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The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Part 6 out of 6

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"Jane," he whispered. The girl bent her head closer to catch the
faint message. "I have wronged you--and him," he nodded weakly
toward the ape-man. "I loved you so--it is a poor excuse to offer
for injuring you; but I could not bear to think of giving you up.
I do not ask your forgiveness. I only wish to do now the thing
I should have done over a year ago." He fumbled in the pocket of
the ulster beneath him for something that he had discovered there
while he lay between the paroxysms of fever. Presently he found
it--a crumpled bit of yellow paper. He handed it to the girl,
and as she took it his arm fell limply across his chest, his head
dropped back, and with a little gasp he stiffened and was still.
Then Tarzan of the Apes drew a fold of the ulster across the upturned

For a moment they remained kneeling there, the girl's lips moving
in silent prayer, and as they rose and stood on either side of the
now peaceful form, tears came to the ape-man's eyes, for through the
anguish that his own heart had suffered he had learned compassion
for the suffering of others.

Through her own tears the girl read the message upon the bit of
faded yellow paper, and as she read her eyes went very wide. Twice
she read those startling words before she could fully comprehend
their meaning.

Finger prints prove you Greystoke. Congratulations.

She handed the paper to Tarzan. "And he has known it all this
time," she said, "and did not tell you?"

"I knew it first, Jane," replied the man. "I did not know that
he knew it at all. I must have dropped this message that night in
the waiting room. It was there that I received it."

"And afterward you told us that your mother was a she-ape, and that
you had never known your father?" she asked incredulously.

"The title and the estates meant nothing to me without you, dear,"
he replied. "And if I had taken them away from him I should have
been robbing the woman I love--don't you understand, Jane?" It
was as though he attempted to excuse a fault.

She extended her arms toward him across the body of the dead man,
and took his hands in hers.

"And I would have thrown away a love like that!" she said.

Chapter 26

The Passing of the Ape-Man

The next morning they set out upon the short journey to Tarzan's
cabin. Four Waziri bore the body of the dead Englishman. It had
been the ape-man's suggestion that Clayton be buried beside the
former Lord Greystoke near the edge of the jungle against the cabin
that the older man had built.

Jane Porter was glad that it was to be so, and in her heart of
hearts she wondered at the marvelous fineness of character of this
wondrous man, who, though raised by brutes and among brutes, had
the true chivalry and tenderness which only associates with the
refinements of the highest civilization.

They had proceeded some three miles of the five that had separated
them from Tarzan's own beach when the Waziri who were ahead stopped
suddenly, pointing in amazement at a strange figure approaching them
along the beach. It was a man with a shiny silk hat, who walked
slowly with bent head, and hands clasped behind him underneath the
tails of his long, black coat.

At sight of him Jane Porter uttered a little cry of surprise and
joy, and ran quickly ahead to meet him. At the sound of her voice
the old man looked up, and when he saw who it was confronting him
he, too, cried out in relief and happiness. As Professor Archimedes
Q. Porter folded his daughter in his arms tears streamed down his
seamed old face, and it was several minutes before he could control
himself sufficiently to speak.

When a moment later he recognized Tarzan it was with difficulty
that they could convince him that his sorrow had not unbalanced
his mind, for with the other members of the party he had been so
thoroughly convinced that the ape-man was dead it was a problem
to reconcile the conviction with the very lifelike appearance of
Jane's "forest god." The old man was deeply touched at the news
of Clayton's death.

"I cannot understand it," he said. "Monsieur Thuran assured us
that Clayton passed away many days ago."

"Thuran is with you?" asked Tarzan.

"Yes; he but recently found us and led us to your cabin. We were
camped but a short distance north of it. Bless me, but he will be
delighted to see you both."

"And surprised," commented Tarzan.

A short time later the strange party came to the clearing in which
stood the ape-man's cabin. It was filled with people coming and
going, and almost the first whom Tarzan saw was D'Arnot.

"Paul!" he cried. "In the name of sanity what are you doing here?
Or are we all insane?"

It was quickly explained, however, as were many other seemingly
strange things. D'Arnot's ship had been cruising along the coast, on
patrol duty, when at the lieutenant's suggestion they had anchored
off the little landlocked harbor to have another look at the cabin
and the jungle in which many of the officers and men had taken
part in exciting adventures two years before. On landing they had
found Lord Tennington's party, and arrangements were being made to
take them all on board the following morning, and carry them back
to civilization.

Hazel Strong and her mother, Esmeralda, and Mr. Samuel T. Philander
were almost overcome by happiness at Jane Porter's safe return.
Her escape seemed to them little short of miraculous, and it was
the consensus of opinion that it could have been achieved by no
other man than Tarzan of the Apes. They loaded the uncomfortable
ape-man with eulogies and attentions until he wished himself back
in the amphitheater of the apes.

All were interested in his savage Waziri, and many were the gifts
the black men received from these friends of their king, but when
they learned that he might sail away from them upon the great canoe
that lay at anchor a mile off shore they became very sad.

As yet the newcomers had seen nothing of Lord Tennington and Monsieur
Thuran. They had gone out for fresh meat early in the day, and
had not yet returned.

"How surprised this man, whose name you say is Rokoff, will be to
see you," said Jane Porter to Tarzan.

"His surprise will be short-lived," replied the ape-man grimly,
and there was that in his tone that made her look up into his face
in alarm. What she read there evidently confirmed her fears, for
she put her hand upon his arm, and pleaded with him to leave the
Russian to the laws of France.

