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Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Part 4 out of 4

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share the other's nightly shelter.

Upon the second day out Mohammed Beyd reined his horse to the side
of the animal on which the captive was mounted. It was, apparently,
the first notice which the Arab had taken of the girl; but many
times during these two days had his cunning eyes peered greedily
from beneath the hood of his burnoose to gloat upon the beauties
of the prisoner.

Nor was this hidden infatuation of any recent origin. He had
conceived it when first the wife of the Englishman had fallen into
the hands of Achmet Zek; but while that austere chieftain lived,
Mohammed Beyd had not even dared hope for a realization of his
imaginings.

Now, though, it was different--only a despised dog of a Christian
stood between himself and possession of the girl. How easy it would
be to slay the unbeliever, and take unto himself both the woman and
the jewels! With the latter in his possession, the ransom which
might be obtained for the captive would form no great inducement to
her relinquishment in the face of the pleasures of sole ownership
of her. Yes, he would kill Werper, retain all the jewels and keep
the Englishwoman.

He turned his eyes upon her as she rode along at his side. How
beautiful she was! His fingers opened and closed--skinny, brown
talons itching to feel the soft flesh of the victim in their
remorseless clutch.

"Do you know," he asked leaning toward her, "where this man would
take you?"

Jane Clayton nodded affirmatively.

"And you are willing to become the plaything of a black sultan?"

The girl drew herself up to her full height, and turned her head
away; but she did not reply. She feared lest her knowledge of the
ruse that M. Frecoult was playing upon the Arab might cause her
to betray herself through an insufficient display of terror and
aversion.

"You can escape this fate," continued the Arab; "Mohammed Beyd will
save you," and he reached out a brown hand and seized the fingers
of her right hand in a grasp so sudden and so fierce that this brutal
passion was revealed as clearly in the act as though his lips had
confessed it in words. Jane Clayton wrenched herself from his grasp.

"You beast!" she cried. "Leave me or I shall call M. Frecoult."

Mohammed Beyd drew back with a scowl. His thin, upper lip curled
upward, revealing his smooth, white teeth.

"M. Frecoult?" he jeered. "There is no such person. The man's
name is Werper. He is a liar, a thief, and a murderer. He killed
his captain in the Congo country and fled to the protection of Achmet
Zek. He led Achmet Zek to the plunder of your home. He followed
your husband, and planned to steal his gold from him. He has told
me that you think him your protector, and he has played upon this
to win your confidence that it might be easier to carry you north
and sell you into some black sultan's harem. Mohammed Beyd is your
only hope," and with this assertion to provide the captive with
food for thought, the Arab spurred forward toward the head of the
column.

Jane Clayton could not know how much of Mohammed Beyd's indictment
might be true, or how much false; but at least it had the effect
of dampening her hopes and causing her to review with suspicion
every past act of the man upon whom she had been looking as her
sole protector in the midst of a world of enemies and dangers.

On the march a separate tent had been provided for the captive, and
at night it was pitched between those of Mohammed Beyd and Werper.
A sentry was posted at the front and another at the back, and with
these precautions it had not been thought necessary to confine
the prisoner to bonds. The evening following her interview with
Mohammed Beyd, Jane Clayton sat for some time at the opening of
her tent watching the rough activities of the camp. She had eaten
the meal that had been brought her by Mohammed Beyd's Negro slave--a
meal of cassava cakes and a nondescript stew in which a new-killed
monkey, a couple of squirrels and the remains of a zebra, slain
the previous day, were impartially and unsavorily combined; but
the one-time Baltimore belle had long since submerged in the stern
battle for existence, an estheticism which formerly revolted at
much slighter provocation.

As the girl's eyes wandered across the trampled jungle clearing,
already squalid from the presence of man, she no longer apprehended
either the nearer objects of the foreground, the uncouth men
laughing or quarreling among themselves, or the jungle beyond, which
circumscribed the extreme range of her material vision. Her gaze
passed through all these, unseeing, to center itself upon a distant
bungalow and scenes of happy security which brought to her eyes
tears of mingled joy and sorrow. She saw a tall, broad-shouldered
man riding in from distant fields; she saw herself waiting to
greet him with an armful of fresh-cut roses from the bushes which
flanked the little rustic gate before her. All this was gone,
vanished into the past, wiped out by the torches and bullets and
hatred of these hideous and degenerate men. With a stifled sob,
and a little shudder, Jane Clayton turned back into her tent and
sought the pile of unclean blankets which were her bed. Throwing
herself face downward upon them she sobbed forth her misery until
kindly sleep brought her, at least temporary, relief.

And while she slept a figure stole from the tent that stood to the
right of hers. It approached the sentry before the doorway and
whispered a few words in the man's ear. The latter nodded, and
strode off through the darkness in the direction of his own blankets.
The figure passed to the rear of Jane Clayton's tent and spoke
again to the sentry there, and this man also left, following in
the trail of the first.

Then he who had sent them away stole silently to the tent flap
and untying the fastenings entered with the noiselessness of a
disembodied spirit.

21

The Flight to the Jungle

Sleepless upon his blankets, Albert Werper let his evil mind dwell
upon the charms of the woman in the nearby tent. He had noted
Mohammed Beyd's sudden interest in the girl, and judging the man
by his own standards, had guessed at the basis of the Arab's sudden
change of attitude toward the prisoner.

And as he let his imaginings run riot they aroused within him a
bestial jealousy of Mohammed Beyd, and a great fear that the other
might encompass his base designs upon the defenseless girl. By a
strange process of reasoning, Werper, whose designs were identical
with the Arab's, pictured himself as Jane Clayton's protector, and
presently convinced himself that the attentions which might seem
hideous to her if proffered by Mohammed Beyd, would be welcomed
from Albert Werper.

Her husband was dead, and Werper fancied that he could replace in
the girl's heart the position which had been vacated by the act
of the grim reaper. He could offer Jane Clayton marriage--a thing
which Mohammed Beyd would not offer, and which the girl would spurn
from him with as deep disgust as she would his unholy lust.

It was not long before the Belgian had succeeded in convincing
himself that the captive not only had every reason for having
conceived sentiments of love for him; but that she had by various
feminine methods acknowledged her new-born affection.

And then a sudden resolution possessed him. He threw the blankets
from him and rose to his feet. Pulling on his boots and buckling
his cartridge belt and revolver about his hips he stepped to the
flap of his tent and looked out. There was no sentry before the
entrance to the prisoner's tent! What could it mean? Fate was
indeed playing into his hands.

Stepping outside he passed to the rear of the girl's tent. There
was no sentry there, either! And now, boldly, he walked to the
entrance and stepped within.

Dimly the moonlight illumined the interior. Across the tent
a figure bent above the blankets of a bed. There was a whispered
word, and another figure rose from the blankets to a sitting position.
Slowly Albert Werper's eyes were becoming accustomed to the half
darkness of the tent. He saw that the figure leaning over the bed
was that of a man, and he guessed at the truth of the nocturnal
visitor's identity.

A sullen, jealous rage enveloped him. He took a step in the direction
of the two. He heard a frightened cry break from the girl's lips
as she recognized the features of the man above her, and he saw
Mohammed Beyd seize her by the throat and bear her back upon the
blankets.

Cheated passion cast a red blur before the eyes of the Belgian.
No! The man should not have her. She was for him and him alone.
He would not be robbed of his rights.

Quickly he ran across the tent and threw himself upon the back of
Mohammed Beyd. The latter, though surprised by this sudden and
unexpected attack, was not one to give up without a battle. The
Belgian's fingers were feeling for his throat, but the Arab tore
them away, and rising wheeled upon his adversary. As they faced
each other Werper struck the Arab a heavy blow in the face, sending
him staggering backward. If he had followed up his advantage he
would have had Mohammed Beyd at his mercy in another moment; but
instead he tugged at his revolver to draw it from its holster,
and Fate ordained that at that particular moment the weapon should
stick in its leather scabbard.

