Part 1 out of 6
The Son Of Tarzan
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
To Hulbert Burroughs
The long boat of the Marjorie W. was floating down the broad Ugambi
with ebb tide and current. Her crew were lazily enjoying this
respite from the arduous labor of rowing up stream. Three miles
below them lay the Marjorie W. herself, quite ready to sail so
soon as they should have clambered aboard and swung the long boat
to its davits. Presently the attention of every man was drawn from
his dreaming or his gossiping to the northern bank of the river.
There, screaming at them in a cracked falsetto and with skinny arms
outstretched, stood a strange apparition of a man.
"Wot the 'ell?" ejaculated one of the crew.
"A white man!" muttered the mate, and then: "Man the oars, boys,
and we'll just pull over an' see what he wants."
When they came close to the shore they saw an emaciated creature
with scant white locks tangled and matted. The thin, bent body
was naked but for a loin cloth. Tears were rolling down the sunken
pock-marked cheeks. The man jabbered at them in a strange tongue.
"Rooshun," hazarded the mate. "Savvy English?" he called to the
He did, and in that tongue, brokenly and haltingly, as though it
had been many years since he had used it, he begged them to take him
with them away from this awful country. Once on board the Marjorie
W. the stranger told his rescuers a pitiful tale of privation,
hardships, and torture, extending over a period of ten years. How
he happened to have come to Africa he did not tell them, leaving
them to assume he had forgotten the incidents of his life prior to
the frightful ordeals that had wrecked him mentally and physically.
He did not even tell them his true name, and so they knew him only
as Michael Sabrov, nor was there any resemblance between this sorry
wreck and the virile, though unprincipled, Alexis Paulvitch of old.
It had been ten years since the Russian had escaped the fate of his
friend, the arch-fiend Rokoff, and not once, but many times during
those ten years had Paulvitch cursed the fate that had given
to Nicholas Rokoff death and immunity from suffering while it had
meted to him the hideous terrors of an existence infinitely worse
than the death that persistently refused to claim him.
Paulvitch had taken to the jungle when he had seen the beasts of
Tarzan and their savage lord swarm the deck of the Kincaid, and in
his terror lest Tarzan pursue and capture him he had stumbled on
deep into the jungle, only to fall at last into the hands of one
of the savage cannibal tribes that had felt the weight of Rokoff's
evil temper and cruel brutality. Some strange whim of the chief
of this tribe saved Paulvitch from death only to plunge him into a
life of misery and torture. For ten years he had been the butt of
the village, beaten and stoned by the women and children, cut and
slashed and disfigured by the warriors; a victim of often recurring
fevers of the most malignant variety. Yet he did not die. Smallpox
laid its hideous clutches upon him; leaving him unspeakably branded
with its repulsive marks. Between it and the attentions of the
tribe the countenance of Alexis Paulvitch was so altered that his
own mother could not have recognized in the pitiful mask he called
his face a single familiar feature. A few scraggly, yellow-white
locks had supplanted the thick, dark hair that had covered his
head. His limbs were bent and twisted, he walked with a shuffling,
unsteady gait, his body doubled forward. His teeth were gone--knocked
out by his savage masters. Even his mentality was but a sorry
mockery of what it once had been.
They took him aboard the Marjorie W., and there they fed and nursed
him. He gained a little in strength; but his appearance never
altered for the better--a human derelict, battered and wrecked,
they had found him; a human derelict, battered and wrecked, he
would remain until death claimed him. Though still in his thirties,
Alexis Paulvitch could easily have passed for eighty. Inscrutable
Nature had demanded of the accomplice a greater penalty than his
principal had paid.
In the mind of Alexis Paulvitch there lingered no thoughts
of revenge--only a dull hatred of the man whom he and Rokoff had
tried to break, and failed. There was hatred, too, of the memory
of Rokoff, for Rokoff had led him into the horrors he had undergone.
There was hatred of the police of a score of cities from which he
had had to flee. There was hatred of law, hatred of order, hatred
of everything. Every moment of the man's waking life was filled
with morbid thought of hatred--he had become mentally as he
was physically in outward appearance, the personification of the
blighting emotion of Hate. He had little or nothing to do with the
men who had rescued him. He was too weak to work and too morose
for company, and so they quickly left him alone to his own devices.
The Marjorie W. had been chartered by a syndicate of wealthy manufacturers,
equipped with a laboratory and a staff of scientists, and sent out
to search for some natural product which the manufacturers who footed
the bills had been importing from South America at an enormous cost.
What the product was none on board the Marjorie W. knew except the
scientists, nor is it of any moment to us, other than that it led
the ship to a certain island off the coast of Africa after Alexis
Paulvitch had been taken aboard.
The ship lay at anchor off the coast for several weeks. The
monotony of life aboard her became trying for the crew. They went
often ashore, and finally Paulvitch asked to accompany them--he too
was tiring of the blighting sameness of existence upon the ship.
The island was heavily timbered. Dense jungle ran down almost to
the beach. The scientists were far inland, prosecuting their search
for the valuable commodity that native rumor upon the mainland had
led them to believe might be found here in marketable quantity. The
ship's company fished, hunted, and explored. Paulvitch shuffled
up and down the beach, or lay in the shade of the great trees that
skirted it. One day, as the men were gathered at a little distance
inspecting the body of a panther that had fallen to the gun of one
of them who had been hunting inland, Paulvitch lay sleeping beneath
his tree. He was awakened by the touch of a hand upon his shoulder.
With a start he sat up to see a huge, anthropoid ape squatting
at his side, inspecting him intently. The Russian was thoroughly
frightened. He glanced toward the sailors--they were a couple of
hundred yards away. Again the ape plucked at his shoulder, jabbering
plaintively. Paulvitch saw no menace in the inquiring gaze, or
in the attitude of the beast. He got slowly to his feet. The ape
rose at his side.
Half doubled, the man shuffled cautiously away toward the sailors.
The ape moved with him, taking one of his arms. They had come almost
to the little knot of men before they were seen, and by this time
Paulvitch had become assured that the beast meant no harm. The
animal evidently was accustomed to the association of human beings.
It occurred to the Russian that the ape represented a certain
considerable money value, and before they reached the sailors he
had decided he should be the one to profit by it.
When the men looked up and saw the oddly paired couple shuffling
toward them they were filled with amazement, and started on a run
toward the two. The ape showed no sign of fear. Instead he grasped
each sailor by the shoulder and peered long and earnestly into his
face. Having inspected them all he returned to Paulvitch's side,
disappointment written strongly upon his countenance and in his
The men were delighted with him. They gathered about, asking
Paulvitch many questions, and examining his companion. The Russian
told them that the ape was his--nothing further would he offer--but
kept harping continually upon the same theme, "The ape is mine.
The ape is mine." Tiring of Paulvitch, one of the men essayed a
pleasantry. Circling about behind the ape he prodded the anthropoid
in the back with a pin. Like a flash the beast wheeled upon its
tormentor, and, in the briefest instant of turning, the placid,
friendly animal was metamorphosed to a frenzied demon of rage. The
broad grin that had sat upon the sailor's face as he perpetrated
his little joke froze to an expression of terror. He attempted to
dodge the long arms that reached for him; but, failing, drew a long
knife that hung at his belt. With a single wrench the ape tore
the weapon from the man's grasp and flung it to one side, then his
yellow fangs were buried in the sailor's shoulder.
With sticks and knives the man's companions fell upon the beast,
while Paulvitch danced around the cursing snarling pack mumbling
and screaming pleas and threats. He saw his visions of wealth
rapidly dissipating before the weapons of the sailors.
The ape, however, proved no easy victim to the superior numbers
that seemed fated to overwhelm him. Rising from the sailor who
had precipitated the battle he shook his giant shoulders, freeing
himself from two of the men that were clinging to his back, and
with mighty blows of his open palms felled one after another of his
attackers, leaping hither and thither with the agility of a small
The fight had been witnessed by the captain and mate who were
just landing from the Marjorie W., and Paulvitch saw these two now
running forward with drawn revolvers while the two sailors who had
brought them ashore trailed at their heels. The ape stood looking
about him at the havoc he had wrought, but whether he was awaiting
a renewal of the attack or was deliberating which of his foes he
should exterminate first Paulvitch could not guess. What he could
guess, however, was that the moment the two officers came within
firing distance of the beast they would put an end to him in short
order unless something were done and done quickly to prevent. The
ape had made no move to attack the Russian but even so the man was
none too sure of what might happen were he to interfere with the
savage beast, now thoroughly aroused to bestial rage, and with the
smell of new spilled blood fresh in its nostrils. For an instant
he hesitated, and then again there rose before him the dreams of
affluence which this great anthropoid would doubtless turn to realities
once Paulvitch had landed him safely in some great metropolis like
The captain was shouting to him now to stand aside that he might
have a shot at the animal; but instead Paulvitch shuffled to the
ape's side, and though the man's hair quivered at its roots he
mastered his fear and laid hold of the ape's arm.
"Come!" he commanded, and tugged to pull the beast from among the
sailors, many of whom were now sitting up in wide eyed fright or
crawling away from their conqueror upon hands and knees.
Slowly the ape permitted itself to be led to one side, nor did it
show the slightest indication of a desire to harm the Russian. The
captain came to a halt a few paces from the odd pair.
"Get aside, Sabrov!" he commanded. "I'll put that brute where he
won't chew up any more able seamen."
"It wasn't his fault, captain," pleaded Paulvitch. "Please don't
shoot him. The men started it--they attacked him first. You see,
he's perfectly gentle--and he's mine--he's mine--he's mine! I
won't let you kill him," he concluded, as his half-wrecked mentality
pictured anew the pleasure that money would buy in London--money
that he could not hope to possess without some such windfall as
the ape represented.
The captain lowered his weapon. "The men started it, did they?"
he repeated. "How about that?" and he turned toward the sailors
who had by this time picked themselves from the ground, none of
them much the worse for his experience except the fellow who had
been the cause of it, and who would doubtless nurse a sore shoulder
for a week or so.
"Simpson done it," said one of the men. "He stuck a pin into the
monk from behind, and the monk got him--which served him bloomin'
well right--an' he got the rest of us, too, for which I can't blame
him, since we all jumped him to once."
