Tarzan of the Apes
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part 1 out of 6
Created by Judith Boss, Omaha, Nebraska
Tarzan of the Apes
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
I Out to Sea
II The Savage Home
III Life and Death
IV The Apes
V The White Ape
VI Jungle Battles
VII The Light of Knowledge
VIII The Tree-top Hunter
IX Man and Man
X The Fear-Phantom
XI "King of the Apes"
XII Man's Reason
XIII His Own Kind
XIV At the Mercy of the Jungle
XV The Forest God
XVI "Most Remarkable"
XVIII The Jungle Toll
XIX The Call of the Primitive
XXI The Village of Torture
XXII The Search Party
XXIII Brother Men
XXIV Lost Treasure
XXV The Outpost of the World
XXVI The Height of Civilization
XXVII The Giant Again
Out to Sea
I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to
me, or to any other. I may credit the seductive influence
of an old vintage upon the narrator for the beginning of it,
and my own skeptical incredulity during the days that followed
for the balance of the strange tale.
When my convivial host discovered that he had told me so
much, and that I was prone to doubtfulness, his foolish pride
assumed the task the old vintage had commenced, and so he
unearthed written evidence in the form of musty manuscript,
and dry official records of the British Colonial Office to support
many of the salient features of his remarkable narrative.
I do not say the story is true, for I did not witness the
happenings which it portrays, but the fact that in the telling
of it to you I have taken fictitious names for the principal
characters quite sufficiently evidences the sincerity of my own
belief that it MAY be true.
The yellow, mildewed pages of the diary of a man long dead, and
the records of the Colonial Office dovetail perfectly with the
narrative of my convivial host, and so I give you the story as
I painstakingly pieced it out from these several various agencies.
If you do not find it credible you will at least be as one
with me in acknowledging that it is unique, remarkable, and
From the records of the Colonial Office and from the dead
man's diary we learn that a certain young English nobleman,
whom we shall call John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, was
commissioned to make a peculiarly delicate investigation of
conditions in a British West Coast African Colony from whose
simple native inhabitants another European power was
known to be recruiting soldiers for its native army, which it
used solely for the forcible collection of rubber and ivory
from the savage tribes along the Congo and the Aruwimi.
The natives of the British Colony complained that many of
their young men were enticed away through the medium of
fair and glowing promises, but that few if any ever returned
to their families.
The Englishmen in Africa went even further, saying that
these poor blacks were held in virtual slavery, since after
their terms of enlistment expired their ignorance was imposed
upon by their white officers, and they were told that they had
yet several years to serve.
And so the Colonial Office appointed John Clayton to a new
post in British West Africa, but his confidential instructions
centered on a thorough investigation of the unfair treatment
of black British subjects by the officers of a friendly
European power. Why he was sent, is, however, of little moment
to this story, for he never made an investigation, nor,
in fact, did he ever reach his destination.
Clayton was the type of Englishman that one likes best to
associate with the noblest monuments of historic achievement
upon a thousand victorious battlefields--a strong, virile man
--mentally, morally, and physically.
In stature he was above the average height; his eyes were
gray, his features regular and strong; his carriage that of
perfect, robust health influenced by his years of army training.
Political ambition had caused him to seek transference
from the army to the Colonial Office and so we find him, still
young, entrusted with a delicate and important commission in
the service of the Queen.
When he received this appointment he was both elated and
appalled. The preferment seemed to him in the nature of a
well-merited reward for painstaking and intelligent service,
and as a stepping stone to posts of greater importance and
responsibility; but, on the other hand, he had been married to
the Hon. Alice Rutherford for scarce a three months, and it
was the thought of taking this fair young girl into the dangers
and isolation of tropical Africa that appalled him.
For her sake he would have refused the appointment, but she
would not have it so. Instead she insisted that he accept,
and, indeed, take her with him.
There were mothers and brothers and sisters, and aunts
and cousins to express various opinions on the subject, but as
to what they severally advised history is silent.
We know only that on a bright May morning in 1888,
John, Lord Greystoke, and Lady Alice sailed from Dover on
their way to Africa.
A month later they arrived at Freetown where they chartered
a small sailing vessel, the Fuwalda, which was to bear
them to their final destination.
And here John, Lord Greystoke, and Lady Alice, his wife,
vanished from the eyes and from the knowledge of men.
Two months after they weighed anchor and cleared from
the port of Freetown a half dozen British war vessels were
scouring the south Atlantic for trace of them or their little
vessel, and it was almost immediately that the wreckage was
found upon the shores of St. Helena which convinced the
world that the Fuwalda had gone down with all on board,
and hence the search was stopped ere it had scarce begun;
though hope lingered in longing hearts for many years.
The Fuwalda, a barkentine of about one hundred tons,
was a vessel of the type often seen in coastwise trade
in the far southern Atlantic, their crews composed of
the offscourings of the sea--unhanged murderers and
cutthroats of every race and every nation.
The Fuwalda was no exception to the rule. Her officers
were swarthy bullies, hating and hated by their crew.
The captain, while a competent seaman, was a brute in his
treatment of his men. He knew, or at least he used, but two
arguments in his dealings with them--a belaying pin and a
revolver--nor is it likely that the motley aggregation
he signed would have understood aught else.
So it was that from the second day out from Freetown
John Clayton and his young wife witnessed scenes upon the
deck of the Fuwalda such as they had believed were never
enacted outside the covers of printed stories of the sea.
It was on the morning of the second day that the first link
was forged in what was destined to form a chain of circumstances
ending in a life for one then unborn such as has never been
paralleled in the history of man.
Two sailors were washing down the decks of the Fuwalda,
the first mate was on duty, and the captain had stopped to
speak with John Clayton and Lady Alice.
The men were working backwards toward the little party
who were facing away from the sailors. Closer and closer
they came, until one of them was directly behind the captain.
In another moment he would have passed by and this strange
narrative would never have been recorded.
But just that instant the officer turned to leave Lord and
Lady Greystoke, and, as he did so, tripped against the sailor
and sprawled headlong upon the deck, overturning the water-
pail so that he was drenched in its dirty contents.
For an instant the scene was ludicrous; but only for an instant.
With a volley of awful oaths, his face suffused with the
scarlet of mortification and rage, the captain regained his
feet, and with a terrific blow felled the sailor to the deck.
The man was small and rather old, so that the brutality of
the act was thus accentuated. The other seaman, however,
was neither old nor small--a huge bear of a man, with fierce
black mustachios, and a great bull neck set between massive
As he saw his mate go down he crouched, and, with a low
snarl, sprang upon the captain crushing him to his knees with
a single mighty blow.
From scarlet the officer's face went white, for this was mutiny;
and mutiny he had met and subdued before in his brutal
career. Without waiting to rise he whipped a revolver from
his pocket, firing point blank at the great mountain of muscle
towering before him; but, quick as he was, John Clayton was
almost as quick, so that the bullet which was intended for the
sailor's heart lodged in the sailor's leg instead, for Lord
Greystoke had struck down the captain's arm as he had seen
the weapon flash in the sun.
Words passed between Clayton and the captain, the former
making it plain that he was disgusted with the brutality
displayed toward the crew, nor would he countenance anything
further of the kind while he and Lady Greystoke remained
The captain was on the point of making an angry reply,
but, thinking better of it, turned on his heel and black and
scowling, strode aft.
He did not care to antagonize an English official, for the
Queen's mighty arm wielded a punitive instrument which he could
appreciate, and which he feared--England's far-reaching navy.
The two sailors picked themselves up, the older man assisting
his wounded comrade to rise. The big fellow, who was
known among his mates as Black Michael, tried his leg gingerly,
and, finding that it bore his weight, turned to Clayton
with a word of gruff thanks.
Though the fellow's tone was surly, his words were evidently
well meant. Ere he had scarce finished his little speech he
had turned and was limping off toward the forecastle with the
very apparent intention of forestalling any further conversation.
They did not see him again for several days, nor did the
captain accord them more than the surliest of grunts when he
was forced to speak to them.
They took their meals in his cabin, as they had before the
unfortunate occurrence; but the captain was careful to see
that his duties never permitted him to eat at the same time.
The other officers were coarse, illiterate fellows, but little
above the villainous crew they bullied, and were only too
glad to avoid social intercourse with the polished English
noble and his lady, so that the Claytons were left very much
This in itself accorded perfectly with their desires, but it
also rather isolated them from the life of the little ship so
that they were unable to keep in touch with the daily happenings
which were to culminate so soon in bloody tragedy.
