IT IS SOMETIMES DIFFICULT to know just where to begin a story. I recall an acquaintance of mine who, in telling of an accident wherein a neighbor had fallen down the cellar stairs and broken her leg, would recount all the marriages and deaths in the family for a generation or two back before getting to the point of the story.
In the present instance, I might go back to Ah Cuitok Tutul Xiu, the Mayan, who founded Uxmal in Yucatan in 1004 A.D.; and from him on to Chab Xib Chac, the Red Man, who destroyed Mayapan in 1451 and murdered the entire Cocom family of tyrants; but I shall not. I shall simply mention that Chac Tutul Xiu, a descendant of Ah Cuitok Tutul Xiu, motivated by that strange migratory urge of the Maya and by the advice of the Ah Kin Mai, or chief priest, left Uxmal with many of his followers, nobles, warriors, women, and slaves, and went to the coast where he constructed several large double dugout canoes and embarked therein upon the broad Pacific, never again to be heard of in his homeland.
That was in 1452 or 1453. From there I might make a broad calendric jump of some four hundred eighty-five or six years to modern times and to the island of Uxmal in the South Pacific, where Cit Coh Xiu is king; but I shall not do that either, since it would be anticipating my story.
Instead, I take you to the deck of the Saigon, a battered old tramp steamer awaiting at Mombasa to load wild animals for shipment to the United States. From below and from cages on deck come the plaints and threats of captured beasts; the deep-throated rumblings of lions, the trumpeting of elephants, the obscene "laugh" of hyenas, the chattering of monkeys.
At the rail two men are deep in argument: "But I tell you, Abdullah," one was saying, "we are practically ready to sail; the last consignment should be here within the week, and every day my expenses are mounting. It might take you a month to bring him in; you might not get him at all."
"I cannot fail, Sahib Krause," replied Abdullah Abu Nejm; "he has received an injury; that I know from Ndalo, in whose country he now is; and so he may be taken easily. Think of it, Sahib! A real wildman, raised by apes from infancy, the play fellow of elephants, the killer of lions. Wellah? he would be worth more than all your shipload of wild beasts in the land of the Nasara; he would make you a rich man, Sahib Krause."
"As I understand it, the fellow speaks English as well as the damned British themselves; I have heard of him for years. How long do you suppose I could exhibit in a cage in the United States a white man who can speak English? Abdullah, you are always saying that we Nasara are mad; I think it is you who are mad."
"You do not understand," replied the Arab. "This injury which he has suffered had deprived him of speech and the knowledge of speech; in that respect, he would be as your other beasts. They cannot complain, so that anyone can understand them; neither could he."
"Aphasia," muttered Krause.
"What did you say, Sahib?"
"That is the name of the affliction which has resulted in your man's loss of speech," explained Krause; "It is caused by a brain lesion. It puts a different aspect on the matter; the thing might be done-and very profitably; but yet--" , He hesitated.
"You do not like the English, Sahib?" inquired Abdullah.
"I do not," snapped Krause. "Why do you ask?"
"This man is an Englishman," replied the Arab in his oiliest tones.
"What would you want for bringing him in?"
"The expenses of my safari, which would be very little, and the price of one lion."
"You do not ask much for so great a catch," commented Krause; "why is that? I expected you to rob me-as usual."
The Arab's eyes narrowed, and his sinister face seemed a mask of hate. "He is my enemy," he said.
"How long will it take?"
"Less than a month," replied Abdullah.
"I shall wait thirty days," said Krause; "then I shall sail, whether you are back or not."
"I am bored," said the girl. "Mombasa! I hate it."
"You are always complaining," growled Krause; "I don't know why the devil I brought you along; anyway, we sail in three days, whether that Arab dog is back or not; then I suppose you'll find something else to grouse about."
"It must be a very valuable specimen Abdullah is bringing you," said the girl.
"What is it, Fritz-a pink elephant or a crimson lion?"
"It is a wild man, but keep it to yourself-the English pigs would never let me take him aboard, if they knew."
"A wild man! One of those whose heads come up to a little point on top, like a cone? He should have a little tuft of hair right on the tip top of the cone, and his nose should spread all across his face, and he shouldn't have any chin. Is he like that, Fritz?"
"I have never seen him, but I suppose he is just like that--that has been orthodox ever since Barnum's What-is-it."
"Look, Fritz! Here comes Abdullah now."
The swart Arab came over the side and approached them; his face betokened nothing of either the success or failure of his mission.
"Marhaba!" Krause greeted him. "Ey khabar."
"The best of tidings, Sahib," replied Abdullah. "I have him, just outside of town, in a wooden cage covered with matting, so that none may see what is within; but billah! what a time we had in capturing him! We took him in a net, but he killed three of Ndalo's warriors before they could tie his hands behind him. He is strong as el-m. We have had to keep his hands tied ever since we got him: he would have torn that wooden cage to pieces in an instant, had we not."
"I have an iron cage that he cannot tear to pieces," said Krause.
"I would not be too sure of that," cautioned the Arab. "If your cage could not withstand the strength of el-m, you had still better keep his hands tied."
"My cage would not hold an elephant," said Krause, "but if it could, it would be strong enough."
"I would still keep his hands tied," persisted Abdullah.
"Has he spoken?" asked Krause.
"No; not a word-he just sits and looks. There is neither hate nor fear in his eyes-he reminds me of el adrea; I am always expecting to hear him roar. We have to feed him by hand, and when he eats his meat, he growls like el adrea."
"Wonderful!" exclaimed Krause. "He will be a sensation. I can just see those fool Americans begging to pay good money to see him. Now listen-I shall clear this afternoon and stand up the coast, returning after dark. Load the cage on a dhow below the town and stand straight out until you pick up my signal-I'll blink my running light three times in rapid succession at intervals; then you show a light. Do you understand?"
"It is already done," said Abdullah Abu Nejm.
* * *
The wind had risen and a sea was running when Abdullah picked up the Saigon's signal. Maneuvering the dhow into position along the lee side of the steamer was finally accomplished. Tackle was lowered and made fast to the cage containing the wild man. Abdullah was guiding the cage as it was hoisted from the dhow, when suddenly the Saigon rolled over away from the smaller craft; the cage was jerked suddenly upward; and Abdullah, fearing that he would be hurled into the sea, clung to it. The cage crashed against the side of the steamer; the men above continued to hoist; then the Saigon rolled back and crashed down upon the dhow, swamping it.
All of the crew of the dhow were lost, and Abdullah was aboard the steamer bound for America. He filled the air with "billahs!" and "Wullah-bullahs!" and called upon Allah to preserve him.
"You're damn lucky to be alive," Krause told him. "You'll make a lot of money in America. I'll exhibit you, too, as the shiek who captured the wild man; they'll pay plenty to see a real shiek straight from the desert. I'll buy a camel for you, and you can ride through the streets with a banner advertising the show."
"I, Abdullah Abu Nejm, exhibited like a wild beast!" screamed the Arab. "Never!"
Krause shrugged. "Have it your own way," he said; "but don't forget, you got to eat, and you won't find many free date trees in America. I'll feed you until we get there, but after that you're on your own."
"Dog of a Nasrany!" muttered the Arab.
The following morning was fair, with a brisk wind, as the Saigon steamed northeastward across the Indian Ocean. The animals on deck were quiet. A wooden cage, entirely covered with matting, was lashed down amidships. No sound came from it, either.
Janette Laon followed Krause on deck; her black hair was blowing in the wind, which pressed her light dress against her, revealing a figure of exceptional allure. Wilhelm Schmidt, the 2nd mate of the Saigon, leaning with his back against the rail, watched her through half-closed eyes.
"Now may I see your wild man, Fritz?" asked the girl.
"I hope he's still alive," said the man; "he must have got an awful beating when we hauled him aboard last night."
"Haven't you tried to find out?" she demanded.
"Couldn't have done anything for him, anyway," replied Krause. "From what Abdullah told me, he'd be a mean customer to handle. Come on; we'll have a look at him. Hey, you!" he called to a Lascar sailor; "take the matting off that cage."
As they watched the man at work, Schmidt came over and joined them. "What you got in there, Mr. Krause?" he asked.
"A wild man; ever see one?"
"I saw a Frenchie once, whose wife had run off with the chauffeur," said Schmidt; "he sure was a wild man."
The sailor had removed the lashings, and now he dragged away the matting. Inside the cage, a giant figure squatted on his haunches, appraising them with level gaze.
"Why, he's a white man!" exclaimed the girl.
"So he is," said Krause.
"You going to keep a man penned up in a cage like a beast?" asked Schmidt.
"He's only white on the outside," said Krause-"he's an Englishman."
Schmidt spat into the cage. The girl stamped her foot angrily. "Don't ever do that again," she said.
"What's he to you?" demanded Krause. "Didn't you hear me say he's nothing but a dirty English pig."
"He's a human being and a white man," replied the girl.
"He's a dummy," retorted Krause; "can't speak a word nor understand one. It's an honor for him to be spit on by a German."
"Nevertheless, don't let Schmidt do it again."
The ship's bell sounded, and Schmidt went to relieve the 1st mate on the bridge.
"He's the pig," said the girl, looking after Schmidt.
The two stood looking at the wild man as Hans de Groote came down from the bridge and joined them. The Dutchman was a good looking young fellow in his early twenties; he had been signed on as 1st mate at Batavia on the trip out, after his predecessor had mysteriously "fallen overboard." Schmidt, who thought that he should have had the assignment, hated him and made no effort to conceal the fact. That there was bad blood between them was nothing to cause comment aboard the Saigon, for bad blood was the rule rather than the exception.
Larsen, the captain, who was now confined to his cabin with a bad attack of fever, was not on speaking terms with Krause, who had chartered the ship; while the crew, made up principally of Lascars and Chinese, were always on the verge of knifing one another. On the whole, the captive beasts were the most admirable creatures aboard.
De Groote stood looking at the man in the cage for several seconds before he spoke. His reaction was almost identical with that of the girl and Schmidt. "He's a white man!" he exclaimed. "You're certainly not going to keep him in a cage like a wild beast!"
"That's exactly what I'm going to do," snapped Krause, "and it's none of your damned business, nor anyone else's," and he shot a scowling glance at the girl.
"He's your wild man," said de Groote, "but at least free his hands; it's unnecessary cruelty to keep him tied up like that."
"I'm going to free his hands," said Krause, grudgingly, "as soon as I can get an iron cage up from below; it would be too much of a job feeding him this way."
"He's had nothing to eat or drink since yesterday," said the girl. "I don't care what he is, Fritz; I wouldn't treat a dog the way you're treating this poor man."
"Neither would I," retorted Krause.
"He is less than a dog," said a voice behind them. It was the voice of Abdullah Abu Nejm. He came close to the cage and spat on the man within, and the girl slapped Abdullah Abu Nejm across the face with all her strength. The Arab's hand flew to his dagger, but de Groote stepped between the two and seized the man's wrist.
"You shouldn't have done that, Janette," said Krause.
The girl's eyes were flashing fire, and the blood had left her face. "I'll not stand by and see him insult that man," she said; "and that goes for the rest of you, too," and she looked straight into Krause's eyes.
"And I'll back her up," said de Groote. "Maybe it's none of my business if you keep him in a cage, but I'll make it some of my business if you don't treat him decently. Have you ordered the iron cage up yet?"
"I'll treat him as I please," said Krause; "and what are you going to do about it?"
"I'll beat hell out of you," replied de Groote, "and then , turn you in to the authorities at the first port of call."
"Here comes the iron cage now," said Janette. "Get him into it and take those cords off his wrists."
Krause was frightened at de Groote's threat to notify the authorities; that made him squirm. "Oh, come," he said in mollifying tones, "I'm going to treat him all right. I got a lot of money tied up in him and I expect to make a lot out of him; I'd be a fool not to treat him well."
"See that you do," said de Groote.
A big iron cage was swung up from below and placed close to the wooden cage, the two doors close together. Krause drew a revolver; then both doors were raised. The man in the wooden cage did not move.
"Get in there, you dumb idiot!" yelled Krause, pointing the revolver at the man. He did not even look at Krause. "Get a capstan bar, one of you men," directed Krause, "and poke him from behind."
"Wait," said the girl; "let me try." She walked to the opposite side of the iron cage and beckoned to the captive. He just looked at her. "Come here a minute," she said to de Groote; "let me take your knife; now place your wrists together, as though they were bound; yes, that's it." She took the knife and pretended to sever imaginary cords about de Groote's wrists; then she beckoned again to the man in the wooden cage. He arose, but still stooped, as he could not stand erect in the small wooden cage, and walked into the larger cage.
The girl was standing close to the bars, the knife in her hand; a sailor dropped the door of the iron cage; the captive approached the girl and, turning his back toward her, pressed his wrists against the bars.
"You said he was stupid," Janette said to Krause; "he's not stupid; I could tell that by just looking at him." She cut the bonds from his wrists, which were discolored and swollen. The man turned and looked at her. He said nothing, but his eyes seemed to thank her.
De Groote was standing beside Janette. "He's a fine-looking specimen, isn't he?" he said.
"And handsome," said the girl. She turned to Krause. "Have some water and food brought," she directed.
"You going to be his nurse maid?" inquired Krause with a sneer.
"I'm going to see that he's treated decently," she replied. "What does he eat?"
"I don't know," replied Krause. "What does he eat, Abdullah?"
"The dog has not eaten for two days," replied the Arab; "so I guess he will eat almost anything. In the jungle he eats raw meat from his kills, like a beast."
"We'll try him on some," said Krause; "it will be a good way of getting rid of any of the animals that die." He sent a sailor to the galley for meat and water.
The man in the iron cage looked long at Abdullah Abu Nejm; so long that the Arab spat on the deck and turned away.
"I wouldn't want to be in your shoes if he ever got out of that cage," said Krause.
"You should not have freed his hands," said Abdullah; "he is more dangerous than the lion."
When the sailor returned with the meat and water, Janette took them from him and passed them in to the wild man. He took a small swallow of water; then he went into a far corner of his cage, squatted on his haunches, and tore at the meat with his strong, white teeth; and as he ate, he growled.
The girl shuddered, and the men moved about uneasily. "El adrea of the broad head eats thus," said Abdullah.
"He sounds like a lion," said Krause. "By what name do the natives know him, Abdullah?"
"He is called Tarzan of the Apes," replied the Arab.
The Saigon crossed the Indian Ocean to Sumatra, where Krause took on two elephants, a rhinoceros, three orangutans, two tigers, a panther, and a tapir. Fearing that de Groote would make good his threat to report the human captive to the authorities at Batavia, Krause did not put in there as he had intended; but continued on to Singapore for monkeys, another tiger, and several boa constrictors; then the Saigon steamed across the South China Sea toward Manila, its last port of call on the long drag to the Panama Canal.
Krause was delighted; so far all his plans had worked out splendidly; and if he got his cargo to New York, he stood to clean up an excellent profit. Perhaps he would not have been so delighted had he known of all that went on aboard the Saigon. Larsen was still confined to his cabin, and while de Groote was a good officer, he was young, and new aboard the ship. Like Krause, he did not know all that was talked of in the forecastle and on deck at night when it was Schmidt's watch. At such times, the 2nd mate spoke long and earnestly with Jabu Singh, the Lascar; and he spoke in whispers. Afterward, Jabu Singh spoke long and earnestly with the other Lascars in the forecastle.
"But the wild beasts?" asked Chand of his fellow Lascar, Jabu Singh; "what of them?"
"Schmidt says we throw them overboard along with de Groote, Krause, and the others."
"They are worth much money," objected Chand; "we should keep them and sell them."
"We should be caught and hanged," said another Lascar.
"No," Jabu Singh contradicted. "While we were in Singapore, Schmidt learned that Germany and England have gone to war. This is an English ship; Schmidt says that a German has a right to capture it. He says we would get prize money; but he thinks the animals would be valueless, and they are a nuisance."
"I know a man on the island of Illili who would buy them," said Chand. "We will not let Schmidt throw them overboard."
The men spoke in their native dialect, confident that the Chinese sailors would not understand them; but in that they were wrong; Lum Kip had once sailed the China Sea aboard a felucca that had been captained and manned by Lascars, and he had learned their language. He had also learned to hate Lascars, as he had been treated very badly aboard the felucca and had been given no share of the spoils of their nefarious operations. But Lum Kip's face gave no indication that he understood what he overheard; it wore its usual expression of profound detachment, as he puffed on his long pipe with its little brass bowl.
The man in the large iron cage on deck often paced back and forth for hours at a time. Often he leaped and seized the bars at the top of the cage and swung to and fro from one end of the cage to the other, hand over hand. When anyone approached his cage, he would stop; for he was not doing these things for his amusement, nor for the amusement of others, but to keep his magnificent physique from deteriorating during his confinement.
Janette Laon came often to his cage; she saw that he was fed regularly and that he always had water; and she tried to teach him her native language, French; but in this she made no headway. Tarzan knew what was the matter with him; and while he could neither speak nor understand speech, his thoughts were as coherent and intelligent as ever. He wondered if he would ever recover; but he was not greatly troubled because he could not converse with human beings; the thing that annoyed him most was that he could no longer communicate with manu, the monkey, or the mangani, the great apes, with which he classed the orangutans that were aboard and confined in cages near his. Seeing the cargo that the Saigon carried, he knew the life that lay in store for him; but he also knew that sooner or later he would escape. He thought of that most often when he saw Abdullah Abu Nejm on deck.
He had tested the bars of his cage at night when nobody was near; and he was confident that he could spread them sufficiently to allow his body to pass between them; but he guessed that were he to do so, while at sea, he would only be shot down; for he knew that they feared him. With the patience of a wild beast he bided his time.
When Abdullah Abu Nejm or Schmidt were on deck, his eyes followed them; for these two had spat at him. Abdullah Abu Nejm had reason to hate him, for Tarzan had ended his lucrative career as a slave trader and ivory poacher; but the 2nd mate had been motivated only by the natural reactions of a bully and a coward who discovers one whom he considers his racial enemy powerless to retaliate.
Abdullah Abu Nejm, hating Krause and the girl and ignored by de Groote, consorted much with Schmidt, until the two men, finding much in common, became boon companions. Abdullah, glad of any opportunity to wreak vengeance on Krause, willingly agreed to aid Schmidt in the venture the 2nd mate was planning.
"The Lascars are with me to a man," Schmidt told Abdullah, "but we haven't approached the chinks; there's bad blood between them and the Lascars on this ship, and Jabu Singh says his men won't play if the chinks are to be in on it and get a cut."
"There are not many," said Abdullah, "If they make trouble, they, too, can go overboard."
"The trouble is, we need 'em to man the ship," explained Schmidt; "and about throwing 'em overboard; I've changed my mind; there ain't anybody going overboard. They're all going to be prisoners of war; then, if anything goes wrong, there's no murder charge against us."
"You can run the ship without Larsen and de Groote?" asked the Arab.
"Sure I can," replied Schmidt. "I've got Oubanovitch on my side. Being a Red Russian, he hates Krause; he hates everybody who has a pfennig more than he. I'm making him 1st mate, but he'll have to keep on running the engine room too. Jabu Singh will be 2nd mate. Oh, I've got everything worked out."
"And you are to be captain?" inquired the Arab.
"And what am I to be?"
"You? Oh, hell, you can be admiral."
That afternoon Lum Kip approached de Groote. "Maybe--so you make dead tonight," said Lum Kip in a low whisper.
"What you driving at, Lum?" demanded de Groote.
"You savvy Schmidt?"
"Of course; what about him?"
"Tonight he takee ship; Lascars, they takee ship; 'banovitchee, he takee ship; man in long, white dless, he takee ship. They killee Larsen; killee you; killee Klause; killee evlybody. Chinee boy no takee ship; no killee. You savvy?"
"You having a pipe dream, Lum?" demanded de Groote. "No pipe dleam; you waitee see."
"How about Chinee boys?" asked de Groote, who was now thoroughly worried.
"They no killee you."
"Will they fight Lascar boys?"
"You betee; you give 'em gun."
"No have gun," said de Groote; "tell 'em get capstan bars, belaying pins; knives. You savvy?"
"And when the trouble starts, you boys light into the Lascars."
"And thank you, Lum; I'll not forget this."
De Groote went at once to Larsen; but found him rolling on his bunk, delirious with fever; then he went to Krause's cabin, where he found Krause and Janette Laon and explained the situation to them.
"Do you believe the Chink?" asked Krause.
"There's no reason for him to have made up such a cock-and-bull story," replied de Groote; "yes, I believe him; he's one of the best hands on the ship-a quiet little fellow who always does his work and minds his own business."
"What had we better do?" asked Krause.
"I'd put Schmidt under arrest immediately," said de Groote.
The cabin door swung open; and Schmidt stood in the doorway, an automatic in his hand. "Like hell, you'll put me under arrest, you damned Dutchman," he said. "We saw that dirty little Chink talking to you, and we had a pretty good idea what he saying."
Half a dozen Lascars pressed behind Schmidt, outside the doorway. "Tie 'em up," he said to them.
