Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Son of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

watching the guard, one of whom seemed always in a position where
he would immediately discover her should she attempt to launch one
of the canoes.

Presently Malbihn appeared, coming out of the jungle, hot and puffing.
He ran immediately to the river where the canoes lay and counted
them. It was evident that it had suddenly occurred to him that
the girl must cross here if she wished to return to her protectors.
The expression of relief on his face when he found that none of
the canoes was gone was ample evidence of what was passing in his
mind. He turned and spoke hurriedly to the head man who had followed
him out of the jungle and with whom were several other blacks.

Following Malbihn's instructions they launched all the canoes but
one. Malbihn called to the guards in the camp and a moment later
the entire party had entered the boats and were paddling up stream.

Meriem watched them until a bend in the river directly above the
camp hid them from her sight. They were gone! She was alone,
and they had left a canoe in which lay a paddle! She could scarce
believe the good fortune that had come to her. To delay now would
be suicidal to her hopes. Quickly she ran from her hiding place
and dropped to the ground. A dozen yards lay between her and the

Up stream, beyond the bend, Malbihn ordered his canoes in to shore.
He landed with his head man and crossed the little point slowly
in search of a spot where he might watch the canoe he had left at
the landing place. He was smiling in anticipation of the almost
certain success of his stratagem--sooner or later the girl would
come back and attempt to cross the river in one of their canoes. It
might be that the idea would not occur to her for some time. They
might have to wait a day, or two days; but that she would come if
she lived or was not captured by the men he had scouting the jungle
for her Malbihn was sure. That she would come so soon, however,
he had not guessed, and so when he topped the point and came again
within sight of the river he saw that which drew an angry oath from
his lips--his quarry already was half way across the river.

Turning, he ran rapidly back to his boats, the head man at his heels.
Throwing themselves in, Malbihn urged his paddlers to their most
powerful efforts. The canoes shot out into the stream and down with
the current toward the fleeing quarry. She had almost completed
the crossing when they came in sight of her. At the same instant
she saw them, and redoubled her efforts to reach the opposite shore
before they should overtake her. Two minutes' start of them was
all Meriem cared for. Once in the trees she knew that she could
outdistance and elude them. Her hopes were high--they could not
overtake her now--she had had too good a start of them.

Malbihn, urging his men onward with a stream of hideous oaths and
blows from his fists, realized that the girl was again slipping from
his clutches. The leading canoe, in the bow of which he stood,
was yet a hundred yards behind the fleeing Meriem when she ran the
point of her craft beneath the overhanging trees on the shore of

Malbihn screamed to her to halt. He seemed to have gone mad with
rage at the realization that he could not overtake her, and then
he threw his rifle to his shoulder, aimed carefully at the slim
figure scrambling into the trees, and fired.

Malbihn was an excellent shot. His misses at so short a distance
were practically non-existent, nor would he have missed this time
but for an accident occurring at the very instant that his finger
tightened upon the trigger--an accident to which Meriem owed her
life--the providential presence of a water-logged tree trunk, one
end of which was embedded in the mud of the river bottom and the
other end of which floated just beneath the surface where the prow
of Malbihn's canoe ran upon it as he fired. The slight deviation
of the boat's direction was sufficient to throw the muzzle of the
rifle out of aim. The bullet whizzed harmlessly by Meriem's head
and an instant later she had disappeared into the foliage of the

There was a smile on her lips as she dropped to the ground to cross
a little clearing where once had stood a native village surrounded
by its fields. The ruined huts still stood in crumbling decay.
The rank vegetation of the jungle overgrew the cultivated ground.
Small trees already had sprung up in what had been the village
street; but desolation and loneliness hung like a pall above the
scene. To Meriem, however, it presented but a place denuded of
large trees which she must cross quickly to regain the jungle upon
the opposite side before Malbihn should have landed.

The deserted huts were, to her, all the better because they were
deserted--she did not see the keen eyes watching her from a dozen
points, from tumbling doorways, from behind tottering granaries. In
utter unconsciousness of impending danger she started up the village
street because it offered the clearest pathway to the jungle.

A mile away toward the east, fighting his way through the jungle
along the trail taken by Malbihn when he had brought Meriem to
his camp, a man in torn khaki--filthy, haggard, unkempt--came to
a sudden stop as the report of Malbihn's rifle resounded faintly
through the tangled forest. The black man just ahead of him stopped,

"We are almost there, Bwana," he said. There was awe and respect
in his tone and manner.

The white man nodded and motioned his ebon guide forward once more.
It was the Hon. Morison Baynes--the fastidious--the exquisite. His
face and hands were scratched and smeared with dried blood from
the wounds he had come by in thorn and thicket. His clothes were
tatters. But through the blood and the dirt and the rags a new
Baynes shone forth--a handsomer Baynes than the dandy and the fop
of yore.

In the heart and soul of every son of woman lies the germ of manhood
and honor. Remorse for a scurvy act, and an honorable desire to
right the wrong he had done the woman he now knew he really loved
had excited these germs to rapid growth in Morison Baynes--and the
metamorphosis had taken place.

Onward the two stumbled toward the point from which the single
rifle shot had come. The black was unarmed--Baynes, fearing his
loyalty had not dared trust him even to carry the rifle which the
white man would have been glad to be relieved of many times upon
the long march; but now that they were approaching their goal, and
knowing as he did that hatred of Malbihn burned hot in the black
man's brain, Baynes handed him the rifle, for he guessed that there
would be fighting--he intended that there should, or he had come
to avenge. Himself, an excellent revolver shot, would depend upon
the smaller weapon at his side.

As the two forged ahead toward their goal they were startled by a
volley of shots ahead of them. Then came a few scattering reports,
some savage yells, and silence. Baynes was frantic in his endeavors
to advance more rapidly, but there the jungle seemed a thousand
times more tangled than before. A dozen times he tripped and
fell. Twice the black followed a blind trail and they were forced
to retrace their steps; but at last they came out into a little
clearing near the big afi--a clearing that once held a thriving
village, but lay somber and desolate in decay and ruin.

In the jungle vegetation that overgrew what had once been the main
village street lay the body of a black man, pierced through the
heart with a bullet, and still warm. Baynes and his companion
looked about in all directions; but no sign of living being could
they discover. They stood in silence listening intently.

What was that! Voices and the dip of paddles out upon the river?

Baynes ran across the dead village toward the fringe of jungle
upon the river's brim. The black was at his side. Together they
forced their way through the screening foliage until they could
obtain a view of the river, and there, almost to the other shore,
they saw Malbihn's canoes making rapidly for camp. The black
recognized his companions immediately.

"How can we cross?" asked Baynes.

The black shook his head. There was no canoe and the crocodiles
made it equivalent to suicide to enter the water in an attempt
to swim across. Just then the fellow chanced to glance downward.
Beneath him, wedged among the branches of a tree, lay the canoe
in which Meriem had escaped. The Negro grasped Baynes' arm and
pointed toward his find. The Hon. Morison could scarce repress a
shout of exultation. Quickly the two slid down the drooping branches
into the boat. The black seized the paddle and Baynes shoved them
out from beneath the tree. A second later the canoe shot out upon
the bosom of the river and headed toward the opposite shore and
the camp of the Swede. Baynes squatted in the bow, straining his
eyes after the men pulling the other canoes upon the bank across
from him. He saw Malbihn step from the bow of the foremost of the
little craft. He saw him turn and glance back across the river. He
could see his start of surprise as his eyes fell upon the pursuing
canoe, and called the attention of his followers to it.

Then he stood waiting, for there was but one canoe and two
men--little danger to him and his followers in that. Malbihn was
puzzled. Who was this white man? He did not recognize him though
Baynes' canoe was now in mid stream and the features of both its
occupants plainly discernible to those on shore. One of Malbihn's
blacks it was who first recognized his fellow black in the person
of Baynes' companion. Then Malbihn guessed who the white man must
be, though he could scarce believe his own reasoning. It seemed
beyond the pale of wildest conjecture to suppose that the Hon.
Morison Baynes had followed him through the jungle with but a single
companion--and yet it was true. Beneath the dirt and dishevelment
he recognized him at last, and in the necessity of admitting that
it was he, Malbihn was forced to recognize the incentive that had
driven Baynes, the weakling and coward, through the savage jungle
upon his trail.

The man had come to demand an accounting and to avenge. It seemed
incredible, and yet there could be no other explanation. Malbihn
shrugged. Well, others had sought Malbihn for similar reasons in
the course of a long and checkered career. He fingered his rifle,
and waited.

Now the canoe was within easy speaking distance of the shore.

"What do you want?" yelled Malbihn, raising his weapon threateningly.

The Hon. Morison Baynes leaped to his feet.

"You, damn you!" he shouted, whipping out his revolver and firing
almost simultaneously with the Swede.

As the two reports rang out Malbihn dropped his rifle, clutched
frantically at his breast, staggered, fell first to his knees and
then lunged upon his face. Baynes stiffened. His head flew back
spasmodically. For an instant he stood thus, and then crumpled
very gently into the bottom of the boat.

The black paddler was at a loss as to what to do. If Malbihn
really were dead he could continue on to join his fellows without
fear; but should the Swede only be wounded he would be safer
upon the far shore. Therefore he hesitated, holding the canoe in
mid stream. He had come to have considerable respect for his new
master and was not unmoved by his death. As he sat gazing at the
crumpled body in the bow of the boat he saw it move. Very feebly
the man essayed to turn over. He still lived. The black moved
forward and lifted him to a sitting position. He was standing in
front of him, his paddle in one hand, asking Baynes where he was hit
when there was another shot from shore and the Negro pitched head
long overboard, his paddle still clutched in his dead fingers--shot
through the forehead.

Baynes turned weakly in the direction of the shore to see Malbihn
drawn up upon his elbows levelling his rifle at him. The Englishman
slid to the bottom of the canoe as a bullet whizzed above him.
Malbihn, sore hit, took longer in aiming, nor was his aim as sure
as formerly. With difficulty Baynes turned himself over on his
belly and grasping his revolver in his right hand drew himself up
until he could look over the edge of the canoe.

Malbihn saw him instantly and fired; but Baynes did not flinch or
duck. With painstaking care he aimed at the target upon the shore
from which he now was drifting with the current. His finger closed
upon the trigger--there was a flash and a report, and Malbihn's
giant frame jerked to the impact of another bullet.

