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Chapter 10 Through the Valley of the Shadow

  • As Tarzan walked down the wild canon beneath the brilliant African moon th_all of the jungle was strong upon him. The solitude and the savage freedo_illed his heart with life and buoyancy. Again he was Tarzan of the Apes—ever_ense alert against the chance of surprise by some jungle enemy—yet treadin_ightly and with head erect, in proud consciousness of his might.
  • The nocturnal sounds of the mountains were new to him, yet they fell upon hi_ars like the soft voice of a half-forgotten love. Many he intuitivel_ensed—ah, there was one that was familiar indeed; the distant coughing o_heeta, the leopard; but there was a strange note in the final wail which mad_im doubt. It was a panther he heard.
  • Presently a new sound—a soft, stealthy sound—obtruded itself among the others.
  • No human ears other than the ape-man's would have detected it. At first he di_ot translate it, but finally he realized that it came from the bare feet of _umber of human beings. They were behind him, and they were coming toward hi_uietly. He was being stalked.
  • In a flash he knew why he had been left in that little valley by Gernois; bu_here had been a hitch in the arrangements—the men had come too late. Close_nd closer came the footsteps. Tarzan halted and faced them, his rifle read_n his hand. Now he caught a fleeting glimpse of a white burnoose. He calle_loud in French, asking what they would of him. His reply was the flash of _ong gun, and with the sound of the shot Tarzan of the Apes plunged forwar_pon his face.
  • The Arabs did not rush out immediately; instead, they waited to be sure tha_heir victim did not rise. Then they came rapidly from their concealment, an_ent over him. It was soon apparent that he was not dead. One of the men pu_he muzzle of his gun to the back of Tarzan's head to finish him, but anothe_aved him aside. "If we bring him alive the reward is to be greater,"
  • explained the latter. So they bound his hands and feet, and, picking him up, placed him on the shoulders of four of their number. Then the march wa_esumed toward the desert. When they had come out of the mountains they turne_oward the south, and about daylight came to the spot where their horses stoo_n care of two of their number.
  • From here on their progress was more rapid. Tarzan, who had regaine_onsciousness, was tied to a spare horse, which they evidently had brought fo_he purpose. His wound was but a slight scratch, which had furrowed the fles_cross his temple. It had stopped bleeding, but the dried and clotted bloo_meared his face and clothing. He had said no word since he had fallen int_he hands of these Arabs, nor had they addressed him other than to issue a fe_rief commands to him when the horses had been reached.
  • For six hours they rode rapidly across the burning desert, avoiding the oase_ear which their way led. About noon they came to a DOUAR of about twent_ents. Here they halted, and as one of the Arabs was releasing the alfa-gras_opes which bound him to his mount they were surrounded by a mob of men, women, and children. Many of the tribe, and more especially the women, appeared to take delight in heaping insults upon the prisoner, and some ha_ven gone so far as to throw stones at him and strike him with sticks, when a_ld sheik appeared and drove them away.
  • "Ali-ben-Ahmed tells me," he said, "that this man sat alone in the mountain_nd slew EL ADREA. What the business of the stranger who sent us after him ma_e, I know not, and what he may do with this man when we turn him over to him, I care not; but the prisoner is a brave man, and while he is in our hands h_hall be treated with the respect that be due one who hunts THE LORD WITH TH_ARGE HEAD alone and by night—and slays him."
  • Tarzan had heard of the respect in which Arabs held a lion-killer, and he wa_ot sorry that chance had played into his hands thus favorably to relieve hi_f the petty tortures of the tribe. Shortly after this he was taken to a goat- skin tent upon the upper side of the DOUAR. There he was fed, and then, securely bound, was left lying on a piece of native carpet, alone in the tent.
  • He could see a guard sitting before the door of his frail prison, but when h_ttempted to force the stout bonds that held him he realized that any extr_recaution on the part of his captors was quite unnecessary; not even hi_iant muscles could part those numerous strands.
  • Just before dusk several men approached the tent where he lay, and entered it.
  • All were in Arab dress, but presently one of the number advanced to Tarzan'_ide, and as he let the folds of cloth that had hidden the lower half of hi_ace fall away the ape-man saw the malevolent features of Nikolas Rokoff.
  • There was a nasty smile on the bearded lips. "Ah, Monsieur Tarzan," he said,
  • "this is indeed a pleasure. But why do you not rise and greet your guest?"
  • Then, with an ugly oath, "Get up, you dog!" and, drawing back his booted foot, he kicked Tarzan heavily in the side. "And here is another, and another, an_nother," he continued, as he kicked Tarzan about the face and side. "One fo_ach of the injuries you have done me."
  • The ape-man made no reply—he did not even deign to look upon the Russian agai_fter the first glance of recognition. Finally the sheik, who had bee_tanding a mute and frowning witness of the cowardly attack, intervened.
  • "Stop!" he commanded. "Kill him if you will, but I will see no brave ma_ubjected to such indignities in my presence. I have half a mind to turn hi_oose, that I may see how long you would kick him then."
  • This threat put a sudden end to Rokoff's brutality, for he had no craving t_ee Tarzan loosed from his bonds while he was within reach of those powerfu_ands.
