Clayton dreamed that he was drinking his fill of water,
pure, delightful drafts of fresh water. With a start he
gained consciousness to find himself wet through by
torrents of rain that were falling upon his body and his
upturned face. A heavy tropical shower was beating down
upon them. He opened his mouth and drank. Presently he
was so revived and strengthened that he was enabled to
raise himself upon his hands. Across his legs lay
Monsieur Thuran. A few feet aft Jane Porter was huddled
in a pitiful little heap in the bottom of the boat--she
was quite still. Clayton knew that she was dead.
After infinite labor he released himself from Thuran's
pinioning body, and with renewed strength crawled toward the girl.
He raised her head from the rough boards of the boat's bottom.
There might be life in that poor, starved frame even yet.
He could not quite abandon all hope, and so he seized a
water-soaked rag and squeezed the precious drops between
the swollen lips of the hideous thing that had but a few
short days before glowed with the resplendent life of
happy youth and glorious beauty.
For some time there was no sign of returning animation,
but at last his efforts were rewarded by a slight tremor of
the half-closed lids. He chafed the thin hands, and forced a
few more drops of water into the parched throat. The girl
opened her eyes, looking up at him for a long time before
she could recall her surroundings.
"water?" she whispered. "Are we saved?"
"It is raining," he explained. "We may at least drink.
Already it has revived us both."
"Monsieur Thuran?" she asked. "He did not kill you. Is he dead?"
"I do not know," replied Clayton. "If he lives and this
rain revives him--" But he stopped there, remembering too
late that he must not add further to the horrors which the
girl already had endured.
But she guessed what he would have said.
"Where is he?" she asked.
Clayton nodded his head toward the prostrate form of
the Russian. For a time neither spoke.
"I will see if I can revive him," said Clayton at length.
"No," she whispered, extending a detaining hand toward him.
"Do not do that--he will kill you when the water has
given him strength. If he is dying, let him die. Do not leave
me alone in this boat with that beast."
Clayton hesitated. His honor demanded that he attempt
to revive Thuran, and there was the possibility, too, that the
Russian was beyond human aid. It was not dishonorable to
hope so. As he sat fighting out his battle he presently raised
his eyes from the body of the man, and as they passed above
the gunwale of the boat he staggered weakly to his feet with
a little cry of joy.
"Land, Jane!" he almost shouted through his cracked lips.
"Thank God, land!"
The girl looked, too, and there, not a hundred yards away,
she saw a yellow beach, and, beyond, the luxurious foliage
of a tropical jungle.
"Now you may revive him," said Jane Porter, for she, too,
had been haunted with the pangs of conscience which had
resulted from her decision to prevent Clayton from offering
succor to their companion.
It required the better part of half an hour before the
Russian evinced sufficient symptoms of returning consciousness
to open his eyes, and it was some time later before
they could bring him to a realization of their good fortune.
By this time the boat was scraping gently upon the sandy bottom.
Between the refreshing water that he had drunk and the
stimulus of renewed hope, Clayton found strength to stagger
through the shallow water to the shore with a line made
fast to the boat's bow. This he fastened to a small tree which
grew at the top of a low bank, for the tide was at flood, and
he feared that the boat might carry them all out to sea again
with the ebb, since it was quite likely that it would be beyond
his strength to get Jane Porter to the shore for several hours.
Next he managed to stagger and crawl toward the near-
by jungle, where he had seen evidences of profusion of
tropical fruit. His former experience in the jungle of
Tarzan of the Apes had taught him which of the many growing
things were edible, and after nearly an hour of absence he
returned to the beach with a little armful of food.
The rain had ceased, and the hot sun was beating down so
mercilessly upon her that Jane Porter insisted on making an
immediate attempt to gain the land. Still further invigorated
by the food Clayton had brought, the three were able to reach
the half shade of the small tree to which their boat was moored.
Here, thoroughly exhausted, they threw themselves down to rest,
sleeping until dark.
For a month they lived upon the beach in comparative safety.
As their strength returned the two men constructed a rude
shelter in the branches of a tree, high enough from the
ground to insure safety from the larger beasts of prey.
By day they gathered fruits and trapped small rodents; at night
they lay cowering within their frail shelter while savage
denizens of the jungle made hideous the hours of darkness.