The captain looked at Simpson, who sheepishly admitted the truth
of the allegation, then he stepped over to the ape as though to
discover for himself the sort of temper the beast possessed, but
it was noticeable that he kept his revolver cocked and leveled as
he did so. However, he spoke soothingly to the animal who squatted
at the Russian's side looking first at one and then another of
the sailors. As the captain approached him the ape half rose and
waddled forward to meet him. Upon his countenance was the same
strange, searching expression that had marked his scrutiny of each
of the sailors he had first encountered. He came quite close to
the officer and laid a paw upon one of the man's shoulders, studying
his face intently for a long moment, then came the expression of
disappointment accompanied by what was almost a human sigh, as he
turned away to peer in the same curious fashion into the faces of
the mate and the two sailors who had arrived with the officers.
In each instance he sighed and passed on, returning at length
to Paulvitch's side, where he squatted down once more; thereafter
evincing little or no interest in any of the other men, and apparently
forgetful of his recent battle with them.
When the party returned aboard the Marjorie W., Paulvitch was
accompanied by the ape, who seemed anxious to follow him. The
captain interposed no obstacles to the arrangement, and so the
great anthropoid was tacitly admitted to membership in the ship's
company. Once aboard he examined each new face minutely, evincing the
same disappointment in each instance that had marked his scrutiny
of the others. The officers and scientists aboard often discussed
the beast, but they were unable to account satisfactorily for the
strange ceremony with which he greeted each new face. Had he been
discovered upon the mainland, or any other place than the almost
unknown island that had been his home, they would have concluded
that he had formerly been a pet of man; but that theory was not
tenable in the face of the isolation of his uninhabited island. He
seemed continually to be searching for someone, and during the first
days of the return voyage from the island he was often discovered
nosing about in various parts of the ship; but after he had seen
and examined each face of the ship's company, and explored every
corner of the vessel he lapsed into utter indifference of all about
him. Even the Russian elicited only casual interest when he brought
him food. At other times the ape appeared merely to tolerate him.
He never showed affection for him, or for anyone else upon the
Marjorie W., nor did he at any time evince any indication of the
savage temper that had marked his resentment of the attack of the
sailors upon him at the time that he had come among them.
Most of his time was spent in the eye of the ship scanning the
horizon ahead, as though he were endowed with sufficient reason to
know that the vessel was bound for some port where there would be
other human beings to undergo his searching scrutiny. All in all,
Ajax, as he had been dubbed, was considered the most remarkable
and intelligent ape that any one aboard the Marjorie W. ever had
seen. Nor was his intelligence the only remarkable attribute he
owned. His stature and physique were, for an ape, awe inspiring.
That he was old was quite evident, but if his age had impaired his
physical or mental powers in the slightest it was not apparent.
And so at length the Marjorie W. came to England, and there the
officers and the scientists, filled with compassion for the pitiful
wreck of a man they had rescued from the jungles, furnished Paulvitch
with funds and bid him and his Ajax Godspeed.
Upon the dock and all through the journey to London the Russian
had his hands full with Ajax. Each new face of the thousands that
came within the anthropoid's ken must be carefully scrutinized,
much to the horror of many of his victims; but at last, failing,
apparently, to discover whom he sought, the great ape relapsed
into morbid indifference, only occasionally evincing interest in
a passing face.
In London, Paulvitch went directly with his prize to a certain
famous animal trainer. This man was much impressed with Ajax with
the result that he agreed to train him for a lion's share of the
profits of exhibiting him, and in the meantime to provide for the
keep of both the ape and his owner.
And so came Ajax to London, and there was forged another link in
the chain of strange circumstances that were to affect the lives
of many people.
Mr. Harold Moore was a bilious-countenanced, studious young man. He
took himself very seriously, and life, and his work, which latter
was the tutoring of the young son of a British nobleman. He felt
that his charge was not making the progress that his parents had
a right to expect, and he was now conscientiously explaining this
fact to the boy's mother.
"It's not that he isn't bright," he was saying; "if that were true
I should have hopes of succeeding, for then I might bring to bear
all my energies in overcoming his obtuseness; but the trouble is
that he is exceptionally intelligent, and learns so quickly that I
can find no fault in the matter of the preparation of his lessons.
What concerns me, however, is that fact that he evidently takes
no interest whatever in the subjects we are studying. He merely
accomplishes each lesson as a task to be rid of as quickly as
possible and I am sure that no lesson ever again enters his mind
until the hours of study and recitation once more arrive. His sole
interests seem to be feats of physical prowess and the reading of
everything that he can get hold of relative to savage beasts and
the lives and customs of uncivilized peoples; but particularly do
stories of animals appeal to him. He will sit for hours together
poring over the work of some African explorer, and upon two
occasions I have found him setting up in bed at night reading Carl
Hagenbeck's book on men and beasts."
The boy's mother tapped her foot nervously upon the hearth rug.
"You discourage this, of course?" she ventured.
Mr. Moore shuffled embarrassedly.
"I--ah--essayed to take the book from him," he replied, a slight
flush mounting his sallow cheek; "but--ah--your son is quite muscular
for one so young."
"He wouldn't let you take it?" asked the mother.
"He would not," confessed the tutor. "He was perfectly good natured
about it; but he insisted upon pretending that he was a gorilla
and that I was a chimpanzee attempting to steal food from him. He
leaped upon me with the most savage growls I ever heard, lifted me
completely above his head, hurled me upon his bed, and after going
through a pantomime indicative of choking me to death he stood upon
my prostrate form and gave voice to a most fearsome shriek, which
he explained was the victory cry of a bull ape. Then he carried
me to the door, shoved me out into the hall and locked me from his
For several minutes neither spoke again. It was the boy's mother
who finally broke the silence.
"It is very necessary, Mr. Moore," she said, "that you do everything
in your power to discourage this tendency in Jack, he--"; but she
got no further. A loud "Whoop!" from the direction of the window
brought them both to their feet. The room was upon the second floor
of the house, and opposite the window to which their attention had
been attracted was a large tree, a branch of which spread to within
a few feet of the sill. Upon this branch now they both discovered
the subject of their recent conversation, a tall, well-built boy,
balancing with ease upon the bending limb and uttering loud shouts
of glee as he noted the terrified expressions upon the faces of
The mother and tutor both rushed toward the window but before they
had crossed half the room the boy had leaped nimbly to the sill
and entered the apartment with them.
"`The wild man from Borneo has just come to town,'" he sang, dancing
a species of war dance about his terrified mother and scandalized
tutor, and ending up by throwing his arms about the former's neck
and kissing her upon either cheek.
"Oh, Mother," he cried, "there's a wonderful, educated ape being
shown at one of the music halls. Willie Grimsby saw it last night.
He says it can do everything but talk. It rides a bicycle, eats with
knife and fork, counts up to ten, and ever so many other wonderful
things, and can I go and see it too? Oh, please, Mother--please
Patting the boy's cheek affectionately, the mother shook her head
negatively. "No, Jack," she said; "you know I do not approve of
"I don't see why not, Mother," replied the boy. "All the other
fellows go and they go to the Zoo, too, and you'll never let me do
even that. Anybody'd think I was a girl--or a mollycoddle. Oh,
Father," he exclaimed, as the door opened to admit a tall gray-eyed
man. "Oh, Father, can't I go?"
"Go where, my son?" asked the newcomer.
"He wants to go to a music hall to see a trained ape," said the
mother, looking warningly at her husband.
"Who, Ajax?" questioned the man.
The boy nodded.
"Well, I don't know that I blame you, my son," said the father, "I
wouldn't mind seeing him myself. They say he is very wonderful,
and that for an anthropoid he is unusually large. Let's all go,
Jane--what do you say?" And he turned toward his wife, but that
lady only shook her head in a most positive manner, and turning
to Mr. Moore asked him if it was not time that he and Jack were in
the study for the morning recitations. When the two had left she
turned toward her husband.
"John," she said, "something must be done to discourage Jack's
tendency toward anything that may excite the cravings for the savage
life which I fear he has inherited from you. You know from your
own experience how strong is the call of the wild at times. You
know that often it has necessitated a stern struggle on your part
to resist the almost insane desire which occasionally overwhelms you
to plunge once again into the jungle life that claimed you for so
many years, and at the same time you know, better than any other,
how frightful a fate it would be for Jack, were the trail to the
savage jungle made either alluring or easy to him."
"I doubt if there is any danger of his inheriting a taste for jungle
life from me," replied the man, "for I cannot conceive that such a
thing may be transmitted from father to son. And sometimes, Jane,
I think that in your solicitude for his future you go a bit too far
in your restrictive measures. His love for animals--his desire,
for example, to see this trained ape--is only natural in a healthy,
normal boy of his age. Just because he wants to see Ajax is
no indication that he would wish to marry an ape, and even should
he, far be it from you Jane to have the right to cry `shame!'" and
John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, put an arm about his wife, laughing
good-naturedly down into her upturned face before he bent his head
and kissed her. Then, more seriously, he continued: "You have
never told Jack anything concerning my early life, nor have you
permitted me to, and in this I think that you have made a mistake.
Had I been able to tell him of the experiences of Tarzan of the
Apes I could doubtless have taken much of the glamour and romance
from jungle life that naturally surrounds it in the minds of those
who have had no experience of it. He might then have profited by
my experience, but now, should the jungle lust ever claim him, he
will have nothing to guide him but his own impulses, and I know
how powerful these may be in the wrong direction at times."
But Lady Greystoke only shook her head as she had a hundred other
times when the subject had claimed her attention in the past.
"No, John," she insisted, "I shall never give my consent to the
implanting in Jack's mind of any suggestion of the savage life
which we both wish to preserve him from."
It was evening before the subject was again referred to and then
it was raised by Jack himself. He had been sitting, curled in a
large chair, reading, when he suddenly looked up and addressed his
"Why," he asked, coming directly to the point, "can't I go and see
"Your mother does not approve," replied his father.
"That is not the question," evaded Lord Greystoke. "It is enough
that your mother objects."
"I am going to see him," announced the boy, after a few moments
of thoughtful silence. "I am not different from Willie Grimsby,
or any other of the fellows who have been to see him. It did not
harm them and it will not harm me. I could go without telling you;
but I would not do that. So I tell you now, beforehand, that I am
going to see Ajax."
There was nothing disrespectful or defiant in the boy's tone or
manner. His was merely a dispassionate statement of facts. His
father could scarce repress either a smile or a show of the admiration
he felt for the manly course his son had pursued.
"I admire your candor, Jack," he said. "Permit me to be candid,
as well. If you go to see Ajax without permission, I shall punish
you. I have never inflicted corporal punishment upon you, but
I warn you that should you disobey your mother's wishes in this
instance, I shall."
"Yes, sir," replied the boy; and then: "I shall tell you, sir,
when I have been to see Ajax."
