the entrance. He could see that the men who
composed it were much excited, and fearing lest Chulk's disguise
should prove inadequate to the concealment of his true identity
in the face of so many observers, he commanded the ape to betake
himself to the far end of the village, and there await him.

As Chulk waddled off, keeping to the shadows, Tarzan advanced
boldly toward the excited group before the doorway of the hut. He
mingled with the blacks and the Arabs in an endeavor to learn the
cause of the commotion, in his interest forgetting that he alone
of the assemblage carried a spear, a bow and arrows, and thus might
become an object of suspicious attention.

Shouldering his way through the crowd he approached the doorway,
and had almost reached it when one of the Arabs laid a hand upon
his shoulder, crying: "Who is this?" at the same time snatching
back the hood from the ape-man's face.

Tarzan of the Apes in all his savage life had never been accustomed
to pause in argument with an antagonist. The primitive instinct of
self-preservation acknowledges many arts and wiles; but argument is
not one of them, nor did he now waste precious time in an attempt
to convince the raiders that he was not a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Instead he had his unmasker by the throat ere the man's words had
scarce quitted his lips, and hurling him from side to side brushed
away those who would have swarmed upon him.

Using the Arab as a weapon, Tarzan forced his way quickly
to the doorway, and a moment later was within the hut. A hasty
examination revealed the fact that it was empty, and his sense of
smell discovered, too, the scent spoor of Taglat, the ape. Tarzan
uttered a low, ominous growl. Those who were pressing forward
at the doorway to seize him, fell back as the savage notes of the
bestial challenge smote upon their ears. They looked at one another
in surprise and consternation. A man had entered the hut alone,
and yet with their own ears they had heard the voice of a wild
beast within. What could it mean? Had a lion or a leopard sought
sanctuary in the interior, unbeknown to the sentries?

Tarzan's quick eyes discovered the opening in the roof, through
which Taglat had fallen. He guessed that the ape had either come
or gone by way of the break, and while the Arabs hesitated without,
he sprang, catlike, for the opening, grasped the top of the wall
and clambered out upon the roof, dropping instantly to the ground
at the rear of the hut.

When the Arabs finally mustered courage to enter the hut, after
firing several volleys through the walls, they found the interior
deserted. At the same time Tarzan, at the far end of the village,
sought for Chulk; but the ape was nowhere to be found.

Robbed of his she, deserted by his companions, and as much in
ignorance as ever as to the whereabouts of his pouch and pebbles,
it was an angry Tarzan who climbed the palisade and vanished into
the darkness of the jungle.

For the present he must give up the search for his pouch, since it
would be paramount to self-destruction to enter the Arab camp now
while all its inhabitants were aroused and upon the alert.

In his escape from the village, the ape-man had lost the spoor of
the fleeing Taglat, and now he circled widely through the forest
in an endeavor to again pick it up.

Chulk had remained at his post until the cries and shots of the
Arabs had filled his simple soul with terror, for above all things
the ape folk fear the thunder-sticks of the Tarmangani; then he
had clambered nimbly over the palisade, tearing his burnoose in
the effort, and fled into the depths of the jungle, grumbling and
scolding as he went.

Tarzan, roaming the jungle in search of the trail of Taglat and the
she, traveled swiftly. In a little moonlit glade ahead of him the
great ape was bending over the prostrate form of the woman Tarzan
sought. The beast was tearing at the bonds that confined her ankles
and wrists, pulling and gnawing upon the cords.

The course the ape-man was taking would carry him but a short
distance to the right of them, and though he could not have seen
them the wind was bearing down from them to him, carrying their
scent spoor strongly toward him.

A moment more and Jane Clayton's safety might have been assured, even
though Numa, the lion, was already gathering himself in preparation
for a charge; but Fate, already all too cruel, now outdid herself--the
wind veered suddenly for a few moments, the scent spoor that would
have led the ape-man to the girl's side was wafted in the opposite
direction; Tarzan passed within fifty yards of the tragedy that
was being enacted in the glade, and the opportunity was gone beyond
recall.

18

The Fight For the Treasure

It was morning before Tarzan could bring himself to a realization
of the possibility of failure of his quest, and even then he would
only admit that success was but delayed. He would eat and sleep,
and then set forth again. The jungle was wide; but wide too were
the experience and cunning of Tarzan. Taglat might travel far;
but Tarzan would find him in the end, though he had to search every
tree in the mighty forest.

Soliloquizing thus, the ape-man followed the spoor of Bara, the
deer, the unfortunate upon which he had decided to satisfy his
hunger. For half an hour the trail led the ape-man toward the
east along a well-marked game path, when suddenly, to the stalker's
astonishment, the quarry broke into sight, racing madly back along
the narrow way straight toward the hunter.

Tarzan, who had been following along the trail, leaped so quickly
to the concealing verdure at the side that the deer was still
unaware of the presence of an enemy in this direction, and while
the animal was still some distance away, the ape-man swung into
the lower branches of the tree which overhung the trail. There he
crouched, a savage beast of prey, awaiting the coming of its victim.

What had frightened the deer into so frantic a retreat, Tarzan
did not know--Numa, the lion, perhaps, or Sheeta, the panther; but
whatsoever it was mattered little to Tarzan of the Apes--he was
ready and willing to defend his kill against any other denizen of the
jungle. If he were unable to do it by means of physical prowess,
he had at his command another and a greater power--his shrewd
intelligence.

And so, on came the running deer, straight into the jaws of death.
The ape-man turned so that his back was toward the approaching
animal. He poised with bent knees upon the gently swaying limb
above the trail, timing with keen ears the nearing hoof beats of
frightened Bara.

In a moment the victim flashed beneath the limb and at the same
instant the ape-man above sprang out and down upon its back. The
weight of the man's body carried the deer to the ground. It
stumbled forward once in a futile effort to rise, and then mighty
muscles dragged its head far back, gave the neck a vicious wrench,
and Bara was dead.

Quick had been the killing, and equally quick were the ape-man's
subsequent actions, for who might know what manner of killer pursued
Bara, or how close at hand he might be? Scarce had the neck of the
victim snapped than the carcass was hanging over one of Tarzan's
broad shoulders, and an instant later the ape-man was perched once
more among the lower branches of a tree above the trail, his keen,
gray eyes scanning the pathway down which the deer had fled.

Nor was it long before the cause of Bara's fright became evident to
Tarzan, for presently came the unmistakable sounds of approaching
horsemen. Dragging his kill after him the ape-man ascended to the
middle terrace, and settling himself comfortably in the crotch of
a tree where he could still view the trail beneath, cut a juicy
steak from the deer's loin, and burying his strong, white teeth
in the hot flesh proceeded to enjoy the fruits of his prowess and
his cunning.