Before he could disengage it, Mohammed Beyd had recovered himself
and was dashing upon him. Again Werper struck the other in the
face, and the Arab returned the blow. Striking at each other and
ceaselessly attempting to clinch, the two battled about the small
interior of the tent, while the girl, wide-eyed in terror and
astonishment, watched the duel in frozen silence.

Again and again Werper struggled to draw his weapon. Mohammed Beyd,
anticipating no such opposition to his base desires, had come to
the tent unarmed, except for a long knife which he now drew as he
stood panting during the first brief rest of the encounter.

"Dog of a Christian," he whispered, "look upon this knife in the
hands of Mohammed Beyd! Look well, unbeliever, for it is the last
thing in life that you shall see or feel. With it Mohammed Beyd
will cut out your black heart. If you have a God pray to him
now--in a minute more you shall be dead," and with that he rushed
viciously upon the Belgian, his knife raised high above his head.

Werper was still dragging futilely at his weapon. The Arab was
almost upon him. In desperation the European waited until Mohammed
Beyd was all but against him, then he threw himself to one side to
the floor of the tent, leaving a leg extended in the path of the
Arab.

The trick succeeded. Mohammed Beyd, carried on by the momentum of
his charge, stumbled over the projecting obstacle and crashed to
the ground. Instantly he was up again and wheeling to renew the
battle; but Werper was on foot ahead of him, and now his revolver,
loosened from its holster, flashed in his hand.

The Arab dove headfirst to grapple with him, there was a sharp
report, a lurid gleam of flame in the darkness, and Mohammed Beyd
rolled over and over upon the floor to come to a final rest beside
the bed of the woman he had sought to dishonor.

Almost immediately following the report came the sound of excited
voices in the camp without. Men were calling back and forth to
one another asking the meaning of the shot. Werper could hear them
running hither and thither, investigating.

Jane Clayton had risen to her feet as the Arab died, and now she
came forward with outstretched hands toward Werper.

"How can I ever thank you, my friend?" she asked. "And to think
that only today I had almost believed the infamous story which
this beast told me of your perfidy and of your past. Forgive me,
M. Frecoult. I might have known that a white man and a gentleman
could be naught else than the protector of a woman of his own race
amid the dangers of this savage land."

Werper's hands dropped limply at his sides. He stood looking at
the girl; but he could find no words to reply to her. Her innocent
arraignment of his true purposes was unanswerable.

Outside, the Arabs were searching for the author of the disturbing
shot. The two sentries who had been relieved and sent to their
blankets by Mohammed Beyd were the first to suggest going to the
tent of the prisoner. It occurred to them that possibly the woman
had successfully defended herself against their leader.

Werper heard the men approaching. To be apprehended as the slayer
of Mohammed Beyd would be equivalent to a sentence of immediate
death. The fierce and brutal raiders would tear to pieces a
Christian who had dared spill the blood of their leader. He must
find some excuse to delay the finding of Mohammed Beyd's dead body.

Returning his revolver to its holster, he walked quickly to the
entrance of the tent. Parting the flaps he stepped out and confronted
the men, who were rapidly approaching. Somehow he found within him
the necessary bravado to force a smile to his lips, as he held up
his hand to bar their farther progress.

"The woman resisted," he said, "and Mohammed Beyd was forced to
shoot her. She is not dead--only slightly wounded. You may go
back to your blankets. Mohammed Beyd and I will look after the
prisoner;" then he turned and re-entered the tent, and the raiders,
satisfied by this explanation, gladly returned to their broken
slumbers.

As he again faced Jane Clayton, Werper found himself animated by
quite different intentions than those which had lured him from his
blankets but a few minutes before. The excitement of his encounter
with Mohammed Beyd, as well as the dangers which he now faced at
the hands of the raiders when morning must inevitably reveal the
truth of what had occurred in the tent of the prisoner that night,
had naturally cooled the hot passion which had dominated him when
he entered the tent.

But another and stronger force was exerting itself in the girl's
favor. However low a man may sink, honor and chivalry, has he ever
possessed them, are never entirely eradicated from his character,
and though Albert Werper had long since ceased to evidence the
slightest claim to either the one or the other, the spontaneous
acknowledgment of them which the girl's speech had presumed had
reawakened them both within him.

For the first time he realized the almost hopeless and frightful
position of the fair captive, and the depths of ignominy to which
he had sunk, that had made it possible for him, a well-born, European
gentleman, to have entertained even for a moment the part that he
had taken in the ruin of her home, happiness, and herself.

Too much of baseness already lay at the threshold of his conscience
for him ever to hope entirely to redeem himself; but in the first,
sudden burst of contrition the man conceived an honest intention to
undo, in so far as lay within his power, the evil that his criminal
avarice had brought upon this sweet and unoffending woman.

As he stood apparently listening to the retreating footsteps--Jane
Clayton approached him.

"What are we to do now?" she asked. "Morning will bring discovery
of this," and she pointed to the still body of Mohammed Beyd. "They
will kill you when they find him."

For a time Werper did not reply, then he turned suddenly toward
the woman.

"I have a plan," he cried. "It will require nerve and courage on
your part; but you have already shown that you possess both. Can
you endure still more?"

"I can endure anything," she replied with a brave smile, "that may
offer us even a slight chance for escape."

"You must simulate death," he explained, "while I carry you
from the camp. I will explain to the sentries that Mohammed Beyd
has ordered me to take your body into the jungle. This seemingly
unnecessary act I shall explain upon the grounds that Mohammed Beyd
had conceived a violent passion for you and that he so regretted
the act by which he had become your slayer that he could not endure
the silent reproach of your lifeless body."

The girl held up her hand to stop. A smile touched her lips.

"Are you quite mad?" she asked. "Do you imagine that the sentries
will credit any such ridiculous tale?"

"You do not know them," he replied. "Beneath their rough exteriors,
despite their calloused and criminal natures, there exists in
each a well-defined strain of romantic emotionalism--you will find
it among such as these throughout the world. It is romance which
lures men to lead wild lives of outlawry and crime. The ruse will
succeed--never fear."

Jane Clayton shrugged. "We can but try it--and then what?"

"I shall hide you in the jungle," continued the Belgian, "coming
for you alone and with two horses in the morning."

"But how will you explain Mohammed Beyd's death?" she asked. "It
will be discovered before ever you can escape the camp in the
morning."

"I shall not explain it," replied Werper. "Mohammed Beyd shall
explain it himself--we must leave that to him. Are you ready for
the venture?"

"Yes."

"But wait, I must get you a weapon and ammunition," and Werper
walked quickly from the tent.

Very shortly he returned with an extra revolver and ammunition belt
strapped about his waist.

"Are you ready?" he asked.

"Quite ready," replied the girl.

"Then come and throw yourself limply across my left shoulder," and
Werper knelt to receive her.

"There," he said, as he rose to his feet. "Now, let your arms,
your legs and your head hang limply. Remember that you are dead."

A moment later the man walked out into the camp, the body of the
woman across his shoulder.

A thorn boma had been thrown up about the camp, to discourage the
bolder of the hungry carnivora. A couple of sentries paced to and
fro in the light of a fire which they kept burning brightly. The
nearer of these looked up in surprise as he saw Werper approaching.

"Who are you?" he cried. "What have you there?"

Werper raised the hood of his burnoose that the fellow might see
his face.

"This is the body of the woman," he explained. "Mohammed Beyd has
asked me to take it into the jungle, for he cannot bear to look
upon the face of her whom he loved, and whom necessity compelled
him to slay. He suffers greatly--he is inconsolable. It was with
difficulty that I prevented him taking his own life."

Across the speaker's shoulder, limp and frightened, the girl waited
for the Arab's reply. He would laugh at this preposterous story;
of that she was sure. In an instant he would unmask the deception
that M. Frecoult was attempting to practice upon him, and they
would both be lost. She tried to plan how best she might aid her
would-be rescuer in the fight which must most certainly follow
within a moment or two.