They slept upon litters of jungle grasses, and for covering
at night Jane Porter had only an old ulster that belonged
to Clayton, the same garment that he had worn upon that
memorable trip to the Wisconsin woods. Clayton had erected
a frail partition of boughs to divide their arboreal shelter
into two rooms--one for the girl and the other for Monsieur
Thuran and himself.
From the first the Russian had exhibited every trait of his
true character--selfishness, boorishness, arrogance,
cowardice, and lust. Twice had he and Clayton come to
blows because of Thuran's attitude toward the girl.
Clayton dared not leave her alone with him for an instant.
The existence of the Englishman and his fiancee was one
continual nightmare of horror, and yet they lived on in
hope of ultimate rescue.
Jane Porter's thoughts often reverted to her other experience
on this savage shore. Ah, if the invincible forest God
of that dead past were but with them now. No longer would
there be aught to fear from prowling beasts, or from the
bestial Russian. She could not well refrain from comparing
the scant protection afforded her by Clayton with what she
might have expected had Tarzan of the Apes been for a
single instant confronted by the sinister and menacing
attitude of Monsieur Thuran. Once, when Clayton had gone
to the little stream for water, and Thuran had spoken coarsely
to her, she voiced her thoughts.
"It is well for you, Monsieur Thuran," she said, "that the
poor Monsieur Tarzan who was lost from the ship that brought
you and Miss Strong to Cape Town is not here now."
"You knew the pig?" asked Thuran, with a sneer.
"I knew the man," she replied. "The only real man, I
think, that I have ever known."
There was something in her tone of voice that led the Russian
to attribute to her a deeper feeling for his enemy than
friendship, and he grasped at the suggestion to be further
revenged upon the man whom he supposed dead by besmirching
his memory to the girl.
"He was worse than a pig," he cried. "He was a poltroon
and a coward. To save himself from the righteous wrath of
the husband of a woman he had wronged, he perjured his
soul in an attempt to place the blame entirely upon her.
Not succeeding in this, he ran away from France to escape
meeting the husband upon the field of honor. That is why
he was on board the ship that bore Miss Strong and myself to
Cape Town. I know whereof I speak, for the woman in the
case is my sister. Something more I know that I have never
told another--your brave Monsieur Tarzan leaped overboard
in an agony of fear because I recognized him, and insisted
that he make reparation to me the following morning--we
could have fought with knives in my stateroom."
Jane Porter laughed. "You do not for a moment imagine
that one who has known both Monsieur Tarzan and you
could ever believe such an impossible tale?"
"Then why did he travel under an assumed name?" asked
"I do not believe you," she cried, but nevertheless the
seed of suspicion was sown, for she knew that Hazel Strong
had known her forest God only as John Caldwell, of London.
A scant five miles north of their rude shelter, all unknown
to them, and practically as remote as though separated by
thousands of miles of impenetrable jungle, lay the snug
little cabin of Tarzan of the Apes. While farther up the
coast, a few miles beyond the cabin, in crude but well-built
shelters, lived a little party of eighteen souls--the occupants
of the three boats from the LADY ALICE from which Clayton's
boat had become separated.
Over a smooth sea they had rowed to the mainland in less
than three days. None of the horrors of shipwreck had been
theirs, and though depressed by sorrow, and suffering from
the shock of the catastrophe and the unaccustomed hardships
of their new existence there was none much the worse
for the experience.
All were buoyed by the hope that the fourth boat had
been picked up, and that a thorough search of the coast
would be quickly made. As all the firearms and ammunition
on the yacht had been placed in Lord Tennington's boat,
the party was well equipped for defense, and for hunting
the larger game for food.
Professor Archimedes Q. Porter was their only immediate anxiety.
Fully assured in his own mind that his daughter had been
picked up by a passing steamer, he gave over the last
vestige of apprehension concerning her welfare, and
devoted his giant intellect solely to the consideration of
those momentous and abstruse scientific problems which he
considered the only proper food for thought in one of
his erudition. His mind appeared blank to the influence
of all extraneous matters.
"Never," said the exhausted Mr. Samuel T. Philander, to
Lord Tennington, "never has Professor Porter been more
difficult--er--I might say, impossible. Why, only this
morning, after I had been forced to relinquish my surveillance
for a brief half hour he was entirely missing upon my return.