  • "Very well," he replied to the Arab; "I shall kill him presently."
  • "Not within the precincts of my DOUAR," returned the sheik. "When he leave_ere he leaves alive. What you do with him in the desert is none of m_oncern, but I shall not have the blood of a Frenchman on the hands of m_ribe on account of another man's quarrel—they would send soldiers here an_ill many of my people, and burn our tents and drive away our flocks."
  • "As you say," growled Rokoff. "I'll take him out into the desert below th_OUAR, and dispatch him."
  • "You will take him a day's ride from my country," said the sheik, firmly, "an_ome of my children shall follow you to see that you do not disobe_e—otherwise there may be two dead Frenchmen in the desert."
  • Rokoff shrugged. "Then I shall have to wait until the morrow—it is alread_ark."
  • "As you will," said the sheik. "But by an hour after dawn you must be gon_rom my DOUAR. I have little liking for unbelievers, and none at all for _oward."
  • Rokoff would have made some kind of retort, but he checked himself, for h_ealized that it would require but little excuse for the old man to turn upo_im. Together they left the tent. At the door Rokoff could not resist th_emptation to turn and fling a parting taunt at Tarzan. "Sleep well, monsieur," he said, "and do not forget to pray well, for when you die tomorro_t will be in such agony that you will be unable to pray for blaspheming."
  • No one had bothered to bring Tarzan either food or water since noon, an_onsequently he suffered considerably from thirst. He wondered if it would b_orth while to ask his guard for water, but after making two or three request_ithout receiving any response, he decided that it would not.
  • Far up in the mountains he heard a lion roar. How much safer one was, h_oliloquized, in the haunts of wild beasts than in the haunts of men. Never i_ll his jungle life had he been more relentlessly tracked down than in th_ast few months of his experience among civilized men. Never had he been an_earer death.
  • Again the lion roared. It sounded a little nearer. Tarzan felt the old, wil_mpulse to reply with the challenge of his kind. His kind? He had almos_orgotten that he was a man and not an ape. He tugged at his bonds. God, if h_ould but get them near those strong teeth of his. He felt a wild wave o_adness sweep over him as his efforts to regain his liberty met with failure.
  • Numa was roaring almost continually now. It was quite evident that he wa_oming down into the desert to hunt. It was the roar of a hungry lion. Tarza_nvied him, for he was free. No one would tie him with ropes and slaughter hi_ike a sheep. It was that which galled the ape-man. He did not fear to die, no—it was the humiliation of defeat before death, without even a chance t_attle for his life.
  • It must be near midnight, thought Tarzan. He had several hours to live.
  • Possibly he would yet find a way to take Rokoff with him on the long journey.
  • He could hear the savage lord of the desert quite close by now. Possibly h_ought his meat from among the penned animals within the DOUAR.
  • For a long time silence reigned, then Tarzan's trained ears caught the soun_f a stealthily moving body. It came from the side of the tent nearest th_ountains—the back. Nearer and nearer it came. He waited, listening intently, for it to pass. For a time there was silence without, such a terrible silenc_hat Tarzan was surprised that he did not hear the breathing of the animal h_elt sure must be crouching close to the back wall of his tent.
  • There! It is moving again. Closer it creeps. Tarzan turns his head in th_irection of the sound. It is very dark within the tent. Slowly the back rise_rom the ground, forced up by the head and shoulders of a body that looks al_lack in the semi-darkness. Beyond is a faint glimpse of the dimly starli_esert. A grim smile plays about Tarzan's lips. At least Rokoff will b_heated. How mad he will be! And death will be more merciful than he coul_ave hoped for at the hands of the Russian.
  • Now the back of the tent drops into place, and all is darkness again—whateve_t is is inside the tent with him. He hears it creeping close to him—now it i_eside him. He closes his eyes and waits for the mighty paw. Upon his upturne_ace falls the gentle touch of a soft hand groping in the dark, and then _irl's voice in a scarcely audible whisper pronounces his name.
  • "Yes, it is I," he whispers in reply. "But in the name of Heaven who are you?"
  • "The Ouled-Nail of Sisi Aissa," came the answer. While she spoke Tarzan coul_eel her working about his bonds. Occasionally the cold steel of a knif_ouched his flesh. A moment later he was free.
  • "Come!" she whispered.
  • On hands and knees he followed her out of the tent by the way she had come.
  • She continued crawling thus flat to the ground until she reached a littl_atch of shrub. There she halted until he gained her side. For a moment h_ooked at her before he spoke.
  • "I cannot understand," he said at last. "Why are you here? How did you kno_hat I was a prisoner in that tent? How does it happen that it is you who hav_aved me?"
  • She smiled. "I have come a long way tonight," she said, "and we have a lon_ay to go before we shall be out of danger. Come; I shall tell you all abou_s we go."
  • Together they rose and set off across the desert in the direction of th_ountains.
  • "I was not quite sure that I should ever reach you," she said at last. "E_DREA is abroad tonight, and after I left the horses I think he winded me an_as following—I was terribly frightened."
  • "What a brave girl," he said. "And you ran all that risk for a stranger—a_lien—an unbeliever?"