Mr. Moore's room was next to that of his youthful charge, and it
was the tutor's custom to have a look into the boy's each evening
as the former was about to retire. This evening he was particularly
careful not to neglect his duty, for he had just come from a
conference with the boy's father and mother in which it had been
impressed upon him that he must exercise the greatest care to
prevent Jack visiting the music hall where Ajax was being shown.
So, when he opened the boy's door at about half after nine, he was
greatly excited, though not entirely surprised to find the future
Lord Greystoke fully dressed for the street and about to crawl from
his open bed room window.
Mr. Moore made a rapid spring across the apartment; but the waste
of energy was unnecessary, for when the boy heard him within the
chamber and realized that he had been discovered he turned back as
though to relinquish his planned adventure.
"Where were you going?" panted the excited Mr. Moore.
"I am going to see Ajax," replied the boy, quietly.
"I am astonished," cried Mr. Moore; but a moment later he was
infinitely more astonished, for the boy, approaching close to him,
suddenly seized him about the waist, lifted him from his feet and
threw him face downward upon the bed, shoving his face deep into
a soft pillow.
"Be quiet," admonished the victor, "or I'll choke you."
Mr. Moore struggled; but his efforts were in vain. Whatever else
Tarzan of the Apes may or may not have handed down to his son he
had at least bequeathed him almost as marvelous a physique as he
himself had possessed at the same age. The tutor was as putty in
the boy's hands. Kneeling upon him, Jack tore strips from a sheet
and bound the man's hands behind his back. Then he rolled him over
and stuffed a gag of the same material between his teeth, securing
it with a strip wound about the back of his victim's head. All
the while he talked in a low, conversational tone.
"I am Waja, chief of the Waji," he explained, "and you are Mohammed
Dubn, the Arab sheik, who would murder my people and steal my
ivory," and he dexterously trussed Mr. Moore's hobbled ankles up
behind to meet his hobbled wrists. "Ah--ha! Villain! I have you
in me power at last. I go; but I shall return!" And the son of
Tarzan skipped across the room, slipped through the open window,
and slid to liberty by way of the down spout from an eaves trough.
Mr. Moore wriggled and struggled about the bed. He was sure that
he should suffocate unless aid came quickly. In his frenzy of
terror he managed to roll off the bed. The pain and shock of the
fall jolted him back to something like sane consideration of his
plight. Where before he had been unable to think intelligently
because of the hysterical fear that had claimed him he now lay
quietly searching for some means of escape from his dilemma. It
finally occurred to him that the room in which Lord and Lady
Greystoke had been sitting when he left them was directly beneath
that in which he lay upon the floor. He knew that some time had
elapsed since he had come up stairs and that they might be gone
by this time, for it seemed to him that he had struggled about the
bed, in his efforts to free himself, for an eternity. But the best
that he could do was to attempt to attract attention from below, and
so, after many failures, he managed to work himself into a position
in which he could tap the toe of his boot against the floor. This
he proceeded to do at short intervals, until, after what seemed
a very long time, he was rewarded by hearing footsteps ascending
the stairs, and presently a knock upon the door. Mr. Moore tapped
vigorously with his toe--he could not reply in any other way.
The knock was repeated after a moment's silence. Again Mr. Moore
tapped. Would they never open the door! Laboriously he rolled
in the direction of succor. If he could get his back against the
door he could then tap upon its base, when surely he must be heard.
The knocking was repeated a little louder, and finally a voice
called: "Mr. Jack!"
It was one of the house men--Mr. Moore recognized the fellow's voice.
He came near to bursting a blood vessel in an endeavor to scream
"come in" through the stifling gag. After a moment the man knocked
again, quite loudly and again called the boy's name. Receiving
no reply he turned the knob, and at the same instant a sudden
recollection filled the tutor anew with numbing terror--he had,
himself, locked the door behind him when he had entered the room.
He heard the servant try the door several times and then depart.
Upon which Mr. Moore swooned.
In the meantime Jack was enjoying to the full the stolen pleasures of
the music hall. He had reached the temple of mirth just as Ajax's
act was commencing, and having purchased a box seat was now leaning
breathlessly over the rail watching every move of the great ape,
his eyes wide in wonder. The trainer was not slow to note the boy's
handsome, eager face, and as one of Ajax's biggest hits consisted
in an entry to one or more boxes during his performance, ostensibly
in search of a long-lost relative, as the trainer explained, the
man realized the effectiveness of sending him into the box with the
handsome boy, who, doubtless, would be terror stricken by proximity
to the shaggy, powerful beast.
When the time came, therefore, for the ape to return from the
wings in reply to an encore the trainer directed its attention to
the boy who chanced to be the sole occupant of the box in which
he sat. With a spring the huge anthropoid leaped from the stage
to the boy's side; but if the trainer had looked for a laughable
scene of fright he was mistaken. A broad smile lighted the boy's
features as he laid his hand upon the shaggy arm of his visitor.
The ape, grasping the boy by either shoulder, peered long and
earnestly into his face, while the latter stroked his head and
talked to him in a low voice.
Never had Ajax devoted so long a time to an examination of another
as he did in this instance. He seemed troubled and not a little
excited, jabbering and mumbling to the boy, and now caressing him,
as the trainer had never seen him caress a human being before.
Presently he clambered over into the box with him and snuggled
down close to the boy's side. The audience was delighted; but they
were still more delighted when the trainer, the period of his act
having elapsed, attempted to persuade Ajax to leave the box. The
ape would not budge. The manager, becoming excited at the delay,
urged the trainer to greater haste, but when the latter entered
the box to drag away the reluctant Ajax he was met by bared fangs
and menacing growls.
The audience was delirious with joy. They cheered the ape. They
cheered the boy, and they hooted and jeered at the trainer and the
manager, which luckless individual had inadvertently shown himself
and attempted to assist the trainer.
Finally, reduced to desperation and realizing that this show of mutiny
upon the part of his valuable possession might render the animal
worthless for exhibition purposes in the future if not immediately
subdued, the trainer had hastened to his dressing room and procured
a heavy whip. With this he now returned to the box; but when he
had threatened Ajax with it but once he found himself facing two
infuriated enemies instead of one, for the boy had leaped to his
feet, and seizing a chair was standing ready at the ape's side to
defend his new found friend. There was no longer a smile upon his
handsome face. In his gray eyes was an expression which gave the
trainer pause, and beside him stood the giant anthropoid growling
What might have happened, but for a timely interruption, may only
be surmised; but that the trainer would have received a severe
mauling, if nothing more, was clearly indicated by the attitudes
of the two who faced him.
It was a pale-faced man who rushed into the Greystoke library to
announce that he had found Jack's door locked and had been able to
obtain no response to his repeated knocking and calling other than
a strange tapping and the sound of what might have been a body
moving about upon the floor.
Four steps at a time John Clayton took the stairs that led to the
floor above. His wife and the servant hurried after him. Once he
called his son's name in a loud voice; but receiving no reply he
launched his great weight, backed by all the undiminished power
of his giant muscles, against the heavy door. With a snapping of
iron butts and a splintering of wood the obstacle burst inward.
At its foot lay the body of the unconscious Mr. Moore, across whom
it fell with a resounding thud. Through the opening leaped Tarzan,
and a moment later the room was flooded with light from a dozen
It was several minutes before the tutor was discovered, so completely
had the door covered him; but finally he was dragged forth, his
gag and bonds cut away, and a liberal application of cold water
had hastened returning consciousness.
"Where is Jack?" was John Clayton's first question, and then;
"Who did this?" as the memory of Rokoff and the fear of a second
abduction seized him.
Slowly Mr. Moore staggered to his feet. His gaze wandered about
the room. Gradually he collected his scattered wits. The details
of his recent harrowing experience returned to him.
"I tender my resignation, sir, to take effect at once," were his
first words. "You do not need a tutor for your son--what he needs
is a wild animal trainer."
"But where is he?" cried Lady Greystoke.
"He has gone to see Ajax."
It was with difficulty that Tarzan restrained a smile, and after
satisfying himself that the tutor was more scared than injured,
he ordered his closed car around and departed in the direction of
a certain well-known music hall.
As the trainer, with raised lash, hesitated an instant at the
entrance to the box where the boy and the ape confronted him, a
tall broad-shouldered man pushed past him and entered. As his eyes
fell upon the newcomer a slight flush mounted the boy's cheeks.
"Father!" he exclaimed.
The ape gave one look at the English lord, and then leaped toward
him, calling out in excited jabbering. The man, his eyes going
wide in astonishment, stopped as though turned to stone.
"Akut!" he cried.
The boy looked, bewildered, from the ape to his father, and from
his father to the ape. The trainer's jaw dropped as he listened
to what followed, for from the lips of the Englishman flowed the
gutturals of an ape that were answered in kind by the huge anthropoid
that now clung to him.
And from the wings a hideously bent and disfigured old man watched
the tableau in the box, his pock-marked features working spasmodically
in varying expressions that might have marked every sensation in
the gamut from pleasure to terror.
"Long have I looked for you, Tarzan," said Akut. "Now that I have
found you I shall come to your jungle and live there always."
The man stroked the beast's head. Through his mind there was
running rapidly a train of recollection that carried him far into
the depths of the primeval African forest where this huge, man-like
beast had fought shoulder to shoulder with him years before. He
saw the black Mugambi wielding his deadly knob-stick, and beside
them, with bared fangs and bristling whiskers, Sheeta the terrible;
and pressing close behind the savage and the savage panther, the
hideous apes of Akut. The man sighed. Strong within him surged
the jungle lust that he had thought dead. Ah! if he could go back
even for a brief month of it, to feel again the brush of leafy
branches against his naked hide; to smell the musty rot of dead
vegetation--frankincense and myrrh to the jungle born; to sense the
noiseless coming of the great carnivora upon his trail; to hunt and
to be hunted; to kill! The picture was alluring. And then came
another picture--a sweet-faced woman, still young and beautiful;
friends; a home; a son. He shrugged his giant shoulders.
"It cannot be, Akut," he said; "but if you would return, I shall
see that it is done. You could not be happy here--I may not be
The trainer stepped forward. The ape bared his fangs, growling.
"Go with him, Akut," said Tarzan of the Apes. "I will come and
see you tomorrow."
The beast moved sullenly to the trainer's side. The latter, at John
Clayton's request, told where they might be found. Tarzan turned
toward his son.
"Come!" he said, and the two left the theater. Neither spoke for
several minutes after they had entered the limousine. It was the
boy who broke the silence.