But he was not yet dead. Again he aimed and fired, the bullet
splintering the gunwale of the canoe close by Baynes' face. Baynes
fired again as his canoe drifted further down stream and Malbihn
answered from the shore where he lay in a pool of his own blood.
And thus, doggedly, the two wounded men continued to carry on their
weird duel until the winding African river had carried the Hon.
Morison Baynes out of sight around a wooded point.

Chapter 23

Meriem had traversed half the length of the village street when a
score of white-robed Negroes and half-castes leaped out upon her
from the dark interiors of surrounding huts. She turned to flee,
but heavy hands seized her, and when she turned at last to plead
with them her eyes fell upon the face of a tall, grim, old man
glaring down upon her from beneath the folds of his burnous.

At sight of him she staggered back in shocked and terrified surprise.
It was The Sheik!

Instantly all the old fears and terrors of her childhood returned
upon her. She stood trembling before this horrible old man, as a
murderer before the judge about to pass sentence of death upon him.
She knew that The Sheik recognized her. The years and the changed
raiment had not altered her so much but what one who had known her
features so well in childhood would know her now.

"So you have come back to your people, eh?" snarled The Sheik.
"Come back begging for food and protection, eh?"

"Let me go," cried the girl. "I ask nothing of you, but that you
let me go back to the Big Bwana."

"The Big Bwana?" almost screamed The Sheik, and then followed a
stream of profane, Arabic invective against the white man whom all
the transgressors of the jungle feared and hated. "You would go
back to the Big Bwana, would you? So that is where you have been
since you ran away from me, is it? And who comes now across the
river after you--the Big Bwana?"

"The Swede whom you once chased away from your country when he and
his companion conspired with Nbeeda to steal me from you," replied

The Sheik's eyes blazed, and he called his men to approach the shore
and hide among the bushes that they might ambush and annihilate
Malbihn and his party; but Malbihn already had landed and crawling
through the fringe of jungle was at that very moment looking with
wide and incredulous eyes upon the scene being enacted in the street
of the deserted village. He recognized The Sheik the moment his
eyes fell upon him. There were two men in the world that Malbihn
feared as he feared the devil. One was the Big Bwana and the other
The Sheik. A single glance he took at that gaunt, familiar figure
and then he turned tail and scurried back to his canoe calling his
followers after him. And so it happened that the party was well
out in the stream before The Sheik reached the shore, and after a
volley and a few parting shots that were returned from the canoes
the Arab called his men off and securing his prisoner set off toward
the South.

One of the bullets from Malbihn's force had struck a black standing
in the village street where he had been left with another to guard
Meriem, and his companions had left him where he had fallen, after
appropriating his apparel and belongings. His was the body that
Baynes had discovered when he had entered the village.

The Sheik and his party had been marching southward along the river
when one of them, dropping out of line to fetch water, had seen
Meriem paddling desperately from the opposite shore. The fellow
had called The Sheik's attention to the strange sight--a white
woman alone in Central Africa and the old Arab had hidden his men
in the deserted village to capture her when she landed, for thoughts
of ransom were always in the mind of The Sheik. More than once
before had glittering gold filtered through his fingers from a
similar source. It was easy money and The Sheik had none too much
easy money since the Big Bwana had so circumscribed the limits of
his ancient domain that he dared not even steal ivory from natives
within two hundred miles of the Big Bwana's douar. And when at
last the woman had walked into the trap he had set for her and he
had recognized her as the same little girl he had brutalized and
mal-treated years before his gratification had been huge. Now
he lost no time in establishing the old relations of father and
daughter that had existed between them in the past. At the first
opportunity he struck her a heavy blow across the face. He forced
her to walk when he might have dismounted one of his men instead,
or had her carried on a horse's rump. He seemed to revel in the
discovery of new methods for torturing or humiliating her, and among
all his followers she found no single one to offer her sympathy,
or who dared defend her, even had they had the desire to do so.

A two days' march brought them at last to the familiar scenes of
her childhood, and the first face upon which she set her eyes as
she was driven through the gates into the strong stockade was that
of the toothless, hideous Mabunu, her one time nurse. It was as
though all the years that had intervened were but a dream. Had
it not been for her clothing and the fact that she had grown in
stature she might well have believed it so. All was there as she
had left it--the new faces which supplanted some of the old were
of the same bestial, degraded type. There were a few young Arabs
who had joined The Sheik since she had been away. Otherwise all
was the same--all but one. Geeka was not there, and she found
herself missing Geeka as though the ivory-headed one had been a
flesh and blood intimate and friend. She missed her ragged little
confidante, into whose deaf ears she had been wont to pour her many
miseries and her occasional joys--Geeka, of the splinter limbs and
the ratskin torso--Geeka the disreputable--Geeka the beloved.

For a time the inhabitants of The Sheik's village who had not
been upon the march with him amused themselves by inspecting the
strangely clad white girl, whom some of them had known as a little
child. Mabunu pretended great joy at her return, baring her
toothless gums in a hideous grimace that was intended to be indicative
of rejoicing. But Meriem could but shudder as she recalled the
cruelties of this terrible old hag in the years gone by.

Among the Arabs who had come in her absence was a tall young fellow
of twenty--a handsome, sinister looking youth--who stared at her
in open admiration until The Sheik came and ordered him away, and
Abdul Kamak went, scowling.

At last, their curiosity satisfied, Meriem was alone. As of old,
she was permitted the freedom of the village, for the stockade was
high and strong and the only gates were well-guarded by day and
by night; but as of old she cared not for the companionship of
the cruel Arabs and the degraded blacks who formed the following
of The Sheik, and so, as had been her wont in the sad days of her
childhood, she slunk down to an unfrequented corner of the enclosure
where she had often played at house-keeping with her beloved Geeka
beneath the spreading branches of the great tree that had overhung
the palisade; but now the tree was gone, and Meriem guessed the
reason. It was from this tree that Korak had descended and struck
down The Sheik the day that he had rescued her from the life of
misery and torture that had been her lot for so long that she could
remember no other.

There were low bushes growing within the stockade, however, and
in the shade of these Meriem sat down to think. A little glow of
happiness warmed her heart as she recalled her first meeting with
Korak and then the long years that he had cared for and protected
her with the solicitude and purity of an elder brother. For months
Korak had not so occupied her thoughts as he did today. He seemed
closer and dearer now than ever he had before, and she wondered
that her heart had drifted so far from loyalty to his memory. And
then came the image of the Hon. Morison, the exquisite, and Meriem
was troubled. Did she really love the flawless young Englishman?
She thought of the glories of London, of which he had told her in
such glowing language. She tried to picture herself admired and
honored in the midst of the gayest society of the great capital.
The pictures she drew were the pictures that the Hon. Morison had
drawn for her. They were alluring pictures, but through them all
the brawny, half-naked figure of the giant Adonis of the jungle
persisted in obtruding itself.

Meriem pressed her hand above her heart as she stifled a sigh, and
as she did so she felt the hard outlines of the photograph she had
hidden there as she slunk from Malbihn's tent. Now she drew it
forth and commenced to re-examine it more carefully than she had
had time to do before. She was sure that the baby face was hers.
She studied every detail of the picture. Half hidden in the lace
of the dainty dress rested a chain and locket. Meriem puckered
her brows. What tantalizing half-memories it awakened! Could this
flower of evident civilization be the little Arab Meriem, daughter
of The Sheik? It was impossible, and yet that locket? Meriem
knew it. She could not refute the conviction of her memory. She
had seen that locket before and it had been hers. What strange
mystery lay buried in her past?

As she sat gazing at the picture she suddenly became aware that
she was not alone--that someone was standing close behind her--some
one who had approached her noiselessly. Guiltily she thrust the
picture back into her waist. A hand fell upon her shoulder. She
was sure that it was The Sheik and she awaited in dumb terror the
blow that she knew would follow.

No blow came and she looked upward over her shoulder--into the eyes
of Abdul Kamak, the young Arab.

"I saw," he said, "the picture that you have just hidden. It is
you when you were a child--a very young child. May I see it again?"

Meriem drew away from him.

"I will give it back," he said. "I have heard of you and I know
that you have no love for The Sheik, your father. Neither have I.
I will not betray you. Let me see the picture."

Friendless among cruel enemies, Meriem clutched at the straw that
Abdul Kamak held out to her. Perhaps in him she might find the
friend she needed. Anyway he had seen the picture and if he was
not a friend he could tell The Sheik about it and it would be taken
away from her. So she might as well grant his request and hope
that he had spoken fairly, and would deal fairly. She drew the
photograph from its hiding place and handed it to him.

Abdul Kamak examined it carefully, comparing it, feature by feature
with the girl sitting on the ground looking up into his face.
Slowly he nodded his head.

"Yes," he said, "it is you, but where was it taken? How does it
happen that The Sheik's daughter is clothed in the garments of the

"I do not know," replied Meriem. "I never saw the picture until
a couple of days ago, when I found it in the tent of the Swede,

Abdul Kamak raised his eyebrows. He turned the picture over and
as his eyes fell upon the old newspaper cutting they went wide. He
could read French, with difficulty, it is true; but he could read
it. He had been to Paris. He had spent six months there with a
troupe of his desert fellows, upon exhibition, and he had improved
his time, learning many of the customs, some of the language, and
most of the vices of his conquerors. Now he put his learning to
use. Slowly, laboriously he read the yellowed cutting. His eyes
were no longer wide. Instead they narrowed to two slits of cunning.
When he had done he looked at the girl.

"You have read this?" he asked.

"It is French," she replied, "and I do not read French."

Abdul Kamak stood long in silence looking at the girl. She was
very beautiful. He desired her, as had many other men who had seen
her. At last he dropped to one knee beside her.

A wonderful idea had sprung to Abdul Kamak's mind. It was an idea
that might be furthered if the girl were kept in ignorance of the
contents of that newspaper cutting. It would certainly be doomed
should she learn its contents.

"Meriem," he whispered, "never until today have my eyes beheld you,
yet at once they told my heart that it must ever be your servant.
You do not know me, but I ask that you trust me. I can help you.
You hate The Sheik--so do I. Let me take you away from him. Come
with me, and we will go back to the great desert where my father
is a sheik mightier than is yours. Will you come?"

Meriem sat in silence. She hated to wound the only one who had
offered her protection and friendship; but she did not want Abdul
Kamak's love. Deceived by her silence the man seized her and
strained her to him; but Meriem struggled to free herself.

