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down her cheeks and her whole frame shook with the emotion of the
moment.

"Come!" said Anderssen. "We got no time to vaste."

He snatched up her bundle of blankets, and outside the cabin door his
own as well. Then he led her to the ship's side, steadied her descent
of the monkey-ladder, holding the child for her as she climbed to the
waiting boat below. A moment later he had cut the rope that held the
small boat to the steamer's side, and, bending silently to the muffled
oars, was pulling toward the black shadows up the Ugambi River.

Anderssen rowed on as though quite sure of his ground, and when after
half an hour the moon broke through the clouds there was revealed upon
their left the mouth of a tributary running into the Ugambi. Up this
narrow channel the Swede turned the prow of the small boat.

Jane Clayton wondered if the man knew where he was bound. She did not
know that in his capacity as cook he had that day been rowed up this
very stream to a little village where he had bartered with the natives
for such provisions as they had for sale, and that he had there
arranged the details of his plan for the adventure upon which they were
now setting forth.

Even though the moon was full, the surface of the small river was quite
dark. The giant trees overhung its narrow banks, meeting in a great
arch above the centre of the river. Spanish moss dropped from the
gracefully bending limbs, and enormous creepers clambered in riotous
profusion from the ground to the loftiest branch, falling in curving
loops almost to the water's placid breast.

Now and then the river's surface would be suddenly broken ahead of them
by a huge crocodile, startled by the splashing of the oars, or,
snorting and blowing, a family of hippos would dive from a sandy bar to
the cool, safe depths of the bottom.

From the dense jungles upon either side came the weird night cries of
the carnivora - the maniacal voice of the hyena, the coughing grunt of
the panther, the deep and awful roar of the lion. And with them
strange, uncanny notes that the girl could not ascribe to any
particular night prowler - more terrible because of their mystery.

Huddled in the stern of the boat she sat with her baby strained close
to her bosom, and because of that little tender, helpless thing she was
happier tonight than she had been for many a sorrow-ridden day.

Even though she knew not to what fate she was going, or how soon that
fate might overtake her, still was she happy and thankful for the
moment, however brief, that she might press her baby tightly in her
arms. She could scarce wait for the coming of the day that she might
look again upon the bright face of her little, black-eyed Jack.

Again and again she tried to strain her eyes through the blackness of
the jungle night to have but a tiny peep at those beloved features, but
only the dim outline of the baby face rewarded her efforts. Then once
more she would cuddle the warm, little bundle close to her throbbing
heart.

It must have been close to three o'clock in the morning that Anderssen
brought the boat's nose to the shore before a clearing where could be
dimly seen in the waning moonlight a cluster of native huts encircled
by a thorn boma.

At the village gate they were admitted by a native woman, the wife of
the chief whom Anderssen had paid to assist him. She took them to the
chief's hut, but Anderssen said that they would sleep without upon the
ground, and so, her duty having been completed, she left them to their
own devices.

The Swede, after explaining in his gruff way that the huts were
doubtless filthy and vermin-ridden, spread Jane's blankets on the
ground for her, and at a little distance unrolled his own and lay down
to sleep.

It was some time before the girl could find a comfortable position upon
the hard ground, but at last, the baby in the hollow of her arm, she
dropped asleep from utter exhaustion. When she awoke it was broad
daylight.

About her were clustered a score of curious natives - mostly men, for
among the aborigines it is the male who owns this characteristic in its
most exaggerated form. Instinctively Jane Clayton drew the baby more
closely to her, though she soon saw that the blacks were far from
intending her or the child any harm.

In fact, one of them offered her a gourd of milk - a filthy,
smoke-begrimed gourd, with the ancient rind of long-curdled milk caked
in layers within its neck; but the spirit of the giver touched her
deeply, and her face lightened for a moment with one of those almost
forgotten smiles of radiance that had helped to make her beauty famous
both in Baltimore and London.

She took the gourd in one hand, and rather than cause the giver pain
raised it to her lips, though for the life of her she could scarce
restrain the qualm of nausea that surged through her as the malodorous
thing approached her nostrils.

