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Chapter 15 The Forest God

  • When Clayton heard the report of the firearm he fell into an agony of fear an_pprehension. He knew that one of the sailors might be the author of it; bu_he fact that he had left the revolver with Jane, together with th_verwrought condition of his nerves, made him morbidly positive that she wa_hreatened with some great danger. Perhaps even now she was attempting t_efend herself against some savage man or beast.
  • What were the thoughts of his strange captor or guide Clayton could onl_aguely conjecture; but that he had heard the shot, and was in some manne_ffected by it was quite evident, for he quickened his pace so appreciabl_hat Clayton, stumbling blindly in his wake, was down a dozen times in as man_inutes in a vain effort to keep pace with him, and soon was left hopelessl_ehind.
  • Fearing that he would again be irretrievably lost, he called aloud to the wil_an ahead of him, and in a moment had the satisfaction of seeing him dro_ightly to his side from the branches above.
  • For a moment Tarzan looked at the young man closely, as though undecided as t_ust what was best to do; then, stooping down before Clayton, he motioned hi_o grasp him about the neck, and, with the white man upon his back, Tarza_ook to the trees.
  • The next few minutes the young Englishman never forgot. High into bending an_waying branches he was borne with what seemed to him incredible swiftness,
  • while Tarzan chafed at the slowness of his progress.
  • From one lofty branch the agile creature swung with Clayton through a dizz_rc to a neighboring tree; then for a hundred yards maybe the sure fee_hreaded a maze of interwoven limbs, balancing like a tightrope walker hig_bove the black depths of verdure beneath.
  • From the first sensation of chilling fear Clayton passed to one of kee_dmiration and envy of those giant muscles and that wondrous instinct o_nowledge which guided this forest god through the inky blackness of the nigh_s easily and safely as Clayton would have strolled a London street at hig_oon.
  • Occasionally they would enter a spot where the foliage above was less dense,
  • and the bright rays of the moon lit up before Clayton's wondering eyes th_trange path they were traversing.
  • At such times the man fairly caught his breath at sight of the horrid depth_elow them, for Tarzan took the easiest way, which often led over a hundre_eet above the earth.
  • And yet with all his seeming speed, Tarzan was in reality feeling his way wit_omparative slowness, searching constantly for limbs of adequate strength fo_he maintenance of this double weight.
  • Presently they came to the clearing before the beach. Tarzan's quick ears ha_eard the strange sounds of Sabor's efforts to force her way through th_attice, and it seemed to Clayton that they dropped a straight hundred feet t_arth, so quickly did Tarzan descend. Yet when they struck the ground it wa_ith scarce a jar; and as Clayton released his hold on the ape-man he saw hi_art like a squirrel for the opposite side of the cabin.
  • The Englishman sprang quickly after him just in time to see the hind quarter_f some huge animal about to disappear through the window of the cabin.
  • As Jane opened her eyes to a realization of the imminent peril whic_hreatened her, her brave young heart gave up at last its final vestige o_ope. But then to her surprise she saw the huge animal being slowly drawn bac_hrough the window, and in the moonlight beyond she saw the heads an_houlders of two men.
  • As Clayton rounded the corner of the cabin to behold the animal disappearin_ithin, it was also to see the ape-man seize the long tail in both hands, and,
  • bracing himself with his feet against the side of the cabin, throw all hi_ighty strength into the effort to draw the beast out of the interior.
  • Clayton was quick to lend a hand, but the ape-man jabbered to him in _ommanding and peremptory tone something which Clayton knew to be orders,
  • though he could not understand them.
  • At last, under their combined efforts, the great body was slowly dragge_arther and farther outside the window, and then there came to Clayton's min_ dawning conception of the rash bravery of his companion's act.
  • For a naked man to drag a shrieking, clawing man-eater forth from a window b_he tail to save a strange white girl, was indeed the last word in heroism.
  • Insofar as Clayton was concerned it was a very different matter, since th_irl was not only of his own kind and race, but was the one woman in all th_orld whom he loved.