"The ape knew you," he said, "and you spoke together in the ape's
tongue. How did the ape know you, and how did you learn his
And then, briefly and for the first time, Tarzan of the Apes told
his son of his early life--of the birth in the jungle, of the death
of his parents, and of how Kala, the great she ape had suckled
and raised him from infancy almost to manhood. He told him, too,
of the dangers and the horrors of the jungle; of the great beasts
that stalked one by day and by night; of the periods of drought,
and of the cataclysmic rains; of hunger; of cold; of intense heat;
of nakedness and fear and suffering. He told him of all those
things that seem most horrible to the creature of civilization in
the hope that the knowledge of them might expunge from the lad's
mind any inherent desire for the jungle. Yet they were the very
things that made the memory of the jungle what it was to Tarzan--that
made up the composite jungle life he loved. And in the telling he
forgot one thing--the principal thing--that the boy at his side,
listening with eager ears, was the son of Tarzan of the Apes.
After the boy had been tucked away in bed--and without the threatened
punishment--John Clayton told his wife of the events of the evening,
and that he had at last acquainted the boy with the facts of his
jungle life. The mother, who had long foreseen that her son must
some time know of those frightful years during which his father had
roamed the jungle, a naked, savage beast of prey, only shook her
head, hoping against hope that the lure she knew was still strong
in the father's breast had not been transmitted to his son.
Tarzan visited Akut the following day, but though Jack begged to
be allowed to accompany him he was refused. This time Tarzan saw
the pock-marked old owner of the ape, whom he did not recognize as
the wily Paulvitch of former days. Tarzan, influenced by Akut's
pleadings, broached the question of the ape's purchase; but Paulvitch
would not name any price, saying that he would consider the matter.
When Tarzan returned home Jack was all excitement to hear the
details of his visit, and finally suggested that his father buy
the ape and bring it home. Lady Greystoke was horrified at the
suggestion. The boy was insistent. Tarzan explained that he had
wished to purchase Akut and return him to his jungle home, and to
this the mother assented. Jack asked to be allowed to visit the
ape, but again he was met with flat refusal. He had the address,
however, which the trainer had given his father, and two days later
he found the opportunity to elude his new tutor--who had replaced
the terrified Mr. Moore--and after a considerable search through a
section of London which he had never before visited, he found the
smelly little quarters of the pock-marked old man. The old fellow
himself replied to his knocking, and when he stated that he had
come to see Ajax, opened the door and admitted him to the little
room which he and the great ape occupied. In former years Paulvitch
had been a fastidious scoundrel; but ten years of hideous life
among the cannibals of Africa had eradicated the last vestige of
niceness from his habits. His apparel was wrinkled and soiled.
His hands were unwashed, his few straggling locks uncombed. His
room was a jumble of filthy disorder. As the boy entered he saw
the great ape squatting upon the bed, the coverlets of which were
a tangled wad of filthy blankets and ill-smelling quilts. At sight
of the youth the ape leaped to the floor and shuffled forward. The
man, not recognizing his visitor and fearing that the ape meant
mischief, stepped between them, ordering the ape back to the bed.
"He will not hurt me," cried the boy. "We are friends, and before,
he was my father's friend. They knew one another in the jungle.
My father is Lord Greystoke. He does not know that I have come
here. My mother forbid my coming; but I wished to see Ajax, and
I will pay you if you will let me come here often and see him."
At the mention of the boy's identity Paulvitch's eyes narrowed.
Since he had first seen Tarzan again from the wings of the theater
there had been forming in his deadened brain the beginnings of a
desire for revenge. It is a characteristic of the weak and criminal
to attribute to others the misfortunes that are the result of their
own wickedness, and so now it was that Alexis Paulvitch was slowly
recalling the events of his past life and as he did so laying at
the door of the man whom he and Rokoff had so assiduously attempted
to ruin and murder all the misfortunes that had befallen him in
the failure of their various schemes against their intended victim.
He saw at first no way in which he could, with safety to himself,
wreak vengeance upon Tarzan through the medium of Tarzan's son; but
that great possibilities for revenge lay in the boy was apparent
to him, and so he determined to cultivate the lad in the hope that
fate would play into his hands in some way in the future. He told
the boy all that he knew of his father's past life in the jungle
and when he found that the boy had been kept in ignorance of all
these things for so many years, and that he had been forbidden
visiting the zoological gardens; that he had had to bind and gag
his tutor to find an opportunity to come to the music hall and see
Ajax, he guessed immediately the nature of the great fear that lay
in the hearts of the boy's parents--that he might crave the jungle
as his father had craved it.
And so Paulvitch encouraged the boy to come and see him often, and
always he played upon the lad's craving for tales of the savage
world with which Paulvitch was all too familiar. He left him alone
with Akut much, and it was not long until he was surprised to learn
that the boy could make the great beast understand him--that he
had actually learned many of the words of the primitive language
of the anthropoids.
During this period Tarzan came several times to visit Paulvitch.
He seemed anxious to purchase Ajax, and at last he told the man
frankly that he was prompted not only by a desire upon his part
to return the beast to the liberty of his native jungle; but also
because his wife feared that in some way her son might learn the
whereabouts of the ape and through his attachment for the beast
become imbued with the roving instinct which, as Tarzan explained
to Paulvitch, had so influenced his own life.
The Russian could scarce repress a smile as he listened to Lord
Greystoke's words, since scarce a half hour had passed since the
time the future Lord Greystoke had been sitting upon the disordered
bed jabbering away to Ajax with all the fluency of a born ape.
It was during this interview that a plan occurred to Paulvitch,
and as a result of it he agreed to accept a certain fabulous sum
for the ape, and upon receipt of the money to deliver the beast
to a vessel that was sailing south from Dover for Africa two days
later. He had a double purpose in accepting Clayton's offer.
Primarily, the money consideration influenced him strongly, as the
ape was no longer a source of revenue to him, having consistently
refused to perform upon the stage after having discovered Tarzan.
It was as though the beast had suffered himself to be brought from
his jungle home and exhibited before thousands of curious spectators
for the sole purpose of searching out his long lost friend and
master, and, having found him, considered further mingling with the
common herd of humans unnecessary. However that may be, the fact
remained that no amount of persuasion could influence him even
to show himself upon the music hall stage, and upon the single
occasion that the trainer attempted force the results were such
that the unfortunate man considered himself lucky to have escaped
with his life. All that saved him was the accidental presence of
Jack Clayton, who had been permitted to visit the animal in the
dressing room reserved for him at the music hall, and had immediately
interfered when he saw that the savage beast meant serious mischief.
And after the money consideration, strong in the heart of the Russian
was the desire for revenge, which had been growing with constant
brooding over the failures and miseries of his life, which he
attributed to Tarzan; the latest, and by no means the least, of
which was Ajax's refusal to longer earn money for him. The ape's
refusal he traced directly to Tarzan, finally convincing himself
that the ape man had instructed the great anthropoid to refuse to
go upon the stage.
Paulvitch's naturally malign disposition was aggravated by the
weakening and warping of his mental and physical faculties through
torture and privation. From cold, calculating, highly intelligent
perversity it had deteriorated into the indiscriminating,
dangerous menace of the mentally defective. His plan, however, was
sufficiently cunning to at least cast a doubt upon the assertion
that his mentality was wandering. It assured him first of the
competence which Lord Greystoke had promised to pay him for the
deportation of the ape, and then of revenge upon his benefactor
through the son he idolized. That part of his scheme was crude
and brutal--it lacked the refinement of torture that had marked
the master strokes of the Paulvitch of old, when he had worked with
that virtuoso of villainy, Nikolas Rokoff--but it at least assured
Paulvitch of immunity from responsibility, placing that upon the
ape, who would thus also be punished for his refusal longer to
support the Russian.
Everything played with fiendish unanimity into Paulvitch's hands.
As chance would have it, Tarzan's son overheard his father relating
to the boy's mother the steps he was taking to return Akut safely
to his jungle home, and having overheard he begged them to bring
the ape home that he might have him for a play-fellow. Tarzan would
not have been averse to this plan; but Lady Greystoke was horrified
at the very thought of it. Jack pleaded with his mother; but all
unavailingly. She was obdurate, and at last the lad appeared to
acquiesce in his mother's decision that the ape must be returned
to Africa and the boy to school, from which he had been absent on
He did not attempt to visit Paulvitch's room again that day, but
instead busied himself in other ways. He had always been well supplied
with money, so that when necessity demanded he had no difficulty in
collecting several hundred pounds. Some of this money he invested
in various strange purchases which he managed to smuggle into the
house, undetected, when he returned late in the afternoon.
The next morning, after giving his father time to precede him
and conclude his business with Paulvitch, the lad hastened to the
Russian's room. Knowing nothing of the man's true character the
boy dared not take him fully into his confidence for fear that the
old fellow would not only refuse to aid him, but would report the
whole affair to his father. Instead, he simply asked permission
to take Ajax to Dover. He explained that it would relieve the old
man of a tiresome journey, as well as placing a number of pounds
in his pocket, for the lad purposed paying the Russian well.
"You see," he went on, "there will be no danger of detection since
I am supposed to be leaving on an afternoon train for school. Instead
I will come here after they have left me on board the train. Then
I can take Ajax to Dover, you see, and arrive at school only a day
late. No one will be the wiser, no harm will be done, and I shall
have had an extra day with Ajax before I lose him forever."
The plan fitted perfectly with that which Paulvitch had in mind.
Had he known what further the boy contemplated he would doubtless
have entirely abandoned his own scheme of revenge and aided the
boy whole heartedly in the consummation of the lad's, which would
have been better for Paulvitch, could he have but read the future
but a few short hours ahead.
That afternoon Lord and Lady Greystoke bid their son good-bye and
saw him safely settled in a first-class compartment of the railway
carriage that would set him down at school in a few hours. No sooner
had they left him, however, than he gathered his bags together,
descended from the compartment and sought a cab stand outside the
station. Here he engaged a cabby to take him to the Russian's
address. It was dusk when he arrived. He found Paulvitch awaiting
him. The man was pacing the floor nervously. The ape was tied
with a stout cord to the bed. It was the first time that Jack had
ever seen Ajax thus secured. He looked questioningly at Paulvitch.
The man, mumbling, explained that he believed the animal had
guessed that he was to be sent away and he feared he would attempt
Paulvitch carried another piece of cord in his hand. There was a
noose in one end of it which he was continually playing with. He
walked back and forth, up and down the room. His pock-marked
features were working horribly as he talked silent to himself. The
boy had never seen him thus--it made him uneasy. At last Paulvitch
stopped on the opposite side of the room, far from the ape.
