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TARZAN of the Apes
by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Chapter 17


As it was now quite light, the party, none of whom had

eaten or slept since the previous morning, began to bestir

themselves to prepare food.

The mutineers of the Arrow had landed a small supply of

dried meats, canned soups and vegetables, crackers, flour, tea,

and coffee for the five they had marooned, and these were

hurriedly drawn upon to satisfy the craving of long-famished


The next task was to make the cabin habitable, and to this

end it was decided to at once remove the gruesome relics of

the tragedy which had taken place there on some bygone day.

Professor Porter and Mr. Philander were deeply interested

in examining the skeletons. The two larger, they stated, had

belonged to a male and female of one of the higher white races.

The smallest skeleton was given but passing attention, as its

location, in the crib, left no doubt as to its having been the

infant offspring of this unhappy couple.

As they were preparing the skeleton of the man for burial,

Clayton discovered a massive ring which had evidently encircled

the man's finger at the time of his death, for one of the

slender bones of the hand still lay within the golden bauble.

Picking it up to examine it, Clayton gave a cry of astonishment,

for the ring bore the crest of the house of Greystoke.

At the same time, Jane discovered the books in the cupboard,

and on opening the fly-leaf of one of them saw the

name, JOHN CLAYTON, LONDON. In a second book which she

hurriedly examined was the single name, GREYSTOKE.

"Why, Mr. Clayton," she cried, "what does this mean?

Here are the names of some of your own people in these books."

"And here," he replied gravely, "is the great ring of the

house of Greystoke which has been lost since my uncle, John

Clayton, the former Lord Greystoke, disappeared, presumably

lost at sea."

"But how do you account for these things being here, in

this savage African jungle?" exclaimed the girl.

"There is but one way to account for it, Miss Porter," said

Clayton. "The late Lord Greystoke was not drowned. He

died here in this cabin and this poor thing upon the floor is

all that is mortal of him."

"Then this must have been Lady Greystoke," said Jane

reverently, indicating the poor mass of bones upon the bed.

"The beautiful Lady Alice," replied Clayton, "of whose many

virtues and remarkable personal charms I often have heard

my mother and father speak. Poor woman," he murmured sadly.

With deep reverence and solemnity the bodies of the late

Lord and Lady Greystoke were buried beside their little

African cabin, and between them was placed the tiny skeleton

of the baby of Kala, the ape.

As Mr. Philander was placing the frail bones of the infant

in a bit of sail cloth, he examined the skull minutely. Then he

called Professor Porter to his side, and the two argued in low

tones for several minutes.

"Most remarkable, most remarkable," said Professor Porter.

"Bless me," said Mr. Philander, "we must acquaint Mr.

Clayton with our discovery at once."

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

Archimedes Q. Porter. "`Let the dead past bury its dead.'"

And so the white-haired old man repeated the burial service

over this strange grave, while his four companions stood

with bowed and uncovered heads about him.

From the trees Tarzan of the Apes watched the solemn

ceremony; but most of all he watched the sweet face and

graceful figure of Jane Porter.

In his savage, untutored breast new emotions were stirring.

He could not fathom them. He wondered why he felt so

great an interest in these people--why he had gone to such

pains to save the three men. But he did not wonder why he

had torn Sabor from the tender flesh of the strange girl.

Surely the men were stupid and ridiculous and cowardly.

Even Manu, the monkey, was more intelligent than they. If

these were creatures of his own kind he was doubtful if his

past pride in blood was warranted.

But the girl, ah--that was a different matter. He did not

reason here. He knew that she was created to be protected,

and that he was created to protect her.

He wondered why they had dug a great hole in the ground

merely to bury dry bones. Surely there was no sense in that;

no one wanted to steal dry bones.

Had there been meat upon them he could have understood,

for thus alone might one keep his meat from Dango, the

hyena, and the other robbers of the jungle.

When the grave had been filled with earth the little party

turned back toward the cabin, and Esmeralda, still weeping

copiously for the two she had never heard of before today,

and who had been dead twenty years, chanced to glance toward

the harbor. Instantly her tears ceased.

"Look at them low down white trash out there!" she shrilled,

pointing toward the Arrow. "They-all's a desecrating

us, right here on this here perverted island."