There was in the whole atmosphere of the craft that undefinable
something which presages disaster. Outwardly, to the
knowledge of the Claytons, all went on as before upon the
little vessel; but that there was an undertow leading them
toward some unknown danger both felt, though they did not
speak of it to each other.
On the second day after the wounding of Black Michael,
Clayton came on deck just in time to see the limp body of
one of the crew being carried below by four of his fellows
while the first mate, a heavy belaying pin in his hand, stood
glowering at the little party of sullen sailors.
Clayton asked no questions--he did not need to--and the
following day, as the great lines of a British battleship grew
out of the distant horizon, he half determined to demand that
he and Lady Alice be put aboard her, for his fears were
steadily increasing that nothing but harm could result from
remaining on the lowering, sullen Fuwalda.
Toward noon they were within speaking distance of the
British vessel, but when Clayton had nearly decided to ask
the captain to put them aboard her, the obvious ridiculousness
of such a request became suddenly apparent. What reason
could he give the officer commanding her majesty's ship
for desiring to go back in the direction from which he had
What if he told them that two insubordinate seamen had
been roughly handled by their officers? They would but laugh
in their sleeves and attribute his reason for wishing to leave
the ship to but one thing--cowardice.
John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, did not ask to be transferred
to the British man-of-war. Late in the afternoon he saw
her upper works fade below the far horizon, but not before
he learned that which confirmed his greatest fears, and
caused him to curse the false pride which had restrained him
from seeking safety for his young wife a few short hours
before, when safety was within reach--a safety which was now
It was mid-afternoon that brought the little old sailor, who
had been felled by the captain a few days before, to where
Clayton and his wife stood by the ship's side watching the
ever diminishing outlines of the great battleship. The old
fellow was polishing brasses, and as he came edging along until
close to Clayton he said, in an undertone:
"'Ell's to pay, sir, on this 'ere craft, an' mark my word for
it, sir. 'Ell's to pay."
"What do you mean, my good fellow?" asked Clayton.
"Wy, hasn't ye seen wats goin' on? Hasn't ye 'eard that
devil's spawn of a capting an' is mates knockin' the bloomin'
lights outen 'arf the crew?
"Two busted 'eads yeste'day, an' three to-day. Black
Michael's as good as new agin an' 'e's not the bully to
stand fer it, not 'e; an' mark my word for it, sir."
"You mean, my man, that the crew contemplates mutiny?"
"Mutiny!" exclaimed the old fellow. "Mutiny! They means
murder, sir, an' mark my word for it, sir."
"Hit's comin', sir; hit's comin' but I'm not a-sayin' wen, an'
I've said too damned much now, but ye was a good sort
t'other day an' I thought it no more'n right to warn ye. But
keep a still tongue in yer 'ead an' when ye 'ear shootin' git
below an' stay there.
"That's all, only keep a still tongue in yer 'ead, or they'll
put a pill between yer ribs, an' mark my word for it, sir," and
the old fellow went on with his polishing, which carried him
away from where the Claytons were standing.
"Deuced cheerful outlook, Alice," said Clayton.
"You should warn the captain at once, John. Possibly the
trouble may yet be averted," she said.
"I suppose I should, but yet from purely selfish motives I
am almost prompted to `keep a still tongue in my 'ead.'
Whatever they do now they will spare us in recognition of
my stand for this fellow Black Michael, but should they find
that I had betrayed them there would be no mercy shown us, Alice."
"You have but one duty, John, and that lies in the interest
of vested authority. If you do not warn the captain you are
as much a party to whatever follows as though you had helped
to plot and carry it out with your own head and hands."
"You do not understand, dear," replied Clayton. "It is of
you I am thinking--there lies my first duty. The captain has
brought this condition upon himself, so why then should I
risk subjecting my wife to unthinkable horrors in a probably
futile attempt to save him from his own brutal folly? You
have no conception, dear, of what would follow were this
pack of cutthroats to gain control of the Fuwalda."
"Duty is duty, John, and no amount of sophistries may
change it. I would be a poor wife for an English lord were I
to be responsible for his shirking a plain duty. I realize the
danger which must follow, but I can face it with you."
"Have it as you will then, Alice," he answered, smiling.
"Maybe we are borrowing trouble. While I do not like the
looks of things on board this ship, they may not be so bad
after all, for it is possible that the `Ancient Mariner' was but
voicing the desires of his wicked old heart rather than speaking
of real facts.
"Mutiny on the high sea may have been common a hundred
years ago, but in this good year 1888 it is the least likely
"But there goes the captain to his cabin now. If I am going
to warn him I might as well get the beastly job over for I
have little stomach to talk with the brute at all."
So saying he strolled carelessly in the direction of the
companionway through which the captain had passed, and a
moment later was knocking at his door.
"Come in," growled the deep tones of that surly officer.
And when Clayton had entered, and closed the door behind him:
"I have come to report the gist of a conversation I heard
to-day, because I feel that, while there may be nothing to it,
it is as well that you be forearmed. In short, the men
contemplate mutiny and murder."
"It's a lie!" roared the captain. "And if you have been
interfering again with the discipline of this ship, or meddling
in affairs that don't concern you you can take the consequences,
and be damned. I don't care whether you are an English lord
or not. I'm captain of this here ship, and from now on you
keep your meddling nose out of my business."
The captain had worked himself up to such a frenzy of
rage that he was fairly purple of face, and he shrieked the
last words at the top of his voice, emphasizing his remarks by
a loud thumping of the table with one huge fist, and shaking
the other in Clayton's face.
Greystoke never turned a hair, but stood eying the excited
man with level gaze.
"Captain Billings," he drawled finally, "if you will pardon
my candor, I might remark that you are something of an ass."
Whereupon he turned and left the captain with the same
indifferent ease that was habitual with him, and which was
more surely calculated to raise the ire of a man of Billings'
class than a torrent of invective.
So, whereas the captain might easily have been brought to
regret his hasty speech had Clayton attempted to conciliate
him, his temper was now irrevocably set in the mold in which
Clayton had left it, and the last chance of their working
together for their common good was gone.
"Well, Alice," said Clayton, as he rejoined his wife, "I might
have saved my breath. The fellow proved most ungrateful.
Fairly jumped at me like a mad dog.
"He and his blasted old ship may hang, for aught I care;
and until we are safely off the thing I shall spend my energies
in looking after our own welfare. And I rather fancy the first
step to that end should be to go to our cabin and look over
my revolvers. I am sorry now that we packed the larger guns
and the ammunition with the stuff below."
They found their quarters in a bad state of disorder. Clothing
from their open boxes and bags strewed the little apartment,
and even their beds had been torn to pieces.
"Evidently someone was more anxious about our belongings
than we," said Clayton. "Let's have a look around, Alice,
and see what's missing."
A thorough search revealed the fact that nothing had been
taken but Clayton's two revolvers and the small supply of
ammunition he had saved out for them.
"Those are the very things I most wish they had left us,"
said Clayton, "and the fact that they wished for them and
them alone is most sinister."
"What are we to do, John?" asked his wife. "Perhaps you
were right in that our best chance lies in maintaining a
"If the officers are able to prevent a mutiny, we have nothing
to fear, while if the mutineers are victorious our one slim
hope lies in not having attempted to thwart or antagonize them."
"Right you are, Alice. We'll keep in the middle of the road."
As they started to straighten up their cabin, Clayton and
his wife simultaneously noticed the corner of a piece of paper
protruding from beneath the door of their quarters. As Clayton
stooped to reach for it he was amazed to see it move
further into the room, and then he realized that it was being
pushed inward by someone from without.
Quickly and silently he stepped toward the door, but, as
he reached for the knob to throw it open, his wife's hand fell
upon his wrist.
"No, John," she whispered. "They do not wish to be seen,
and so we cannot afford to see them. Do not forget that we
are keeping to the middle of the road."
Clayton smiled and dropped his hand to his side. Thus
they stood watching the little bit of white paper until it
finally remained at rest upon the floor just inside the door.
Then Clayton stooped and picked it up. It was a bit of
grimy, white paper roughly folded into a ragged square.
Opening it they found a crude message printed almost
illegibly, and with many evidences of an unaccustomed task.
Translated, it was a warning to the Claytons to refrain
from reporting the loss of the revolvers, or from repeating
what the old sailor had told them--to refrain on pain of death.
"I rather imagine we'll be good," said Clayton with a rueful
smile. "About all we can do is to sit tight and wait for
whatever may come."