"In the heart of the jungle, dear," she said, "with no other form
of right or justice to appeal to other than your own mighty muscles,
you would be warranted in executing upon this man the sentence he
deserves; but with the strong arm of a civilized government at your
disposal it would be murder to kill him now. Even your friends
would have to submit to your arrest, or if you resisted it would
plunge us all into misery and unhappiness again. I cannot bear to
lose you again, my Tarzan. Promise me that you will but turn him
over to Captain Dufranne, and let the law take its course--the
beast is not worth risking our happiness for."

He saw the wisdom of her appeal, and promised. A half hour later
Rokoff and Tennington emerged from the jungle. They were walking
side by side. Tennington was the first to note the presence of
strangers in the camp. He saw the black warriors palavering with
the sailors from the cruiser, and then he saw a lithe, brown giant
talking with Lieutenant D'Arnot and Captain Dufranne.

"Who is that, I wonder," said Tennington to Rokoff, and as the
Russian raised his eyes and met those of the ape-man full upon him,
he staggered and went white.

"SAPRISTI!" he cried, and before Tennington realized what he intended
he had thrown his gun to his shoulder, and aiming point-blank at
Tarzan pulled the trigger. But the Englishman was close to him--so
close that his hand reached the leveled barrel a fraction of a
second before the hammer fell upon the cartridge, and the bullet
that was intended for Tarzan's heart whirred harmlessly above his

Before the Russian could fire again the ape-man was upon him and had
wrested the firearm from his grasp. Captain Dufranne, Lieutenant
D'Arnot, and a dozen sailors had rushed up at the sound of the
shot, and now Tarzan turned the Russian over to them without a
word. He had explained the matter to the French commander before
Rokoff arrived, and the officer gave immediate orders to place the
Russian in irons and confine him on board the cruiser.

Just before the guard escorted the prisoner into the small boat
that was to transport him to his temporary prison Tarzan asked
permission to search him, and to his delight found the stolen papers
concealed upon his person.

The shot had brought Jane Porter and the others from the cabin,
and a moment after the excitement had died down she greeted the
surprised Lord Tennington. Tarzan joined them after he had taken
the papers from Rokoff, and, as he approached, Jane Porter introduced
him to Tennington.

"John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, my lord," she said.

The Englishman looked his astonishment in spite of his most herculean
efforts to appear courteous, and it required many repetitions of
the strange story of the ape-man as told by himself, Jane Porter,
and Lieutenant D'Arnot to convince Lord Tennington that they were
not all quite mad.

At sunset they buried William Cecil Clayton beside the jungle graves
of his uncle and his aunt, the former Lord and Lady Greystoke. And
it was at Tarzan's request that three volleys were fired over the
last resting place of "a brave man, who met his death bravely."

Professor Porter, who in his younger days had been ordained a
minister, conducted the simple services for the dead. About the
grave, with bowed heads, stood as strange a company of mourners
as the sun ever looked down upon. There were French officers and
sailors, two English lords, Americans, and a score of savage African

Following the funeral Tarzan asked Captain Dufranne to delay the
sailing of the cruiser a couple of days while he went inland a few
miles to fetch his "belongings," and the officer gladly granted
the favor.

Late the next afternoon Tarzan and his Waziri returned with the
first load of "belongings," and when the party saw the ancient
ingots of virgin gold they swarmed upon the ape-man with a thousand
questions; but he was smilingly obdurate to their appeals--he
declined to give them the slightest clew as to the source of his
immense treasure. "There are a thousand that I left behind," he
explained, "for every one that I brought away, and when these are
spent I may wish to return for more."

The next day he returned to camp with the balance of his ingots,
and when they were stored on board the cruiser Captain Dufranne
said he felt like the commander of an old-time Spanish galleon
returning from the treasure cities of the Aztecs. "I don't know
what minute my crew will cut my throat, and take over the ship,"
he added.

The next morning, as they were preparing to embark upon the cruiser,
Tarzan ventured a suggestion to Jane Porter.

"Wild beasts are supposed to be devoid of sentiment," he said, "but
nevertheless I should like to be married in the cabin where I was
born, beside the graves of my mother and my father, and surrounded
by the savage jungle that always has been my home."

"Would it be quite regular, dear?" she asked. "For if it would I
know of no other place in which I should rather be married to my
forest god than beneath the shade of his primeval forest."

And when they spoke of it to the others they were assured that it
would be quite regular, and a most splendid termination of a remarkable
romance. So the entire party assembled within the little cabin
and about the door to witness the second ceremony that Professor
Porter was to solemnize within three days.

D'Arnot was to be best man, and Hazel Strong bridesmaid, until
Tennington upset all the arrangements by another of his marvelous

"If Mrs. Strong is agreeable," he said, taking the bridesmaid's
hand in his, "Hazel and I think it would be ripping to make it a
double wedding."

The next day they sailed, and as the cruiser steamed slowly out to
sea a tall man, immaculate in white flannel, and a graceful girl
leaned against her rail to watch the receding shore line upon which
danced twenty naked, black warriors of the Waziri, waving their war
spears above their savage heads, and shouting farewells to their
departing king.

"I should hate to think that I am looking upon the jungle for
the last time, dear," he said, "were it not that I know that I am
going to a new world of happiness with you forever," and, bending
down, Tarzan of the Apes kissed his mate upon her lips.

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