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Chapter 11 John Caldwell, London

  • As Numa EL ADREA launched himself with widespread paws and bared fangs h_ooked to find this puny man as easy prey as the score who had gone dow_eneath him in the past. To him man was a clumsy, slow-moving, defenseles_reature—he had little respect for him.
  • But this time he found that he was pitted against a creature as agile and a_uick as himself. When his mighty frame struck the spot where the man had bee_e was no longer there.
  • The watching girl was transfixed by astonishment at the ease with which th_rouching man eluded the great paws. And now, O Allah! He had rushed in behin_L ADREA'S shoulder even before the beast could turn, and had grasped him b_he mane. The lion reared upon his hind legs like a horse—Tarzan had know_hat he would do this, and he was ready. A giant arm encircled the black-mane_hroat, and once, twice, a dozen times a sharp blade darted in and out of th_ay-black side behind the left shoulder.
  • Frantic were the leaps of Numa—awful his roars of rage and pain; but the gian_pon his back could not be dislodged or brought within reach of fangs o_alons in the brief interval of life that remained to the lord with the larg_ead. He was quite dead when Tarzan of the Apes released his hold and arose.
  • Then the daughter of the desert witnessed a thing that terrified her even mor_han had the presence of EL ADREA. The man placed a foot upon the carcass o_is kill, and, with his handsome face raised toward the full moon, gave voic_o the most frightful cry that ever had smote upon her ears.
  • With a little cry of fear she shrank away from him—she thought that th_earful strain of the encounter had driven him mad. As the last note of tha_iendish challenge died out in the diminishing echoes of the distance the ma_ropped his eyes until they rested upon the girl.
  • Instantly his face was lighted by the kindly smile that was ample assurance o_is sanity, and the girl breathed freely once again, smiling in response.
  • "What manner of man are you?" she asked. "The thing you have done is unhear_f. Even now I cannot believe that it is possible for a lone man armed onl_ith a knife to have fought hand to hand with EL ADREA and conquered him, unscathed—to have conquered him at all. And that cry—it was not human. Why di_ou do that?"
  • Tarzan flushed. "It is because I forget," he said, "sometimes, that I am _ivilized man. When I kill it must be that I am another creature." He did no_ry to explain further, for it always seemed to him that a woman must loo_ith loathing upon one who was yet so nearly a beast.
  • Together they continued their journey. The sun was an hour high when they cam_ut into the desert again beyond the mountains. Beside a little rivulet the_ound the girl's horses grazing. They had come this far on their way home, an_ith the cause of their fear no longer present had stopped to feed.
  • With little trouble Tarzan and the girl caught them, and, mounting, rode ou_nto the desert toward the DOUAR of Sheik Kadour ben Saden.
  • No sign of pursuit developed, and they came in safety about nine o'clock t_heir destination. The sheik had but just returned. He was frantic with grie_t the absence of his daughter, whom he thought had been again abducted by th_arauders. With fifty men he was already mounted to go in search of her whe_he two rode into the DOUAR.
  • His joy at the safe return of his daughter was only equaled by his gratitud_o Tarzan for bringing her safely to him through the dangers of the night, an_is thankfulness that she had been in time to save the man who had once save_er.
  • No honor that Kadour ben Saden could heap upon the ape-man in acknowledgmen_f his esteem and friendship was neglected. When the girl had recited th_tory of the slaying of EL ADREA Tarzan was surrounded by a mob of worshipin_rabs—it was a sure road to their admiration and respect.
  • The old sheik insisted that Tarzan remain indefinitely as his guest. He eve_ished to adopt him as a member of the tribe, and there was for some time _alf-formed resolution in the ape-man's mind to accept and remain forever wit_hese wild people, whom he understood and who seemed to understand him. Hi_riendship and liking for the girl were potent factors in urging him toward a_ffirmative decision.
  • Had she been a man, he argued, he should not have hesitated, for it would hav_eant a friend after his own heart, with whom he could ride and hunt at will; but as it was they would be hedged by the conventionalities that are even mor_trictly observed by the wild nomads of the desert than by their mor_ivilized brothers and sisters. And in a little while she would be married t_ne of these swarthy warriors, and there would be an end to their friendship.
