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| Home | Reading Room TARZAN of the Apes

TARZAN of the Apes
by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Chapter 16

"Most Remarkable"

Several miles south of the cabin, upon a strip of sandy

beach, stood two old men, arguing.

Before them stretched the broad Atlantic. At their backs

was the Dark Continent. Close around them loomed the

impenetrable blackness of the jungle.

Savage beasts roared and growled; noises, hideous and

weird, assailed their ears. They had wandered for miles in

search of their camp, but always in the wrong direction. They

were as hopelessly lost as though they suddenly had been

transported to another world.

At such a time, indeed, every fiber of their combined

intellects must have been concentrated upon the vital

question of the minute--the life-and-death question to

them of retracing their steps to camp.

Samuel T. Philander was speaking.

"But, my dear professor," he was saying, "I still maintain

that but for the victories of Ferdinand and Isabella over the

fifteenth-century Moors in Spain the world would be today a

thousand years in advance of where we now find ourselves.

The Moors were essentially a tolerant, broad-minded, liberal

race of agriculturists, artisans and merchants--the very type

of people that has made possible such civilization as we find

today in America and Europe--while the Spaniards--"

"Tut, tut, dear Mr. Philander," interrupted Professor Porter;

"their religion positively precluded the possibilities you

suggest. Moslemism was, is, and always will be, a blight on

that scientific progress which has marked--"

"Bless me! Professor," interjected Mr. Philander, who had

turned his gaze toward the jungle, "there seems to be someone


Professor Archimedes Q. Porter turned in the direction

indicated by the nearsighted Mr. Philander.

"Tut, tut, Mr. Philander," he chided. "How often must I

urge you to seek that absolute concentration of your mental

faculties which alone may permit you to bring to bear the

highest powers of intellectuality upon the momentous problems

which naturally fall to the lot of great minds? And now

I find you guilty of a most flagrant breach of courtesy in

interrupting my learned discourse to call attention to a mere

quadruped of the genus FELIS. As I was saying, Mr.--"

"Heavens, Professor, a lion?" cried Mr. Philander, straining

his weak eyes toward the dim figure outlined against the

dark tropical underbrush.

"Yes, yes, Mr. Philander, if you insist upon employing

slang in your discourse, a `lion.' But as I was saying--"

"Bless me, Professor," again interrupted Mr. Philander;

"permit me to suggest that doubtless the Moors who were

conquered in the fifteenth century will continue in that most

regrettable condition for the time being at least, even though

we postpone discussion of that world calamity until we may

attain the enchanting view of yon FELIS CARNIVORA which

distance proverbially is credited with lending."

In the meantime the lion had approached with quiet dignity

to within ten paces of the two men, where he stood curiously

watching them.

The moonlight flooded the beach, and the strange group

stood out in bold relief against the yellow sand.

"Most reprehensible, most reprehensible," exclaimed Professor

Porter, with a faint trace of irritation in his voice.

"Never, Mr. Philander, never before in my life have I known

one of these animals to be permitted to roam at large from

its cage. I shall most certainly report this outrageous breach

of ethics to the directors of the adjacent zoological garden."

"Quite right, Professor," agreed Mr. Philander, "and the

sooner it is done the better. Let us start now."

Seizing the professor by the arm, Mr. Philander set off in

the direction that would put the greatest distance between

themselves and the lion.

They had proceeded but a short distance when a backward

glance revealed to the horrified gaze of Mr. Philander that

the lion was following them. He tightened his grip upon the

protesting professor and increased his speed.

"As I was saying, Mr. Philander," repeated Professor Porter.

Mr. Philander took another hasty glance rearward. The lion

also had quickened his gait, and was doggedly maintaining an

unvarying distance behind them.

"He is following us!" gasped Mr. Philander, breaking into a run.

"Tut, tut, Mr. Philander," remonstrated the professor, "this

unseemly haste is most unbecoming to men of letters. What

will our friends think of us, who may chance to be upon the

street and witness our frivolous antics? Pray let us proceed

with more decorum."