The Savage Home
Nor did they have long to wait, for the next morning as
Clayton was emerging on deck for his accustomed walk before
breakfast, a shot rang out, and then another, and another.
The sight which met his eyes confirmed his worst fears.
Facing the little knot of officers was the entire motley crew
of the Fuwalda, and at their head stood Black Michael.
At the first volley from the officers the men ran for shelter,
and from points of vantage behind masts, wheel-house and
cabin they returned the fire of the five men who represented
the hated authority of the ship.
Two of their number had gone down before the captain's
revolver. They lay where they had fallen between the
combatants. But then the first mate lunged forward upon his
face, and at a cry of command from Black Michael the mutineers
charged the remaining four. The crew had been able to muster
but six firearms, so most of them were armed with boat
hooks, axes, hatchets and crowbars.
The captain had emptied his revolver and was reloading as
the charge was made. The second mate's gun had jammed,
and so there were but two weapons opposed to the mutineers
as they bore down upon the officers, who now started to give
back before the infuriated rush of their men.
Both sides were cursing and swearing in a frightful manner,
which, together with the reports of the firearms and the
screams and groans of the wounded, turned the deck of the
Fuwalda to the likeness of a madhouse.
Before the officers had taken a dozen backward steps the
men were upon them. An ax in the hands of a burly Negro
cleft the captain from forehead to chin, and an instant later
the others were down: dead or wounded from dozens of
blows and bullet wounds.
Short and grisly had been the work of the mutineers of the
Fuwalda, and through it all John Clayton had stood leaning
carelessly beside the companionway puffing meditatively upon
his pipe as though he had been but watching an indifferent
As the last officer went down he thought it was time that
he returned to his wife lest some members of the crew find
her alone below.
Though outwardly calm and indifferent, Clayton was inwardly
apprehensive and wrought up, for he feared for his wife's
safety at the hands of these ignorant, half-brutes into
whose hands fate had so remorselessly thrown them.
As he turned to descend the ladder he was surprised to see
his wife standing on the steps almost at his side.
"How long have you been here, Alice?"
"Since the beginning," she replied. "How awful, John. Oh,
how awful! What can we hope for at the hands of such as those?"
"Breakfast, I hope," he answered, smiling bravely in an
attempt to allay her fears.
"At least," he added, "I'm going to ask them. Come with
me, Alice. We must not let them think we expect any but
The men had by this time surrounded the dead and wounded
officers, and without either partiality or compassion
proceeded to throw both living and dead over the sides of
the vessel. With equal heartlessness they disposed of their
own dead and dying.
Presently one of the crew spied the approaching Claytons,
and with a cry of: "Here's two more for the fishes," rushed
toward them with uplifted ax.
But Black Michael was even quicker, so that the fellow
went down with a bullet in his back before he had taken a
half dozen steps.
With a loud roar, Black Michael attracted the attention of
the others, and, pointing to Lord and Lady Greystoke, cried:
"These here are my friends, and they are to be left alone.
"I'm captain of this ship now, an' what I says goes," he
added, turning to Clayton. "Just keep to yourselves, and
nobody'll harm ye," and he looked threateningly on his fellows.
The Claytons heeded Black Michael's instructions so well
that they saw but little of the crew and knew nothing of the
plans the men were making.
Occasionally they heard faint echoes of brawls and quarreling
among the mutineers, and on two occasions the vicious
bark of firearms rang out on the still air. But Black Michael
was a fit leader for this band of cutthroats, and, withal held
them in fair subjection to his rule.
On the fifth day following the murder of the ship's officers,
land was sighted by the lookout. Whether island or mainland,
Black Michael did not know, but he announced to Clayton
that if investigation showed that the place was habitable he
and Lady Greystoke were to be put ashore with their belongings.
"You'll be all right there for a few months," he explained,
"and by that time we'll have been able to make an inhabited
coast somewhere and scatter a bit. Then I'll see that yer
gover'ment's notified where you be an' they'll soon send a man-
o'war to fetch ye off.
"It would be a hard matter to land you in civilization without
a lot o' questions being asked, an' none o' us here has any
very convincin' answers up our sleeves."
Clayton remonstrated against the inhumanity of landing
them upon an unknown shore to be left to the mercies of
savage beasts, and, possibly, still more savage men.
But his words were of no avail, and only tended to anger
Black Michael, so he was forced to desist and make the best
he could of a bad situation.
About three o'clock in the afternoon they came about off a
beautiful wooded shore opposite the mouth of what appeared
to be a land-locked harbor.
Black Michael sent a small boat filled with men to sound
the entrance in an effort to determine if the Fuwalda
could be safely worked through the entrance.
In about an hour they returned and reported deep water
through the passage as well as far into the little basin.
Before dark the barkentine lay peacefully at anchor upon
the bosom of the still, mirror-like surface of the harbor.
The surrounding shores were beautiful with semitropical
verdure, while in the distance the country rose from the
ocean in hill and tableland, almost uniformly clothed by
No signs of habitation were visible, but that the land might
easily support human life was evidenced by the abundant bird
and animal life of which the watchers on the Fuwalda's deck
caught occasional glimpses, as well as by the shimmer of a
little river which emptied into the harbor, insuring fresh
water in plenitude.
As darkness settled upon the earth, Clayton and Lady
Alice still stood by the ship's rail in silent contemplation of
their future abode. From the dark shadows of the mighty forest
came the wild calls of savage beasts--the deep roar of the
lion, and, occasionally, the shrill scream of a panther.
The woman shrank closer to the man in terror-stricken
anticipation of the horrors lying in wait for them in the awful
blackness of the nights to come, when they should be alone
upon that wild and lonely shore.
Later in the evening Black Michael joined them long
enough to instruct them to make their preparations for landing
on the morrow. They tried to persuade him to take them
to some more hospitable coast near enough to civilization so
that they might hope to fall into friendly hands. But no pleas,
or threats, or promises of reward could move him.
"I am the only man aboard who would not rather see ye
both safely dead, and, while I know that's the sensible way to
make sure of our own necks, yet Black Michael's not the
man to forget a favor. Ye saved my life once, and in return
I'm goin' to spare yours, but that's all I can do.
"The men won't stand for any more, and if we don't get ye
landed pretty quick they may even change their minds about
giving ye that much show. I'll put all yer stuff ashore with ye
as well as cookin' utensils an' some old sails for tents, an'
enough grub to last ye until ye can find fruit and game.
"With yer guns for protection, ye ought to be able to live
here easy enough until help comes. When I get safely hid
away I'll see to it that the British gover'ment learns about
where ye be; for the life of me I couldn't tell 'em exactly
where, for I don't know myself. But they'll find ye all right."
After he had left them they went silently below, each
wrapped in gloomy forebodings.
Clayton did not believe that Black Michael had the slightest
intention of notifying the British government of their
whereabouts, nor was he any too sure but that some treachery
was contemplated for the following day when they should
be on shore with the sailors who would have to accompany
them with their belongings.
Once out of Black Michael's sight any of the men might strike
them down, and still leave Black Michael's conscience clear.
And even should they escape that fate was it not but to be
faced with far graver dangers? Alone, he might hope to survive
for years; for he was a strong, athletic man.
But what of Alice, and that other little life so soon to be
launched amidst the hardships and grave dangers of a primeval world?
The man shuddered as he meditated upon the awful gravity,
the fearful helplessness, of their situation. But it was a
merciful Providence which prevented him from foreseeing
the hideous reality which awaited them in the grim depths of
that gloomy wood.
Early next morning their numerous chests and boxes were
hoisted on deck and lowered to waiting small boats for
transportation to shore.
There was a great quantity and variety of stuff, as the
Claytons had expected a possible five to eight years' residence
in their new home. Thus, in addition to the many necessities
they had brought, there were also many luxuries.
Black Michael was determined that nothing belonging to
the Claytons should be left on board. Whether out of
compassion for them, or in furtherance of his own self-interests,
it would be difficult to say.
There was no question but that the presence of property of a
missing British official upon a suspicious vessel would have been
a difficult thing to explain in any civilized port in the world.
So zealous was he in his efforts to carry out his intentions
that he insisted upon the return of Clayton's revolvers to him
by the sailors in whose possession they were.
Into the small boats were also loaded salt meats and biscuit,
with a small supply of potatoes and beans, matches, and
cooking vessels, a chest of tools, and the old sails which
Black Michael had promised them.
