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Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Chapter XVIII: The
the following morning Tarzan awoke, and his first thought of the new day,
as the last of yesterday, was of the wonderful writing which lay hidden in
he brought it forth, hoping against hope that he could read what the
beautiful white girl had written there the preceding evening.
the first glance he suffered a bitter disappointment; never before had he
so yearned for anything as now he did for the ability to interpret a
message from that golden-haired divinity who had come so suddenly and so
unexpectedly into his life.
did it matter if the message were not intended for him?
It was an expression of her thoughts, and that was sufficient for
Tarzan of the Apes.
now to be baffled by strange, uncouth characters the like of which he had
never seen before! Why, they
even tipped in the opposite direction from all that he had ever examined
either in printed books or the difficult script of the few letters he had
the little bugs of the black book were familiar friends, though their
arrangement meant nothing to him; but these bugs were new and unheard of.
twenty minutes he pored over them, when suddenly they commenced to take
familiar though distorted shapes. Ah, they were his old friends, but badly
he began to make out a word here and a word there. His heart leaped for
joy. He could read it, and he
another half hour he was progressing rapidly, and, but for an exceptional
word now and again, he found it very plain sailing.
is what he read:
sat in a brown study for a long time after he finished reading the letter.
It was filled with so many new and wonderful things that his brain
was in a whirl as he attempted to digest them all.
they did not know that he was Tarzan of the Apes.
He would tell them.
his tree he had constructed a rude shelter of leaves and boughs, beneath
which, protected from the rain, he had placed the few treasures brought
from the cabin. Among these were some pencils.
took one, and beneath Jane Porter's signature he wrote:
I am Tarzan of the Apes
thought that would be sufficient. Later
he would return the letter to the cabin.
the matter of food, thought Tarzan, they had no need to worry--he would
provide, and he did.
next morning Jane found her missing letter in the exact spot from which it
had disappeared two nights before. She was mystified; but when she saw the
printed words beneath her signature, she felt a cold, clammy chill run up
her spine. She showed the
letter, or rather the last sheet with the signature, to Clayton.
to think," she said, "that uncanny thing was probably watching
me all the time that I was writing--oo!
It makes me shudder just to think of it."
he must be friendly," reassured Clayton, "for he has returned
your letter, nor did he offer to harm you, and unless I am mistaken he
left a very substantial memento of his friendship outside the cabin door
last night, for I just found the carcass of a wild boar there as I came
then on scarcely a day passed that did not bring its offering of game or
other food. Sometimes it was a young deer, again a quantity of strange,
cooked food--cassava cakes pilfered from the village of Mbonga--or a boar,
or leopard, and once a lion.
derived the greatest pleasure of his life in hunting meat for these
strangers. It seemed to him
that no pleasure on earth could compare with laboring for the welfare and
protection of the beautiful white girl.
day he would venture into the camp in daylight and talk with these people
through the medium of the little bugs which were familiar to them and to
he found it difficult to overcome the timidity of the wild thing of the
forest, and so day followed day without seeing a fulfillment of his good
party in the camp, emboldened by familiarity, wandered farther and yet
farther into the jungle in search of nuts and fruit.
a day passed that did not find Professor Porter straying in his
preoccupied indifference toward the jaws of death.
Mr. Samuel T. Philander, never what one might call robust, was worn
to the shadow of a shadow through the ceaseless worry and mental
distraction resultant from his Herculean efforts to safeguard the
month passed. Tarzan had finally determined to visit the camp by daylight.
was early afternoon. Clayton
had wandered to the point at the harbor's mouth to look for passing
vessels. Here he kept a great
mass of wood, high piled, ready to be ignited as a signal should a steamer
or a sail top the far horizon.
Porter was wandering along the beach south of the camp with Mr. Philander
at his elbow, urging him to turn his steps back before the two became
again the sport of some savage beast.
others gone, Jane and Esmeralda had wandered into the jungle to gather
fruit, and in their search were led farther and farther from the cabin.
waited in silence before the door of the little house until they should
return. His thoughts were of
the beautiful white girl. They were always of her now.
He wondered if she would fear him, and the thought all but caused
him to relinquish his plan.
was rapidly becoming impatient for her return, that he might feast his
eyes upon her and be near her, perhaps touch her.
The ape-man knew no god, but he was as near to worshipping his
divinity as mortal man ever comes to worship. While he waited he passed
the time printing a message to her; whether he intended giving it to her
he himself could not have told, but he took infinite pleasure in seeing
his thoughts expressed in print--in which he was not so uncivilized after
all. He wrote:
am Tarzan of the Apes. I want
you. I am yours.