Then she heard the voice of the Arab as he replied to M. Frecoult.

"Are you going alone, or do you wish me to awaken someone to accompany
you?" he asked, and his tone denoted not the least surprise that
Mohammed Beyd had suddenly discovered such remarkably sensitive
characteristics.

"I shall go alone," replied Werper, and he passed on and out through
the narrow opening in the boma, by which the sentry stood.

A moment later he had entered among the boles of the trees with
his burden, and when safely hidden from the sentry's view lowered
the girl to her feet, with a low, "sh-sh," when she would have
spoken.

Then he led her a little farther into the forest, halted beneath a
large tree with spreading branches, buckled a cartridge belt and
revolver about her waist, and assisted her to clamber into the
lower branches.

"Tomorrow," he whispered, "as soon as I can elude them, I will
return for you. Be brave, Lady Greystoke--we may yet escape."

"Thank you," she replied in a low tone. "You have been very kind,
and very brave."

Werper did not reply, and the darkness of the night hid the scarlet
flush of shame which swept upward across his face. Quickly he
turned and made his way back to camp. The sentry, from his post,
saw him enter his own tent; but he did not see him crawl under
the canvas at the rear and sneak cautiously to the tent which the
prisoner had occupied, where now lay the dead body of Mohammed
Beyd.

Raising the lower edge of the rear wall, Werper crept within and
approached the corpse. Without an instant's hesitation he seized
the dead wrists and dragged the body upon its back to the point
where he had just entered. On hands and knees he backed out as
he had come in, drawing the corpse after him. Once outside the
Belgian crept to the side of the tent and surveyed as much of the
camp as lay within his vision--no one was watching.

Returning to the body, he lifted it to his shoulder, and risking
all on a quick sally, ran swiftly across the narrow opening which
separated the prisoner's tent from that of the dead man. Behind
the silken wall he halted and lowered his burden to the ground,
and there he remained motionless for several minutes, listening.

Satisfied, at last, that no one had seen him, he stooped and raised
the bottom of the tent wall, backed in and dragged the thing that
had been Mohammed Beyd after him. To the sleeping rugs of the dead
raider he drew the corpse, then he fumbled about in the darkness
until he had found Mohammed Beyd's revolver. With the weapon in
his hand he returned to the side of the dead man, kneeled beside
the bedding, and inserted his right hand with the weapon beneath
the rugs, piled a number of thicknesses of the closely woven fabric
over and about the revolver with his left hand. Then he pulled
the trigger, and at the same time he coughed.

The muffled report could not have been heard above the sound of his
cough by one directly outside the tent. Werper was satisfied. A
grim smile touched his lips as he withdrew the weapon from the rugs
and placed it carefully in the right hand of the dead man, fixing
three of the fingers around the grip and the index finger inside
the trigger guard.

A moment longer he tarried to rearrange the disordered rugs, and
then he left as he had entered, fastening down the rear wall of
the tent as it had been before he had raised it.

Going to the tent of the prisoner he removed there also the evidence
that someone might have come or gone beneath the rear wall. Then
he returned to his own tent, entered, fastened down the canvas,
and crawled into his blankets.

The following morning he was awakened by the excited voice of
Mohammed Beyd's slave calling to him at the entrance of his tent.

"Quick! Quick!" cried the black in a frightened tone. "Come!
Mohammed Beyd is dead in his tent--dead by his own hand."

Werper sat up quickly in his blankets at the first alarm, a startled
expression upon his countenance; but at the last words of the black
a sigh of relief escaped his lips and a slight smile replaced the
tense lines upon his face.

"I come," he called to the slave, and drawing on his boots, rose
and went out of his tent.

Excited Arabs and blacks were running from all parts of the camp
toward the silken tent of Mohammed Beyd, and when Werper entered
he found a number of the raiders crowded about the corpse, now cold
and stiff.

Shouldering his way among them, the Belgian halted beside the dead
body of the raider. He looked down in silence for a moment upon
the still face, then he wheeled upon the Arabs.

"Who has done this thing?" he cried. His tone was both menacing
and accusing. "Who has murdered Mohammed Beyd?"

A sudden chorus of voices arose in tumultuous protest.

"Mohammed Beyd was not murdered," they cried. "He died by his own
hand. This, and Allah, are our witnesses," and they pointed to a
revolver in the dead man's hand.

For a time Werper pretended to be skeptical; but at last permitted
himself to be convinced that Mohammed Beyd had indeed killed himself
in remorse for the death of the white woman he had, all unknown to
his followers, loved so devotedly.

Werper himself wrapped the blankets of the dead man about the
corpse, taking care to fold inward the scorched and bullet-torn
fabric that had muffled the report of the weapon he had fired the
night before. Then six husky blacks carried the body out into the
clearing where the camp stood, and deposited it in a shallow grave.
As the loose earth fell upon the silent form beneath the tell-tale
blankets, Albert Werper heaved another sigh of relief--his plan
had worked out even better than he had dared hope.

With Achmet Zek and Mohammed Beyd both dead, the raiders were without
a leader, and after a brief conference they decided to return into
the north on visits to the various tribes to which they belonged,
Werper, after learning the direction they intended taking, announced
that for his part, he was going east to the coast, and as they knew
of nothing he possessed which any of them coveted, they signified
their willingness that he should go his way.

As they rode off, he sat his horse in the center of the clearing
watching them disappear one by one into the jungle, and thanked
his God that he had at last escaped their villainous clutches.

When he could no longer hear any sound of them, he turned to the
right and rode into the forest toward the tree where he had hidden
Lady Greystoke, and drawing rein beneath it, called up in a gay
and hopeful voice a pleasant, "Good morning!"

There was no reply, and though his eyes searched the thick foliage
above him, he could see no sign of the girl. Dismounting, he
quickly climbed into the tree, where he could obtain a view of all
its branches. The tree was empty--Jane Clayton had vanished during
the silent watches of the jungle night.

22

Tarzan Recovers His Reason

As Tarzan let the pebbles from the recovered pouch run through his
fingers, his thoughts returned to the pile of yellow ingots about
which the Arabs and the Abyssinians had waged their relentless
battle.

What was there in common between that pile of dirty metal and the
beautiful, sparkling pebbles that had formerly been in his pouch?
What was the metal? From whence had it come? What was that
tantalizing half-conviction which seemed to demand the recognition
of his memory that the yellow pile for which these men had fought
and died had been intimately connected with his past--that it had
been his?

What had been his past? He shook his head. Vaguely the memory of
his apish childhood passed slowly in review--then came a strangely
tangled mass of faces, figures and events which seemed to have no
relation to Tarzan of the Apes, and yet which were, even in their
fragmentary form, familiar.

Slowly and painfully, recollection was attempting to reassert
itself, the hurt brain was mending, as the cause of its recent
failure to function was being slowly absorbed or removed by the
healing processes of perfect circulation.

The people who now passed before his mind's eye for the first time
in weeks wore familiar faces; but yet he could neither place them
in the niches they had once filled in his past life, nor call them
by name. One was a fair she, and it was her face which most often
moved through the tangled recollections of his convalescing brain.
Who was she? What had she been to Tarzan of the Apes? He seemed
to see her about the very spot upon which the pile of gold had
been unearthed by the Abyssinians; but the surroundings were vastly
different from those which now obtained.

There was a building--there were many buildings--and there were
hedges, fences, and flowers. Tarzan puckered his brow in puzzled
study of the wonderful problem. For an instant he seemed to grasp
the whole of a true explanation, and then, just as success was
within his grasp, the picture faded into a jungle scene where a
naked, white youth danced in company with a band of hairy, primordial
ape-things.