It was Anderssen who came to her rescue, and taking the gourd from her,
drank a portion himself, and then returned it to the native with a gift
of blue beads.

The sun was shining brightly now, and though the baby still slept, Jane
could scarce restrain her impatient desire to have at least a brief
glance at the beloved face. The natives had withdrawn at a command
from their chief, who now stood talking with Anderssen, a little apart
from her.

As she debated the wisdom of risking disturbing the child's slumber by
lifting the blanket that now protected its face from the sun, she noted
that the cook conversed with the chief in the language of the Negro.

What a remarkable man the fellow was, indeed! She had thought him
ignorant and stupid but a short day before, and now, within the past
twenty-four hours, she had learned that he spoke not only English but
French as well, and the primitive dialect of the West Coast.

She had thought him shifty, cruel, and untrustworthy, yet in so far as
she had reason to believe he had proved himself in every way the
contrary since the day before. It scarce seemed credible that he could
be serving her from motives purely chivalrous. There must be something
deeper in his intentions and plans than he had yet disclosed.

She wondered, and when she looked at him - at his close-set, shifty eyes
and repulsive features, she shuddered, for she was convinced that no
lofty characteristics could be hid behind so foul an exterior.

As she was thinking of these things the while she debated the wisdom of
uncovering the baby's face, there came a little grunt from the wee
bundle in her lap, and then a gurgling coo that set her heart in
raptures.

The baby was awake! Now she might feast her eyes upon him.

Quickly she snatched the blanket from before the infant's face;
Anderssen was looking at her as she did so.

He saw her stagger to her feet, holding the baby at arm's length from
her, her eyes glued in horror upon the little chubby face and twinkling
eyes.

Then he heard her piteous cry as her knees gave beneath her, and she
sank to the ground in a swoon.




Chapter 10

The Swede


As the warriors, clustered thick about Tarzan and Sheeta, realized that
it was a flesh-and-blood panther that had interrupted their dance of
death, they took heart a trifle, for in the face of all those circling
spears even the mighty Sheeta would be doomed.

Rokoff was urging the chief to have his spearmen launch their missiles,
and the black was upon the instant of issuing the command, when his
eyes strayed beyond Tarzan, following the gaze of the ape-man.

With a yell of terror the chief turned and fled toward the village
gate, and as his people looked to see the cause of his fright, they too
took to their heels - for there, lumbering down upon them, their huge
forms exaggerated by the play of moonlight and camp fire, came the
hideous apes of Akut.

The instant the natives turned to flee the ape-man's savage cry rang
out above the shrieks of the blacks, and in answer to it Sheeta and the
apes leaped growling after the fugitives. Some of the warriors turned
to battle with their enraged antagonists, but before the fiendish
ferocity of the fierce beasts they went down to bloody death.

Others were dragged down in their flight, and it was not until the
village was empty and the last of the blacks had disappeared into the
bush that Tarzan was able to recall his savage pack to his side. Then
it was that he discovered to his chagrin that he could not make one of
them, not even the comparatively intelligent Akut, understand that he
wished to be freed from the bonds that held him to the stake.

In time, of course, the idea would filter through their thick skulls,
but in the meanwhile many things might happen - the blacks might return
in force to regain their village; the whites might readily pick them
all off with their rifles from the surrounding trees; he might even
starve to death before the dull-witted apes realized that he wished
them to gnaw through his bonds.

As for Sheeta - the great cat understood even less than the apes; but
yet Tarzan could not but marvel at the remarkable characteristics this
beast had evidenced. That it felt real affection for him there seemed
little doubt, for now that the blacks were disposed of it walked slowly
back and forth about the stake, rubbing its sides against the ape-man's
legs and purring like a contented tabby. That it had gone of its own
volition to bring the balance of the pack to his rescue, Tarzan could
not doubt. His Sheeta was indeed a jewel among beasts.

Mugambi's absence worried the ape-man not a little. He attempted to
learn from Akut what had become of the black, fearing that the beasts,
freed from the restraint of Tarzan's presence, might have fallen upon
the man and devoured him; but to all his questions the great ape but
pointed back in the direction from which they had come out of the
jungle.

