Tarzan of the ApesEdgar Rice Burroughs
Produced by Judith Boss. HTML version by Al Haines.
Tarzan of the Apes
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" XVII Burials XVIII The Jungle Toll XIX The Call of the Primitive XX Heredity 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 XXVIII Conclusion
Out to Sea
I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or toany other. I may credit the seductive influence of an old vintage uponthe narrator for the beginning of it, and my own skeptical incredulityduring the days that followed for the balance of the strange tale.
When my convivial host discovered that he had told me so much, and thatI was prone to doubtfulness, his foolish pride assumed the task the oldvintage had commenced, and so he unearthed written evidence in the formof musty manuscript, and dry official records of the British ColonialOffice to support many of the salient features of his remarkablenarrative.
I do not say the story is true, for I did not witness the happeningswhich it portrays, but the fact that in the telling of it to you I havetaken fictitious names for the principal characters quite sufficientlyevidences the sincerity of my own belief that it MAY be true.
The yellow, mildewed pages of the diary of a man long dead, and therecords of the Colonial Office dovetail perfectly with the narrative ofmy convivial host, and so I give you the story as I painstakinglypieced it out from these several various agencies.
If you do not find it credible you will at least be as one with me inacknowledging that it is unique, remarkable, and interesting.
From the records of the Colonial Office and from the dead man's diarywe learn that a certain young English nobleman, whom we shall call JohnClayton, Lord Greystoke, was commissioned to make a peculiarly delicateinvestigation of conditions in a British West Coast African Colony fromwhose simple native inhabitants another European power was known to berecruiting soldiers for its native army, which it used solely for theforcible collection of rubber and ivory from the savage tribes alongthe Congo and the Aruwimi. The natives of the British Colonycomplained that many of their young men were enticed away through themedium of fair and glowing promises, but that few if any ever returnedto their families.
The Englishmen in Africa went even further, saying that these poorblacks were held in virtual slavery, since after their terms ofenlistment expired their ignorance was imposed upon by their whiteofficers, and they were told that they had yet several years to serve.
And so the Colonial Office appointed John Clayton to a new post inBritish West Africa, but his confidential instructions centered on athorough investigation of the unfair treatment of black Britishsubjects by the officers of a friendly European power. Why he wassent, is, however, of little moment to this story, for he never made aninvestigation, nor, in fact, did he ever reach his destination.
Clayton was the type of Englishman that one likes best to associatewith the noblest monuments of historic achievement upon a thousandvictorious battlefields--a strong, virile man--mentally, morally, andphysically.
In stature he was above the average height; his eyes were gray, hisfeatures regular and strong; his carriage that of perfect, robusthealth influenced by his years of army training.
Political ambition had caused him to seek transference from the army tothe Colonial Office and so we find him, still young, entrusted with adelicate and important commission in the service of the Queen.
When he received this appointment he was both elated and appalled. Thepreferment seemed to him in the nature of a well-merited reward forpainstaking and intelligent service, and as a stepping stone to postsof greater importance and responsibility; but, on the other hand, hehad been married to the Hon. Alice Rutherford for scarce a threemonths, and it was the thought of taking this fair young girl into thedangers and isolation of tropical Africa that appalled him.
For her sake he would have refused the appointment, but she would nothave it so. Instead she insisted that he accept, and, indeed, take herwith him.
There were mothers and brothers and sisters, and aunts and cousins toexpress various opinions on the subject, but as to what they severallyadvised history is silent.
We know only that on a bright May morning in 1888, John, LordGreystoke, and Lady Alice sailed from Dover on their way to Africa.
A month later they arrived at Freetown where they chartered a smallsailing vessel, the Fuwalda, which was to bear them to their finaldestination.
And here John, Lord Greystoke, and Lady Alice, his wife, vanished fromthe eyes and from the knowledge of men.
Two months after they weighed anchor and cleared from the port ofFreetown a half dozen British war vessels were scouring the southAtlantic for trace of them or their little vessel, and it was almostimmediately that the wreckage was found upon the shores of St. Helenawhich convinced the world that the Fuwalda had gone down with all onboard, and hence the search was stopped ere it had scarce begun; thoughhope lingered in longing hearts for many years.
The Fuwalda, a barkentine of about one hundred tons, was a vessel ofthe type often seen in coastwise trade in the far southern Atlantic,their crews composed of the offscourings of the sea--unhanged murderersand cutthroats of every race and every nation.
The Fuwalda was no exception to the rule. Her officers were swarthybullies, hating and hated by their crew. The captain, while acompetent seaman, was a brute in his treatment of his men. He knew, orat least he used, but two arguments in his dealings with them--abelaying pin and a revolver--nor is it likely that the motleyaggregation he signed would have understood aught else.
