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Chapter 6 A Duel

  • D'Arnot was asleep when Tarzan entered their apartments after leavin_okoff's. Tarzan did not disturb him, but the following morning he narrate_he happenings of the previous evening, omitting not a single detail.
  • "What a fool I have been," he concluded. "De Coude and his wife were both m_riends. How have I returned their friendship? Barely did I escape murderin_he count. I have cast a stigma on the name of a good woman. It is ver_robable that I have broken up a happy home."
  • "Do you love Olga de Coude?" asked D'Arnot.
  • "Were I not positive that she does not love me I could not answer you_uestion, Paul; but without disloyalty to her I tell you that I do not lov_er, nor does she love me. For an instant we were the victims of a sudde_adness—it was not love—and it would have left us, unharmed, as suddenly as i_ad come upon us even though De Coude had not returned. As you know, I hav_ad little experience of women. Olga de Coude is very beautiful; that, and th_im light and the seductive surroundings, and the appeal of the defenseles_or protection, might have been resisted by a more civilized man, but m_ivilization is not even skin deep—it does not go deeper than my clothes.
  • "Paris is no place for me. I will but continue to stumble into more and mor_erious pitfalls. The man-made restrictions are irksome. I feel always that _m a prisoner. I cannot endure it, my friend, and so I think that I shall g_ack to my own jungle, and lead the life that God intended that I should lea_hen He put me there."
  • "Do not take it so to heart, Jean," responded D'Arnot. "You have acquitte_ourself much better than most `civilized' men would have under simila_ircumstances. As to leaving Paris at this time, I rather think that Raoul d_oude may be expected to have something to say on that subject before long."
  • Nor was D'Arnot mistaken. A week later on Monsieur Flaubert was announce_bout eleven in the morning, as D'Arnot and Tarzan were breakfasting. Monsieu_laubert was an impressively polite gentleman. With many low bows he delivere_onsieur le Count de Coude's challenge to Monsieur Tarzan. Would monsieur b_o very kind as to arrange to have a friend meet Monsieur Flaubert at as earl_n hour as convenient, that the details might be arranged to the mutua_atisfaction of all concerned?
  • Certainly. Monsieur Tarzan would be delighted to place his interest_nreservedly in the hands of his friend, Lieutenant D'Arnot. And so it wa_rranged that D'Arnot was to call on Monsieur Flaubert at two that afternoon, and the polite Monsieur Flaubert, with many bows, left them.
  • When they were again alone D'Arnot looked quizzically at Tarzan.
  • "Well?" he said.
  • "Now to my sins I must add murder, or else myself be killed," said Tarzan. "_m progressing rapidly in the ways of my civilized brothers."
  • "What weapons shall you select?" asked D'Arnot. "De Coude is accredited wit_eing a master with the sword, and a splendid shot."
  • "I might then choose poisoned arrows at twenty paces, or spears at the sam_istance," laughed Tarzan. "Make it pistols, Paul."
  • "He will kill you, Jean."
  • "I have no doubt of it," replied Tarzan. "I must die some day."
  • "We had better make it swords," said D'Arnot. "He will be satisfied wit_ounding you, and there is less danger of a mortal wound." "Pistols," sai_arzan, with finality.
  • D'Arnot tried to argue him out of it, but without avail, so pistols it was.
  • D'Arnot returned from his conference with Monsieur Flaubert shortly afte_our.
  • "It is all arranged," he said. "Everything is satisfactory. Tomorrow mornin_t daylight—there is a secluded spot on the road not far from Etamps. For som_ersonal reason Monsieur Flaubert preferred it. I did not demur."
  • "Good!" was Tarzan's only comment. He did not refer to the matter again eve_ndirectly. That night he wrote several letters before he retired. Afte_ealing and addressing them he placed them all in an envelope addressed t_'Arnot. As he undressed D'Arnot heard him humming a music-hall ditty.
  • The Frenchman swore under his breath. He was very unhappy, for he was positiv_hat when the sun rose the next morning it would look down upon a dead Tarzan.
  • It grated upon him to see Tarzan so unconcerned.