The sailors brushed past Schmidt into the cabin; de Groote stepped in front of the girl. "Keep your dirty hands off her," he said to the Lascars. One of them tried to push him aside and reach Janette, and de Groote knocked him down. Instantly there was a free-for-all; but only de Groote and Janette took part in it on their side; Krause cowered in a corner and submitted fearfully to having his hands tied behind his back. Janette picked up a pair of heavy binoculars and felled one of the Lascars while de Groote sent two more to the floor, but the odds were against them. When the fight was over, they were both trussed up and de Groote was unconscious from a blow on the head.
"This is mutiny, Schmidt," said Krause; "you'll hang for this if you don't let me go."
"This is not mutiny," replied Schmidt. "This is an English ship, and I'm taking it in the name of our Fuhrer."
"But I'm a German," Krause objected; "I chartered this ship-it is a German Ship."
"Oh, no," said Schmidt; "it is registered in England, and you sail it under English colors. If you're a German, then you're a traitor, and in Germany we know what to do with traitors."
Tarzan knew that something had happened aboard the ship, but he did not know what. He saw a Chinese sailor strung up by the thumbs and lashed. For two days he saw nothing of the girl or the young 1st mate, and now he was not fed regularly or kept supplied with water. He saw that the 2nd mate, who had spit on him, was in command of the ship; and so, while he did not know, he surmised what had happened. Abdullah Abu Nejm occasionally passed his cage, but without molesting him; and Tarzan knew why-the Arab was afraid of him, even though he were penned up in an iron cage. He would not always be in a cage: Tarzan knew this and Abdullah Abu Nejm feared it.
Now, Lascars swaggered about the ship and the Chinese did most of the work. These, Schmidt cuffed and kicked on the slightest provocation or on none at all. Tarzan had seen the man who had been strung up by his thumbs and lashed cut down after an hour and carried to the forecastle. The cruelty of the punishment disgusted him, but of course he did not know but that the man deserved it.
The 2nd mate never passed Tarzan's cage without stopping to curse him. The very sight of Tarzan seemed to throw him into a fit of uncontrollable rage, as did anything that stimulated his inferiority complex. Tarzan could not understand why the man hated him so; he did not know that Schmidt, being a psychopath, did not have to have a reason for anything that he did.
Once he came to the cage with a harpoon in his hands and jabbed it through the bars at the ape-man while Abdullah Abu Nejm looked on approvingly. Tarzan seized the haft and jerked the thing from Schmidt's hands as effortlessly as he might have taken it from a baby. Now that the wild man was armed, Schmidt no longer came close to the cage.
On the third day from that on which he had last seen the girl, Tarzan saw his wooden cage and a larger iron cage hoisted to the deck and lashed down near his; and a little later he saw the girl led on deck by a couple of Lascar sailors and put into the wooden cage; then de Groote and Krause were brought up and locked in the iron cage, and presently Schmidt came from the bridge and stopped in front of them.
"What is the meaning of this, Schmidt?" demanded de Groote.
"You complained about being locked up below, didn't you? You should thank me for having you brought on deck instead of finding fault. You'll get plenty of fresh air up here and a good tan; I want you all to look your best when I exhibit you with the other specimens of the lower orders in Berlin," and Schmidt laughed.
"If you want to amuse yourself by keeping Krause and me penned up here like wild beasts, go ahead; but you can't mean that you're going to keep Miss Laon here, a white woman exhibited before a lot of Lascar sailors." It had been with difficulty that de Groote had kept his anger and contempt from being reflected in his voice, but he had long since come to the conclusion that they were in the hands of a madman and that to antagonize him further would be but to add to the indignities he had already heaped upon them.
"If Miss Laon wishes to, she may share the captain's cabin with me," replied Schmidt; "I have had Larsen taken elsewhere."
"Miss Laon prefers the cage of a wild animal," said the girl.
Schmidt shrugged. "That is a good idea," he said; "I shall see about putting you into the cage of one of Herr Krause's lions, or perhaps you would prefer a tiger."
"Either one, to you," replied the girl.
"Or maybe into the cage with the wild man you have been so fond of," suggested Schmidt; "that might afford a spectacle all would enjoy. From what Abdullah tells me, the man is probably a cannibal. I shall not feed him after I put you in with him."
Schmidt was laughing to himself as he walked away.
"The man is absolutely crazy," said de Groote. "I have known right along that he was a little bit off, but I never expected that he was an out-and-out madman."
"Do you suppose that he will do what he has threatened?" asked Janette.
Neither de Groote nor Krause replied, and their silence answered her questions and confirmed her own fears. It had been all right to feed the wild man and see that he had water, but she had always been ready to spring away from his cage if he attempted to seize her. She had really been very much afraid of him, but her natural kindness had prompted her to befriend him. Furthermore, she had known that it annoyed Krause, whom she secretly detested.
Stranded in Batavia, Janette had seized upon Krause's offer so that she might get away, anywhere; and the prospect of New York had also greatly intrigued her. She had heard much of the great American metropolis and fabulous stories of the ease with which a beautiful girl might acquire minks and sables and jewels there, and Janette Laon knew that she would be beautiful in any country.
Although neither de Groote nor Krause had answered Janette's question, it was soon answered. Schmidt returned with several sailors; he and two of the Lascars were armed with pistols, and the others carried prod poles such as were used in handling the wild animals.
The sailors unlashed Janette's cage and pushed it against that in which Tarzan was confined, the two doors in contact; then they raised both doors.
"Get in there with your wild man," ordered Schmidt.
"You can't do that, Schmidt," cried de Groote. "For God's sake man, don't do a thing like that!"
"Shut up!" snapped Schmidt. "Get in there wench! Poke her up with those prods, you!"
One of the Lascars prodded Janette, and Tarzan growled and started forward. Three pistols instantly covered him, and sharp pointed prods barred his way. The growl terrified the girl; but, realizing that they could force her into the cage, she suddenly walked in boldly, her chin up. The iron gate of the cage dropped behind her, the final seal upon her doom.
De Groote, Krause, Schmidt, and the Lascars awaited in breathless silence for the tragedy they anticipated with varying emotions: Schmidt pleasurably, the Lascars indifferently, Krause nervously, and de Groote with such emotions as his phlegmatic Dutch psyche had never before experienced: Had he been a Frenchman or an Italian, he would probably have screamed and torn his hair: but, being a Dutchman, he held his emotions in leash within him.
Janette Laon stood just within the doorway of the cage, waiting; she looked at Tarzan and Tarzan looked at her. He knew that she was afraid. and he wished that he might speak to her and reassure her; then he did the only thing that he could; he smiled at her. It was the first time that she had seen him smile. She wanted to believe that it was a reassuring smile, a friendly smile; but she had been told such terrible stories of his ferocity that she was uncertain; it might be a smile of anticipation. To be on the safe side, she forced an answering smile.
Tarzan picked up the harpoon he had taken from Schmidt and crossed the cage toward her. "Shoot him, Schmidt!" shouted de Groote; "he is going to kill her."
"You think I am crazy?-to kill a valuable exhibit like that!" replied Schmidt. "Now we see some fun."
Tarzan handed the harpoon to the girl, and went back and sat down at the far end of the cage. The implication of the gesture was unmistakable. Janette felt her knees giving from beneath her; and sat down quickly, lest she fall. Sudden relief from terrific nervous strain often induces such a reaction. De Groote broke into a violent sweat.
Schmidt fairly jumped up and down in rage and disappointment. "Wild man!" he shrieked. "I thought you said that thing was a wild man, Abdullah. You are a cheat! You are a liar!"
"If you don't think he's a wild man, Nasrany," replied the Arab, "go yourself into his cage."
Tarzan sat with his eyes fixed on Schmidt. He had understood nothing that the man had said; but from his facial expressions, his gestures, his actions, and by all that had occurred, he had judged the man; another score was chalked up against Herr Schmidt; another nail had been driven into his coffin.
The next morning the two captives in the big iron cage I were very happy. Janette was happy because she found herself safe and unharmed after a night spent with a creature who ate his meat raw and growled while he ate, a wild man who had killed three African warriors with his bare hands before they could overpower him, and whom Abdullah accused of being a cannibal. She was so happy that she sang a snatch of a French song that had been popular when she left Paris. And Tarzan was happy because he understood the words; I while he had slept his affliction had left him as suddenly as it had struck.
"Good morning," he said in French, the first human language he had ever learned, taught to him by the French lieutenant he had saved from death on a far gone day.
The girl looked at him in surprise. "I-good morning!" she stammered. "I-I-they told me you could not speak."
"I suffered an accident," he explained; "I am all right now."
"I am glad," she said; "I-" she hesitated.
"I know," interrupted Tarzan; "you were afraid of me. You need not be."
"They said terrible things about you; but you must have I heard them."
"I not only could not speak," Tarzan explained, "but I could not understand. What did they say?"
"They said that you were very ferocious and that you--you-ate people."
Again one of Tarzan's rare smiles. "And so they put you in here hoping that I would eat you? Who did that?"
"Schmidt, the man who led the mutiny and took over the ship."
"The man who spit on me," said Tarzan, and the girl thought that she detected the shadow of a growl in his voice. Abdullah had been right; the man did remind one of a lion. But now she was not afraid.
"You disappointed Schmidt," she said. "He was furious when you handed me the harpoon and went to the other end of the cage and sat down. In no spoken language could one have assured him of my safety more definitely."
"Why does he hate you?"
"I don't know that he does hate me; he is a sadistic maniac. You must have seen what he did to poor Lum Kip and how he kicks and strikes others of the Chinese sailors."
"I wish you would tell me what has gone on aboard the ship that I have not been able to understand and just what they intend doing with me, if you know."
"Krause was taking you to America to exhibit as a wild man along with his other-I mean along with his wild animals."
Again Tarzan smiled. "Krause is the man in the cage with the 1st mate?"
"Now tell me about the mutiny and what you know of Schmidt's plans."
When she had finished, Tarzan had every principal in the drama of the Saigon definitely placed; and it seemed to him that only the girl, de Groote, and the Chinese sailors were worthy of any consideration-they and the caged beasts.
De Groote awoke, and the first thing that he did was to call to Janette from his cage. "You are all right?" he asked. "He didn't offer to harm you?"
"Not in any way," she assured him.
"I'm going to have a talk with Schmidt today and see if I can't persuade him to take you out of that cage. I think that if Krause and I agree never to prefer charges against him, if he lets you out, he may do it."
"This is the safest place on the ship for me; I don't want to get out as long as Schmidt is in control."
De Groote looked at her in astonishment. "But that fellow is half beast," he exclaimed. "He may not have harmed you yet; but you never can tell what he might do, especially if Schmidt starves him as he has threatened."
Janette laughed. "You'd better be careful what you say about him if you think he is such a ferocious wild man; he might get out of this cage some time."
"Oh, he can't understand me," said de Groote; "and he can't get out of the cage."
Krause had been awakened by the conversation, and now he came and stood beside de Groote. "I'll say he can't get out of that cage," he said, "and Schmidt will see that he never gets the chance; Schmidt knows what he would get, and you needn't worry about his understanding anything we say; he's as dumb as they make 'em."
Janette turned to look at Tarzan to note the effect of de Groote's and Krause's words, wondering if he would let them know that he did understand and was thoroughly enjoying the situation. To her surprise she saw that the man had lain down close to the bars and was apparently asleep; then she saw Schmidt approaching and curbed her desire to acquaint de Groote and Krause with the fact that their wild man could have understood everything they said, if he had heard them.
Schmidt came up to the cage. "So you are still alive," he said. "I hope you enjoyed your night with the monkey man. If you will teach him some tricks, I'll exhibit you as his trainer." He moved close to the cage and looked down at Tarzan. "Is he asleep, or did you have to kill him?"
Suddenly Tarzan's hand shot between the bars and seized one of Schmidt's ankles; then the ape man jerked the leg into the cage its full length, throwing Schmidt upon his back. Schmidt screamed, and Tarzan's other band shot and plucked the man's pistol from its holster.
"Help!" screamed Schmidt. "Abdullah! Jabu Singh! Chand! Help!"
Tarzan twisted the leg until the man screamed again from pain. Abdullah, Jabu Singh, and Chand came running in answer to Schmidt's cries; but when they saw that the wild man was pointing a pistol in their direction, they stopped.
"Have food and water brought, or I'll twist your leg off," said Tarzan.
"The dog of an English speaks!" muttered Abdullah. De Groote and Krause looked in amazement.
"If he speaks, he must have understood us," said Krause. "Maybe he has understood all along," Krause tried to recall what he might have said that some day he might regret, for he knew that the man could not be kept in a cage forever--unless. But the fellow had a gun now; it would not be so easy to kill him. He would speak to Schmidt about it; it was as much to Schmidt's interests as his now to have the man put out of the way.
Schmidt was screaming for food and water. Suddenly de Groote cried, "Look out, man! Look out! Behind you!" But it was too late; a pistol spoke, and Tarzan collapsed upon the floor of the cage, Jabu Singh had crept up behind the cage, unnoticed until the thing had been done.
Schmidt scrambled out of the way, but Janette recovered the pistol; and, turning, shot Jabu Singh as he was about to fire another shot into the prostrate man. Her shot struck the Lascar in the right arm, causing him to drop his weapon; then, keeping him covered, the girl crossed the cage, reached through the bars, and retrieved Jabu Singh's pistol. Now, she crossed back to Tarzan, knelt above him, and placed her ear over his heart.
As Schmidt stood trembling and cursing in impotent fury, a ship was sighted from the bridge; and he limped away to have a look at it. The Saigon was running without colors, ready to assume any nationality that Schmidt might choose when an emergency arose.
The stranger proved to be an English yacht; so Schmidt ran up the English flag; then he radioed, asking if they had a doctor on board, as he had two men suffering from injuries, which was quite true; at least Jabu Singh was suffering, with vocal accompaniment; Tarzan still lay where he had fallen.
The yacht had a doctor aboard, and Schmidt said that he would send a boat for him. He, himself, went with the boat, which was filled with Lascars armed with whatever they could find, a weird assortment of pistols, rifles, boat hooks, knives, and animal prods, all well hidden from sight.
Coming alongside the yacht, they swarmed up the Jacob's ladder and onto the deck before the astonished yachtsmen realized that they were being boarded with sinister intent. At the same time, the Saigon struck the English flag and ran up the German.
Twenty-five or thirty men and a girl on the deck of the yacht looked with amazement on the savage, piratical-appearing company confronting them with armed force.
"What is the meaning of this?" demanded the yacht's captain.
Schmidt pointed at the German flag flying above the Saigon. "It means that I am seizing you in the name of the German Government," replied Schmidt; "I am taking you over as a prize, and shall put a prize crew aboard. Your engineer and navigating officer will remain aboard. My first mate, Jabu Singh, will be in command. He has suffered a slight accident; your doctor will dress the wound, and the rest of you will return to my ship with me. You are to consider yourselves prisoners of war, and conduct yourselves accordingly."
"But, man," expostulated the Captain, "this vessel is not armed, it is not a warship, it is not even a merchant vessel; it is a private yacht on a scientific expedition. You, a merchantman, can't possibly contemplate taking us over."
"But I say, old thing!" said a tall young man in flannels; "you can't-"
"Shut up!" snapped Schmidt. "You are English, and that is enough reason for taking you over. Come now! Where's that doctor? Get busy."
While the doctor was dressing Jabu Singh's wound, Schmidt had his men search the ship for arms and ammunition. They' found several pistols and sporting rifles; and, the doctor having finished with Jabu Singh, Schmidt detailed some of his men and left a few of the yacht's sailors to man the craft; then he herded the remainder into the Saigon's boat and returned with them to the steamer.
"I say," exclaimed the young man in white flannels, "this is a beastly outrage."
"It might have been worse, Algy," said the girl; "maybe you won't have to marry me now."
"Oh, I say, old thing," expostulated the young man; "this might even be worse."
The bullet that had dropped Tarzan had merely grazed his head, inflicting a superficial flesh wound and stunning him for a few minutes; but he had soon recovered and now he and Janette Laon watched the prisoners as they came over the side of the Saigon. "Schmidt has turned pirate," remarked the girl. "I wonder what he is going to do with all those people! There must be fifteen of them."
She did not have long to wait for an answer to her inquiry. Schmidt sent the eight crew members forward when they agreed to help man the Saigon; then he had two more iron cages hoisted to the deck and lined up with the two already there. "Now," he said, "I know I shouldn't do it, but I am going to let you choose your own cage mates."
"I say!" cried Algernon Wright-Smith; "you're not going to put the ladies in one of those things!"
"What's good enough for an English pig is good enough for an English sow," growled Schmidt; "hurry up and decide what you want to do."
An elderly man with a white walrus mustache, harrumphed angrily, his red face becoming purple. "You damned bounder!" he snorted; "you can't do a thing like that to English women."
"Don't excite yourself, Uncle," said the girl; "We'll have to do as the fellow says."
"I shall not step a foot into one of those things, William," said the second woman in the party, a lady who carried her fifty odd years rather heavily around her waist. "Nor shall Patricia," she added.
"Come come," expostulated the girl; "we're absolutely helpless, you know," and with that she entered the smaller of the two cages; and presently her uncle and her aunt, finally realizing the futility of resistance, joined her. Captain Bolton, Tibbet, the second mate of the yacht, Dr. Crouch, and Algy, were herded into the second cage.
Schmidt walked up and down in front of the cages, gloating. " A fine menagerie I am getting," he said; "A French girl, a German traitor, a Dutch dog, and seven English pigs: with my apes, monkeys, lions, tigers, and elephants we shall be a sensation in Berlin."
The cage in which the Leigh's and their niece were confined was next to that occupied by Tarzan and Janette Laon; and beyond the Leigh's cage was that in which the other four Englishmen were imprisoned.
Penelope Leigh eyed Tarzan askance and with aversion. "Shocking!" she whispered to her niece, Patricia; "the fellow is practically naked."
"He's rather nice looking, Aunty," suggested Patricia Leigh-Burdon.
"Don't look at him," snapped Penelope Leigh; "and that woman-do you suppose that is his wife?"
"She doesn't look like a wild woman," said Patricia.
"Then what is she doing alone in that cage with that man?" demanded Mrs. Leigh.
"Perhaps she was put there just the way we were put here."
"Well!" snorted Penelope Leigh; "she looks like a loose woman to me."
"Now," shouted Schmidt, "we are about the feed the animals; everyone who is not on duty may come and watch."
Lascars, and Chinese, and several of the yacht's crew, gathered in front of the cages as food and water were brought; the former an unpalatable, nondescript mess, the contents of which it would have been difficult to determine, either by sight or taste. Tarzan was given a hunk of raw meat.
"Disgusting," snorting Penelope Leigh, as she pushed the unsavory mess from her. A moment later her attention was attracted by growls coming from the adjoining cage; and when she looked, she gasped, horror-stricken. "Look!" she whispered in a trembling voice; "that creature is growling, and he is eating his meat raw; how horrible!"
"I find him fascinating," said Patricia.
"Hurrumph!" growled Colonel William Cecil Hugh Percival Leigh; "filthy blighter."
"Canaille!" snapped Mrs. Leigh.
Tarzan looked up at Janette Laon, that shadowy smile just touching his lips, and winked.
"You understand English too?" she asked. Tarzan nodded. "Do you mind if I have some fun with them?" she continued.
"No," replied Tarzan; "go as far as you wish. "They had both spoken in French and in whispers.
"Do you find the captain palatable," she asked in English loudly enough to be heard in the adjoining cage.
"He is not as good as the Swede they gave me last week, " replied Tarzan.
Mrs. Leigh paled and became violently nauseated; she sat down suddenly and heavily. The colonel, inclined to be a little pop-eyed, was even more so as he gazed incredulously into the adjoining cage. His niece came close to him and whispered, "I think they are spoofing us, Uncle; I saw him wink at that girl."
"My smelling salts!" gasped Mrs. Leigh.
"What's the matter, colonel?" asked Algernon Wright-Smith, from the adjoining cage.
"That devil is eating the captain," replied the colonel in a whisper that could have been heard half a block away. De Groote grinned.
"My word!" exclaimed Algy. Janette Laon turned her head away to hide her laughter, and Tarzan continued to tear at the meat with his strong, white teeth.
"I tell you they are making fools of us," said Patricia Leigh-Burden. "You can't make me believe that civilized human beings would permit that man to eat human flesh, even if he wished to, which I doubt. When that girl turned away, I could see her shoulders shaking-she was laughing."
"What's that, William?" cried Mrs. Leigh, as the roar of a lion rose from the hold.
The animals had been unnaturally quiet for some time; but now they were getting hungry, and the complaint of the lion started them off, with the result that in a few moments of blood-curdling diapason of savagery billowed up from below: the rumbling roars of lions, the coughing growls of tigers, the hideous laughter of hyenas, the trumpeting of elephants mingled with the medley of sounds from the lesser beasts.
"Oh-h-h!" screamed Mrs. Leigh. "How hideous! Make them stop that noise at once, William."
"Harrumph!" said the colonel, but without his usual vigor. Presently, however, as the Chinese and Indian keepers fed the animals, the noise subsided and quiet was again restored.