"I do not love you," she cried. "Oh, please do not make me hate
you. You are the only one who has shown kindness toward me, and
I want to like you, but I cannot love you."

Abdul Kamak drew himself to his full height.

"You will learn to love me," he said, "for I shall take you whether
you will or no. You hate The Sheik and so you will not tell him,
for if you do I will tell him of the picture. I hate The Sheik,

"You hate The Sheik?" came a grim voice from behind them.

Both turned to see The Sheik standing a few paces from them. Abdul
still held the picture in his hand. Now he thrust it within his

"Yes," he said, "I hate the Sheik," and as he spoke he sprang
toward the older man, felled him with a blow and dashed on across
the village to the line where his horse was picketed, saddled and
ready, for Abdul Kamak had been about to ride forth to hunt when
he had seen the stranger girl alone by the bushes.

Leaping into the saddle Abdul Kamak dashed for the village gates.
The Sheik, momentarily stunned by the blow that had felled him, now
staggered to his feet, shouting lustily to his followers to stop
the escaped Arab. A dozen blacks leaped forward to intercept the
horseman, only to be ridden down or brushed aside by the muzzle of
Abdul Kamak's long musket, which he lashed from side to side about
him as he spurred on toward the gate. But here he must surely be
intercepted. Already the two blacks stationed there were pushing
the unwieldy portals to. Up flew the barrel of the fugitive's
weapon. With reins flying loose and his horse at a mad gallop the
son of the desert fired once--twice; and both the keepers of the
gate dropped in their tracks. With a wild whoop of exultation,
twirling his musket high above his head and turning in his saddle
to laugh back into the faces of his pursuers Abdul Kamak dashed
out of the village of The Sheik and was swallowed up by the jungle.

Foaming with rage The Sheik ordered immediate pursuit, and then
strode rapidly back to where Meriem sat huddled by the bushes where
he had left her.

"The picture!" he cried. "What picture did the dog speak of? Where
is it? Give it to me at once!"

"He took it," replied Meriem, dully.

"What was it?" again demanded The Sheik, seizing the girl roughly
by the hair and dragging her to her feet, where he shook her
venomously. "What was it a picture of?"

"Of me," said Meriem, "when I was a little girl. I stole it from
Malbihn, the Swede--it had printing on the back cut from an old

The Sheik went white with rage.

"What said the printing?" he asked in a voice so low that she but
barely caught his words.

"I do not know. It was in French and I cannot read French."

The Sheik seemed relieved. He almost smiled, nor did he again
strike Meriem before he turned and strode away with the parting
admonition that she speak never again to any other than Mabunu and
himself. And along the caravan trail galloped Abdul Kamak toward
the north.

As his canoe drifted out of sight and range of the wounded Swede
the Hon. Morison sank weakly to its bottom where he lay for long
hours in partial stupor.

It was night before he fully regained consciousness. And then he
lay for a long time looking up at the stars and trying to recollect
where he was, what accounted for the gently rocking motion of the
thing upon which he lay, and why the position of the stars changed
so rapidly and miraculously. For a while he thought he was dreaming,
but when he would have moved to shake sleep from him the pain of
his wound recalled to him the events that had led up to his present
position. Then it was that he realized that he was floating down
a great African river in a native canoe--alone, wounded, and lost.

Painfully he dragged himself to a sitting position. He noticed
that the wound pained him less than he had imagined it would. He
felt of it gingerly--it had ceased to bleed. Possibly it was
but a flesh wound after all, and nothing serious. If it totally
incapacitated him even for a few days it would mean death, for by
that time he would be too weakened by hunger and pain to provide
food for himself.

From his own troubles his mind turned to Meriem's. That she had been
with the Swede at the time he had attempted to reach the fellow's
camp he naturally believed; but he wondered what would become of
her now. Even if Hanson died of his wounds would Meriem be any
better off? She was in the power of equally villainous men--brutal
savages of the lowest order. Baynes buried his face in his hands
and rocked back and forth as the hideous picture of her fate burned
itself into his consciousness. And it was he who had brought this
fate upon her! His wicked desire had snatched a pure and innocent
girl from the protection of those who loved her to hurl her into
the clutches of the bestial Swede and his outcast following! And
not until it had become too late had he realized the magnitude of
the crime he himself had planned and contemplated. Not until it
had become too late had he realized that greater than his desire,
greater than his lust, greater than any passion he had ever felt
before was the newborn love that burned within his breast for the
girl he would have ruined.

The Hon. Morison Baynes did not fully realize the change that had
taken place within him. Had one suggested that he ever had been
aught than the soul of honor and chivalry he would have taken
umbrage forthwith. He knew that he had done a vile thing when he
had plotted to carry Meriem away to London, yet he excused it on
the ground of his great passion for the girl having temporarily
warped his moral standards by the intensity of its heat. But, as
a matter of fact, a new Baynes had been born. Never again could
this man be bent to dishonor by the intensity of a desire. His moral
fiber had been strengthened by the mental suffering he had endured.
His mind and his soul had been purged by sorrow and remorse.

His one thought now was to atone--win to Meriem's side and lay
down his life, if necessary, in her protection. His eyes sought
the length of the canoe in search of the paddle, for a determination
had galvanized him to immediate action despite his weakness and
his wound. But the paddle was gone. He turned his eyes toward
the shore. Dimly through the darkness of a moonless night he saw
the awful blackness of the jungle, yet it touched no responsive
chord of terror within him now as it had done in the past. He did
not even wonder that he was unafraid, for his mind was entirely
occupied with thoughts of another's danger.

Drawing himself to his knees he leaned over the edge of the canoe
and commenced to paddle vigorously with his open palm. Though it
tired and hurt him he kept assiduously at his self imposed labor for
hours. Little by little the drifting canoe moved nearer and nearer
the shore. The Hon. Morison could hear a lion roaring directly
opposite him and so close that he felt he must be almost to the
shore. He drew his rifle closer to his side; but he did not cease
to paddle.

After what seemed to the tired man an eternity of time he felt the
brush of branches against the canoe and heard the swirl of the
water about them. A moment later he reached out and clutched a
leafy limb. Again the lion roared--very near it seemed now, and
Baynes wondered if the brute could have been following along the
shore waiting for him to land.

He tested the strength of the limb to which he clung. It seemed
strong enough to support a dozen men. Then he reached down and
lifted his rifle from the bottom of the canoe, slipping the sling
over his shoulder. Again he tested the branch, and then reaching
upward as far as he could for a safe hold he drew himself painfully
and slowly upward until his feet swung clear of the canoe, which,
released, floated silently from beneath him to be lost forever in
the blackness of the dark shadows down stream.

He had burned his bridges behind him. He must either climb aloft
or drop back into the river; but there had been no other way. He
struggled to raise one leg over the limb, but found himself scarce
equal to the effort, for he was very weak. For a time he hung
there feeling his strength ebbing. He knew that he must gain the
branch above at once or it would be too late.

Suddenly the lion roared almost in his ear. Baynes glanced up.
He saw two spots of flame a short distance from and above him.
The lion was standing on the bank of the river glaring at him,
and--waiting for him. Well, thought the Hon. Morison, let him
wait. Lions can't climb trees, and if I get into this one I shall
be safe enough from him.

The young Englishman's feet hunt almost to the surface of the
water--closer than he knew, for all was pitch dark below as above
him. Presently he heard a slight commotion in the river beneath
him and something banged against one of his feet, followed almost
instantly by a sound that he felt he could not have mistaken--the
click of great jaws snapping together.

"By George!" exclaimed the Hon. Morison, aloud. "The beggar nearly
got me," and immediately he struggled again to climb higher and
to comparative safety; but with that final effort he knew that it
was futile. Hope that had survived persistently until now began
to wane. He felt his tired, numbed fingers slipping from their
hold--he was dropping back into the river--into the jaws of the
frightful death that awaited him there.

And then he heard the leaves above him rustle to the movement of
a creature among them. The branch to which he clung bent beneath
an added weight--and no light weight, from the way it sagged; but
still Baynes clung desperately--he would not give up voluntarily
either to the death above or the death below.

He felt a soft, warm pad upon the fingers of one of his hands
where they circled the branch to which he clung, and then something
reached down out of the blackness above and dragged him up among
the branches of the tree.

Chapter 24

Sometimes lolling upon Tantor's back, sometimes roaming the jungle
in solitude, Korak made his way slowly toward the West and South.
He made but a few miles a day, for he had a whole lifetime before
him and no place in particular to go. Possibly he would have moved
more rapidly but for the thought which continually haunted him that
each mile he traversed carried him further and further away from
Meriem--no longer his Meriem, as of yore, it is true! but still as
dear to him as ever.

Thus he came upon the trail of The Sheik's band as it traveled
down river from the point where The Sheik had captured Meriem to
his own stockaded village. Korak pretty well knew who it was that
had passed, for there were few in the great jungle with whom he
was not familiar, though it had been years since he had come this
far north. He had no particular business, however, with the old
Sheik and so he did not propose following him--the further from
men he could stay the better pleased he would be--he wished that he
might never see a human face again. Men always brought him sorrow
and misery.

The river suggested fishing and so he waddled upon its shores,
catching fish after a fashion of his own devising and eating them raw.
When night came he curled up in a great tree beside the stream--the
one from which he had been fishing during the afternoon--and was
soon asleep. Numa, roaring beneath him, awoke him. He was about
to call out in anger to his noisy neighbor when something else
caught his attention. He listened. Was there something in the
tree beside himself? Yes, he heard the noise of something below
him trying to clamber upward. Presently he heard the click of a
crocodile's jaws in the waters beneath, and then, low but distinct:
"By George! The beggar nearly got me." The voice was familiar.

Korak glanced downward toward the speaker. Outlined against the
faint luminosity of the water he saw the figure of a man clinging
to a lower branch of the tree. Silently and swiftly the ape-man
clambered downward. He felt a hand beneath his foot. He reached
down and clutched the figure beneath him and dragged it up among
the branches. It struggled weakly and struck at him; but Korak paid
no more attention than Tantor to an ant. He lugged his burden to
the higher safety and greater comfort of a broad crotch, and there
he propped it in a sitting position against the bole of the tree.
Numa still was roaring beneath them, doubtless in anger that he had
been robbed of his prey. Korak shouted down at him, calling him,
in the language of the great apes, "Old green-eyed eater of carrion,"
"Brother of Dango," the hyena, and other choice appellations of
jungle opprobrium.