  • "This is a most uncivilized hour for people to kill each other," remarked th_pe-man when he had been routed out of a comfortable bed in the blackness o_he early morning hours. He had slept well, and so it seemed that his hea_carcely touched the pillow ere his man deferentially aroused him. His remar_as addressed to D'Arnot, who stood fully dressed in the doorway of Tarzan'_edroom.
  • D'Arnot had scarcely slept at all during the night. He was nervous, an_herefore inclined to be irritable.
  • "I presume you slept like a baby all night," he said.
  • Tarzan laughed. "From your tone, Paul, I infer that you rather harbor the fac_gainst me. I could not help it, really."
  • "No, Jean; it is not that," replied D'Arnot, himself smiling. "But you tak_he entire matter with such infernal indifference—it is exasperating. On_ould think that you were going out to shoot at a target, rather than to fac_ne of the best shots in France."
  • Tarzan shrugged his shoulders. "I am going out to expiate a great wrong, Paul.
  • A very necessary feature of the expiation is the marksmanship of my opponent.
  • Wherefore, then, should I be dissatisfied? Have you not yourself told me tha_ount de Coude is a splendid marksman?"
  • "You mean that you hope to be killed?" exclaimed D'Arnot, in horror.
  • "I cannot say that I hope to be; but you must admit that there is littl_eason to believe that I shall not be killed."
  • Had D'Arnot known the thing that was in the ape-man's mind—that had been i_is mind almost from the first intimation that De Coude would call him t_ccount on the field of honor—he would have been even more horrified than h_as.
  • In silence they entered D'Arnot's great car, and in similar silence they spe_ver the dim road that leads to Etamps. Each man was occupied with his ow_houghts. D'Arnot's were very mournful, for he was genuinely fond of Tarzan.
  • The great friendship which had sprung up between these two men whose lives an_raining had been so widely different had but been strengthened b_ssociation, for they were both men to whom the same high ideals of manhood, of personal courage, and of honor appealed with equal force. They coul_nderstand one another, and each could be proud of the friendship of th_ther.
  • Tarzan of the Apes was wrapped in thoughts of the past; pleasant memories o_he happier occasions of his lost jungle life. He recalled the countles_oyhood hours that he had spent cross-legged upon the table in his dea_ather's cabin, his little brown body bent over one of the fascinating pictur_ooks from which, unaided, he had gleaned the secret of the printed languag_ong before the sounds of human speech fell upon his ears. A smile o_ontentment softened his strong face as he thought of that day of days that h_ad had alone with Jane Porter in the heart of his primeval forest.
  • Presently his reminiscences were broken in upon by the stopping of th_ar—they were at their destination. Tarzan's mind returned to the affairs o_he moment. He knew that he was about to die, but there was no fear of deat_n him. To a denizen of the cruel jungle death is a commonplace. The first la_f nature compels them to cling tenaciously to life—to fight for it; but i_oes not teach them to fear death.
  • D'Arnot and Tarzan were first upon the field of honor. A moment later D_oude, Monsieur Flaubert, and a third gentleman arrived. The last wa_ntroduced to D'Arnot and Tarzan; he was a physician.
  • D'Arnot and Monsieur Flaubert spoke together in whispers for a brief time. Th_ount de Coude and Tarzan stood apart at opposite sides of the field.
  • Presently the seconds summoned them. D'Arnot and Monsieur Flaubert ha_xamined both pistols. The two men who were to face each other a moment late_tood silently while Monsieur Flaubert recited the conditions they were t_bserve.
  • They were to stand back to back. At a signal from Monsieur Flaubert they wer_o walk in opposite directions, their pistols hanging by their sides. Whe_ach had proceeded ten paces D'Arnot was to give the final signal—then the_ere to turn and fire at will until one fell, or each had expended the thre_hots allowed.
  • While Monsieur Flaubert spoke Tarzan selected a cigarette from his case, an_ighted it. De Coude was the personification of coolness—was he not the bes_hot in France?
  • Presently Monsieur Flaubert nodded to D'Arnot, and each man placed hi_rincipal in position.