"Come here," he said to the lad. "I will show you how to secure
the ape should he show signs of rebellion during the trip."
The lad laughed. "It will not be necessary," he replied. "Ajax
will do whatever I tell him to do."
The old man stamped his foot angrily. "Come here, as I tell you,"
he repeated. "If you do not do as I say you shall not accompany
the ape to Dover--I will take no chances upon his escaping."
Still smiling, the lad crossed the room and stood before the Russ.
"Turn around, with your back toward me," directed the latter, "that
I may show you how to bind him quickly."
The boy did as he was bid, placing his hands behind him when
Paulvitch told him to do so. Instantly the old man slipped the
running noose over one of the lad's wrists, took a couple of half
hitches about his other wrist, and knotted the cord.
The moment that the boy was secured the attitude of the man changed.
With an angry oath he wheeled his prisoner about, tripped him and
hurled him violently to the floor, leaping upon his breast as he
fell. From the bed the ape growled and struggled with his bonds.
The boy did not cry out--a trait inherited from his savage sire
whom long years in the jungle following the death of his foster
mother, Kala the great ape, had taught that there was none to come
to the succor of the fallen.
Paulvitch's fingers sought the lad's throat. He grinned down
horribly into the face of his victim.
"Your father ruined me," he mumbled. "This will pay him. He will
think that the ape did it. I will tell him that the ape did it.
That I left him alone for a few minutes, and that you sneaked in
and the ape killed you. I will throw your body upon the bed after
I have choked the life from you, and when I bring your father he
will see the ape squatting over it," and the twisted fiend cackled
in gloating laughter. His fingers closed upon the boy's throat.
Behind them the growling of the maddened beast reverberated against
the walls of the little room. The boy paled, but no other sign
of fear or panic showed upon his countenance. He was the son
of Tarzan. The fingers tightened their grip upon his throat. It
was with difficulty that he breathed, gaspingly. The ape lunged
against the stout cord that held him. Turning, he wrapped the
cord about his hands, as a man might have done, and surged heavily
backward. The great muscles stood out beneath his shaggy hide.
There was a rending as of splintered wood--the cord held, but a
portion of the footboard of the bed came away.
At the sound Paulvitch looked up. His hideous face went white with
terror--the ape was free.
With a single bound the creature was upon him. The man shrieked.
The brute wrenched him from the body of the boy. Great fingers sunk
into the man's flesh. Yellow fangs gaped close to his throat--he
struggled, futilely--and when they closed, the soul of Alexis
Paulvitch passed into the keeping of the demons who had long been
The boy struggled to his feet, assisted by Akut. For two hours
under the instructions of the former the ape worked upon the knots
that secured his friend's wrists. Finally they gave up their
secret, and the boy was free. Then he opened one of his bags and
drew forth some garments. His plans had been well made. He did
not consult the beast, which did all that he directed. Together
they slunk from the house, but no casual observer might have noted
that one of them was an ape.
The killing of the friendless old Russian, Michael Sabrov, by his
great trained ape, was a matter for newspaper comment for a few days.
Lord Greystoke read of it, and while taking special precautions
not to permit his name to become connected with the affair, kept
himself well posted as to the police search for the anthropoid.
As was true of the general public, his chief interest in the matter
centered about the mysterious disappearance of the slayer. Or at
least this was true until he learned, several days subsequent to
the tragedy, that his son Jack had not reported at the public school
en route for which they had seen him safely ensconced in a railway
carriage. Even then the father did not connect the disappearance
of his son with the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the ape.
Nor was it until a month later that careful investigation revealed
the fact that the boy had left the train before it pulled out of
the station at London, and the cab driver had been found who had
driven him to the address of the old Russian, that Tarzan of the
Apes realized that Akut had in some way been connected with the
disappearance of the boy.
Beyond the moment that the cab driver had deposited his fare beside
the curb in front of the house in which the Russian had been quartered
there was no clue. No one had seen either the boy or the ape from
that instant--at least no one who still lived. The proprietor of
the house identified the picture of the lad as that of one who had
been a frequent visitor in the room of the old man. Aside from this
he knew nothing. And there, at the door of a grimy, old building
in the slums of London, the searchers came to a blank wall--baffled.
The day following the death of Alexis Paulvitch a youth accompanying
his invalid grandmother, boarded a steamer at Dover. The old lady
was heavily veiled, and so weakened by age and sickness that she
had to be wheeled aboard the vessel in an invalid chair.
The boy would permit none but himself to wheel her, and with his
own hands assisted her from the chair to the interior of their
stateroom--and that was the last that was seen of the old lady by the
ship's company until the pair disembarked. The boy even insisted
upon doing the work of their cabin steward, since, as he explained,
his grandmother was suffering from a nervous disposition that made
the presence of strangers extremely distasteful to her.
Outside the cabin--and none there was aboard who knew what he
did in the cabin--the lad was just as any other healthy, normal
English boy might have been. He mingled with his fellow passengers,
became a prime favorite with the officers, and struck up numerous
friendships among the common sailors. He was generous and
unaffected, yet carried an air of dignity and strength of character
that inspired his many new friends with admiration as well as
affection for him.
Among the passengers there was an American named Condon, a noted
blackleg and crook who was "wanted" in a half dozen of the larger
cities of the United States. He had paid little attention to the
boy until on one occasion he had seen him accidentally display a
roll of bank notes. From then on Condon cultivated the youthful
Briton. He learned, easily, that the boy was traveling alone with
his invalid grandmother, and that their destination was a small
port on the west coast of Africa, a little below the equator; that
their name was Billings, and that they had no friends in the little
settlement for which they were bound. Upon the point of their
purpose in visiting the place Condon found the boy reticent, and
so he did not push the matter--he had learned all that he cared to
know as it was.
Several times Condon attempted to draw the lad into a card game;
but his victim was not interested, and the black looks of several
of the other men passengers decided the American to find other
means of transferring the boy's bank roll to his own pocket.
At last came the day that the steamer dropped anchor in the lee
of a wooded promontory where a score or more of sheet-iron shacks
making an unsightly blot upon the fair face of nature proclaimed
the fact that civilization had set its heel. Straggling upon the
outskirts were the thatched huts of natives, picturesque in their
primeval savagery, harmonizing with the background of tropical
jungle and accentuating the squalid hideousness of the white man's
The boy, leaning over the rail, was looking far beyond the man-made
town deep into the God-made jungle. A little shiver of anticipation
tingled his spine, and then, quite without volition, he found
himself gazing into the loving eyes of his mother and the strong
face of the father which mirrored, beneath its masculine strength,
a love no less than the mother's eyes proclaimed. He felt himself
weakening in his resolve. Nearby one of the ship's officers was
shouting orders to a flotilla of native boats that was approaching
to lighter the consignment of the steamer's cargo destined for this
"When does the next steamer for England touch here?" the boy asked.
"The Emanuel ought to be along most any time now," replied the
officer. "I figgered we'd find her here," and he went on with his
bellowing remarks to the dusty horde drawing close to the steamer's
The task of lowering the boy's grandmother over the side to a waiting
canoe was rather difficult. The lad insisted on being always at
her side, and when at last she was safely ensconced in the bottom
of the craft that was to bear them shoreward her grandson dropped
catlike after her. So interested was he in seeing her comfortably
disposed that he failed to notice the little package that had
worked from his pocket as he assisted in lowering the sling that
contained the old woman over the steamer's side, nor did he notice
it even as it slipped out entirely and dropped into the sea.
Scarcely had the boat containing the boy and the old woman started
for the shore than Condon hailed a canoe upon the other side of
the ship, and after bargaining with its owner finally lowered his
baggage and himself aboard. Once ashore he kept out of sight of the
two-story atrocity that bore the legend "Hotel" to lure unsuspecting
wayfarers to its multitudinous discomforts. It was quite dark
before he ventured to enter and arrange for accommodations.
In a back room upon the second floor the lad was explaining,
not without considerable difficulty, to his grandmother that he
had decided to return to England upon the next steamer. He was
endeavoring to make it plain to the old lady that she might remain
in Africa if she wished but that for his part his conscience demanded
that he return to his father and mother, who doubtless were even
now suffering untold sorrow because of his absence; from which it
may be assumed that his parents had not been acquainted with the
plans that he and the old lady had made for their adventure into
Having come to a decision the lad felt a sense of relief from the
worry that had haunted him for many sleepless nights. When he
closed his eyes in sleep it was to dream of a happy reunion with
those at home. And as he dreamed, Fate, cruel and inexorable,
crept stealthily upon him through the dark corridor of the squalid
building in which he slept--Fate in the form of the American crook,
Cautiously the man approached the door of the lad's room. There
he crouched listening until assured by the regular breathing of
those within that both slept. Quietly he inserted a slim, skeleton
key in the lock of the door. With deft fingers, long accustomed
to the silent manipulation of the bars and bolts that guarded other
men's property, Condon turned the key and the knob simultaneously.
Gentle pressure upon the door swung it slowly inward upon its hinges.
The man entered the room, closing the door behind him. The moon
was temporarily overcast by heavy clouds. The interior of the
apartment was shrouded in gloom. Condon groped his way toward the
bed. In the far corner of the room something moved--moved with a
silent stealthiness which transcended even the trained silence of
the burglar. Condon heard nothing. His attention was riveted upon
the bed in which he thought to find a young boy and his helpless,
The American sought only the bank roll. If he could possess
himself of this without detection, well and good; but were he to
meet resistance he was prepared for that too. The lad's clothes
lay across a chair beside the bed. The American's fingers felt
swiftly through them--the pockets contained no roll of crisp, new
notes. Doubtless they were beneath the pillows of the bed. He
stepped closer toward the sleeper; his hand was already half way
beneath the pillow when the thick cloud that had obscured the moon
rolled aside and the room was flooded with light. At the same
instant the boy opened his eyes and looked straight into those of
Condon. The man was suddenly conscious that the boy was alone in
the bed. Then he clutched for his victim's throat. As the lad rose
to meet him Condon heard a low growl at his back, then he felt his
wrists seized by the boy, and realized that beneath those tapering,
white fingers played muscles of steel.