The Hon. Morison Baynes, listening, felt assured that a gorilla had
seized upon him. He felt for his revolver, and as he was drawing
it stealthily from its holster a voice asked in perfectly good
English, "Who are you?"

Baynes started so that he nearly fell from the branch.

"My God!" he exclaimed. "Are you a man?"

"What did you think I was?" asked Korak.

"A gorilla," replied Baynes, honestly.

Korak laughed.

"Who are you?" he repeated.

"I'm an Englishman by the name of Baynes; but who the devil are
you?" asked the Hon. Morison.

"They call me The Killer," replied Korak, giving the English
translation of the name that Akut had given him. And then after a
pause during which the Hon. Morison attempted to pierce the darkness
and catch a glimpse of the features of the strange being into whose
hands he had fallen, "You are the same whom I saw kissing the girl
at the edge of the great plain to the East, that time that the lion
charged you?"

"Yes," replied Baynes.

"What are you doing here?"

"The girl was stolen--I am trying to rescue her."

"Stolen!" The word was shot out like a bullet from a gun. "Who
stole her?"

"The Swede trader, Hanson," replied Baynes.

"Where is he?"

Baynes related to Korak all that had transpired since he had come
upon Hanson's camp. Before he was done the first gray dawn had
relieved the darkness. Korak made the Englishman comfortable in
the tree. He filled his canteen from the river and fetched him
fruits to eat. Then he bid him good-bye.

"I am going to the Swede's camp," he announced. "I will bring the
girl back to you here."

"I shall go, too, then," insisted Baynes. "It is my right and my
duty, for she was to have become my wife."

Korak winced. "You are wounded. You could not make the trip," he
said. "I can go much faster alone."

"Go, then," replied Baynes; "but I shall follow. It is my right
and duty."

"As you will," replied Korak, with a shrug. If the man wanted to
be killed it was none of his affair. He wanted to kill him himself,
but for Meriem's sake he would not. If she loved him then he must
do what he could to preserve him, but he could not prevent his
following him, more than to advise him against it, and this he did,

And so Korak set out rapidly toward the North, and limping slowly
and painfully along, soon far to the rear, came the tired and wounded
Baynes. Korak had reached the river bank opposite Malbihn's camp
before Baynes had covered two miles. Late in the afternoon the
Englishman was still plodding wearily along, forced to stop often
for rest when he heard the sound of the galloping feet of a horse
behind him. Instinctively he drew into the concealing foliage of
the underbrush and a moment later a white-robed Arab dashed by.
Baynes did not hail the rider. He had heard of the nature of the
Arabs who penetrate thus far to the South, and what he had heard had
convinced him that a snake or a panther would as quickly befriend
him as one of these villainous renegades from the Northland.

When Abdul Kamak had passed out of sight toward the North Baynes
resumed his weary march. A half hour later he was again surprised
by the unmistakable sound of galloping horses. This time there
were many. Once more he sought a hiding place; but it chanced
that he was crossing a clearing which offered little opportunity
for concealment. He broke into a slow trot--the best that he could
do in his weakened condition; but it did not suffice to carry him
to safety and before he reached the opposite side of the clearing
a band of white-robed horsemen dashed into view behind him.

At sight of him they shouted in Arabic, which, of course, he could
not understand, and then they closed about him, threatening and
angry. Their questions were unintelligible to him, and no more could
they interpret his English. At last, evidently out of patience,
the leader ordered two of his men to seize him, which they lost no
time in doing. They disarmed him and ordered him to climb to the
rump of one of the horses, and then the two who had been detailed
to guard him turned and rode back toward the South, while the others
continued their pursuit of Abdul Kamak.

As Korak came out upon the bank of the river across from which he
could see the camp of Malbihn he was at a loss as to how he was
to cross. He could see men moving about among the huts inside the
boma--evidently Hanson was still there. Korak did not know the
true identity of Meriem's abductor.

How was he to cross. Not even he would dare the perils of the
river--almost certain death. For a moment he thought, then wheeled
and sped away into the jungle, uttering a peculiar cry, shrill and
piercing. Now and again he would halt to listen as though for an
answer to his weird call, then on again, deeper and deeper into
the wood.

At last his listening ears were rewarded by the sound they craved--the
trumpeting of a bull elephant, and a few moments later Korak broke
through the trees into the presence of Tantor, standing with upraised
trunk, waving his great ears.

"Quick, Tantor!" shouted the ape-man, and the beast swung him to
his head. "Hurry!" and the mighty pachyderm lumbered off through
the jungle, guided by kicking of naked heels against the sides of
his head.

Toward the northwest Korak guided his huge mount, until they came
out upon the river a mile or more above the Swede's camp, at a point
where Korak knew that there was an elephant ford. Never pausing
the ape-man urged the beast into the river, and with trunk held high
Tantor forged steadily toward the opposite bank. Once an unwary
crocodile attacked him but the sinuous trunk dove beneath the
surface and grasping the amphibian about the middle dragged it to
light and hurled it a hundred feet down stream. And so, in safety,
they made the opposite shore, Korak perched high and dry above the
turgid flood.

Then back toward the South Tantor moved, steadily, relentlessly,
and with a swinging gait which took no heed of any obstacle other
than the larger jungle trees. At times Korak was forced to abandon
the broad head and take to the trees above, so close the branches
raked the back of the elephant; but at last they came to the edge
of the clearing where lay the camp of the renegade Swede, nor even
then did they hesitate or halt. The gate lay upon the east side
of the camp, facing the river. Tantor and Korak approached from
the north. There was no gate there; but what cared Tantor or Korak
for gates.

At a word from the ape man and raising his tender trunk high above
the thorns Tantor breasted the boma, walking through it as though
it had not existed. A dozen blacks squatted before their huts looked
up at the noise of his approach. With sudden howls of terror and
amazement they leaped to their feet and fled for the open gates.
Tantor would have pursued. He hated man, and he thought that Korak
had come to hunt these; but the ape man held him back, guiding
him toward a large, canvas tent that rose in the center of the
clearing--there should be the girl and her abductor.

Malbihn lay in a hammock beneath canopy before his tent. His
wounds were painful and he had lost much blood. He was very weak.
He looked up in surprise as he heard the screams of his men and saw
them running toward the gate. And then from around the corner of
his tent loomed a huge bulk, and Tantor, the great tusker, towered
above him. Malbihn's boy, feeling neither affection nor loyalty
for his master, broke and ran at the first glimpse of the beast,
and Malbihn was left alone and helpless.

The elephant stopped a couple of paces from the wounded man's
hammock. Malbihn cowered, moaning. He was too weak to escape. He
could only lie there with staring eyes gazing in horror into the
blood rimmed, angry little orbs fixed upon him, and await his death.

Then, to his astonishment, a man slid to the ground from the elephant's
back. Almost at once Malbihn recognized the strange figure as that
of the creature who consorted with apes and baboons--the white
warrior of the jungle who had freed the king baboon and led the
whole angry horde of hairy devils upon him and Jenssen. Malbihn
cowered still lower.

"Where is the girl?" demanded Korak, in English.

"What girl?" asked Malbihn. "There is no girl here--only the women
of my boys. Is it one of them you want?"

"The white girl," replied Korak. "Do not lie to me--you lured her
from her friends. You have her. Where is she?"

"It was not I," cried Malbihn. "It was an Englishman who hired me
to steal her. He wished to take her to London with him. She was
willing to go. His name is Baynes. Go to him, if you want to know
where the girl is."

"I have just come from him," said Korak. "He sent me to you. The
girl is not with him. Now stop your lying and tell me the truth.
Where is she?" Korak took a threatening step toward the Swede.

Malbihn shrank from the anger in the other's face.

"I will tell you," he cried. "Do not harm me and I will tell
you all that I know. I had the girl here; but it was Baynes who
persuaded her to leave her friends--he had promised to marry her.
He does not know who she is; but I do, and I know that there is a
great reward for whoever takes her back to her people. It was the
only reward I wanted. But she escaped and crossed the river in one
of my canoes. I followed her, but The Sheik was there, God knows
how, and he captured her and attacked me and drove me back. Then
came Baynes, angry because he had lost the girl, and shot me. If
you want her, go to The Sheik and ask him for her--she has passed
as his daughter since childhood."

"She is not The Sheik's daughter?" asked Korak.

"She is not," replied Malbihn.

"Who is she then?" asked Korak.

Here Malbihn saw his chance. Possibly he could make use of his
knowledge after all--it might even buy back his life for him. He
was not so credulous as to believe that this savage ape-man would
have any compunctions about slaying him.

"When you find her I will tell you," he said, "if you will promise
to spare my life and divide the reward with me. If you kill me you
will never know, for only The Sheik knows and he will never tell.
The girl herself is ignorant of her origin."

"If you have told me the truth I will spare you," said Korak. "I
shall go now to The Sheik's village and if the girl is not there I
shall return and slay you. As for the other information you have,
if the girl wants it when we have found her we will find a way to
purchase it from you."

The look in the Killer's eyes and his emphasis of the word "purchase"
were none too reassuring to Malbihn. Evidently, unless he found
means to escape, this devil would have both his secret and his life
before he was done with him. He wished he would be gone and take
his evil-eyed companion away with him. The swaying bulk towering
high above him, and the ugly little eyes of the elephant watching
his every move made Malbihn nervous.

Korak stepped into the Swede's tent to assure himself that Meriem
was not hid there. As he disappeared from view Tantor, his eyes
still fixed upon Malbihn, took a step nearer the man. An elephant's
eyesight is none too good; but the great tusker evidently had harbored
suspicions of this yellow-bearded white man from the first. Now
he advanced his snake-like trunk toward the Swede, who shrank still
deeper into his hammock.

The sensitive member felt and smelled back and forth along the body
of the terrified Malbihn. Tantor uttered a low, rumbling sound.
His little eyes blazed. At last he had recognized the creature
who had killed his mate long years before. Tantor, the elephant,
never forgets and never forgives. Malbihn saw in the demoniacal
visage above him the murderous purpose of the beast. He shrieked
aloud to Korak. "Help! Help! The devil is going to kill me!"