Mr. Philander stole another observation astern.

The lion was bounding along in easy leaps scarce five paces behind.

Mr. Philander dropped the professor's arm, and broke into

a mad orgy of speed that would have done credit to any

varsity track team.

"As I was saying, Mr. Philander--" screamed Professor

Porter, as, metaphorically speaking, he himself "threw her

into high." He, too, had caught a fleeting backward glimpse

of cruel yellow eyes and half open mouth within startling

proximity of his person.

With streaming coat tails and shiny silk hat Professor

Archimedes Q. Porter fled through the moonlight close upon

the heels of Mr. Samuel T. Philander.

Before them a point of the jungle ran out toward a narrow

promontory, and it was for the heaven of the trees he saw

there that Mr. Samuel T. Philander directed his prodigious

leaps and bounds; while from the shadows of this same spot

peered two keen eyes in interested appreciation of the race.

It was Tarzan of the Apes who watched, with face a-grin,

this odd game of follow-the-leader.

He knew the two men were safe enough from attack in so

far as the lion was concerned. The very fact that Numa had

foregone such easy prey at all convinced the wise forest craft

of Tarzan that Numa's belly already was full.

The lion might stalk them until hungry again; but the

chances were that if not angered he would soon tire of the

sport, and slink away to his jungle lair.

Really, the one great danger was that one of the men

might stumble and fall, and then the yellow devil would be

upon him in a moment and the joy of the kill would be too

great a temptation to withstand.

So Tarzan swung quickly to a lower limb in line with the

approaching fugitives; and as Mr. Samuel T. Philander came

panting and blowing beneath him, already too spent to struggle

up to the safety of the limb, Tarzan reached down and,

grasping him by the collar of his coat, yanked him to the

limb by his side.

Another moment brought the professor within the sphere

of the friendly grip, and he, too, was drawn upward to safety

just as the baffled Numa, with a roar, leaped to recover his

vanishing quarry.

For a moment the two men clung panting to the great

branch, while Tarzan squatted with his back to the stem of

the tree, watching them with mingled curiosity and amusement.

It was the professor who first broke the silence.

"I am deeply pained, Mr. Philander, that you should have

evinced such a paucity of manly courage in the presence of

one of the lower orders, and by your crass timidity have

caused me to exert myself to such an unaccustomed degree in

order that I might resume my discourse. As I was saying, Mr.

Philander, when you interrupted me, the Moors--"

"Professor Archimedes Q. Porter," broke in Mr. Philander,

in icy tones, "the time has arrived when patience becomes a

crime and mayhem appears garbed in the mantle of virtue.

You have accused me of cowardice. You have insinuated that

you ran only to overtake me, not to escape the clutches of

the lion. Have a care, Professor Archimedes Q. Porter! I am

a desperate man. Goaded by long-suffering patience the

worm will turn."

"Tut, tut, Mr. Philander, tut, tut!" cautioned Professor

Porter; "you forget yourself."

"I forget nothing as yet, Professor Archimedes Q. Porter; but,

believe me, sir, I am tottering on the verge of forgetfulness

as to your exalted position in the world of science, and

your gray hairs."

The professor sat in silence for a few minutes, and the

darkness hid the grim smile that wreathed his wrinkled

countenance. Presently he spoke.

"Look here, Skinny Philander," he said, in belligerent tones,

"if you are lookin' for a scrap, peel off your coat and come

on down on the ground, and I'll punch your head just as I

did sixty years ago in the alley back of Porky Evans' barn."

"Ark!" gasped the astonished Mr. Philander. "Lordy, how

good that sounds! When you're human, Ark, I love you; but

somehow it seems as though you had forgotten how to be

human for the last twenty years."

The professor reached out a thin, trembling old hand

through the darkness until it found his old friend's shoulder.

"Forgive me, Skinny," he said, softly. "It hasn't been quite

twenty years, and God alone knows how hard I have tried to

be `human' for Jane's sake, and yours, too, since He took my

other Jane away."