He felt other hands at his throat, rough hairy hands that reached
over his shoulders from behind. He cast a terrified glance backward,
and the hairs of his head stiffened at the sight his eyes revealed,
for grasping him from the rear was a huge, man-like ape. The bared
fighting fangs of the anthropoid were close to his throat. The
lad pinioned his wrists. Neither uttered a sound. Where was the
grandmother? Condon's eyes swept the room in a single all-inclusive
glance. His eyes bulged in horror at the realization of the truth
which that glance revealed. In the power of what creatures of
hideous mystery had he placed himself! Frantically he fought to
beat off the lad that he might turn upon the fearsome thing at his
back. Freeing one hand he struck a savage blow at the lad's face.
His act seemed to unloose a thousand devils in the hairy creature
clinging to his throat. Condon heard a low and savage snarl. It
was the last thing that the American ever heard in this life. Then
he was dragged backward upon the floor, a heavy body fell upon
him, powerful teeth fastened themselves in his jugular, his head
whirled in the sudden blackness which rims eternity--a moment later
the ape rose from his prostrate form; but Condon did not know--he
was quite dead.
The lad, horrified, sprang from the bed to lean over the body of
the man. He knew that Akut had killed in his defense, as he had
killed Michael Sabrov; but here, in savage Africa, far from home
and friends what would they do to him and his faithful ape? The
lad knew that the penalty of murder was death. He even knew that
an accomplice might suffer the death penalty with the principal.
Who was there who would plead for them? All would be against them.
It was little more than a half-civilized community, and the chances
were that they would drag Akut and him forth in the morning and
hang them both to the nearest tree--he had read of such things
being done in America, and Africa was worse even and wilder than
the great West of his mother's native land. Yes, they would both
be hanged in the morning!
Was there no escape? He thought in silence for a few moments, and
then, with an exclamation of relief, he struck his palms together
and turned toward his clothing upon the chair. Money would do
anything! Money would save him and Akut! He felt for the bank
roll in the pocket in which he had been accustomed to carry it. It
was not there! Slowly at first and at last frantically he searched
through the remaining pockets of his clothing. Then he dropped
upon his hands and knees and examined the floor. Lighting the
lamp he moved the bed to one side and, inch by inch, he felt over
the entire floor. Beside the body of Condon he hesitated, but
at last he nerved himself to touch it. Rolling it over he sought
beneath it for the money. Nor was it there. He guessed that
Condon had entered their room to rob; but he did not believe that
the man had had time to possess himself of the money; however,
as it was nowhere else, it must be upon the body of the dead man.
Again and again he went over the room, only to return each time to
the corpse; but no where could he find the money.
He was half-frantic with despair. What were they to do? In the
morning they would be discovered and killed. For all his inherited
size and strength he was, after all, only a little boy--a frightened,
homesick little boy--reasoning faultily from the meager experience
of childhood. He could think of but a single glaring fact--they
had killed a fellow man, and they were among savage strangers,
thirsting for the blood of the first victim whom fate cast into
their clutches. This much he had gleaned from penny-dreadfuls.
And they must have money!
Again he approached the corpse. This time resolutely. The
ape squatted in a corner watching his young companion. The youth
commenced to remove the American's clothing piece by piece, and,
piece by piece, he examined each garment minutely. Even to the
shoes he searched with painstaking care, and when the last article
had been removed and scrutinized he dropped back upon the bed with
dilated eyes that saw nothing in the present--only a grim tableau
of the future in which two forms swung silently from the limb of
a great tree.
How long he sat thus he did not know; but finally he was aroused
by a noise coming from the floor below. Springing quickly to his
feet he blew out the lamp, and crossing the floor silently locked
the door. Then he turned toward the ape, his mind made up.
Last evening he had been determined to start for home at the first
opportunity, to beg the forgiveness of his parents for this mad
adventure. Now he knew that he might never return to them. The
blood of a fellow man was upon his hands--in his morbid reflections
he had long since ceased to attribute the death of Condon to the
ape. The hysteria of panic had fastened the guilt upon himself.
With money he might have bought justice; but penniless!--ah, what
hope could there be for strangers without money here?
But what had become of the money? He tried to recall when last
he had seen it. He could not, nor, could he, would he have been
able to account for its disappearance, for he had been entirely
unconscious of the falling of the little package from his pocket
into the sea as he clambered over the ship's side into the waiting
canoe that bore him to shore.
Now he turned toward Akut. "Come!" he said, in the language of
the great apes.
Forgetful of the fact that he wore only a thin pajama suit he led
the way to the open window. Thrusting his head out he listened
attentively. A single tree grew a few feet from the window. Nimbly
the lad sprang to its bole, clinging cat-like for an instant before
he clambered quietly to the ground below. Close behind him came
the great ape. Two hundred yards away a spur of the jungle ran
close to the straggling town. Toward this the lad led the way.
None saw them, and a moment later the jungle swallowed them, and
John Clayton, future Lord Greystoke, passed from the eyes and the
knowledge of men.
It was late the following morning that a native houseman knocked
upon the door of the room that had been assigned to Mrs. Billings
and her grandson. Receiving no response he inserted his pass key
in the lock, only to discover that another key was already there,
but from the inside. He reported the fact to Herr Skopf, the
proprietor, who at once made his way to the second floor where he,
too, pounded vigorously upon the door. Receiving no reply he bent
to the key hole in an attempt to look through into the room beyond.
In so doing, being portly, he lost his balance, which necessitated
putting a palm to the floor to maintain his equilibrium. As he did
so he felt something soft and thick and wet beneath his fingers.
He raised his open palm before his eyes in the dim light of the
corridor and peered at it. Then he gave a little shudder, for
even in the semi-darkness he saw a dark red stain upon his hand.
Leaping to his feet he hurled his shoulder against the door. Herr
Skopf is a heavy man--or at least he was then--I have not seen him
for several years. The frail door collapsed beneath his weight,
and Herr Skopf stumbled precipitately into the room beyond.
Before him lay the greatest mystery of his life. Upon the floor at
his feet was the dead body of a strange man. The neck was broken
and the jugular severed as by the fangs of a wild beast. The body
was entirely naked, the clothing being strewn about the corpse. The
old lady and her grandson were gone. The window was open. They
must have disappeared through the window for the door had been
locked from the inside.
But how could the boy have carried his invalid grandmother from
a second story window to the ground? It was preposterous. Again
Herr Skopf searched the small room. He noticed that the bed was
pulled well away from the wall--why? He looked beneath it again for
the third or fourth time. The two were gone, and yet his judgment
told him that the old lady could not have gone without porters to
carry her down as they had carried her up the previous day.
Further search deepened the mystery. All the clothing of the two
was still in the room--if they had gone then they must have gone
naked or in their night clothes. Herr Skopf shook his head; then
he scratched it. He was baffled. He had never heard of Sherlock
Holmes or he would have lost no time in invoking the aid of that
celebrated sleuth, for here was a real mystery: An old woman--an
invalid who had to be carried from the ship to her room in the
hotel--and a handsome lad, her grandson, had entered a room on the
second floor of his hostelry the day before. They had had their
evening meal served in their room--that was the last that had
been seen of them. At nine the following morning the corpse of a
strange man had been the sole occupant of that room. No boat had
left the harbor in the meantime--there was not a railroad within
hundreds of miles--there was no other white settlement that the
two could reach under several days of arduous marching accompanied
by a well-equipped safari. They had simply vanished into thin
air, for the native he had sent to inspect the ground beneath the
open window had just returned to report that there was no sign of
a footstep there, and what sort of creatures were they who could
have dropped that distance to the soft turf without leaving spoor?
Herr Skopf shuddered. Yes, it was a great mystery--there was
something uncanny about the whole thing--he hated to think about
it, and he dreaded the coming of night.
It was a great mystery to Herr Skopf--and, doubtless, still is.
Captain Armand Jacot of the Foreign Legion sat upon an outspread
saddle blanket at the foot of a stunted palm tree. His broad
shoulders and his close-cropped head rested in luxurious ease
against the rough bole of the palm. His long legs were stretched
straight before him overlapping the meager blanket, his spurs
buried in the sandy soil of the little desert oasis. The captain
was taking his ease after a long day of weary riding across the
shifting sands of the desert.
Lazily he puffed upon his cigarette and watched his orderly who
was preparing his evening meal. Captain Armand Jacot was well
satisfied with himself and the world. A little to his right rose
the noisy activity of his troop of sun-tanned veterans, released
for the time from the irksome trammels of discipline, relaxing tired
muscles, laughing, joking, and smoking as they, too, prepared to
eat after a twelve-hour fast. Among them, silent and taciturn,
squatted five white-robed Arabs, securely bound and under heavy
It was the sight of these that filled Captain Armand Jacot with
the pleasurable satisfaction of a duty well-performed. For a long,
hot, gaunt month he and his little troop had scoured the places of
the desert waste in search of a band of marauders to the sin-stained
account of which were charged innumerable thefts of camels, horses,
and goats, as well as murders enough to have sent the whole unsavory
gang to the guillotine several times over.
A week before, he had come upon them. In the ensuing battle
he had lost two of his own men, but the punishment inflicted upon
the marauders had been severe almost to extinction. A half dozen,
perhaps, had escaped; but the balance, with the exception of the
five prisoners, had expiated their crimes before the nickel jacketed
bullets of the legionaries. And, best of all, the ring leader,
Achmet ben Houdin, was among the prisoners.
From the prisoners Captain Jacot permitted his mind to traverse
the remaining miles of sand to the little garrison post where, upon
the morrow, he should find awaiting him with eager welcome his wife
and little daughter. His eyes softened to the memory of them, as
they always did. Even now he could see the beauty of the mother
reflected in the childish lines of little Jeanne's face, and both
those faces would be smiling up into his as he swung from his tired
mount late the following afternoon. Already he could feel a soft
cheek pressed close to each of his--velvet against leather.
His reverie was broken in upon by the voice of a sentry summoning
a non-commissioned officer. Captain Jacot raised his eyes. The
sun had not yet set; but the shadows of the few trees huddled about
the water hole and of his men and their horses stretched far away
into the east across the now golden sand. The sentry was pointing
in this direction, and the corporal, through narrowed lids, was
searching the distance. Captain Jacot rose to his feet. He was
not a man content to see through the eyes of others. He must see
for himself. Usually he saw things long before others were aware
that there was anything to see--a trait that had won for him the
sobriquet of Hawk. Now he saw, just beyond the long shadows, a
dozen specks rising and falling among the sands. They disappeared
and reappeared, but always they grew larger. Jacot recognized them
immediately. They were horsemen--horsemen of the desert. Already
a sergeant was running toward him. The entire camp was straining
its eyes into the distance. Jacot gave a few terse orders to the
sergeant who saluted, turned upon his heel and returned to the
men. Here he gathered a dozen who saddled their horses, mounted
and rode out to meet the strangers. The remaining men disposed
themselves in readiness for instant action. It was not entirely
beyond the range of possibilities that the horsemen riding thus
swiftly toward the camp might be friends of the prisoners bent upon
the release of their kinsmen by a sudden attack. Jacot doubted
this, however, since the strangers were evidently making no attempt
to conceal their presence. They were galloping rapidly toward
the camp in plain view of all. There might be treachery lurking
beneath their fair appearance; but none who knew The Hawk would be
so gullible as to hope to trap him thus.