The night passed with Tarzan still fast bound to the stake, and shortly
after dawn his fears were realized in the discovery of naked black
figures moving stealthily just within the edge of the jungle about the
village. The blacks were returning.

With daylight their courage would be equal to the demands of a charge
upon the handful of beasts that had routed them from their rightful
abodes. The result of the encounter seemed foregone if the savages
could curb their superstitious terror, for against their overwhelming
numbers, their long spears and poisoned arrows, the panther and the
apes could not be expected to survive a really determined attack.

That the blacks were preparing for a charge became apparent a few
moments later, when they commenced to show themselves in force upon the
edge of the clearing, dancing and jumping about as they waved their
spears and shouted taunts and fierce warcries toward the village.

These manoeuvres Tarzan knew would continue until the blacks had worked
themselves into a state of hysterical courage sufficient to sustain
them for a short charge toward the village, and even though he doubted
that they would reach it at the first attempt, he believed that at the
second or the third they would swarm through the gateway, when the
outcome could not be aught than the extermination of Tarzan's bold, but
unarmed and undisciplined, defenders.

Even as he had guessed, the first charge carried the howling warriors
but a short distance into the open - a shrill, weird challenge from the
ape-man being all that was necessary to send them scurrying back to the
bush. For half an hour they pranced and yelled their courage to the
sticking-point, and again essayed a charge.

This time they came quite to the village gate, but when Sheeta and the
hideous apes leaped among them they turned screaming in terror, and
again fled to the jungle.

Again was the dancing and shouting repeated. This time Tarzan felt no
doubt they would enter the village and complete the work that a handful
of determined white men would have carried to a successful conclusion
at the first attempt.

To have rescue come so close only to be thwarted because he could not
make his poor, savage friends understand precisely what he wanted of
them was most irritating, but he could not find it in his heart to
place blame upon them. They had done their best, and now he was sure
they would doubtless remain to die with him in a fruitless effort to
defend him.

The blacks were already preparing for the charge. A few individuals
had advanced a short distance toward the village and were exhorting the
others to follow them. In a moment the whole savage horde would be
racing across the clearing.

Tarzan thought only of the little child somewhere in this cruel,
relentless wilderness. His heart ached for the son that he might no
longer seek to save - that and the realization of Jane's suffering were
all that weighed upon his brave spirit in these that he thought his
last moments of life. Succour, all that he could hope for, had come to
him in the instant of his extremity - and failed. There was nothing
further for which to hope.

The blacks were half-way across the clearing when Tarzan's attention
was attracted by the actions of one of the apes. The beast was glaring
toward one of the huts. Tarzan followed his gaze. To his infinite
relief and delight he saw the stalwart form of Mugambi racing toward
him.

The huge black was panting heavily as though from strenuous physical
exertion and nervous excitement. He rushed to Tarzan's side, and as
the first of the savages reached the village gate the native's knife
severed the last of the cords that bound Tarzan to the stake.

In the street lay the corpses of the savages that had fallen before the
pack the night before. From one of these Tarzan seized a spear and
knob stick, and with Mugambi at his side and the snarling pack about
him, he met the natives as they poured through the gate.

Fierce and terrible was the battle that ensued, but at last the savages
were routed, more by terror, perhaps, at sight of a black man and a
white fighting in company with a panther and the huge fierce apes of
Akut, than because of their inability to overcome the relatively small
force that opposed them.

One prisoner fell into the hands of Tarzan, and him the ape-man
questioned in an effort to learn what had become of Rokoff and his
party. Promised his liberty in return for the information, the black
told all he knew concerning the movements of the Russian.

It seemed that early in the morning their chief had attempted to
prevail upon the whites to return with him to the village and with
their guns destroy the ferocious pack that had taken possession of it,
but Rokoff appeared to entertain even more fears of the giant white man
and his strange companions than even the blacks themselves.

Upon no conditions would he consent to returning even within sight of
the village. Instead, he took his party hurriedly to the river, where
they stole a number of canoes the blacks had hidden there. The last
that had been seen of them they had been paddling strongly up-stream,
their porters from Kaviri's village wielding the blades.

So once more Tarzan of the Apes with his hideous pack took up his
search for the ape-man's son and the pursuit of his abductor.