Korak ran from the tent just in time to see the enraged elephant's
trunk encircle the beast's victim, and then hammock, canopy and
man were swung high over Tantor's head. Korak leaped before the
animal, commanding him to put down his prey unharmed; but as well
might he have ordered the eternal river to reverse its course.
Tantor wheeled around like a cat, hurled Malbihn to the earth and
kneeled upon him with the quickness of a cat. Then he gored the
prostrate thing through and through with his mighty tusks, trumpeting
and roaring in his rage, and at last, convinced that no slightest
spark of life remained in the crushed and lacerated flesh, he lifted
the shapeless clay that had been Sven Malbihn far aloft and hurled
the bloody mass, still entangled in canopy and hammock, over the
boma and out into the jungle.

Korak stood looking sorrowfully on at the tragedy he gladly would
have averted. He had no love for the Swede, in fact only hatred;
but he would have preserved the man for the sake of the secret he
possessed. Now that secret was gone forever unless The Sheik could
be made to divulge it; but in that possibility Korak placed little

The ape-man, as unafraid of the mighty Tantor as though he had not
just witnessed his shocking murder of a human being, signalled the
beast to approach and lift him to its head, and Tantor came as he
was bid, docile as a kitten, and hoisted The Killer tenderly aloft.

From the safety of their hiding places in the jungle Malbihn's
boys had witnessed the killing of their master, and now, with wide,
frightened eyes, they saw the strange white warrior, mounted upon
the head of his ferocious charger, disappear into the jungle at
the point from which he had emerged upon their terrified vision.

Chapter 25

The Sheik glowered at the prisoner which his two men brought back
to him from the North. He had sent the party after Abdul Kamak,
and he was wroth that instead of his erstwhile lieutenant they
had sent back a wounded and useless Englishman. Why had they not
dispatched him where they had found him? He was some penniless
beggar of a trader who had wandered from his own district and became
lost. He was worthless. The Sheik scowled terribly upon him.

"Who are you?" he asked in French.

"I am the Hon. Morison Baynes of London," replied his prisoner.

The title sounded promising, and at once the wily old robber had
visions of ransom. His intentions, if not his attitude toward the
prisoner underwent a change--he would investigate further.

"What were you doing poaching in my country?" growled he.

"I was not aware that you owned Africa," replied the Hon. Morison.
"I was searching for a young woman who had been abducted from the
home of a friend. The abductor wounded me and I drifted down river
in a canoe--I was on my back to his camp when your men seized me."

"A young woman?" asked The Sheik. "Is that she?" and he pointed
to his left over toward a clump of bushes near the stockade.

Baynes looked in the direction indicated and his eyes went wide,
for there, sitting cross-legged upon the ground, her back toward
them, was Meriem.

"Meriem!" he shouted, starting toward her; but one of his guards
grasped his arm and jerked him back. The girl leaped to her feet
and turned toward him as she heard her name.

"Morison!" she cried.

"Be still, and stay where you are," snapped The Sheik, and then to
Baynes. "So you are the dog of a Christian who stole my daughter
from me?"

"Your daughter?" ejaculated Baynes. "She is your daughter?"

"She is my daughter," growled the Arab, "and she is not for any
unbeliever. You have earned death, Englishman, but if you can pay
for your life I will give it to you."

Baynes' eyes were still wide at the unexpected sight of Meriem here
in the camp of the Arab when he had thought her in Hanson's power.
What had happened? How had she escaped the Swede? Had the Arab
taken her by force from him, or had she escaped and come voluntarily
back to the protection of the man who called her "daughter"? He
would have given much for a word with her. If she was safe here
he might only harm her by antagonizing the Arab in an attempt to
take her away and return her to her English friends. No longer
did the Hon. Morison harbor thoughts of luring the girl to London.

"Well?" asked The Sheik.

"Oh," exclaimed Baynes; "I beg your pardon--I was thinking of
something else. Why yes, of course, glad to pay, I'm sure. How
much do you think I'm worth?"

The Sheik named a sum that was rather less exorbitant than the
Hon. Morison had anticipated. The latter nodded his head in token
of his entire willingness to pay. He would have promised a sum
far beyond his resources just as readily, for he had no intention
of paying anything--his one reason for seeming to comply with The
Sheik's demands was that the wait for the coming of the ransom
money would give him the time and the opportunity to free Meriem
if he found that she wished to be freed. The Arab's statement
that he was her father naturally raised the question in the Hon.
Morison's mind as to precisely what the girl's attitude toward
escape might be. It seemed, of course, preposterous that this fair
and beautiful young woman should prefer to remain in the filthy
douar of an illiterate old Arab rather than return to the comforts,
luxuries, and congenial associations of the hospitable African
bungalow from which the Hon. Morison had tricked her. The man
flushed at the thought of his duplicity which these recollections
aroused--thoughts which were interrupted by The Sheik, who instructed
the Hon. Morison to write a letter to the British consul at Algiers,
dictating the exact phraseology of it with a fluency that indicated
to his captive that this was not the first time the old rascal had
had occasion to negotiate with English relatives for the ransom
of a kinsman. Baynes demurred when he saw that the letter was
addressed to the consul at Algiers, saying that it would require
the better part of a year to get the money back to him; but The
Sheik would not listen to Baynes' plan to send a messenger directly
to the nearest coast town, and from there communicate with the
nearest cable state, sending the Hon. Morison's request for funds
straight to his own solicitors. No, The Sheik was cautious and
wary. He knew his own plan had worked well in the past. In the
other were too many untried elements. He was in no hurry for the
money--he could wait a year, or two years if necessary; but it
should not require over six months. He turned to one of the Arabs
who had been standing behind him and gave the fellow instructions
in relation to the prisoner.

Baynes could not understand the words, spoken in Arabic, but the
jerk of the thumb toward him showed that he was the subject of
conversation. The Arab addressed by The Sheik bowed to his master
and beckoned Baynes to follow him. The Englishman looked toward
The Sheik for confirmation. The latter nodded impatiently, and
the Hon. Morison rose and followed his guide toward a native hut
which lay close beside one of the outside goatskin tents. In the
dark, stifling interior his guard led him, then stepped to the
doorway and called to a couple of black boys squatting before their
own huts. They came promptly and in accordance with the Arab's
instructions bound Baynes' wrists and ankles securely. The Englishman
objected strenuously; but as neither the blacks nor the Arab could
understand a word he said his pleas were wasted. Having bound him
they left the hut. The Hon. Morison lay for a long time contemplating
the frightful future which awaited him during the long months which
must intervene before his friends learned of his predicament and
could get succor to him. Now he hoped that they would send the
ransom--he would gladly pay all that he was worth to be out of this
hole. At first it had been his intention to cable his solicitors
to send no money but to communicate with the British West African
authorities and have an expedition sent to his aid.

His patrician nose wrinkled in disgust as his nostrils were assailed
by the awful stench of the hut. The nasty grasses upon which he lay
exuded the effluvium of sweaty bodies, of decayed animal matter
and of offal. But worse was yet to come. He had lain in the
uncomfortable position in which they had thrown him but for a few
minutes when he became distinctly conscious of an acute itching
sensation upon his hands, his neck and scalp. He wriggled to
a sitting posture horrified and disgusted. The itching rapidly
extended to other parts of his body--it was torture, and his hands
were bound securely at his back!

He tugged and pulled at his bonds until he was exhausted; but not
entirely without hope, for he was sure that he was working enough
slack out of the knot to eventually permit of his withdrawing one of
his hands. Night came. They brought him neither food nor drink.
He wondered if they expected him to live on nothing for a year. The
bites of the vermin grew less annoying though not less numerous.
The Hon. Morison saw a ray of hope in this indication of future
immunity through inoculation. He still worked weakly at his
bonds, and then the rats came. If the vermin were disgusting the
rats were terrifying. They scurried over his body, squealing and
fighting. Finally one commenced to chew at one of his ears. With
an oath, the Hon. Morison struggled to a sitting posture. The rats
retreated. He worked his legs beneath him and came to his knees,
and then, by superhuman effort, rose to his feet. There he stood,
reeling drunkenly, dripping with cold sweat.

"God!" he muttered, "what have I done to deserve--" He paused.
What had he done? He thought of the girl in another tent in that
accursed village. He was getting his deserts. He set his jaws
firmly with the realization. He would never complain again! At
that moment he became aware of voices raised angrily in the
goatskin tent close beside the hut in which he lay. One of them
was a woman's. Could it be Meriem's? The language was probably
Arabic--he could not understand a word of it; but the tones were

He tried to think of some way of attracting her attention to his
near presence. If she could remove his bonds they might escape
together--if she wished to escape. That thought bothered him. He
was not sure of her status in the village. If she were the petted
child of the powerful Sheik then she would probably not care to
escape. He must know, definitely.

At the bungalow he had often heard Meriem sing God Save the King,
as My Dear accompanied her on the piano. Raising his voice he
now hummed the tune. Immediately he heard Meriem's voice from the
tent. She spoke rapidly.

"Good bye, Morison," she cried. "If God is good I shall be dead
before morning, for if I still live I shall be worse than dead
after tonight."

Then he heard an angry exclamation in a man's voice, followed by the
sounds of a scuffle. Baynes went white with horror. He struggled
frantically again with his bonds. They were giving. A moment
later one hand was free. It was but the work of an instant then
to loose the other. Stooping, he untied the rope from his ankles,
then he straightened and started for the hut doorway bent on reaching
Meriem's side. As he stepped out into the night the figure of a
huge black rose and barred his progress.

When speed was required of him Korak depended upon no other muscles
than his own, and so it was that the moment Tantor had landed him
safely upon the same side of the river as lay the village of The
Sheik, the ape-man deserted his bulky comrade and took to the trees
in a rapid race toward the south and the spot where the Swede had
told him Meriem might be. It was dark when he came to the palisade,
strengthened considerably since the day that he had rescued Meriem
from her pitiful life within its cruel confines. No longer did
the giant tree spread its branches above the wooden rampart; but
ordinary man-made defenses were scarce considered obstacles by
Korak. Loosening the rope at his waist he tossed the noose over
one of the sharpened posts that composed the palisade. A moment
later his eyes were above the level of the obstacle taking in all
within their range beyond. There was no one in sight close by,
and Korak drew himself to the top and dropped lightly to the ground
within the enclosure.