The sergeant with his detail met the Arabs two hundred yards
from the camp. Jacot could see him in conversation with a tall,
white-robed figure--evidently the leader of the band. Presently
the sergeant and this Arab rode side by side toward camp. Jacot
awaited them. The two reined in and dismounted before him.
"Sheik Amor ben Khatour," announced the sergeant by way of
Captain Jacot eyed the newcomer. He was acquainted with nearly
every principal Arab within a radius of several hundred miles.
This man he never had seen. He was a tall, weather beaten, sour
looking man of sixty or more. His eyes were narrow and evil.
Captain Jacot did not relish his appearance.
"Well?" he asked, tentatively.
The Arab came directly to the point.
"Achmet ben Houdin is my sister's son," he said. "If you will
give him into my keeping I will see that he sins no more against
the laws of the French."
Jacot shook his head. "That cannot be," he replied. "I must take
him back with me. He will be properly and fairly tried by a civil
court. If he is innocent he will be released."
"And if he is not innocent?" asked the Arab.
"He is charged with many murders. For any one of these, if he is
proved guilty, he will have to die."
The Arab's left hand was hidden beneath his burnous. Now he
withdrew it disclosing a large goatskin purse, bulging and heavy
with coins. He opened the mouth of the purse and let a handful
of the contents trickle into the palm of his right hand--all were
pieces of good French gold. From the size of the purse and its
bulging proportions Captain Jacot concluded that it must contain
a small fortune. Sheik Amor ben Khatour dropped the spilled
gold pieces one by one back into the purse. Jacot was eyeing him
narrowly. They were alone. The sergeant, having introduced the
visitor, had withdrawn to some little distance--his back was toward
them. Now the sheik, having returned all the gold pieces, held
the bulging purse outward upon his open palm toward Captain Jacot.
"Achmet ben Houdin, my sister's son, MIGHT escape tonight," he
Captain Armand Jacot flushed to the roots of his close-cropped hair.
Then he went very white and took a half-step toward the Arab. His
fists were clenched. Suddenly he thought better of whatever impulse
was moving him.
"Sergeant!" he called. The non-commissioned officer hurried toward
him, saluting as his heels clicked together before his superior.
"Take this black dog back to his people," he ordered. "See that
they leave at once. Shoot the first man who comes within range of
Sheik Amor ben Khatour drew himself up to his full height. His
evil eyes narrowed. He raised the bag of gold level with the eyes
of the French officer.
"You will pay more than this for the life of Achmet ben Houdin, my
sister's son," he said. "And as much again for the name that you
have called me and a hundred fold in sorrow in the bargain."
"Get out of here!" growled Captain Armand Jacot, "before I kick
All of this happened some three years before the opening of this
tale. The trail of Achmet ben Houdin and his accomplices is a matter
of record--you may verify it if you care to. He met the death he
deserved, and he met it with the stoicism of the Arab.
A month later little Jeanne Jacot, the seven-year-old daughter
of Captain Armand Jacot, mysteriously disappeared. Neither the
wealth of her father and mother, or all the powerful resources of
the great republic were able to wrest the secret of her whereabouts
from the inscrutable desert that had swallowed her and her abductor.
A reward of such enormous proportions was offered that many
adventurers were attracted to the hunt. This was no case for
the modern detective of civilization, yet several of these threw
themselves into the search--the bones of some are already bleaching
beneath the African sun upon the silent sands of the Sahara.
Two Swedes, Carl Jenssen and Sven Malbihn, after three years of
following false leads at last gave up the search far to the south of
the Sahara to turn their attention to the more profitable business
of ivory poaching. In a great district they were already known for
their relentless cruelty and their greed for ivory. The natives
feared and hated them. The European governments in whose possessions
they worked had long sought them; but, working their way slowly
out of the north they had learned many things in the no-man's-land
south of the Sahara which gave them immunity from capture through
easy avenues of escape that were unknown to those who pursued them.
Their raids were sudden and swift. They seized ivory and retreated
into the trackless wastes of the north before the guardians of
the territory they raped could be made aware of their presence.
Relentlessly they slaughtered elephants themselves as well as
stealing ivory from the natives. Their following consisted of a
hundred or more renegade Arabs and Negro slaves--a fierce, relentless
band of cut-throats. Remember them--Carl Jenssen and Sven Malbihn,
yellow-bearded, Swedish giants--for you will meet them later.
In the heart of the jungle, hidden away upon the banks of a small
unexplored tributary of a large river that empties into the Atlantic
not so far from the equator, lay a small, heavily palisaded village.
Twenty palm-thatched, beehive huts sheltered its black population,
while a half-dozen goat skin tents in the center of the clearing
housed the score of Arabs who found shelter here while, by trading
and raiding, they collected the cargoes which their ships of the
desert bore northward twice each year to the market of Timbuktu.
Playing before one of the Arab tents was a little girl of ten--a
black-haired, black-eyed little girl who, with her nut-brown skin
and graceful carriage looked every inch a daughter of the desert.
Her little fingers were busily engaged in fashioning a skirt of
grasses for a much-disheveled doll which a kindly disposed slave
had made for her a year or two before. The head of the doll was
rudely chipped from ivory, while the body was a rat skin stuffed
with grass. The arms and legs were bits of wood, perforated at
one end and sewn to the rat skin torso. The doll was quite hideous
and altogether disreputable and soiled, but Meriem thought it the
most beautiful and adorable thing in the whole world, which is not
so strange in view of the fact that it was the only object within
that world upon which she might bestow her confidence and her love.
Everyone else with whom Meriem came in contact was, almost without
exception, either indifferent to her or cruel. There was, for
example, the old black hag who looked after her, Mabunu--toothless,
filthy and ill tempered. She lost no opportunity to cuff the little
girl, or even inflict minor tortures upon her, such as pinching,
or, as she had twice done, searing the tender flesh with hot coals.
And there was The Sheik, her father. She feared him more than she
did Mabunu. He often scolded her for nothing, quite habitually
terminating his tirades by cruelly beating her, until her little
body was black and blue.
But when she was alone she was happy, playing with Geeka, or decking
her hair with wild flowers, or making ropes of grasses. She was
always busy and always singing--when they left her alone. No amount
of cruelty appeared sufficient to crush the innate happiness and
sweetness from her full little heart. Only when The Sheik was
near was she quiet and subdued. Him she feared with a fear that
was at times almost hysterical terror. She feared the gloomy jungle
too--the cruel jungle that surrounded the little village with
chattering monkeys and screaming birds by day and the roaring and
coughing and moaning of the carnivora by night. Yes, she feared
the jungle; but so much more did she fear The Sheik that many times
it was in her childish head to run away, out into the terrible
jungle forever rather than longer to face the ever present terror
of her father.
As she sat there this day before The Sheik's goatskin tent, fashioning a
skirt of grasses for Geeka, The Sheik appeared suddenly approaching.
Instantly the look of happiness faded from the child's face. She shrunk
aside in an attempt to scramble from the path of the leathern-faced
old Arab; but she was not quick enough. With a brutal kick the
man sent her sprawling upon her face, where she lay quite still,
tearless but trembling. Then, with an oath at her, the man passed
into the tent. The old, black hag shook with appreciative laughter,
disclosing an occasional and lonesome yellow fang.
When she was sure The Sheik had gone, the little girl crawled
to the shady side of the tent, where she lay quite still, hugging
Geeka close to her breast, her little form racked at long intervals
with choking sobs. She dared not cry aloud, since that would have
brought The Sheik upon her again. The anguish in her little heart
was not alone the anguish of physical pain; but that infinitely
more pathetic anguish--of love denied a childish heart that yearns
Little Meriem could scarce recall any other existence than that
of the stern cruelty of The Sheik and Mabunu. Dimly, in the back
of her childish memory there lurked a blurred recollection of a
gentle mother; but Meriem was not sure but that even this was but
a dream picture induced by her own desire for the caresses she
never received, but which she lavished upon the much loved Geeka.
Never was such a spoiled child as Geeka. Its little mother, far
from fashioning her own conduct after the example set her by her
father and nurse, went to the extreme of indulgence. Geeka was
kissed a thousand times a day. There was play in which Geeka was
naughty; but the little mother never punished. Instead, she caressed
and fondled; her attitude influenced solely by her own pathetic
desire for love.
Now, as she pressed Geeka close to her, her sobs lessened gradually,
until she was able to control her voice, and pour out her misery
into the ivory ear of her only confidante.
"Geeka loves Meriem," she whispered. "Why does The Sheik, my
father, not love me, too? Am I so naughty? I try to be good; but
I never know why he strikes me, so I cannot tell what I have done
which displeases him. Just now he kicked me and hurt me so, Geeka;
but I was only sitting before the tent making a skirt for you.
That must be wicked, or he would not have kicked me for it. But
why is it wicked, Geeka? Oh dear! I do not know, I do not know.
I wish, Geeka, that I were dead. Yesterday the hunters brought
in the body of El Adrea. El Adrea was quite dead. No more will
he slink silently upon his unsuspecting prey. No more will his
great head and his maned shoulders strike terror to the hearts of
the grass eaters at the drinking ford by night. No more will his
thundering roar shake the ground. El Adrea is dead. They beat his
body terribly when it was brought into the village; but El Adrea
did not mind. He did not feel the blows, for he was dead. When
I am dead, Geeka, neither shall I feel the blows of Mabunu, or the
kicks of The Sheik, my father. Then shall I be happy. Oh, Geeka,
how I wish that I were dead!"
If Geeka contemplated a remonstrance it was cut short by sounds of
altercation beyond the village gates. Meriem listened. With the
curiosity of childhood she would have liked to have run down there
and learn what it was that caused the men to talk so loudly. Others
of the village were already trooping in the direction of the noise.
But Meriem did not dare. The Sheik would be there, doubtless, and
if he saw her it would be but another opportunity to abuse her, so
Meriem lay still and listened.