Nor did he neglect the trail beneath while he satisfied his
hunger. His sharp eyes saw the muzzle of the leading horse as it
came into view around a bend in the tortuous trail, and one by one
they scrutinized the riders as they passed beneath him in single
file.

Among them came one whom Tarzan recognized, but so schooled was the
ape-man in the control of his emotions that no slightest change of
expression, much less any hysterical demonstration that might have
revealed his presence, betrayed the fact of his inward excitement.

Beneath him, as unconscious of his presence as were the Abyssinians
before and behind him, rode Albert Werper, while the ape-man
scrutinized the Belgian for some sign of the pouch which he had
stolen.

As the Abyssinians rode toward the south, a giant figure hovered
ever upon their trail--a huge, almost naked white man, who carried
the bloody carcass of a deer upon his shoulders, for Tarzan knew
that he might not have another opportunity to hunt for some time
if he were to follow the Belgian.

To endeavor to snatch him from the midst of the armed horsemen,
not even Tarzan would attempt other than in the last extremity,
for the way of the wild is the way of caution and cunning, unless
they be aroused to rashness by pain or anger.

So the Abyssinians and the Belgian marched southward and Tarzan of
the Apes swung silently after them through the swaying branches of
the middle terrace.

A two days' march brought them to a level plain beyond which lay
mountains--a plain which Tarzan remembered and which aroused within
him vague half memories and strange longings. Out upon the plain
the horsemen rode, and at a safe distance behind them crept the
ape-man, taking advantage of such cover as the ground afforded.

Beside a charred pile of timbers the Abyssinians halted, and Tarzan,
sneaking close and concealing himself in nearby shrubbery, watched
them in wonderment. He saw them digging up the earth, and he
wondered if they had hidden meat there in the past and now had come
for it. Then he recalled how he had buried his pretty pebbles,
and the suggestion that had caused him to do it. They were digging
for the things the blacks had buried here!

Presently he saw them uncover a dirty, yellow object, and he
witnessed the joy of Werper and of Abdul Mourak as the grimy object
was exposed to view. One by one they unearthed many similar pieces,
all of the same uniform, dirty yellow, until a pile of them lay
upon the ground, a pile which Abdul Mourak fondled and petted in
an ecstasy of greed.

Something stirred in the ape-man's mind as he looked long upon the
golden ingots. Where had he seen such before? What were they?
Why did these Tarmangani covet them so greatly? To whom did they
belong?

He recalled the black men who had buried them. The things must be
theirs. Werper was stealing them as he had stolen Tarzan's pouch
of pebbles. The ape-man's eyes blazed in anger. He would like to
find the black men and lead them against these thieves. He wondered
where their village might be.

As all these things ran through the active mind, a party of men
moved out of the forest at the edge of the plain and advanced toward
the ruins of the burned bungalow.

Abdul Mourak, always watchful, was the first to see them, but already
they were halfway across the open. He called to his men to mount
and hold themselves in readiness, for in the heart of Africa who
may know whether a strange host be friend or foe?

Werper, swinging into his saddle, fastened his eyes upon the
newcomers, then, white and trembling he turned toward Abdul Mourak.

"It is Achmet Zek and his raiders," he whispered. "They are come
for the gold."

It must have been at about the same instant that Achmet Zek
discovered the pile of yellow ingots and realized the actuality of
what he had already feared since first his eyes had alighted upon
the party beside the ruins of the Englishman's bungalow. Someone
had forestalled him--another had come for the treasure ahead of
him.

The Arab was crazed by rage. Recently everything had gone against
him. He had lost the jewels, the Belgian, and for the second time
he had lost the Englishwoman. Now some one had come to rob him of
this treasure which he had thought as safe from disturbance here
as though it never had been mined.

He cared not whom the thieves might be. They would not give up
the gold without a battle, of that he was certain, and with a wild
whoop and a command to his followers, Achmet Zek put spurs to his
horse and dashed down upon the Abyssinians, and after him, waving
their long guns above their heads, yelling and cursing, came his
motley horde of cut-throat followers.

The men of Abdul Mourak met them with a volley which emptied a few
saddles, and then the raiders were among them, and sword, pistol
and musket, each was doing its most hideous and bloody work.

Achmet Zek, spying Werper at the first charge, bore down upon the
Belgian, and the latter, terrified by contemplation of the fate
he deserved, turned his horse's head and dashed madly away in an
effort to escape. Shouting to a lieutenant to take command, and
urging him upon pain of death to dispatch the Abyssinians and bring
the gold back to his camp, Achmet Zek set off across the plain
in pursuit of the Belgian, his wicked nature unable to forego the
pleasures of revenge, even at the risk of sacrificing the treasure.

As the pursued and the pursuer raced madly toward the distant forest
the battle behind them raged with bloody savageness. No quarter
was asked or given by either the ferocious Abyssinians or the
murderous cut-throats of Achmet Zek.

From the concealment of the shrubbery Tarzan watched the sanguinary
conflict which so effectually surrounded him that he found no
loop-hole through which he might escape to follow Werper and the
Arab chief.

The Abyssinians were formed in a circle which included Tarzan's
position, and around and into them galloped the yelling raiders,
now darting away, now charging in to deliver thrusts and cuts with
their curved swords.

Numerically the men of Achmet Zek were superior, and slowly but
surely the soldiers of Menelek were being exterminated. To Tarzan
the result was immaterial. He watched with but a single purpose--to
escape the ring of blood-mad fighters and be away after the Belgian
and his pouch.

When he had first discovered Werper upon the trail where he had
slain Bara, he had thought that his eyes must be playing him false,
so certain had he been that the thief had been slain and devoured
by Numa; but after following the detachment for two days, with his
keen eyes always upon the Belgian, he no longer doubted the identity
of the man, though he was put to it to explain the identity of the
mutilated corpse he had supposed was the man he sought.

As he crouched in hiding among the unkempt shrubbery which so
short a while since had been the delight and pride of the wife he
no longer recalled, an Arab and an Abyssinian wheeled their mounts
close to his position as they slashed at each other with their
swords.

Step by step the Arab beat back his adversary until the latter's
horse all but trod upon the ape-man, and then a vicious cut clove
the black warrior's skull, and the corpse toppled backward almost
upon Tarzan.