As though himself fearing the very thing which Clayton
had suspected, Black Michael accompanied them to shore,
and was the last to leave them when the small boats, having
filled the ship's casks with fresh water, were pushed out
toward the waiting Fuwalda.
As the boats moved slowly over the smooth waters of the
bay, Clayton and his wife stood silently watching their
departure--in the breasts of both a feeling of impending
disaster and utter hopelessness.
And behind them, over the edge of a low ridge, other eyes
watched--close set, wicked eyes, gleaming beneath shaggy brows.
As the Fuwalda passed through the narrow entrance to the
harbor and out of sight behind a projecting point, Lady Alice
threw her arms about Clayton's neck and burst into uncontrolled sobs.
Bravely had she faced the dangers of the mutiny; with heroic
fortitude she had looked into the terrible future; but now
that the horror of absolute solitude was upon them, her
overwrought nerves gave way, and the reaction came.
He did not attempt to check her tears. It were better that
nature have her way in relieving these long-pent emotions, and
it was many minutes before the girl--little more than a child
she was--could again gain mastery of herself.
"Oh, John," she cried at last, "the horror of it. What are we
to do? What are we to do?"
"There is but one thing to do, Alice," and he spoke as quietly
as though they were sitting in their snug living room at home,
"and that is work. Work must be our salvation. We must not
give ourselves time to think, for in that direction lies madness.
"We must work and wait. I am sure that relief will come,
and come quickly, when once it is apparent that the Fuwalda
has been lost, even though Black Michael does not keep his
word to us."
"But John, if it were only you and I," she sobbed, "we
could endure it I know; but--"
"Yes, dear," he answered, gently, "I have been thinking of
that, also; but we must face it, as we must face whatever
comes, bravely and with the utmost confidence in our ability
to cope with circumstances whatever they may be.
"Hundreds of thousands of years ago our ancestors of the
dim and distant past faced the same problems which we must
face, possibly in these same primeval forests. That we are
here today evidences their victory.
"What they did may we not do? And even better, for are
we not armed with ages of superior knowledge, and have we
not the means of protection, defense, and sustenance which
science has given us, but of which they were totally ignorant?
What they accomplished, Alice, with instruments and weapons
of stone and bone, surely that may we accomplish also."
"Ah, John, I wish that I might be a man with a man's
philosophy, but I am but a woman, seeing with my heart rather
than my head, and all that I can see is too horrible, too
unthinkable to put into words.
"I only hope you are right, John. I will do my best to be a
brave primeval woman, a fit mate for the primeval man."
Clayton's first thought was to arrange a sleeping shelter for
the night; something which might serve to protect them from
prowling beasts of prey.
He opened the box containing his rifles and ammunition,
that they might both be armed against possible attack while
at work, and then together they sought a location for their
first night's sleeping place.
A hundred yards from the beach was a little level spot,
fairly free of trees; here they decided eventually to build a
permanent house, but for the time being they both thought it
best to construct a little platform in the trees out of reach of
the larger of the savage beasts in whose realm they were.
To this end Clayton selected four trees which formed a
rectangle about eight feet square, and cutting long branches
from other trees he constructed a framework around them,
about ten feet from the ground, fastening the ends of the
branches securely to the trees by means of rope, a quantity
of which Black Michael had furnished him from the hold of
Across this framework Clayton placed other smaller
branches quite close together. This platform he paved with
the huge fronds of elephant's ear which grew in profusion
about them, and over the fronds he laid a great sail folded
into several thicknesses.
Seven feet higher he constructed a similar, though lighter
platform to serve as roof, and from the sides of this he
suspended the balance of his sailcloth for walls.
When completed he had a rather snug little nest, to which
he carried their blankets and some of the lighter luggage.
It was now late in the afternoon, and the balance of the
daylight hours were devoted to the building of a rude ladder
by means of which Lady Alice could mount to her new home.
All during the day the forest about them had been filled with
excited birds of brilliant plumage, and dancing, chattering
monkeys, who watched these new arrivals and their wonderful
nest building operations with every mark of keenest interest
Notwithstanding that both Clayton and his wife kept a
sharp lookout they saw nothing of larger animals, though on
two occasions they had seen their little simian neighbors
come screaming and chattering from the near-by ridge, casting
frightened glances back over their little shoulders, and
evincing as plainly as though by speech that they were fleeing
some terrible thing which lay concealed there.
Just before dusk Clayton finished his ladder, and, filling a
great basin with water from the near-by stream, the two
mounted to the comparative safety of their aerial chamber.
As it was quite warm, Clayton had left the side curtains
thrown back over the roof, and as they sat, like Turks, upon
their blankets, Lady Alice, straining her eyes into the darkening
shadows of the wood, suddenly reached out and grasped
"John," she whispered, "look! What is it, a man?"
As Clayton turned his eyes in the direction she indicated,
he saw silhouetted dimly against the shadows beyond, a great
figure standing upright upon the ridge.
For a moment it stood as though listening and then turned
slowly, and melted into the shadows of the jungle.
"What is it, John?"
"I do not know, Alice," he answered gravely, "it is too
dark to see so far, and it may have been but a shadow cast by
the rising moon."
"No, John, if it was not a man it was some huge and grotesque
mockery of man. Oh, I am afraid."
He gathered her in his arms, whispering words of courage
and love into her ears.
Soon after, he lowered the curtain walls, tying them securely
to the trees so that, except for a little opening toward
the beach, they were entirely enclosed.
As it was now pitch dark within their tiny aerie they lay
down upon their blankets to try to gain, through sleep, a
brief respite of forgetfulness.
Clayton lay facing the opening at the front, a rifle and a
brace of revolvers at his hand.
Scarcely had they closed their eyes than the terrifying cry
of a panther rang out from the jungle behind them. Closer
and closer it came until they could hear the great beast
directly beneath them. For an hour or more they heard it
sniffing and clawing at the trees which supported their platform,
but at last it roamed away across the beach, where Clayton
could see it clearly in the brilliant moonlight--a great, handsome
beast, the largest he had ever seen.
During the long hours of darkness they caught but fitful
snatches of sleep, for the night noises of a great jungle
teeming with myriad animal life kept their overwrought nerves
on edge, so that a hundred times they were startled to
wakefulness by piercing screams, or the stealthy moving of
great bodies beneath them.
Life and Death
Morning found them but little, if at all refreshed, though
it was with a feeling of intense relief that they saw the
As soon as they had made their meager breakfast of salt
pork, coffee and biscuit, Clayton commenced work upon their
house, for he realized that they could hope for no safety and
no peace of mind at night until four strong walls effectually
barred the jungle life from them.
The task was an arduous one and required the better part of
a month, though he built but one small room. He constructed
his cabin of small logs about six inches in diameter,
stopping the chinks with clay which he found at the depth of
a few feet beneath the surface soil.
At one end he built a fireplace of small stones from the
beach. These also he set in clay and when the house had been
entirely completed he applied a coating of the clay to the
entire outside surface to the thickness of four inches.
In the window opening he set small branches about an inch in
diameter both vertically and horizontally, and so woven that they
formed a substantial grating that could withstand the strength
of a powerful animal. Thus they obtained air and proper
ventilation without fear of lessening the safety of their cabin.
The A-shaped roof was thatched with small branches laid
close together and over these long jungle grass and palm
fronds, with a final coating of clay.
The door he built of pieces of the packing-boxes which
had held their belongings, nailing one piece upon another, the
grain of contiguous layers running transversely, until he had
a solid body some three inches thick and of such great
strength that they were both moved to laughter as they gazed
Here the greatest difficulty confronted Clayton, for he had
no means whereby to hang his massive door now that he had
built it. After two days' work, however, he succeeded in
fashioning two massive hardwood hinges, and with these he
hung the door so that it opened and closed easily.
The stuccoing and other final touches were added after
they moved into the house, which they had done as soon as
the roof was on, piling their boxes before the door at night
and thus having a comparatively safe and comfortable habitation.
The building of a bed, chairs, table, and shelves was a
relatively easy matter, so that by the end of the second month
they were well settled, and, but for the constant dread of
attack by wild beasts and the ever growing loneliness, they
were not uncomfortable or unhappy.
At night great beasts snarled and roared about their tiny
cabin, but, so accustomed may one become to oft repeated
noises, that soon they paid little attention to them, sleeping
soundly the whole night through.
Thrice had they caught fleeting glimpses of great man-like
figures like that of the first night, but never at sufficiently
close range to know positively whether the half-seen forms
were those of man or brute.
