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Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Chapter XXVI: The
Height of Civilization
month brought them to a little group of buildings at the mouth of a wide
river, and there Tarzan saw many boats, and was filled with the timidity
of the wild thing by the sight of many men.
he became accustomed to the strange noises and the odd ways of
civilization, so that presently none might know that two short months
before, this handsome Frenchman in immaculate white ducks, who laughed and
chatted with the gayest of them, had been swinging naked through primeval
forests to pounce upon some unwary victim, which, raw, was to fill his
knife and fork, so contemptuously flung aside a month before, Tarzan now
manipulated as exquisitely as did the polished D'Arnot.
apt a pupil had he been that the young Frenchman had labored assiduously
to make of Tarzan of the Apes a polished gentleman in so far as nicety of
manners and speech were concerned.
made you a gentleman at heart, my friend," D'Arnot had said;
"but we want His works to show upon the exterior also."
soon as they had reached the little port, D'Arnot had cabled his
government of his safety, and requested a three- months' leave, which had
had also cabled his bankers for funds, and the enforced wait of a month,
under which both chafed, was due to their inability to charter a vessel
for the return to Tarzan's jungle after the treasure.
their stay at the coast town "Monsieur Tarzan" became the wonder
of both whites and blacks because of several occurrences which to Tarzan
seemed the merest of nothings.
a huge black, crazed by drink, had run amuck and terrorized the town,
until his evil star had led him to where the black-haired French giant
lolled upon the veranda of the hotel.
the broad steps, with brandished knife, the Negro made straight for a
party of four men sitting at a table sipping the inevitable absinthe.
in alarm, the four took to their heels, and then the black spied Tarzan.
a roar he charged the ape-man, while half a hundred heads peered from
sheltering windows and doorways to witness the butchering of the poor
Frenchman by the giant black.
met the rush with the fighting smile that the joy of battle always brought
to his lips.
the Negro closed upon him, steel muscles gripped the black wrist of the
uplifted knife-hand, and a single swift wrench left the hand dangling
below a broken bone.
the pain and surprise, the madness left the black man, and as Tarzan
dropped back into his chair the fellow turned, crying with agony, and
dashed wildly toward the native village.
another occasion as Tarzan and D'Arnot sat at dinner with a number of
other whites, the talk fell upon lions and lion hunting.
was divided as to the bravery of the king of beasts --some maintaining
that he was an arrant coward, but all agreeing that it was with a feeling
of greater security that they gripped their express rifles when the
monarch of the jungle roared about a camp at night.
and Tarzan had agreed that his past be kept secret, and so none other than
the French officer knew of the ape-man's familiarity with the beasts of
Tarzan has not expressed himself," said one of the party.
"A man of his prowess who has spent some time in Africa, as I
understand Monsieur Tarzan has, must have had experiences with
replied Tarzan, dryly. "Enough
to know that each of you are right in your judgment of the characteristics
of the lions--you have met. But
one might as well judge all blacks by the fellow who ran amuck last week,
or decide that all whites are cowards because one has met a cowardly
is as much individuality among the lower orders, gentlemen, as there is
among ourselves. Today we may
go out and stumble upon a lion which is over-timid--he runs away from us.
To-morrow we may meet his uncle or his twin brother, and our
friends wonder why we do not return from the jungle.
For myself, I always assume that a lion is ferocious, and so I am
never caught off my guard."
would be little pleasure in hunting," retorted the first speaker,
"if one is afraid of the thing he hunts."
smiled. Tarzan afraid!
do not exactly understand what you mean by fear," said Tarzan.
"Like lions, fear is a different thing in different men, but
to me the only pleasure in the hunt is the knowledge that the hunted thing
has power to harm me as much as I have to harm him.
If I went out with a couple of rifles and a gun bearer, and twenty
or thirty beaters, to hunt a lion, I should not feel that the lion had
much chance, and so the pleasure of the hunt would be lessened in
proportion to the increased safety which I felt."
I am to take it that Monsieur Tarzan would prefer to go naked into the
jungle, armed only with a jackknife, to kill the king of beasts,"
laughed the other, good naturedly, but with the merest touch of sarcasm in
a piece of rope," added Tarzan.
then the deep roar of a lion sounded from the distant jungle, as though to
challenge whoever dared enter the lists with him.
is your opportunity, Monsieur Tarzan," bantered the Frenchman.
am not hungry," said Tarzan simply.
men laughed, all but D'Arnot. He
alone knew that a savage beast had spoken its simple reason through the
lips of the ape-man.
you are afraid, just as any of us would be, to go out there naked, armed
only with a knife and a piece of rope," said the banterer.
"Is it not so?"
replied Tarzan. "Only a
fool performs any act without reason."
thousand francs is a reason," said the other.
"I wager you that amount you cannot bring back a lion from the
jungle under the conditions we have named--naked and armed only with a
knife and a piece of rope."
glanced toward D'Arnot and nodded his head.
it ten thousand," said D'Arnot.
replied the other. Tarzan
shall have to leave my clothes at the edge of the settlement, so that if I
do not return before daylight I shall have something to wear through the
are not going now," exclaimed the wagerer--"at night?"
not?" asked Tarzan. "Numa
walks abroad at night --it will be easier to find him."
said the other, "I do not want your blood upon my hands.