Tarzan shook his head and sighed. Why was it that he could not
recollect? At least he was sure that in some way the pile of gold,
the place where it lay, the subtle aroma of the elusive she he had
been pursuing, the memory figure of the white woman, and he himself,
were inextricably connected by the ties of a forgotten past.

If the woman belonged there, what better place to search or await
her than the very spot which his broken recollections seemed to
assign to her? It was worth trying. Tarzan slipped the thong of
the empty pouch over his shoulder and started off through the trees
in the direction of the plain.

At the outskirts of the forest he met the Arabs returning in search
of Achmet Zek. Hiding, he let them pass, and then resumed his way
toward the charred ruins of the home he had been almost upon the
point of recalling to his memory.

His journey across the plain was interrupted by the discovery of a
small herd of antelope in a little swale, where the cover and the
wind were well combined to make stalking easy. A fat yearling
rewarded a half hour of stealthy creeping and a sudden, savage rush,
and it was late in the afternoon when the ape-man settled himself
upon his haunches beside his kill to enjoy the fruits of his skill,
his cunning, and his prowess.

His hunger satisfied, thirst next claimed his attention. The river
lured him by the shortest path toward its refreshing waters, and
when he had drunk, night already had fallen and he was some half
mile or more down stream from the point where he had seen the pile
of yellow ingots, and where he hoped to meet the memory woman, or
find some clew to her whereabouts or her identity.

To the jungle bred, time is usually a matter of small moment, and
haste, except when engendered by terror, by rage, or by hunger, is
distasteful. Today was gone. Therefore tomorrow, of which there
was an infinite procession, would answer admirably for Tarzan's
further quest. And, besides, the ape-man was tired and would sleep.

A tree afforded him the safety, seclusion and comforts of
a well-appointed bedchamber, and to the chorus of the hunters and
the hunted of the wild river bank he soon dropped off into deep
slumber.

Morning found him both hungry and thirsty again, and dropping from
his tree he made his way to the drinking place at the river's edge.
There he found Numa, the lion, ahead of him. The big fellow was
lapping the water greedily, and at the approach of Tarzan along
the trail in his rear, he raised his head, and turning his gaze
backward across his maned shoulders glared at the intruder. A
low growl of warning rumbled from his throat; but Tarzan, guessing
that the beast had but just quitted his kill and was well filled,
merely made a slight detour and continued to the river, where
he stopped a few yards above the tawny cat, and dropping upon his
hands and knees plunged his face into the cool water. For a moment
the lion continued to eye the man; then he resumed his drinking,
and man and beast quenched their thirst side by side each apparently
oblivious of the other's presence.

Numa was the first to finish. Raising his head, he gazed across
the river for a few minutes with that stony fixity of attention
which is a characteristic of his kind. But for the ruffling of his
black mane to the touch of the passing breeze he might have been
wrought from golden bronze, so motionless, so statuesque his pose.

A deep sigh from the cavernous lungs dispelled the illusion. The
mighty head swung slowly around until the yellow eyes rested upon
the man. The bristled lip curved upward, exposing yellow fangs.
Another warning growl vibrated the heavy jowls, and the king of
beasts turned majestically about and paced slowly up the trail into
the dense reeds.

Tarzan of the Apes drank on, but from the corners of his gray eyes
he watched the great brute's every move until he had disappeared
from view, and, after, his keen ears marked the movements of the
carnivore.

A plunge in the river was followed by a scant breakfast of eggs
which chance discovered to him, and then he set off up river toward
the ruins of the bungalow where the golden ingots had marked the
center of yesterday's battle.

And when he came upon the spot, great was his surprise and
consternation, for the yellow metal had disappeared. The earth,
trampled by the feet of horses and men, gave no clew. It was as
though the ingots had evaporated into thin air.

The ape-man was at a loss to know where to turn or what next to do.
There was no sign of any spoor which might denote that the she had
been here. The metal was gone, and if there was any connection
between the she and the metal it seemed useless to wait for her
now that the latter had been removed elsewhere.

Everything seemed to elude him--the pretty pebbles, the yellow
metal, the she, his memory. Tarzan was disgusted. He would go
back into the jungle and look for Chulk, and so he turned his steps
once more toward the forest. He moved rapidly, swinging across the
plain in a long, easy trot, and at the edge of the forest, taking
to the trees with the agility and speed of a small monkey.

His direction was aimless--he merely raced on and on through the
jungle, the joy of unfettered action his principal urge, with the
hope of stumbling upon some clew to Chulk or the she, a secondary
incentive.

For two days he roamed about, killing, eating, drinking and
sleeping wherever inclination and the means to indulge it occurred
simultaneously. It was upon the morning of the third day that the
scent spoor of horse and man were wafted faintly to his nostrils.
Instantly he altered his course to glide silently through the
branches in the direction from which the scent came.

It was not long before he came upon a solitary horseman riding
toward the east. Instantly his eyes confirmed what his nose had
previously suspected--the rider was he who had stolen his pretty
pebbles. The light of rage flared suddenly in the gray eyes as
the ape-man dropped lower among the branches until he moved almost
directly above the unconscious Werper.

There was a quick leap, and the Belgian felt a heavy body hurtle
onto the rump of his terror-stricken mount. The horse, snorting,
leaped forward. Giant arms encircled the rider, and in the twinkling
of an eye he was dragged from his saddle to find himself lying in
the narrow trail with a naked, white giant kneeling upon his breast.

Recognition came to Werper with the first glance at his captor's
face, and a pallor of fear overspread his features. Strong fingers
were at his throat, fingers of steel. He tried to cry out, to
plead for his life; but the cruel fingers denied him speech, as
they were as surely denying him life.

"The pretty pebbles?" cried the man upon his breast. "What did
you with the pretty pebbles--with Tarzan's pretty pebbles?"

The fingers relaxed to permit a reply. For some time Werper could
only choke and cough--at last he regained the powers of speech.

"Achmet Zek, the Arab, stole them from me," he cried; "he made me
give up the pouch and the pebbles."

"I saw all that," replied Tarzan; "but the pebbles in the pouch
were not the pebbles of Tarzan--they were only such pebbles as fill
the bottoms of the rivers, and the shelving banks beside them. Even
the Arab would not have them, for he threw them away in anger when
he had looked upon them. It is my pretty pebbles that I want--where
are they?"

"I do not know, I do not know," cried Werper. "I gave them to Achmet
Zek or he would have killed me. A few minutes later he followed
me along the trail to slay me, although he had promised to molest
me no further, and I shot and killed him; but the pouch was not upon
his person and though I searched about the jungle for some time I
could not find it."

"I found it, I tell you," growled Tarzan, "and I also found the
pebbles which Achmet Zek had thrown away in disgust. They were
not Tarzan's pebbles. You have hidden them! Tell me where they
are or I will kill you," and the brown fingers of the ape-man closed
a little tighter upon the throat of his victim.

Werper struggled to free himself. "My God, Lord Greystoke," he
managed to scream, "would you commit murder for a handful of stones?"

The fingers at his throat relaxed, a puzzled, far-away expression
softened the gray eyes.

"Lord Greystoke!" repeated the ape-man. "Lord Greystoke! Who is
Lord Greystoke? Where have I heard that name before?"

"Why man, you are Lord Greystoke," cried the Belgian. "You were
injured by a falling rock when the earthquake shattered the passage
to the underground chamber to which you and your black Waziri
had come to fetch golden ingots back to your bungalow. The blow
shattered your memory. You are John Clayton, Lord Greystoke--don't
you remember?"

"John Clayton, Lord Greystoke!" repeated Tarzan. Then for a
moment he was silent. Presently his hand went falteringly to his
forehead, an expression of wonderment filled his eyes--of wonderment
and sudden understanding. The forgotten name had reawakened the
returning memory that had been struggling to reassert itself. The
ape-man relinquished his grasp upon the throat of the Belgian, and
leaped to his feet.