You are mine. We live
here together always in my house. I
will bring you the best of fruits, the tenderest deer, the finest meats
that roam the jungle. I will
hunt for you. I am the
greatest of the jungle fighters. I
will fight for you. I am the
mightiest of the jungle fighters. You
are Jane Porter, I saw it in your letter. When you see this you will know
that it is for you and that Tarzan of the Apes loves you.
he stood, straight as a young Indian, by the door, waiting after he had
finished the message, there came to his keen ears a familiar sound.
It was the passing of a great ape through the lower branches of the
an instant he listened intently, and then from the jungle came the
agonized scream of a woman, and Tarzan of the Apes, dropping his first
love letter upon the ground, shot like a panther into the forest.
also, heard the scream, and Professor Porter and Mr. Philander, and in a
few minutes they came panting to the cabin, calling out to each other a
volley of excited questions as they approached.
A glance within confirmed their worst fears.
and Esmeralda were not there.
Clayton, followed by the two old men, plunged into the jungle, calling the
girl's name aloud. For half
an hour they stumbled on, until Clayton, by merest chance, came upon the
prostrate form of Esmeralda.
stopped beside her, feeling for her pulse and then listening for her
heartbeats. She lived.
He shook her.
he shrieked in her ear. "Esmeralda!
For God's sake, where is Miss Porter?
What has happened? Esmeralda!"
Esmeralda opened her eyes. She
saw Clayton. She saw the jungle about her.
Gaberelle!" she screamed, and fainted again.
this time Professor Porter and Mr. Philander had come up.
shall we do, Mr. Clayton?" asked the old professor. "Where shall
we look? God could not have been so cruel as to take my little girl
away from me now."
must arouse Esmeralda first," replied Clayton.
"She can tell us what has happened.
Esmeralda!" he cried again, shaking the black woman roughly by
Gaberelle, I want to die!" cried the poor woman, but with eyes fast
closed. "Let me die, dear Lord, don't let me see that awful face
come, Esmeralda," cried Clayton.
Lord isn't here; it's Mr. Clayton. Open
did as she was bade.
Gaberelle! Thank the
Lord," she said.
Miss Porter? What
happened?" questioned Clayton.
Miss Jane here?" cried Esmeralda, sitting up with wonderful celerity
for one of her bulk. "Oh,
Lord, now I remember! It must
have took her away," and the Negress commenced to sob, and wail her
took her away?" cried Professor Porter.
great big giant all covered with hair."
gorilla, Esmeralda?" questioned Mr. Philander, and the three men
scarcely breathed as he voiced the horrible thought.
thought it was the devil; but I guess it must have been one of them
gorilephants. Oh, my poor baby, my poor little honey," and again
Esmeralda broke into uncontrollable sobbing.
immediately began to look about for tracks, but he could find nothing save
a confusion of trampled grasses in the close vicinity, and his woodcraft
was too meager for the translation of what he did see.
the balance of the day they sought through the jungle; but as night drew
on they were forced to give up in despair and hopelessness, for they did
not even know in what direction the thing had borne Jane.
was long after dark ere they reached the cabin, and a sad and
grief-stricken party it was that sat silently within the little structure.
Porter finally broke the silence. His
tones were no longer those of the erudite pedant theorizing upon the
abstract and the unknowable; but those of the man of action-- determined,
but tinged also by a note of indescribable hopelessness and grief which
wrung an answering pang from Clayton's heart.
shall lie down now," said the old man, "and try to sleep. Early
to-morrow, as soon as it is light, I shall take what food I can carry and
continue the search until I have found Jane.
I will not return without her."
companions did not reply at once. Each
was immersed in his own sorrowful thoughts, and each knew, as did the old
professor, what the last words meant--Professor Porter would never return
from the jungle.
length Clayton arose and laid his hand gently upon Professor Porter's bent
shall go with you, of course," he said.
knew that you would offer--that you would wish to go, Mr. Clayton; but you
must not. Jane is beyond human assistance now. What was once my dear little girl shall not lie alone and
friendless in the awful jungle.
same vines and leaves will cover us, the same rains beat upon us; and when
the spirit of her mother is abroad, it will find us together in death, as
it has always found us in life.
it is I alone who may go, for she was my daughter-- all that was left on
earth for me to love."
shall go with you," said Clayton simply.
old man looked up, regarding the strong, handsome face of William Cecil
Clayton intently. Perhaps he
read there the love that lay in the heart beneath--the love for his
had been too preoccupied with his own scholarly thoughts in the past to
consider the little occurrences, the chance words, which would have
indicated to a more practical man that these young people were being drawn
more and more closely to one another.
Now they came back to him, one by one.
you wish," he said.
may count on me, also," said Mr. Philander.
my dear old friend," said Professor Porter.
"We may not all go. It
would be cruelly wicked to leave poor Esmeralda here alone, and three of
us would be no more successful than one.
be enough dead things in the cruel forest as it is. Come--let us try to
sleep a little."
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