And, sure enough, the Arrow was being worked toward the

open sea, slowly, through the harbor's entrance.

"They promised to leave us firearms and ammunition,"

said Clayton. "The merciless beasts!"

"It is the work of that fellow they call Snipes, I am sure,"

said Jane. "King was a scoundrel, but he had a little sense of

humanity. If they had not killed him I know that he would

have seen that we were properly provided for before they left

us to our fate."

"I regret that they did not visit us before sailing," said

Professor Porter. "I had proposed requesting them to leave the

treasure with us, as I shall be a ruined man if that is lost."

Jane looked at her father sadly.

"Never mind, dear," she said. "It wouldn't have done any

good, because it is solely for the treasure that they killed

their officers and landed us upon this awful shore."

"Tut, tut, child, tut, tut!" replied Professor Porter. "You

are a good child, but inexperienced in practical matters," and

Professor Porter turned and walked slowly away toward the

jungle, his hands clasped beneath his long coat tails and his

eyes bent upon the ground.

His daughter watched him with a pathetic smile upon her

lips, and then turning to Mr. Philander, she whispered:

"Please don't let him wander off again as he did yesterday.

We depend upon you, you know, to keep a close watch upon him."

"He becomes more difficult to handle each day," replied Mr.

Philander, with a sigh and a shake of his head. "I presume

he is now off to report to the directors of the Zoo that

one of their lions was at large last night. Oh, Miss Jane, you

don't know what I have to contend with."

"Yes, I do, Mr. Philander; but while we all love him, you

alone are best fitted to manage him; for, regardless of what

he may say to you, he respects your great learning, and,

therefore, has immense confidence in your judgment. The

poor dear cannot differentiate between erudition and wisdom."

Mr. Philander, with a mildly puzzled expression on his

face, turned to pursue Professor Porter, and in his mind he

was revolving the question of whether he should feel

complimented or aggrieved at Miss Porter's rather

backhanded compliment.

Tarzan had seen the consternation depicted upon the faces

of the little group as they witnessed the departure of the

Arrow; so, as the ship was a wonderful novelty to him in

addition, he determined to hasten out to the point of land at the

north of the harbor's mouth and obtain a nearer view of the

boat, as well as to learn, if possible, the direction of its flight.

Swinging through the trees with great speed, he reached

the point only a moment after the ship had passed out of the

harbor, so that he obtained an excellent view of the wonders

of this strange, floating house.

There were some twenty men running hither and thither

about the deck, pulling and hauling on ropes.

A light land breeze was blowing, and the ship had been

worked through the harbor's mouth under scant sail, but now that

they had cleared the point every available shred of canvas was

being spread that she might stand out to sea as handily as possible.

Tarzan watched the graceful movements of the ship in rapt

admiration, and longed to be aboard her. Presently his keen

eyes caught the faintest suspicion of smoke on the far northern

horizon, and he wondered over the cause of such a thing

out on the great water.

About the same time the look-out on the Arrow must have

discerned it, for in a few minutes Tarzan saw the sails being

shifted and shortened. The ship came about, and presently he

knew that she was beating back toward land.

A man at the bows was constantly heaving into the sea a

rope to the end of which a small object was fastened. Tarzan

wondered what the purpose of this action might be.

At last the ship came up directly into the wind; the anchor

was lowered; down came the sails. There was great scurrying

about on deck.

A boat was lowered, and in it a great chest was placed.

Then a dozen sailors bent to the oars and pulled rapidly

toward the point where Tarzan crouched in the branches of a tree.

In the stern of the boat, as it drew nearer, Tarzan saw the

rat-faced man.

It was but a few minutes later that the boat touched the

beach. The men jumped out and lifted the great chest to the

sand. They were on the north side of the point so that their

presence was concealed from those at the cabin.

The men argued angrily for a moment. Then the rat-faced

one, with several companions, ascended the low bluff on

which stood the tree that concealed Tarzan. They looked

about for several minutes.

"Here is a good place," said the rat-faced sailor, indicating

a spot beneath Tarzan's tree.

"It is as good as any," replied one of his companions.