  • "Are you quite ready, gentlemen?" asked Monsieur Flaubert.
  • "Quite," replied De Coude.
  • Tarzan nodded. Monsieur Flaubert gave the signal. He and D'Arnot stepped bac_ few paces to be out of the line of fire as the men paced slowly apart. Six!
  • Seven! Eight! There were tears in D'Arnot's eyes. He loved Tarzan very much.
  • Nine! Another pace, and the poor lieutenant gave the signal he so hated t_ive. To him it sounded the doom of his best friend.
  • Quickly De Coude wheeled and fired. Tarzan gave a little start. His pisto_till dangled at his side. De Coude hesitated, as though waiting to see hi_ntagonist crumple to the ground. The Frenchman was too experienced a marksma_ot to know that he had scored a hit. Still Tarzan made no move to raise hi_istol. De Coude fired once more, but the attitude of the ape-man—the utte_ndifference that was so apparent in every line of the nonchalant ease of hi_iant figure, and the even unruffled puffing of his cigarette—had disconcerte_he best marksman in France. This time Tarzan did not start, but again D_oude knew that he had hit.
  • Suddenly the explanation leaped to his mind—his antagonist was coolly takin_hese terrible chances in the hope that he would receive no staggering woun_rom any of De Coude's three shots. Then he would take his own time abou_hooting De Coude down deliberately, coolly, and in cold blood. A littl_hiver ran up the Frenchman's spine. It was fiendish—diabolical. What manne_f creature was this that could stand complacently with two bullets in him, waiting for the third?
  • And so De Coude took careful aim this time, but his nerve was gone, and h_ade a clean miss. Not once had Tarzan raised his pistol hand from where i_ung beside his leg.
  • For a moment the two stood looking straight into each other's eyes. O_arzan's face was a pathetic expression of disappointment. On De Coude's _apidly growing expression of horror—yes, of terror.
  • He could endure it no longer.
  • "Mother of God! Monsieur—shoot!" he screamed.
  • But Tarzan did not raise his pistol. Instead, he advanced toward De Coude, an_hen D'Arnot and Monsieur Flaubert, misinterpreting his intention, would hav_ushed between them, he raised his left hand in a sign of remonstrance.
  • "Do not fear," he said to them, "I shall not harm him."
  • It was most unusual, but they halted. Tarzan advanced until he was quite clos_o De Coude.
  • "There must have been something wrong with monsieur's pistol," he said. "O_onsieur is unstrung. Take mine, monsieur, and try again," and Tarzan offere_is pistol, butt foremost, to the astonished De Coude.
  • "MON DIEU, monsieur!" cried the latter. "Are you mad?"
  • "No, my friend," replied the ape-man; "but I deserve to die. It is the onl_ay in which I may atone for the wrong I have done a very good woman. Take m_istol and do as I bid."
  • "It would be murder," replied De Coude. "But what wrong did you do my wife?
  • She swore to me that—"
  • "I do not mean that," said Tarzan quickly. "You saw all the wrong that passe_etween us. But that was enough to cast a shadow upon her name, and to rui_he happiness of a man against whom I had no enmity. The fault was all mine, and so I hoped to die for it this morning. I am disappointed that monsieur i_ot so wonderful a marksman as I had been led to believe."
  • "You say that the fault was all yours?" asked De Coude eagerly.
  • "All mine, monsieur. Your wife is a very pure woman. She loves only you. Th_ault that you saw was all mine. The thing that brought me there was no faul_f either the Countess de Coude or myself. Here is a paper which will quit_ositively demonstrate that," and Tarzan drew from his pocket the statemen_okoff had written and signed.
  • De Coude took it and read. D'Arnot and Monsieur Flaubert had drawn near. The_ere interested spectators of this strange ending of a strange duel. Non_poke until De Coude had quite finished, then he looked up at Tarzan.
  • "You are a very brave and chivalrous gentleman," he said. "I thank God that _id not kill you."
  • De Coude was a Frenchman. Frenchmen are impulsive. He threw his arms abou_arzan and embraced him. Monsieur Flaubert embraced D'Arnot. There was no on_o embrace the doctor. So possibly it was pique which prompted him t_nterfere, and demand that he be permitted to dress Tarzan's wounds.
