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.