Presently she heard the crowd moving up the street toward The Sheik's
tent. Cautiously she stuck her little head around the edge of the
tent. She could not resist the temptation, for the sameness of
the village life was monotonous, and she craved diversion. What
she saw was two strangers--white men. They were alone, but as they
approached she learned from the talk of the natives that surrounded
them that they possessed a considerable following that was camped
outside the village. They were coming to palaver with The Sheik.
The old Arab met them at the entrance to his tent. His eyes narrowed
wickedly when they had appraised the newcomers. They stopped before
him, exchanging greetings. They had come to trade for ivory they
said. The Sheik grunted. He had no ivory. Meriem gasped. She
knew that in a near-by hut the great tusks were piled almost to the
roof. She poked her little head further forward to get a better
view of the strangers. How white their skins! How yellow their
Suddenly one of them turned his eyes in her direction. She tried
to dodge back out of sight, for she feared all men; but he saw her.
Meriem noticed the look of almost shocked surprise that crossed
his face. The Sheik saw it too, and guessed the cause of it.
"I have no ivory," he repeated. "I do not wish to trade. Go away.
He stepped from his tent and almost pushed the strangers about
in the direction of the gates. They demurred, and then The Sheik
threatened. It would have been suicide to have disobeyed, so the
two men turned and left the village, making their way immediately
to their own camp.
The Sheik returned to his tent; but he did not enter it. Instead
he walked to the side where little Meriem lay close to the goat
skin wall, very frightened. The Sheik stooped and clutched her by
the arm. Viciously he jerked her to her feet, dragged her to the
entrance of the tent, and shoved her viciously within. Following
her he again seized her, beating her ruthlessly.
"Stay within!" he growled. "Never let the strangers see thy face.
Next time you show yourself to strangers I shall kill you!"
With a final vicious cuff he knocked the child into a far corner of
the tent, where she lay stifling her moans, while The Sheik paced
to and fro muttering to himself. At the entrance sat Mabunu,
muttering and chuckling.
In the camp of the strangers one was speaking rapidly to the other.
"There is no doubt of it, Malbihn," he was saying. "Not the slightest;
but why the old scoundrel hasn't claimed the reward long since is
what puzzles me."
"There are some things dearer to an Arab, Jenssen, than money,"
returned the first speaker--"revenge is one of them."
"Anyhow it will not harm to try the power of gold," replied Jenssen.
"Not on The Sheik," he said. "We might try it on one of his people;
but The Sheik will not part with his revenge for gold. To offer it
to him would only confirm his suspicions that we must have awakened
when we were talking to him before his tent. If we got away with
our lives, then, we should be fortunate."
"Well, try bribery, then," assented Jenssen.
But bribery failed--grewsomely. The tool they selected after a
stay of several days in their camp outside the village was a tall,
old headman of The Sheik's native contingent. He fell to the lure
of the shining metal, for he had lived upon the coast and knew the
power of gold. He promised to bring them what they craved, late
Immediately after dark the two white men commenced to make
arrangements to break camp. By midnight all was prepared. The
porters lay beside their loads, ready to swing them aloft at a
moment's notice. The armed askaris loitered between the balance
of the safari and the Arab village, ready to form a rear guard for
the retreat that was to begin the moment that the head man brought
that which the white masters awaited.
Presently there came the sound of footsteps along the path from the
village. Instantly the askaris and the whites were on the alert.
More than a single man was approaching. Jenssen stepped forward
and challenged the newcomers in a low whisper.
"Who comes?" he queried.
"Mbeeda," came the reply.
Mbeeda was the name of the traitorous head man. Jenssen was
satisfied, though he wondered why Mbeeda had brought others with
him. Presently he understood. The thing they fetched lay upon a
litter borne by two men. Jenssen cursed beneath his breath. Could
the fool be bringing them a corpse? They had paid for a living
The bearers came to a halt before the white men.
"This has your gold purchased," said one of the two. They set
the litter down, turned and vanished into the darkness toward the
village. Malbihn looked at Jenssen, a crooked smile twisting his
lips. The thing upon the litter was covered with a piece of cloth.
"Well?" queried the latter. "Raise the covering and see what you
have bought. Much money shall we realize on a corpse--especially
after the six months beneath the burning sun that will be consumed
in carrying it to its destination!"
"The fool should have known that we desired her alive," grumbled
Malbihn, grasping a corner of the cloth and jerking the cover from
the thing that lay upon the litter.
At sight of what lay beneath both men stepped back--involuntary
oaths upon their lips--for there before them lay the dead body of
Mbeeda, the faithless head man.
Five minutes later the safari of Jenssen and Malbihn was forcing
its way rapidly toward the west, nervous askaris guarding the rear
from the attack they momentarily expected.
His first night in the jungle was one which the son of Tarzan held
longest in his memory. No savage carnivora menaced him. There was
never a sign of hideous barbarian. Or, if there were, the boy's
troubled mind took no cognizance of them. His conscience was harassed
by the thought of his mother's suffering. Self-blame plunged him
into the depths of misery. The killing of the American caused
him little or no remorse. The fellow had earned his fate. Jack's
regret on this score was due mainly to the effect which the death
of Condon had had upon his own plans. Now he could not return
directly to his parents as he had planned. Fear of the primitive,
borderland law, of which he had read highly colored, imaginary tales,
had thrust him into the jungle a fugitive. He dared not return
to the coast at this point--not that he was so greatly influenced
through personal fear as from a desire to shield his father
and mother from further sorrow and from the shame of having their
honored name dragged through the sordid degradation of a murder
With returning day the boy's spirits rose. With the rising sun
rose new hope within his breast. He would return to civilization
by another way. None would guess that he had been connected with
the killing of the stranger in the little out-of-the-way trading
post upon a remote shore.
Crouched close to the great ape in the crotch of a tree the boy
had shivered through an almost sleepless night. His light pajamas
had been but little protection from the chill dampness of the jungle,
and only that side of him which was pressed against the warm body
of his shaggy companion approximated to comfort. And so he welcomed
the rising sun with its promise of warmth as well as light--the
blessed sun, dispeller of physical and mental ills.
He shook Akut into wakefulness.
"Come," he said. "I am cold and hungry. We will search for food,
out there in the sunlight," and he pointed to an open plain, dotted
with stunted trees and strewn with jagged rock.
The boy slid to the ground as he spoke, but the ape first looked
carefully about, sniffing the morning air. Then, satisfied that
no danger lurked near, he descended slowly to the ground beside
"Numa, and Sabor his mate, feast upon those who descend first and
look afterward, while those who look first and descend afterward
live to feast themselves." Thus the old ape imparted to the son of
Tarzan the boy's first lesson in jungle lore. Side by side they
set off across the rough plain, for the boy wished first to be
warm. The ape showed him the best places to dig for rodents and
worms; but the lad only gagged at the thought of devouring the
repulsive things. Some eggs they found, and these he sucked raw,
as also he ate roots and tubers which Akut unearthed. Beyond
the plain and across a low bluff they came upon water--brackish,
ill-smelling stuff in a shallow water hole, the sides and bottom
of which were trampled by the feet of many beasts. A herd of zebra
galloped away as they approached.
The lad was too thirsty by now to cavil at anything even remotely
resembling water, so he drank his fill while Akut stood with raised
head, alert for any danger. Before the ape drank he cautioned the
boy to be watchful; but as he drank he raised his head from time
to time to cast a quick glance toward a clump of bushes a hundred
yards away upon the opposite side of the water hole. When he had
done he rose and spoke to the boy, in the language that was their
common heritage--the tongue of the great apes.
"There is no danger near?" he asked.
"None," replied the boy. "I saw nothing move while you drank."
"Your eyes will help you but little in the jungle," said the ape.
"Here, if you would live, you must depend upon your ears and your
nose but most upon your nose. When we came down to drink I knew
that no danger lurked near upon this side of the water hole, for
else the zebras would have discovered it and fled before we came;
but upon the other side toward which the wind blows danger might
lie concealed. We could not smell it for its scent is being blown
in the other direction, and so I bent my ears and eyes down wind
where my nose cannot travel."
"And you found--nothing?" asked the lad, with a laugh.
"I found Numa crouching in that clump of bushes where the tall
grasses grow," and Akut pointed.
"A lion?" exclaimed the boy. "How do you know? I can see nothing."
"Numa is there, though," replied the great ape. "First I heard
him sigh. To you the sigh of Numa may sound no different from the
other noises which the wind makes among the grasses and the trees;
but later you must learn to know the sigh of Numa. Then I watched
and at last I saw the tall grasses moving at one point to a force
other than the force of the wind. See, they are spread there upon
either side of Numa's great body, and as he breathes--you see?
You see the little motion at either side that is not caused by the
wind--the motion that none of the other grasses have?"
The boy strained his eyes--better eyes than the ordinary boy
inherits--and at last he gave a little exclamation of discovery.
"Yes," he said, "I see. He lies there," and he pointed. "His head
is toward us. Is he watching us?"
"Numa is watching us," replied Akut, "but we are in little danger,
unless we approach too close, for he is lying upon his kill. His
belly is almost full, or we should hear him crunching the bones.
He is watching us in silence merely from curiosity. Presently he
will resume his feeding or he will rise and come down to the water
for a drink. As he neither fears or desires us he will not try to
hide his presence from us; but now is an excellent time to learn
to know Numa, for you must learn to know him well if you would live
long in the jungle. Where the great apes are many Numa leaves us
alone. Our fangs are long and strong, and we can fight; but when
we are alone and he is hungry we are no match for him. Come, we
will circle him and catch his scent. The sooner you learn to know
it the better; but keep close to the trees, as we go around him,
for Numa often does that which he is least expected to do. And
keep your ears and your eyes and your nose open. Remember always
that there may be an enemy behind every bush, in every tree and
amongst every clump of jungle grass. While you are avoiding Numa
do not run into the jaws of Sabor, his mate. Follow me," and Akut
set off in a wide circle about the water hole and the crouching
The boy followed close upon his heels, his every sense upon the
alert, his nerves keyed to the highest pitch of excitement. This
was life! For the instant he forgot his resolutions of a few
minutes past to hasten to the coast at some other point than that
at which he had landed and make his way immediately back to London.
He thought now only of the savage joy of living, and of pitting
one's wits and prowess against the wiles and might of the savage
jungle brood which haunted the broad plains and the gloomy forest
aisles of the great, untamed continent. He knew no fear. His
father had had none to transmit to him; but honor and conscience he
did have and these were to trouble him many times as they battled
with his inherent love of freedom for possession of his soul.