And, bless me, sir, where do you imagine I discovered him?
A half mile out in the ocean, sir, in one of the lifeboats,
rowing away for dear life. I do not know how he attained
even that magnificent distance from shore, for he had but a
single oar, with which he was blissfully rowing about in circles.
"When one of the sailors had taken me out to him in
another boat the professor became quite indignant at my
suggestion that we return at once to land. `Why, Mr. Philander,'
he said, `I am surprised that you, sir, a man of letters
yourself, should have the temerity so to interrupt the
progress of science. I had about deduced from certain astronomic
phenomena I have had under minute observation during the
past several tropic nights an entirely new nebular hypothesis
which will unquestionably startle the scientific world. I wish
to consult a very excellent monograph on Laplace's hypothesis,
which I understand is in a certain private collection in
New York City. Your interference, Mr. Philander, will result
in an irreparable delay, for I was just rowing over to obtain
this pamphlet.' And it was with the greatest difficulty that I
persuaded him to return to shore, without resorting to force,"
concluded Mr. Philander.
Miss Strong and her mother were very brave under the
strain of almost constant apprehension of the attacks of
savage beasts. Nor were they quite able to accept so readily
as the others the theory that Jane, Clayton, and Monsieur Thuran
had been picked up safely.
Jane Porter's Esmeralda was in a constant state of tears at the
cruel fate which had separated her from her "po, li'le honey."
Lord Tennington's great-hearted good nature never deserted
him for a moment. He was still the jovial host, seeking
always for the comfort and pleasure of his guests. With the
men of his yacht he remained the just but firm commander
--there was never any more question in the jungle than there
had been on board the LADY ALICE as to who was the final
authority in all questions of importance, and in all
emergencies requiring cool and intelligent leadership.
Could this well-organized and comparatively secure party
of castaways have seen the ragged, fear-haunted trio a few
miles south of them they would scarcely have recognized in
them the formerly immaculate members of the little company
that had laughed and played upon the LADY ALICE.
Clayton and Monsieur Thuran were almost naked, so torn
had their clothes been by the thorn bushes and tangled
vegetation of the matted jungle through which they had been
compelled to force their way in search of their ever more
difficult food supply.
Jane Porter had of course not been subjected to these
strenuous expeditions, but her apparel was, nevertheless,
in a sad state of disrepair.
Clayton, for lack of any better occupation, had carefully
saved the skin of every animal they had killed. By stretching
them upon the stems of trees, and diligently scraping them,
he had managed to save them in a fair condition, and now
that his clothes were threatening to cover his nakedness no
longer, he commenced to fashion a rude garment of them,
using a sharp thorn for a needle, and bits of tough grass and
animal tendons in lieu of thread.
The result when completed was a sleeveless garment which
fell nearly to his knees. As it was made up of numerous
small pelts of different species of rodents, it presented a
rather strange and wonderful appearance, which, together
with the vile stench which permeated it, rendered it anything
other than a desirable addition to a wardrobe. But the time
came when for the sake of decency he was compelled to don
it, and even the misery of their condition could not prevent
Jane Porter from laughing heartily at sight of him.
Later, Thuran also found it necessary to construct a similar
primitive garment, so that, with their bare legs and heavily
bearded faces, they looked not unlike reincarnations of two
prehistoric progenitors of the human race. Thuran acted like one.
Nearly two months of this existence had passed when the
first great calamity befell them. It was prefaced by an
adventure which came near terminating abruptly the sufferings
of two of them--terminating them in the grim and horrible
manner of the jungle, forever.
Thuran, down with an attack of jungle fever, lay in the
shelter among the branches of their tree of refuge.
Clayton had been into the jungle a few hundred yards
in search of food. As he returned Jane Porter walked
to meet him. Behind the man, cunning and crafty,
crept an old and mangy lion. For three days his ancient
thews and sinews had proved insufficient for the task of
providing his cavernous belly with meat. For months he
had eaten less and less frequently, and farther and farther
had he roamed from his accustomed haunts in search of
easier prey. At last he had found nature's weakest and
most defenseless creature--in a moment more Numa would dine.