For weary days they followed through an almost uninhabited country,
only to learn at last that they were upon the wrong trail. The little
band had been reduced by three, for three of Akut's apes had fallen in
the fighting at the village. Now, with Akut, there were five great
apes, and Sheeta was there - and Mugambi and Tarzan.

The ape-man no longer heard rumors even of the three who had preceded
Rokoff - the white man and woman and the child. Who the man and woman
were he could not guess, but that the child was his was enough to keep
him hot upon the trail. He was sure that Rokoff would be following
this trio, and so he felt confident that so long as he could keep upon
the Russian's trail he would be winning so much nearer to the time he
might snatch his son from the dangers and horrors that menaced him.

In retracing their way after losing Rokoff's trail Tarzan picked it up
again at a point where the Russian had left the river and taken to the
brush in a northerly direction. He could only account for this change
on the ground that the child had been carried away from the river by
the two who now had possession of it.

Nowhere along the way, however, could he gain definite information that
might assure him positively that the child was ahead of him. Not a
single native they questioned had seen or heard of this other party,
though nearly all had had direct experience with the Russian or had
talked with others who had.

It was with difficulty that Tarzan could find means to communicate with
the natives, as the moment their eyes fell upon his companions they
fled precipitately into the bush. His only alternative was to go ahead
of his pack and waylay an occasional warrior whom he found alone in the
jungle.

One day as he was thus engaged, tracking an unsuspecting savage, he
came upon the fellow in the act of hurling a spear at a wounded white
man who crouched in a clump of bush at the trail's side. The white was
one whom Tarzan had often seen, and whom he recognized at once.

Deep in his memory was implanted those repulsive features - the
close-set eyes, the shifty expression, the drooping yellow moustache.

Instantly it occurred to the ape-man that this fellow had not been
among those who had accompanied Rokoff at the village where Tarzan had
been a prisoner. He had seen them all, and this fellow had not been
there. There could be but one explanation - he it was who had fled
ahead of the Russian with the woman and the child - and the woman had
been Jane Clayton. He was sure now of the meaning of Rokoff's words.

The ape-man's face went white as he looked upon the pasty, vice-marked
countenance of the Swede. Across Tarzan's forehead stood out the broad
band of scarlet that marked the scar where, years before, Terkoz had
torn a great strip of the ape-man's scalp from his skull in the fierce
battle in which Tarzan had sustained his fitness to the kingship of the
apes of Kerchak.

The man was his prey - the black should not have him, and with the
thought he leaped upon the warrior, striking down the spear before it
could reach its mark. The black, whipping out his knife, turned to do
battle with this new enemy, while the Swede, lying in the bush,
witnessed a duel, the like of which he had never dreamed to see - a
half-naked white man battling with a half-naked black, hand to hand
with the crude weapons of primeval man at first, and then with hands
and teeth like the primordial brutes from whose loins their forebears
sprung.

For a time Anderssen did not recognize the white, and when at last it
dawned upon him that he had seen this giant before, his eyes went wide
in surprise that this growling, rending beast could ever have been the
well-groomed English gentleman who had been a prisoner aboard the
Kincaid.

An English nobleman! He had learned the identity of the Kincaid's
prisoners from Lady Greystoke during their flight up the Ugambi.
Before, in common with the other members of the crew of the steamer, he
had not known who the two might be.

The fight was over. Tarzan had been compelled to kill his antagonist,
as the fellow would not surrender.

The Swede saw the white man leap to his feet beside the corpse of his
foe, and placing one foot upon the broken neck lift his voice in the
hideous challenge of the victorious bull-ape.

Anderssen shuddered. Then Tarzan turned toward him. His face was cold
and cruel, and in the grey eyes the Swede read murder.

"Where is my wife?" growled the ape-man. "Where is the child?"

Anderssen tried to reply, but a sudden fit of coughing choked him.
There was an arrow entirely through his chest, and as he coughed the
blood from his wounded lung poured suddenly from his mouth and nostrils.

Tarzan stood waiting for the paroxysm to pass. Like a bronze
image - cold, hard, and relentless - he stood over the helpless man,
waiting to wring such information from him as he needed, and then to
kill.