The brilliant birds and the little monkeys had become accustomed
to their new acquaintances, and as they had evidently never
seen human beings before they presently, after their first
fright had worn off, approached closer and closer, impelled
by that strange curiosity which dominates the wild creatures
of the forest and the jungle and the plain, so that within
the first month several of the birds had gone so far as even
to accept morsels of food from the friendly hands of the Claytons.
One afternoon, while Clayton was working upon an addition
to their cabin, for he contemplated building several more
rooms, a number of their grotesque little friends came shrieking
and scolding through the trees from the direction of the
ridge. Ever as they fled they cast fearful glances back of
them, and finally they stopped near Clayton jabbering excitedly
to him as though to warn him of approaching danger.
At last he saw it, the thing the little monkeys so feared--
the man-brute of which the Claytons had caught occasional
It was approaching through the jungle in a semi-erect position,
now and then placing the backs of its closed fists upon the
ground--a great anthropoid ape, and, as it advanced, it emitted
deep guttural growls and an occasional low barking sound.
Clayton was at some distance from the cabin, having come
to fell a particularly perfect tree for his building operations.
Grown careless from months of continued safety, during
which time he had seen no dangerous animals during the daylight
hours, he had left his rifles and revolvers all within the
little cabin, and now that he saw the great ape crashing
through the underbrush directly toward him, and from a
direction which practically cut him off from escape, he
felt a vague little shiver play up and down his spine.
He knew that, armed only with an ax, his chances with this
ferocious monster were small indeed--and Alice; O God, he
thought, what will become of Alice?
There was yet a slight chance of reaching the cabin. He
turned and ran toward it, shouting an alarm to his wife to run
in and close the great door in case the ape cut off his retreat.
Lady Greystoke had been sitting a little way from the
cabin, and when she heard his cry she looked up to see the
ape springing with almost incredible swiftness, for so large
and awkward an animal, in an effort to head off Clayton.
With a low cry she sprang toward the cabin, and, as she
entered, gave a backward glance which filled her soul with
terror, for the brute had intercepted her husband, who now
stood at bay grasping his ax with both hands ready to swing
it upon the infuriated animal when he should make his final
"Close and bolt the door, Alice," cried Clayton. "I can
finish this fellow with my ax."
But he knew he was facing a horrible death, and so did she.
The ape was a great bull, weighing probably three hundred
pounds. His nasty, close-set eyes gleamed hatred from beneath
his shaggy brows, while his great canine fangs were bared
in a horrid snarl as he paused a moment before his prey.
Over the brute's shoulder Clayton could see the doorway
of his cabin, not twenty paces distant, and a great wave of
horror and fear swept over him as he saw his young wife
emerge, armed with one of his rifles.
She had always been afraid of firearms, and would never
touch them, but now she rushed toward the ape with the
fearlessness of a lioness protecting its young.
"Back, Alice," shouted Clayton, "for God's sake, go back."
But she would not heed, and just then the ape charged, so
that Clayton could say no more.
The man swung his ax with all his mighty strength, but the
powerful brute seized it in those terrible hands, and tearing it
from Clayton's grasp hurled it far to one side.
With an ugly snarl he closed upon his defenseless victim,
but ere his fangs had reached the throat they thirsted for,
there was a sharp report and a bullet entered the ape's back
between his shoulders.
Throwing Clayton to the ground the beast turned upon his
new enemy. There before him stood the terrified girl vainly
trying to fire another bullet into the animal's body; but she
did not understand the mechanism of the firearm, and the
hammer fell futilely upon an empty cartridge.
Almost simultaneously Clayton regained his feet, and without
thought of the utter hopelessness of it, he rushed forward
to drag the ape from his wife's prostrate form.
With little or no effort he succeeded, and the great bulk
rolled inertly upon the turf before him--the ape was dead.
The bullet had done its work.
A hasty examination of his wife revealed no marks upon
her, and Clayton decided that the huge brute had died the
instant he had sprung toward Alice.
Gently he lifted his wife's still unconscious form, and bore
her to the little cabin, but it was fully two hours before she
Her first words filled Clayton with vague apprehension.
For some time after regaining her senses, Alice gazed
wonderingly about the interior of the little cabin, and
then, with a satisfied sigh, said:
"O, John, it is so good to be really home! I have had an
awful dream, dear. I thought we were no longer in London,
but in some horrible place where great beasts attacked us."
"There, there, Alice," he said, stroking her forehead, "try
to sleep again, and do not worry your head about bad dreams."
That night a little son was born in the tiny cabin beside the
primeval forest, while a leopard screamed before the door, and
the deep notes of a lion's roar sounded from beyond the ridge.
Lady Greystoke never recovered from the shock of the
great ape's attack, and, though she lived for a year after her
baby was born, she was never again outside the cabin, nor
did she ever fully realize that she was not in England.
Sometimes she would question Clayton as to the strange
noises of the nights; the absence of servants and friends, and
the strange rudeness of the furnishings within her room, but,
though he made no effort to deceive her, never could she
grasp the meaning of it all.
In other ways she was quite rational, and the joy and happiness
she took in the possession of her little son and the constant
attentions of her husband made that year a very happy
one for her, the happiest of her young life.
That it would have been beset by worries and apprehension
had she been in full command of her mental faculties Clayton
well knew; so that while he suffered terribly to see her so,
there were times when he was almost glad, for her sake, that
she could not understand.
Long since had he given up any hope of rescue, except
through accident. With unremitting zeal he had worked to
beautify the interior of the cabin.
Skins of lion and panther covered the floor. Cupboards and
bookcases lined the walls. Odd vases made by his own hand
from the clay of the region held beautiful tropical flowers.
Curtains of grass and bamboo covered the windows, and,
most arduous task of all, with his meager assortment of tools
he had fashioned lumber to neatly seal the walls and ceiling
and lay a smooth floor within the cabin.
That he had been able to turn his hands at all to such
unaccustomed labor was a source of mild wonder to him.
But he loved the work because it was for her and the tiny life
that had come to cheer them, though adding a hundredfold
to his responsibilities and to the terribleness of their situation.
During the year that followed, Clayton was several times
attacked by the great apes which now seemed to continually
infest the vicinity of the cabin; but as he never again
ventured outside without both rifle and revolvers he had
little fear of the huge beasts.
He had strengthened the window protections and fitted a
unique wooden lock to the cabin door, so that when he
hunted for game and fruits, as it was constantly necessary for
him to do to insure sustenance, he had no fear that any animal
could break into the little home.
At first he shot much of the game from the cabin windows,
but toward the end the animals learned to fear the strange
lair from whence issued the terrifying thunder of his rifle.
In his leisure Clayton read, often aloud to his wife, from
the store of books he had brought for their new home.
Among these were many for little children--picture books,
primers, readers--for they had known that their little child
would be old enough for such before they might hope to return
At other times Clayton wrote in his diary, which he had
always been accustomed to keep in French, and in which he
recorded the details of their strange life. This book he kept
locked in a little metal box.
A year from the day her little son was born Lady Alice
passed quietly away in the night. So peaceful was her end
that it was hours before Clayton could awake to a realization
that his wife was dead.
The horror of the situation came to him very slowly, and it
is doubtful that he ever fully realized the enormity of his
sorrow and the fearful responsibility that had devolved upon
him with the care of that wee thing, his son, still a nursing babe.
The last entry in his diary was made the morning following
her death, and there he recites the sad details in a matter-of-
fact way that adds to the pathos of it; for it breathes a tired
apathy born of long sorrow and hopelessness, which even this
cruel blow could scarcely awake to further suffering:
My little son is crying for nourishment--O Alice, Alice,
what shall I do?
And as John Clayton wrote the last words his hand was
destined ever to pen, he dropped his head wearily upon his
outstretched arms where they rested upon the table he had
built for her who lay still and cold in the bed beside him.
For a long time no sound broke the deathlike stillness of
the jungle midday save the piteous wailing of the tiny man-child.
In the forest of the table-land a mile back from the ocean
old Kerchak the Ape was on a rampage of rage among his people.
The younger and lighter members of his tribe scampered to
the higher branches of the great trees to escape his wrath;
risking their lives upon branches that scarce supported their
weight rather than face old Kerchak in one of his fits of
The other males scattered in all directions, but not before
the infuriated brute had felt the vertebra of one snap between
his great, foaming jaws.
A luckless young female slipped from an insecure hold
upon a high branch and came crashing to the ground almost
at Kerchak's feet.