As night approached, the sky became overcast and the wind increased, and with the rolling of the ship the animals again became restless. A Lascar came and passed buckets of water into all of the cages except that in which Tarzan was confined. To do this, he had to unlock the cage doors and raise them sufficiently to pass the pails through; then he passed in a broom, with which the inmates were supposed to clean their cages. Although he was accompanied by two other sailors armed with rifles, he did not unlock the door of Tarzan's cage, for Schmidt was afraid to take a chance on the wild man's escaping.
Tarzan had watched this procedure which had occurred daily ever since he had been brought aboard the Saigon. He knew that the same Lascar always brought the water and that he came again at about four bells of the first night watch to make a final inspection of the captives. On this tour of duty he came alone, as he did not have to unlock the cages; but Schmidt, in order to be on the safe side, had armed him with a pistol.
This afternoon, as he was passing the water into the cage occupied by the Leighs, the colonel questioned him. "Steward," he said, "fetch us four steamer chairs and rugs," and he handed the Lascar a five pound note.
The sailor took the note, looked at it, and stuffed it into his dirty loin cloth. "No chairs; no rugs," he said and started on toward the next cage.
"Hi, fellow!" shouted the colonel; "come back here! Who is captain of this ship? I want to see the captain."
"Sahib Schmidt captain now," replied the Lascar. "Captain Larsen sick; no see three, four days; maybe dead;" then he moved on and the colonel made no effort to detain him.
Mrs. Leigh shuddered. "It was the captain," she breathed in a horrified whisper, her terrified gaze rivetted on a bone in Tarzan's cage.
Rain fell in torrents and the wind whistled through the cages, driving it in myriad needle points against the unprotected inmates. The sea rose and the Saigon rolled and pitched heavily; lightning flashes illuminated the ship momentarily and heralded the deep booming of the following thunder which momentarily drowned out the roars and growls and trumpeting of terrified beasts.
Tarzan stood erect in his cage enjoying the lashing of the rain, the thunder, and the lightning. Each vivid flash revealed the occupants of adjoining cages, and during one of them he saw that the Englishman had placed his coat around the shoulders of his wife and was trying to shield her body from the storm with his own. The English girl stood erect, as did Tarzan, seeming to enjoy this battle with the elements. It was then that the ape man decided that he liked these two.
Tarzan was waiting; he was waiting for the Lascar to make his nightly inspection; but that night the Lascar did not come. The Lord of the Jungle could wait with that patience he had learned from the wild creatures among whom he had been reared; some night the Lascar would return.
The storm increased in fury; the Saigon was running before it now with great following seas always threatening to break over her stern. The wind howled in throaty anguish and hurled spume to join with the rain in deluging the miserable prisoners in their cages. Janette Laon lay down and tried to sleep. The English girl paced back and forth in the narrow confines of her cage. Tarzan watched her; he knew her type; an outdoor girl; the free swing of her walk proclaimed it. She would be efficient in anything she undertook, and she could endure hardship without complaining. Tarzan was sure of that, for he had watched her ever since she had been brought aboard the Saigon, had heard her speak, and had noticed her acceptance of the inevitable in a spirit similar to his own. He imagined that she would wait patiently until her opportunity came and that then she would act with courage and intelligence.
As he watched her now, taking the rain and the wind and the pitching of the ship as though they were quite the usual thing, she stopped at the side of her cage that adjoined his and looked at him.
"Did you enjoy the captain?" she asked with a quick smile.
"He was a little too salty," replied Tarzan.
"Perhaps the Swede was better," she suggested.
"Much; especially the dark meat."
"Why did you try to frighten us?" she asked.
"Your uncle and aunt were not very complimentary in their remarks about us."
"I know," she said. "I'm sorry, but they were very much upset. This has been a shocking experience for them. I am very much worried about them; they are old and cannot put up with much more of this. What do you think this man Schmidt intends doing with us?"
"There is no telling; the man is mad. His plan to exhibit us in Berlin is, of course, ridiculous. If he gets us to Berlin, we English will, of course, be interned."
"You are an Englishman?"
"My father and mother were English."
"My name is Burden--Patricia Leigh-Burden," said the girl; "may I ask yours?"
"Tarzan," replied the ape man.
"That is all. "
"Do you mind telling me how you happen to be in that cage, Mr. Tarzan?"
"Just Tarzan," he corrected her; "no mister. I happen to be in this cage because Abdullah Abu Nejm wished to be revenged; so he had me captured by an African chief who also had reason to wish to get rid of me. Abdullah sold me to a man by the name of Krause who was collecting animals to sell in America. Krause is in the cage next to mine on the other side. Schmidt, who was 2nd mate, has Krause's ship, his wild man, and all his animals. He also has Krause."
"He won't have any of us long if this storm gets much worse," said the girl. She was clinging to the bars of the cage now, as the ship dove into the trough of a sea, rolling and wallowing as it was lifted to the crest of the next.
"The Saigon doesn't look like much," said Janette Laon, who had come to stand beside Tarzan, "but I think she will weather this storm all right. We ran into a worse one coming out. Of course we had Captain Larsen in command then, and Mr. de Groote was 1st mate; it may be a different story with Schmidt in command."
The ship swung suddenly, quartering to the sea, and slithered down into the trough, heeling over on her beam-ends. There was a frightened scream as a flash of lightning revealed the colonel and his wife being thrown heavily against the bars of their cage.
"Poor Aunt Penelope!" cried the English girl; "she can't stand much more of this." She worked her way around the side of the cage to her aunt. " Are you hurt, Auntie?" she asked.
"Every bone in my body is broken," said Mrs. Leigh. "I never did approve of that silly expedition. Who cares what lives at the bottom of the ocean, anyway--you'd never meet any of them in London. Now we have lost the Naiad and are about to lose our lives in the bargain. I hope your uncle is satisfied." Patricia breathed a sigh of relief, for she knew now that her aunt was all right. The Colonel maintained a discreet silence: twenty-five years experience had taught him when to keep still.
The long night passed, but the storm did not abate in fury. The Saigon still ran before it, slowed down to about five knots and taking it on her quarter. An occasional wave broke over the stern, flooding the decks, and almost submerging the inmates of the cages, who could only cling to the bars and hope for the best.
By her own testimony, Mrs. Leigh was drowned three times. "Hereafter, William," she said, "you should stick to The Times, Napoleon's campaigns, and Gibbon's Rome; the moment you read anything else you go quite off your head. If you hadn't read that Arcturus Adventure by that Beebe person, we would undoubtedly be safe at home in England this minute. Just because he fished up a lot of hideous creatures equipped with electric lights, you had to come out and try it; I simply cannot understand it, William."
"Don't be too hard on Uncle," said Patricia; "he might have found some with hot and cold running water and become famous."
"Humph!" snorted Mrs. Leigh.
That day no one approached the cages, and neither food nor water was brought to the captives. The animals below deck fared similarly, and their plaints rose above the howling of the storm. It was not until late in the afternoon of the third day that two of the Chinese sailors brought food, and by this time the captives were so famished that they wolfed it ravenously, notwithstanding the fact that it was only a cold and soggy mess of ship's biscuit.
Mrs. Leigh had lapsed into total silence; and both her niece and her husband were worried, for they knew that when Penelope Leigh failed to complain there must be something radically wrong with her.
At about nine o'clock that night, the wind suddenly died down; the calm that ensued was ominous. "We have reached the center of it," said Janette Laon.
"Soon it will be bad again," said Tarzan.
"The fool should have run out of it, not into it," said Janette.
Tarzan was waiting patiently, like a lion at a waterhole--waiting for his prey to come. "It is better thus," he said to the girl.
"I do not understand," she replied, "I do not see how it could be worse."
"Wait," he said, "and I think you will see presently."
While the seas were still high, the Saigon seemed to be taking them better now, and presently Schmidt appeared on deck and came down to the cages. "How's the livestock?" he demanded.
"These women will die if you keep them in here, Schmidt," said de Groote. "Why can't you take them out and give them a cabin, or at least put them below decks where they will be protected from the storm?"
"If I hear any more complaints," said Schmidt, "I'll dump the whole lot of you overboard, cages and all. What do you want anyway? You're getting free transportation, free food, and private rooms. You've been getting free shower baths, too, for the last three days."
"But, man, my wife will die if she is exposed much longer," said Colonel Leigh.
"Let her die," said Schmidt, "I need some fresh meat for the wild man and the other animals," with which parting pleasantry, Schmidt returned to the bridge.
Mrs. Leigh was sobbing, and the Colonel was cursing luridly. Tarzan was waiting, and presently that for which he was waiting came to pass; Asoka, the Lascar, was coming to make his belated inspection. He swaggered a little, feeling the importance of being keeper of English sahibs and their ladies.
The ship's lights relieved the darkness sufficiently so that objects were discernible at some distance, and Tarzan, whose eyes were trained by habit to see at night, had recognized Asoka immediately he came on deck.
The ape-man stood grasping two adjacent bars of his cage as Asoka passed, keeping well out of arm's reach of the wild man. Janette Laon stood beside Tarzan; she intuitively sensed that something important was impending.
Her eyes were on her cage mate; she saw the muscles of his shoulders and his arms tense as he exerted all their tremendous power upon the bars of his cage. And then she saw those bars slowly spread and Tarzan of the Apes step through to freedom.
Asoka, the Lascar, swaggered on past the cage of the Leigh's, and when he was opposite that in which the four Englishmen were confined, steel-thewed fingers closed upon his throat from behind, and his gun was snatched from its holster.
Janette Laon had watched with amazement the seeming ease with which those Herculean muscles had separated the bars. She had seen Tarzan overtake the Lascar and disarm him; and now she stepped through the opening after him, carrying the pistols they had taken from Schmidt and Jabu Singh.
Asoka struggled and tried to cry out until a grim voice whispered in his ear, "Quiet, or I kill;" then he subsided.
Tarzan glanced back and saw Janette Laon behind him. Then he took the key to the cages which hung about Asoka's neck on a piece of cord and handed it to the girl. "Come with me and unlock them," he said, and passed around the end of the last cage to the doors, which were on the opposite side.
"You men will come with me," said Tarzan in a whisper; "the Colonel and the women will remain here."
As Tarzan came opposite the cage of the Leigh's, Mrs. Leigh, who had been dozing during the lull in the storm, awoke and saw him. She voiced a little scream and cried, "The wild man has escaped!"
"Shut up, Penelope," growled the Colonel; "he is going to let us out of this damn cage."
"Don't you dare curse me, William Cecil Hugh Percival Leigh," cried Penelope.
"Quiet," growled Tarzan, and Penelope Leigh subsided into terrified silence.
"You may come out," said Tarzan, "but remain close to the cages until we return." Then he followed Janette to the cage in which de Groote and Krause were imprisoned and waited until she had removed the padlock.
"De Groote may come out," he said; "Krause will remain. Asoka, you get in there." He turned to Janette. "Lock them in," he said. "Give me one of the pistols and keep the other yourself; if either of these two tries to raise an alarm, shoot him. Do you think you could do that?"
"I shot Jabu Singh," she reminded him.
Tarzan nodded and then turned to the men behind him; he handed Asoka's pistol to de Groote. He had appraised the other men since they had come aboard, and now he told Janette to give her second pistol to Tibbet, the second mate of the Naiad.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"Tibbet," replied the mate.
"You will come with me. We will take over on the bridge. De Groote knows the ship. He and the others will look for arms. In the meantime, pick up anything you can to fight with, for there may be fighting."
The ship had passed beyond the center of the storm, and the wind was howling with renewed violence. The Saigon was pitching and rolling violently as Tarzan and Tibbet ascended the ladder to the bridge, where the Lascar, Chand, was at the wheel and Schmidt on watch. By chance, Schmidt, happened to turn just as Tarzan entered, and seeing him, reached for his gun, at the same time shouting a warning to Chand. Tarzan sprang forward, swift as Ara, the lightning, and struck up Schmidt's hand just as he squeezed the trigger. The bullet lodged in the ceiling, and an instant later, Schmidt was disarmed. In the meantime, Tibbet had covered Chand and disarmed him.
"Take the wheel," said Tarzan, "and give me the other gun. Keep a look-out behind you and shoot anyone who tries to take over. You two get down to the cages," he said to Schmidt and Chand. He followed them down the ladder to the deck and herded them to the cage where Krause and Asoka were confined.
"Open that up, Janette," he said; "I have two more animals for our menagerie."
"This is mutiny," blustered Schmidt, "and when I get you to Berlin, you'll be beheaded for it."
"Get in there," said Tarzan, and pushed Schmidt so violently, that when he collided with Krause, both men went down.
Above the din of the storm they heard a shot from below, and Tarzan hurried in the direction from which the sound had come. As he descended the ladder, he heard two more shots and the voices of men cursing and screams of pain.
As he came upon the scene of the fight, he saw that his men had been taken from the rear by armed Lascars, but there seemed to have been more noise than damage. One of the Lascars had been wounded. It was he who was screaming. But aside from the single casualty, no damage seemed to have been done on either side. Three of the four Lascars remained on their feet, and they were firing wildly and indiscriminately, as Tarzan came up behind them carrying a gun in each hand.
"Drop your pistols," he said, "or I kill."
The three men swung around then, almost simultaneously. Looking into the muzzles of Tarzan's two pistols, two of the Lascars dropped theirs, but the third took deliberate aim and fired. Tarzan fired at the same instant, and the Lascar clutched at his chest and lurched forward upon his face.
The rest was easy. De Groote found the pistols, rifles, and ammunition taken from the Naiad in Schmidt's cabin, and with all the rest of the party disarmed, Oubanovitch and the remaining Lascars put up no resistance. The Chinese and the impressed members of the Naiad's crew had never offered any, being more than glad to be relieved of service under a madman.
The ship safely in his hands, Tarzan gathered his party into the ship's little saloon. Penelope Leigh still regarded him with disgust not unmixed with terror; to her he was still a wild man, a cannibal who had eaten the Captain and the Swede and would doubtless, sooner or later, eat all of them. The others, however, were appreciative of the strength and courage and intelligence which had released them from a dangerous situation.
"Bolton," said Tarzan to the captain of the Naiad, "you will take command of the ship; de Groote will be your first mate, Tibbet your second. De Groote tells me there are only two cabins on the Saigon. Colonel and Mrs. Leigh will take the Captain's cabin, the two girls will take that which was occupied by the mates."
"He is actually giving orders to us," Penelope Leigh whispered to her husband; "you should do something about it, William; you should be in command."
"Don't be silly, Auntie," snapped Patricia Leigh-Burden, in a whisper; "we owe everything to this man. He was magnificent. If you had seen him spread those bars as though they were made of lead!"
"I can't help it," said Mrs. Leigh; "I am not accustomed to being ordered about by naked wild men; why doesn't somebody loan him some trousers?"
"Come, come, Penelope," said the Colonel, "if you feel that way about it I'll loan him mine--haw!!--then I won't have any--haw! haw!"
"Don't be vulgar, William," snapped Mrs. Leigh.
Tarzan went to the bridge and explained to de Groote the arrangements that he had made. "I'm glad you didn't put me in command," said the Dutchman; "I haven't had enough experience. Bolton should be a good man. He used to be in the Royal Navy. How about Oubanovitch?"
"I have sent for him," replied Tarzan, "he should be here in a moment."
"He's against everybody," said de Groote, "a died-in-the-wool Communist. Here he comes now."
Oubanovitch slouched in, sullen and suspicious. "What are you two doing up here?" he demanded; "where's Schmidt?"
"He is where you are going if you don't want to carry on with us," replied Tarzan.
"Where's that?" asked Oubanovitch.
"In a cage with Krause and a couple of Lascars," replied the ape-man. "I don't know whether you had anything to do with the mutiny or not, Oubanovitch, but if you care to continue on as engineer, nobody is going to ask any questions."
The scowling Russian nodded. " All right," he said; "you can't be no worse than that crazy Schmidt."
"Captain Bolton is in command. Report to him and tell him that you are the engineer. Do you know what has become of the Arab? I haven't seen him for several days."
"He's always in the engine room keeping warm."
"Tell him to report to me here on the bridge and ask Captain Bolton to send us a couple of men."
The two men strained their eyes out into the darkness ahead. They saw the ship's nose plow into a great sea from which she staggered sluggishly. "It's getting worse," remarked de Groote.
"Can she weather much more?" asked Tarzan.
"I think so," said de Groote, "as long as I can keep it on her quarter, we can keep enough speed to give her steerageway."
A shot sounded from behind them, and the glass in the window in front of them shattered. Both men wheeled about to see Abdullah Abu Nejm standing at the top of the ladder with a smoking pistol in his hand.
The Arab fired again, but the plunging and the pitching of the Saigon spoiled his aim and he missed just as Tarzan sprang for him.
The impact of the ape-man's body carried Abdullah backward from the ladder, and both men crashed heavily to the deck below, the Arab beneath--a stunned, inert mass.
The two sailors, whom Captain Bolton was sending to the bridge, came on deck just in time to see what had happened; and they both ran forward, thinking to find a couple of broken, unconscious men, but there was only one in that condition.
Tarzan sprang to his feet, but Abdullah Abu Nejm lay where he had fallen. "One of you men go below and ask Miss Laon for the keys to the cages," Tarzan directed; then he seized the Arab by the arms and dragged him back to the cage in which Krause and Schmidt were confined, and when the key was brought, he opened the door and tossed the Arab in. Whether the man were alive or dead, Tarzan did not know or care.
The storm increased in fury, and shortly before daylight the steamer fell into the trough of the sea, rolling on its beam-ends and hanging there for an instant, as though about to capsize; then it would roll back the other way and for another harrowing moment the end seemed inevitable. The change in the motion of the ship awakened Tarzan instantly, and he made his way to the bridge--a feat that was not too difficult for a man who had been raised in a forest by apes and swung through the trees for the greater part of his life, for he climbed to the bridge more often than he walked. He found the two sailors clinging to the wheel, and the Captain to a stanchion.
"What's happened?" he asked.
"The rudder's carried away," said Bolton. "If we could rig a sea anchor, we might have a chance of riding it out; but that is impossible in this sea. How the devil did you get up here, with the ship standing on her beam-ends as fast as she can roll from one side to the other?"
"I climbed," said Tarzan.
Bolton grumbled something that sounded like, "most extraordinary;" then he said, "I think it's letting up; if she can take this, we ought to be able to pull through, though even then we're going to be in a pretty bad fix, as I understand from one of these men, that that fellow, Schmidt, destroyed the radio."
As though to prove what she could do or couldn't do, the Saigon rolled over until her decks were vertical--and hung there. "My God!" cried one of the sailors; "she's going over!"
But she didn't go over; she rolled back, but not so far this time. The wind was coming in fitful gusts now; the storm was very definitely dying out.
Just before dawn, the Captain said, "Listen, do you hear that?"
"Yes," said Tarzan, "I have been hearing it for sometime."
"Do you know what it is?" asked Bolton.
"I do," replied the ape-man.
"Breakers," said Bolton; "that's all we need to finish us up completely."
Slowly and grudgingly dawn came, as though held back by the same malign genie that had directed the entire cruise of the ill-fated Saigon. And, to leaward, the men on the bridge saw a volcanic island, its mountains clothed in tropical foliage, their summits hidden in low-hanging clouds. The seas were breaking on a coral reef a quarter-mile off shore, and toward this reef the Saigon was drifting.
"There is an opening in that reef to the right there," said Bolton. "I think we could lower boats now and get most of the people ashore."
"You're the Captain," said Tarzan.
Bolton ordered all hands on deck, and the men to their boat stations, but a number of Lascars seized the first boat and started lowering it away. De Groote rushed forward with drawn pistol in an effort to stop them; but he was too late, as they had already lowered away. His first inclination was to fire into them as an example to the others, but instead he turned and held off the remaining Lascars, who were about to seize a second boat. Bolton and Tibbet joined him with drawn pistols, and the Lascars fell back.
"Shoot the first man who disobeys an order," directed Bolton. "Now," he continued, "we'll wait to see how that boat fares before we lower another."
The Saigon was drifting helplessly toward the reef, as passengers and crew lined the rail watching the crew of the life-boat battling the great seas in an effort to make the opening in the reef.
"If they make it at all, it's going to be close," said Dr. Crouch.
"And the closer in the Saigon drifts, the more difficult it is going to be for following boats," said Colonel Leigh.
"The bounders will never make it," said Algy, "and serves them jolly well right."
"I believe they are going to make it," said Patricia. "What do you think, Tarzan?"
"I doubt it," replied the ape-man, "and if they can't make it with every oar manned and no passengers, the other boats wouldn't have a ghost of a show."
"But isn't it worth trying?" asked the girl. "If the Saigon goes on that reef, we are all lost; in the boat we would at least, have a fighting chance."
"The wind and the sea are both going down," said Tarzan; "there is quiet water just beyond the reef, and as the Saigon wouldn't break up immediately, I think we would have a better chance that way than in the boats, which would be stove in and sunk the moment they struck the reef."
"I think you are right there," said Bolton; "but in an emergency like this, were all our lives are at stake, I can speak only for myself; I shall remain with the ship, but if there are enough who wish to take to a boat to man it properly, I will have number four boat lowered"; he looked around at the ship's company, but every eye was upon the boat driving toward the reef and no one seemed inclined to take the risk.
"They're not going to make it," said Tibbet.
"Not by a long way," agreed Dr. Crouch.
"Look!" exclaimed Janette Laon, "they're running straight for it now."
"The bounders have got more sense than I thought they had," growled Colonel Leigh; "they see they can't make the opening and now they are going to try to ride a wave over the reef."
"With luck they may make it," said Dolton.
"They'll need the luck of the Irish," said Crouch.
"There they go!" cried Algy. "Look at the bloody blighters row."
"They took that wave just right," said Tibbet; "they're riding it fast."
"There they go!" cried Janette.
The lifeboat was rushing toward the reef just below the crest of a great sea, the Lascars pulling furiously to hold their position. "They're over!" cried Patricia. But they were not; the prow struck a projecting piece of coral, and the on rushing breaker upended the boat, hurling the Lascars into the lagoon.
"Well, the men got across if the boat didn't," remarked Crouch.
"I hope they can swim," said Janette.
"I hope they can't," growled the Colonel.
They watched the men floundering in the water for a minute or two as they started to swim toward shore, and then Janette exclaimed, "Why, they're standing up; they're walking!"
"That not surprising," said Bolton; "many of these coral lagoons are shallow."
Both the wind and the sea were dying down rapidly and the Saigon was drifting, but slowly, toward the reef; however, it would not be long before she struck. The Saigon, illy equipped, afforded only a few life belts. Three of these were given to the women, and the others to members of the crew who said they could not swim.
"What do you think our chances are, Captain?" ask Colonel Leigh.
"If we are lifted on the reef, we may have a chance, if she hangs there for even a few minutes," replied Bolton, "but if she's stove in before she lodges, she'll sink in deep water on this side of the reef, and--well--you're guess is as good as mine, sir; I'm going to have the rafts unshipped, the boats lowered on deck and out loose--get as much stuff loose as will float and carry people," and he gave orders to the crew to carry out this work.
While the men were engaged in this work, there came a shout from amidships: "Hi there, de Groote!" called Krause; "are you going to leave us here to drown like rats in a trap?"
De Groote looked at Tarzan questioningly, and the ape-man turned to Janette. "Let me have the key to the cages," he said, and when she had handed it to him, he went to the cage in which Krause and the others were confined. "I'm going to let you out," he said, "but see that you behave yourselves; I have plenty of reason to kill any of you white men, and I won't need much more of an excuse."
Abdullah was a sick-looking Arab, and all three of the white men were sullen and scowling as they came out of the cage.
As they approached the rail, Bolton shouted, "Stand by the boats and rafts; she's going to strike!"
The ship's company stood in tense expectancy as a wave lifted the Saigon above a maelstrom of water surging over the reef.
As the sea dropped them with terrific impact upon the jagged coral rocks, the grinding and splintering of wood sounded her death knell. She reeled drunkenly toward the deep water outside the reef. More than one heart stood still in that tense moment; if she slipped back into the sea many would be lost, and there was no doubt now but that she was slipping.
"Percy," said Mrs. Leigh to the Colonel-she always called him Percy in her softer moods-"Percy, if I have been trying at times, I hope that you will forgive me now that we face our Maker."
"Harrumph!" grunted the Colonel. "It is all my fault; I should never have read that Beebe yarn."
As the Saigon slipped back into deep water, a following wave, larger than that which had preceded it, lifted the ship again and dropped her heavily upon the reef. This time she lodged firmly, and as the wave receded, she was left resting with her decks almost level.
"I say," said Algy, "this is a little bit of all right, what? Just like Noah's Ark-a bally old tub full of wild animals sitting high and dry on top of Mount Ararat."
A succession of smaller waves beat against the Saigon while the men worked to get the boats and the rafts over into the lagoon; and then another large wave broke entirely over the ship, but she did not budge from her position.
Lines leading to the ship held the boats and the rafts from drifting away, but now the question arose as to how to get the women down to them. The reef was narrow, and the Saigon rested only a few feet from its shoreward side. An athletic man might leap from the rail, clear the reef, and land in the lagoon; but Mrs. Leigh was not an athletic man, and she was the real problem.
She looked down over the rail of the ship at the waters still surging across the reef. "I can never get down there, William," she said; "you go on. Pay no attention to me; perhaps we shall meet in a happier world."
"Bosh and nonsense" exclaimed the Colonel. "We'll get you down someway."
"I'll go down there," said Tarzan, "and you lower her from one of the ship's davits; I'll see that she's gotten on one of the rafts safely. "
"Never," said Mrs. Leigh emphatically.
Tarzan turned to Captain Bolton. "I shall expect you to lower her immediately," he said, "and there will be no nonsense about it. I'm going down now to see how deep the water is inside the reef. Those who can't swim can jump in, and I will help them into one of the boats or onto a raft." He climbed to the top of the rail, poised there a moment, and then leaped far out, and dove towards the lagoon.
All hands started towards the rail to watch him. They saw him make a shallow dive and then turn over and disappear beneath the surface. Presently his head broke the water, and he looked up. "It is plenty deep right here," he said.
Patricia Leigh-Burden stripped off her life belt, climbed to the rail, and dove. When she came up, Tarzan was beside her. "I don't need to ask if you can swim," he said.
She smiled. "I'll stay here and help you with the others," she said. Janette Laon was the next to jump. She did not dive, and she just cleared the reef.
Tarzan had hold of her before she reached the surface. He still supported her when their heads were above water.
"Can you swim?" he asked.
"No," she replied.
"You are a very brave girl," he said, as he swam towards one of the boats with her and helped her aboard.
By this time, they had rigged a boatswain's chair and were lowering a highly irate and protesting Mrs. Leigh over the ship's side. As she reached the surface of the lagoon, Tarzan was awaiting her.
"Young man," she snapped, "If anything happens to me, it will be your fault."
"Be quiet," said Tarzan, "and get out of that chair."
Probably in all her life, Penelope Leigh had never before been spoken to in the voice of real authority; it not only took her breath away, but it cowed her; and she slipped meekly out of the boatswain's chair and into Tarzan's arms. He swam with her to one of the rafts and helped her on, for they were easier to board than the lifeboats.
Tarzan swam back to the ship. The boatswain's chair was still swinging close above the water. He seized it and climbed hand over hand to the deck. One by one, men were jumping or diving from the rail when he stopped them.
"I want ten or fifteen volunteers for some very dangerous work," he said; "they have got to have what the Americans call 'guts'."
"What do you intend doing," asked Bolton.
"Now that everybody else is safely on shore, I am going to set the animals free," said the ape man, "and make them take to the water."
"But, man," cried Colonel Leigh, "many of them are dangerous beasts of prey."
"Their lives are as important to them as ours are to us," replied Tarzan, "and I am not going to leave them here to die of starvation."
"Quite right, quite right," said the Colonel, "but why not destroy them. That would be the humane way."
"I did not suggest destroying your wife or your friends," said Tarzan, "and nobody is going to destroy my friends."
"Your friends?" ejaculated the Colonel.
"Yes, my friends," replied the Lord of the Jungle, "or perhaps it would be better to say, my people. I was born and raised among them; I never saw a human being until I was almost grown, nor did I see a white man 'til I was fully twenty years old. Will anyone volunteer to help me save them?"
"By Jove!" exclaimed the Colonel; "that is certainly a sporting proposition; I'm with you, young man."
De Groote, Bolton, Tibbet, Crouch, a number of the Naiad crew and several Chinese volunteered to help him, as well as the three Indian keepers, who had been signed on by Krause to look after the animals.
While those who had not volunteered to remain with him were leaving the ship, Tarzan released the Orang-utans. He spoke to them in their own language, and they clung to him like frightened children; then he led his men below to the animal deck and opened the great double doors in the side of the ship, through which all of the larger animals had been loaded.
There were three Indian elephants, and these he liberated first, as they were docile and well trained. He had one of the Indian mahouts mount the best of these and told him to ride this one into the lagoon the moment that a wave covered the reef. There was a brief battle with the animal before it could be forced to take the plunge; but once he was swimming, it was comparatively easy to get the other two elephants to follow him, and then the African elephants were released. These were wild beasts and far more dangerous and difficult, but once their leader saw the Indian elephants swimming away he lumbered into the lagoon and followed, and his fellows trailed after him.
The cages of the lions and tigers were dragged one by one to the door, the doors of the cages opened, and the cages tilted until the beasts were spilled out. The lesser animals were disembarked in the same way.
It was a long and arduous job, but at last it was over, and only the snakes remained.
"What are you going to do about them?" asked Bolton.
"Histah, the snake, has always been my enemy," replied Tarzan; "him, we shall destroy."
They stood in the doorway of the ship watching the beasts making their way toward shore, from which the empty boats and rafts were already being returned to the ship in accordance with Bolton's orders.
Along the shore line was a narrow beach, and beyond that dense jungle broke gradually upward to the foot of the green-clad, volcanic mountains which formed a fitting backdrop for the wild and desolate scene.
The landing party huddled on the beach as the wild creatures swam or waded to shore. But the animals bolted into the jungle as fast as they came out of the water. A single elephant turned and trumpeted, and a lion roared, whether in challenge or thanksgiving, who may know? And then the jungle closed about them, and they took up their new lives in a strange world.
Most of the sailors had returned to the ship with the rafts and boats, and the remainder of the day was spent in transporting the ship's stores to the beach.
For two days they worked, stripping the ship of everything that might add to their comfort or convenience, and while half of the men worked at this, the other half cut a clearing in the jungle, for a permanent camp. They had chosen this site because a little stream of fresh water ran through it.
In the afternoon of the third day when the work was almost completed, a little party of a dozen men looked down upon the camp from the summit of the cliff that hemmed the beach upon the south. Concealed by the verdure there, they watched the first strangers who had come to their island for many a long year.
The men who watched the castaways of the Saigon were warriors. They wore waist girdles which passed between their legs; the ends which hung down from the back, were elaborately embroidered with colored threads or feather mosaic work; over their shoulders was draped a square mantle, and they wore sandals made of hide. Their heads were adorned with feather headdresses, and one among them wore one of feather mosaic; his dress ornaments were of jade, and his belt and sandals were studded with jade and gold, as were his armlets and leglets; in his nose was a carved ornament, which passed through a hole in the septum; his lip and earplugs were likewise of jade. All the trappings of this man were more gorgeous than those of his companions, for Xatl Din was a noble.
The brown faces of all were tattooed, but the tattooing on Xatl Din was by far the most elaborate. They were armed with bows and arrows, and each carried two quivers; each also carried a spear, and a sling to hurl stones. In addition to these weapons, each of the warriors carried a long sword made of hard wood, into the sides of which were set at intervals blades of obsidian. For protection, they carried wooden shields covered with the skins of animals. They watched the strangers for some time and then melted away into the jungle behind them.
The ship's charts and instruments had been brought ashore, and that noon Captain Bolton had sought to establish their position; but when he had done so and had consulted the chart, he discovered that there was no land within hundreds of miles in any direction.
"There must have been something wrong with my calculations," he said to de Groote; so they checked and double-checked, but the result was always the same--they were somewhere in the middle of the South Pacific, hundreds of miles from land.
"It can't be possible," said Bolton, "that there is an undiscovered and uncharted island anywhere in the world."
"I should have said as much," agreed de Groote, "until now; your figures are absolutely correct, sir, and we are on an uncharted island."
"With about as much chance of ever being picked up," said Bolton, "as we would be if we were on the moon. If no ship has touched here since the days of da Gama, it is safe to assume that no ship will touch here during the rest of our lifetime."
"If no ship has touched here in four hundred years," said de Groote, "our chances are really excellent, for there has got to be a first time you know; and the law of chance, that this island will remain undiscovered, is just about run out."
"You mean the statutes of limitations will operate in our favor," laughed Bolton. "Well, I hope you're right."
Tarzan had worked with the others. Comfortable shelters had been erected for the Colonel and his wife and for the two girls.
Now Tarzan summoned the entire company. "I have called you together," he said, "to say that we will form two camps. I will not have Abdullah, Krause, Schmidt, Oubanovitch, or the Lascars in this camp. They have caused all the trouble. Because of them we are castaways on an uncharted island, where, according to Captain Bolton, we may have to spend the rest of our lives. If we permit them to remain in our camp, they will again make trouble; I know the kind of men they are," then he turned to Krause. "You will take your party north, at least two long marches, and don't any of you come within ten miles of this camp. If you do, I kill. That is all. Go."
"We'll go, all right," said Oubanovitch, "but we'll take our share of the provisions, firearms, and amunition."
"You will take your lives, and that is all," said Tarzan.
"You don't mean that you're going to send them away into this strange jungle without food or weapons," demanded the Colonel.
"That is exactly what I mean," said Tarzan, "and they are lucky that it is no worse."
"You can't do that to us," shouted Oubanovitch, "you can't keep a lot of dirty Capitalists in affluence and grind down the poor working man. I know your type, a fawning sycophant, hoping to curry favor with the rich and powerful."
"My word!" exclaimed Algy, "the blighter's making a speech."
"Just like Hyde Park," said Patricia.
"That's right," screamed Oubanovitch; "the smart bourgeosie ridiculing the honest laboring man."
"Get out," growled Tarzan.
Abdullah pulled at Oubanovitch's sleeve. "You'd better come," he whispered; "I know that fellow; he is a devil; he would rather kill us than not."
The others started moving away towards the north, and they dragged Oubanovich along with them; but he turned and shouted back, "I'll go, but I'll be back, when the poor slaves that are working for you now realize that they should be the masters, not you."
"Well!" exclaimed Penelope Leigh, "I'm glad that they are gone; that is something, at least, " and she cast a meaningful glance at Tarzan.
Coconut palms and bananas grew in profusion in the jungle around the camp, and there were breadfruit and edible tubers and a few papaya trees, while the lagoon abounded in fish; so there was little likelihood of their starving, but Tarzan craved flesh.
After the camp was completed, he set to work to make the : weapons of the chase which he liked best to use. His bow, arrows, and quiver, he had to make himself; but among the ships stores, he found a suitable knife and a rope and from a gaff, he fashioned a spear. This last was a tacit acknowledgment of the presence of the great carnivores he had turned loose upon the island. And then, one morning, Tarzan disappeared from camp before the others had awakened. He followed the course of the little stream that ran down from the verdure-clad hills, but, to avoid the tangle of underbrush, he swung through the trees.
I said that he had left camp before the others were awake; and this was what Tarzan thought, but presently he sensed that he was being followed and looking back, saw the two orang-utans swinging through the trees in his wake.
"Tarzan hunts," he said in the language of the great apes, when they had come up to him; "make no noise."
"Tarzan hunts, mangani make no noise," one of them assured him. And so the three of them swung silently through the trees of the silent forest.
On the lower slopes of the mountains, Tarzan came upon the elephants eating on tender shoots. He spoke to them, and they rumbled a greeting in their throats. They were not afraid, and they did not move away. Tarzan thought he would learn how friendly they might be, and so he dropped down close beside a great African bull and spoke to him in the language that he had used all his life when conversing with his beloved Tantor.
It is not really a language, and I do not know what name to call it by, but through it Tarzan could convey his feelings more than his wishes to the great beasts that had been his play-fellows since his childhood.
"Tantor," he said, and laid his hand upon the great beast's shoulder. The huge bull swayed to and fro and reached back and touched the ape-man with his trunk, an inquisitive, questioning touch; and, as Tarzan spoke soothingly, the touch became a caress. And then the ape-man moved around in front of the great beast and laid his hand upon his trunk and said, "Nala!" The trunk moved smoothly over his body, and Tarzan repeated, "Nala! Tantor, Nala!"; and then the trunk wound around him and lifted him in air.
"B'yat, Tantor," commanded Tarzan, "tand b'yat!" and the bull lowered Tarzan to his head.
"Vando!" said Tarzan, and scratched the great beast behind his ears.
The other elephants went on with their feeding, paying no further attention to the ape-man, but the orang-utans sat in a nearby tree and scolded, for they were afraid of Tantor.
Now, Tarzan thought that he would try an experiment, and he swung from the bull's back into a nearby tree and went off a little distance into the jungle; then he called back, "yud, Tantor, yud b'yat."
Through the forest and the undergrowth came an answering rumble from the throat of the bull. Tarzan listened; he heard the cracking of twigs and the crashing of underbrush, and presently the great bulk of Tantor loomed above him.
"Vando, Tantor," he said, and swung away through the trees, much to the relief of the orang-utans, who had looked with disfavor upon this whole procedure.
The mountain rose steeply before them now, and there were often places where only Tarzan or his simian friends might go. At last the three came to a ledge that ran towards the south. It led away from the stream, however, from which Tarzan had departed at the foot of a waterfall which tumbled over a cliff the precipitous and slippery sides of which might have been negotiated by a fly or a lizard but by little else.
They followed the ledge around a shoulder of the mountain and came out upon a large level mesa dense with forest. It looked to Tarzan like a good hunting ground, and here he again took to the trees.
Presently, Usha, the wind, brought to his nostrils a familiar scent--the scent of Horta, the boar. Here was meat, and instantly Tarzan was the wild beast stalking its prey.
He had not gone far, however, before two other scents impinged upon his sensitive nostrils-the scent spoor of Numa, the lion, and mingled with it, that of man.
These two scent spoors could be mingled for but one of two reasons; either the man was bunting the lion, or the lion was bunting the man. And as Tarzan detected the scent of only a single man, he assumed that the lion was the hunter, and so he swung off through the trees, in the direction from which the scent came.
Thak Chan was hunting no lion. It was impossible that he could have been hunting a lion, for he had never seen or heard of one in all his life; neither had any of his progenitors through all recorded time. A long time ago, before Chac Tutul Xiu had migrated from Yucatan, Thak Chan's people had known the jaguar, and the memory of it had been carried across the great water to this distant island and preserved in enduring stone in the temples and upon the stelae that had been built here. Thak Chan was a hunter from the city of Chichen Itza, that Chac Tutul Xiu had founded upon this island which he had found and had named Uxal for the city of his birth.
Thak Chan was hunting the wild boar, which, if aroused, may be quite as formidable as Numa, the lion; but, up to now, Thak Chan had had no luck.
Thak Chan entered a small natural clearing in the forest, and as be did so, his startled attention was attracted to the opposite side by an ominous growl. Confronting him was the snarling face of the most terrifying beast he had ever seen.
The great lion slunk slowly out into the clearing, and Thak Chan turned and fled. The thunderous roar that followed him almost paralyzed him with terror as he raced for his life through the familiar mazes of the forest, while close behind the hungry lion loped after its prey. There could have been no hope for Thak Chan in that unequal race even if he had remained upon his feet; but when he tripped and fell, he knew that it was the end. He turned to face this fearsome, unknown creature; but he did not arise, and, still sitting on the ground, he awaited the attack with poised spear.
The lion appeared then from around a curve in the jungle trail. His yellow-green eyes were round and staring. To Thak Chan, they seemed burning with fires of fury. The beast's great yellow fangs were bared in a snarl so malignant, that Thak Chan quailed anew. The lion did not charge; he merely trotted towards his prey, for here was only a puny man-thing--no worthy antagonist for the King of Beasts.
Thak Chan prayed to strange gods as he saw death approaching; and then, as though in answer to his prayers, an amazing thing happened; a naked man, a giant to Thak Chan, dove from a tree above the trail full upon the back of that savage beast for which Thak Chan did not even have a name. A mighty arm went around the beast's neck, and powerful legs wrapped around the small of its body. It rose upon its hind legs roaring hideously, and sought to reach the thing upon its back with fang or talon. It leaped into the air, twisting and turning; it threw itself upon the ground and rolled over in frantic effort to free itself: but the silent creature clung to it tenaciously, and with its free hand, drove a long knife again and again into its tawny side, until, with a final thunderous roar, the beast rolled over upon its side, quivered convulsively for a moment and lay still.
Thak Chan had watched this amazing battle with feelings of mixed terror and hope, half convinced that this was indeed a god come to save him, but almost as fearful of the god as of the beast.
As the great beast died, Thak Chan saw the man, or god, or whatever it was, rise to his feet and place one of them upon the body of his kill and then raise his face to the heavens and voice a long drawn out scream so terrifying that Thak Chan shuddered and covered his ears with his palms.
For the first time since it had risen from the floor of the ocean the island of Uxmal heard the victory cry of a bull ape that had made its kill.
Thak Chan knew of many gods, and he tried to place this one. He knew them as the mighty ones, the captains that go before, and the old ones. There was Huitz-Hok, Lord Hills and Valleys; Che, Lord Forest; and innumerable earth gods; then of course there was Itzamna, ruler of the sky, son of Hunab Kuh, the first god and Hun Ahau, god of the underworld, Metnal, a cold, dank, gloomy place beneath the earth, where the rank and file and those who led evil lives went after death; and there was also Aychuykak, god of war, who was always carried into battle by four captains on a special litter.
Perhaps this one was Che, Lord Forest; and so Thak Chan addressed him thus, and being polite, thanked him for saving him from the strange beast. However, when Che replied, it was in a language that Thak Chan had never heard before, and which he thought perhaps was the language of the gods.
Tarzan looked at the strange little brown man who spoke this amazing language which he could not understand; then he said, "Dako-zan," which in the language of the great apes means "meat;" but Thak Chan only shook his head and apologized for being so stupid.
Seeing that he was getting nowhere this way, Tarzan took an arrow from his quiver and with its point drew a picture of Horta, the boar, in the well-packed earth of the trail; then he fitted the arrow to his bow and drove the shaft into the picture behind the left shoulder.
Thak Chan grinned and nodded excitedly; then he motioned Tarzan to follow him. As he started away along the trail, he chanced to look up and see the two orang-utans perched above him and looking down at him. This was too much for the simple mind of Thak Chan; first the strange and horrible beast, then a god, and now these two hideous creatures. Trembling, Thak Chan fitted an arrow to his bow; but when he aimed it at the apes, Tarzan snatched the weapon from him, and called to the orang-utans, which came down and stood beside him.
Thak Chan was now convinced that these also were gods, and he was quite overcome by the thought that he was consorting with three of them. He wanted to hurry right back to Chichen Itza and tell everybody he knew of the miraculous happenings of this day, but then it occurred to him that nobody would believe him and that the priests might become angry. He recalled, too, that men had been chosen as victims of the sacrificial rites at the temple for much less than this.
There must be some way. Thak Chan thought and thought as he led Tarzan of the Apes through the forest in search of wild boar; and at last he hit upon a magnificent scheme; he would lead the three gods back to Chichen Itza that all men might see for themselves that Thak Chan spoke the truth.
Tarzan thought that he was being led in search of Horta, the boar; and when a turn in the trail brought them to the edge of the jungle, and he saw an amazing city, he was quite as surprised as Thak Chan had been when he had come to the realization that his three companions were gods. Tarzan could see that the central part of the city was built upon a knoll on the summit of which rose a pyramid surmounted by what appeared to be a temple. The pyramid was built of blocks of lava which formed steep steps leading to the summit. Around the pyramid were other buildings which hid its base from Tarzan's view; and around all this central portion of the city was a wall, pierced occasionally by gates. Outside the wall were flimsy dwellings of thatch, doubtless the quarters of the poorer inhabitants of the city.
"Chichen Itza," said Thak Chan, pointing and beckoning Tarzan to follow him.
With the natural suspicion of the wild beast which was almost inherent with him, the ape man hesitated. He did not like cities, and he was always suspicious of strangers, but presently curiosity got the better of his judgment, and he followed Thak Chan toward the city. They passed men and women working in fields where maize, and beans, and tubers were being cultivated--a monument to the perspicacity of Chac Tutul Xiu, who over four hundred years before, had had the foresight to bring seeds and bulbs with him from Yucatan.
The men and women in the fields looked up in amazement as they saw Thak Chan's companions, but they were still more amazed when Thak Chan announced proudly that they were Che, Lord Forest, and two of the earth gods.
By this time, however, the nerves of the two earth gods had endured all that they could; and these deities turned and scampered off toward the jungle, lumbering along in the half stooping posture of the great apes. Thak Chan called after them pleadingly, but to no avail, and a moment later he watched them swing into the trees and disappear.
By this time, the warriors guarding the gates they were approaching had become very much interested and not a little excited. They had summoned an officer, and he was awaiting Thak Chan and his companion when they arrived before the gate. The officer was Xatl Din, who had commanded the party of warriors that had discovered the castaways upon the beach.
"Who are you," he demanded, "and whom do you bring to Chichen Itza?"
"I am Thak Chan, the hunter," replied Tarzan's companion, "and this is Che, Lord Forest, who saved me from a terrible beast that was about to devour me. The two who ran away were earth gods. The people of Chichen Itza must have offended them or they would have come into the city."
Xatl Din had never seen a god, but he realized that there was something impressive about this almost naked stranger who towered high above him and his fellows, for Tarzan's height was accentuated by the fact that the Maya are a small people; and compared with them, he looked every inch a god. However, Xatl Din was not wholely convinced, for he had seen strangers on the beach, and he guessed that this might be one of them.
"Who are you who comes to Chichen Itza?" he demanded of Tarzan. "If you are indeed Che, Lord Forest, give me some proof of it, that Cit Coh Xiu, the king, and Chal Yip Xiu, the ah kin mai, may prepare to welcome you befittingly."
"Che, Lord Forest, does not understand our language, most noble one," interposed Thak Chan; "he understands only the language of the gods."
"The gods can understand all languages," said Xatl Din.
"I should have said that he would not debase himself by speaking it," Thak Chan corrected himself. "Undoubtedly he understands all that we say, but it would not be meet for a god to speak the language of mortals."
"You know a great deal for a simple hunter," said Xatl Din superciliously.
"Those whom the gods make friends with must be very wise," said Thak Chan loftily.
Thak Chan had been feeling more and more important all along. Never before had he had such a protracted conversation with a noble, in fact he had seldom ever said more than, "Yes, most noble one," or "No, most noble one." Thak Chan's assurance and the impressive appearance of the stranger were, at last, too much for Xatl Din, and he admitted them into the city, accompanying them himself toward the temple which was a part of the king's palace.
Here were warriors and priests and nobles resplendant in feathers and jade; and to one of the nobles who was also a priest, Xatl Din repeated the story that Thak Chan had told him.
Tarzan, finding himself surrounded by armed men, again became suspicious, questioning the wisdom of his entry into this city which might prove a trap from which he might find it difficult to escape.
A noble had gone to inform Chal Yip Xiu, the high priest, that one who claimed to be Che, Lord Forest, had come to visit him in his temple.
Like most high priests, Chal Yip Xiu was a trifle skeptical about the existence of gods; they were all right for the common people, but a high priest had no need for them. As a matter of fact, he considered himself as a personification of all the gods, and his power in Chichen Itza lent color to this belief.
"Go fetch the hunter and his companion," he said to the noble who had brought the message.
Shortly thereafter, Tarzan of the Apes strode into the presence of Chal Yip Xiu, the high priest of Chichen Itza, and with him were Thak Chan, the hunter, and Xatl Din, the noble, with several of his fellows, and a score of warriors and lesser priests.
When Chal Yip Xiu saw the stranger, he was impressed; and, to be on the safe side, he addressed him respectfully; but when Xatl Din told him that the god refused to speak the language of mortals, the high priest became suspicious.
"You reported the presence of strangers on the beach," he said to Xatl Din; "could not this be one of them?"
"It could, holy one," replied the noble.
"If this one is a god," said Chal Yip Xiu, "then the others must all be gods. But you told me that their ship was wrecked and that they were cast ashore."
"That is right, holy one," replied Xatl Din.
"Then they are only mortals," said the high priest, "for gods would have controlled the winds and the waves, and their ship would not have been wrecked."
"That, too, is true, most wise one," agreed Xatl Din.
"Then this man is no god," stated Chal Yip Xiu, "but he will make an excellent sacrifice to the true gods. Take him away."
At this unlooked for turn of affairs, Thak Chan was so shocked and astounded that, although he was only a poor hunter, he dared raise his voice in protest to Chal Yip Xiu, the ah kin mai. "But, most holy one," he cried, "you should have seen the things that he did. You should have seen the great beast which was about to devour me, and how he leaped upon its back and killed it; none but a god could have done such a thing. Had you seen all this and the two earth gods that accompanied him, you would know that he must indeed be Che, Lord Forest."
"Who are you?" demanded Chal Yip Xiu in a terrible voice.
"I am Thak Chan, the hunter," replied the now frightened man meekly.
"Then stick to your hunting, Thak Chan," warned Chal Yip Xiu, "or you will end upon the sacrificial block or in the waters of the sacred well. Get you gone." Thak Chan went; he sneaked out like a dog with its tail between its legs.
But when warriors laid hands upon Tarzan, that was a different story. Although he had not understood Chal Yip Xiu's words, he had known by the man's tone and demeanor that all was not well, and when he had seen Thak Chan sneak away, he was doubly convinced of it; and then warriors closed in and laid hands upon him.
The high priest had received him in a colonnade upon one side of a peristyle, and Tarzan's keen eyes had quickly taken in the entire scene immediately after he was ushered into the presence of the high priest. He had seen the garden behind the row of columns and the low buildings beyond the peristyle. What lay immediately beyond these buildings he did not know, but he did know that the city wall was not far away, and beyond the wall and the fields there was the forest.
He shook off the detaining hands of the warriors and leaped to the low platform where Chal Yip Xiu sat; and, hurling the high priest aside, he leaped into the garden, crossed the peristyle at a run and swarmed up the wall of the building beyond.
Warriors pursued him across the peristyle with imprecations and arrows and stones from the slings they carried; but only the imprecations reached him, and they were harmless.
He crossed the roof of the building and dropped into a street beyond. There were people in the street, but they fell back in terror as this bronze giant brushed them aside and trotted on toward the city wall. At the end of this street was a gate, but it was not the gate through which he had entered the city, and the warriors stationed here knew nothing of him; to them he was only an almost naked stranger, evidently a man of an alien race, and thus an enemy who had no business within the walls of Chichen Itza; so they tried to bar his way and arrest him, but Tarzan seized one of them and holding him by the ankles used him as a club to force his way through the other warriors and out of the gate.
He was free at last, but then he had never had any doubt but what he would be free, for he looked with contempt upon these little men, primitively armed. How could they hope to hold Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. Just then a stone from one of their slings struck him on the back of the head; and he fell forward upon his face, unconscious.
When Tarzan regained consciousness, he found himself in a wooden cage in a room dimly lit by a single window. The walls of the room were of beautifully dressed and fitted blocks of lava. The window was about two feet square and was near the ceiling; there was also a doorway in the room, closed by a heavy wooden door, which Tarzan guessed was bolted upon the outside. He did not know what fate lay in store for him, but he imagined that it would be most unpleasant, for the face of Chal Yip Xiu had been cruel indeed, as had the faces of many of the priests and nobles.
Tarzan tested the bars of his wooden cage and smiled. He knew that he could walk out of that whenever he pleased but getting out of the room might be another question; the window would have been large enough had there not been two stone bars set in the opening; the door looked very substantial.
The back wall of the cage was about two feet from the back wall of the room. Upon this side, Tarzan ripped off two of the bars and stepped out of the cage. He went at once to the door but could neither open it nor force it; however, he waited patiently before it with one of the broken bars of his cage in his hand--he knew that someone would open that door eventually.
He did not know that he had been unconscious a long time and that night had passed and that it was day again. Presently he heard voices outside his cell; they grew in numbers and volume until he knew that there was a great concourse of people there, and now he heard the booming of drums and the throaty blasts of trumpets and the sound of chanting.
As he was wondering what was going on outside in the city, he heard the scraping of the bolt outside his door. He waited, the broken bar held firmly in one hand; and then the door opened and a warrior entered--a warrior to whom death came quickly and painlessly.
Tarzan stepped into the doorway and looked out. Almost directly in front of him, a priest stood in front of an altar across which a girl was stretched upon her back; four men in long embroidered robes and feather headdresses held her there, one at each leg and one at each arm. The priest stood above her with knife of obsidian raised above her breast.
Tarzan took in the whole picture at a glance. The girl meant nothing to him; the death of a human being did not mean much to him, he who had seen so many creatures die, and knew that death was the natural consequence of life; but the cruelty and heartlessness of the ceremony angered him, and he was imbued with a sudden desire to thwart the authors of it, rather than with any humanitarian urge to rescue the girl. The priest's back was toward him as he leaped from his cell and snatched the knife from the upraised hand; then he lifted the priest and hurled him against two of the lesser priests who held the girl, breaking their holds and sending them crashing to the temple floor. The other two priests he struck down with his wooden club. The astounding performance left the onlookers stunned and breathless, and no hand was raised to stop him as he lifted the girl from the altar, slung her across one shoulder, and leaped through the temple doorway.
Tarzan recalled the route by which he had been brought to the palace temple, and he followed it back now out into the city, past two astounded guards at the palace gate. They saw him disappear into a side street; but they dared not desert their posts to follow him, but almost immediately a howling mob surged past them in pursuit of the stranger who had defiled their temple and snatched a sacrifice from the altar of their god.
The city was practically deserted, for all the inhabitants had gathered in the temple square to witness the sacrifice, and so Tarzan ran unmolested and unobserved through the narrow, winding side street of Chichen Itza. He ran swiftly, for he could hear the howls of the pursuing mob, and he had no wish to be overtaken by it.
The girl across his shoulder did not struggle to escape; she was far too terrified. Snatched from death by this strange almost naked giant, she could only apprehend what a terrible fate awaited her. She had heard the story that Thak Chan had told, for it had spread throughout the city; and she thought that perhaps this was indeed Che, Lord Forest. The vaguest hint of such a possibility would have so terrified little Itzl Cha that she could not have moved had she wished to, for gods are very terrifying creatures and not to be antagonized. If Che, Lord Forest, wished to carry her away, it would be certain death to oppose him; that she knew, and so Itzl Cha lay very quietly on the broad shoulder of her rescuer.
Tarzan could tell by the diminishing volume of the sounds of pursuit that he had thrown the mob off his trail. He soon reached the city wall at some distance from any gate. Alone he could have gained the top; but burdened with the girl, he could not; so he looked about him quickly for some means of scaling it.
Just inside the wall was a narrow street, about fifteen feet wide, which was lined with buildings and sheds of different heights, and here Tarzan saw his way. To reach the roof of a low shed with the girl was no feat for the ape man, and from this shed he went to the roof of a higher structure, and then to another which was on a level with the top of the city wall.
Itzl Cha, who had kept her eyes tightly closed most of the time now opened them again. She saw that Che, Lord Forest, had carried her to the roof of a building. Now he was running swiftly across the roof toward the narrow street which lay just within the wall. He did not slacken his speed as he approached the edge of the roof; and that made Itzl Cha close her eyes again very tightly, for she knew that they both were going to be dashed to death on the pavement in the street below.
At the edge of the roof, Tarzan leaped up and outward, alighting on the top of the wall on the opposite side of the street. Below him was the thatched roof of a laborer's hut, and to this he leaped, and from there to the ground. A moment later, with Itzl Cha gasping for breath, he was trotting across the cultivated fields toward the forest.
Life in the camp of the castaways was well ordered and run along military lines, for Colonel Leigh had taken full command. Lacking bugles, he had set up the ship's bell, which rang at six o'clock each morning, a clanging imitation of reveille; it summoned the company to mess three times a day, and announced tattoo at nine, and taps at ten each night. Sentries guarded the camp twenty-four hours each day, arid working parties policed it, or chopped wood, or gathered such natural foods as the jungle afforded. It was indeed a model camp, from which fishing parties rowed out upon the lagoon daily, and hunting parties went into the forest in search of game, wherewith to vary the monotony of their fruit and vegetable diet. It was the duty of the women to keep their own quarters in order and do such mending as might be required.
Tarzan's mysterious disappearance and protracted absence was the subject of considerable conversation. "It is good riddance," said Penelope Leigh. "Never, since I first saw that terrible creature, have I felt safe until now."
"I don't see how you can say such a thing," said her niece; "I should feel very much safer were he here."
"One never knew when he might take it into his head to eat one," insisted Mrs. Leigh.
"I was shut up with him for days in that cage," said Janette Laon; "and he never showed me even the slightest incivility, let alone threatening to harm me."
"Hmph!" snorted Penelope, who had never as yet condescended to recognize the existence of Janette, let alone speak to her. She had made up her mind on first sight that Janette was a loose woman; and when Penelope Leigh made up her mind, not even an act of Parliament might change it ordinarily.
"Before he went away, he had been making weapons," recalled Patricia, "and I suppose he went into the forest to hunt; perhaps a lion or a tiger got him."
"Serve him right," snapped Mrs. Leigh. "The very idea of turning all those wild beasts loose on this island with us. It will be a miracle if we are not all devoured."
"He went out into the jungle without any firearms," mused Janette Laon, half to herself; "I heard Colonel Leigh say that not even a pistol was missing. Just think of going into that jungle where he knew all those ferocious beasts were, and with only a gaff and some homemade arrows and a bow."
Mrs. Leigh hated to acknowledge any interest in Janette Laon's conversation, but she couldn't resist the temptation of saying, "He's probably a half-wit; most of these wild men are."
"I wouldn't know," said Janette Laon sweetly, "never having had an occasion to associate with any."
Mrs. Leigh sniffed, and Patricia turned her back to hide a smile.
Algernon Wright-Smith, Captain Bolton, and Dr. Crouch were hunting. They had gone northward into the jungle hoping to bring fresh meat back to the camp. They were following a dim trail in the damp earth of which the footprints of pig could occasionally be identified, and these gave them hope and lured them on.
"Nasty place to meet a tusker," remarked Crouch.
"Rather," agreed Algy.
"Look here!" exclaimed Bolton, who was in advance.
"What is it?" asked Crouch.
"The pug of a tiger or a lion," replied Bolton; "fresh too--the blighter must just have crossed the trail."
Crouch and Algy examined the imprint of the beast's pug in the soft earth. "Tiger," said Crouch; "no doubt about it--I've seen too many of them to be mistaken."
"Rotten place to meet old stripes," said Algy; "I--," a coughing grunt interrupted him. "I say!" he exclaimed, "there's the beggar now."
"Where?" demanded Bolton.
"Off there to the left," said Crouch.
"Can't see a bloody thing," said Algy.
"I think we should go back," said Bolton; "we wouldn't have a chance if that fellow charged; one of us would be sure to be killed--maybe more."
"I think you're right," said Crouch; "I don't like the idea of having that fellow between us and camp." There was a sudden crashing in the underbrush a short distance from them.
"My God!" exclaimed Algy, "here he comes!" as he threw down his gun and clambered into a tree.
The other men followed Algy's example and none too soon, for they were scarcely out of harm's way when a great Bengal tiger broke from cover and leaped into the trail. He stood looking around for a moment, and then he caught sight of the treed men and growled. His terrible yellow-green eyes and his snarling face were turned up toward them.
Crouch commenced to laugh, and the other two men looked at him in surprise. "I'm glad there was no one here to see that," he said; "it would have been a terrible blow to British prestige."
"What the devil else could we do?" demanded Bolton. "You know as well as I do that we didn't have a ghost of a show against him, even with three guns."
"Of course not," said Algy; "couldn't have got a sight of him to fire at until he was upon us. Certainly was lucky for us there were some trees we could climb in a hurry; good old trees; I always did like trees."
The tiger came forward growling, and when he was beneath the tree in which Algy was perched, he crouched and sprang.
"By jove!" exclaimed Algy, climbing higher; "the beggar almost got me."
Twice more the tiger sprang for one of them, and then he walked back along the trail a short distance and lay down patiently.
"The beggar's got us to rights," said Bolton. "He won't stay there forever," said Crouch.
Bolton shook his head. "I hope not," he said, "but they have an amazing amount of patience; I know a chap who was treed by one all night in Bengal."
"Oh, I say, he couldn't do that, you know," objected Algy. "What does he take us for--a lot of bally asses? Does he think we're coming down there to be eaten up?"
"He probably thinks that when we are ripe, we'll fall off, like apples and things."
"This is deucedly uncomfortable," said Algy after a while; "I'm pretty well fed up with it. I wish I had my gun."
"It's right down there at the foot of your tree," said Crouch; "why don't you go down and get it?"
"I say, old thing!" exclaimed Algy; "I just had a brainstorm. Watch." He took off his shirt, commenced tearing it into strips which he tied together, and when he had a long string of this he made a slip noose at one end; then he came down to a lower branch and dropped the noose down close to the muzzle of his gun, which, because of the way in which the weapon had fallen, was raised a couple of inches from the ground.
"Clever?" demanded Algy.
"Very," said Bolton. "The tiger is admiring your ingenuity; see him watching you?"
"If that noose catches behind the sight, I can draw the bally thing up here, and then I'll let old stripes have what for."
"You should have been an engineer, Algy," said Crouch.
"My mother wanted me to study for the Church," said Algy, "and my father wanted me to go into the diplomatic corps--both make me bored; so I just played tennis instead."
"And you're rotten at that," said Crouch, laughing.
"Righto, old thing!" agreed Algy. "Look! I have it."
After much fishing, the noose had slipped over the muzzle of the gun, and as Algy pulled gently, it tightened below the sight; then he started drawing the weapon up towards him.
He had it within a foot of his hand when the tiger leaped to his feet with a roar and charged. As the beast sprang into the air towards Algy, the man dropped everything and scrambled towards safety, as the raking talons swept within an inch of his foot.
"Whe-e-ew!" exclaimed Algy, as he reached a higher branch.
"Now you've even lost your shirt," said Crouch.
The tiger stood looking up for a moment, growling and lashing his tail, and then he went back and lay down again.
"I believe the beggar is going to keep us here all night," said Algy.
