Another month brought them to a little group of buildings at the mouth of _ide river, and there Tarzan saw many boats, and was filled with the ol_imidity of the wild thing by the sight of many men.
Gradually he became accustomed to the strange noises and the odd ways o_ivilization, so that presently none might know that two short months before, this handsome Frenchman in immaculate white ducks, who laughed and chatte_ith the gayest of them, had been swinging naked through primeval forests t_ounce upon some unwary victim, which, raw, was to fill his savage belly.
The knife and fork, so contemptuously flung aside a month before, Tarzan no_anipulated as exquisitely as did the polished D'Arnot.
So apt a pupil had he been that the young Frenchman had labored assiduously t_ake of Tarzan of the Apes a polished gentleman in so far as nicety of manner_nd speech were concerned.
"God made you a gentleman at heart, my friend," D'Arnot had said; "but we wan_is works to show upon the exterior also."
As soon as they had reached the little port, D'Arnot had cabled his governmen_f his safety, and requested a three- months' leave, which had been granted.
He had also cabled his bankers for funds, and the enforced wait of a month, under which both chafed, was due to their inability to charter a vessel fo_he return to Tarzan's jungle after the treasure.
During their stay at the coast town "Monsieur Tarzan" became the wonder o_oth whites and blacks because of several occurrences which to Tarzan seeme_he merest of nothings.
Once a huge black, crazed by drink, had run amuck and terrorized the town, until his evil star had led him to where the black-haired French giant lolle_pon the veranda of the hotel.
Mounting the broad steps, with brandished knife, the Negro made straight for _arty of four men sitting at a table sipping the inevitable absinthe.
Shouting in alarm, the four took to their heels, and then the black spie_arzan.
With a roar he charged the ape-man, while half a hundred heads peered fro_heltering windows and doorways to witness the butchering of the poo_renchman by the giant black.
Tarzan met the rush with the fighting smile that the joy of battle alway_rought to his lips.
As the Negro closed upon him, steel muscles gripped the black wrist of th_plifted knife-hand, and a single swift wrench left the hand dangling below _roken bone.
With the pain and surprise, the madness left the black man, and as Tarza_ropped back into his chair the fellow turned, crying with agony, and dashe_ildly toward the native village.
On another occasion as Tarzan and D'Arnot sat at dinner with a number of othe_hites, the talk fell upon lions and lion hunting.
Opinion was divided as to the bravery of the king of beasts —some maintainin_hat he was an arrant coward, but all agreeing that it was with a feeling o_reater security that they gripped their express rifles when the monarch o_he jungle roared about a camp at night.
D'Arnot and Tarzan had agreed that his past be kept secret, and so none othe_han the French officer knew of the ape-man's familiarity with the beasts o_he jungle.
"Monsieur Tarzan has not expressed himself," said one of the party. "A man o_is prowess who has spent some time in Africa, as I understand Monsieur Tarza_as, must have had experiences with lions—yes?"
"Some," replied Tarzan, dryly. "Enough to know that each of you are right i_our judgment of the characteristics of the lions—you have met. But one migh_s well judge all blacks by the fellow who ran amuck last week, or decide tha_ll whites are cowards because one has met a cowardly white.
"There is as much individuality among the lower orders, gentlemen, as there i_mong ourselves. Today we may go out and stumble upon a lion which is over- timid—he runs away from us. To-morrow we may meet his uncle or his twi_rother, and our friends wonder why we do not return from the jungle. Fo_yself, I always assume that a lion is ferocious, and so I am never caught of_y guard."
"There would be little pleasure in hunting," retorted the first speaker, "i_ne is afraid of the thing he hunts."
D'Arnot smiled. Tarzan afraid!
"I do not exactly understand what you mean by fear," said Tarzan. "Like lions, fear is a different thing in different men, but to me the only pleasure in th_unt is the knowledge that the hunted thing has power to harm me as much as _ave to harm him. If I went out with a couple of rifles and a gun bearer, an_wenty or thirty beaters, to hunt a lion, I should not feel that the lion ha_uch chance, and so the pleasure of the hunt would be lessened in proportio_o the increased safety which I felt."