It will be foolhardy enough if you go forth by day."
shall go now," replied Tarzan, and went to his room for his knife and
men accompanied him to the edge of the jungle, where he left his clothes
in a small storehouse.
when he would have entered the blackness of the undergrowth they tried to
dissuade him; and the wagerer was most insistent of all that he abandon
his foolhardy venture.
will accede that you have won," he said, "and the ten thousand
francs are yours if you will but give up this foolish attempt, which can
only end in your death."
laughed, and in another moment the jungle had swallowed him.
men stood silent for some moments and then slowly turned and walked back
to the hotel veranda.
had no sooner entered the jungle than he took to the trees, and it was
with a feeling of exultant freedom that he swung once more through the
was life! Ah, how he loved it! Civilization
held nothing like this in its narrow and circumscribed sphere, hemmed in
by restrictions and conventionalities.
Even clothes were a hindrance and a nuisance.
last he was free. He had not
realized what a prisoner he had been.
easy it would be to circle back to the coast, and then make toward the
south and his own jungle and cabin.
he caught the scent of Numa, for he was traveling up wind.
Presently his quick ears detected the familiar sound of padded feet
and the brushing of a huge, fur-clad body through the undergrowth.
came quietly above the unsuspecting beast and silently stalked him until
he came into a little patch of moonlight.
the quick noose settled and tightened about the tawny throat, and, as he
had done it a hundred times in the past, Tarzan made fast the end to a
strong branch and, while the beast fought and clawed for freedom, dropped
to the ground behind him, and leaping upon the great back, plunged his
long thin blade a dozen times into the fierce heart.
with his foot upon the carcass of Numa, he raised his voice in the awesome
victory cry of his savage tribe.
a moment Tarzan stood irresolute, swayed by conflicting emotions of
loyalty to D'Arnot and a mighty lust for the freedom of his own jungle.
At last the vision of a beautiful face, and the memory of warm lips
crushed to his dissolved the fascinating picture he had been drawing of
his old life.
ape-man threw the warm carcass of Numa across his shoulders and took to
the trees once more.
men upon the veranda had sat for an hour, almost in silence.
had tried ineffectually to converse on various subjects, and always the
thing uppermost in the mind of each had caused the conversation to lapse.
DIEU," said the wagerer at length, "I can endure it no longer.
I am going into the jungle with my express and bring back that mad
will go with you," said one.
I"--"And I"--"And I," chorused the others.
though the suggestion had broken the spell of some horrid nightmare they
hastened to their various quarters, and presently were headed toward the
jungle--each one heavily armed.
"God! What was that?" suddenly cried one of the party, an
Englishman, as Tarzan's savage cry came faintly to their ears.
heard the same thing once before," said a Belgian, "when I was
in the gorilla country. My
carriers said it was the cry of a great bull ape who has made a
remembered Clayton's description of the awful roar with which Tarzan had
announced his kills, and he half smiled in spite of the horror which
filled him to think that the uncanny sound could have issued from a human
throat --from the lips of his friend.
the party stood finally near the edge of the jungle, debating as to the
best distribution of their forces, they were startled by a low laugh near
them, and turning, beheld advancing toward them a giant figure bearing a
dead lion upon its broad shoulders.
D'Arnot was thunderstruck, for it seemed impossible that the man could
have so quickly dispatched a lion with the pitiful weapons he had taken,
or that alone he could have borne the huge carcass through the tangled
men crowded about Tarzan with many questions, but his only answer was a
laughing depreciation of his feat.
Tarzan it was as though one should eulogize a butcher for his heroism in
killing a cow, for Tarzan had killed so often for food and for
self-preservation that the act seemed anything but remarkable to him.
But he was indeed a hero in the eyes of these men--men accustomed
to hunting big game.
he had won ten thousand francs, for D'Arnot insisted that he keep it all.
was a very important item to Tarzan, who was just commencing to realize
the power which lay beyond the little pieces of metal and paper which
always changed hands when human beings rode, or ate, or slept, or clothed
themselves, or drank, or worked, or played, or sheltered themselves from
the rain or cold or sun.
had become evident to Tarzan that without money one must die.
D'Arnot had told him not to worry, since he had more than enough
for both, but the ape-man was learning many things and one of them was
that people looked down upon one who accepted money from another without
giving something of equal value in exchange.
after the episode of the lion hunt, D'Arnot succeeded in chartering an
ancient tub for the coastwise trip to Tarzan's land-locked harbor.
was a happy morning for them both when the little vessel weighed anchor
and made for the open sea.
trip to the beach was uneventful, and the morning after they dropped
anchor before the cabin, Tarzan, garbed once more in his jungle regalia
and carrying a spade, set out alone for the amphitheater of the apes where
lay the treasure.
the next day he returned, bearing the great chest upon his shoulder, and
at sunrise the little vessel worked through the harbor's mouth and took up
her northward journey.
weeks later Tarzan and D'Arnot were passengers on board a French steamer
bound for Lyons, and after a few days in that city D'Arnot took Tarzan to
ape-man was anxious to proceed to America, but D'Arnot insisted that he
must accompany him to Paris first, nor would he divulge the nature of the
urgent necessity upon which he based his demand.
of the first things which D'Arnot accomplished after their arrival was to
arrange to visit a high official of the police department, an old friend;
and to take Tarzan with him.