As the Abyssinian tumbled from his saddle the possibility of escape
which was represented by the riderless horse electrified the ape-man
to instant action. Before the frightened beast could gather himself
for flight a naked giant was astride his back. A strong hand had
grasped his bridle rein, and the surprised Arab discovered a new
foe in the saddle of him, whom he had slain.

But this enemy wielded no sword, and his spear and bow remained upon
his back. The Arab, recovered from his first surprise, dashed in
with raised sword to annihilate this presumptuous stranger. He aimed
a mighty blow at the ape-man's head, a blow which swung harmlessly
through thin air as Tarzan ducked from its path, and then the Arab
felt the other's horse brushing his leg, a great arm shot out and
encircled his waist, and before he could recover himself he was
dragged from his saddle, and forming a shield for his antagonist
was borne at a mad run straight through the encircling ranks of
his fellows.

Just beyond them he was tossed aside upon the ground, and the last
he saw of his strange foeman the latter was galloping off across
the plain in the direction of the forest at its farther edge.

For another hour the battle raged nor did it cease until the last
of the Abyssinians lay dead upon the ground, or had galloped off
toward the north in flight. But a handful of men escaped, among
them Abdul Mourak.

The victorious raiders collected about the pile of golden ingots
which the Abyssinians had uncovered, and there awaited the return
of their leader. Their exultation was slightly tempered by the
glimpse they had had of the strange apparition of the naked white
man galloping away upon the horse of one of their foemen and carrying
a companion who was now among them expatiating upon the superhuman
strength of the ape-man. None of them there but was familiar with
the name and fame of Tarzan of the Apes, and the fact that they had
recognized the white giant as the ferocious enemy of the wrongdoers
of the jungle, added to their terror, for they had been assured
that Tarzan was dead.

Naturally superstitious, they fully believed that they had seen
the disembodied spirit of the dead man, and now they cast fearful
glances about them in expectation of the ghost's early return to the
scene of the ruin they had inflicted upon him during their recent
raid upon his home, and discussed in affrighted whispers the probable
nature of the vengeance which the spirit would inflict upon them
should he return to find them in possession of his gold.

As they conversed their terror grew, while from the concealment
of the reeds along the river below them a small party of naked,
black warriors watched their every move. From the heights beyond
the river these black men had heard the noise of the conflict,
and creeping warily down to the stream had forded it and advanced
through the reeds until they were in a position to watch every move
of the combatants.

For a half hour the raiders awaited Achmet Zek's return, their fear
of the earlier return of the ghost of Tarzan constantly undermining
their loyalty to and fear of their chief. Finally one among them
voiced the desires of all when he announced that he intended riding
forth toward the forest in search of Achmet Zek. Instantly every
man of them sprang to his mount.

"The gold will be safe here," cried one. "We have killed the
Abyssinians and there are no others to carry it away. Let us ride
in search of Achmet Zek!"

And a moment later, amidst a cloud of dust, the raiders were
galloping madly across the plain, and out from the concealment of
the reeds along the river, crept a party of black warriors toward
the spot where the golden ingots of Opar lay piled on the ground.

Werper had still been in advance of Achmet Zek when he reached
the forest; but the latter, better mounted, was gaining upon him.
Riding with the reckless courage of desperation the Belgian urged
his mount to greater speed even within the narrow confines of the
winding, game trail that the beast was following.

Behind him he could hear the voice of Achmet Zek crying to him to
halt; but Werper only dug the spurs deeper into the bleeding sides
of his panting mount. Two hundred yards within the forest a broken
branch lay across the trail. It was a small thing that a horse
might ordinarily take in his natural stride without noticing its
presence; but Werper's horse was jaded, his feet were heavy with
weariness, and as the branch caught between his front legs he
stumbled, was unable to recover himself, and went down, sprawling
in the trail.

Werper, going over his head, rolled a few yards farther on, scrambled
to his feet and ran back. Seizing the reins he tugged to drag the
beast to his feet; but the animal would not or could not rise, and
as the Belgian cursed and struck at him, Achmet Zek appeared in
view.

Instantly the Belgian ceased his efforts with the dying animal at
his feet, and seizing his rifle, dropped behind the horse and fired
at the oncoming Arab.

His bullet, going low, struck Achmet Zek's horse in the breast,
bringing him down a hundred yards from where Werper lay preparing
to fire a second shot.

The Arab, who had gone down with his mount, was standing astride
him, and seeing the Belgian's strategic position behind his fallen
horse, lost no time in taking up a similar one behind his own.

And there the two lay, alternately firing at and cursing each other,
while from behind the Arab, Tarzan of the Apes approached to the
edge of the forest. Here he heard the occasional shots of the
duelists, and choosing the safer and swifter avenue of the forest
branches to the uncertain transportation afforded by a half-broken
Abyssinian pony, took to the trees.

Keeping to one side of the trail, the ape-man came presently to a
point where he could look down in comparative safety upon the fighters.
First one and then the other would partially raise himself above
his breastwork of horseflesh, fire his weapon and immediately drop
flat behind his shelter, where he would reload and repeat the act
a moment later.

Werper had but little ammunition, having been hastily armed by
Abdul Mourak from the body of one of the first of the Abyssinians
who had fallen in the fight about the pile of ingots, and now he
realized that soon he would have used his last bullet, and be at
the mercy of the Arab--a mercy with which he was well acquainted.

Facing both death and despoilment of his treasure, the Belgian cast
about for some plan of escape, and the only one that appealed to
him as containing even a remote possibility of success hinged upon
the chance of bribing Achmet Zek.

Werper had fired all but a single cartridge, when, during a lull
in the fighting, he called aloud to his opponent.

"Achmet Zek," he cried, "Allah alone knows which one of us may
leave our bones to rot where he lies upon this trail today if we
keep up our foolish battle. You wish the contents of the pouch I
wear about my waist, and I wish my life and my liberty even more
than I do the jewels. Let us each, then, take that which he most
desires and go our separate ways in peace. I will lay the pouch
upon the carcass of my horse, where you may see it, and you, in
turn, will lay your gun upon your horse, with butt toward me. Then
I will go away, leaving the pouch to you, and you will let me go
in safety. I want only my life, and my freedom."

The Arab thought in silence for a moment. Then he spoke. His reply
was influenced by the fact that he had expended his last shot.

"Go your way, then," he growled, "leaving the pouch in plain sight
behind you. See, I lay my gun thus, with the butt toward you.
Go."

Werper removed the pouch from about his waist. Sorrowfully and
affectionately he let his fingers press the hard outlines of the
contents. Ah, if he could extract a little handful of the precious
stones! But Achmet Zek was standing now, his eagle eyes commanding
a plain view of the Belgian and his every act.