So it was that from the second day out from Freetown John Clayton andhis young wife witnessed scenes upon the deck of the Fuwalda such asthey had believed were never enacted outside the covers of printedstories of the sea.
It was on the morning of the second day that the first link was forgedin what was destined to form a chain of circumstances ending in a lifefor one then unborn such as has never been paralleled in the history ofman.
Two sailors were washing down the decks of the Fuwalda, the first matewas on duty, and the captain had stopped to speak with John Clayton andLady Alice.
The men were working backwards toward the little party who were facingaway from the sailors. Closer and closer they came, until one of themwas directly behind the captain. In another moment he would havepassed by and this strange narrative would never have been recorded.
But just that instant the officer turned to leave Lord and LadyGreystoke, and, as he did so, tripped against the sailor and sprawledheadlong upon the deck, overturning the water-pail so that he wasdrenched in its dirty contents.
For an instant the scene was ludicrous; but only for an instant. Witha volley of awful oaths, his face suffused with the scarlet ofmortification and rage, the captain regained his feet, and with aterrific blow felled the sailor to the deck.
The man was small and rather old, so that the brutality of the act wasthus accentuated. The other seaman, however, was neither old norsmall--a huge bear of a man, with fierce black mustachios, and a greatbull neck set between massive shoulders.
As he saw his mate go down he crouched, and, with a low snarl, sprangupon the captain crushing him to his knees with a
single mighty blow.
From scarlet the officer's face went white, for this was mutiny; andmutiny he had met and subdued before in his brutal career. Withoutwaiting to rise he whipped a revolver from his pocket, firing pointblank at the great mountain of muscle towering before him; but, quickas he was, John Clayton was almost as quick, so that the bullet whichwas 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 theweapon flash in the sun.
Words passed between Clayton and the captain, the former making itplain that he was disgusted with the brutality displayed toward thecrew, nor would he countenance anything further of the kind while heand Lady Greystoke remained passengers.
The captain was on the point of making an angry reply, but, thinkingbetter of it, turned on his heel and black and scowling, strode aft.
He did not care to antagonize an English official, for the Queen'smighty arm wielded a punitive instrument which he could appreciate, andwhich he feared--England's far-reaching navy.
The two sailors picked themselves up, the older man assisting hiswounded comrade to rise. The big fellow, who was known among his matesas Black Michael, tried his leg gingerly, and, finding that it bore hisweight, turned to Clayton with a word of gruff thanks.
Though the fellow's tone was surly, his words were evidently wellmeant. Ere he had scarce finished his little speech he had turned andwas limping off toward the forecastle with the very apparent intentionof forestalling any further conversation.
They did not see him again for several days, nor did the captain accordthem more than the surliest of grunts when he was forced to speak tothem.
They took their meals in his cabin, as they had before the unfortunateoccurrence; but the captain was careful to see that his duties neverpermitted him to eat at the same time.
The other officers were coarse, illiterate fellows, but little abovethe villainous crew they bullied, and were only too glad to avoidsocial intercourse with the polished English noble and his lady, sothat the Claytons were left very much to themselves.
This in itself accorded perfectly with their desires, but it alsorather isolated them from the life of the little ship so that they wereunable to keep in touch with the daily happenings which were toculminate so soon in bloody tragedy.
There was in the whole atmosphere of the craft that undefinablesomething which presages disaster. Outwardly, to the knowledge of theClaytons, all went on as before upon the little vessel; but that therewas 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 ondeck just in time to see the limp body of one of the crew being carriedbelow by four of his fellows while the first mate, a heavy belaying pinin 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 distanthorizon, he half determined to demand that he and Lady Alice be putaboard her, for his fears were steadily increasing that nothing butharm 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 themaboard her, the obvious ridiculousness of such a request becamesuddenly apparent. What reason could he give the officer commandingher majesty's ship for desiring to go back in the direction from whichhe had just come!
What if he told them that two insubordinate seamen had been roughlyhandled by their officers? They would but laugh in their sleeves andattribute his reason for wishing to leave the ship to but onething--cowardice.
John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, did not ask to be transferred to theBritish man-of-war. Late in the afternoon he saw her upper works fadebelow the far horizon, but not before he learned that which confirmedhis greatest fears, and caused him to curse the false pride which hadrestrained him from seeking safety for his young wife a few short hoursbefore, when safety was within reach--a safety which was now goneforever.
It was mid-afternoon that brought the little old sailor, who had beenfelled by the captain a few days before, to where Clayton and his wifestood by the ship's side watching the ever diminishing outlines of thegreat battleship. The old fellow was polishing brasses, and as he cameedging 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 spawnof a capting an' is mates knockin' the bloomin' lights outen 'arf thecrew?
"Two busted 'eads yeste'day, an' three to-day. Black Michael's as goodas new agin an' 'e's not the bully to stand fer it, not 'e; an' mark myword for it, sir."