"God!" he cried, and then, "Jane!" Suddenly he turned toward
Werper. "My wife?" he asked. "What has become of her? The farm
is in ruins. You know. You have had something to do with all this.
You followed me to Opar, you stole the jewels which I thought but
pretty pebbles. You are a crook! Do not try to tell me that you
are not."

"He is worse than a crook," said a quiet voice close behind them.

Tarzan turned in astonishment to see a tall man in uniform standing
in the trail a few paces from him. Back of the man were a number
of black soldiers in the uniform of the Congo Free State.

"He is a murderer, Monsieur," continued the officer. "I have
followed him for a long time to take him back to stand trial for
the killing of his superior officer."

Werper was upon his feet now, gazing, white and trembling, at the
fate which had overtaken him even in the fastness of the labyrinthine
jungle. Instinctively he turned to flee; but Tarzan of the Apes
reached out a strong hand and grasped him by the shoulder.

"Wait!" said the ape-man to his captive. "This gentleman wishes
you, and so do I. When I am through with you, he may have you.
Tell me what has become of my wife."

The Belgian officer eyed the almost naked, white giant with curiosity.
He noted the strange contrast of primitive weapons and apparel, and
the easy, fluent French which the man spoke. The former denoted
the lowest, the latter the highest type of culture. He could not
quite determine the social status of this strange creature; but
he knew that he did not relish the easy assurance with which the
fellow presumed to dictate when he might take possession of the
prisoner.

"Pardon me," he said, stepping forward and placing his hand on
Werper's other shoulder; "but this gentleman is my prisoner. He
must come with me."

"When I am through with him," replied Tarzan, quietly.

The officer turned and beckoned to the soldiers standing in the
trail behind him. A company of uniformed blacks stepped quickly
forward and pushing past the three, surrounded the ape-man and his
captive.

"Both the law and the power to enforce it are upon my side,"
announced the officer. "Let us have no trouble. If you have a
grievance against this man you may return with me and enter your
charge regularly before an authorized tribunal."

"Your legal rights are not above suspicion, my friend," replied
Tarzan, "and your power to enforce your commands are only apparent--not
real. You have presumed to enter British territory with an armed
force. Where is your authority for this invasion? Where are the
extradition papers which warrant the arrest of this man? And what
assurance have you that I cannot bring an armed force about you
that will prevent your return to the Congo Free State?"

The Belgian lost his temper. "I have no disposition to argue with
a naked savage," he cried. "Unless you wish to be hurt you will
not interfere with me. Take the prisoner, Sergeant!"

Werper raised his lips close to Tarzan's ear. "Keep me from them,
and I can show you the very spot where I saw your wife last night,"
he whispered. "She cannot be far from here at this very minute."

The soldiers, following the signal from their sergeant, closed in
to seize Werper. Tarzan grabbed the Belgian about the waist, and
bearing him beneath his arm as he might have borne a sack of flour,
leaped forward in an attempt to break through the cordon. His right
fist caught the nearest soldier upon the jaw and sent him hurtling
backward upon his fellows. Clubbed rifles were torn from the hands
of those who barred his way, and right and left the black soldiers
stumbled aside in the face of the ape-man's savage break for liberty.

So completely did the blacks surround the two that they dared not
fire for fear of hitting one of their own number, and Tarzan was
already through them and upon the point of dodging into the concealing
mazes of the jungle when one who had sneaked upon him from behind
struck him a heavy blow upon the head with a rifle.

In an instant the ape-man was down and a dozen black soldiers were
upon his back. When he regained consciousness he found himself
securely bound, as was Werper also. The Belgian officer, success
having crowned his efforts, was in good humor, and inclined to chaff
his prisoners about the ease with which they had been captured; but
from Tarzan of the Apes he elicited no response. Werper, however,
was voluble in his protests. He explained that Tarzan was an
English lord; but the officer only laughed at the assertion, and
advised his prisoner to save his breath for his defense in court.

As soon as Tarzan regained his senses and it was found that he was
not seriously injured, the prisoners were hastened into line and
the return march toward the Congo Free State boundary commenced.

Toward evening the column halted beside a stream, made camp and
prepared the evening meal. From the thick foliage of the nearby
jungle a pair of fierce eyes watched the activities of the uniformed
blacks with silent intensity and curiosity. From beneath beetling
brows the creature saw the boma constructed, the fires built, and
the supper prepared.

Tarzan and Werper had been lying bound behind a small pile of
knapsacks from the time that the company had halted; but with the
preparation of the meal completed, their guard ordered them to
rise and come forward to one of the fires where their hands would
be unfettered that they might eat.

As the giant ape-man rose, a startled expression of recognition
entered the eyes of the watcher in the jungle, and a low guttural
broke from the savage lips. Instantly Tarzan was alert, but the
answering growl died upon his lips, suppressed by the fear that it
might arouse the suspicions of the soldiers.

Suddenly an inspiration came to him. He turned toward Werper.

"I am going to speak to you in a loud voice and in a tongue which
you do not understand. Appear to listen intently to what I say,
and occasionally mumble something as though replying in the same
language--our escape may hinge upon the success of your efforts."

Werper nodded in assent and understanding, and immediately there
broke from the lips of his companion a strange jargon which might
have been compared with equal propriety to the barking and growling
of a dog and the chattering of monkeys.

The nearer soldiers looked in surprise at the ape-man. Some of them
laughed, while others drew away in evident superstitious fear. The
officer approached the prisoners while Tarzan was still jabbering,
and halted behind them, listening in perplexed interest. When
Werper mumbled some ridiculous jargon in reply his curiosity broke
bounds, and he stepped forward, demanding to know what language it
was that they spoke.

Tarzan had gauged the measure of the man's culture from the nature
and quality of his conversation during the march, and he rested
the success of his reply upon the estimate he had made.

"Greek," he explained.

"Oh, I thought it was Greek," replied the officer; "but it has been
so many years since I studied it that I was not sure. In future,
however, I will thank you to speak in a language which I am more
familiar with."

Werper turned his head to hide a grin, whispering to Tarzan: "It
was Greek to him all right--and to me, too."

But one of the black soldiers mumbled in a low voice to a companion:
"I have heard those sounds before--once at night when I was lost
in the jungle, I heard the hairy men of the trees talking among
themselves, and their words were like the words of this white man.
I wish that we had not found him. He is not a man at all--he is
a bad spirit, and we shall have bad luck if we do not let him go,"
and the fellow rolled his eyes fearfully toward the jungle.

His companion laughed nervously, and moved away, to repeat the
conversation, with variations and exaggerations, to others of the
black soldiery, so that it was not long before a frightful tale of
black magic and sudden death was woven about the giant prisoner,
and had gone the rounds of the camp.

And deep in the gloomy jungle amidst the darkening shadows of the
falling night a hairy, manlike creature swung swiftly southward
upon some secret mission of his own.

23

A Night of Terror

To Jane Clayton, waiting in the tree where Werper had placed her,
it seemed that the long night would never end, yet end it did at
last, and within an hour of the coming of dawn her spirits leaped
with renewed hope at sight of a solitary horseman approaching along
the trail.

The flowing burnoose, with its loose hood, hid both the face and
the figure of the rider; but that it was M. Frecoult the girl well
knew, since he had been garbed as an Arab, and he alone might be
expected to seek her hiding place.

That which she saw relieved the strain of the long night vigil;
but there was much that she did not see. She did not see the black
face beneath the white hood, nor the file of ebon horsemen beyond
the trail's bend riding slowly in the wake of their leader. These
things she did not see at first, and so she leaned downward toward
the approaching rider, a cry of welcome forming in her throat.

At the first word the man looked up, reining in in surprise, and as
she saw the black face of Abdul Mourak, the Abyssinian, she shrank
back in terror among the branches; but it was too late. The man
had seen her, and now he called to her to descend. At first she
refused; but when a dozen black cavalrymen drew up behind their
leader, and at Abdul Mourak's command one of them started to climb
the tree after her she realized that resistance was futile, and
came slowly down to stand upon the ground before this new captor
and plead her cause in the name of justice and humanity.