Regretfully Werper laid the pouch, its contents undisturbed, upon
the body of his horse, rose, and taking his rifle with him, backed
slowly down the trail until a turn hid him from the view of the
watchful Arab.

Even then Achmet Zek did not advance, fearful as he was of some
such treachery as he himself might have been guilty of under like
circumstances; nor were his suspicions groundless, for the Belgian,
no sooner had he passed out of the range of the Arab's vision, halted
behind the bole of a tree, where he still commanded an unobstructed
view of his dead horse and the pouch, and raising his rifle covered
the spot where the other's body must appear when he came forward
to seize the treasure.

But Achmet Zek was no fool to expose himself to the blackened honor
of a thief and a murderer. Taking his long gun with him, he left
the trail, entering the rank and tangled vegetation which walled
it, and crawling slowly forward on hands and knees he paralleled
the trail; but never for an instant was his body exposed to the
rifle of the hidden assassin.

Thus Achmet Zek advanced until he had come opposite the dead horse
of his enemy. The pouch lay there in full view, while a short
distance along the trail, Werper waited in growing impatience
and nervousness, wondering why the Arab did not come to claim his
reward.

Presently he saw the muzzle of a rifle appear suddenly and
mysteriously a few inches above the pouch, and before he could
realize the cunning trick that the Arab had played upon him the
sight of the weapon was adroitly hooked into the rawhide thong
which formed the carrying strap of the pouch, and the latter was
drawn quickly from his view into the dense foliage at the trail's
side.

Not for an instant had the raider exposed a square inch of his
body, and Werper dared not fire his one remaining shot unless every
chance of a successful hit was in his favor.

Chuckling to himself, Achmet Zek withdrew a few paces farther into
the jungle, for he was as positive that Werper was waiting nearby
for a chance to pot him as though his eyes had penetrated the
jungle trees to the figure of the hiding Belgian, fingering his
rifle behind the bole of the buttressed giant.

Werper did not dare advance--his cupidity would not permit him to
depart, and so he stood there, his rifle ready in his hands, his
eyes watching the trail before him with catlike intensity.

But there was another who had seen the pouch and recognized it, who
did advance with Achmet Zek, hovering above him, as silent and as
sure as death itself, and as the Arab, finding a little spot less
overgrown with bushes than he had yet encountered, prepared to gloat
his eyes upon the contents of the pouch, Tarzan paused directly
above him, intent upon the same object.

Wetting his thin lips with his tongue, Achmet Zek loosened the
tie strings which closed the mouth of the pouch, and cupping one
claw-like hand poured forth a portion of the contents into his
palm.

A single look he took at the stones lying in his hand. His eyes
narrowed, a curse broke from his lips, and he hurled the small
objects upon the ground, disdainfully. Quickly he emptied the
balance of the contents until he had scanned each separate stone,
and as he dumped them all upon the ground and stamped upon them
his rage grew until the muscles of his face worked in demon-like
fury, and his fingers clenched until his nails bit into the flesh.

Above, Tarzan watched in wonderment. He had been curious to discover
what all the pow-wow about his pouch had meant. He wanted to see
what the Arab would do after the other had gone away, leaving the
pouch behind him, and, having satisfied his curiosity, he would
then have pounced upon Achmet Zek and taken the pouch and his pretty
pebbles away from him, for did they not belong to Tarzan?

He saw the Arab now throw aside the empty pouch, and grasping his
long gun by the barrel, clublike, sneak stealthily through the
jungle beside the trail along which Werper had gone.

As the man disappeared from his view, Tarzan dropped to the ground
and commenced gathering up the spilled contents of the pouch, and
the moment that he obtained his first near view of the scattered
pebbles he understood the rage of the Arab, for instead of the
glittering and scintillating gems which had first caught and held
the attention of the ape-man, the pouch now contained but a collection
of ordinary river pebbles.

19

Jane Clayton and the Beasts of the Jungle

Mugambi, after his successful break for liberty, had fallen upon
hard times. His way had led him through a country with which he was
unfamiliar, a jungle country in which he could find no water, and
but little food, so that after several days of wandering he found
himself so reduced in strength that he could barely drag himself
along.

It was with growing difficulty that he found the strength necessary
to construct a shelter by night wherein he might be reasonably safe
from the large carnivora, and by day he still further exhausted
his strength in digging for edible roots, and searching for water.

A few stagnant pools at considerable distances apart saved him
from death by thirst; but his was a pitiable state when finally he
stumbled by accident upon a large river in a country where fruit
was abundant, and small game which he might bag by means of a
combination of stealth, cunning, and a crude knob-stick which he
had fashioned from a fallen limb.

Realizing that he still had a long march ahead of him before
he could reach even the outskirts of the Waziri country, Mugambi
wisely decided to remain where he was until he had recuperated his
strength and health. A few days' rest would accomplish wonders
for him, he knew, and he could ill afford to sacrifice his chances
for a safe return by setting forth handicapped by weakness.

And so it was that he constructed a substantial thorn boma,
and rigged a thatched shelter within it, where he might sleep by
night in security, and from which he sallied forth by day to hunt
the flesh which alone could return to his giant thews their normal
prowess.

One day, as he hunted, a pair of savage eyes discovered him from
the concealment of the branches of a great tree beneath which the
black warrior passed. Bloodshot, wicked eyes they were, set in a
fierce and hairy face.

They watched Mugambi make his little kill of a small rodent, and
they followed him as he returned to his hut, their owner moving
quietly through the trees upon the trail of the Negro.

The creature was Chulk, and he looked down upon the unconscious man
more in curiosity than in hate. The wearing of the Arab burnoose
which Tarzan had placed upon his person had aroused in the mind
of the anthropoid a desire for similar mimicry of the Tarmangani.
The burnoose, though, had obstructed his movements and proven such
a nuisance that the ape had long since torn it from him and thrown
it away.

Now, however, he saw a Gomangani arrayed in less cumbersome apparel--a
loin cloth, a few copper ornaments and a feather headdress. These
were more in line with Chulk's desires than a flowing robe which
was constantly getting between one's legs, and catching upon every
limb and bush along the leafy trail.

Chulk eyed the pouch, which, suspended over Mugambi's shoulder, swung
beside his black hip. This took his fancy, for it was ornamented
with feathers and a fringe, and so the ape hung about Mugambi's
boma, waiting an opportunity to seize either by stealth or might
some object of the black's apparel.

Nor was it long before the opportunity came. Feeling safe within
his thorny enclosure, Mugambi was wont to stretch himself in the
shade of his shelter during the heat of the day, and sleep in peaceful
security until the declining sun carried with it the enervating
temperature of midday.