"You mean, my man, that the crew contemplates mutiny?" asked Clayton.
"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'vesaid too damned much now, but ye was a good sort t'other day an' Ithought 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 apill between yer ribs, an' mark my word for it, sir," and the oldfellow went on with his polishing, which carried him away from wherethe Claytons were standing.
"Deuced cheerful outlook, Alice," said Clayton.
"You should warn the captain at once, John. Possibly the trouble mayyet be averted," she said.
"I suppose I should, but yet from purely selfish motives I am almostprompted to 'keep a still tongue in my 'ead.' Whatever they do now theywill 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 mercyshown us, Alice."
"You have but one duty, John, and that lies in the interest of vestedauthority. If you do not warn the captain you are as much a party towhatever follows as though you had helped to plot and carry it out withyour own head and hands."
"You do not understand, dear," replied Clayton. "It is of you I amthinking--there lies my first duty. The captain has brought thiscondition upon himself, so why then should I risk subjecting my wife tounthinkable horrors in a probably futile attempt to save him from hisown brutal folly? You have no conception, dear, of what would followwere this pack of cutthroats to gain control of the Fuwalda."
"Duty is duty, John, and no amount of sophistries may change it. Iwould be a poor wife for an English lord were I to be responsible forhis shirking a plain duty. I realize the danger which must follow, butI can face it with you."
"Have it as you will then, Alice," he answered, smiling. "Maybe we areborrowing trouble. While I do not like the looks of things on boardthis ship, they may not be so bad after all, for it is possible thatthe 'Ancient Mariner' was but voicing the desires of his wicked oldheart rather than speaking of real facts.
"Mutiny on the high sea may have been common a hundred years ago, butin this good year 1888 it is the least likely of happenings.
"But there goes the captain to his cabin now. If I am going to warnhim I might as well get the beastly job over for I have little stomachto talk with the brute at all."
So saying he strolled carelessly in the direction of the companionwaythrough which the captain had passed, and a moment later was knockingat 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 wellthat you be forearmed. In short, the men contemplate mutiny andmurder."
"It's a lie!" roared the capta
in. "And if you have been interferingagain with the discipline of this ship, or meddling in affairs thatdon't concern you you can take the consequences, and be damned. Idon't care whether you are an English lord or not. I'm captain of thishere ship, and from now on you keep your meddling nose out of mybusiness."
The captain had worked himself up to such a frenzy of rage that he wasfairly purple of face, and he shrieked the last words at the top of hisvoice, emphasizing his remarks by a loud thumping of the table with onehuge fist, and shaking the other in Clayton's face.
Greystoke never turned a hair, but stood eying the excited man withlevel 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 easethat was habitual with him, and which was more surely calculated toraise the ire of a man of Billings' class than a torrent of invective.
So, whereas the captain might easily have been brought to regret hishasty speech had Clayton attempted to conciliate him, his temper wasnow irrevocably set in the mold in which Clayton had left it, and thelast chance of their working together for their common good was gone.
"Well, Alice," said Clayton, as he rejoined his wife, "I might havesaved my breath. The fellow proved most ungrateful. Fairly jumped atme like a mad dog.
"He and his blasted old ship may hang, for aught I care; and until weare safely off the thing I shall spend my energies in looking after ourown welfare. And I rather fancy the first step to that end should beto go to our cabin and look over my revolvers. I am sorry now that wepacked the larger guns and the ammunition with the stuff below."
They found their quarters in a bad state of disorder. Clothing fromtheir open boxes and bags strewed the little apartment, and even theirbeds had been torn to pieces.
"Evidently someone was more anxious about our belongings than we," saidClayton. "Let's have a look around, Alice, and see what's missing."
A thorough search revealed the fact that nothing had been taken butClayton's two revolvers and the small supply of ammunition he had savedout 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 mostsinister."
"What are we to do, John?" asked his wife. "Perhaps you were right inthat our best chance lies in maintaining a neutral position.
"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 nothaving 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 wifesimultaneously noticed the corner of a piece of paper protruding frombeneath the door of their quarters. As Clayton stooped to reach for ithe was amazed to see it move further into the room, and then herealized that it was being pushed inward by someone from without.
Quickly and silently he stepped toward the door, but, as he reached forthe 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 wecannot afford to see them. Do not forget that we are keeping to themiddle of the road."
Clayton smiled and dropped his hand to his side. Thus they stoodwatching the little bit of white paper until it finally remained atrest upon the floor just inside the door.
Then Clayton stooped and picked it up. It was a bit of grimy, whitepaper roughly folded into a ragged square. Opening it they found acrude message printed almost illegibly, and with many evidences of anunaccustomed task.
Translated, it was a warning to the Claytons to refrain from reportingthe loss of the revolvers, or from repeating what the old sailor hadtold 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."