  • She drew herself up very proudly.
  • "I am the daughter of the Sheik Kabour ben Saden," she answered. "I should b_o fit daughter of his if I would not risk my life to save that of the man wh_aved mine while he yet thought that I was but a common Ouled-Nail."
  • "Nevertheless," he insisted, "you are a very brave girl. But how did you kno_hat I was a prisoner back there?"
  • "Achmet-din-Taieb, who is my cousin on my father's side, was visiting som_riends who belong to the tribe that captured you. He was at the DOUAR whe_ou were brought in. When he reached home he was telling us about the bi_renchman who had been captured by Ali-ben-Ahmed for another Frenchman wh_ished to kill him. From the description I knew that it must be you. My fathe_as away. I tried to persuade some of the men to come and save you, but the_ould not do it, saying: `Let the unbelievers kill one another if they wish.
  • It is none of our affair, and if we go and interfere with Ali-ben-Ahmed'_lans we shall only stir up a fight with our own people.'
  • "So when it was dark I came alone, riding one horse and leading another fo_ou. They are tethered not far from here. By morning we shall be within m_ather's DOUAR. He should be there himself by now—then let them come and tr_o take Kadour ben Saden's friend."
  • For a few moments they walked on in silence.
  • "We should be near the horses," she said. "It is strange that I do not se_hem here."
  • Then a moment later she stopped, with a little cry of consternation.
  • "They are gone!" she exclaimed. "It is here that I tethered them."
  • Tarzan stooped to examine the ground. He found that a large shrub had bee_orn up by the roots. Then he found something else. There was a wry smile o_is face as he rose and turned toward the girl.
  • "EL ADREA has been here. From the signs, though, I rather think that his pre_scaped him. With a little start they would be safe enough from him in th_pen."
  • There was nothing to do but continue on foot. The way led them across a lo_pur of the mountains, but the girl knew the trail as well as she did he_other's face. They walked in easy, swinging strides, Tarzan keeping a hand'_readth behind the girl's shoulder, that she might set the pace, and thus b_ess fatigued. As they walked they talked, occasionally stopping to listen fo_ounds of pursuit.
  • It was now a beautiful, moonlit night. The air was crisp and invigorating.
  • Behind them lay the interminable vista of the desert, dotted here and ther_ith an occasional oasis. The date palms of the little fertile spot they ha_ust left, and the circle of goatskin tents, stood out in sharp relief agains_he yellow sand—a phantom paradise upon a phantom sea. Before them rose th_rim and silent mountains. Tarzan's blood leaped in his veins. This was life!
  • He looked down upon the girl beside him—a daughter of the desert walkin_cross the face of a dead world with a son of the jungle. He smiled at th_hought. He wished that he had had a sister, and that she had been like thi_irl. What a bully chum she would have been!
  • They had entered the mountains now, and were progressing more slowly, for th_rail was steeper and very rocky.
  • For a few minutes they had been silent. The girl was wondering if they woul_each her father's DOUAR before the pursuit had overtaken them. Tarzan wa_ishing that they might walk on thus forever. If the girl were only a man the_ight. He longed for a friend who loved the same wild life that he loved. H_ad learned to crave companionship, but it was his misfortune that most of th_en he knew preferred immaculate linen and their clubs to nakedness and th_ungle. It was, of course, difficult to understand, yet it was very eviden_hat they did.
  • The two had just turned a projecting rock around which the trail ran when the_ere brought to a sudden stop. There, before them, directly in the middle o_he path, stood Numa, EL ADREA, the black lion. His green eyes looked ver_icked, and he bared his teeth, and lashed his bay-black sides with his angr_ail. Then he roared—the fearsome, terror-inspiring roar of the hungry lio_hich is also angry.
  • "Your knife," said Tarzan to the girl, extending his hand. She slipped th_ilt of the weapon into his waiting palm. As his fingers closed upon it h_rew her back and pushed her behind him. "Walk back to the desert as rapidl_s you can. If you hear me call you will know that all is well, and you ma_eturn."
  • "It is useless," she replied, resignedly. "This is the end."
  • "Do as I tell you," he commanded. "Quickly! He is about to charge." The gir_ropped back a few paces, where she stood watching for the terrible sight tha_he knew she should soon witness.
  • The lion was advancing slowly toward Tarzan, his nose to the ground, like _hallenging bull, his tail extended now and quivering as though with intens_xcitement.
  • The ape-man stood, half crouching, the long Arab knife glistening in th_oonlight. Behind him the tense figure of the girl, motionless as a carve_tatue. She leaned slightly forward, her lips parted, her eyes wide. Her onl_onscious thought was wonder at the bravery of the man who dared face with _uny knife the lord with the large head. A man of her own blood would hav_nelt in prayer and gone down beneath those awful fangs without resistance. I_ither case the result would be the same—it was inevitable; but she could no_epress a thrill of admiration as her eyes rested upon the heroic figur_efore her. Not a tremor in the whole giant frame—his attitude as menacing an_efiant as that of EL ADREA himself.
  • The lion was quite close to him now—but a few paces intervened—he crouched, and then, with a deafening roar, he sprang.