Another old hand stole up from Mr. Philander's side to

clasp the one that lay upon his shoulder, and no other message

could better have translated the one heart to the other.

They did not speak for some minutes. The lion below them

paced nervously back and forth. The third figure in the tree

was hidden by the dense shadows near the stem. He, too, was

silent--motionless as a graven image.

"You certainly pulled me up into this tree just in time,"

said the professor at last. "I want to thank you. You saved

my life."

"But I didn't pull you up here, Professor," said Mr. Philander.

"Bless me! The excitement of the moment quite caused

me to forget that I myself was drawn up here by some outside

agency--there must be someone or something in this tree

with us."

"Eh?" ejaculated Professor Porter. "Are you quite positive,

Mr. Philander?"

"Most positive, Professor," replied Mr. Philander, "and,"

he added, "I think we should thank the party. He may be

sitting right next to you now, Professor."

"Eh? What's that? Tut, tut, Mr. Philander, tut, tut!" said

Professor Porter, edging cautiously nearer to Mr. Philander.

Just then it occurred to Tarzan of the Apes that Numa had

loitered beneath the tree for a sufficient length of time, so he

raised his young head toward the heavens, and there rang out

upon the terrified ears of the two old men the awful warning

challenge of the anthropoid.

The two friends, huddled trembling in their precarious position

on the limb, saw the great lion halt in his restless pacing as

the blood-curdling cry smote his ears, and then slink

quickly into the jungle, to be instantly lost to view.

"Even the lion trembles in fear," whispered Mr. Philander.

"Most remarkable, most remarkable," murmured Professor

Porter, clutching frantically at Mr. Philander to regain the

balance which the sudden fright had so perilously endangered.

Unfortunately for them both, Mr. Philander's center

of equilibrium was at that very moment hanging upon the

ragged edge of nothing, so that it needed but the gentle

impetus supplied by the additional weight of Professor Porter's

body to topple the devoted secretary from the limb.

For a moment they swayed uncertainly, and then, with

mingled and most unscholarly shrieks, they pitched headlong

from the tree, locked in frenzied embrace.

It was quite some moments ere either moved, for both

were positive that any such attempt would reveal so many

breaks and fractures as to make further progress impossible.

At length Professor Porter made an attempt to move one leg.

To his surprise, it responded to his will as in days gone

by. He now drew up its mate and stretched it forth again.

"Most remarkable, most remarkable," he murmured.

"Thank God, Professor," whispered Mr. Philander, fervently,

"you are not dead, then?"

"Tut, tut, Mr. Philander, tut, tut," cautioned Professor

Porter, "I do not know with accuracy as yet."

With infinite solicitude Professor Porter wiggled his right

arm--joy! It was intact. Breathlessly he waved his left arm

above his prostrate body--it waved!

"Most remarkable, most remarkable," he said.

"To whom are you signaling, Professor?" asked Mr. Philander,

in an excited tone.

Professor Porter deigned to make no response to this

puerile inquiry. Instead he raised his head gently from

the ground, nodding it back and forth a half dozen times.

"Most remarkable," he breathed. "It remains intact."

Mr. Philander had not moved from where he had fallen;

he had not dared the attempt. How indeed could one move

when one's arms and legs and back were broken?

One eye was buried in the soft loam; the other, rolling

sidewise, was fixed in awe upon the strange gyrations of

Professor Porter.

"How sad!" exclaimed Mr. Philander, half aloud. "Concussion

of the brain, superinducing total mental aberration. How

very sad indeed! and for one still so young!"

Professor Porter rolled over upon his stomach; gingerly he

bowed his back until he resembled a huge tom cat in proximity

to a yelping dog. Then he sat up and felt of various portions

of his anatomy.

"They are all here," he exclaimed. "Most remarkable!"

Whereupon he arose, and, bending a scathing glance upon

the still prostrate form of Mr. Samuel T. Philander, he said:

"Tut, tut, Mr. Philander; this is no time to indulge in slothful

ease. We must be up and doing."