Watching from above, Chulk saw the black warrior stretched thus in
the unconsciousness of sleep one sultry afternoon. Creeping out
upon an overhanging branch the anthropoid dropped to the ground
within the boma. He approached the sleeper upon padded feet which
gave forth no sound, and with an uncanny woodcraft that rustled
not a leaf or a grass blade.

Pausing beside the man, the ape bent over and examined his belongings.
Great as was the strength of Chulk there lay in the back of his
little brain a something which deterred him from arousing the man
to combat--a sense that is inherent in all the lower orders, a
strange fear of man, that rules even the most powerful of the jungle
creatures at times.

To remove Mugambi's loin cloth without awakening him would be
impossible, and the only detachable things were the knob-stick and
the pouch, which had fallen from the black's shoulder as he rolled
in sleep.

Seizing these two articles, as better than nothing at all, Chulk
retreated with haste, and every indication of nervous terror, to
the safety of the tree from which he had dropped, and, still haunted
by that indefinable terror which the close proximity of man awakened
in his breast, fled precipitately through the jungle. Aroused by
attack, or supported by the presence of another of his kind, Chulk
could have braved the presence of a score of human beings, but
alone--ah, that was a different matter--alone, and unenraged.

It was some time after Mugambi awoke that he missed the pouch.
Instantly he was all excitement. What could have become of it?
It had been at his side when he lay down to sleep--of that he was
certain, for had he not pushed it from beneath him when its bulging
bulk, pressing against his ribs, caused him discomfort? Yes, it
had been there when he lay down to sleep. How then had it vanished?

Mugambi's savage imagination was filled with visions of the spirits
of departed friends and enemies, for only to the machinations of
such as these could he attribute the disappearance of his pouch
and knob-stick in the first excitement of the discovery of their
loss; but later and more careful investigation, such as his woodcraft
made possible, revealed indisputable evidence of a more material
explanation than his excited fancy and superstition had at first
led him to accept.

In the trampled turf beside him was the faint impress of huge,
manlike feet. Mugambi raised his brows as the truth dawned upon
him. Hastily leaving the boma he searched in all directions about
the enclosure for some farther sign of the tell-tale spoor. He
climbed trees and sought for evidence of the direction of the
thief's flight; but the faint signs left by a wary ape who elects
to travel through the trees eluded the woodcraft of Mugambi. Tarzan
might have followed them; but no ordinary mortal could perceive
them, or perceiving, translate.

The black, now strengthened and refreshed by his rest, felt ready
to set out again for Waziri, and finding himself another knob-stick,
turned his back upon the river and plunged into the mazes of the
jungle.

As Taglat struggled with the bonds which secured the ankles and
wrists of his captive, the great lion that eyed the two from behind
a nearby clump of bushes wormed closer to his intended prey.

The ape's back was toward the lion. He did not see the broad head,
fringed by its rough mane, protruding through the leafy wall. He
could not know that the powerful hind paws were gathering close
beneath the tawny belly preparatory to a sudden spring, and his first
intimation of impending danger was the thunderous and triumphant
roar which the charging lion could no longer suppress.

Scarce pausing for a backward glance, Taglat abandoned the unconscious
woman and fled in the opposite direction from the horrid sound
which had broken in so unexpected and terrifying a manner upon his
startled ears; but the warning had come too late to save him, and
the lion, in his second bound, alighted full upon the broad shoulders
of the anthropoid.

As the great bull went down there was awakened in him to the full
all the cunning, all the ferocity, all the physical prowess which
obey the mightiest of the fundamental laws of nature, the law of
self-preservation, and turning upon his back he closed with the
carnivore in a death struggle so fearless and abandoned, that for
a moment the great Numa himself may have trembled for the outcome.

Seizing the lion by the mane, Taglat buried his yellowed fangs deep
in the monster's throat, growling hideously through the muffled
gag of blood and hair. Mixed with the ape's voice the lion's roars
of rage and pain reverberated through the jungle, till the lesser
creatures of the wild, startled from their peaceful pursuits,
scurried fearfully away.

Rolling over and over upon the turf the two battled with demoniac
fury, until the colossal cat, by doubling his hind paws far up
beneath his belly sank his talons deep into Taglat's chest, then,
ripping downward with all his strength, Numa accomplished his design,
and the disemboweled anthropoid, with a last spasmodic struggle,
relaxed in limp and bloody dissolution beneath his titanic adversary.

Scrambling to his feet, Numa looked about quickly in all directions,
as though seeking to detect the possible presence of other foes;
but only the still and unconscious form of the girl, lying a few
paces from him met his gaze, and with an angry growl he placed a
forepaw upon the body of his kill and raising his head gave voice
to his savage victory cry.

For another moment he stood with fierce eyes roving to and fro
about the clearing. At last they halted for a second time upon
the girl. A low growl rumbled from the lion's throat. His lower
jaw rose and fell, and the slaver drooled and dripped upon the dead
face of Taglat.

Like two yellow-green augurs, wide and unblinking, the terrible eyes
remained fixed upon Jane Clayton. The erect and majestic pose of
the great frame shrank suddenly into a sinister crouch as, slowly
and gently as one who treads on eggs, the devil-faced cat crept
forward toward the girl.

Beneficent Fate maintained her in happy unconsciousness of the dread
presence sneaking stealthily upon her. She did not know when the
lion paused at her side. She did not hear the sniffing of his
nostrils as he smelled about her. She did not feel the heat of
the fetid breath upon her face, nor the dripping of the saliva from
the frightful jaws half opened so close above her.

Finally the lion lifted a forepaw and turned the body of the girl half
over, then he stood again eyeing her as though still undetermined
whether life was extinct or not. Some noise or odor from the
nearby jungle attracted his attention for a moment. His eyes did
not again return to Jane Clayton, and presently he left her, walked
over to the remains of Taglat, and crouching down upon his kill
with his back toward the girl, proceeded to devour the ape.

It was upon this scene that Jane Clayton at last opened her eyes.
Inured to danger, she maintained her self-possession in the face of
the startling surprise which her new-found consciousness revealed
to her. She neither cried out nor moved a muscle, until she had
taken in every detail of the scene which lay within the range of
her vision.

She saw that the lion had killed the ape, and that he was devouring
his prey less than fifty feet from where she lay; but what could
she do? Her hands and feet were bound. She must wait then, in
what patience she could command, until Numa had eaten and digested
the ape, when, without doubt, he would return to feast upon her,
unless, in the meantime, the dread hyenas should discover her, or
some other of the numerous prowling carnivora of the jungle.