"If they catch us with the treasure aboard it will all be

confiscated anyway. We might as well bury it here on the

chance that some of us will escape the gallows to come

back and enjoy it later."

The rat-faced one now called to the men who had remained

at the boat, and they came slowly up the bank carrying

picks and shovels.

"Hurry, you!" cried Snipes.

"Stow it!" retorted one of the men, in a surly tone. "You're

no admiral, you damned shrimp."

"I'm Cap'n here, though, I'll have you to understand, you

swab," shrieked Snipes, with a volley of frightful oaths.

"Steady, boys," cautioned one of the men who had not

spoken before. "It ain't goin' to get us nothing by fightin'

amongst ourselves."

"Right enough," replied the sailor who had resented

Snipes' autocratic tones; "but it ain't a-goin' to get nobody

nothin' to put on airs in this bloomin' company neither."

"You fellows dig here," said Snipes, indicating a spot beneath

the tree. "And while you're diggin', Peter kin be a-makin'

of a map of the location so's we kin find it again. You,

Tom, and Bill, take a couple more down and fetch up the chest."

"Wot are you a-goin' to do?" asked he of the previous

altercation. "Just boss?"

"Git busy there," growled Snipes. "You didn't think your

Cap'n was a-goin' to dig with a shovel, did you?"

The men all looked up angrily. None of them liked Snipes,

and this disagreeable show of authority since he had

murdered King, the real head and ringleader of the mutineers,

had only added fuel to the flames of their hatred.

"Do you mean to say that you don't intend to take a shovel,

and lend a hand with this work? Your shoulder's not hurt so

all-fired bad as that," said Tarrant, the sailor who had

before spoken.

"Not by a damned sight," replied Snipes, fingering the butt

of his revolver nervously.

"Then, by God," replied Tarrant, "if you won't take a

shovel you'll take a pickax."

With the words he raised his pick above his head, and, with

a mighty blow, he buried the point in Snipes' brain.

For a moment the men stood silently looking at the result

of their fellow's grim humor. Then one of them spoke.

"Served the skunk jolly well right," he said.

One of the others commenced to ply his pick to the

ground. The soil was soft and he threw aside the pick and

grasped a shovel; then the others joined him. There was no

further comment on the killing, but the men worked in a better

frame of mind than they had since Snipes had assumed command.

When they had a trench of ample size to bury the chest,

Tarrant suggested that they enlarge it and inter Snipes' body

on top of the chest.

"It might 'elp fool any as 'appened to be diggin'

'ereabouts," he explained.

The others saw the cunning of the suggestion, and so the

trench was lengthened to accommodate the corpse, and in the

center a deeper hole was excavated for the box, which was

first wrapped in sailcloth and then lowered to its place, which

brought its top about a foot below the bottom of the grave.

Earth was shovelled in and tramped down about the chest

until the bottom of the grave showed level and uniform.

Two of the men rolled the rat-faced corpse unceremoniously

into the grave, after first stripping it of its weapons and

various other articles which the several members of the party

coveted for their own.

They then filled the grave with earth and tramped upon it

until it would hold no more.

The balance of the loose earth was thrown far and wide,

and a mass of dead undergrowth spread in as natural a manner

as possible over the new-made grave to obliterate all signs

of the ground having been disturbed.

Their work done the sailors returned to the small boat, and

pulled off rapidly toward the Arrow.

The breeze had increased considerably, and as the smoke

upon the horizon was now plainly discernible in considerable

volume, the mutineers lost no time in getting under full sail

and bearing away toward the southwest.

Tarzan, an interested spectator of all that had taken place, sat

speculating on the strange actions of these peculiar creatures.

Men were indeed more foolish and more cruel than the

beasts of the jungle! How fortunate was he who lived in the

peace and security of the great forest!

Tarzan wondered what the chest they had buried contained.

If they did not want it why did they not merely throw

it into the water? That would have been much easier.

Ah, he thought, but they do want it. They have hidden it

here because they intend returning for it later.

Tarzan dropped to the ground and commenced to examine

the earth about the excavation. He was looking to see if these

creatures had dropped anything which he might like to own.

Soon he discovered a spade hidden by the underbrush which

they had laid upon the grave.