  • So he decided against the sheik's proposal, though he remained a week as hi_uest.
  • When he left, Kadour ben Saden and fifty white-robed warriors rode with him t_ou Saada. While they were mounting in the DOUAR of Kadour ben Saden th_orning of their departure, the girl came to bid farewell to Tarzan.
  • "I have prayed that you would remain with us," she said simply, as he leane_rom his saddle to clasp her hand in farewell, "and now I shall pray that yo_ill return." There was an expression of wistfulness in her beautiful eyes, and a pathetic droop at the corners of her mouth. Tarzan was touched.
  • "Who knows?" and then he turned and rode after the departing Arabs.
  • Outside Bou Saada he bade Kadour ben Saden and his men good-by, for there wer_easons which made him wish to make his entry into the town as secret a_ossible, and when he had explained them to the sheik the latter concurred i_is decision. The Arabs were to enter Bou Saada ahead of him, saying nothin_s to his presence with them. Later Tarzan would come in alone, and g_irectly to an obscure native inn.
  • Thus, making his entrance after dark, as he did, he was not seen by any on_ho knew him, and reached the inn unobserved. After dining with Kadour be_aden as his guest, he went to his former hotel by a roundabout way, and, coming in by a rear entrance, sought the proprietor, who seemed much surprise_o see him alive.
  • Yes, there was mail for monsieur; he would fetch it. No, he would mentio_onsieur's return to no one. Presently he returned with a packet of letters.
  • One was an order from his superior to lay off on his present work, and haste_o Cape Town by the first steamer he could get. His further instructions woul_e awaiting him there in the hands of another agent whose name and addres_ere given. That was all—brief but explicit. Tarzan arranged to leave Bo_aada early the next morning. Then he started for the garrison to see Captai_erard, whom the hotel man had told him had returned with his detachment th_revious day.
  • He found the officer in his quarters. He was filled with surprise and pleasur_t seeing Tarzan alive and well.
  • "When Lieutenant Gernois returned and reported that he had not found you a_he spot that you had chosen to remain while the detachment was scouting, _as filled with alarm. We searched the mountain for days. Then came word tha_ou had been killed and eaten by a lion. As proof your gun was brought to us.
  • Your horse had returned to camp the second day after your disappearance. W_ould not doubt. Lieutenant Gernois was grief-stricken—he took all the blam_pon himself. It was he who insisted on carrying on the search himself. It wa_e who found the Arab with your gun. He will be delighted to know that you ar_afe."
  • "Doubtless," said Tarzan, with a grim smile.
  • "He is down in the town now, or I should send for him," continued Captai_erard. "I shall tell him as soon as he returns."
  • Tarzan let the officer think that he had been lost, wandering finally into th_OUAR of Kadour ben Saden, who had escorted him back to Bou Saada. As soon a_ossible he bade the good officer adieu, and hastened back into the town. A_he native inn he had learned through Kadour ben Saden a piece of interestin_nformation. It told of a black-bearded white man who went always disguised a_n Arab. For a time he had nursed a broken wrist. More recently he had bee_way from Bou Saada, but now he was back, and Tarzan knew his place o_oncealment. It was for there he headed.
  • Through narrow, stinking alleys, black as Erebus, he groped, and then up _ickety stairway, at the end of which was a closed door and a tiny, unglaze_indow. The window was high under the low eaves of the mud building. Tarza_ould just reach the sill. He raised himself slowly until his eyes topped it.
  • The room within was lighted, and at a table sat Rokoff and Gernois. Gernoi_as speaking.
  • "Rokoff, you are a devil!" he was saying. "You have hounded me until I hav_ost the last shred of my honor. You have driven me to murder, for the bloo_f that man Tarzan is on my hands. If it were not that that other devil'_pawn, Paulvitch, still knew my secret, I should kill you here tonight with m_are hands."
  • Rokoff laughed. "You would not do that, my dear lieutenant," he said. "Th_oment I am reported dead by assassination that dear Alexis will forward t_he minister of war full proof of the affair you so ardently long to conceal; and, further, will charge you with my murder. Come, be sensible. I am you_est friend. Have I not protected your honor as though it were my own?"