Then he commenced his stealthy search of the village. First toward
the Arab tents he made his way, sniffing and listening. He passed
behind them searching for some sign of Meriem. Not even the wild
Arab curs heard his passage, so silently he went--a shadow passing
through shadows. The odor of tobacco told him that the Arabs
were smoking before their tents. The sound of laughter fell upon
his ears, and then from the opposite side of the village came the
notes of a once familiar tune: God Save the King. Korak halted in
perplexity. Who might it be--the tones were those of a man. He
recalled the young Englishman he had left on the river trail and
who had disappeared before he returned. A moment later there came
to him a woman's voice in reply--it was Meriem's, and The Killer,
quickened into action, slunk rapidly in the direction of these two

The evening meal over Meriem had gone to her pallet in the women's
quarters of The Sheik's tent, a little corner screened off in the
rear by a couple of priceless Persian rugs to form a partition. In
these quarters she had dwelt with Mabunu alone, for The Sheik had
no wives. Nor were conditions altered now after the years of her
absence--she and Mabunu were alone in the women's quarters.

Presently The Sheik came and parted the rugs. He glared through
the dim light of the interior.

"Meriem!" he called. "Come hither."

The girl arose and came into the front of the tent. There the
light of a fire illuminated the interior. She saw Ali ben Kadin,
The Sheik's half brother, squatted upon a rug, smoking. The Sheik
was standing. The Sheik and Ali ben Kadin had had the same father,
but Ali ben Kadin's mother had been a slave--a West Coast Negress.
Ali ben Kadin was old and hideous and almost black. His nose and
part of one cheek were eaten away by disease. He looked up and
grinned as Meriem entered.

The Sheik jerked his thumb toward Ali ben Kadin and addressed

"I am getting old," he said, "I shall not live much longer. Therefore
I have given you to Ali ben Kadin, my brother."

That was all. Ali ben Kadin rose and came toward her. Meriem
shrank back, horrified. The man seized her wrist.

"Come!" he commanded, and dragged her from The Sheik's tent and to
his own.

After they had gone The Sheik chuckled. "When I send her north
in a few months," he soliloquized, "they will know the reward for
slaying the son of the sister of Amor ben Khatour."

And in Ali ben Kadin's tent Meriem pleaded and threatened, but all
to no avail. The hideous old halfcaste spoke soft words at first,
but when Meriem loosed upon him the vials of her horror and loathing
he became enraged, and rushing upon her seized her in his arms.
Twice she tore away from him, and in one of the intervals during
which she managed to elude him she heard Baynes' voice humming the
tune that she knew was meant for her ears. At her reply Ali ben
Kadin rushed upon her once again. This time he dragged her back
into the rear apartment of his tent where three Negresses looked
up in stolid indifference to the tragedy being enacted before them.

As the Hon. Morison saw his way blocked by the huge frame of the
giant black his disappointment and rage filled him with a bestial
fury that transformed him into a savage beast. With an oath he
leaped upon the man before him, the momentum of his body hurling
the black to the ground. There they fought, the black to draw his
knife, the white to choke the life from the black.

Baynes' fingers shut off the cry for help that the other would have
been glad to voice; but presently the Negro succeeded in drawing
his weapon and an instant later Baynes felt the sharp steel in his
shoulder. Again and again the weapon fell. The white man removed
one hand from its choking grip upon the black throat. He felt
around upon the ground beside him searching for some missile, and
at last his fingers touched a stone and closed upon it. Raising it
above his antagonist's head the Hon. Morison drove home a terrific
blow. Instantly the black relaxed--stunned. Twice more Baynes
struck him. Then he leaped to his feet and ran for the goat skin
tent from which he had heard the voice of Meriem in distress.

But before him was another. Naked but for his leopard skin and his
loin cloth, Korak, The Killer, slunk into the shadows at the back
of Ali ben Kadin's tent. The half-caste had just dragged Meriem
into the rear chamber as Korak's sharp knife slit a six foot opening
in the tent wall, and Korak, tall and mighty, sprang through upon
the astonished visions of the inmates.

Meriem saw and recognized him the instant that he entered the
apartment. Her heart leaped in pride and joy at the sight of the
noble figure for which it had hungered for so long.

"Korak!" she cried.

"Meriem!" He uttered the single word as he hurled himself upon the
astonished Ali ben Kadin. The three Negresses leaped from their
sleeping mats, screaming. Meriem tried to prevent them from
escaping; but before she could succeed the terrified blacks had
darted through the hole in the tent wall made by Korak's knife,
and were gone screaming through the village.

The Killer's fingers closed once upon the throat of the hideous
Ali. Once his knife plunged into the putrid heart--and Ali ben
Kadin lay dead upon the floor of his tent. Korak turned toward
Meriem and at the same moment a bloody and disheveled apparition
leaped into the apartment.

"Morison!" cried the girl.

Korak turned and looked at the new comer. He had been about to
take Meriem in his arms, forgetful of all that might have transpired
since last he had seen her. Then the coming of the young Englishman
recalled the scene he had witnessed in the little clearing, and a
wave of misery swept over the ape man.

Already from without came the sounds of the alarm that the three
Negresses had started. Men were running toward the tent of Ali
ben Kadin. There was no time to be lost.

"Quick!" cried Korak, turning toward Baynes, who had scarce yet
realized whether he was facing a friend or foe. "Take her to the
palisade, following the rear of the tents. Here is my rope. With
it you can scale the wall and make your escape."

"But you, Korak?" cried Meriem.

"I will remain," replied the ape-man. "I have business with The

Meriem would have demurred, but The Killer seized them both by the
shoulders and hustled them through the slit wall and out into the
shadows beyond.

"Now run for it," he admonished, and turned to meet and hold those
who were pouring into the tent from the front.

The ape-man fought well--fought as he had never fought before; but
the odds were too great for victory, though he won that which he
most craved--time for the Englishman to escape with Meriem. Then
he was overwhelmed by numbers, and a few minutes later, bound and
guarded, he was carried to The Sheik's tent.

The old men eyed him in silence for a long time. He was trying
to fix in his own mind some form of torture that would gratify his
rage and hatred toward this creature who twice had been the means
of his losing possession of Meriem. The killing of Ali ben Kadin
caused him little anger--always had he hated the hideous son of
his father's hideous slave. The blow that this naked white warrior
had once struck him added fuel to his rage. He could think of
nothing adequate to the creature's offense.

And as he sat there looking upon Korak the silence was broken by
the trumpeting of an elephant in the jungle beyond the palisade.
A half smile touched Korak's lips. He turned his head a trifle in
the direction from which the sound had come and then there broke
from his lips, a low, weird call. One of the blacks guarding him
struck him across the mouth with the haft of his spear; but none
there knew the significance of his cry.

In the jungle Tantor cocked his ears as the sound of Korak's voice
fell upon them. He approached the palisade and lifting his trunk
above it, sniffed. Then he placed his head against the wooden logs
and pushed; but the palisade was strong and only gave a little to
the pressure.

In The Sheik's tent The Sheik rose at last, and, pointing toward
the bound captive, turned to one of his lieutenants.

"Burn him," he commanded. "At once. The stake is set."

The guard pushed Korak from The Sheik's presence. They dragged
him to the open space in the center of the village, where a high
stake was set in the ground. It had not been intended for burnings,
but offered a convenient place to tie up refractory slaves that
they might be beaten--ofttimes until death relieved their agonies.

To this stake they bound Korak. Then they brought brush and piled
about him, and The Sheik came and stood by that he might watch the
agonies of his victim. But Korak did not wince even after they
had fetched a brand and the flames had shot up among the dry tinder.

Once, then, he raised his voice in the low call that he had given
in The Sheik's tent, and now, from beyond the palisade, came again
the trumpeting of an elephant.

Old Tantor had been pushing at the palisade in vain. The sound of
Korak's voice calling him, and the scent of man, his enemy, filled
the great beast with rage and resentment against the dumb barrier
that held him back. He wheeled and shuffled back a dozen paces,
then he turned, lifted his trunk and gave voice to a mighty roaring,
trumpet-call of anger, lowered his head and charged like a huge
battering ram of flesh and bone and muscle straight for the mighty

The palisade sagged and splintered to the impact, and through the
breach rushed the infuriated bull. Korak heard the sounds that the
others heard, and he interpreted them as the others did not. The
flames were creeping closer to him when one of the blacks, hearing
a noise behind him turned to see the enormous bulk of Tantor
lumbering toward them. The man screamed and fled, and then the
bull elephant was among them tossing Negroes and Arabs to right
and left as he tore through the flames he feared to the side of
the comrade he loved.

The Sheik, calling orders to his followers, ran to his tent to
get his rifle. Tantor wrapped his trunk about the body of Korak
and the stake to which it was bound, and tore it from the ground.
The flames were searing his sensitive hide--sensitive for all its
thickness--so that in his frenzy to both rescue his friend and escape
the hated fire he had all but crushed the life from the ape-man.

Lifting his burden high above his head the giant beast wheeled and
raced for the breach that he had just made in the palisade. The
Sheik, rifle in hand, rushed from his tent directly into the
path of the maddened brute. He raised his weapon and fired once,
the bullet missed its mark, and Tantor was upon him, crushing him
beneath those gigantic feet as he raced over him as you and I might
crush out the life of an ant that chanced to be in our pathway.

And then, bearing his burden carefully, Tantor, the elephant,
entered the blackness of the jungle.

Chapter 26

Meriem, dazed by the unexpected sight of Korak whom she had long
given up as dead, permitted herself to be led away by Baynes.
Among the tents he guided her safely to the palisade, and there,
following Korak's instructions, the Englishman pitched a noose over
the top of one of the upright logs that formed the barrier. With
difficulty he reached the top and then lowered his hand to assist
Meriem to his side.

"Come!" he whispered. "We must hurry." And then, as though she
had awakened from a sleep, Meriem came to herself. Back there,
fighting her enemies, alone, was Korak--her Korak. Her place was
by his side, fighting with him and for him. She glanced up at

"Go!" she called. "Make your way back to Bwana and bring help. My
place is here. You can do no good remaining. Get away while you
can and bring the Big Bwana back with you."

Silently the Hon. Morison Baynes slid to the ground inside the
palisade to Meriem's side.

"It was only for you that I left him," he said, nodding toward the
tents they had just left. "I knew that he could hold them longer
than I and give you a chance to escape that I might not be able
to have given you. It was I though who should have remained. I
heard you call him Korak and so I know now who he is. He befriended
you. I would have wronged you. No--don't interrupt. I'm going
to tell you the truth now and let you know just what a beast I have
been. I planned to take you to London, as you know; but I did not
plan to marry you. Yes, shrink from me--I deserve it. I deserve
your contempt and loathing; but I didn't know then what love was.
Since I have learned that I have learned something else--what a
cad and what a coward I have been all my life. I looked down upon
those whom I considered my social inferiors. I did not think you
good enough to bear my name. Since Hanson tricked me and took you
for himself I have been through hell; but it has made a man of me,
though too late. Now I can come to you with an offer of honest
love, which will realize the honor of having such as you share my
name with me."