With a wild scream he was upon her, tearing a great piece
from her side with his mighty teeth, and striking her viciously
upon her head and shoulders with a broken tree limb until
her skull was crushed to a jelly.
And then he spied Kala, who, returning from a search for
food with her young babe, was ignorant of the state of the
mighty male's temper until suddenly the shrill warnings of
her fellows caused her to scamper madly for safety.
But Kerchak was close upon her, so close that he had almost
grasped her ankle had she not made a furious leap far into
space from one tree to another--a perilous chance which
apes seldom if ever take, unless so closely pursued by danger
that there is no alternative.
She made the leap successfully, but as she grasped the limb
of the further tree the sudden jar loosened the hold of the
tiny babe where it clung frantically to her neck, and she saw
the little thing hurled, turning and twisting, to the ground
thirty feet below.
With a low cry of dismay Kala rushed headlong to its side,
thoughtless now of the danger from Kerchak; but when she
gathered the wee, mangled form to her bosom life had left it.
With low moans, she sat cuddling the body to her; nor did
Kerchak attempt to molest her. With the death of the babe his
fit of demoniacal rage passed as suddenly as it had seized him.
Kerchak was a huge king ape, weighing perhaps three hundred
and fifty pounds. His forehead was extremely low and receding,
his eyes bloodshot, small and close set to his coarse, flat
nose; his ears large and thin, but smaller than most of his kind.
His awful temper and his mighty strength made him supreme
among the little tribe into which he had been born some
twenty years before.
Now that he was in his prime, there was no simian in all the
mighty forest through which he roved that dared contest his
right to rule, nor did the other and larger animals molest him.
Old Tantor, the elephant, alone of all the wild savage life,
feared him not--and he alone did Kerchak fear. When Tantor
trumpeted, the great ape scurried with his fellows high
among the trees of the second terrace.
The tribe of anthropoids over which Kerchak ruled with an
iron hand and bared fangs, numbered some six or eight families,
each family consisting of an adult male with his females and
their young, numbering in all some sixty or seventy apes.
Kala was the youngest mate of a male called Tublat,
meaning broken nose, and the child she had seen dashed to
death was her first; for she was but nine or ten years old.
Notwithstanding her youth, she was large and powerful--a
splendid, clean-limbed animal, with a round, high forehead,
which denoted more intelligence than most of her kind
possessed. So, also, she had a great capacity for mother love
and mother sorrow.
But she was still an ape, a huge, fierce, terrible beast of a
species closely allied to the gorilla, yet more intelligent;
which, with the strength of their cousin, made her kind the
most fearsome of those awe-inspiring progenitors of man.
When the tribe saw that Kerchak's rage had ceased they
came slowly down from their arboreal retreats and pursued
again the various occupations which he had interrupted.
The young played and frolicked about among the trees and
bushes. Some of the adults lay prone upon the soft mat of
dead and decaying vegetation which covered the ground,
while others turned over pieces of fallen branches and clods
of earth in search of the small bugs and reptiles which
formed a part of their food.
Others, again, searched the surrounding trees for fruit,
nuts, small birds, and eggs.
They had passed an hour or so thus when Kerchak called
them together, and, with a word of command to them to
follow him, set off toward the sea.
They traveled for the most part upon the ground, where it
was open, following the path of the great elephants whose
comings and goings break the only roads through those
tangled mazes of bush, vine, creeper, and tree. When they
walked it was with a rolling, awkward motion, placing the
knuckles of their closed hands upon the ground and swinging
their ungainly bodies forward.
But when the way was through the lower trees they moved
more swiftly, swinging from branch to branch with the agility
of their smaller cousins, the monkeys. And all the way Kala
carried her little dead baby hugged closely to her breast.
It was shortly after noon when they reached a ridge
overlooking the beach where below them lay the tiny cottage
which was Kerchak's goal.
He had seen many of his kind go to their deaths before the
loud noise made by the little black stick in the hands of the
strange white ape who lived in that wonderful lair, and Kerchak
had made up his brute mind to own that death-dealing
contrivance, and to explore the interior of the mysterious den.
He wanted, very, very much, to feel his teeth sink into the
neck of the queer animal that he had learned to hate and
fear, and because of this, he came often with his tribe to
reconnoiter, waiting for a time when the white ape should be
off his guard.
Of late they had quit attacking, or even showing themselves;
for every time they had done so in the past the little
stick had roared out its terrible message of death to some
member of the tribe.
Today there was no sign of the man about, and from
where they watched they could see that the cabin door was
open. Slowly, cautiously, and noiselessly they crept through
the jungle toward the little cabin.
There were no growls, no fierce screams of rage--the little
black stick had taught them to come quietly lest they awaken it.
On, on they came until Kerchak himself slunk stealthily to the
very door and peered within. Behind him were two males, and
then Kala, closely straining the little dead form to her breast.
Inside the den they saw the strange white ape lying half
across a table, his head buried in his arms; and on the bed
lay a figure covered by a sailcloth, while from a tiny rustic
cradle came the plaintive wailing of a babe.
Noiselessly Kerchak entered, crouching for the charge; and
then John Clayton rose with a sudden start and faced them.
The sight that met his eyes must have frozen him with horror,
for there, within the door, stood three great bull apes,
while behind them crowded many more; how many he never
knew, for his revolvers were hanging on the far wall beside
his rifle, and Kerchak was charging.
When the king ape released the limp form which had been
John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, he turned his attention toward
the little cradle; but Kala was there before him, and
when he would have grasped the child she snatched it herself,
and before he could intercept her she had bolted through the
door and taken refuge in a high tree.
As she took up the little live baby of Alice Clayton she
dropped the dead body of her own into the empty cradle; for
the wail of the living had answered the call of universal
motherhood within her wild breast which the dead could not still.
High up among the branches of a mighty tree she hugged
the shrieking infant to her bosom, and soon the instinct that
was as dominant in this fierce female as it had been in the
breast of his tender and beautiful mother--the instinct of
mother love--reached out to the tiny man-child's half-formed
understanding, and he became quiet.
Then hunger closed the gap between them, and the son of
an English lord and an English lady nursed at the breast of
Kala, the great ape.
In the meantime the beasts within the cabin were warily
examining the contents of this strange lair.
Once satisfied that Clayton was dead, Kerchak turned his
attention to the thing which lay upon the bed, covered by a
piece of sailcloth.
Gingerly he lifted one corner of the shroud, but when he
saw the body of the woman beneath he tore the cloth roughly
from her form and seized the still, white throat in his huge,
A moment he let his fingers sink deep into the cold flesh,
and then, realizing that she was already dead, he turned from
her, to examine the contents of the room; nor did he again
molest the body of either Lady Alice or Sir John.
The rifle hanging upon the wall caught his first attention; it
was for this strange, death-dealing thunder-stick that he had
yearned for months; but now that it was within his grasp he
scarcely had the temerity to seize it.
Cautiously he approached the thing, ready to flee
precipitately should it speak in its deep roaring tones,
as he had heard it speak before, the last words to those
of his kind who, through ignorance or rashness, had attacked
the wonderful white ape that had borne it.
Deep in the beast's intelligence was something which assured
him that the thunder-stick was only dangerous when in the
hands of one who could manipulate it, but yet it was several
minutes ere he could bring himself to touch it.
Instead, he walked back and forth along the floor before it,
turning his head so that never once did his eyes leave the
object of his desire.
Using his long arms as a man uses crutches, and rolling his
huge carcass from side to side with each stride, the great king
ape paced to and fro, uttering deep growls, occasionally
punctuated with the ear-piercing scream, than which there is
no more terrifying noise in all the jungle.
Presently he halted before the rifle. Slowly he raised a
huge hand until it almost touched the shining barrel, only to
withdraw it once more and continue his hurried pacing.
It was as though the great brute by this show of fearlessness,
and through the medium of his wild voice, was endeavoring
to bolster up his courage to the point which would permit
him to take the rifle in his hand.
Again he stopped, and this time succeeded in forcing his
reluctant hand to the cold steel, only to snatch it away almost
immediately and resume his restless beat.
Time after time this strange ceremony was repeated, but on each
occasion with increased confidence, until, finally, the rifle
was torn from its hook and lay in the grasp of the great brute.
Finding that it harmed him not, Kerchak began to examine
it closely. He felt of it from end to end, peered down the
black depths of the muzzle, fingered the sights, the breech,
the stock, and finally the trigger.