  • Gernois sneered, and spat out an oath.
  • "Just one more little payment," continued Rokoff, "and the papers I wish, an_ou have my word of honor that I shall never ask another cent from you, o_urther information."
  • "And a good reason why," growled Gernois. "What you ask will take my las_ent, and the only valuable military secret I hold. You ought to be paying m_or the information, instead of taking both it and money, too."
  • "I am paying you by keeping a still tongue in my head," retorted Rokoff. "Bu_et's have done. Will you, or will you not? I give you three minutes t_ecide. If you are not agreeable I shall send a note to your commandan_onight that will end in the degradation that Dreyfus suffered—the onl_ifference being that he did not deserve it."
  • For a moment Gernois sat with bowed head. At length he arose. He drew tw_ieces of paper from his blouse.
  • "Here," he said hopelessly. "I had them ready, for I knew that there could b_ut one outcome." He held them toward the Russian.
  • Rokoff's cruel face lighted in malignant gloating. He seized the bits o_aper.
  • "You have done well, Gernois," he said. "I shall not trouble you again—unles_ou happen to accumulate some more money or information," and he grinned.
  • "You never shall again, you dog!" hissed Gernois. "The next time I shall kil_ou. I came near doing it tonight. For an hour I sat with these two pieces o_aper on my table before me ere I came here—beside them lay my loade_evolver. I was trying to decide which I should bring. Next time the choic_hall be easier, for I already have decided. You had a close call tonight, Rokoff; do not tempt fate a second time."
  • Then Gernois rose to leave. Tarzan barely had time to drop to the landing an_hrink back into the shadows on the far side of the door. Even then h_carcely hoped to elude detection. The landing was very small, and though h_lattened himself against the wall at its far edge he was scarcely more than _oot from the doorway. Almost immediately it opened, and Gernois stepped out.
  • Rokoff was behind him. Neither spoke. Gernois had taken perhaps three step_own the stairway when he halted and half turned, as though to retrace hi_teps.
  • Tarzan knew that discovery would be inevitable. Rokoff still stood on th_hreshold a foot from him, but he was looking in the opposite direction, toward Gernois. Then the officer evidently reconsidered his decision, an_esumed his downward course. Tarzan could hear Rokoff's sigh of relief. _oment later the Russian went back into the room and closed the door.
  • Tarzan waited until Gernois had had time to get well out of hearing, then h_ushed open the door and stepped into the room. He was on top of Rokoff befor_he man could rise from the chair where he sat scanning the paper Gernois ha_iven him. As his eyes turned and fell upon the ape-man's face his own wen_ivid.
  • "You!" he gasped.
  • "I," replied Tarzan.
  • "What do you want?" whispered Rokoff, for the look in the ape-man's eye_rightened him. "Have you come to kill me? You do not dare. They woul_uillotine you. You do not dare kill me."
  • "I dare kill you, Rokoff," replied Tarzan, "for no one knows that you are her_r that I am here, and Paulvitch would tell them that it was Gernois. I hear_ou tell Gernois so. But that would not influence me, Rokoff. I would not car_ho knew that I had killed you; the pleasure of killing you would more tha_ompensate for any punishment they might inflict upon me. You are the mos_espicable cur of a coward, Rokoff, I have ever heard of. You should b_illed. I should love to kill you," and Tarzan approached closer to the man.
  • Rokoff's nerves were keyed to the breaking point. With a shriek he spran_oward an adjoining room, but the ape-man was upon his back while his leap wa_et but half completed. Iron fingers sought his throat—the great cowar_quealed like a stuck pig, until Tarzan had shut off his wind. Then the ape- man dragged him to his feet, still choking him. The Russian struggle_utilely—he was like a babe in the mighty grasp of Tarzan of the Apes.
  • Tarzan sat him in a chair, and long before there was danger of the man's dyin_e released his hold upon his throat. When the Russian's coughing spell ha_bated Tarzan spoke to him again.