  • Though he knew that the lioness would make short work of both of them, h_ulled with a will to keep it from Jane Porter. And then he recalled th_attle between this man and the great, black-maned lion which he had witnesse_ short time before, and he commenced to feel more assurance.
  • Tarzan was still issuing orders which Clayton could not understand.
  • He was trying to tell the stupid white man to plunge his poisoned arrows int_abor's back and sides, and to reach the savage heart with the long, thi_unting knife that hung at Tarzan's hip; but the man would not understand, an_arzan did not dare release his hold to do the things himself, for he kne_hat the puny white man never could hold mighty Sabor alone, for an instant.
  • Slowly the lioness was emerging from the window. At last her shoulders wer_ut.
  • And then Clayton saw an incredible thing. Tarzan, racking his brains for som_eans to cope single-handed with the infuriated beast, had suddenly recalle_is battle with Terkoz; and as the great shoulders came clear of the window,
  • so that the lioness hung upon the sill only by her forepaws, Tarzan suddenl_eleased his hold upon the brute.
  • With the quickness of a striking rattler he launched himself full upon Sabor'_ack, his strong young arms seeking and gaining a full-Nelson upon the beast,
  • as he had learned it that other day during his bloody, wrestling victory ove_erkoz.
  • With a roar the lioness turned completely over upon her back, falling ful_pon her enemy; but the black-haired giant only closed tighter his hold.
  • Pawing and tearing at earth and air, Sabor rolled and threw herself this wa_nd that in an effort to dislodge this strange antagonist; but ever tighte_nd tighter drew the iron bands that were forcing her head lower and lowe_pon her tawny breast.
  • Higher crept the steel forearms of the ape-man about the back of Sabor's neck.
  • Weaker and weaker became the lioness's efforts.
  • At last Clayton saw the immense muscles of Tarzan's shoulders and biceps lea_nto corded knots beneath the silver moonlight. There was a long sustained an_upreme effort on the ape-man's part—and the vertebrae of Sabor's neck parte_ith a sharp snap.
  • In an instant Tarzan was upon his feet, and for the second time that da_layton heard the bull ape's savage roar of victory. Then he heard Jane'_gonized cry:
  • "Cecil—Mr. Clayton! Oh, what is it? What is it?"
  • Running quickly to the cabin door, Clayton called out that all was right, an_houted to her to open the door. As quickly as she could she raised the grea_ar and fairly dragged Clayton within.
  • "What was that awful noise?" she whispered, shrinking close to him.
  • "It was the cry of the kill from the throat of the man who has just saved you_ife, Miss Porter. Wait, I will fetch him so you may thank him."
  • The frightened girl would not be left alone, so she accompanied Clayton to th_ide of the cabin where lay the dead body of the lioness.
  • Tarzan of the Apes was gone.
  • Clayton called several times, but there was no reply, and so the two returne_o the greater safety of the interior.
  • "What a frightful sound!" cried Jane, "I shudder at the mere thought of it. D_ot tell me that a human throat voiced that hideous and fearsome shriek."
  • "But it did, Miss Porter," replied Clayton; "or at least if not a human throa_hat of a forest god."
  • And then he told her of his experiences with this strange creature—of ho_wice the wild man had saved his life—of the wondrous strength, and agility,
  • and bravery—of the brown skin and the handsome face.
  • "I cannot make it out at all," he concluded. "At first I thought he might b_arzan of the Apes; but he neither speaks nor understands English, so tha_heory is untenable."
  • "Well, whatever he may be," cried the girl, "we owe him our lives, and may Go_less him and keep him in safety in his wild and savage jungle!"
  • "Amen," said Clayton, fervently.
  • "For the good Lord's sake, ain't I dead?"
  • The two turned to see Esmeralda sitting upright upon the floor, her great eye_olling from side to side as though she could not believe their testimony a_o her whereabouts.
  • And now, for Jane Porter, the reaction came, and she threw herself upon th_ench, sobbing with hysterical laughter.