Angered by recent defeat, and by the loss of the gold, the jewels,
and his prisoners, Abdul Mourak was in no mood to be influenced by
any appeal to those softer sentiments to which, as a matter of fact,
he was almost a stranger even under the most favourable conditions.

He looked for degradation and possible death in punishment for his
failures and his misfortunes when he should have returned to his
native land and made his report to Menelek; but an acceptable gift
might temper the wrath of the emperor, and surely this fair flower
of another race should be gratefully received by the black ruler!

When Jane Clayton had concluded her appeal, Abdul Mourak replied
briefly that he would promise her protection; but that he must take
her to his emperor. The girl did not need ask him why, and once
again hope died within her breast. Resignedly she permitted herself
to be lifted to a seat behind one of the troopers, and again, under
new masters, her journey was resumed toward what she now began to
believe was her inevitable fate.

Abdul Mourak, bereft of his guides by the battle he had waged
against the raiders, and himself unfamiliar with the country, had
wandered far from the trail he should have followed, and as a result
had made but little progress toward the north since the beginning
of his flight. Today he was beating toward the west in the hope
of coming upon a village where he might obtain guides; but night
found him still as far from a realization of his hopes as had the
rising sun.

It was a dispirited company which went into camp, waterless and
hungry, in the dense jungle. Attracted by the horses, lions roared
about the boma, and to their hideous din was added the shrill neighs
of the terror-stricken beasts they hunted. There was little sleep
for man or beast, and the sentries were doubled that there might
be enough on duty both to guard against the sudden charge of an
overbold, or overhungry lion, and to keep the fire blazing which
was an even more effectual barrier against them than the thorny
boma.

It was well past midnight, and as yet Jane Clayton, notwithstanding
that she had passed a sleepless night the night before, had scarcely
more than dozed. A sense of impending danger seemed to hang like
a black pall over the camp. The veteran troopers of the black emperor
were nervous and ill at ease. Abdul Mourak left his blankets a
dozen times to pace restlessly back and forth between the tethered
horses and the crackling fire. The girl could see his great frame
silhouetted against the lurid glare of the flames, and she guessed
from the quick, nervous movements of the man that he was afraid.

The roaring of the lions rose in sudden fury until the earth
trembled to the hideous chorus. The horses shrilled their neighs
of terror as they lay back upon their halter ropes in their mad
endeavors to break loose. A trooper, braver than his fellows,
leaped among the kicking, plunging, fear-maddened beasts in a futile
attempt to quiet them. A lion, large, and fierce, and courageous,
leaped almost to the boma, full in the bright light from the fire.
A sentry raised his piece and fired, and the little leaden pellet
unstoppered the vials of hell upon the terror-stricken camp.

The shot ploughed a deep and painful furrow in the lion's side,
arousing all the bestial fury of the little brain; but abating not
a whit the power and vigor of the great body.

Unwounded, the boma and the flames might have turned him back; but
now the pain and the rage wiped caution from his mind, and with a
loud, and angry roar he topped the barrier with an easy leap and
was among the horses.

What had been pandemonium before became now an indescribable tumult
of hideous sound. The stricken horse upon which the lion leaped
shrieked out its terror and its agony. Several about it broke
their tethers and plunged madly about the camp. Men leaped from
their blankets and with guns ready ran toward the picket line, and
then from the jungle beyond the boma a dozen lions, emboldened by
the example of their fellow charged fearlessly upon the camp.

Singly and in twos and threes they leaped the boma, until the
little enclosure was filled with cursing men and screaming horses
battling for their lives with the green-eyed devils of the jungle.

With the charge of the first lion, Jane Clayton had scrambled to
her feet, and now she stood horror-struck at the scene of savage
slaughter that swirled and eddied about her. Once a bolting horse
knocked her down, and a moment later a lion, leaping in pursuit
of another terror-stricken animal, brushed her so closely that she
was again thrown from her feet.

Amidst the cracking of the rifles and the growls of the carnivora
rose the death screams of stricken men and horses as they were
dragged down by the blood-mad cats. The leaping carnivora and the
plunging horses, prevented any concerted action by the Abyssinians--it
was every man for himself--and in the melee, the defenseless woman
was either forgotten or ignored by her black captors. A score of
times was her life menaced by charging lions, by plunging horses,
or by the wildly fired bullets of the frightened troopers, yet
there was no chance of escape, for now with the fiendish cunning
of their kind, the tawny hunters commenced to circle about their
prey, hemming them within a ring of mighty, yellow fangs, and
sharp, long talons. Again and again an individual lion would dash
suddenly among the frightened men and horses, and occasionally
a horse, goaded to frenzy by pain or terror, succeeded in racing
safely through the circling lions, leaping the boma, and escaping
into the jungle; but for the men and the woman no such escape was
possible.

A horse, struck by a stray bullet, fell beside Jane Clayton, a lion
leaped across the expiring beast full upon the breast of a black
trooper just beyond. The man clubbed his rifle and struck futilely
at the broad head, and then he was down and the carnivore was
standing above him.

Shrieking out his terror, the soldier clawed with puny fingers at
the shaggy breast in vain endeavor to push away the grinning jaws.
The lion lowered his head, the gaping fangs closed with a single
sickening crunch upon the fear-distorted face, and turning strode
back across the body of the dead horse dragging his limp and bloody
burden with him.

Wide-eyed the girl stood watching. She saw the carnivore step
upon the corpse, stumblingly, as the grisly thing swung between
its forepaws, and her eyes remained fixed in fascination while the
beast passed within a few paces of her.

The interference of the body seemed to enrage the lion. He shook
the inanimate clay venomously. He growled and roared hideously at
the dead, insensate thing, and then he dropped it and raised his
head to look about in search of some living victim upon which to
wreak his ill temper. His yellow eyes fastened themselves balefully
upon the figure of the girl, the bristling lips raised, disclosing
the grinning fangs. A terrific roar broke from the savage throat,
and the great beast crouched to spring upon this new and helpless
victim.

Quiet had fallen early upon the camp where Tarzan and Werper lay
securely bound. Two nervous sentries paced their beats, their
eyes rolling often toward the impenetrable shadows of the gloomy
jungle. The others slept or tried to sleep--all but the ape-man.
Silently and powerfully he strained at the bonds which fettered
his wrists.

The muscles knotted beneath the smooth, brown skin of his arms and
shoulders, the veins stood out upon his temples from the force of
his exertions--a strand parted, another and another, and one hand
was free. Then from the jungle came a low guttural, and the ape-man
became suddenly a silent, rigid statue, with ears and nostrils
straining to span the black void where his eyesight could not reach.

Again came the uncanny sound from the thick verdure beyond the camp.
A sentry halted abruptly, straining his eyes into the gloom. The
kinky wool upon his head stiffened and raised. He called to his
comrade in a hoarse whisper.

"Did you hear it?" he asked.

The other came closer, trembling.

"Hear what?"

Again was the weird sound repeated, followed almost immediately
by a similar and answering sound from the camp. The sentries drew
close together, watching the black spot from which the voice seemed
to come.

Trees overhung the boma at this point which was upon the opposite
side of the camp from them. They dared not approach. Their terror
even prevented them from arousing their fellows--they could only
stand in frozen fear and watch for the fearsome apparition they
momentarily expected to see leap from the jungle.

Nor had they long to wait. A dim, bulky form dropped lightly from
the branches of a tree into the camp. At sight of it one of the
sentries recovered command of his muscles and his voice. Screaming
loudly to awaken the sleeping camp, he leaped toward the flickering
watch fire and threw a mass of brush upon it.

The white officer and the black soldiers sprang from their blankets.
The flames leaped high upon the rejuvenated fire, lighting the entire
camp, and the awakened men shrank back in superstitious terror from
the sight that met their frightened and astonished vision.