"Then I am to take it that Monsieur Tarzan would prefer to go naked into th_ungle, armed only with a jackknife, to kill the king of beasts," laughed th_ther, good naturedly, but with the merest touch of sarcasm in his tone.
"And a piece of rope," added Tarzan.
Just then the deep roar of a lion sounded from the distant jungle, as thoug_o challenge whoever dared enter the lists with him.
"There is your opportunity, Monsieur Tarzan," bantered the Frenchman.
"I am not hungry," said Tarzan simply.
The men laughed, all but D'Arnot. He alone knew that a savage beast had spoke_ts simple reason through the lips of the ape-man.
"But you are afraid, just as any of us would be, to go out there naked, arme_nly with a knife and a piece of rope," said the banterer. "Is it not so?"
"No," replied Tarzan. "Only a fool performs any act without reason."
"Five thousand francs is a reason," said the other. "I wager you that amoun_ou cannot bring back a lion from the jungle under the conditions we hav_amed—naked and armed only with a knife and a piece of rope."
Tarzan glanced toward D'Arnot and nodded his head.
"Make it ten thousand," said D'Arnot.
"Done," replied the other.
"I shall have to leave my clothes at the edge of the settlement, so that if _o not return before daylight I shall have something to wear through th_treets."
"You are not going now," exclaimed the wagerer—"at night?"
"Why not?" asked Tarzan. "Numa walks abroad at night —it will be easier t_ind him."
"No," said the other, "I do not want your blood upon my hands. It will b_oolhardy enough if you go forth by day."
"I shall go now," replied Tarzan, and went to his room for his knife and rope.
The men accompanied him to the edge of the jungle, where he left his clothe_n a small storehouse.
But when he would have entered the blackness of the undergrowth they tried t_issuade him; and the wagerer was most insistent of all that he abandon hi_oolhardy venture.
"I will accede that you have won," he said, "and the ten thousand francs ar_ours if you will but give up this foolish attempt, which can only end in you_eath."
Tarzan laughed, and in another moment the jungle had swallowed him.
The men stood silent for some moments and then slowly turned and walked bac_o the hotel veranda.
Tarzan had no sooner entered the jungle than he took to the trees, and it wa_ith a feeling of exultant freedom that he swung once more through the fores_ranches.
This was life! Ah, how he loved it! Civilization held nothing like this in it_arrow and circumscribed sphere, hemmed in by restrictions an_onventionalities. Even clothes were a hindrance and a nuisance.
At last he was free. He had not realized what a prisoner he had been.
How easy it would be to circle back to the coast, and then make toward th_outh and his own jungle and cabin.
Now he caught the scent of Numa, for he was traveling up wind. Presently hi_uick ears detected the familiar sound of padded feet and the brushing of _uge, fur-clad body through the undergrowth.
Tarzan came quietly above the unsuspecting beast and silently stalked hi_ntil he came into a little patch of moonlight.
Then the quick noose settled and tightened about the tawny throat, and, as h_ad done it a hundred times in the past, Tarzan made fast the end to a stron_ranch and, while the beast fought and clawed for freedom, dropped to th_round behind him, and leaping upon the great back, plunged his long thi_lade a dozen times into the fierce heart.
Then with his foot upon the carcass of Numa, he raised his voice in th_wesome victory cry of his savage tribe.
For a moment Tarzan stood irresolute, swayed by conflicting emotions o_oyalty to D'Arnot and a mighty lust for the freedom of his own jungle. A_ast the vision of a beautiful face, and the memory of warm lips crushed t_is dissolved the fascinating picture he had been drawing of his old life.
The ape-man threw the warm carcass of Numa across his shoulders and took t_he trees once more.
The men upon the veranda had sat for an hour, almost in silence.
They had tried ineffectually to converse on various subjects, and always th_hing uppermost in the mind of each had caused the conversation to lapse.
"MON DIEU," said the wagerer at length, "I can endure it no longer. I am goin_nto the jungle with my express and bring back that mad man."
"I will go with you," said one.
"And I"—"And I"—"And I," chorused the others.
As though the suggestion had broken the spell of some horrid nightmare the_astened to their various quarters, and presently were headed toward th_ungle—each one heavily armed.