  • "I have given you a taste of the suffering of death," he said. "But I shal_ot kill—this time. I am sparing you solely for the sake of a very good woma_hose great misfortune it was to have been born of the same woman who gav_irth to you. But I shall spare you only this once on her account. Should _ver learn that you have again annoyed her or her husband—should you eve_nnoy me again—should I hear that you have returned to France or to any Frenc_osession, I shall make it my sole business to hunt you down and complete th_hoking I commenced tonight." Then he turned to the table, on which the tw_ieces of paper still lay. As he picked them up Rokoff gasped in horror.
  • Tarzan examined both the check and the other. He was amazed at the informatio_he latter contained. Rokoff had partially read it, but Tarzan knew that n_ne could remember the salient facts and figures it held which made it of rea_alue to an enemy of France.
  • "These will interest the chief of staff," he said, as he slipped them into hi_ocket. Rokoff groaned. He did not dare curse aloud.
  • The next morning Tarzan rode north on his way to Bouira and Algiers. As he ha_idden past the hotel Lieutenant Gernois was standing on the veranda. As hi_yes discovered Tarzan he went white as chalk. The ape-man would have bee_lad had the meeting not occurred, but he could not avoid it. He saluted th_fficer as he rode past. Mechanically Gernois returned the salute, but thos_errible, wide eyes followed the horseman, expressionless except for horror.
  • It was as though a dead man looked upon a ghost.
  • At Sidi Aissa Tarzan met a French officer with whom he had become acquainte_n the occasion of his recent sojourn in the town.
  • "You left Bou Saada early?" questioned the officer. "Then you have not hear_bout poor Gernois."
  • "He was the last man I saw as I rode away," replied Tarzan. "What about him?"
  • "He is dead. He shot himself about eight o'clock this morning."
  • Two days later Tarzan reached Algiers. There he found that he would have a tw_ays' wait before he could catch a ship bound for Cape Town. He occupied hi_ime in writing out a full report of his mission. The secret papers he ha_aken from Rokoff he did not inclose, for he did not dare trust them out o_is own possession until he had been authorized to turn them over to anothe_gent, or himself return to Paris with them.
  • As Tarzan boarded his ship after what seemed a most tedious wait to him, tw_en watched him from an upper deck. Both were fashionably dressed and smoot_haven. The taller of the two had sandy hair, but his eyebrows were ver_lack. Later in the day they chanced to meet Tarzan on deck, but as on_urriedly called his companion's attention to something at sea their face_ere turned from Tarzan as he passed, so that he did not notice thei_eatures. In fact, he had paid no attention to them at all.
  • Following the instructions of his chief, Tarzan had booked his passage unde_n assumed name—John Caldwell, London. He did not understand the necessity o_his, and it caused him considerable speculation. He wondered what role he wa_o play in Cape Town.
  • "Well," he thought, "thank Heaven that I am rid of Rokoff. He was commencin_o annoy me. I wonder if I am really becoming so civilized that presently _hall develop a set of nerves. He would give them to me if any one could, fo_e does not fight fair. One never knows through what new agency he is going t_trike. It is as though Numa, the lion, had induced Tantor, the elephant, an_istah, the snake, to join him in attempting to kill me. I would then neve_ave known what minute, or by whom, I was to be attacked next. But the brute_re more chivalrous than man—they do not stoop to cowardly intrigue."
  • At dinner that night Tarzan sat next to a young woman whose place was at th_aptain's left. The officer introduced them.
  • Miss Strong! Where had he heard the name before? It was very familiar. An_hen the girl's mother gave him the clew, for when she addressed her daughte_he called her Hazel.
  • Hazel Strong! What memories the name inspired. It had been a letter to thi_irl, penned by the fair hand of Jane Porter, that had carried to him th_irst message from the woman he loved. How vividly he recalled the night h_ad stolen it from the desk in the cabin of his long-dead father, where Jan_orter had sat writing it late into the night, while he crouched in th_arkness without. How terror-stricken she would have been that night had sh_nown that the wild jungle beast squatted outside her window, watching he_very move.
  • And this was Hazel Strong—Jane Porter's best friend!