Mr. Philander lifted his other eye out of the mud and

gazed in speechless rage at Professor Porter. Then he

attempted to rise; nor could there have been any more

surprised than he when his efforts were immediately crowned

with marked success.

He was still bursting with rage, however, at the cruel injustice

of Professor Porter's insinuation, and was on the point of

rendering a tart rejoinder when his eyes fell upon a strange

figure standing a few paces away, scrutinizing them intently.

Professor Porter had recovered his shiny silk hat, which he

had brushed carefully upon the sleeve of his coat and replaced

upon his head. When he saw Mr. Philander pointing to something

behind him he turned to behold a giant, naked but for a loin

cloth and a few metal ornaments, standing motionless before him.

"Good evening, sir!" said the professor, lifting his hat.

For reply the giant motioned them to follow him, and set off

up the beach in the direction from which they had recently come.

"I think it the better part of discretion to follow him," said

Mr. Philander.

"Tut, tut, Mr. Philander," returned the professor. "A short

time since you were advancing a most logical argument in

substantiation of your theory that camp lay directly south of us.

I was skeptical, but you finally convinced me; so now I am

positive that toward the south we must travel to reach our

friends. Therefore I shall continue south."

"But, Professor Porter, this man may know better than either

of us. He seems to be indigenous to this part of the

world. Let us at least follow him for a short distance."

"Tut, tut, Mr. Philander," repeated the professor. "I am a

difficult man to convince, but when once convinced my decision

is unalterable. I shall continue in the proper direction, if

I have to circumambulate the continent of Africa to reach

my destination."

Further argument was interrupted by Tarzan, who, seeing

that these strange men were not following him, had returned

to their side.

Again he beckoned to them; but still they stood in argument.

Presently the ape-man lost patience with their stupid ignorance.

He grasped the frightened Mr. Philander by the shoulder, and

before that worthy gentleman knew whether he was being

killed or merely maimed for life, Tarzan had tied one

end of his rope securely about Mr. Philander's neck.

"Tut, tut, Mr. Philander," remonstrated Professor Porter;

"it is most unbeseeming in you to submit to such indignities."

But scarcely were the words out of his mouth ere he, too,

had been seized and securely bound by the neck with the

same rope. Then Tarzan set off toward the north, leading the

now thoroughly frightened professor and his secretary.

In deathly silence they proceeded for what seemed hours to

the two tired and hopeless old men; but presently as they

topped a little rise of ground they were overjoyed to see the

cabin lying before them, not a hundred yards distant.

Here Tarzan released them, and, pointing toward the little

building, vanished into the jungle beside them.

"Most remarkable, most remarkable!" gasped the professor.

"But you see, Mr. Philander, that I was quite right, as

usual; and but for your stubborn willfulness we should have

escaped a series of most humiliating, not to say dangerous

accidents. Pray allow yourself to be guided by a more mature

and practical mind hereafter when in need of wise counsel."

Mr. Samuel T. Philander was too much relieved at the

happy outcome to their adventure to take umbrage at the

professor's cruel fling. Instead he grasped his friend's

arm and hastened him forward in the direction of the cabin.

It was a much-relieved party of castaways that found itself

once more united. Dawn discovered them still recounting

their various adventures and speculating upon the identity of

the strange guardian and protector they had found on this

savage shore.

Esmeralda was positive that it was none other than an

angel of the Lord, sent down especially to watch over them.

"Had you seen him devour the raw meat of the lion,

Esmeralda," laughed Clayton, "you would have thought

him a very material angel."

"There was nothing heavenly about his voice," said Jane

Porter, with a little shudder at recollection of the awful roar

which had followed the killing of the lioness.

"Nor did it precisely comport with my preconceived ideas

of the dignity of divine messengers," remarked Professor

Porter, "when the--ah--gentleman tied two highly respectable

and erudite scholars neck to neck and dragged them through

the jungle as though they had been cows."



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