Clayton, all unconscious of the lurking death behind him,
strode out into the open toward Jane. He had reached her
side, a hundred feet from the tangled edge of jungle when
past his shoulder the girl saw the tawny head and the
wicked yellow eyes as the grasses parted, and the huge
beast, nose to ground, stepped softly into view.
So frozen with horror was she that she could utter no
sound, but the fixed and terrified gaze of her fear-widened
eyes spoke as plainly to Clayton as words. A quick glance
behind him revealed the hopelessness of their situation.
The lion was scarce thirty paces from them, and they were
equally as far from the shelter. The man was armed with
a stout stick--as efficacious against a hungry lion,
he realized, as a toy pop-gun charged with a tethered cork.
Numa, ravenous with hunger, had long since learned the
futility of roaring and moaning as he searched for prey,
but now that it was as surely his as though already he had
felt the soft flesh beneath his still mighty paw, he opened his
huge jaws, and gave vent to his long-pent rage in a series of
deafening roars that made the air tremble.
"Run, Jane!" cried Clayton. "Quick! Run for the shelter!"
But her paralyzed muscles refused to respond, and she stood
mute and rigid, staring with ghastly countenance at the
living death creeping toward them.
Thuran, at the sound of that awful roar, had come to
the opening of the shelter, and as he saw the tableau below
him he hopped up and down, shrieking to them in Russian.
"Run! Run!" he cried. "Run, or I shall be left all alone in
this horrible place," and then he broke down and commenced to weep.
For a moment this new voice distracted the attention of the
lion, who halted to cast an inquiring glance in the direction
of the tree. Clayton could endure the strain no longer.
Turning his back upon the beast, he buried his head in
his arms and waited.
The girl looked at him in horror. Why did he not do
something? If he must die, why not die like a man--bravely;
beating at that terrible face with his puny stick, no matter how
futile it might be. Would Tarzan of the Apes have done thus?
Would he not at least have gone down to his death fighting
heroically to the last?
Now the lion was crouching for the spring that would end
their young lives beneath cruel, rending, yellow fangs.
Jane Porter sank to her knees in prayer, closing her eyes
to shut out the last hideous instant. Thuran, weak
from fever, fainted.
Seconds dragged into minutes, long minutes into an eternity,
and yet the beast did not spring. Clayton was almost
unconscious from the prolonged agony of fright--his
knees trembled--a moment more and he would collapse.
Jane Porter could endure it no longer. She opened her eyes.
Could she be dreaming?
"William," she whispered; "look!"
Clayton mastered himself sufficiently to raise his head and
turn toward the lion. An ejaculation of surprise burst from
his lips. At their very feet the beast lay crumpled in death.
A heavy war spear protruded from the tawny hide. It had
entered the great back above the right shoulder, and, passing
entirely through the body, had pierced the savage heart.
Jane Porter had risen to her feet; as Clayton turned back
to her she staggered in weakness. He put out his arms to
save her from falling, and then drew her close to
him--pressing her head against his shoulder, he stooped
to kiss her in thanksgiving.
Gently the girl pushed him away.
"Please do not do that, William," she said. "I have lived a
thousand years in the past brief moments. I have learned in
the face of death how to live. I do not wish to hurt you more
than is necessary; but I can no longer bear to live out the
impossible position I have attempted because of a false sense
of loyalty to an impulsive promise I made you.
"The last few seconds of my life have taught me that it
would be hideous to attempt further to deceive myself and
you, or to entertain for an instant longer the possibility of
ever becoming your wife, should we regain civilization."
"Why, Jane," he cried, "what do you mean? What has our
providential rescue to do with altering your feelings toward me?
You are but unstrung--tomorrow you will be yourself again."
"I am more nearly myself this minute than I have been for
over a year," she replied. "The thing that has just happened
has again forced to my memory the fact that the bravest man
that ever lived honored me with his love. Until it was too
late I did not realize that I returned it, and so I sent him away.
He is dead now, and I shall never marry. I certainly could
not wed another less brave than he without harboring constantly
a feeling of contempt for the relative cowardice of my husband.
Do you understand me?"
"Yes," he answered, with bowed head, his face mantling
with the flush of shame.
And it was the next day that the great calamity befell.
Return of Tarzan Chapter 20
... Return of Tarzan Chapter 22