A dozen huge and hairy forms loomed large beneath the trees at the
far side of the enclosure. The white giant, one hand freed, had
struggled to his knees and was calling to the frightful, nocturnal
visitors in a hideous medley of bestial gutturals, barkings and
growlings.

Werper had managed to sit up. He, too, saw the savage faces of the
approaching anthropoids and scarcely knew whether to be relieved
or terror-stricken.

Growling, the great apes leaped forward toward Tarzan and Werper.
Chulk led them. The Belgian officer called to his men to fire upon
the intruders; but the Negroes held back, filled as they were with
superstitious terror of the hairy treemen, and with the conviction
that the white giant who could thus summon the beasts of the jungle
to his aid was more than human.

Drawing his own weapon, the officer fired, and Tarzan fearing the
effect of the noise upon his really timid friends called to them
to hasten and fulfill his commands.

A couple of the apes turned and fled at the sound of the firearm;
but Chulk and a half dozen others waddled rapidly forward, and,
following the ape-man's directions, seized both him and Werper and
bore them off toward the jungle.

By dint of threats, reproaches and profanity the Belgian officer
succeeded in persuading his trembling command to fire a volley after
the retreating apes. A ragged, straggling volley it was, but at
least one of its bullets found a mark, for as the jungle closed
about the hairy rescuers, Chulk, who bore Werper across one broad
shoulder, staggered and fell.

In an instant he was up again; but the Belgian guessed from
his unsteady gait that he was hard hit. He lagged far behind the
others, and it was several minutes after they had halted at Tarzan's
command before he came slowly up to them, reeling from side to
side, and at last falling again beneath the weight of his burden
and the shock of his wound.

As Chulk went down he dropped Werper, so that the latter fell face
downward with the body of the ape lying half across him. In this
position the Belgian felt something resting against his hands,
which were still bound at his back--something that was not a part
of the hairy body of the ape.

Mechanically the man's fingers felt of the object resting almost in
their grasp--it was a soft pouch, filled with small, hard particles.
Werper gasped in wonderment as recognition filtered through the
incredulity of his mind. It was impossible, and yet--it was true!

Feverishly he strove to remove the pouch from the ape and transfer
it to his own possession; but the restricted radius to which
his bonds held his hands prevented this, though he did succeed in
tucking the pouch with its precious contents inside the waist band
of his trousers.

Tarzan, sitting at a short distance, was busy with the remaining
knots of the cords which bound him. Presently he flung aside the
last of them and rose to his feet. Approaching Werper he knelt
beside him. For a moment he examined the ape.

"Quite dead," he announced. "It is too bad--he was a splendid
creature," and then he turned to the work of liberating the Belgian.

He freed his hands first, and then commenced upon the knots at his
ankles.

"I can do the rest," said the Belgian. "I have a small pocketknife
which they overlooked when they searched me," and in this way
he succeeded in ridding himself of the ape-man's attentions that
he might find and open his little knife and cut the thong which
fastened the pouch about Chulk's shoulder, and transfer it from his
waist band to the breast of his shirt. Then he rose and approached
Tarzan.

Once again had avarice claimed him. Forgotten were the good
intentions which the confidence of Jane Clayton in his honor had
awakened. What she had done, the little pouch had undone. How it
had come upon the person of the great ape, Werper could not imagine,
unless it had been that the anthropoid had witnessed his fight with
Achmet Zek, seen the Arab with the pouch and taken it away from
him; but that this pouch contained the jewels of Opar, Werper was
positive, and that was all that interested him greatly.

"Now," said the ape-man, "keep your promise to me. Lead me to the
spot where you last saw my wife."

It was slow work pushing through the jungle in the dead of night
behind the slow-moving Belgian. The ape-man chafed at the delay,
but the European could not swing through the trees as could his
more agile and muscular companions, and so the speed of all was
limited to that of the slowest.

The apes trailed out behind the two white men for a matter of a few
miles; but presently their interest lagged, the foremost of them
halted in a little glade and the others stopped at his side. There
they sat peering from beneath their shaggy brows at the figures of
the two men forging steadily ahead, until the latter disappeared
in the leafy trail beyond the clearing. Then an ape sought a
comfortable couch beneath a tree, and one by one the others followed
his example, so that Werper and Tarzan continued their journey
alone; nor was the latter either surprised or concerned.

The two had gone but a short distance beyond the glade where the
apes had deserted them, when the roaring of distant lions fell upon
their ears. The ape-man paid no attention to the familiar sounds
until the crack of a rifle came faintly from the same direction,
and when this was followed by the shrill neighing of horses, and
an almost continuous fusillade of shots intermingled with increased
and savage roaring of a large troop of lions, he became immediately
concerned.

"Someone is having trouble over there," he said, turning toward
Werper. "I'll have to go to them--they may be friends."

"Your wife might be among them," suggested the Belgian, for since
he had again come into possession of the pouch he had become fearful
and suspicious of the ape-man, and in his mind had constantly
revolved many plans for eluding this giant Englishman, who was at
once his savior and his captor.

At the suggestion Tarzan started as though struck with a whip.

"God!" he cried, "she might be, and the lions are attacking them--they
are in the camp. I can tell from the screams of the horses--and
there! that was the cry of a man in his death agonies. Stay
here man--I will come back for you. I must go first to them," and
swinging into a tree the lithe figure swung rapidly off into the
night with the speed and silence of a disembodied spirit.

For a moment Werper stood where the ape-man had left him. Then
a cunning smile crossed his lips. "Stay here?" he asked himself.
"Stay here and wait until you return to find and take these jewels
from me? Not I, my friend, not I," and turning abruptly eastward
Albert Werper passed through the foliage of a hanging vine and out
of the sight of his fellow-man--forever.

24

Home

As Tarzan of the Apes hurtled through the trees the discordant
sounds of the battle between the Abyssinians and the lions smote
more and more distinctly upon his sensitive ears, redoubling his
assurance that the plight of the human element of the conflict was
critical indeed.

At last the glare of the camp fire shone plainly through the intervening
trees, and a moment later the giant figure of the ape-man paused
upon an overhanging bough to look down upon the bloody scene of
carnage below.

His quick eye took in the whole scene with a single comprehending
glance and stopped upon the figure of a woman standing facing a
great lion across the carcass of a horse.

The carnivore was crouching to spring as Tarzan discovered the
tragic tableau. Numa was almost beneath the branch upon which the
ape-man stood, naked and unarmed. There was not even an instant's
hesitation upon the part of the latter--it was as though he had not
even paused in his swift progress through the trees, so lightning-like
his survey and comprehension of the scene below him--so instantaneous
his consequent action.

So hopeless had seemed her situation to her that Jane Clayton but
stood in lethargic apathy awaiting the impact of the huge body that
would hurl her to the ground--awaiting the momentary agony that
cruel talons and grisly fangs may inflict before the coming of the
merciful oblivion which would end her sorrow and her suffering.

What use to attempt escape? As well face the hideous end as to be
dragged down from behind in futile flight. She did not even close
her eyes to shut out the frightful aspect of that snarling face,
and so it was that as she saw the lion preparing to charge she saw,
too, a bronzed and mighty figure leap from an overhanging tree at
the instant that Numa rose in his spring.

Wide went her eyes in wonder and incredulity, as she beheld this
seeming apparition risen from the dead. The lion was forgotten--her
own peril--everything save the wondrous miracle of this strange
recrudescence. With parted lips, with palms tight pressed against
her heaving bosom, the girl leaned forward, large-eyed, enthralled
by the vision of her dead mate.

She saw the sinewy form leap to the shoulder of the lion, hurtling
against the leaping beast like a huge, animate battering ram. She
saw the carnivore brushed aside as he was almost upon her, and in
the instant she realized that no substanceless wraith could thus
turn the charge of a maddened lion with brute force greater than
the brute's.