For a moment Meriem was silent, buried in thought. Her first
question seemed irrelevant.

"How did you happen to be in this village?" she asked.

He told her all that had transpired since the black had told him
of Hanson's duplicity.

"You say that you are a coward," she said, "and yet you have done
all this to save me? The courage that it must have taken to tell
me the things that you told me but a moment since, while courage
of a different sort, proves that you are no moral coward, and the
other proves that you are not a physical coward. I could not love
a coward."

"You mean that you love me?" he gasped in astonishment, taking
a step toward her as though to gather her into his arms; but she
placed her hand against him and pushed him gently away, as much as
to say, not yet. What she did mean she scarcely knew. She thought
that she loved him, of that there can be no question; nor did she
think that love for this young Englishman was disloyalty to Korak,
for her love for Korak was undiminished--the love of a sister for
an indulgent brother. As they stood there for the moment of their
conversation the sounds of tumult in the village subsided.

"They have killed him," whispered Meriem.

The statement brought Baynes to a realization of the cause of their

"Wait here," he said. "I will go and see. If he is dead we can
do him no good. If he lives I will do my best to free him."

"We will go together," replied Meriem. "Come!" And she led the
way back toward the tent in which they last had seen Korak. As
they went they were often forced to throw themselves to the ground
in the shadow of a tent or hut, for people were passing hurriedly
to and fro now--the whole village was aroused and moving about.
The return to the tent of Ali ben Kadin took much longer than had
their swift flight to the palisade. Cautiously they crept to the
slit that Korak's knife had made in the rear wall. Meriem peered
within--the rear apartment was empty. She crawled through the
aperture, Baynes at her heels, and then silently crossed the space
to the rugs that partitioned the tent into two rooms. Parting the
hangings Meriem looked into the front room. It, too, was deserted.
She crossed to the door of the tent and looked out. Then she gave
a little gasp of horror. Baynes at her shoulder looked past her
to the sight that had startled her, and he, too, exclaimed; but
his was an oath of anger.

A hundred feet away they saw Korak bound to a stake--the brush
piled about him already alight. The Englishman pushed Meriem to
one side and started to run for the doomed man. What he could do
in the face of scores of hostile blacks and Arabs he did not stop
to consider. At the same instant Tantor broke through the palisade
and charged the group. In the face of the maddened beast the crowd
turned and fled, carrying Baynes backward with them. In a moment
it was all over, and the elephant had disappeared with his prize;
but pandemonium reigned throughout the village. Men, women and
children ran helter skelter for safety. Curs fled, yelping. The
horses and camels and donkeys, terrorized by the trumpeting of the
pachyderm, kicked and pulled at their tethers. A dozen or more
broke loose, and it was the galloping of these past him that brought
a sudden idea into Baynes' head. He turned to search for Meriem
only to find her at his elbow.

"The horses!" he cried. "If we can get a couple of them!"

Filled with the idea Meriem led him to the far end of the village.

"Loosen two of them," she said, "and lead them back into the shadows
behind those huts. I know where there are saddles. I will bring
them and the bridles," and before he could stop her she was gone.

Baynes quickly untied two of the restive animals and led them to
the point designated by Meriem. Here he waited impatiently for
what seemed an hour; but was, in reality, but a few minutes. Then
he saw the girl approaching beneath the burden of two saddles.
Quickly they placed these upon the horses. They could see by the
light of the torture fire that still burned that the blacks and
Arabs were recovering from their panic. Men were running about
gathering in the loose stock, and two or three were already leading
their captives back to the end of the village where Meriem and
Baynes were busy with the trappings of their mounts.

Now the girl flung herself into the saddle.

"Hurry!" she whispered. "We shall have to run for it. Ride
through the gap that Tantor made," and as she saw Baynes swing his
leg over the back of his horse, she shook the reins free over her
mount's neck. With a lunge, the nervous beast leaped forward. The
shortest path led straight through the center of the village, and
this Meriem took. Baynes was close behind her, their horses running
at full speed.

So sudden and impetuous was their dash for escape that it carried
them half-way across the village before the surprised inhabitants
were aware of what was happening. Then an Arab recognized them,
and, with a cry of alarm, raised his rifle and fired. The shot
was a signal for a volley, and amid the rattle of musketry Meriem
and Baynes leaped their flying mounts through the breach in the
palisade and were gone up the well-worn trail toward the north.

And Korak?

Tantor carried him deep into the jungle, nor paused until no sound
from the distant village reached his keen ears. Then he laid
his burden gently down. Korak struggled to free himself from his
bonds, but even his great strength was unable to cope with the many
strands of hard-knotted cord that bound him. While he lay there,
working and resting by turns, the elephant stood guard above him,
nor was there jungle enemy with the hardihood to tempt the sudden
death that lay in that mighty bulk.

Dawn came, and still Korak was no nearer freedom than before. He
commenced to believe that he should die there of thirst and
starvation with plenty all about him, for he knew that Tantor could
not unloose the knots that held him.

And while he struggled through the night with his bonds, Baynes
and Meriem were riding rapidly northward along the river. The girl
had assured Baynes that Korak was safe in the jungle with Tantor.
It had not occurred to her that the ape-man might not be able to
burst his bonds. Baynes had been wounded by a shot from the rifle
of one of the Arabs, and the girl wanted to get him back to Bwana's
home, where he could be properly cared for.

"Then," she said, "I shall get Bwana to come with me and search
for Korak. He must come and live with us."

All night they rode, and the day was still young when they came
suddenly upon a party hurrying southward. It was Bwana himself and
his sleek, black warriors. At sight of Baynes the big Englishman's
brows contracted in a scowl; but he waited to hear Meriem's story
before giving vent to the long anger in his breast. When she had
finished he seemed to have forgotten Baynes. His thoughts were
occupied with another subject.

"You say that you found Korak?" he asked. "You really saw him?"

"Yes," replied Meriem; "as plainly as I see you, and I want you to
come with me, Bwana, and help me find him again."

"Did you see him?" He turned toward the Hon. Morison.

"Yes, sir," replied Baynes; "very plainly."

"What sort of appearing man is he?" continued Bwana. "About how
old, should you say?"

"I should say he was an Englishman, about my own age," replied
Baynes; "though he might be older. He is remarkably muscled, and
exceedingly tanned."

"His eyes and hair, did you notice them?" Bwana spoke rapidly,
almost excitedly. It was Meriem who answered him.

"Korak's hair is black and his eyes are gray," she said.

Bwana turned to his headman.

"Take Miss Meriem and Mr. Baynes home," he said. "I am going into
the jungle."

"Let me go with you, Bwana," cried Meriem. "You are going to search
for Korak. Let me go, too."

Bwana turned sadly but firmly upon the girl.

"Your place," he said, "is beside the man you love."

Then he motioned to his head-man to take his horse and commence the
return journey to the farm. Meriem slowly mounted the tired Arab
that had brought her from the village of The Sheik. A litter was
rigged for the now feverish Baynes, and the little cavalcade was
soon slowly winding off along the river trail.

Bwana stood watching them until they were out of sight. Not once
had Meriem turned her eyes backward. She rode with bowed head and
drooping shoulders. Bwana sighed. He loved the little Arab girl
as he might have loved an own daughter. He realized that Baynes
had redeemed himself, and so he could interpose no objections now
if Meriem really loved the man; but, somehow, some way, Bwana could
not convince himself that the Hon. Morison was worthy of his little
Meriem. Slowly he turned toward a nearby tree. Leaping upward he
caught a lower branch and drew himself up among the branches. His
movements were cat-like and agile. High into the trees he made his
way and there commenced to divest himself of his clothing. From
the game bag slung across one shoulder he drew a long strip of
doe-skin, a neatly coiled rope, and a wicked looking knife. The
doe-skin, he fashioned into a loin cloth, the rope he looped over
one shoulder, and the knife he thrust into the belt formed by his
gee string.

When he stood erect, his head thrown back and his great chest
expanded a grim smile touched his lips for a moment. His nostrils
dilated as he sniffed the jungle odors. His gray eyes narrowed.
He crouched and leaped to a lower limb and was away through the
trees toward the southeast, bearing away from the river. He moved
swiftly, stopping only occasionally to raise his voice in a weird
and piercing scream, and to listen for a moment after for a reply.

He had traveled thus for several hours when, ahead of him and
a little to his left, he heard, far off in the jungle, a faint
response--the cry of a bull ape answering his cry. His nerves
tingled and his eyes lighted as the sound fell upon his ears. Again
he voiced his hideous call, and sped forward in the new direction.

Korak, finally becoming convinced that he must die if he remained
where he was, waiting for the succor that could not come, spoke to
Tantor in the strange tongue that the great beast understood. He
commanded the elephant to lift him and carry him toward the northeast.
There, recently, Korak had seen both white men and black. If he
could come upon one of the latter it would be a simple matter to
command Tantor to capture the fellow, and then Korak could get him
to release him from the stake. It was worth trying at least--better
than lying there in the jungle until he died. As Tantor bore him
along through the forest Korak called aloud now and then in the
hope of attracting Akut's band of anthropoids, whose wanderings
often brought them into their neighborhood. Akut, he thought, might
possibly be able to negotiate the knots--he had done so upon that
other occasion when the Russian had bound Korak years before; and
Akut, to the south of him, heard his calls faintly, and came. There
was another who heard them, too.

After Bwana had left his party, sending them back toward the farm,
Meriem had ridden for a short distance with bowed head. What
thoughts passed through that active brain who may say? Presently
she seemed to come to a decision. She called the headman to her

"I am going back with Bwana," she announced.

The black shook his head. "No!" he announced. "Bwana says I take
you home. So I take you home."

"You refuse to let me go?" asked the girl.

The black nodded, and fell to the rear where he might better watch
her. Meriem half smiled. Presently her horse passed beneath a
low-hanging branch, and the black headman found himself gazing at
the girl's empty saddle. He ran forward to the tree into which
she had disappeared. He could see nothing of her. He called; but
there was no response, unless it might have been a low, taunting
laugh far to the right. He sent his men into the jungle to search
for her; but they came back empty handed. After a while he resumed
his march toward the farm, for Baynes, by this time, was delirious
with fever.