"God! What was that?" suddenly cried one of the party, an Englishman, a_arzan's savage cry came faintly to their ears.
"I heard the same thing once before," said a Belgian, "when I was in th_orilla country. My carriers said it was the cry of a great bull ape who ha_ade a kill."
D'Arnot remembered Clayton's description of the awful roar with which Tarza_ad announced his kills, and he half smiled in spite of the horror whic_illed him to think that the uncanny sound could have issued from a huma_hroat —from the lips of his friend.
As the party stood finally near the edge of the jungle, debating as to th_est distribution of their forces, they were startled by a low laugh nea_hem, and turning, beheld advancing toward them a giant figure bearing a dea_ion upon its broad shoulders.
Even D'Arnot was thunderstruck, for it seemed impossible that the man coul_ave so quickly dispatched a lion with the pitiful weapons he had taken, o_hat alone he could have borne the huge carcass through the tangled jungle.
The men crowded about Tarzan with many questions, but his only answer was _aughing depreciation of his feat.
To Tarzan it was as though one should eulogize a butcher for his heroism i_illing a cow, for Tarzan had killed so often for food and for self- preservation that the act seemed anything but remarkable to him. But he wa_ndeed a hero in the eyes of these men—men accustomed to hunting big game.
Incidentally, he had won ten thousand francs, for D'Arnot insisted that h_eep it all.
This was a very important item to Tarzan, who was just commencing to realiz_he power which lay behind the little pieces of metal and paper which alway_hanged hands when human beings rode, or ate, or slept, or clothed themselves, or drank, or worked, or played, or sheltered themselves from the rain or col_r sun.
It had become evident to Tarzan that without money one must die. D'Arnot ha_old him not to worry, since he had more than enough for both, but the ape-ma_as learning many things and one of them was that people looked down upon on_ho accepted money from another without giving something of equal value i_xchange.
Shortly after the episode of the lion hunt, D'Arnot succeeded in chartering a_ncient tub for the coastwise trip to Tarzan's land-locked harbor.
It was a happy morning for them both when the little vessel weighed anchor an_ade for the open sea.
The trip to the beach was uneventful, and the morning after they droppe_nchor before the cabin, Tarzan, garbed once more in his jungle regalia an_arrying a spade, set out alone for the amphitheater of the apes where lay th_reasure.
Late the next day he returned, bearing the great chest upon his shoulder, an_t sunrise the little vessel worked through the harbor's mouth and took up he_orthward journey.
Three weeks later Tarzan and D'Arnot were passengers on board a French steame_ound for Lyons, and after a few days in that city D'Arnot took Tarzan t_aris.
The ape-man was anxious to proceed to America, but D'Arnot insisted that h_ust accompany him to Paris first, nor would he divulge the nature of th_rgent necessity upon which he based his demand.
One of the first things which D'Arnot accomplished after their arrival was t_rrange to visit a high official of the police department, an old friend; an_o take Tarzan with him.
Adroitly D'Arnot led the conversation from point to point until the policema_ad explained to the interested Tarzan many of the methods in vogue fo_pprehending and identifying criminals.
Not the least interesting to Tarzan was the part played by finger prints i_his fascinating science.
"But of what value are these imprints," asked Tarzan, "when, after a few year_he lines upon the fingers are entirely changed by the wearing out of the ol_issue and the growth of new?"
"The lines never change," replied the official. "From infancy to senility th_ingerprints of an individual change only in size, except as injuries alte_he loops and whorls. But if imprints have been taken of the thumb and fou_ingers of both hands one must needs lose all entirely to escap_dentification."
"It is marvelous," exclaimed D'Arnot. "I wonder what the lines upon my ow_ingers may resemble."
"We can soon see," replied the police officer, and ringing a bell he summone_n assistant to whom he issued a few directions.
The man left the room, but presently returned with a little hardwood box whic_e placed on his superior's desk.
"Now," said the officer, "you shall have your fingerprints in a second."
He drew from the little case a square of plate glass, a little tube of thic_nk, a rubber roller, and a few snowy white cards.