As she lay tormented by these frightful thoughts, she suddenly
became conscious that the bonds at her wrists and ankles no longer
hurt her, and then of the fact that her hands were separated, one
lying upon either side of her, instead of both being confined at
her back.

Wonderingly she moved a hand. What miracle had been performed?
It was not bound! Stealthily and noiselessly she moved her other
limbs, only to discover that she was free. She could not know how
the thing had happened, that Taglat, gnawing upon them for sinister
purposes of his own, had cut them through but an instant before
Numa had frightened him from his victim.

For a moment Jane Clayton was overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving;
but only for a moment. What good was her new-found liberty in the
face of the frightful beast crouching so close beside her? If she
could have had this chance under different conditions, how happily
she would have taken advantage of it; but now it was given to her
when escape was practically impossible.

The nearest tree was a hundred feet away, the lion less than fifty.
To rise and attempt to reach the safety of those tantalizing
branches would be but to invite instant destruction, for Numa would
doubtless be too jealous of this future meal to permit it to escape
with ease. And yet, too, there was another possibility--a chance
which hinged entirely upon the unknown temper of the great beast.

His belly already partially filled, he might watch with indifference
the departure of the girl; yet could she afford to chance so
improbable a contingency? She doubted it. Upon the other hand
she was no more minded to allow this frail opportunity for life
to entirely elude her without taking or attempting to take some
advantage from it.

She watched the lion narrowly. He could not see her without turning
his head more than halfway around. She would attempt a ruse.
Silently she rolled over in the direction of the nearest tree, and
away from the lion, until she lay again in the same position in
which Numa had left her, but a few feet farther from him.

Here she lay breathless watching the lion; but the beast gave no
indication that he had heard aught to arouse his suspicions. Again
she rolled over, gaining a few more feet and again she lay in rigid
contemplation of the beast's back.

During what seemed hours to her tense nerves, Jane Clayton continued
these tactics, and still the lion fed on in apparent unconsciousness
that his second prey was escaping him. Already the girl was but
a few paces from the tree--a moment more and she would be close
enough to chance springing to her feet, throwing caution aside and
making a sudden, bold dash for safety. She was halfway over in
her turn, her face away from the lion, when he suddenly turned his
great head and fastened his eyes upon her. He saw her roll over
upon her side away from him, and then her eyes were turned again
toward him, and the cold sweat broke from the girl's every pore
as she realized that with life almost within her grasp, death had
found her out.

For a long time neither the girl nor the lion moved. The beast
lay motionless, his head turned upon his shoulders and his glaring
eyes fixed upon the rigid victim, now nearly fifty yards away.
The girl stared back straight into those cruel orbs, daring not to
move even a muscle.

The strain upon her nerves was becoming so unbearable that she could
scarcely restrain a growing desire to scream, when Numa deliberately
turned back to the business of feeding; but his back-layed ears
attested a sinister regard for the actions of the girl behind him.

Realizing that she could not again turn without attracting his
immediate and perhaps fatal attention, Jane Clayton resolved to
risk all in one last attempt to reach the tree and clamber to the
lower branches.

Gathering herself stealthily for the effort, she leaped suddenly
to her feet, but almost simultaneously the lion sprang up, wheeled
and with wide-distended jaws and terrific roars, charged swiftly
down upon her.

Those who have spent lifetimes hunting the big game of Africa will
tell you that scarcely any other creature in the world attains the
speed of a charging lion. For the short distance that the great
cat can maintain it, it resembles nothing more closely than the
onrushing of a giant locomotive under full speed, and so, though
the distance that Jane Clayton must cover was relatively small,
the terrific speed of the lion rendered her hopes of escape almost
negligible.

Yet fear can work wonders, and though the upward spring of the
lion as he neared the tree into which she was scrambling brought
his talons in contact with her boots she eluded his raking grasp,
and as he hurtled against the bole of her sanctuary, the girl drew
herself into the safety of the branches above his reach.

For some time the lion paced, growling and moaning, beneath the
tree in which Jane Clayton crouched, panting and trembling. The
girl was a prey to the nervous reaction from the frightful ordeal
through which she had so recently passed, and in her overwrought
state it seemed that never again should she dare descend to the
ground among the fearsome dangers which infested the broad stretch
of jungle that she knew must lie between herself and the nearest
village of her faithful Waziri.

It was almost dark before the lion finally quit the clearing, and
even had his place beside the remnants of the mangled ape not been
immediately usurped by a pack of hyenas, Jane Clayton would scarcely
have dared venture from her refuge in the face of impending night,
and so she composed herself as best she could for the long and
tiresome wait, until daylight might offer some means of escape
from the dread vicinity in which she had witnessed such terrifying
adventures.

Tired nature at last overcame even her fears, and she dropped into
a deep slumber, cradled in a comparatively safe, though rather
uncomfortable, position against the bole of the tree, and supported
by two large branches which grew outward, almost horizontally, but
a few inches apart.

The sun was high in the heavens when she at last awoke, and beneath
her was no sign either of Numa or the hyenas. Only the clean-picked
bones of the ape, scattered about the ground, attested the fact
of what had transpired in this seemingly peaceful spot but a few
hours before.

Both hunger and thirst assailed her now, and realizing that she
must descend or die of starvation, she at last summoned courage to
undertake the ordeal of continuing her journey through the jungle.

Descending from the tree, she set out in a southerly direction,
toward the point where she believed the plains of Waziri lay, and
though she knew that only ruin and desolation marked the spot where
once her happy home had stood, she hoped that by coming to the
broad plain she might eventually reach one of the numerous Waziri
villages that were scattered over the surrounding country, or chance
upon a roving band of these indefatigable huntsmen.

The day was half spent when there broke unexpectedly upon her
startled ears the sound of a rifle shot not far ahead of her. As
she paused to listen, this first shot was followed by another and
another and another. What could it mean? The first explanation
which sprung to her mind attributed the firing to an encounter
between the Arab raiders and a party of Waziri; but as she did
not know upon which side victory might rest, or whether she were
behind friend or foe, she dared not advance nearer on the chance
of revealing herself to an enemy.

After listening for several minutes she became convinced that
no more than two or three rifles were engaged in the fight, since
nothing approximating the sound of a volley reached her ears; but
still she hesitated to approach, and at last, determining to take
no chance, she climbed into the concealing foliage of a tree beside
the trail she had been following and there fearfully awaited whatever
might reveal itself.