Meriem raced straight back toward the point she imagined Tantor
would make for--a point where she knew the elephants often gathered
deep in the forest due east of The Sheik's village. She moved
silently and swiftly. From her mind she had expunged all thoughts
other than that she must reach Korak and bring him back with her.
It was her place to do that. Then, too, had come the tantalizing
fear that all might not be well with him. She upbraided herself
for not thinking of that before--of letting her desire to get the
wounded Morison back to the bungalow blind her to the possibilities
of Korak's need for her. She had been traveling rapidly for several
hours without rest when she heard ahead of her the familiar cry of
a great ape calling to his kind.

She did not reply, only increased her speed until she almost flew.
Now there came to her sensitive nostrils the scent of Tantor and she
knew that she was on the right trail and close to him she sought.
She did not call out because she wished to surprise him, and presently
she did, breaking into sight of them as the great elephant shuffled
ahead balancing the man and the heavy stake upon his head, holding
them there with his upcurled trunk.

"Korak!" cried Meriem from the foliage above him.

Instantly the bull swung about, lowered his burden to the ground
and, trumpeting savagely, prepared to defend his comrade. The
ape-man, recognizing the girl's voice, felt a sudden lump in his

"Meriem!" he called back to her.

Happily the girl clambered to the ground and ran forward to release
Korak; but Tantor lowered his head ominously and trumpeted a warning.

"Go back! Go back!" cried Korak. "He will kill you."

Meriem paused. "Tantor!" she called to the huge brute. "Don't
you remember me? I am little Meriem. I used to ride on your broad
back;" but the bull only rumbled in his throat and shook his tusks
in angry defiance. Then Korak tried to placate him. Tried to
order him away, that the girl might approach and release him; but
Tantor would not go. He saw in every human being other than Korak
an enemy. He thought the girl bent upon harming his friend and
he would take no chances. For an hour the girl and the man tried
to find some means whereby they might circumvent the beast's ill
directed guardianship, but all to no avail; Tantor stood his ground
in grim determination to let no one approach Korak.

Presently the man hit upon a scheme. "Pretend to go away," he
called to the girl. "Keep down wind from us so that Tantor won't
get your scent, then follow us. After a while I'll have him put
me down, and find some pretext for sending him away. While he is
gone you can slip up and cut my bonds--have you a knife?"

"Yes, I have a knife," she replied. "I'll go now--I think we may
be able to fool him; but don't be too sure--Tantor invented cunning."

Korak smiled, for he knew that the girl was right. Presently she
had disappeared. The elephant listened, and raised his trunk to
catch her scent. Korak commanded him to raise him to his head once
more and proceed upon their way. After a moment's hesitation he
did as he was bid. It was then that Korak heard the distant call
of an ape.

"Akut!" he thought. "Good! Tantor knew Akut well. He would let
him approach." Raising his voice Korak replied to the call of the
ape; but he let Tantor move off with him through the jungle; it
would do no harm to try the other plan. They had come to a clearing
and plainly Korak smelled water. Here was a good place and a good
excuse. He ordered Tantor to lay him down, and go and fetch him
water in his trunk. The big beast deposited him upon the grass
in the center of the clearing, then he stood with cocked ears
and attentive trunk, searching for the slightest indication of
danger--there seemed to be none and he moved away in the direction
of the little brook that Korak knew was some two or three hundred
yards away. The ape-man could scarce help smiling as he thought
how cleverly he had tricked his friend; but well as he knew Tantor
he little guessed the guile of his cunning brain. The animal ambled
off across the clearing and disappeared in the jungle beyond in the
direction of the stream; but scarce had his great bulk been screened
by the dense foliage than he wheeled about and came cautiously
back to the edge of the clearing where he could see without being
seen. Tantor, by nature, is suspicious. Now he still feared
the return of the she Tarmangani who had attempted to attack his
Korak. He would just stand there for a moment and assure himself
that all was well before he continued on toward the water. Ah!
It was well that he did! There she was now dropping from the
branches of a tree across the clearing and running swiftly toward
the ape-man. Tantor waited. He would let her reach Korak before
he charged--that would ensure that she had no chance of escape.
His little eyes blazed savagely. His tail was elevated stiffly.
He could scarce restrain a desire to trumpet forth his rage to
the world. Meriem was almost at Korak's side when Tantor saw the
long knife in her hand, and then he broke forth from the jungle,
bellowing horribly, and charged down upon the frail girl.

Chapter 27

Korak screamed commands to his huge protector, in an effort to
halt him; but all to no avail. Meriem raced toward the bordering
trees with all the speed that lay in her swift, little feet; but
Tantor, for all his huge bulk, drove down upon her with the rapidity
of an express train.

Korak lay where he could see the whole frightful tragedy. The cold
sweat broke out upon his body. His heart seemed to have stopped
its beating. Meriem might reach the trees before Tantor overtook
her, but even her agility would not carry her beyond the reach of
that relentless trunk--she would be dragged down and tossed. Korak
could picture the whole frightful scene. Then Tantor would follow
her up, goring the frail, little body with his relentless tusks,
or trampling it into an unrecognizable mass beneath his ponderous

He was almost upon her now. Korak wanted to close his eyes, but
could not. His throat was dry and parched. Never in all his savage
existence had he suffered such blighting terror--never before had
he known what terror meant. A dozen more strides and the brute
would seize her. What was that? Korak's eyes started from their
sockets. A strange figure had leaped from the tree the shade of
which Meriem already had reached--leaped beyond the girl straight
into the path of the charging elephant. It was a naked white giant.
Across his shoulder a coil of rope was looped. In the band of his
gee string was a hunting knife. Otherwise he was unarmed. With
naked hands he faced the maddening Tantor. A sharp command broke
from the stranger's lips--the great beast halted in his tracks--and
Meriem swung herself upward into the tree to safety. Korak breathed
a sigh of relief not unmixed with wonder. He fastened his eyes upon
the face of Meriem's deliverer and as recognition slowly filtered
into his understanding they went wide in incredulity and surprise.

Tantor, still rumbling angrily, stood swaying to and fro close before
the giant white man. Then the latter stepped straight beneath the
upraised trunk and spoke a low word of command. The great beast
ceased his muttering. The savage light died from his eyes, and as
the stranger stepped forward toward Korak, Tantor trailed docilely
at his heels.

Meriem was watching, too, and wondering. Suddenly the man turned
toward her as though recollecting her presence after a moment of
forgetfulness. "Come! Meriem," he called, and then she recognized
him with a startled: "Bwana!" Quickly the girl dropped from the
tree and ran to his side. Tantor cocked a questioning eye at the
white giant, but receiving a warning word let Meriem approach.
Together the two walked to where Korak lay, his eyes wide with
wonder and filled with a pathetic appeal for forgiveness, and,
mayhap, a glad thankfulness for the miracle that had brought these
two of all others to his side.

"Jack!" cried the white giant, kneeling at the ape-man's side.

"Father!" came chokingly from The Killer's lips. "Thank God that it
was you. No one else in all the jungle could have stopped Tantor."

Quickly the man cut the bonds that held Korak, and as the youth
leaped to his feet and threw his arms about his father, the older
man turned toward Meriem.

"I thought," he said, sternly, "that I told you to return to the

Korak was looking at them wonderingly. In his heart was a great
yearning to take the girl in his arms; but in time he remembered
the other--the dapper young English gentleman--and that he was but
a savage, uncouth ape-man.

Meriem looked up pleadingly into Bwana's eyes.

"You told me," she said, in a very small voice, "that my place was
beside the man I loved," and she turned her eyes toward Korak all
filled with the wonderful light that no other man had yet seen in
them, and that none other ever would.

The Killer started toward her with outstretched arms; but suddenly
he fell upon one knee before her, instead, and lifting her hand to
his lips kissed it more reverently than he could have kissed the
hand of his country's queen.

A rumble from Tantor brought the three, all jungle bred, to instant
alertness. Tantor was looking toward the trees behind them, and
as their eyes followed his gaze the head and shoulders of a great
ape appeared amidst the foliage. For a moment the creature eyed
them, and then from its throat rose a loud scream of recognition
and of joy, and a moment later the beast had leaped to the ground,
followed by a score of bulls like himself, and was waddling toward
them, shouting in the primordial tongue of the anthropoid:

"Tarzan has returned! Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle!"

It was Akut, and instantly he commenced leaping and bounding about
the trio, uttering hideous shrieks and mouthings that to any other
human beings might have indicated the most ferocious rage; but
these three knew that the king of the apes was doing homage to a
king greater than himself. In his wake leaped his shaggy bulls,
vying with one another as to which could spring the highest and
which utter the most uncanny sounds.

Korak laid his hand affectionately upon his father's shoulder.

"There is but one Tarzan," he said. "There can never be another."

Two days later the three dropped from the trees on the edge of the
plain across which they could see the smoke rising from the bungalow
and the cook house chimneys. Tarzan of the Apes had regained his
civilized clothing from the tree where he had hidden it, and as
Korak refused to enter the presence of his mother in the savage
half-raiment that he had worn so long and as Meriem would not leave
him, for fear, as she explained, that he would change his mind
and run off into the jungle again, the father went on ahead to the
bungalow for horses and clothes.

My Dear met him at the gate, her eyes filled with questioning and
sorrow, for she saw that Meriem was not with him.

"Where is she?" she asked, her voice trembling. "Muviri told me
that she disobeyed your instructions and ran off into the jungle
after you had left them. Oh, John, I cannot bear to lose her, too!"
And Lady Greystoke broke down and wept, as she pillowed her head
upon the broad breast where so often before she had found comfort
in the great tragedies of her life.

Lord Greystoke raised her head and looked down into her eyes, his
own smiling and filled with the light of happiness.

"What is it, John?" she cried. "You have good news--do not keep
me waiting for it."

"I want to be quite sure that you can stand hearing the best news
that ever came to either of us," he said.

"Joy never kills," she cried. "You have found--her?" She could
not bring herself to hope for the impossible.

"Yes, Jane," he said, and his voice was husky with emotion; "I have
found her, and--HIM!"

"Where is he? Where are they?" she demanded.

"Out there at the edge of the jungle. He wouldn't come to you in
his savage leopard skin and his nakedness--he sent me to fetch him
civilized clothing."

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest