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The novel picks up where Tarzan of the Apes left off. The ape man, feeling rootless in the wake of his noble sacrifice of his prospects of wedding Jane Porter, leaves America for Europe to visit his friend Paul d'Arnot. On the ship he becomes embroiled in the affairs of Countess Olga de Coude, her husband, Count Raoul de Coude, and two shady characters attempting to prey on them, Nikolas Rokoff and his henchman Alexis Paulvitch. Rokoff, it turns out, is also the countess's brother. Tarzan thwarts the villains' scheme, making them his deadly enemies. Later, in France, Rokoff tries time and again to eliminate the ape man, finally engineering a duel between him and the count by making it appear that he is the countess's lover. Tarzan deliberately refuses to defend himself in the duel, even offering the count his own weapon after the latter fails to kill him with his own, a grand gesture that convinces his antagonist of his innocence. In return, Count Raoul finds him a job as a special agent in Algeria for the ministry of war. A sequence of adventures among the local Arabs ensues, including another brush with Rokoff. Afterwards, Tarzan sails for Cape Town and strikes up a shipboard acquaintance with Hazel Strong, a friend of Jane's. But Rokoff and Paulovitch are also aboard, and manage to ambush him and throw him overboard...
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Copyright © 2016 by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Published by Perennial Press
Interior design by Pronoun
Edited by Perennial Press
Distribution by Pronoun
The Affair on the Liner
Forging Bonds of Hate and ——?
What Happened in the Rue Maule
The Countess Explains
The Plot That Failed
The Dancing Girl of Sidi Aissa
The Fight in the Desert
Numa “El Adrea”
Through the Valley of the Shadow
John Caldwell, London
Ships That Pass
The Wreck of the “Lady Alice”
Back to the Primitive
From Ape to Savage
The Ivory Raiders
The White Chief of the Waziri
The Lottery of Death
The City of Gold
The Treasure Vaults of Opar
The Fifty Frightful Men
How Tarzan Came Again to Opar
Through the Forest Primeval
The Passing of the Ape-Man
“Magnifique!” ejaculated the Countess de Coude, beneath her breath.
“Eh?” questioned the count, turning toward his young wife. “What is it that is magnificent?” and the count bent his eyes in various directions in quest of the object of her admiration.
“Oh, nothing at all, my dear,” replied the countess, a slight flush momentarily coloring her already pink cheek. “I was but recalling with admiration those stupendous skyscrapers, as they call them, of New York,” and the fair countess settled herself more comfortably in her steamer chair, and resumed the magazine which “nothing at all” had caused her to let fall upon her lap.
Her husband again buried himself in his book, but not without a mild wonderment that three days out from New York his countess should suddenly have realized an admiration for the very buildings she had but recently characterized as horrid.
Presently the count put down his book. “It is very tiresome, Olga,” he said. “I think that I shall hunt up some others who may be equally bored, and see if we cannot find enough for a game of cards.”
“You are not very gallant, my husband,” replied the young woman, smiling, “but as I am equally bored I can forgive you. Go and play at your tiresome old cards, then, if you will.”
When he had gone she let her eyes wander slyly to the figure of a tall young man stretched lazily in a chair not far distant.
“MAGNIFIQUE!” she breathed once more.
The Countess Olga de Coude was twenty. Her husband forty. She was a very faithful and loyal wife, but as she had had nothing whatever to do with the selection of a husband, it is not at all unlikely that she was not wildly and passionately in love with the one that fate and her titled Russian father had selected for her. However, simply because she was surprised into a tiny exclamation of approval at sight of a splendid young stranger it must not be inferred therefrom that her thoughts were in any way disloyal to her spouse. She merely admired, as she might have admired a particularly fine specimen of any species. Furthermore, the young man was unquestionably good to look at.
As her furtive glance rested upon his profile he rose to leave the deck. The Countess de Coude beckoned to a passing steward. “Who is that gentleman?” she asked.
“He is booked, madam, as Monsieur Tarzan, of Africa,” replied the steward.
“Rather a large estate,” thought the girl, but now her interest was still further aroused.
As Tarzan walked slowly toward the smoking-room he came unexpectedly upon two men whispering excitedly just without. He would have vouchsafed them not even a passing thought but for the strangely guilty glance that one of them shot in his direction. They reminded Tarzan of melodramatic villains he had seen at the theaters in Paris. Both were very dark, and this, in connection with the shrugs and stealthy glances that accompanied their palpable intriguing, lent still greater force to the similarity.
Tarzan entered the smoking-room, and sought a chair a little apart from the others who were there. He felt in no mood for conversation, and as he sipped his absinth he let his mind run rather sorrowfully over the past few weeks of his life. Time and again he had wondered if he had acted wisely in renouncing his birthright to a man to whom he owed nothing. It is true that he liked Clayton, but—ah, but that was not the question. It was not for William Cecil Clayton, Lord Greystoke, that he had denied his birth. It was for the woman whom both he and Clayton had loved, and whom a strange freak of fate had given to Clayton instead of to him.
That she loved him made the thing doubly difficult to bear, yet he knew that he could have done nothing less than he did do that night within the little railway station in the far Wisconsin woods. To him her happiness was the first consideration of all, and his brief experience with civilization and civilized men had taught him that without money and position life to most of them was unendurable.
Jane Porter had been born to both, and had Tarzan taken them away from her future husband it would doubtless have plunged her into a life of misery and torture. That she would have spurned Clayton once he had been stripped of both his title and his estates never for once occurred to Tarzan, for he credited to others the same honest loyalty that was so inherent a quality in himself. Nor, in this instance, had he erred. Could any one thing have further bound Jane Porter to her promise to Clayton it would have been in the nature of some such misfortune as this overtaking him.
Tarzan’s thoughts drifted from the past to the future. He tried to look forward with pleasurable sensations to his return to the jungle of his birth and boyhood; the cruel, fierce jungle in which he had spent twenty of his twenty-two years. But who or what of all the myriad jungle life would there be to welcome his return? Not one. Only Tantor, the elephant, could he call friend. The others would hunt him or flee from him as had been their way in the past.
Not even the apes of his own tribe would extend the hand of fellowship to him.
If civilization had done nothing else for Tarzan of the Apes, it had to some extent taught him to crave the society of his own kind, and to feel with genuine pleasure the congenial warmth of companionship. And in the same ratio had it made any other life distasteful to him. It was difficult to imagine a world without a friend—without a living thing who spoke the new tongues which Tarzan had learned to love so well. And so it was that Tarzan looked with little relish upon the future he had mapped out for himself.
As he sat musing over his cigarette his eyes fell upon a mirror before him, and in it he saw reflected a table at which four men sat at cards. Presently one of them rose to leave, and then another approached, and Tarzan could see that he courteously offered to fill the vacant chair, that the game might not be interrupted. He was the smaller of the two whom Tarzan had seen whispering just outside the smoking-room.
It was this fact that aroused a faint spark of interest in Tarzan, and so as he speculated upon the future he watched in the mirror the reflection of the players at the table behind him. Aside from the man who had but just entered the game Tarzan knew the name of but one of the other players. It was he who sat opposite the new player, Count Raoul de Coude, whom an over-attentive steward had pointed out as one of the celebrities of the passage, describing him as a man high in the official family of the French minister of war.
Suddenly Tarzan’s attention was riveted upon the picture in the glass. The other swarthy plotter had entered, and was standing behind the count’s chair. Tarzan saw him turn and glance furtively about the room, but his eyes did not rest for a sufficient time upon the mirror to note the reflection of Tarzan’s watchful eyes. Stealthily the man withdrew something from his pocket. Tarzan could not discern what the object was, for the man’s hand covered it.
Slowly the hand approached the count, and then, very deftly, the thing that was in it was transferred to the count’s pocket. The man remained standing where he could watch the Frenchman’s cards. Tarzan was puzzled, but he was all attention now, nor did he permit another detail of the incident to escape him.
The play went on for some ten minutes after this, until the count won a considerable wager from him who had last joined the game, and then Tarzan saw the fellow back of the count’s chair nod his head to his confederate. Instantly the player arose and pointed a finger at the count.
“Had I known that monsieur was a professional card sharp I had not been so ready to be drawn into the game,” he said.
Instantly the count and the two other players were upon their feet.
De Coude’s face went white.
“What do you mean, sir?” he cried. “Do you know to whom you speak?”
“I know that I speak, for the last time, to one who cheats at cards,” replied the fellow.
The count leaned across the table, and struck the man full in the mouth with his open palm, and then the others closed in between them.
“There is some mistake, sir,” cried one of the other players. “Why, this is Count de Coude, of France.” “If I am mistaken,” said the accuser, “I shall gladly apologize; but before I do so first let monsieur le count explain the extra cards which I saw him drop into his side pocket.”
And then the man whom Tarzan had seen drop them there turned to sneak from the room, but to his annoyance he found the exit barred by a tall, gray-eyed stranger.
“Pardon,” said the man brusquely, attempting to pass to one side.
“Wait,” said Tarzan.
“But why, monsieur?” exclaimed the other petulantly. “Permit me to pass, monsieur.”
“Wait,” said Tarzan. “I think that there is a matter in here that you may doubtless be able to explain.”
The fellow had lost his temper by this time, and with a low oath seized Tarzan to push him to one side. The ape-man but smiled as he twisted the big fellow about and, grasping him by the collar of his coat, escorted him back to the table, struggling, cursing, and striking in futile remonstrance. It was Nikolas Rokoff’s first experience with the muscles that had brought their savage owner victorious through encounters with Numa, the lion, and Terkoz, the great bull ape.
The man who had accused De Coude, and the two others who had been playing, stood looking expectantly at the count. Several other passengers had drawn toward the scene of the altercation, and all awaited the denouement.
“The fellow is crazy,” said the count. “Gentlemen, I implore that one of you search me.”
“The accusation is ridiculous.” This from one of the players.
“You have but to slip your hand in the count’s coat pocket and you will see that the accusation is quite serious,” insisted the accuser. And then, as the others still hesitated to do so: “Come, I shall do it myself if no other will,” and he stepped forward toward the count.
“No, monsieur,” said De Coude. “I will submit to a search only at the hands of a gentleman.”
“It is unnecessary to search the count. The cards are in his pocket. I myself saw them placed there.”
All turned in surprise toward this new speaker, to behold a very well-built young man urging a resisting captive toward them by the scruff of his neck.
“It is a conspiracy,” cried De Coude angrily. “There are no cards in my coat,” and with that he ran his hand into his pocket. As he did so tense silence reigned in the little group. The count went dead white, and then very slowly he withdrew his hand, and in it were three cards.
He looked at them in mute and horrified surprise, and slowly the red of mortification suffused his face. Expressions of pity and contempt tinged the features of those who looked on at the death of a man’s honor.
“It is a conspiracy, monsieur.” It was the gray-eyed stranger who spoke. “Gentlemen,” he continued, “monsieur le count did not know that those cards were in his pocket. They were placed there without his knowledge as he sat at play. From where I sat in that chair yonder I saw the reflection of it all in the mirror before me. This person whom I just intercepted in an effort to escape placed the cards in the count’s pocket.”
De Coude had glanced from Tarzan to the man in his grasp.
“MON DIEU, Nikolas!” he cried. “You?”
Then he turned to his accuser, and eyed him intently for a moment.
“And you, monsieur, I did not recognize you without your beard. It quite disguises you, Paulvitch. I see it all now. It is quite clear, gentlemen.”
“What shall we do with them, monsieur?” asked Tarzan. “Turn them over to the captain?”
“No, my friend,” said the count hastily. “It is a personal matter, and I beg that you will let it drop. It is sufficient that I have been exonerated from the charge. The less we have to do with such fellows, the better. But, monsieur, how can I thank you for the great kindness you have done me? Permit me to offer you my card, and should the time come when I may serve you, remember that I am yours to command.”
Tarzan had released Rokoff, who, with his confederate, Paulvitch, had hastened from the smoking-room. Just as he was leaving, Rokoff turned to Tarzan. “Monsieur will have ample opportunity to regret his interference in the affairs of others.”
Tarzan smiled, and then, bowing to the count, handed him his own card.
The count read:
M. JEAN C. TARZAN
“Monsieur Tarzan,” he said, “may indeed wish that he had never befriended me, for I can assure him that he has won the enmity of two of the most unmitigated scoundrels in all Europe. Avoid them, monsieur, by all means.”
“I have had more awe-inspiring enemies, my dear count,” replied Tarzan with a quiet smile, “yet I am still alive and unworried. I think that neither of these two will ever find the means to harm me.”
“Let us hope not, monsieur,” said De Coude; “but yet it will do no harm to be on the alert, and to know that you have made at least one enemy today who never forgets and never forgives, and in whose malignant brain there are always hatching new atrocities to perpetrate upon those who have thwarted or offended him. To say that Nikolas Rokoff is a devil would be to place a wanton affront upon his satanic majesty.”
That night as Tarzan entered his cabin he found a folded note upon the floor that had evidently been pushed beneath the door. He opened it and read:
Doubtless you did not realize the gravity of your offense, or you would not have done the thing you did today. I am willing to believe that you acted in ignorance and without any intention to offend a stranger. For this reason I shall gladly permit you to offer an apology, and on receiving your assurances that you will not again interfere in affairs that do not concern you, I shall drop the matter.
Otherwise—but I am sure that you will see the wisdom of adopting the course I suggest.
Tarzan permitted a grim smile to play about his lips for a moment, then he promptly dropped the matter from his mind, and went to bed.
In a nearby cabin the Countess de Coude was speaking to her husband.
“Why so grave, my dear Raoul?” she asked. “You have been as glum as could be all evening. What worries you?”
“Olga, Nikolas is on board. Did you know it?”
“Nikolas!” she exclaimed. “But it is impossible, Raoul. It cannot be. Nikolas is under arrest in Germany.”
“So I thought myself until I saw him today—him and that other arch scoundrel, Paulvitch. Olga, I cannot endure his persecution much longer. No, not even for you. Sooner or later I shall turn him over to the authorities. In fact, I am half minded to explain all to the captain before we land. On a French liner it were an easy matter, Olga, permanently to settle this Nemesis of ours.”
“Oh, no, Raoul!” cried the countess, sinking to her knees before him as he sat with bowed head upon a divan. “Do not do that. Remember your promise to me. Tell me, Raoul, that you will not do that. Do not even threaten him, Raoul.”
De Coude took his wife’s hands in his, and gazed upon her pale and troubled countenance for some time before he spoke, as though he would wrest from those beautiful eyes the real reason which prompted her to shield this man.
“Let it be as you wish, Olga,” he said at length. “I cannot understand. He has forfeited all claim upon your love, loyalty, or respect. He is a menace to your life and honor, and the life and honor of your husband. I trust you may never regret championing him.”
“I do not champion him, Raoul,” she interrupted vehemently. “I believe that I hate him as much as you do, but—Oh, Raoul, blood is thicker than water.”
“I should today have liked to sample the consistency of his,” growled De Coude grimly. “The two deliberately attempted to besmirch my honor, Olga,” and then he told her of all that had happened in the smoking-room. “Had it not been for this utter stranger, they had succeeded, for who would have accepted my unsupported word against the damning evidence of those cards hidden on my person? I had almost begun to doubt myself when this Monsieur Tarzan dragged your precious Nikolas before us, and explained the whole cowardly transaction.”
“Monsieur Tarzan?” asked the countess, in evident surprise.
“Yes. Do you know him, Olga?”
“I have seen him. A steward pointed him out to me.”
“I did not know that he was a celebrity,” said the count.
Olga de Coude changed the subject. She discovered suddenly that she might find it difficult to explain just why the steward had pointed out the handsome Monsieur Tarzan to her. Perhaps she flushed the least little bit, for was not the count, her husband, gazing at her with a strangely quizzical expression. “Ah,” she thought, “a guilty conscience is a most suspicious thing.”
IT WAS NOT UNTIL LATE the following afternoon that Tarzan saw anything more of the fellow passengers into the midst of whose affairs his love of fair play had thrust him. And then he came most unexpectedly upon Rokoff and Paulvitch at a moment when of all others the two might least appreciate his company.
They were standing on deck at a point which was temporarily deserted, and as Tarzan came upon them they were in heated argument with a woman. Tarzan noted that she was richly appareled, and that her slender, well-modeled figure denoted youth; but as she was heavily veiled he could not discern her features.
The men were standing on either side of her, and the backs of all were toward Tarzan, so that he was quite close to them without their being aware of his presence. He noticed that Rokoff seemed to be threatening, the woman pleading; but they spoke in a strange tongue, and he could only guess from appearances that the girl was afraid.
Rokoff’s attitude was so distinctly filled with the threat of physical violence that the ape-man paused for an instant just behind the trio, instinctively sensing an atmosphere of danger. Scarcely had he hesitated ere the man seized the woman roughly by the wrist, twisting it as though to wring a promise from her through torture. What would have happened next had Rokoff had his way we may only conjecture, since he did not have his way at all. Instead, steel fingers gripped his shoulder, and he was swung unceremoniously around, to meet the cold gray eyes of the stranger who had thwarted him on the previous day.
“SAPRISTI!” screamed the infuriated Rokoff. “What do you mean? Are you a fool that you thus again insult Nikolas Rokoff?”
“This is my answer to your note, monsieur,” said Tarzan, in a low voice. And then he hurled the fellow from him with such force that Rokoff lunged sprawling against the rail.
“Name of a name!” shrieked Rokoff. “Pig, but you shall die for this,” and, springing to his feet, he rushed upon Tarzan, tugging the meanwhile to draw a revolver from his hip pocket. The girl shrank back in terror.
“Nikolas!” she cried. “Do not—oh, do not do that. Quick, monsieur, fly, or he will surely kill you!” But instead of flying Tarzan advanced to meet the fellow. “Do not make a fool of yourself, monsieur,” he said.
Rokoff, who was in a perfect frenzy of rage at the humiliation the stranger had put upon him, had at last succeeded in drawing the revolver. He had stopped, and now he deliberately raised it to Tarzan’s breast and pulled the trigger. The hammer fell with a futile click on an empty chamber—the ape-man’s hand shot out like the head of an angry python; there was a quick wrench, and the revolver sailed far out across the ship’s rail, and dropped into the Atlantic.
For a moment the two men stood there facing one another. Rokoff had regained his self-possession. He was the first to speak.
“Twice now has monsieur seen fit to interfere in matters which do not concern him. Twice he has taken it upon himself to humiliate Nikolas Rokoff. The first offense was overlooked on the assumption that monsieur acted through ignorance, but this affair shall not be overlooked. If monsieur does not know who Nikolas Rokoff is, this last piece of effrontery will insure that monsieur later has good reason to remember him.”
“That you are a coward and a scoundrel, monsieur,” replied Tarzan, “is all that I care to know of you,” and he turned to ask the girl if the man had hurt her, but she had disappeared. Then, without even a glance toward Rokoff and his companion, he continued his stroll along the deck.
Tarzan could not but wonder what manner of conspiracy was on foot, or what the scheme of the two men might be. There had been something rather familiar about the appearance of the veiled woman to whose rescue he had just come, but as he had not seen her face he could not be sure that he had ever seen her before. The only thing about her that he had particularly noticed was a ring of peculiar workmanship upon a finger of the hand that Rokoff had seized, and he determined to note the fingers of the women passengers he came upon thereafter, that he might discover the identity of her whom Rokoff was persecuting, and learn if the fellow had offered her further annoyance.
Tarzan had sought his deck chair, where he sat speculating on the numerous instances of human cruelty, selfishness, and spite that had fallen to his lot to witness since that day in the jungle four years since that his eyes had first fallen upon a human being other than himself—the sleek, black Kulonga, whose swift spear had that day found the vitals of Kala, the great she-ape, and robbed the youth, Tarzan, of the only mother he had ever known.
He recalled the murder of King by the rat-faced Snipes; the abandonment of Professor Porter and his party by the mutineers of the ARROW; the cruelty of the black warriors and women of Mbonga to their captives; the petty jealousies of the civil and military officers of the West Coast colony that had afforded him his first introduction to the civilized world.
“MON DIEU!” he soliloquized, “but they are all alike. Cheating, murdering, lying, fighting, and all for things that the beasts of the jungle would not deign to possess—money to purchase the effeminate pleasures of weaklings. And yet withal bound down by silly customs that make them slaves to their unhappy lot while firm in the belief that they be the lords of creation enjoying the only real pleasures of existence. In the jungle one would scarcely stand supinely aside while another took his mate. It is a silly world, an idiotic world, and Tarzan of the Apes was a fool to renounce the freedom and the happiness of his jungle to come into it.”
Presently, as he sat there, the sudden feeling came over him that eyes were watching from behind, and the old instinct of the wild beast broke through the thin veneer of civilization, so that Tarzan wheeled about so quickly that the eyes of the young woman who had been surreptitiously regarding him had not even time to drop before the gray eyes of the ape-man shot an inquiring look straight into them. Then, as they fell, Tarzan saw a faint wave of crimson creep swiftly over the now half-averted face.
He smiled to himself at the result of his very uncivilized and ungallant action, for he had not lowered his own eyes when they met those of the young woman. She was very young, and equally good to look upon. Further, there was something rather familiar about her that set Tarzan to wondering where he had seen her before. He resumed his former position, and presently he was aware that she had arisen and was leaving the deck. As she passed, Tarzan turned to watch her, in the hope that he might discover a clew to satisfy his mild curiosity as to her identity.
Nor was he disappointed entirely, for as she walked away she raised one hand to the black, waving mass at the nape of her neck—the peculiarly feminine gesture that admits cognizance of appraising eyes behind her—and Tarzan saw upon a finger of this hand the ring of strange workmanship that he had seen upon the finger of the veiled woman a short time before.
So it was this beautiful young woman Rokoff had been persecuting. Tarzan wondered in a lazy sort of way whom she might be, and what relations one so lovely could have with the surly, bearded Russian.
After dinner that evening Tarzan strolled forward, where he remained until after dark, in conversation with the second officer, and when that gentleman’s duties called him elsewhere Tarzan lolled lazily by the rail watching the play of the moonlight upon the gently rolling waters. He was half hidden by a davit, so that two men who approached along the deck did not see him, and as they passed Tarzan caught enough of their conversation to cause him to fall in behind them, to follow and learn what deviltry they were up to. He had recognized the voice as that of Rokoff, and had seen that his companion was Paulvitch.
Tarzan had overheard but a few words: “And if she screams you may choke her until—” But those had been enough to arouse the spirit of adventure within him, and so he kept the two men in sight as they walked, briskly now, along the deck. To the smoking-room he followed them, but they merely halted at the doorway long enough, apparently, to assure themselves that one whose whereabouts they wished to establish was within.
Then they proceeded directly to the first-class cabins upon the promenade deck. Here Tarzan found greater difficulty in escaping detection, but he managed to do so successfully. As they halted before one of the polished hardwood doors, Tarzan slipped into the shadow of a passageway not a dozen feet from them.
To their knock a woman’s voice asked in French: “Who is it?”
“It is I, Olga—Nikolas,” was the answer, in Rokoff’s now familiar guttural. “May I come in?”
“Why do you not cease persecuting me, Nikolas?” came the voice of the woman from beyond the thin panel. “I have never harmed you.”
“Come, come, Olga,” urged the man, in propitiary tones; “I but ask a half dozen words with you. I shall not harm you, nor shall I enter your cabin; but I cannot shout my message through the door.”
Tarzan heard the catch click as it was released from the inside. He stepped out from his hiding-place far enough to see what transpired when the door was opened, for he could not but recall the sinister words he had heard a few moments before upon the deck, “And if she screams you may choke her.”
Rokoff was standing directly in front of the door. Paulvitch had flattened himself against the paneled wall of the corridor beyond. The door opened. Rokoff half entered the room, and stood with his back against the door, speaking in a low whisper to the woman, whom Tarzan could not see. Then Tarzan heard the woman’s voice, level, but loud enough to distinguish her words.
“No, Nikolas,” she was saying, “it is useless. Threaten as you will, I shall never accede to your demands. Leave the room, please; you have no right here. You promised not to enter.”
“Very well, Olga, I shall not enter; but before I am done with you, you shall wish a thousand times that you had done at once the favor I have asked. In the end I shall win anyway, so you might as well save trouble and time for me, and disgrace for yourself and your—”
“Never, Nikolas!” interrupted the woman, and then Tarzan saw Rokoff turn and nod to Paulvitch, who sprang quickly toward the doorway of the cabin, rushing in past Rokoff, who held the door open for him. Then the latter stepped quickly out. The door closed. Tarzan heard the click of the lock as Paulvitch turned it from the inside. Rokoff remained standing before the door, with head bent, as though to catch the words of the two within. A nasty smile curled his bearded lip.
Tarzan could hear the woman’s voice commanding the fellow to leave her cabin. “I shall send for my husband,” she cried. “He will show you no mercy.”
Paulvitch’s sneering laugh came through the polished panels.
“The purser will fetch your husband, madame,” said the man. “In fact, that officer has already been notified that you are entertaining a man other than your husband behind the locked door of your cabin.”
“Bah!” cried the woman. “My husband will know!”
“Most assuredly your husband will know, but the purser will not; nor will the newspaper men who shall in some mysterious way hear of it on our landing. But they will think it a fine story, and so will all your friends when they read of it at breakfast on—let me see, this is Tuesday—yes, when they read of it at breakfast next Friday morning. Nor will it detract from the interest they will all feel when they learn that the man whom madame entertained is a Russian servant—her brother’s valet, to be quite exact.”
“Alexis Paulvitch,” came the woman’s voice, cold and fearless, “you are a coward, and when I whisper a certain name in your ear you will think better of your demands upon me and your threats against me, and then you will leave my cabin quickly, nor do I think that ever again will you, at least, annoy me,” and there came a moment’s silence in which Tarzan could imagine the woman leaning toward the scoundrel and whispering the thing she had hinted at into his ear. Only a moment of silence, and then a startled oath from the man—the scuffling of feet—a woman’s scream—and silence.
But scarcely had the cry ceased before the ape-man had leaped from his hiding-place. Rokoff started to run, but Tarzan grasped him by the collar and dragged him back. Neither spoke, for both felt instinctively that murder was being done in that room, and Tarzan was confident that Rokoff had had no intention that his confederate should go that far—he felt that the man’s aims were deeper than that—deeper and even more sinister than brutal, cold-blooded murder. Without hesitating to question those within, the ape-man threw his giant shoulder against the frail panel, and in a shower of splintered wood he entered the cabin, dragging Rokoff after him. Before him, on a couch, the woman lay, and on top of her was Paulvitch, his fingers gripping the fair throat, while his victim’s hands beat futilely at his face, tearing desperately at the cruel fingers that were forcing the life from her.
The noise of his entrance brought Paulvitch to his feet, where he stood glowering menacingly at Tarzan. The girl rose falteringly to a sitting posture upon the couch. One hand was at her throat, and her breath came in little gasps. Although disheveled and very pale, Tarzan recognized her as the young woman whom he had caught staring at him on deck earlier in the day.
“What is the meaning of this?” said Tarzan, turning to Rokoff, whom he intuitively singled out as the instigator of the outrage. The man remained silent, scowling. “Touch the button, please,” continued the ape-man; “we will have one of the ship’s officers here—this affair has gone quite far enough.”
“No, no,” cried the girl, coming suddenly to her feet. “Please do not do that. I am sure that there was no real intention to harm me. I angered this person, and he lost control of himself, that is all. I would not care to have the matter go further, please, monsieur,” and there was such a note of pleading in her voice that Tarzan could not press the matter, though his better judgment warned him that there was something afoot here of which the proper authorities should be made cognizant.
“You wish me to do nothing, then, in the matter?” he asked.
“Nothing, please,” she replied.
“You are content that these two scoundrels should continue persecuting you?”
She did not seem to know what answer to make, and looked very troubled and unhappy. Tarzan saw a malicious grin of triumph curl Rokoff’s lip. The girl evidently was in fear of these two—she dared not express her real desires before them.
“Then,” said Tarzan, “I shall act on my own responsibility. To you,” he continued, turning to Rokoff, “and this includes your accomplice, I may say that from now on to the end of the voyage I shall take it upon myself to keep an eye on you, and should there chance to come to my notice any act of either one of you that might even remotely annoy this young woman you shall be called to account for it directly to me, nor shall the calling or the accounting be pleasant experiences for either of you.
“Now get out of here,” and he grabbed Rokoff and Paulvitch each by the scruff of the neck and thrust them forcibly through the doorway, giving each an added impetus down the corridor with the toe of his boot. Then he turned back to the stateroom and the girl. She was looking at him in wide-eyed astonishment.
“And you, madame, will confer a great favor upon me if you will but let me know if either of those rascals troubles you further.”
“Ah, monsieur,” she answered, “I hope that you will not suffer for the kind deed you attempted. You have made a very wicked and resourceful enemy, who will stop at nothing to satisfy his hatred. You must be very careful indeed, Monsieur—”
“Pardon me, madame, my name is Tarzan.”
“Monsieur Tarzan. And because I would not consent to notify the officers, do not think that I am not sincerely grateful to you for the brave and chivalrous protection you rendered me. Good night, Monsieur Tarzan. I shall never forget the debt I owe you,” and, with a most winsome smile that displayed a row of perfect teeth, the girl curtsied to Tarzan, who bade her good night and made his way on deck.
It puzzled the man considerably that there should be two on board—this girl and Count de Coude—who suffered indignities at the hands of Rokoff and his companion, and yet would not permit the offenders to be brought to justice. Before he turned in that night his thoughts reverted many times to the beautiful young woman into the evidently tangled web of whose life fate had so strangely introduced him. It occurred to him that he had not learned her name. That she was married had been evidenced by the narrow gold band that encircled the third finger of her left hand. Involuntarily he wondered who the lucky man might be.
Tarzan saw nothing further of any of the actors in the little drama that he had caught a fleeting glimpse of until late in the afternoon of the last day of the voyage. Then he came suddenly face to face with the young woman as the two approached their deck chairs from opposite directions. She greeted him with a pleasant smile, speaking almost immediately of the affair he had witnessed in her cabin two nights before. It was as though she had been perturbed by a conviction that he might have construed her acquaintance with such men as Rokoff and Paulvitch as a personal reflection upon herself.
“I trust monsieur has not judged me,” she said, “by the unfortunate occurrence of Tuesday evening. I have suffered much on account of it—this is the first time that I have ventured from my cabin since; I have been ashamed,” she concluded simply.
“One does not judge the gazelle by the lions that attack it,” replied Tarzan. “I had seen those two work before—in the smoking-room the day prior to their attack on you, if I recollect it correctly, and so, knowing their methods, I am convinced that their enmity is a sufficient guarantee of the integrity of its object. Men such as they must cleave only to the vile, hating all that is noblest and best.”
“It is very kind of you to put it that way,” she replied, smiling. “I have already heard of the matter of the card game. My husband told me the entire story. He spoke especially of the strength and bravery of Monsieur Tarzan, to whom he feels that he owes an immense debt of gratitude.”
“Your husband?” repeated Tarzan questioningly.
“Yes. I am the Countess de Coude.”
“I am already amply repaid, madame, in knowing that I have rendered a service to the wife of the Count de Coude.”
“Alas, monsieur, I already am so greatly indebted to you that I may never hope to settle my own account, so pray do not add further to my obligations,” and she smiled so sweetly upon him that Tarzan felt that a man might easily attempt much greater things than he had accomplished, solely for the pleasure of receiving the benediction of that smile.
He did not see her again that day, and in the rush of landing on the following morning he missed her entirely, but there had been something in the expression of her eyes as they parted on deck the previous day that haunted him. It had been almost wistful as they had spoken of the strangeness of the swift friendships of an ocean crossing, and of the equal ease with which they are broken forever.
Tarzan wondered if he should ever see her again.
ON HIS ARRIVAL IN PARIS, Tarzan had gone directly to the apartments of his old friend, D’Arnot, where the naval lieutenant had scored him roundly for his decision to renounce the title and estates that were rightly his from his father, John Clayton, the late Lord Greystoke.
“You must be mad, my friend,” said D’Arnot, “thus lightly to give up not alone wealth and position, but an opportunity to prove beyond doubt to all the world that in your veins flows the noble blood of two of England’s most honored houses—instead of the blood of a savage she-ape. It is incredible that they could have believed you—Miss Porter least of all.
“Why, I never did believe it, even back in the wilds of your African jungle, when you tore the raw meat of your kills with mighty jaws, like some wild beast, and wiped your greasy hands upon your thighs. Even then, before there was the slightest proof to the contrary, I knew that you were mistaken in the belief that Kala was your mother.
“And now, with your father’s diary of the terrible life led by him and your mother on that wild African shore; with the account of your birth, and, final and most convincing proof of all, your own baby finger prints upon the pages of it, it seems incredible to me that you are willing to remain a nameless, penniless vagabond.”
“I do not need any better name than Tarzan,” replied the ape-man; “and as for remaining a penniless vagabond, I have no intention of so doing. In fact, the next, and let us hope the last, burden that I shall be forced to put upon your unselfish friendship will be the finding of employment for me.”
“Pooh, pooh!” scoffed D’Arnot. “You know that I did not mean that. Have I not told you a dozen times that I have enough for twenty men, and that half of what I have is yours? And if I gave it all to you, would it represent even the tenth part of the value I place upon your friendship, my Tarzan? Would it repay the services you did me in Africa? I do not forget, my friend, that but for you and your wondrous bravery I had died at the stake in the village of Mbonga’s cannibals. Nor do I forget that to your self-sacrificing devotion I owe the fact that I recovered from the terrible wounds I received at their hands—I discovered later something of what it meant to you to remain with me in the amphitheater of apes while your heart was urging you on to the coast.
“When we finally came there, and found that Miss Porter and her party had left, I commenced to realize something of what you had done for an utter stranger. Nor am I trying to repay you with money, Tarzan. It is that just at present you need money; were it sacrifice that I might offer you it were the same—my friendship must always be yours, because our tastes are similar, and I admire you. That I cannot command, but the money I can and shall.”
“Well,” laughed Tarzan, “we shall not quarrel over the money. I must live, and so I must have it; but I shall be more contented with something to do. You cannot show me your friendship in a more convincing manner than to find employment for me—I shall die of inactivity in a short while. As for my birthright—it is in good hands. Clayton is not guilty of robbing me of it. He truly believes that he is the real Lord Greystoke, and the chances are that he will make a better English lord than a man who was born and raised in an African jungle. You know that I am but half civilized even now. Let me see red in anger but for a moment, and all the instincts of the savage beast that I really am, submerge what little I possess of the milder ways of culture and refinement.
“And then again, had I declared myself I should have robbed the woman I love of the wealth and position that her marriage to Clayton will now insure to her. I could not have done that—could I, Paul?
“Nor is the matter of birth of great importance to me,” he went on, without waiting for a reply. “Raised as I have been, I see no worth in man or beast that is not theirs by virtue of their own mental or physical prowess. And so I am as happy to think of Kala as my mother as I would be to try to picture the poor, unhappy little English girl who passed away a year after she bore me. Kala was always kind to me in her fierce and savage way. I must have nursed at her hairy breast from the time that my own mother died. She fought for me against the wild denizens of the forest, and against the savage members of our tribe, with the ferocity of real mother love.
“And I, on my part, loved her, Paul. I did not realize how much until after the cruel spear and the poisoned arrow of Mbonga’s black warrior had stolen her away from me. I was still a child when that occurred, and I threw myself upon her dead body and wept out my anguish as a child might for his own mother. To you, my friend, she would have appeared a hideous and ugly creature, but to me she was beautiful—so gloriously does love transfigure its object. And so I am perfectly content to remain forever the son of Kala, the she-ape.”
“I do not admire you the less for your loyalty,” said D’Arnot, “but the time will come when you will be glad to claim your own. Remember what I say, and let us hope that it will be as easy then as it is now. You must bear in mind that Professor Porter and Mr. Philander are the only people in the world who can swear that the little skeleton found in the cabin with those of your father and mother was that of an infant anthropoid ape, and not the offspring of Lord and Lady Greystoke. That evidence is most important. They are both old men. They may not live many years longer. And then, did it not occur to you that once Miss Porter knew the truth she would break her engagement with Clayton? You might easily have your title, your estates, and the woman you love, Tarzan. Had you not thought of that?”
Tarzan shook his head. “You do not know her,” he said. “Nothing could bind her closer to her bargain than some misfortune to Clayton. She is from an old southern family in America, and southerners pride themselves upon their loyalty.”
Tarzan spent the two following weeks renewing his former brief acquaintance with Paris. In the daytime he haunted the libraries and picture galleries. He had become an omnivorous reader, and the world of possibilities that were opened to him in this seat of culture and learning fairly appalled him when he contemplated the very infinitesimal crumb of the sum total of human knowledge that a single individual might hope to acquire even after a lifetime of study and research; but he learned what he could by day, and threw himself into a search for relaxation and amusement at night. Nor did he find Paris a whit less fertile field for his nocturnal avocation.
If he smoked too many cigarettes and drank too much absinth it was because he took civilization as he found it, and did the things that he found his civilized brothers doing. The life was a new and alluring one, and in addition he had a sorrow in his breast and a great longing which he knew could never be fulfilled, and so he sought in study and in dissipation—the two extremes—to forget the past and inhibit contemplation of the future.
He was sitting in a music hall one evening, sipping his absinth and admiring the art of a certain famous Russian dancer, when he caught a passing glimpse of a pair of evil black eyes upon him. The man turned and was lost in the crowd at the exit before Tarzan could catch a good look at him, but he was confident that he had seen those eyes before and that they had been fastened on him this evening through no passing accident. He had had the uncanny feeling for some time that he was being watched, and it was in response to this animal instinct that was strong within him that he had turned suddenly and surprised the eyes in the very act of watching him.
Before he left the music hall the matter had been forgotten, nor did he notice the swarthy individual who stepped deeper into the shadows of an opposite doorway as Tarzan emerged from the brilliantly lighted amusement hall.
Had Tarzan but known it, he had been followed many times from this and other places of amusement, but seldom if ever had he been alone. Tonight D’Arnot had had another engagement, and Tarzan had come by himself.
As he turned in the direction he was accustomed to taking from this part of Paris to his apartments, the watcher across the street ran from his hiding-place and hurried on ahead at a rapid pace.
Tarzan had been wont to traverse the Rue Maule on his way home at night. Because it was very quiet and very dark it reminded him more of his beloved African jungle than did the noisy and garish streets surrounding it. If you are familiar with your Paris you will recall the narrow, forbidding precincts of the Rue Maule. If you are not, you need but ask the police about it to learn that in all Paris there is no street to which you should give a wider berth after dark.
On this night Tarzan had proceeded some two squares through the dense shadows of the squalid old tenements which line this dismal way when he was attracted by screams and cries for help from the third floor of an opposite building. The voice was a woman’s. Before the echoes of her first cries had died Tarzan was bounding up the stairs and through the dark corridors to her rescue.
At the end of the corridor on the third landing a door stood slightly ajar, and from within Tarzan heard again the same appeal that had lured him from the street. Another instant found him in the center of a dimly-lighted room. An oil lamp burned upon a high, old-fashioned mantel, casting its dim rays over a dozen repulsive figures. All but one were men. The other was a woman of about thirty. Her face, marked by low passions and dissipation, might once have been lovely. She stood with one hand at her throat, crouching against the farther wall.
“Help, monsieur,” she cried in a low voice as Tarzan entered the room; “they were killing me.”
As Tarzan turned toward the men about him he saw the crafty, evil faces of habitual criminals. He wondered that they had made no effort to escape. A movement behind him caused him to turn. Two things his eyes saw, and one of them caused him considerable wonderment. A man was sneaking stealthily from the room, and in the brief glance that Tarzan had of him he saw that it was Rokoff. But the other thing that he saw was of more immediate interest. It was a great brute of a fellow tiptoeing upon him from behind with a huge bludgeon in his hand, and then, as the man and his confederates saw that he was discovered, there was a concerted rush upon Tarzan from all sides. Some of the men drew knives. Others picked up chairs, while the fellow with the bludgeon raised it high above his head in a mighty swing that would have crushed Tarzan’s head had it ever descended upon it.
But the brain, and the agility, and the muscles that had coped with the mighty strength and cruel craftiness of Terkoz and Numa in the fastness of their savage jungle were not to be so easily subdued as these apaches of Paris had believed.
Selecting his most formidable antagonist, the fellow with the bludgeon, Tarzan charged full upon him, dodging the falling weapon, and catching the man a terrific blow on the point of the chin that felled him in his tracks.
Then he turned upon the others. This was sport. He was reveling in the joy of battle and the lust of blood. As though it had been but a brittle shell, to break at the least rough usage, the thin veneer of his civilization fell from him, and the ten burly villains found themselves penned in a small room with a wild and savage beast, against whose steel muscles their puny strength was less than futile.
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