Presently the coughing and haemorrhage ceased, and again the wounded
man tried to speak. Tarzan knelt near the faintly moving lips.

"The wife and child!" he repeated. "Where are they?"

Anderssen pointed up the trail.

"The Russian - he got them," he whispered.

"How did you come here?" continued Tarzan. "Why are you not with
Rokoff?"

"They catch us," replied Anderssen, in a voice so low that the ape-man
could just distinguish the words. "They catch us. Ay fight, but my
men they all run away. Then they get me when Ay ban vounded. Rokoff
he say leave me here for the hyenas. That vas vorse than to kill. He
tak your vife and kid."

"What were you doing with them - where were you taking them?" asked
Tarzan, and then fiercely, leaping close to the fellow with fierce eyes
blazing with the passion of hate and vengeance that he had with
difficulty controlled, "What harm did you do to my wife or child?
Speak quick before I kill you! Make your peace with God! Tell me the
worst, or I will tear you to pieces with my hands and teeth. You have
seen that I can do it!"

A look of wide-eyed surprise overspread Anderssen's face.

"Why," he whispered, "Ay did not hurt them. Ay tried to save them from
that Russian. Your vife was kind to me on the Kincaid, and Ay hear
that little baby cry sometimes. Ay got a vife an' kid for my own by
Christiania an' Ay couldn't bear for to see them separated an' in
Rokoff's hands any more. That vas all. Do Ay look like Ay ban here
to hurt them?" he continued after a pause, pointing to the arrow
protruding from his breast.

There was something in the man's tone and expression that convinced
Tarzan of the truth of his assertions. More weighty than anything else
was the fact that Anderssen evidently seemed more hurt than frightened.
He knew he was going to die, so Tarzan's threats had little effect upon
him; but it was quite apparent that he wished the Englishman to know
the truth and not to wrong him by harbouring the belief that his words
and manner indicated that he had entertained.

The ape-man instantly dropped to his knees beside the Swede.

"I am sorry," he said very simply. "I had looked for none but knaves
in company with Rokoff. I see that I was wrong. That is past now,
and we will drop it for the more important matter of getting you to a
place of comfort and looking after your wounds. We must have you on
your feet again as soon as possible."

The Swede, smiling, shook his head.

"You go on an' look for the vife an' kid," he said. "Ay ban as gude
as dead already; but" - he hesitated - "Ay hate to think of the hyenas.
Von't you finish up this job?"

Tarzan shuddered. A moment ago he had been upon the point of killing
this man. Now he could no more have taken his life than he could have
taken the life of any of his best friends.

He lifted the Swede's head in his arms to change and ease his position.

Again came a fit of coughing and the terrible haemorrhage. After it
was over Anderssen lay with closed eyes.

Tarzan thought that he was dead, until he suddenly raised his eyes to
those of the ape-man, sighed, and spoke - in a very low, weak whisper.

"Ay tank it blow purty soon purty hard!" he said, and died.




Chapter 11

Tambudza


Tarzan scooped a shallow grave for the Kincaid's cook, beneath whose
repulsive exterior had beaten the heart of a chivalrous gentleman.
That was all he could do in the cruel jungle for the man who had given
his life in the service of his little son and his wife.

Then Tarzan took up again the pursuit of Rokoff. Now that he was
positive that the woman ahead of him was indeed Jane, and that she had
again fallen into the hands of the Russian, it seemed that with all the
incredible speed of his fleet and agile muscles he moved at but a
snail's pace.

It was with difficulty that he kept the trail, for there were many
paths through the jungle at this point - crossing and crisscrossing,
forking and branching in all directions, and over them all had passed
natives innumerable, coming and going. The spoor of the white men was
obliterated by that of the native carriers who had followed them, and
over all was the spoor of other natives and of wild beasts.

It was most perplexing; yet Tarzan kept on assiduously, checking his
sense of sight against his sense of smell, that he might more surely
keep to the right trail. But, with all his care, night found him at a


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Online LibraryEdgar Rice BurroughsBeasts of Tarzan → online text (page 7 of 15)