Tarzan, her Tarzan, lived! A cry of unspeakable gladness broke from
her lips, only to die in terror as she saw the utter defenselessness
of her mate, and realized that the lion had recovered himself and
was turning upon Tarzan in mad lust for vengeance.

At the ape-man's feet lay the discarded rifle of the dead Abyssinian
whose mutilated corpse sprawled where Numa had abandoned it. The
quick glance which had swept the ground for some weapon of defense
discovered it, and as the lion reared upon his hind legs to seize
the rash man-thing who had dared interpose its puny strength
between Numa and his prey, the heavy stock whirred through the air
and splintered upon the broad forehead.

Not as an ordinary mortal might strike a blow did Tarzan of the
Apes strike; but with the maddened frenzy of a wild beast backed
by the steel thews which his wild, arboreal boyhood had bequeathed
him. When the blow ended the splintered stock was driven through
the splintered skull into the savage brain, and the heavy iron
barrel was bent into a rude V.

In the instant that the lion sank, lifeless, to the ground, Jane
Clayton threw herself into the eager arms of her husband. For a
brief instant he strained her dear form to his breast, and then a
glance about him awakened the ape-man to the dangers which still
surrounded them.

Upon every hand the lions were still leaping upon new victims.
Fear-maddened horses still menaced them with their erratic bolting
from one side of the enclosure to the other. Bullets from the
guns of the defenders who remained alive but added to the perils
of their situation.

To remain was to court death. Tarzan seized Jane Clayton and lifted
her to a broad shoulder. The blacks who had witnessed his advent
looked on in amazement as they saw the naked giant leap easily into
the branches of the tree from whence he had dropped so uncannily upon
the scene, and vanish as he had come, bearing away their prisoner
with him.

They were too well occupied in self-defense to attempt to halt him,
nor could they have done so other than by the wasting of a precious
bullet which might be needed the next instant to turn the charge
of a savage foe.

And so, unmolested, Tarzan passed from the camp of the Abyssinians,
from which the din of conflict followed him deep into the jungle
until distance gradually obliterated it entirely.

Back to the spot where he had left Werper went the ape-man, joy in
his heart now, where fear and sorrow had so recently reigned; and
in his mind a determination to forgive the Belgian and aid him
in making good his escape. But when he came to the place, Werper
was gone, and though Tarzan called aloud many times he received no
reply. Convinced that the man had purposely eluded him for reasons
of his own, John Clayton felt that he was under no obligations to
expose his wife to further danger and discomfort in the prosecution
of a more thorough search for the missing Belgian.

"He has acknowledged his guilt by his flight, Jane," he said. "We
will let him go to lie in the bed that he has made for himself."

Straight as homing pigeons, the two made their way toward the ruin
and desolation that had once been the center of their happy lives,
and which was soon to be restored by the willing black hands of
laughing laborers, made happy again by the return of the master
and mistress whom they had mourned as dead.

Past the village of Achmet Zek their way led them, and there they
found but the charred remains of the palisade and the native huts,
still smoking, as mute evidence of the wrath and vengeance of a
powerful enemy.

"The Waziri," commented Tarzan with a grim smile.

"God bless them!" cried Jane Clayton.

"They cannot be far ahead of us," said Tarzan, "Basuli and the
others. The gold is gone and the jewels of Opar, Jane; but we
have each other and the Waziri--and we have love and loyalty and
friendship. And what are gold and jewels to these?"

"If only poor Mugambi lived," she replied, "and those other brave
fellows who sacrificed their lives in vain endeavor to protect me!"

In the silence of mingled joy and sorrow they passed along through
the familiar jungle, and as the afternoon was waning there came
faintly to the ears of the ape-man the murmuring cadence of distant
voices.

"We are nearing the Waziri, Jane," he said. "I can hear them ahead
of us. They are going into camp for the night, I imagine."

A half hour later the two came upon a horde of ebon warriors which
Basuli had collected for his war of vengeance upon the raiders.
With them were the captured women of the tribe whom they had found
in the village of Achmet Zek, and tall, even among the giant Waziri,
loomed a familiar black form at the side of Basuli. It was Mugambi,
whom Jane had thought dead amidst the charred ruins of the bungalow.

Ah, such a reunion! Long into the night the dancing and the singing
and the laughter awoke the echoes of the somber wood. Again and
again were the stories of their various adventures retold. Again
and once again they fought their battles with savage beast and savage
man, and dawn was already breaking when Basuli, for the fortieth
time, narrated how he and a handful of his warriors had watched the
battle for the golden ingots which the Abyssinians of Abdul Mourak
had waged against the Arab raiders of Achmet Zek, and how, when the
victors had ridden away they had sneaked out of the river reeds and
stolen away with the precious ingots to hide them where no robber
eye ever could discover them.

Pieced out from the fragments of their various experiences with
the Belgian the truth concerning the malign activities of Albert
Werper became apparent. Only Lady Greystoke found aught to praise
in the conduct of the man, and it was difficult even for her to
reconcile his many heinous acts with this one evidence of chivalry
and honor.

"Deep in the soul of every man," said Tarzan, "must lurk the germ
of righteousness. It was your own virtue, Jane, rather even than
your helplessness which awakened for an instant the latent decency
of this degraded man. In that one act he retrieved himself, and
when he is called to face his Maker may it outweigh in the balance,
all the sins he has committed."

And Jane Clayton breathed a fervent, "Amen!"

Months had passed. The labor of the Waziri and the gold of Opar
had rebuilt and refurnished the wasted homestead of the Greystokes.
Once more the simple life of the great African farm went on as it
had before the coming of the Belgian and the Arab. Forgotten were
the sorrows and dangers of yesterday.

For the first time in months Lord Greystoke felt that he might
indulge in a holiday, and so a great hunt was organized that the
faithful laborers might feast in celebration of the completion of
their work.

In itself the hunt was a success, and ten days after its
inauguration, a well-laden safari took up its return march toward
the Waziri plain. Lord and Lady Greystoke with Basuli and Mugambi
rode together at the head of the column, laughing and talking
together in that easy familiarity which common interests and mutual
respect breed between honest and intelligent men of any races.

Jane Clayton's horse shied suddenly at an object half hidden in the
long grasses of an open space in the jungle. Tarzan's keen eyes
sought quickly for an explanation of the animal's action.

"What have we here?" he cried, swinging from his saddle, and a
moment later the four were grouped about a human skull and a little
litter of whitened human bones.

Tarzan stooped and lifted a leathern pouch from the grisly relics
of a man. The hard outlines of the contents brought an exclamation
of surprise to his lips.

"The jewels of Opar!" he cried, holding the pouch aloft, "and,"
pointing to the bones at his feet, "all that remains of Werper,
the Belgian."

Mugambi laughed. "Look within, Bwana," he cried, "and you will
see what are the jewels of Opar--you will see what the Belgian gave
his life for," and the black laughed aloud.

"Why do you laugh?" asked Tarzan.

"Because," replied Mugambi, "I filled the Belgian's pouch with
river gravel before I escaped the camp of the Abyssinians whose
prisoners we were. I left the Belgian only worthless stones, while
I brought away with me the jewels he had stolen from you. That
they were afterward stolen from me while I slept in the jungle is
my shame and my disgrace; but at least the Belgian lost them--open
his pouch and you will see."

Tarzan untied the thong which held the mouth of the leathern bag
closed, and permitted the contents to trickle slowly forth into his
open palm. Mugambi's eyes went wide at the sight, and the others
uttered exclamations of surprise and incredulity, for from the
rusty and weatherworn pouch ran a stream of brilliant, scintillating
gems.

"The jewels of Opar!" cried Tarzan. "But how did Werper come by
them again?"

None could answer, for both Chulk and Werper were dead, and no
other knew.

"Poor devil!" said the ape-man, as he swung back into his saddle.
"Even in death he has made restitution--let his sins lie with his bones."

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