Krause and his fellows had not gone two days march from the camp of the castaways, as Tarzan had ordered them to do. They had gone only about four miles up the coast, where they had camped by another stream where it emptied into the ocean. They were a bitter and angry company as they squatted disconsolately upon the beach and ate the fruit that they had made the Lascars gather. They sweated and fumed for a couple of days and made plans and quarrelled. Both Krause and Schmidt wished to command, and Schmidt won out because Krause was the bigger coward and was afraid of the madman. Abdullah Abu Nejm sat apart and hated them all. Oubanovitch talked a great deal in a loud tone of voice and argued that they should all be comrades and that nobody should command. By a single thread of common interest were they held together-their hatred of Tarzan, because he had sent them away without arms or ammunition.
"We could go back at night and steal what we need," suggested Oubanovitch.
"I have been thinking that same thing, myself," said Schmidt. "You go back now, Oubanovitch, and reconnoiter. You can hide in the jungle just outside their camp and get a good lay of the land, so that we shall know just where the rifles are kept."
"You go yourself," said Oubanovitch, "you can't order me around."
"I'm in command," screamed Schmidt, springing to his feet.
Oubanovitch stood up too. He was a big hulking brute, much larger than Schmidt. "So what!" he demanded.
"There's no sense in fighting among ourselves," said Krause. "Why don't you send a Lascar?"
"If I had a gun this dirty Communist would obey me," Schmidt grumbled, and then he called to one of the Lascar sailors. "Come here, Chuldrup," he ordered.
The Lascar slouched forward, sullen and scowling. He hated Schmidt; but all his life he had taken orders from white men, and the habit was strong upon him.
"You go other camp," Schmidt directed; "hide in jungle; see where guns, bullets kept."
"No go," said Chuldrup; "tiger in jungle."
"The hell you won't got," exclaimed Schmidt, and knocked the sailor down. "I'll teach you." The sailor came to his feet, a boiling caldron of hate. He wanted to kill the white man, but he was still afraid. "Now get out of here, you heathen dog," Schmidt yelled at him; "and see that you don't come back until you find out what you want to know." Chuldrup turned and walked away, and a moment later the jungle closed behind him.
"I say!" exclaimed Algy. "What's the blighter doing now?" The tiger had arisen and was standing, ears forward, looking back along the trail. He cocked his head on one side, listening.
"He hears something coming," said Bolton.
"There he goes," said Crouch, as the tiger slunk into the underbrush beside the trail.
"Now's our chance," said Algy.
"He didn't go far," said Bolton; "he's right there; I can see him."
"Trying to fool us," said Crouch.
Chuldrup was very much afraid; he was afraid of the jungle, but he was more afraid to return to Schmidt without the information the man wanted. He stopped for a moment to think the matter over; should he go back and hide in the jungle for a while close to Schmidt's camp and then when there had been time for him to fulfill his mission go to Schmidt and make up a story about the location of the guns and bullets?
Chuldrup scratched his head, and then the light of a great idea broke upon him; he would go to the camp of the Englishmen, tell them what Schmidt was planning, and ask them to let him remain with them. That, he knew, was one of the best ideas that he had ever had in his life; and so he turned and trotted happily along the trail.
"Something is coming," whispered Crouch; "I can hear it," and a moment later Chuldrup came trotting into view.
All three men shouted warnings simultaneously, but too late. As the Lascar stopped amazed and looked up at them, momentarily uncomprehending, a great tiger leaped from the underbrush and rearing up above the terrified man seized him by the shoulder.
Chuldrup screamed; the great beast shook him and then turned and dragged him off into the underbrush, while the three Englishmen, horrified, looked on helplessly.
For a few moments they could hear the screams of the man mingling with the growls of the tiger and then the screams ceased.
"My God!" exclaimed Algy, "that was awful."
"Yes," said Dolton, "but it's our chance; he won't bother anything now that doesn't go near his kill."
Gingerly and quietly they descended to the ground, picked up their rifles, and started back toward camp; but all three were shaken by the tragedy they had witnessed.
In the camp the day's work was done; even Colonel Leigh Could find nothing more to keep the men busy.
"I must be getting old," he said to his wife.
"Getting?" she asked. " Are you just discovering it?"
The Colonel smiled indulgently; he was always glad when Penelope was herself. Whenever she said anything pleasant or kindly he was worried. "Yes," he continued, "I must be slipping; I can't think of a damn thing for these men to do."
"It seems to me there should be plenty to do around here," said Penelope; "I am always busy."
"I think the men deserve a little leisure," said Patricia; "they've been working steadily ever since we've gotten here."
"There's nothing that breeds discontent more surely than idleness," said the Colonel; "but I'm going to let them knock off for the rest of the day."
Hans de Groote and Janette Laon were sitting together on the beach talking.
"Life is funny," said the man. "Just a few weeks ago, I was looking forward to seeing New York City for the first time--young, fancy-free, and with three months pay in my pocket; what a time I was planning there! And now here I am somewhere in the Pacific Ocean on an island that no one ever heard of--and that's not the worst of it."
"And what is the worst of it?" asked Janette.
"That I like it, " replied de Groote.
"Like it!" she exclaimed. "But why do you like it?"
"Because you are here," he said.
The girl looked at him in surprise. "I don't understand," she said; "you certainly can't mean that the way it sounds."
"But I do, Janette," he said; "I--," his tanned face flushed. "Why is it that those three words are so hard to say when you mean them?"
She reached out and placed her hand on his. "You mustn't say them," she said; "you mustn't ever say them--to me."
"Why?" he demanded.
"You know what I have been--kicking around Singapore, Saigon, Batavia."
"I love you," said Hans de Groote, and then Janette Laon burst into tears; it had been long since she had cried except in anger or disappointment.
"I won't let you," she said; "I won't let you."
"Don't you--love me a little, Janette?" he asked.
"I won't tell you," she said; "I won't ever tell you."
De Groote pressed her hand and smiled. "You have told me," he said.
And then they were interrupted by Patricia's voice crying, "Why, Algy, where is your shirt?"
The hunters had returned, and the Europeans gathered around to hear their story. When they had finished the Colonel harrumphed. "That settles it," he said; "there will be no more hunting in the jungle; no one would have a chance against a tiger or a lion in that tangle of undergrowth."
"It's all your fault, William," snapped Mrs. Leigh; "you should have taken complete command; you should not have permitted that wildman to turn those beasts loose on us."
"I still think that it was quite the sporting thing to do," said the Colonel, "and don't forget that it was quite as dangerous for him as for us. As far as we know the poor devil may have been killed by one of them already."
"And serve him quite right," said Mrs. Leigh; "anyone who will run around the way he does in the presence of ladies has no business to live--at least not among decent people."
"I think the fellow was just a little bit of all right," said the Colonel, "and don't forget, Penelope, if it had not been for him, we would probably be a great deal worse off than we are now."
"Don't forget, Aunt Penelope, that he rescued you from the Saigon."
"I am doing my best to forget it," said Mrs. Leigh.
When Itzl Cha realized that she was being carried off toward the forest, she was not quite sure what her feelings were. Back in Chichen Itza was certain death, for the gods could not be lightly robbed of their victims; and, were she ever to return, she knew that she would be again offered up in sacrifice. What lay ahead she could not even guess; but Itzl Cha was young and life was sweet; and perhaps Che, Lord Forest, would not kill her.
When they reached the forest Che did an amazing thing: he leaped to the low branch of a tree and then swung upward, carrying her swiftly high above the ground. Now indeed was Itzl Cha terrified.
Presently Che stopped and voiced a long drawn-out call--an eerie cry that echoed through the forest; then he went on.
The girl had summoned sufficient courage to keep her eyes open, but presently she saw something that made her wish to close them again; however, fascinated, she continued to look at two grotesque creatures swinging through the trees to meet them, jabbering as they came.
Che replied in the same strange jargon, and Itzl Cha knew that she was listening to the language of the gods, for these two must indeed be the two earth gods of whom Thak Chan had spoken. When these two reached Che, all three stopped and spoke to each other in that language she could not understand. It was then that Itzl Cha chanced to glance down at the ground into a little clearing upon the edge of which they were, and there she saw the body of a terrible beast; and she knew that it was the same one from which Che had rescued Thak Chan, the hunter.
She wished that the skeptics in Chichen Itza could see all that she had seen, for then they would know that these were indeed gods; and they would be sorry and frightened because they had treated Lord Forest as they had.
Her divine rescuer carried her to a mountain trail. And there he set her down upon the ground and let her walk. Now she had a good look at him; how beautiful he was! Indeed a god. The two earth gods waddled along with them, and from being afraid Itzl Cha commenced to be very proud when she thought of the company in which she was. What other girl in Chichen Itza had ever walked abroad with three gods?
Presently they came to a place where the trail seemed to end, disappearing over the brink of a terrifying precipice; but Che, Lord Forest, did not hesitate; he merely took Itzl Cha across that broad shoulder again and clambered down the declivity with as great ease as did the two earth gods.
However, Itzl Cha could not help but be terrified when she looked down; and so she closed her eyes tightly and held her breath and pressed her little body very close to that of Che, Lord Forest, who had become to her something akin to a haven of refuge.
But at last they reached the bottom and once again Lord Forest raised his voice. What he said sounded to Itzl Cha like "Yud, Tantor, yud!" And that was exactly what it was: "Come, Tantor, Come!"
Very shortly, Itzl Cha heard a sound such as she had never heard before--a sound that no other Mayan had ever heard; the trumpeting of an elephant.
By this time, Itzl Cha thought that she had seen all the miracles that there were to be seen in the world, but when a great bull elephant broke through the forest, toppling the trees that were in his path, little Itzl Cha screamed and fainted.
When Itzl Cha regained consciousness, she did not immediately open her eyes. She was conscious of an arm about her, and that her back was resting against a human body; but what caused that strange motion, and what was that rough surface that she straddled with her bare legs?
Fearfully, Itzl Cha opened her eyes; but she immediately screamed and closed them again. She was sitting on the head of that terrible beast she had seen!
Lord Forest was sitting behind her, and it was his arm that was around her, preventing her from falling to the ground. The earth gods were swinging along in the trees beside them; they seemed to be scolding. It was all too much for little Itzl Cha; in a brief hour or two, she had experienced a lifetime of thrills and adventure.
The afternoon was drawing to a close. Lum Kip was preparing dinner for the Europeans. This was not a difficult procedure; there was fish to fry, and some tubers to boil. Fruit made up the balance of the menu. Lum Kip was cheerful and happy; he liked to work for the foreign devils; they treated him well, and the work was not nearly as arduous as chopping wood.
The two girls in the party and most of the men were sitting on the ground, talking over the events of the day, especially the hunting trip which had ended in tragedy. Patricia wondered if they would ever see Tarzan again, and that started them talking about the wildman and his probable fate. The Colonel was in his hut shaving, and his wife was sitting out in front of it with her mending, when something attracted her attention, and, looking toward the forest she voiced a single ear-piercing shriek and fainted. Instantly everyone was on his feet; the Colonel, his face half lathered, rushed from the hut.
Patricia Leigh-Burden cried, "Oh, my God, look!"
Coming out of the forest was a great bull elephant, and on its neck sat Tarzan holding an almost naked girl in front of him; two orang-utans waddled along at a safe distance on one side. No wonder Penelope Leigh had fainted. The elephant stopped a few paces outside the forest; the sight of all these people was too much for him, and he would come no farther. Tarzan, with the girl in his arms, slipped to the ground, and, holding her by the band, led her toward the camp.
Itzl Cha felt that these must all be gods, but much of her fear was gone now, for Lord Forest bad offered her no harm, nor had the earth gods, nor had that strange enormous beast on which she had ridden through the forest.
Patricia Leigh-Burden looked questioningly and a little suspiciously at the girl walking at Tarzan's side. One of the sailors working nearby said to another, "That fellow is a fast worker." Patricia beard it, and her lips tightened.
Tarzan was greeted by silence, but it was the silence of surprise. The Colonel was working over his wife, and presently she opened her eyes. "Where is he?" she whispered. "That creature! You must get him out of camp immediately, William, he and that wanton girl with him. Both of them together didn't have on enough clothes to cover a baby decently. I suppose he went off somewhere and stole a woman, an Indian woman at that."
"Oh, quiet, Penelope," said the Colonel, a little irritably; "you don't know anything about it and neither do I."
"Well, you'd better make it your businesss to find out," snapped Mrs. Leigh. "I don't intend to permit Patricia to remain in the same camp with such people, nor shall I remain."
Tarzan walked directly to Patricia Leigh-Burden. "I want you to look after this girl," he said.
"I?" demanded Patricia haughtily.
"Yes, you," he replied.
"Come, come," said the Colonel, still half lathered, "what is the meaning of all this, sir?"
"There's a city to the south of us," said Tarzan, "a good-sized city, and they have some heathen rites in which they sacrifice human beings; this girl was about to be sacrificed, when I was lucky enough to be able to take her away. She can't go back there because of course they would kill her; so we'll have to look after her. If your niece won't do it, I'm sure that Janette will."
"Of course I'll look after her," said Patricia; "who said that I wouldn't?"
"Put some clothes on the thing," said Mrs. Leigh; "this is absolutely disgraceful."
Tarzan looked at her with disgust. "It is your evil mind that needs clothes," he said.
Penelope Leigh's jaws dropped. She stood there open-mouthed and speechless for a moment; then she wheeled about and stamped into her hut.
"I say, old thing," said Algy, "how the deuce did you get that elephant to let you ride on his head; that was one of the wild African bulls?"
"How do you get your friends to do you favors?" asked Tarzan.
"But, I say, you know, old thing, I haven't any friends like that."
"That is too bad," said the ape man. Then he turned to the Colonel, "We must take every precaution against attack;" he said; "there were many warriors in that city, and I have no doubts but that a search will be made for this girl; eventually they will find our camp. Of course they are not accustomed to firearms, and if we are always on the alert, we have little to fear; but I suggest that only very strong parties be allowed to go into the jungle."
"I have just issued orders that no one is to go into the jungle," replied the Colonel. "Captain Bolton, Dr. Crouch, and Mr. Wright-Smith were attacked by one of your tigers today."
For six weeks the life in the camp dragged on monotonously and without incident; and during that time, Patricia Leigh-Burden taught Itzl Cha to speak and understand enough English so that the little Mayan girl could carry on at least a sketchy conversation with the others, while Tarzan devoted much of his time to learning the Maya tongue from her. Tarzan, alone of the company, ventured occasionally into the jungle; and, from these excursions, he often returned with a wild pig.
His absence from camp always aroused Penelope Leigh's ire. "He is impudent and insubordinate," she complained to her husband. "You gave strict orders that no one was to go into the jungle, and he deliberately disobeys you. You should make an example of him."
"What do you suggest that I do with him, my dear?" asked the Colonel. "Should he be drawn and quartered, or merely shot at sunrise?"
"Don't try to be facetious, William; it does not become you. You should simply insist that he obey the regulations that you have laid down."
"And go without fresh pork?" asked the Colonel.
"I do not like pork," snapped Mrs. Leigh. "Furthermore, I do not like the goings-on around this camp; Mr. de Groote is far too intimate with that French woman, and the wildman is always around that Indian girl. Look at them now--always talking together; I can imagine what he is saying to her."
"He is trying to learn her language," explained the Colonel; "something that may prove very valuable to us later on, if we ever have any dealings with her people."
"Hmph!" snorted Mrs. Leigh; "a fine excuse. And the way they dress! If I can find some goods in the ship's stores, I shall make her a Mother Hubbard; and as for him-you should do something about that. And now look; there goes Patricia over to talk to them. William, you must put a stop to all this nonsense--it is indecent."
Colonel William Cecil Hugh Percival Leigh sighed; his was not an entirely happy existence. Many of the men were becoming restless, and there were some who had commenced to question his right to command them. He rather questioned it himself, but he knew that conditions would become unbearable if there were no one in authority. Of course Algy, Bolton, Tibbet, and Crouch backed him up, as did de Groote and Tarzan. It was upon Tarzan that he depended most, for he realized that here was a man who would brook no foolishness in the event of mutiny. And now his wife wanted him to insist that this half-savage man wear trousers. The Colonel sighed again.
Patricia sat down beside Tarzan and Itzl Cha. "How goes the class in Mayan?" she asked.
"Itzl Cha says that I am doing splendidly," replied Tarzan.
"And Itzl Cha is mastering English, after a fashion," said Patricia; "she and I can almost carry on an intelligent conversation. She has told me some very interesting things. Do you know why they were going to sacrifice her?"
"To some god, I suppose," replied Tarzan.
"Yes, to a god called Che, Lord Forest, to appease him for the affront done him by a man that claimed you were Che, Lord Forest.
"Itzl Cha is, of course, positive that she was rescued by no one less than Che, Lord Forest; and she says that many of her people will believe that too. She says that it is the first time in the history of her people that a god has come and taken alive the sacrifice being offered to him. It has made a deep impression on her and no one can ever convince her that you are not Che.
"Her own father offered her as a sacrifice in order to win favor with the gods," continued Patricia. "It is simply horrible, but it is their way; Itzl Cha says that parents often do this; although slaves and prisoners of war are usually the victims."
"She has told me a number of interesting things about her people and about the island," said Tarzan. "The island is called Uxmal, after a city in Yucatan from which her people migrated hundreds of years ago."
"They must be Mayas then," said Patricia.
"That is very interesting," said Dr. Crouch, who had joined them. "From what you have told us of your experiences in their city, and from what Itzl Cha has told us, it is evident that they have preserved their religion and their culture almost intact throughout the centuries since the migration. What a field this would be for the anthropologist and the archaeologist. If you could establish friendly relations with them, we might be able to solve the riddles of the hieroglyphs an their stelae and temples in Central America and South America."
"As the chances are that we shall be here all the rest of our lives," Patricia reminded him, "our knowledge would do the world very little good."
"I cannot believe that we shall never be rescued," said Dr. Crouch. "By the way, Tarzan, is this village that you visited the only one on the island?"
"I don't know as to that," replied the ape man, "but these Mayans are not the only people here. At the northern end of the island, there is a settlement of what Itzl Cha calls 'very bad people.' The history of the island, handed down largely by word of mouth, indicates that survivors of a shipwreck intermarried with the aborigines of the island, and it is their descendents who live in this settlement; but they do not fraternize with the aborigines who live in the central part of the island."
"You mean that there is a native population here?" asked Dr. Crouch.
"Yes, and we are camped right on the south-western edge of their domain. I have never gone far enough into their country to see any of them, but Itzl Cha says that they are very savage cannibals."
"What a lovely place fate selected for us to be marooned," remarked Patricia, "and then to make it all the cozier, you had to turn a lot of lions and tigers loose in it." Tarzan smiled.
"At least we shall not perish from ennui," remarked Janette Laon.
Colonel Leigh, Algy, and Bolton sauntered up, and then de Groote joined the party. "Some of the men just came to me," said the Dutchman, "and wanted me to ask you, Colonel, if they could try to break up the Saigon and build a boat to get away from here. They said they would rather take a chance of dying at sea than spending the rest of their lives here."
"I don't know that I can blame them," said the Colonel. "What do you think of it, Bolton?"
"It might be done," replied the Captain.
"Anyway, it will keep them busy," said the Colonel; "and if they were doing something they wanted to do, they wouldn't be complaining all the time."
"I don't know where they would build it," said Bolton. "They certainly can't build it on the reef; and it wouldn't do any good to build it on shore, for the water in the lagoon would be too shallow to float it."
"There is deep water in a cove about a mile north of here," said Tarzan, "and no reef."
"By the time the blighters have taken the Saigon apart, " said Algy , "and carried it a mile along the coast, they'll be too exhausted to build a boat."
"Or too old," suggested Patricia.
"Who's going to design the boat?" asked the Colonel.
"The men have asked me to," replied de Groote; "my father is a shipbuilder, and I worked in his yard before I went to sea."
"It's not a bad idea," said Crouch; "do you think you can build a boat large enough to take us all?"
"It depends upon how much of the Saigon we can salvage," replied de Groote. "If we should have another bad storm soon, the whole ship might break up."
Algernon Wright-Smith made a sweeping gesture toward the forest. "We have plenty of lumber there," he said, "if the Saigon fails us."
"That would be some job," said Bolton.
"Well, we've got all our lives to do it in, old thing," Algy reminded him.
When two days had passed and Chuldrup had not returned, Schmidt drove another Lascar into the forest with orders to go to Tarzan's camp and get information about the guns and ammunition.
The Lascars had made a separate camp, a short distance from that occupied by Schmidt, Krause, Oubanovitch, and the Arab. They had been very busy, but none of the four men in the smaller camp had paid any attention to them, merely summoning one of them when they wanted to give any orders.
The second man whom Schmidt had sent in the forest never returned. Schmidt was furious, and on the third day he ordered two men to go. They stood sullenly before him, listening. When he had finished they turned and walked back to their own camp. Schmidt watched them; he saw them sit down with their fellows. He waited a moment to see if they would start, but they did not. Then he started toward their camp, white with rage.
"I'll teach them," he muttered; "I'll show them who's boss here--the brown devils;" but when he approached them, fifteen Lascars stood up to face him, and he saw that they were armed with bows and arrows and wooden spears. This was the work that had kept them so busy for several days.