Squeezing a drop of ink onto the glass, he spread it back and forth with th_ubber roller until the entire surface of the glass was covered to hi_atisfaction with a very thin and uniform layer of ink.
"Place the four fingers of your right hand upon the glass, thus," he said t_'Arnot. "Now the thumb. That is right. Now place them in just the sam_osition upon this card, here, no—a little to the right. We must leave roo_or the thumb and the fingers of the left hand. There, that's it. Now the sam_ith the left."
"Come, Tarzan," cried D'Arnot, "let's see what your whorls look like."
Tarzan complied readily, asking many questions of the officer during th_peration.
"Do fingerprints show racial characteristics?" he asked. "Could you determine, for example, solely from fingerprints whether the subject was Negro o_aucasian?"
"I think not," replied the officer.
"Could the finger prints of an ape be detected from those of a man?"
"Probably, because the ape's would be far simpler than those of the highe_rganism."
"But a cross between an ape and a man might show the characteristics of eithe_rogenitor?" continued Tarzan.
"Yes, I should think likely," responded the official; "but the science has no_rogressed sufficiently to render it exact enough in such matters. I shoul_ate to trust its findings further than to differentiate between individuals.
There it is absolute. No two people born into the world probably have ever ha_dentical lines upon all their digits. It is very doubtful if any singl_ingerprint will ever be exactly duplicated by any finger other than the on_hich originally made it."
"Does the comparison require much time or labor?" asked D'Arnot.
"Ordinarily but a few moments, if the impressions are distinct."
D'Arnot drew a little black book from his pocket and commenced turning th_ages.
Tarzan looked at the book in surprise. How did D'Arnot come to have his book?
Presently D'Arnot stopped at a page on which were five tiny little smudges.
He handed the open book to the policeman.
"Are these imprints similar to mine or Monsieur Tarzan's or can you say tha_hey are identical with either?" The officer drew a powerful glass from hi_esk and examined all three specimens carefully, making notations meanwhil_pon a pad of paper.
Tarzan realized now what was the meaning of their visit to the police officer.
The answer to his life's riddle lay in these tiny marks.
With tense nerves he sat leaning forward in his chair, but suddenly he relaxe_nd dropped back, smiling.
D'Arnot looked at him in surprise.
"You forget that for twenty years the dead body of the child who made thos_ingerprints lay in the cabin of his father, and that all my life I have see_t lying there," said Tarzan bitterly.
The policeman looked up in astonishment.
"Go ahead, captain, with your examination," said D'Arnot, "we will tell yo_he story later—provided Monsieur Tarzan is agreeable."
Tarzan nodded his head.
"But you are mad, my dear D'Arnot," he insisted. "Those little fingers ar_uried on the west coast of Africa."
"I do not know as to that, Tarzan," replied D'Arnot. "It is possible, but i_ou are not the son of John Clayton then how in heaven's name did you com_nto that God forsaken jungle where no white man other than John Clayton ha_ver set foot?"
"You forget—Kala," said Tarzan.
"I do not even consider her," replied D'Arnot.
The friends had walked to the broad window overlooking the boulevard as the_alked. For some time they stood there gazing out upon the busy thron_eneath, each wrapped in his own thoughts.
"It takes some time to compare finger prints," thought D'Arnot, turning t_ook at the police officer.
To his astonishment he saw the official leaning back in his chair hastil_canning the contents of the little black diary.
D'Arnot coughed. The policeman looked up, and, catching his eye, raised hi_inger to admonish silence. D'Arnot turned back to the window, and presentl_he police officer spoke.
"Gentlemen," he said.
Both turned toward him.
"There is evidently a great deal at stake which must hinge to a greater o_esser extent upon the absolute correctness of this comparison. I therefor_sk that you leave the entire matter in my hands until Monsieur Desquerc, ou_xpert, returns. It will be but a matter of a few days."
"I had hoped to know at once," said D'Arnot. "Monsieur Tarzan sails fo_merica tomorrow."
"I will promise that you can cable him a report within two weeks," replied th_fficer; "but what it will be I dare not say. There are resemblances, yet—well, we had better leave it for Monsieur Desquerc to solve."