As the firing became less rapid she caught the sound of men's voices,
though she could distinguish no words, and at last the reports of
the guns ceased, and she heard two men calling to each other in loud
tones. Then there was a long silence which was finally broken by
the stealthy padding of footfalls on the trail ahead of her, and in
another moment a man appeared in view backing toward her, a rifle
ready in his hands, and his eyes directed in careful watchfulness
along the way that he had come.

Almost instantly Jane Clayton recognized the man as M. Jules
Frecoult, who so recently had been a guest in her home. She was
upon the point of calling to him in glad relief when she saw him
leap quickly to one side and hide himself in the thick verdure at
the trail's side. It was evident that he was being followed by an
enemy, and so Jane Clayton kept silent, lest she distract Frecoult's
attention, or guide his foe to his hiding place.

Scarcely had Frecoult hidden himself than the figure of a white-robed
Arab crept silently along the trail in pursuit. From her hiding
place, Jane Clayton could see both men plainly. She recognized
Achmet Zek as the leader of the band of ruffians who had raided her
home and made her a prisoner, and as she saw Frecoult, the supposed
friend and ally, raise his gun and take careful aim at the Arab,
her heart stood still and every power of her soul was directed upon
a fervent prayer for the accuracy of his aim.

Achmet Zek paused in the middle of the trail. His keen eyes
scanned every bush and tree within the radius of his vision. His
tall figure presented a perfect target to the perfidious assassin.
There was a sharp report, and a little puff of smoke arose from
the bush that hid the Belgian, as Achmet Zek stumbled forward and
pitched, face down, upon the trail.

As Werper stepped back into the trail, he was startled by the sound
of a glad cry from above him, and as he wheeled about to discover
the author of this unexpected interruption, he saw Jane Clayton
drop lightly from a nearby tree and run forward with outstretched
hands to congratulate him upon his victory.

20

Jane Clayton Again a Prisoner

Though her clothes were torn and her hair disheveled, Albert Werper
realized that he never before had looked upon such a vision of
loveliness as that which Lady Greystoke presented in the relief
and joy which she felt in coming so unexpectedly upon a friend and
rescuer when hope had seemed so far away.

If the Belgian had entertained any doubts as to the woman's knowledge
of his part in the perfidious attack upon her home and herself, it
was quickly dissipated by the genuine friendliness of her greeting.
She told him quickly of all that had befallen her since he had
departed from her home, and as she spoke of the death of her husband
her eyes were veiled by the tears which she could not repress.

"I am shocked," said Werper, in well-simulated sympathy; "but I am
not surprised. That devil there," and he pointed toward the body
of Achmet Zek, "has terrorized the entire country. Your Waziri
are either exterminated, or have been driven out of their country,
far to the south. The men of Achmet Zek occupy the plain about
your former home--there is neither sanctuary nor escape in that
direction. Our only hope lies in traveling northward as rapidly as
we may, of coming to the camp of the raiders before the knowledge
of Achmet Zek's death reaches those who were left there, and of
obtaining, through some ruse, an escort toward the north.

"I think that the thing can be accomplished, for I was a guest of
the raider's before I knew the nature of the man, and those at the
camp are not aware that I turned against him when I discovered his
villainy.

"Come! We will make all possible haste to reach the camp before
those who accompanied Achmet Zek upon his last raid have found
his body and carried the news of his death to the cut-throats who
remained behind. It is our only hope, Lady Greystoke, and you
must place your entire faith in me if I am to succeed. Wait for
me here a moment while I take from the Arab's body the wallet that
he stole from me," and Werper stepped quickly to the dead man's
side, and, kneeling, sought with quick fingers the pouch of jewels.
To his consternation, there was no sign of them in the garments
of Achmet Zek. Rising, he walked back along the trail, searching
for some trace of the missing pouch or its contents; but he found
nothing, even though he searched carefully the vicinity of his
dead horse, and for a few paces into the jungle on either side.
Puzzled, disappointed and angry, he at last returned to the girl.
"The wallet is gone," he explained, crisply, "and I dare not delay
longer in search of it. We must reach the camp before the returning
raiders."

Unsuspicious of the man's true character, Jane Clayton saw nothing
peculiar in his plans, or in his specious explanation of his former
friendship for the raider, and so she grasped with alacrity the
seeming hope for safety which he proffered her, and turning about
she set out with Albert Werper toward the hostile camp in which
she so lately had been a prisoner.

It was late in the afternoon of the second day before they reached
their destination, and as they paused upon the edge of the clearing
before the gates of the walled village, Werper cautioned the girl
to accede to whatever he might suggest by his conversation with
the raiders.

"I shall tell them," he said, "that I apprehended you after you
escaped from the camp, that I took you to Achmet Zek, and that as
he was engaged in a stubborn battle with the Waziri, he directed
me to return to camp with you, to obtain here a sufficient guard,
and to ride north with you as rapidly as possible and dispose of
you at the most advantageous terms to a certain slave broker whose
name he gave me."

Again the girl was deceived by the apparent frankness of the Belgian.
She realized that desperate situations required desperate handling,
and though she trembled inwardly at the thought of again entering
the vile and hideous village of the raiders she saw no better course
than that which her companion had suggested.

Calling aloud to those who tended the gates, Werper, grasping Jane
Clayton by the arm, walked boldly across the clearing. Those who
opened the gates to him permitted their surprise to show clearly
in their expressions. That the discredited and hunted lieutenant
should be thus returning fearlessly of his own volition, seemed to
disarm them quite as effectually as his manner toward Lady Greystoke
had deceived her.

The sentries at the gate returned Werper's salutations, and viewed
with astonishment the prisoner whom he brought into the village
with him.

Immediately the Belgian sought the Arab who had been left in charge
of the camp during Achmet Zek's absence, and again his boldness
disarmed suspicion and won the acceptance of his false explanation
of his return. The fact that he had brought back with him the
woman prisoner who had escaped, added strength to his claims, and
Mohammed Beyd soon found himself fraternizing good-naturedly with
the very man whom he would have slain without compunction had he
discovered him alone in the jungle a half hour before.

Jane Clayton was again confined to the prison hut she had formerly
occupied, but as she realized that this was but a part of the
deception which she and Frecoult were playing upon the credulous
raiders, it was with quite a different sensation that she again
entered the vile and filthy interior, from that which she had
previously experienced, when hope was so far away.

Once more she was bound and sentries placed before the door of
her prison; but before Werper left her he whispered words of cheer
into her ear. Then he left, and made his way back to the tent of
Mohammed Beyd. He had been wondering how long it would be before
the raiders who had ridden out with Achmet Zek would return with
the murdered body of their chief, and the more he thought upon the
matter the greater his fears became, that without accomplices his
plan would fail.