During all these operations the apes who had entered sat
huddled near the door watching their chief, while those outside
strained and crowded to catch a glimpse of what transpired within.
Suddenly Kerchak's finger closed upon the trigger. There was
a deafening roar in the little room and the apes at and beyond
the door fell over one another in their wild anxiety to escape.
Kerchak was equally frightened, so frightened, in fact, that he
quite forgot to throw aside the author of that fearful noise,
but bolted for the door with it tightly clutched in one hand.
As he passed through the opening, the front sight of the
rifle caught upon the edge of the inswung door with sufficient
force to close it tightly after the fleeing ape.
When Kerchak came to a halt a short distance from the cabin
and discovered that he still held the rifle, he dropped it
as he might have dropped a red hot iron, nor did he again
attempt to recover it--the noise was too much for his brute
nerves; but he was now quite convinced that the terrible stick
was quite harmless by itself if left alone.
It was an hour before the apes could again bring themselves
to approach the cabin to continue their investigations,
and when they finally did so, they found to their chagrin that
the door was closed and so securely fastened that they could
not force it.
The cleverly constructed latch which Clayton had made for
the door had sprung as Kerchak passed out; nor could the
apes find means of ingress through the heavily barred windows.
After roaming about the vicinity for a short time, they
started back for the deeper forests and the higher land from
whence they had come.
Kala had not once come to earth with her little adopted
babe, but now Kerchak called to her to descend with the rest,
and as there was no note of anger in his voice she dropped
lightly from branch to branch and joined the others on their
Those of the apes who attempted to examine Kala's
strange baby were repulsed with bared fangs and low
menacing growls, accompanied by words of warning from Kala.
When they assured her that they meant the child no harm
she permitted them to come close, but would not allow them
to touch her charge.
It was as though she knew that her baby was frail and delicate
and feared lest the rough hands of her fellows might injure
the little thing.
Another thing she did, and which made traveling an onerous
trial for her. Remembering the death of her own little
one, she clung desperately to the new babe, with one hand,
whenever they were upon the march.
The other young rode upon their mothers' backs; their little
arms tightly clasping the hairy necks before them, while
their legs were locked beneath their mothers' armpits.
Not so with Kala; she held the small form of the little
Lord Greystoke tightly to her breast, where the dainty hands
clutched the long black hair which covered that portion of
her body. She had seen one child fall from her back to a
terrible death, and she would take no further chances with this.
The White Ape
Tenderly Kala nursed her little waif, wondering silently
why it did not gain strength and agility as did the little
apes of other mothers. It was nearly a year from the time the
little fellow came into her possession before he would walk
alone, and as for climbing--my, but how stupid he was!
Kala sometimes talked with the older females about her
young hopeful, but none of them could understand how a
child could be so slow and backward in learning to care for
itself. Why, it could not even find food alone, and more
than twelve moons had passed since Kala had come upon it.
Had they known that the child had seen thirteen moons
before it had come into Kala's possession they would have
considered its case as absolutely hopeless, for the little apes
of their own tribe were as far advanced in two or three
moons as was this little stranger after twenty-five.
Tublat, Kala's husband, was sorely vexed, and but for the female's
careful watching would have put the child out of the way.
"He will never be a great ape," he argued. "Always will
you have to carry him and protect him. What good will he be
to the tribe? None; only a burden.
"Let us leave him quietly sleeping among the tall grasses,
that you may bear other and stronger apes to guard us in our
"Never, Broken Nose," replied Kala. "If I must carry him
forever, so be it."
And then Tublat went to Kerchak to urge him to use his
authority with Kala, and force her to give up little Tarzan,
which was the name they had given to the tiny Lord Greystoke,
and which meant "White-Skin."
But when Kerchak spoke to her about it Kala threatened
to run away from the tribe if they did not leave her in peace
with the child; and as this is one of the inalienable rights of
the jungle folk, if they be dissatisfied among their own people,
they bothered her no more, for Kala was a fine clean-limbed
young female, and they did not wish to lose her.
As Tarzan grew he made more rapid strides, so that by the
time he was ten years old he was an excellent climber, and on
the ground could do many wonderful things which were beyond
the powers of his little brothers and sisters.
In many ways did he differ from them, and they often
marveled at his superior cunning, but in strength and size he
was deficient; for at ten the great anthropoids were fully
grown, some of them towering over six feet in height, while
little Tarzan was still but a half-grown boy.
Yet such a boy!
From early childhood he had used his hands to swing from
branch to branch after the manner of his giant mother, and
as he grew older he spent hour upon hour daily speeding
through the tree tops with his brothers and sisters.
He could spring twenty feet across space at the dizzy
heights of the forest top, and grasp with unerring precision,
and without apparent jar, a limb waving wildly in the path of
an approaching tornado.
He could drop twenty feet at a stretch from limb to limb
in rapid descent to the ground, or he could gain the utmost
pinnacle of the loftiest tropical giant with the ease and
swiftness of a squirrel.
Though but ten years old he was fully as strong as the
average man of thirty, and far more agile than the most
practiced athlete ever becomes. And day by day his strength
His life among these fierce apes had been happy; for his
recollection held no other life, nor did he know that there
existed within the universe aught else than his little forest
and the wild jungle animals with which he was familiar.
He was nearly ten before he commenced to realize that a
great difference existed between himself and his fellows. His
little body, burned brown by exposure, suddenly caused him
feelings of intense shame, for he realized that it was entirely
hairless, like some low snake, or other reptile.
He attempted to obviate this by plastering himself from
head to foot with mud, but this dried and fell off. Besides it
felt so uncomfortable that he quickly decided that he
preferred the shame to the discomfort.
In the higher land which his tribe frequented was a little
lake, and it was here that Tarzan first saw his face in the
clear, still waters of its bosom.
It was on a sultry day of the dry season that he and one of
his cousins had gone down to the bank to drink. As they
leaned over, both little faces were mirrored on the placid
pool; the fierce and terrible features of the ape beside those
of the aristocratic scion of an old English house.
Tarzan was appalled. It had been bad enough to be hairless,
but to own such a countenance! He wondered that the
other apes could look at him at all.
That tiny slit of a mouth and those puny white teeth! How
they looked beside the mighty lips and powerful fangs of his
more fortunate brothers!
And the little pinched nose of his; so thin was it that it
looked half starved. He turned red as he compared it with the
beautiful broad nostrils of his companion. Such a generous nose!
Why it spread half across his face! It certainly must be
fine to be so handsome, thought poor little Tarzan.
But when he saw his own eyes; ah, that was the final blow
--a brown spot, a gray circle and then blank whiteness!
Frightful! not even the snakes had such hideous eyes as he.
So intent was he upon this personal appraisement of his
features that he did not hear the parting of the tall grass
behind him as a great body pushed itself stealthily through
the jungle; nor did his companion, the ape, hear either, for
he was drinking and the noise of his sucking lips and gurgles
of satisfaction drowned the quiet approach of the intruder.
Not thirty paces behind the two she crouched--Sabor, the
huge lioness--lashing her tail. Cautiously she moved a great
padded paw forward, noiselessly placing it before she lifted
the next. Thus she advanced; her belly low, almost touching
the surface of the ground--a great cat preparing to spring
upon its prey.
Now she was within ten feet of the two unsuspecting little
playfellows--carefully she drew her hind feet well up beneath
her body, the great muscles rolling under the beautiful skin.
So low she was crouching now that she seemed flattened to
the earth except for the upward bend of the glossy back as it
gathered for the spring.
No longer the tail lashed--quiet and straight behind her it lay.
An instant she paused thus, as though turned to stone, and
then, with an awful scream, she sprang.
Sabor, the lioness, was a wise hunter. To one less wise the
wild alarm of her fierce cry as she sprang would have seemed
a foolish thing, for could she not more surely have fallen upon
her victims had she but quietly leaped without that loud shriek?
But Sabor knew well the wondrous quickness of the jungle
folk and their almost unbelievable powers of hearing. To
them the sudden scraping of one blade of grass across
another was as effectual a warning as her loudest cry, and
Sabor knew that she could not make that mighty leap without
a little noise.
Her wild scream was not a warning. It was voiced to
freeze her poor victims in a paralysis of terror for the tiny
fraction of an instant which would suffice for her mighty
claws to sink into their soft flesh and hold them beyond hope
So far as the ape was concerned, Sabor reasoned correctly.
The little fellow crouched trembling just an instant, but that
instant was quite long enough to prove his undoing.
