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Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Chapter II: The
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 cricket match.
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.
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
he turned to descend the ladder he was surprised to see his wife standing
on the steps almost at his side.
long have you been here, Alice?"
the beginning," she replied. "How
awful, John. Oh, how awful! What can we hope for at the hands of such as those?"
I hope," he answered, smiling bravely in an attempt to allay her
least," he added, "I'm going to ask them.
Come with me, Alice. We
must not let them think we expect any but courteous treatment."
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.
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.
a loud roar, Black Michael attracted the attention of the others, and,
pointing to Lord and Lady Greystoke, cried:
here are my friends, and they are to be left alone. D'ye understand?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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."
remonstrated against the inhumanity of landing them upon an unknown shore
to be left to the mercies of savage beasts, and, possibly, still more
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.
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.
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
about an hour they returned and reported deep water through the passage as
well as far into the little basin.
dark the barkentine lay peacefully at anchor upon the bosom of the still,
mirror-like surface of the harbor.
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 primeval forest.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
he had left them they went silently below, each wrapped in gloomy
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.
out of Black Michael's sight any of the men might strike them down, and
still leave Black Michael's conscience clear.
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.
what of Alice, and that other little life so soon to be launched amidst
the hardships and grave dangers of a primeval world?
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.
next morning their numerous chests and boxes were hoisted on deck and
lowered to waiting small boats for transportation to shore.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
behind them, over the edge of a low ridge, other eyes watched--close set,
wicked eyes, gleaming beneath shaggy brows.
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.
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
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.
John," she cried at last, "the horror of it.
What are we to do? What
are we to do?"
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.
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
John, if it were only you and I," she sobbed, "we could endure
it I know; but--"
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
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.
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."
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.
only hope you are right, John. I
will do my best to be a brave primeval woman, a fit mate for the primeval
first thought was to arrange a sleeping shelter for the night; something
which might serve to protect them from prowling beasts of prey.
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.
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
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 the Fuwalda.
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.
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
completed he had a rather snug little nest, to which he carried their
blankets and some of the lighter luggage.
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.
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 and fascination.
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.
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.
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 Clayton's arms.
she whispered, "look! What
is it, a man?"
Clayton turned his eyes in the direction she indicated, he saw silhouetted
dimly against the shadows beyond, a great figure standing upright upon the
a moment it stood as though listening and then turned slowly, and melted
into the shadows of the jungle.
is it, John?"
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."
John, if it was not a man it was some huge and grotesque mockery of man.
Oh, I am afraid."
gathered her in his arms, whispering words of courage and love into her
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
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.
lay facing the opening at the front, a rifle and a brace of revolvers at
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.
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.
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