What, even, if he got away from the camp in safety before any
returned with the true story of his guilt--of what value would
this advantage be other than to protract for a few days his mental
torture and his life? These hard riders, familiar with every trail
and bypath, would get him long before he could hope to reach the
coast.

As these thoughts passed through his mind he entered the tent where
Mohammed Beyd sat cross-legged upon a rug, smoking. The Arab looked
up as the European came into his presence.

"Greetings, O Brother!" he said.

"Greetings!" replied Werper.

For a while neither spoke further. The Arab was the first to break
the silence.

"And my master, Achmet Zek, was well when last you saw him?" he
asked.

"Never was he safer from the sins and dangers of mortality," replied
the Belgian.

"It is well," said Mohammed Beyd, blowing a little puff of blue
smoke straight out before him.

Again there was silence for several minutes.

"And if he were dead?" asked the Belgian, determined to lead up to
the truth, and attempt to bribe Mohammed Beyd into his service.

The Arab's eyes narrowed and he leaned forward, his gaze boring
straight into the eyes of the Belgian.

"I have been thinking much, Werper, since you returned so
unexpectedly to the camp of the man whom you had deceived, and who
sought you with death in his heart. I have been with Achmet Zek
for many years--his own mother never knew him so well as I. He
never forgives--much less would he again trust a man who had once
betrayed him; that I know.

"I have thought much, as I said, and the result of my thinking has
assured me that Achmet Zek is dead--for otherwise you would never
have dared return to his camp, unless you be either a braver man
or a bigger fool than I have imagined. And, if this evidence of
my judgment is not sufficient, I have but just now received from
your own lips even more confirmatory witness--for did you not say
that Achmet Zek was never more safe from the sins and dangers of
mortality?

"Achmet Zek is dead--you need not deny it. I was not his mother,
or his mistress, so do not fear that my wailings shall disturb
you. Tell me why you have come back here. Tell me what you want,
and, Werper, if you still possess the jewels of which Achmet Zek
told me, there is no reason why you and I should not ride north
together and divide the ransom of the white woman and the contents
of the pouch you wear about your person. Eh?"

The evil eyes narrowed, a vicious, thin-lipped smile tortured the
villainous face, as Mohammed Beyd grinned knowingly into the face
of the Belgian.

Werper was both relieved and disturbed by the Arab's attitude. The
complacency with which he accepted the death of his chief lifted
a considerable burden of apprehension from the shoulders of Achmet
Zek's assassin; but his demand for a share of the jewels boded ill
for Werper when Mohammed Beyd should have learned that the precious
stones were no longer in the Belgian's possession.

To acknowledge that he had lost the jewels might be to arouse the
wrath or suspicion of the Arab to such an extent as would jeopardize
his new-found chances of escape. His one hope seemed, then, to lie
in fostering Mohammed Beyd's belief that the jewels were still in
his possession, and depend upon the accidents of the future to open
an avenue of escape.

Could he contrive to tent with the Arab upon the march north, he
might find opportunity in plenty to remove this menace to his life
and liberty--it was worth trying, and, further, there seemed no
other way out of his difficulty.

"Yes," he said, "Achmet Zek is dead. He fell in battle with
a company of Abyssinian cavalry that held me captive. During the
fighting I escaped; but I doubt if any of Achmet Zek's men live,
and the gold they sought is in the possession of the Abyssinians.
Even now they are doubtless marching on this camp, for they were
sent by Menelek to punish Achmet Zek and his followers for a raid
upon an Abyssinian village. There are many of them, and if we do
not make haste to escape we shall all suffer the same fate as Achmet
Zek."

Mohammed Beyd listened in silence. How much of the unbeliever's
story he might safely believe he did not know; but as it afforded
him an excuse for deserting the village and making for the north
he was not inclined to cross-question the Belgian too minutely.

"And if I ride north with you," he asked, "half the jewels and half
the ransom of the woman shall be mine?"

"Yes," replied Werper.

"Good," said Mohammed Beyd. "I go now to give the order for the
breaking of camp early on the morrow," and he rose to leave the
tent.

Werper laid a detaining hand upon his arm.

"Wait," he said, "let us determine how many shall accompany us.
It is not well that we be burdened by the women and children, for
then indeed we might be overtaken by the Abyssinians. It would be
far better to select a small guard of your bravest men, and leave
word behind that we are riding WEST. Then, when the Abyssinians
come they will be put upon the wrong trail should they have it in
their hearts to pursue us, and if they do not they will at least
ride north with less rapidity than as though they thought that we
were ahead of them."

"The serpent is less wise than thou, Werper," said Mohammed Beyd
with a smile. "It shall be done as you say. Twenty men shall
accompany us, and we shall ride WEST--when we leave the village."

"Good," cried the Belgian, and so it was arranged.

Early the next morning Jane Clayton, after an almost sleepless
night, was aroused by the sound of voices outside her prison, and
a moment later, M. Frecoult, and two Arabs entered. The latter
unbound her ankles and lifted her to her feet. Then her wrists
were loosed, she was given a handful of dry bread, and led out into
the faint light of dawn.

She looked questioningly at Frecoult, and at a moment that the
Arab's attention was attracted in another direction the man leaned
toward her and whispered that all was working out as he had planned.
Thus assured, the young woman felt a renewal of the hope which the
long and miserable night of bondage had almost expunged.

Shortly after, she was lifted to the back of a horse, and surrounded
by Arabs, was escorted through the gateway of the village and off
into the jungle toward the west. Half an hour later the party
turned north, and northerly was their direction for the balance of
the march.

M. Frecoult spoke with her but seldom, and she understood that in
carrying out his deception he must maintain the semblance of her
captor, rather than protector, and so she suspected nothing though
she saw the friendly relations which seemed to exist between the
European and the Arab leader of the band.

If Werper succeeded in keeping himself from conversation with the
young woman, he failed signally to expel her from his thoughts. A
hundred times a day he found his eyes wandering in her direction
and feasting themselves upon her charms of face and figure. Each
hour his infatuation for her grew, until his desire to possess her
gained almost the proportions of madness.

If either the girl or Mohammed Beyd could have guessed what passed
in the mind of the man which each thought a friend and ally,
the apparent harmony of the little company would have been rudely
disturbed.

Werper had not succeeded in arranging to tent with Mohammed Beyd,
and so he revolved many plans for the assassination of the Arab
that would have been greatly simplified had he been permitted to

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