  • "This gentleman was hit once at least," he said. "Possibly thrice."
  • "Twice," said Tarzan. "Once in the left shoulder, and again in the lef_ide—both flesh wounds, I think." But the doctor insisted upon stretching hi_pon the sward, and tinkering with him until the wounds were cleansed and th_low of blood checked.
  • One result of the duel was that they all rode back to Paris together i_'Arnot's car, the best of friends. De Coude was so relieved to have had thi_ouble assurance of his wife's loyalty that he felt no rancor at all towar_arzan. It is true that the latter had assumed much more of the fault than wa_ightly his, but if he lied a little he may be excused, for he lied in th_ervice of a woman, and he lied like a gentleman.
  • The ape-man was confined to his bed for several days. He felt that it wa_oolish and unnecessary, but the doctor and D'Arnot took the matter so t_eart that he gave in to please them, though it made him laugh to think of it.
  • "It is droll," he said to D'Arnot. "To lie abed because of a pin prick! Why, when Bolgani, the king gorilla, tore me almost to pieces, while I was stil_ut a little boy, did I have a nice soft bed to lie on? No, only the damp, rotting vegetation of the jungle. Hidden beneath some friendly bush I lay fo_ays and weeks with only Kala to nurse me—poor, faithful Kala, who kept th_nsects from my wounds and warned off the beasts of prey.
  • "When I called for water she brought it to me in her own mouth—the only wa_he knew to carry it. There was no sterilized gauze, there was no antisepti_andage—there was nothing that would not have driven our dear doctor mad t_ave seen. Yet I recovered—recovered to lie in bed because of a tiny scratc_hat one of the jungle folk would scarce realize unless it were upon the en_f his nose."
  • But the time was soon over, and before he realized it Tarzan found himsel_broad again. Several times De Coude had called, and when he found that Tarza_as anxious for employment of some nature he promised to see what could b_one to find a berth for him.
  • It was the first day that Tarzan was permitted to go out that he received _essage from De Coude requesting him to call at the count's office tha_fternoon.
  • He found De Coude awaiting him with a very pleasant welcome, and a sincer_ongratulation that he was once more upon his feet. Neither had ever mentione_he duel or the cause of it since that morning upon the field of honor.
  • "I think that I have found just the thing for you, Monsieur Tarzan," said th_ount. "It is a position of much trust and responsibility, which also require_onsiderably physical courage and prowess. I cannot imagine a man bette_itted than you, my dear Monsieur Tarzan, for this very position. It wil_ecessitate travel, and later it may lead to a very much better post—possibl_n the diplomatic service.
  • "At first, for a short time only, you will be a special agent in the servic_f the ministry of war. Come, I will take you to the gentleman who will b_our chief. He can explain the duties better than I, and then you will be in _osition to judge if you wish to accept or no."
  • De Coude himself escorted Tarzan to the office of General Rochere, the chie_f the bureau to which Tarzan would be attached if he accepted the position.
  • There the count left him, after a glowing description to the general of th_any attributes possessed by the ape-man which should fit him for the work o_he service.
  • A half hour later Tarzan walked out of the office the possessor of the firs_osition he had ever held. On the morrow he was to return for furthe_nstructions, though General Rochere had made it quite plain that Tarzan migh_repare to leave Paris for an almost indefinite period, possibly on th_orrow.
  • It was with feelings of the keenest elation that he hastened home to bear th_ood news to D'Arnot. At last he was to be of some value in the world. He wa_o earn money, and, best of all, to travel and see the world.
  • He could scarcely wait to get well inside D'Arnot's sitting room before h_urst out with the glad tidings. D'Arnot was not so pleased.
  • "It seems to delight you to think that you are to leave Paris, and that w_hall not see each other for months, perhaps. Tarzan, you are a mos_ngrateful beast!" and D'Arnot laughed.
  • "No, Paul; I am a little child. I have a new toy, and I am tickled to death."
  • And so it came that on the following day Tarzan left Paris en route fo_arseilles and Oran.