Schmidt and the Lascars stood facing one another for several moments; then one of the latter said, "What do you want here?"
There were fifteen of them, fifteen sullen, scowling men, all well armed.
"Aren't you two men going to find out about the guns and ammunition so that we can get them?" he asked.
"No," said one of the two. "You want to know, you go. We no take orders any more. Get out. Go back to your own camp."
"This is mutiny," blustered Schmidt.
"Get out," said a big Lascar, and fitted an arrow to his bow.
Schmidt turned and slunk away.
"What's the matter?" asked Krause, when Schmidt reached his own camp.
"The devils have mutinied," replied Schmidt, "and they are all armed--made bows and arrows and spears for themselves."
"The uprising of the proletariat!" exclaimed Oubanovitch. "I shall join them and lead them. It is glorious, glorious; the world revolution has reached even here!"
"Shut up!" said Schmidt; "you give me a pain."
"Wait until I organize my glorious revolutionaries," cried Oubanovitch; "then you will sing a different song; then it will be 'Comrade Oubanovitch, this, and 'Comrade Oubanovitch, that.' Now I go to my comrades who have risen in their might and cast the yoke of Capitalism from their necks."
He crossed jubilantly to the camp of the Lascars. "Comrades!" he cried. "Congratulations on your glorious achievement. I have come to lead you on to greater victories. We will march on the camp of the Capitalists who threw us out. We will liquidate them, and we will take all their guns and ammunition and all their supplies."
Fifteen scowling men looked at him in silence for a moment; then one of them said, "Get out."
"But!" exclaimed Oubanovitch, "I have come to join you; together we will go on to glorious-"
"Get out," repeated the Lascar.
Oubanovitch hesitated until several of them started toward him; then he turned and went back to the other camp. "Well, Comrade," said Schmidt, with a sneer, "is the revolution over?"
"They are stupid fools," said Oubanovitch.
That night the four men had to attend to their own fire, which the Lascars had kept burning for them in the past as a safeguard against wild beasts; and they had had to gather the wood for it, too. Now it devolved upon them to take turns standing guard.
"Well, Comrade," said Schmidt to Oubanovitch, "how do you like revolutions now that you are on the other side of one?"
The Lascars, having no white man to command them, all went to sleep and let their fire die out. Abdullah Abu Nejm was on guard in the smaller camp when he heard a series of ferocious growls from the direction of the Lascar's camp, and then a scream of pain and terror. The other three men awoke and sprang to their feet.
"What is it?" demanded Schmidt
"El adrea, Lord of the Broad Head," replied the Arab.
"What's that?" asked Oubanovitch.
"A lion," said Krause; "he got one of them."
The screams of the unfortunate victim was still blasting the silence of the night, but they were farther from the camp of the Lascars now, as the lion dragged his prey farther away from the presence of the other men. Presently the screams ceased, and then came an even more grisly and horrifying sound--the tearing and rending of flesh and bones mingled with the growls of the carnivore.
Krause piled more wood upon the fire. "That damn wildman," he said--"turning those beasts loose here."
"Serves you right," said Schmidt; "you had no business catching a white man and putting him in a cage."
"It was Abdullah's idea," whined Krause; "I never would have thought of it if he hadn't put it into my head."
There was no more sleep in the camp that night. They could hear the lion feeding until daylight, and then in the lesser darkness of dawn, they saw him rise from his kill and go to the river to drink; then he disappeared into the jungle.
"He will lie up for the day," said Abdullah, "but he will come out again and feed."
As Abdullah ceased speaking, a foul sound came from the edge of the jungle, and two forms slunk out; the hyenas had scented the lion's kill, and presently they were tearing at what was left of the Lascar.
The next night, the Lascars built no fire at all; and another was taken. "The fools!" exclaimed Krause; "that lion has got the habit by now, and none of us will ever be safe again here."
"They are fatalists." said Schmidt; "they believe that whatever is foreordained to happen must happen, and that nothing they can do about it can prevent it."
"Well, I'm no fatalist," said Krause. "I'm going to sleep in a tree after this," and he spent the next day building a platform in a tree at the edge of the forest, setting an example which the other three men were quick to follow. Even the Lascars were impressed, and that night the lion came and roared through empty camps.
"I've stood all of this that I can," said Krause; "I'm going back and see that fellow, Tarzan. I'll promise anything if he'll let us stay in his camp."
"How are you going to get there?" asked Schmidt. "I wouldn't walk through that jungle again for twenty million marks."
"I don't intend to walk through the jungle," said Krause. "I'm going to follow the beach. I could always run out into the ocean if I met anything."
"I think El adrea would be kinder to us than Tarzan of the Apes," said the Arab.
"I never did anything to him," said Oubanovitch; "he ought to let me come back."
"He's probably afraid you'd start a revolution," said Schmidt. But they finally decided to try it; and early the next morning, they set out along the beach toward the other camp.
Chand, the Lascar, watched Krause and his three companions start along the beach in the direction of Camp Saigon. "They are going to the other camp," he said to his fellows. "Come, we will go too;" and a moment later they were trailing along the beach in the wake of the others.
In Camp Saigon, Tarzan was eating his breakfast alone. He had arisen early, for he had planned a full day's work. Only Lum Kip was astir, going about his work quietly preparing breakfast. Presently Patricia Leigh-Burden came from her hut and joined Tarzan, sitting down beside him.
"You are up early this morning," she said.
"I am always earlier than the others," he replied, "but today I had a special reason; I want to get an early start. "
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"I'm going exploring," he replied, "I want to see what is on the other side of the island."
Patricia leaned forward eagerly, placing a hand upon his knee. "Oh, may I go with you?" she asked. "I'd love it."
From the little shelter that had been built especially for her, Itzl Cha watched them. Her black eyes narrowed and snapped, and she clenched her little hands tightly.
"You couldn't make it, Patricia," said Tarzan, "not the way I travel."
"I've hiked through jungles in India," she said.
"No;" he said, quite definitely; "traveling on the ground in there is too dangerous. I suppose you've heard it mentioned that there are wild animals there."
"Then if it's dangerous you shouldn't go," she said, "carrying nothing but a silly bow and some arrows. Let me go along with a rifle; I'm a good shot, and I've hunted tigers in India."
Tarzan rose, and Patricia jumped to her feet, placing her bands on his shoulders. "Please don't go," she begged, "I'm afraid for you," but he only laughed and turned and trotted off toward the jungle.
Patricia watched him until he swung into a tree and disappeared; then she swished around angrily and went to her hut. "I'll show him," she muttered under her breath.
Presently she emerged with a rifle and ammunition. Itzl Cha watched her as she entered the jungle at the same place that Tarzan had, right at the edge of the little stream. The little Mayan girl bit her lips, and the tears came to her eyes--tears of frustration and anger. Lum Kip, working around the cook fire, commenced to hum to himself.
Chal Yip Xiu, the high priest, was still furious about the theft of Itzl Cha from beneath the sacred sacrificial knife. "The temple has been defiled," he growled, "and the gods will be furious."
"Perhaps not," said Cit Coh Xiu, the king; "perhaps after all that was indeed Che, Lord Forest."
Chal Yip Xiu looked at the king, disgustedly. "He was only one of the strangers that Xatl Din saw on the beach. If you would not arouse the anger of the gods, you should send a force of warriors to the camp of the strangers, to bring Itzl Cha back, for that is where she will be found."
"Perhaps you are right," said the king; "at least it will do no harm," and he sent for Xatl Din and ordered him to take a hundred warriors and go to the camp of the strangers and get Itzl Cha. "With a hundred warriors, you should be able to kill many of them and bring back prisoners to Chichen Itza."
Tibbett, with a boatload of sailors, was rowing out to the reef to continue the work of salvaging lumber from the Saigon, as the other members of the party came out for their breakfast. Itzl Cha sat silent and sullen, eating very little, for she had lost her appetite. Janette Laon came and sat beside de Groote, and Penelope Leigh looked at them down her nose.
"Is Patricia up yet, Janette?" asked the Colonel
Janette looked around the company. "Why, yes," she said, "isn't she here? She was gone when I woke up."
"Where in the world can that girl be?" demanded Penelope Leigh.
"Oh, she must be nearby," said the Colonel, but, as he called her name aloud, it was evident that he was perturbed.
"And that creature is gone too!" exclaimed Mrs. Leigh. "I knew that something terrible like this was going to happen sooner or later, William, if you permitted that man to remain in camp."
"Now, just what has happened, Penelope?" asked the Colonel.
"Why he's abducted her, that's what's happened."
Lum Kip, who was putting a platter of rice on the table, overheard the conversation and volunteered, "Tarzan, she, go that way," pointing toward the northeast; "Plateecie, him go that way," and pointed in the same direction.
"Maybe Pat abducted him," suggested Algy.
"Don't be ridiculous, Algernon," snapped Mrs. Leigh. "It is quite obvious what happened--the creature enticed her into the jungle."
"They talked long," said Itzl Cha, sullenly. "They go different times; they meet in jungle."
"How can you sit there, William, and permit that Indian girl to intimate that your niece arranged an assignation in the jungle with that impossible creature."
"Well," said the Colonel, "if Pat's in the jungle, I pray to high heaven that Tarzan is with her."
Pat followed a stream that ran for a short distance in a northeasterly direction, and when it turned southeast, she continued to follow it, not knowing that Tarzan had taken to the trees and was swinging rapidly through them almost due east toward the other side of the island. The ground rose rapidly now, and the little stream tumbled excitedly down toward the ocean. Pat realized that she was being a stubborn fool, but, being stubborn, she decided to climb the mountain a short distance to get a view of the island. It was a hard climb, and the trees constantly shut out any view, but the girl kept on until she came to a level ledge which ran around a shoulder of the mountain. As she was pretty well winded by this time, she sat down to rest.
"I should think some of you men would go out and look for Patricia," said Mrs. Leigh.
"I'll go," said Algy, "but I don't know where to look for the old girl."
"Who's that coming along the beach?" said Dr. Crouch.
"Why it's Krause and Schmidt," said Dolton. "Yes, and Oubanovitch and the Arab are with him." Almost automatically the men loosened their pistols in their holsters and waited in silence as the four approached.
The men about the breakfast table had all risen and were waiting expectantly. Krause came to the point immediately. "We've come to ask you to let us come back and camp near you," he said. "We have no firearms and no protection where we are. Two of our men have gone into the jungle and never returned, and two have been taken right out of camp by lions at night. You certainly must have a heart, Colonel; you certainly won't subject fellow men to such dangers needlessly. If you will take us back, we promise to obey you and not cause any trouble."
"I'm afraid it will cause a lot of trouble when Tarzan returns and finds you here," said the Colonel.
"You should let them remain, William," said Mrs. Leigh. "You are in command here, not that Tarzan creature."
"I really think it would be inhuman to send them away," said Dr. Crouch.
"They were inhuman to us," said Janette Laon bitterly.
"Young woman," exploded Penelope, "you should be taught your place; you have nothing to say about this. The Colonel will decide."
Janette Laon shook her head hopelessly and winked at de Groote. Penelope saw the wink and exploded again. "You are an insolent baggage," she said; "you and the Indian girl and that Tarzan creature should never have been permitted in the same camp with gentlefolk."
"If you will permit me, Penelope," said the Colonel stiffly, "I think that I can handle this matter without assistance or at least without recrimination."
"Well, all that I have to say," said Penelope, "is that you must let them remain."
"Suppose," suggested Crouch, "that we let them remain anyway until Tarzan returns; then we can discuss the matter with him--they are more his enemies than ours."
"They are enemies to all of us," said Janette.
"You may remain, Krause," said the Colonel, "at least, until Tarzan returns; and see that you behave yourselves."
"We certainly shall, Colonel," replied Krause, "and thank you for letting us stay."
Patricia got a view of the ocean from the ledge where she was sitting, but she could see nothing of the island; and so, after resting, she went on a little farther. It was far more open here and very beautiful, orchids clung in gorgeous sprays to many a tree, and ginger and hibiscus grew in profusion; birds with yellow plumage and birds with scarlet winged from tree to tree. It was an idyllic, peaceful scene which soothed her nerves and obliterated the last vestige of her anger.
She was glad that she had found this quiet spot and was congratulating herself, and planning that she would come to it often, when a great tiger walked out of the underbrush and faced her. The tip of his tail was twiching nervously, and his snarling muscles had drawn his lips back from his great yellow fangs.
Patricia Leigh-Burden breathed a silent prayer as she threw her rifle to her shoulder and fired twice in rapid succession.
"I certainly do not like the idea of having those men around here all the time," said Janette; "I am afraid of them, especially Krause."
"I'll look after him," said de Groote. "Let me know if he ever makes any advances."
"And now look!" exclaimed Janette, pointing along the beach. "Here come all those Lascars back, too. Those fellows give me the creeps."
As she ceased speaking, the report of two rifle shots came faintly but distinctly to their ears. "That must be Patricia!" exclaimed the Colonel. "She must be in trouble."
"She has probably had to shoot that creature," said Penelope hopefully.
The Colonel had run to his hut and gotten his rifle; and when he started in the direction from which the sound of the shot had come, he was followed by de Groote, Algy, Crouch, and Bolton.
As the foliage of the jungle closed about Bolton's back, Schmidt turned to Krause and grinned. "What's funny?" demanded the latter.
"Let's see what we can find in the way of rifles and ammunition," said Schmidt to the other three men. "This looks like our day."
"What are you men doing?" demanded Penelope Leigh. "Don't you dare go into those huts."
Janette started to run toward her hut to get her rifle, but Schmidt overtook her and hurled her aside. "No funny business," he warned.
The four men collected all the remaining firearms in the camp and then, at pistol points forced the Lascars to load up with such stores as Schmidt desired.
"Pretty good haul," he said to Krause. "I think we've got about everything we want now."
"Maybe you have, but I haven't," replied the animal collector; then he walked over to Janette. "Come along, sweetheart," he said; "we're going to start all over again right where we left off."
"Not I," said Janette, backing away.
Krause seized one of her arms. "Yes, you; and if you know what's good for you, you'd better not make any trouble."
The girl tried to pull away, and Krause struck her. "For heaven's sake, go along with him," cried Penelope Leigh. "Don't make a scene; I hate scenes. Anyway, you belong with him; you certainly have never belonged in my camp."
Half-stunned by the blow, Janette was dragged away; and the Colonel's wife watched them start back along the beach in the direction from which they had come.
"The Colonel shall hear about your stealing our stores, you scoundrels," she called after them.
Xatl Din and his hundred warriors came through the forest spread out in open order, that they might leave no well-marked trail; and as they came, they heard two sharp, loud sounds which seemed to come from but a short distance ahead of them. None of these men had ever heard the report of a firearm before, and so they had no idea of what it was. They crept cautiously forward, their eyes and ears constantly alert. Xatl Din was in the lead, and as he came to a more open place in the forest, he stopped suddenly, for a strange and unaccustomed sight met his eye. On the ground lay a huge, striped beast, such as he had never seen before. It was evidently dead, and above it stood a figure strangely garbed, who held a long black shiny thing that was neither bow, arrow, nor spear.
Presently Xatl Din realized that the creature was a woman; and, being an intelligent man, he surmised that the noise he had heard had come from that strange thing she held, and that with it, she had doubtless killed the huge beast which lay at her feet. Xatl Din further reasoned that if she could have killed so large and evidently ferocious an animal, she could even more easily kill men; and, therefore, he did not come out into the open, but withdrew and gave whispered instructions to his men.
Now the Mayans slipped silently around through the jungle until they had encircled Patricia, and then while Xatl Din beat on a tree with his sword to make a noise that would attract the girl's attention in his direction, two of his men slipped out of the jungle behind her, and crept noiselessly toward her.
As Patricia stood looking in the direction from which the sound had come, listening intently, arms were thrown around her from behind and her rifle was snatched from her hands; then a hundred strangely garbed warriors, resplendent in feathered headdresses and embroidered loin-cloths came running from the jungle to surround her.
Patricia recognized these men immediately, not only from the descriptions she had had from Itzl Cha and Tarzan, but also because she had read a great deal concerning the civilization of the ancient Mayans. She was as familiar with their civilization, their religion, and their culture as the extensive research of many archaeological expeditions had been able to bring to light. It seemed to her that she had been suddenly carried back centuries to a long dead past, to which these little brown men belonged. She knew what her capture meant to her, for she knew the fate of Mayan prisoners. Her only hope lay in the possibility that the men of her party might be able to rescue her, and that hope was strong because of her faith in Tarzan.
"What are you going to do with me?" she said in the broken Mayan she had learned from Itzl Cha.
"That is for Cit Coh Xiu to decide," he said. "I shall send you back to Chichen Itza, back to the palace of the king"; then he instructed four of his warriors to take the prisoner to Cit Coh Xiu.
As Patricia was led away, Xatl Din and his remaining warriors continued on in the direction of Camp Saigon. The noble was quite pleased with himself. Even if he were not successful in bringing Itzl Cha back to Chichen Itza, he had at least furnished another sacrifice in her stead, and he would doubtless be praised by both the king and the high priest.
I Colonel Leigh and his companions followed, quite by accident, the same trail by which Patricia had come. They climbed the ledge which ran around the shoulder of the mountain; and, although badly winded, kept on almost at a run. Their advance was noisy and without caution, for their one thought was to find Patricia as quickly as possible; and when they were suddenly met by a band of plumed warriors, they were taken wholly by surprise. With savage war cries, the Mayans charged, hurling stones from their slings.
"Fire over their heads!" commanded the Colonel.
The terrifying noise momentarily stopped the Mayans, but when Xatl Din realized that it was only noise and that it had not injured any of his men, he ordered them to charge again; and once more their hideous war cries sounded in the ears of the whites.
"Shoot to kill!" snapped the Colonel; "we've got to stop those beggars before they reach us with their swords."
The rifles barked again, and four warriors fell. The others wavered, but Xatl Din urged them on.
These things that killed with a loud noise at a distance terrified the Mayans; and although some of them almost came to grips with the whites, they finally turned and fled, taking their wounded with them. Following their strategy, they scattered through the jungle so as to leave no well-marked trail to their city; and the whites, going in the wrong direction, became lost, for it is difficult to orient one's self in a dense jungle; and when they came to a steep declivity down a mountain side, they thought that they had crossed the mountain and were descending the opposite slope.
After stumbling about in dense shrubbery for an hour, they came suddenly to the end of the jungle, only to stand looking at one another in amazement, for before them lay the beach and their own camp.
"Well, I'll be damned!" ejaculated the Colonel.
As they approached the camp, Tibbett came to meet them, a troubled look on his face.
"Something wrong, Tibbet?" demanded the Colonel.
"I'll say there's something wrong, sir. I just came back from the Saigon with a load of planks to find that Schmidt and his outfit have stolen all the firearms and ammunition that were left in camp, as well as a considerable part of our stores."
"The scoundrels!" ejaculated the Colonel.
"But that's not the worst of it," continued Tibbet; "they took Miss Laon away with them."
De Groote went white. "Which way did they go, Tibbet?" he asked.
"Back up the beach," replied the second mate; "probably to their old camp."
De Groote, heartbroken and furious, started away. "Wait," said the Colonel; "where are you going?"
"I'm going after them," he said.
"They are all heavily armed," said the Colonel; "you couldn't do anything alone, and we can't spare men to go with you now--that is, we couldn't all go and leave Mrs. Leigh alone here again, with the chance that those painted devils may attack the camp at any time."
"I'm going anyway," said de Groote doggedly.
"I'll go with you," said Tibbet, and then two of the sailors from the Naiad also volunteered.
"I wish you luck," said the Colonel, "but for heaven's sake be careful. You'd better sneak up on the camp from the jungle side and snipe them from the concealment of the underbrush."
"Yes, sir," replied de Groote, as he and the three who had volunteered to accompany him started up the beach at a dog-trot.
From a distance, Tarzan heard the firing during the encounter between the whites and the Mayans, and immediately turned and started back in the direction from which he thought the sounds came; but because of the echoes and reverberations caused by the mountains, he failed to locate it correctly, and went in the wrong direction. Also, he was misled by his assumption that any fighting there might be, would naturally be around Camp Saigon or Schmidt's camp.
Knowing that he was nearer Schmidt's camp then Camp Saigon, he decided to go there first and follow along the beach to Camp Saigon, if the fight were not at the former place.
As he approached the end of the forest opposite Schmidt's camp, he went more slowly and carefully, and it was well that he did for as he came in view of the camp, he saw the men returning and that the four whites were heavily armed. He saw Janette Laon being dragged along by Krause, and the Lascars bearing loads. He knew what had happened; but how it had happened, he could not guess. He naturally assumed that the shooting he had heard had marked an engagement between these men and those at Camp Saigon, and the inference was that Schmidt's party had been victorious. Perhaps all the other whites had been killed, but where was Patricia? Where was little Itzl Cha? He was not concerned over the fate of Penelope Leigh.