Not so, however, with Tarzan, the man-child. His life
amidst the dangers of the jungle had taught him to meet
emergencies with self-confidence, and his higher intelligence
resulted in a quickness of mental action far beyond the powers
of the apes.
So the scream of Sabor, the lioness, galvanized the brain
and muscles of little Tarzan into instant action.
Before him lay the deep waters of the little lake, behind
him certain death; a cruel death beneath tearing claws and
Tarzan had always hated water except as a medium for
quenching his thirst. He hated it because he connected it with
the chill and discomfort of the torrential rains, and he feared
it for the thunder and lightning and wind which accompanied them.
The deep waters of the lake he had been taught by his wild
mother to avoid, and further, had he not seen little Neeta
sink beneath its quiet surface only a few short weeks before
never to return to the tribe?
But of the two evils his quick mind chose the lesser ere the
first note of Sabor's scream had scarce broken the quiet of
the jungle, and before the great beast had covered half her
leap Tarzan felt the chill waters close above his head.
He could not swim, and the water was very deep; but still he
lost no particle of that self-confidence and resourcefulness
which were the badges of his superior being.
Rapidly he moved his hands and feet in an attempt to
scramble upward, and, possibly more by chance than design,
he fell into the stroke that a dog uses when swimming, so
that within a few seconds his nose was above water and he
found that he could keep it there by continuing his strokes,
and also make progress through the water.
He was much surprised and pleased with this new acquirement
which had been so suddenly thrust upon him, but he had no
time for thinking much upon it.
He was now swimming parallel to the bank and there he
saw the cruel beast that would have seized him crouching
upon the still form of his little playmate.
The lioness was intently watching Tarzan, evidently expecting
him to return to shore, but this the boy had no intention
Instead he raised his voice in the call of distress common
to his tribe, adding to it the warning which would prevent
would-be rescuers from running into the clutches of Sabor.
Almost immediately there came an answer from the distance,
and presently forty or fifty great apes swung rapidly and
majestically through the trees toward the scene of tragedy.
In the lead was Kala, for she had recognized the tones of
her best beloved, and with her was the mother of the little
ape who lay dead beneath cruel Sabor.
Though more powerful and better equipped for fighting than
the apes, the lioness had no desire to meet these enraged
adults, and with a snarl of hatred she sprang quickly
into the brush and disappeared.
Tarzan now swam to shore and clambered quickly upon
dry land. The feeling of freshness and exhilaration which the
cool waters had imparted to him, filled his little being with
grateful surprise, and ever after he lost no opportunity to
take a daily plunge in lake or stream or ocean when it was
possible to do so.
For a long time Kala could not accustom herself to the
sight; for though her people could swim when forced to it,
they did not like to enter water, and never did so voluntarily.
The adventure with the lioness gave Tarzan food for
pleasurable memories, for it was such affairs which broke
the monotony of his daily life--otherwise but a dull round of
searching for food, eating, and sleeping.
The tribe to which he belonged roamed a tract extending,
roughly, twenty-five miles along the seacoast and some fifty
miles inland. This they traversed almost continually,
occasionally remaining for months in one locality; but as they
moved through the trees with great speed they often covered
the territory in a very few days.
Much depended upon food supply, climatic conditions, and
the prevalence of animals of the more dangerous species;
though Kerchak often led them on long marches for no other
reason than that he had tired of remaining in the same place.
At night they slept where darkness overtook them, lying
upon the ground, and sometimes covering their heads, and
more seldom their bodies, with the great leaves of the
elephant's ear. Two or three might lie cuddled in each other's
arms for additional warmth if the night were chill, and thus
Tarzan had slept in Kala's arms nightly for all these years.
That the huge, fierce brute loved this child of another race
is beyond question, and he, too, gave to the great, hairy beast
all the affection that would have belonged to his fair young
mother had she lived.
When he was disobedient she cuffed him, it is true, but she
was never cruel to him, and was more often caressing him
than chastising him.
Tublat, her mate, always hated Tarzan, and on several
occasions had come near ending his youthful career.
Tarzan on his part never lost an opportunity to show that
he fully reciprocated his foster father's sentiments, and
whenever he could safely annoy him or make faces at him or hurl
insults upon him from the safety of his mother's arms, or the
slender branches of the higher trees, he did so.
His superior intelligence and cunning permitted him to invent
a thousand diabolical tricks to add to the burdens of
Early in his boyhood he had learned to form ropes by
twisting and tying long grasses together, and with these he
was forever tripping Tublat or attempting to hang him from
some overhanging branch.
By constant playing and experimenting with these he learned
to tie rude knots, and make sliding nooses; and with these he
and the younger apes amused themselves. What Tarzan did they
tried to do also, but he alone originated and became proficient.
One day while playing thus Tarzan had thrown his rope at
one of his fleeing companions, retaining the other end in his
grasp. By accident the noose fell squarely about the running
ape's neck, bringing him to a sudden and surprising halt.
Ah, here was a new game, a fine game, thought Tarzan, and
immediately he attempted to repeat the trick. And thus, by
painstaking and continued practice, he learned the art of roping.
Now, indeed, was the life of Tublat a living nightmare. In
sleep, upon the march, night or day, he never knew when
that quiet noose would slip about his neck and nearly choke
the life out of him.
Kala punished, Tublat swore dire vengeance, and old Kerchak
took notice and warned and threatened; but all to no avail.
Tarzan defied them all, and the thin, strong noose continued
to settle about Tublat's neck whenever he least expected it.
The other apes derived unlimited amusement from Tublat's
discomfiture, for Broken Nose was a disagreeable old fellow,
whom no one liked, anyway.
In Tarzan's clever little mind many thoughts revolved, and
back of these was his divine power of reason.
If he could catch his fellow apes with his long arm of
many grasses, why not Sabor, the lioness?
It was the germ of a thought, which, however, was destined
to mull around in his conscious and subconscious mind
until it resulted in magnificent achievement.
But that came in later years.
The wanderings of the tribe brought them often near the
closed and silent cabin by the little land-locked harbor.
To Tarzan this was always a source of never-ending mystery
He would peek into the curtained windows, or, climbing
upon the roof, peer down the black depths of the chimney in
vain endeavor to solve the unknown wonders that lay within
those strong walls.
His child-like imagination pictured wonderful creatures
within, and the very impossibility of forcing entrance
added a thousandfold to his desire to do so.
He could clamber about the roof and windows for hours
attempting to discover means of ingress, but to the door he paid
little attention, for this was apparently as solid as the walls.
It was in the next visit to the vicinity, following the
adventure with old Sabor, that, as he approached the cabin,
Tarzan noticed that from a distance the door appeared to be an
independent part of the wall in which it was set, and for the first
time it occurred to him that this might prove the means of
entrance which had so long eluded him.
He was alone, as was often the case when he visited the
cabin, for the apes had no love for it; the story of the
thunder-stick having lost nothing in the telling during these
ten years had quite surrounded the white man's deserted abode
with an atmosphere of weirdness and terror for the simians.
The story of his own connection with the cabin had never
been told him. The language of the apes had so few words
that they could talk but little of what they had seen in the
cabin, having no words to accurately describe either the
strange people or their belongings, and so, long before
Tarzan was old enough to understand, the subject had been
forgotten by the tribe.
Only in a dim, vague way had Kala explained to him that
his father had been a strange white ape, but he did not know
that Kala was not his own mother.
On this day, then, he went directly to the door and spent
hours examining it and fussing with the hinges, the knob and
the latch. Finally he stumbled upon the right combination,
and the door swung creakingly open before his astonished eyes.
For some minutes he did not dare venture within, but finally,
as his eyes became accustomed to the dim light of the
interior he slowly and cautiously entered.
In the middle of the floor lay a skeleton, every vestige of
flesh gone from the bones to which still clung the mildewed
and moldered remnants of what had once been clothing.
Upon the bed lay a similar gruesome thing, but smaller, while
in a tiny cradle near-by was a third, a wee mite of a skeleton.
To none of these evidences of a fearful tragedy of a long
dead day did little Tarzan give but passing heed. His wild
jungle life had inured him to the sight of dead and dying
animals, and had he known that he was looking upon the remains
of his own father and mother he would have been no more
The furnishings and other contents of the room it was
which riveted his attention. He examined many things
minutely--strange tools and weapons, books, paper, clothing--
what little had withstood the ravages of time in the humid
atmosphere of the jungle coast.
He opened chests and cupboards, such as did not baffle his
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