D'Arnot led the conversation from point to point until the policeman had
explained to the interested Tarzan many of the methods in vogue for
apprehending and identifying criminals.
the least interesting to Tarzan was the part played by finger prints in
this fascinating science.
of what value are these imprints," asked Tarzan, "when, after a
few years the lines upon the fingers are entirely changed by the wearing
out of the old tissue and the growth of new?"
lines never change," replied the official.
"From infancy to senility the fingerprints of an individual
change only in size, except as injuries alter the loops and whorls.
But if imprints have been taken of the thumb and four fingers of
both hands one must needs lose all entirely to escape
is marvelous," exclaimed D'Arnot.
"I wonder what the lines upon my own fingers may
can soon see," replied the police officer, and ringing a bell he
summoned an assistant to whom he issued a few directions.
man left the room, but presently returned with a little hardwood box which
he placed on his superior's desk.
said the officer, "you shall have your fingerprints in a
drew from the little case a square of plate glass, a little tube of thick
ink, a rubber roller, and a few snowy white cards.
a drop of ink onto the glass, he spread it back and forth with the rubber
roller until the entire surface of the glass was covered to his
satisfaction with a very thin and uniform layer of ink.
the four fingers of your right hand upon the glass, thus," he said to
D'Arnot. "Now the thumb. That
is right. Now place them in just the same position upon this card, here,
no--a little to the right. We
must leave room for the thumb and the fingers of the left hand. There, that's it. Now
the same with the left."
Tarzan," cried D'Arnot, "let's see what your whorls look
complied readily, asking many questions of the officer during the
fingerprints show racial characteristics?" he asked. "Could you
determine, for example, solely from fingerprints whether the subject was
Negro or Caucasian?"
think not," replied the officer.
the finger prints of an ape be detected from those of a man?"
because the ape's would be far simpler than those of the higher
a cross between an ape and a man might show the characteristics of either
progenitor?" continued Tarzan.
I should think likely," responded the official; "but the science
has not progressed sufficiently to render it exact enough in such matters.
I should hate to trust its findings further than to differentiate
between individuals. There it
is absolute. No two people
born into the world probably have ever had identical lines upon all their
digits. It is very doubtful
if any single fingerprint will ever be exactly duplicated by any finger
other than the one which originally made it."
the comparison require much time or labor?" asked D'Arnot.
but a few moments, if the impressions are distinct."
drew a little black book from his pocket and commenced turning the pages.
looked at the book in surprise. How
did D'Arnot come to have his book?
D'Arnot stopped at a page on which were five tiny little smudges.
handed the open book to the policeman.
these imprints similar to mine or Monsieur Tarzan's or can you say that
they are identical with either?" The officer drew a powerful glass
from his desk and examined all three specimens carefully, making notations
meanwhile upon a pad of paper.
realized now what was the meaning of their visit to the police officer.
answer to his life's riddle lay in these tiny marks.
tense nerves he sat leaning forward in his chair, but suddenly he relaxed
and dropped back, smiling.
looked at him in surprise.
forget that for twenty years the dead body of the child who made those
fingerprints lay in the cabin of his father, and that all my life I have
seen it lying there," said Tarzan bitterly.
policeman looked up in astonishment.
ahead, captain, with your examination," said D'Arnot, "we will
tell you the story later--provided Monsieur Tarzan is agreeable."
nodded his head.
you are mad, my dear D'Arnot," he insisted.
"Those little fingers are buried on the west coast of
do not know as to that, Tarzan," replied D'Arnot.
"It is possible, but if you are not the son of John Clayton
then how in heaven's name did you come into that God forsaken jungle where
no white man other than John Clayton had ever set foot?"
forget--Kala," said Tarzan.
do not even consider her," replied D'Arnot.
friends had walked to the broad window overlooking the boulevard as they
talked. For some time they
stood there gazing out upon the busy throng beneath, each wrapped in his
takes some time to compare finger prints," thought D'Arnot, turning
to look at the police officer.
his astonishment he saw the official leaning back in his chair hastily
scanning the contents of the little black diary.
coughed. The policeman looked up, and, catching his eye, raised his
finger to admonish silence. D'Arnot
turned back to the window, and presently the police officer spoke.
turned toward him.
is evidently a great deal at stake which must hinge to a greater or lesser
extent upon the absolute correctness of this comparison.
I therefore ask that you leave the entire matter in my hands until
Monsieur Desquerc, our expert returns.
It will be but a matter of a few days."
had hoped to know at once," said D'Arnot.
"Monsieur Tarzan sails for America tomorrow."
will promise that you can cable him a report within two weeks,"
replied the officer; "but what it will be I dare not say. There are
resemblances, yet--well, we had better leave it for Monsieur Desquerc to
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