He seized it and attempted to use it as he had seen the sailors

do. It was awkward work and hurt his bare feet, but he

persevered until he had partially uncovered the body. This he

dragged from the grave and laid to one side.

Then he continued digging until he had unearthed the chest.

This also he dragged to the side of the corpse. Then he

filled in the smaller hole below the grave, replaced the body

and the earth around and above it, covered it over with

underbrush, and returned to the chest.

Four sailors had sweated beneath the burden of its weight

--Tarzan of the Apes picked it up as though it had been an

empty packing case, and with the spade slung to his back by a

piece of rope, carried it off into the densest part of the jungle.

He could not well negotiate the trees with his awkward burden,

but he kept to the trails, and so made fairly good time.

For several hours he traveled a little north of east until he

came to an impenetrable wall of matted and tangled vegetation.

Then he took to the lower branches, and in another fifteen

minutes he emerged into the amphitheater of the apes, where

they met in council, or to celebrate the rites of the Dum-Dum.

Near the center of the clearing, and not far from the

drum, or altar, he commenced to dig. This was harder work

than turning up the freshly excavated earth at the grave, but

Tarzan of the Apes was persevering and so he kept at his

labor until he was rewarded by seeing a hole sufficiently deep

to receive the chest and effectually hide it from view.

Why had he gone to all this labor without knowing the

value of the contents of the chest?

Tarzan of the Apes had a man's figure and a man's brain,

but he was an ape by training and environment. His brain

told him that the chest contained something valuable, or the

men would not have hidden it. His training had taught him to

imitate whatever was new and unusual, and now the natural

curiosity, which is as common to men as to apes, prompted

him to open the chest and examine its contents.

But the heavy lock and massive iron bands baffled both his

cunning and his immense strength, so that he was compelled

to bury the chest without having his curiosity satisfied.

By the time Tarzan had hunted his way back to the vicinity

of the cabin, feeding as he went, it was quite dark.

Within the little building a light was burning, for Clayton

had found an unopened tin of oil which had stood intact for

twenty years, a part of the supplies left with the Claytons by

Black Michael. The lamps also were still useable, and thus

the interior of the cabin appeared as bright as day to the

astonished Tarzan.

He had often wondered at the exact purpose of the lamps.

His reading and the pictures had told him what they were,

but he had no idea of how they could be made to produce

the wondrous sunlight that some of his pictures had

portrayed them as diffusing upon all surrounding objects.

As he approached the window nearest the door he saw that

the cabin had been divided into two rooms by a rough

partition of boughs and sailcloth.

In the front room were the three men; the two older deep

in argument, while the younger, tilted back against the wall

on an improvised stool, was deeply engrossed in reading one

of Tarzan's books.

Tarzan was not particularly interested in the men, however,

so he sought the other window. There was the girl. How

beautiful her features! How delicate her snowy skin!

She was writing at Tarzan's own table beneath the window.

Upon a pile of grasses at the far side of the room lay the

Negress asleep.

For an hour Tarzan feasted his eyes upon her while she

wrote. How he longed to speak to her, but he dared not

attempt it, for he was convinced that, like the young man, she

would not understand him, and he feared, too, that he might

frighten her away.

At length she arose, leaving her manuscript upon the table.

She went to the bed upon which had been spread several layers

of soft grasses. These she rearranged.

Then she loosened the soft mass of golden hair which

crowned her head. Like a shimmering waterfall turned to

burnished metal by a dying sun it fell about her oval face;

in waving lines, below her waist it tumbled.

Tarzan was spellbound. Then she extinguished the lamp

and all within the cabin was wrapped in Cimmerian darkness.

Still Tarzan watched. Creeping close beneath the window

he waited, listening, for half an hour. At last he was

rewarded by the sounds of the regular breathing within which

denotes sleep.

Cautiously he intruded his hand between the meshes of the

lattice until his whole arm was within the cabin. Carefully he

felt upon the desk. At last he grasped the manuscript upon

which Jane Porter had been writing, and as cautiously withdrew

his arm and hand, holding the precious treasure.

Tarzan folded the sheets into a small parcel which he

tucked into the quiver with his arrows. Then he melted away

into the jungle as softly and as noiselessly as a shadow.



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