The Colonel was on the horns of a dilemma. The camp could boast of only four armed men now, scarcely enough to defend it; and he couldn't go out to search for Patricia and leave Penelope unguarded, nor could he divide his little force, for even four men would scarcely be enough to repel another attack by Schmidt or by the Mayans if they came in force, nor could four men hope successfully to storm the city of Chichen Itza to which he was convinced Patricia had been taken. And as the Colonel sought in vain for a solution of his problem, Patricia Leigh-Burden was led into the throne room of Cit Coh Xiu, King of Uxmal Island, and the leader of her escort addressed the king.
"The noble Xatl Din ordered us to bring this prisoner to his King and Master, as Xatl Din and his warriors continued on to attack the camp of the strangers. There was a battle, for we heard the strange noises with which these white men kill, but how the battle went we do not know."
The king nodded. "Xatl Din has done well," he said.
"He has done excellently," said Chal Yip Xiu, the high priest; "this woman will make a fitting offering to our gods."
Cit Coh Xiu's eyes appraised the white girl and found her beautiful. She was the first white woman that he had ever seen, and it suddenly occurred to him that it would be a shame to give her to some god that might not want her. He didn't dare say so aloud, but he thought that the girl was far too beautiful for any god; and, as a matter of fact, by the standards of any race, Patricia Leigh-Burden was beautiful.
"I think," said the king, "that I shall keep her as one of my handmaidens for a while."
Chal Yip Xiu, the high priest, looked at the king in well-simulated surprise. As a matter of fact, he was not surprised at all, for he knew his king, who had already robbed the gods of several pulchritudinous offerings. "If she is chosen for the gods," he said, "the gods will be angry with Cit Cob Xiu if he keeps her for himself."
"Perhaps it would be well," said the king, "if you were to see that she is not chosen--at least immediately. I don't think the gods want her anyway," he added.
Patricia, listening intently, had been able to understand at least the gist of this conversation. "A god has already chosen me," she said, "and he will be angry if you harm me."
Cit Cob Xiu looked at her in surprise. "She speaks the language of the Maya," he said to the high priest.
"But not very well," commented Chal Yip Xiu.
"The gods speak their own language," said Patricia; "they have little use for the language of mortals."
"Can it be that she is a goddess?" demanded the king.
"I am the mate of Che, Lord Forest," said Patricia. "He is already very angry with you for the way you treated him when he came to Chichen Itza. If you are wise, you will send me back to him. If you don't, he will certainly destroy you."
The king scratched his head and looked at his high priest questioningly. "Well," he said, "you should know all about gods, Chal Yip Xiu; was it indeed Che, Lord Forest, who came to Chichen Itza? Was it a god that you put in a wooden cage? Was it a god who stole the offering from the sacrificial altar?"
"It was not," snapped the high priest; "he was only a mortal."
"Nevertheless, we must not act hastily," said the king. "You may keep the girl temporarily; have her taken to the Temple of the Virgins, and see that she is well treated;" so Chal Yip Xiu summoned two lesser priests and told them to conduct the prisoner to The Temple of the Virgins.
Patricia felt that while she had not made much of an impression on the high priest, she had upon the king, and that at least she had won a reprieve which might give Tarzan and the others time in which to rescue her; and as she was lead from the Palace, her mind was sufficiently at ease to permit her to note the wonders of Chichen Itza.
Before her loomed a mighty pyramid of lava blocks, and up the steep stairs on one side of this, she was led to an ornately carved temple at the summit--The Temple of the Virgins. Here she was turned over to the high priestess who was in charge of the temple, in which were housed some fifty girls, mostly of noble families; for it was considered an honor to volunteer for this service. They kept the sacred fires alight and swept the temple floors. When they wished to, they might resign and marry; and they were always sought after by warriors and nobles.
Patricia stood in the temple colonnade and looked out over the city of Chichen Itza. She could see its palaces and temples clustered about the foot of the pyramid and the thatched huts of the common people beyond the wall, and beyond these the fields which extended to the edge of the jungle; and she fancied that she had been carried back many centuries to ancient Yucatan.
As Tarzan watched through the concealing verdure of the forest, he realized the futility of attempting to come out in the open and face four heavily armed men, while he was armed with only a bow. But Tarzan had ways of his own, and he was quite secure in the belief that he could take Janette away from these men without unnecessarily risking his own life.
He waited until they had come closer and the Lascars had thrown down their loads; then he fitted an arrow to his bow, and bending the latter until the point of the arrow rested against his left thumb, he took careful aim. The bow string twanged; and, an instant later, Krause screamed and pitched forward upon his face, an arrow through his heart.
The others looked about in consternation. "What happened" demanded Oubanovitch; "what's the matter with Krause?"
"He's dead!" said Schmidt. "someone shot him with an arrow."
"The ape man," said Abdullah Abu Nejm; "who else could have done it?"
"Where is he?" demanded Schmidt.
"Here I am," said Tarzan, "and I have plenty more arrows. Come straight toward my voice, Janette, and into the forest; and if anyone tries to stop you, he'll get what Krause got."
Janette walked quickly toward the forest, and no hand was raised to detain her.
"That damn wildman!" ejaculated Schmidt, and then he broke into a volley of lurid profanity. "I'll get him!" I'll get him!" he screamed, and, raising his rifle, fired into the forest in the direction from which Tarzan's voice had come.
Again the bow-string twanged; and Schmidt, clutching at an arrow in his chest, dropped to his knees and then rolled over on his side, just as Janette entered the forest, and Tarzan dropped to the ground beside her.
"What happened at the camp?" he asked, and she told him briefly.
"So they let Schmidt and his gang come back," said Tarzan. "I am surprised at the Colonel."
"It was mostly the fault of that horrid old woman," said Janette.
"Come," said Tarzan, "we'll get back there as quickly as we can," and swinging Janette to his shoulder, he took to the trees. As he and Janette approached Camp Saigon, de Groote, Tibbet, and the two sailors came into sight of Schmidt's camp.
A quick glance around the camp did not reveal Janette, but de Groote saw two men lying on the ground, and the Lascars huddled to one side, apparently terrified.
Abdullah was the first to see de Groote and his party, and knowing that they had come for revenge and would show no quarter, he swung his rifle to his shoulder and fired. He missed, and de Groote and Tibbet ran forward, firing, the two sailors, armed only with gaffs, at their heels.
Several shots were exchanged without any casualties, and then de Groote dropped to one knee and took careful aim, and Tibbet followed his example. "Take Oubanovitch," said de Groote; "I'll get the Arab."
The two rifles spoke almost simultaneously, and Oubanovitch and Abdullah Abu Nejm dropped in their tracks.
De Groote and Tibbet ran forward, followed by the sailors, ready to finish off any of the men who still showed fight; but the Russian, the Arab, and Krause were dead, and Schmidt was writhing and screaming in agony, helpless to harm them.
De Groote bent over him. "Where is Miss Laon?" he demanded.
Screaming and cursing, his words almost unintelligible, Schmidt mumbled, "The wildman, damn him, he took her;" and then he died.
"Thank God!" ejaculated de Groote; "she's safe now."
The four took the arms and ammunition from the bodies of the dead men, and with the authority which they gave them, forced the Lascars to pick up their packs and start, back toward Camp Saigon.
As Tarzan and Janette stepped from the jungle and approached the camp, they were greeted by a disheartened and hopeless company, only one of whom found anything to be thankful for. It was Penelope Leigh. When she saw them, she said to Algy, "At least Patricia was not with that creature."
"Oh, come now, Aunt Pen," said Algy impatiently; "I suppose you will say now that Tarzan and Janette arranged all this so that they could meet in the jungle."
"I should not have been at all surprised," replied Mrs. Leigh. " A man who would carry on with an Indian girl might do anything."
Tarzan was disgusted with all that had been happening during his absence, largely because his orders had been disobeyed, but he only said, "They should never have been permitted within pistol shot of this camp."
"It was my fault," said Colonel Leigh; "I did it against my better judgment, because it did seem inhuman to send them back there unarmed, with a man-eater hanging around their camp."
"It was not the Colonel's fault," said Janette, furiously; "he was nagged into it. That hateful old woman is most to blame. She insisted; and now, because of her, Hans may be killed." Even as she ceased speaking, they heard the distant reports of firearms, coming faintly from the direction of Schmidt's camp. "There!" cried Janette; then she turned on Mrs. Leigh: "If anything happens to Hans, his blood is on your head!" she cried.
"What has been done has been done," said Tarzan; "the important thing now, is to find Patricia. Are you positive that she was captured by the Maya?"
"We heard two shots," explained the Colonel, "and when we went to investigate, we were met by fully a hundred Maya warriors. We dispersed them, but were unable to follow their trail; and although we saw nothing of Patricia, it seems most probable that she had been captured by them before we met them."
"And now, William, I hope you are satisfied," said Mrs. Leigh; "it is all your fault, for coming on that silly expedition in the first place."
"Yes, Penelope," said the Colonel resignedly, "I suppose that it is all my fault, but telling me that over and over again doesn't help matters any."
Tarzan took Itzl Cha aside to talk to her away from the interruptions of the others. "Tell me, Itzl Cha," he said, "what your people would probably do with Patricia."
"Nothing, two, three days, maybe month," replied the girl; "then they offer her to a god."
"Look at that creature now," said Penelope Leigh, "taking that little Indian girl off and whispering to her. I can well imagine what he is saying."
"Would they put Patricia in the cage where they had me?" Tarzan asked.
"I think in The Temple of the Virgins at the top of the sacred pyramid; Temple of the Virgins very sacred place and well guarded."
"I can reach it," said Tarzan.
"You are not going there?" demanded Itzl Cha.
"Tonight," said Tarzan.
The girl threw her arms about him. "Please don't go," she begged; "you cannot save her, and they will kill you."
"Look!" exclaimed Penelope Leigh; "of all the brazen things I've ever seen in my life! William, you must put a stop to it. I cannot stand it; I have never before had to associate with loose people," and she cast a venomous glance at Janette.
Tarzan disengaged the girl's arms. "Come, come, Itzl Cha," he said; "I shall not be killed."
"Don't go," she pleaded. "Oh, Che, Lord Forest, I love you. Take Me away into the forest with you. I do not like these people."
"They have been very kind to you," Tarzan reminded her. "I know," said Itzl Cha sullenly, "but I do not want their kindness; I want only you, and you must not go to Chichen Itza tonight nor ever."
Tarzan smiled and patted her shoulder. "I go tonight," he said.
"You love her," cried Itzl Cha; "that is the reason you are going. You are leaving me for her."
"That will be all," said Tarzan firmly; "say no more"; then he left her and joined the others, and Cha, furious with jealously, went into her hut and threw herself upon the ground, kicking it with her sandaled feet and beating it with her little fists. Presently she arose and looked out through the doorway, just in time to see de Groote and his party returning, and while the attention of all the others was centered upon them, little Itzl Cha crept from her hut and ran into the jungle.
Janette ran forward and threw her arms about de Groote, tears of joy running down her cheeks. "I thought that you had been killed, Hans," she sobbed; "I thought that you had been killed."
"I am very much alive," he said, "and you have nothing more to fear from Schmidt and his gang; they are all dead."
"I am glad," said Tarzan; "they were bad men."
Little Itzl Cha ran through the jungle. She was terrified, for it was growing dark, and there are demons and the spirits of the dead in the forest at night; but she ran on, spurred by jealousy and hate and desire for revenge.
She reached Chichen Itza after dark, and the guard at the gate was not going to admit her until she told him who she was, and that she had important word for Chal Yip Xiu, the high priest. She was taken to him then, and she fell on her knees before him.
"Who are you?" he demanded, and then he recognized her. "So you have come back," he said. "Why?"
"I came to tell you that the man who stole me from the sacrificial altar is coming tonight to take the white girl from the temple."
"For this you deserve much from the gods," said Chal Yip Xiu, "and again you shall be honored by being offered to them," and little Itzl Cha was placed in a wooden cage to await sacrifice.
Tarzan came slowly through the forest on his way to Chichen Itza. He did not wish to arrive before midnight, when he thought that the city would have quieted down and most of its inmates would be asleep. A gentle wind was blowing in his face, and it brought to his nostrils a familiar scent spoor--Tantor, the elephant, was abroad. He had found an easier trail to the plateau than the shorter one which Tarzan used, and he had also found on the plateau a plenteous supply of the tender shoots he loved best.
Tarzan did not call him until he had come quite close, and then he spoke in a low voice; and Tantor, recognizing his voice, came and verified his judgment by passing his trunk over the ape man's body.
At a word of command, he lifted Tarzan to his withers, and the Lord of the Jungle rode to the edge of the forest just outside of the city of Chichen Itza.
Slipping from Tantor's head, Tarzan crossed the fields to the city wall. Before he reached it, he broke into a run, and when it loomed before him, he scaled it much as a cat would have done. The city was quiet and the streets were deserted; so that Tarzan reached the foot of the pyramid without encountering anyone.
Just inside the entrance to The Temple of the Virgins, a dozen warriors hid in the shadows as Tarzan climbed the steps to the summit. Outside the temple he stopped and listened; then he walked around to the lee side, so that the breeze that was blowing would carry to his sensitive nostrils the information that he wished.
He stood there for a moment; and then, satisfied, he crept stealthily around to the entrance. At the threshold he stopped again and listened; then he stepped inside, and as he did so a net was thrown over him and drawn tight, and a dozen warriors fell upon him and so entangled him in the meshes that he was helpless.
A priest stepped from the temple and raising a trumpet to his lips, blew three long blasts. As by magic, the city awoke, lights appeared, and people came streaming towards the temple pyramid.
Tarzan was carried down the long flight of steps, and at the bottom, he was surrounded by priests in long embroidered cloaks and gorgeous headdresses. Then they brought Patricia. With trumpets and drums preceding them, Cit Coh Xiu, the king, and Chat Yip Xiu, the high priest, headed a procession that wound through the city and out of the east gate.
Tarzan had been placed on a litter that was carried by four priests; behind him walked Patricia, under guard; and behind her little Itzl Cha was carried in her wooden cage. A full moon cast its soft light on the barbaric procession, which was further illuminated by hundreds of torches carried by the marchers.
The procession wound through the forest to the foot of a mountain, up which it zig-zagged back and forth until it reached the rim of the crater of an extinct volcano at the summit. It was almost dawn as the procession made its way down a narrow trail to the bottom of the crater and stopped there at the edge of a yawning hole. Priests intoned a chant to the accompaniment of flutes, drums, and trumpets; and, just at dawn, the bag was cut away from Tarzan and he was hurled into the chasm, notwithstanding the pleas of Itzl Cha, who had repented and warned the priests that the man was really Che, Lord Forest. She had begged them not to kill him, but Chat Yip Xiu had silenced her and spoken the word that sent Tarzan to his doom.
Patricia Leigh-Burden was not the type of girl easily moved to tears, but she stood now on the brink of that terrible abyss, her body racked by sobs; and then as the sun topped the rim and shed its light down into the crater, she saw Tarzan swimming slowly about in a pond some seventy feet below her. Instantly her mind leaped to the stories she had read of the sacred dzonot of ancient Chichen Itza in Yucatan, and hope burned again in her breast.
"Tarzan," she called, and the man turned over on his back and looked up at her. "Listen, " she continued. "I know this form of sacrifice well; it was practiced by the Maya in Central America hundreds and hundreds of years ago. The victim was thrown into the sacred well at Chichen Itza at dawn, and if he still lived at noon, he was taken out and raised to highest rank; he became practically a living god on earth. You must keep afloat until noon, Tarzan; you must! you must!"
Tarzan smiled up at her and waved. The priests eyed her suspiciously, though they had no idea what she had said to their victim.
"Do you think that you can, Tarzan?" she said. "You must, because I love you."
Tarzan did not reply, as he turned over and commenced to swim slowly around the pool, which was about a hundred feet in diameter with perpendicular sides of smooth volcanic glass.
The water was chilly but not cold, and Tarzan swam just strongly enough to keep from becoming chilled.
The people had brought food and drink; and as they watched through the long dragging hours, they made a fiesta of the occasion.
As the sun climbed toward zenith, Chal Yip Xiu commenced to show signs of strain and nervousness, for if the victim lived until noon, he might prove indeed to be Che, Lord Forest, which would be most embarrassing for the ah kin mai. Every eye that could see it was upon a crude sundial that stood beside the rim of the dzonot; and when it marked noon, a great shout arose, for the victim was still alive.
The high priest was furious as the people acclaimed Tarzan as Che, Lord Forest, and demanded that he be taken from the water. A long rope was thrown down to him, with a noose in the end of it by means of which he could be drawn out of the dzonot; but Tarzan ignored the noose and clambered up the rope, hand over hand. When he stepped out upon the rim, the people fell to their knees before him and supplicated him for forgiveness and for favors.
The king and the high priest looked most uncomfortable as Tarzan faced them. "I came to earth in the form of a mortal," he said, "to see how you ruled my people of Chichen Itza. I am not pleased. I shall come again some day to see if you have improved. Now I go, and I take this woman with me," and he placed a hand upon Patricia's arm. "I command you to release Itzl Cha, and to see that neither she nor any others are sacrificed before I return."
He took Patricia by the hand, and together they climbed the steep trail to the rim of the crater and then down the side of the volcano, the people following them, in a long procession, singing as they marched. As they reached the city, Tarzan turned and held up a hand. "Come no farther," he said to the people, and then to Patricia, "Now I'll give them something to tell their grandchildren about."
She looked up at him questioningly and smiled. "What are you going to do?" she asked.
For answer, he voiced a long weird cry, and then, in the language of the great apes, shouted, "Come, Tantor, come!" and as he and Patricia crossed the field and approached the forest, a great bull elephant came out of it to meet them, and a cry of astonishment and fear rose from the people behind them.
"Won't he gore us or something?" asked Patricia, as they approached the bull.
"He is my friend," said Tarzan, laying his hand upon the trunk of the great beast. "Don't be frightened," he said to Patricia; "he is going to lift you to his withers," and at a word of command, Tantor swung the girl up and then lifted Tarzan.
As he wheeled to go into the forest, Tarzan and Patricia looked back to see the people of Chichen Itza all kneeling, their faces pressed against the ground.
"Their great-great-grandchildren will hear of this," said Patricia.
In Camp Saigon, the discouraged company waited hopelessly for Tarzan's return. There had been little sleep the previous night for many of them, and the long hours of the morning had dragged heavily. Tea time came and Tarzan had not returned; but, as a matter of habit, they had tea served; and as they sat around the table, sipping it listlessly, the same thought must have been in the minds of all; they would never see Patricia or Tarzan again.
"You should never have let that creature go out after Patricia alone," said Mrs., Leigh; "he probably found her all right, and there is no telling what has happened to her by this time."
"Oh, Penelope!" cried the Colonel hopelessly. "Why are you so bitter against that man? He has done nothing but befriend us."
"Hmph!" exclaimed Penelope, "You are very dense, William; I could see through him from the first--he is a climber; he wants to get into our good graces and then he will probably try to marry Patricia for the money she will inherit."
"Madam," said de Groote very icily, "'that creature,' as you call him, is John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, an English viscount."
"Bosh!" exclaimed Mrs., Leigh.
"It is not bosh," said de Groote; "Krause told me who he was while we were locked up together in that cage. He got it from the Arab, who has known the man for years."
Mrs. Leigh's chin dropped, and she seemed to suddenly deflate, but she rallied quickly. "I rather expected it," she said after a moment. "All that I ever criticized in him was his predilection for nudity. Why didn't you ever tell us this before, young man?"
"I don't know why I told you now," replied de Groote; "it is none of my business; if he had wanted us to know, he would have told us."
"Here he comes now!" exclaimed Janette, "and Patricia is with him!"
"How wonderful!" exclaimed Penelope. "What a fine looking couple my niece and Lord Greystoke make."
From the withers of the elephant, Patricia could see far out beyond the reef; and when she and Tarzan slipped to the ground, she ran toward the group awaiting them, pointing and crying, "Look! A ship! A ship!"
It was a ship far out; and the men hastened to build a fire on the beach, and when it was burning, to throw on green leaves and kerosene until a great black smoke rose high into the sky.
De Groote and some of the sailors put out in one of the boats in a frantic, if potentially futile, effort to further attract the ship's attention.
"They don't see us," said Janette.
"And there may not be another ship in a hundred years," remarked Dr. Crouch.
"Jolly long time to wait for anything, what?" said Algy.
"They've changed their course," said Bolton; "they're heading in."
The Colonel had gone to his hut and now he came out with binoculars in his hand. He took a long look through them; and when he took the glasses down, there were tears in his eyes; and it was a moment before he could speak.
"It's the Naiad," he said, "and she is heading inshore."
That night, under a full tropic moon, two couples lounged in comfortable chairs on the deck of the Naiad. Tarzan laid a hand on one of Patricia's. "In your nervous excitement today at the Dzonot, you said something, Patricia, that we must both forget."
"I know what you mean," she replied. "You see, I didn't know then that it was impossible--but I meant it then, and I shall always mean it."
"Tarzan!" called de Groote from the other side of the yacht. "Janette is trying to convince me that the Captain can't marry us. She's wrong, isn't she?"
"I am quite sure that she is wrong," replied the ape man.