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Chapter 9 Numa "El Adrea"

  • On the same day that Kadour ben Saden rode south the diligence from the nort_rought Tarzan a letter from D'Arnot which had been forwarded from Sidi-bel- Abbes. It opened the old wound that Tarzan would have been glad to hav_orgotten; yet he was not sorry that D'Arnot had written, for one at least o_is subjects could never cease to interest the ape-man. Here is the letter:
  • MY DEAR JEAN:
  • Since last I wrote you I have been across to London on a matter of
  • business. I was there but three days. The very first day I came
  • upon an old friend of yours—quite unexpectedly—in Henrietta
  • Street. Now you never in the world would guess whom. None other
  • than Mr. Samuel T. Philander. But it is true. I can see your
  • look of incredulity. Nor is this all. He insisted that I return
  • to the hotel with him, and there I found the others—Professor
  • Archimedes Q. Porter, Miss Porter, and that enormous black woman,
  • Miss Porter's maid—Esmeralda, you will recall. While I was there
  • Clayton came in. They are to be married soon, or rather sooner,
  • for I rather suspect that we shall receive announcements almost
  • any day. On account of his father's death it is to be a very quiet
  • affair—only blood relatives.
  • While I was alone with Mr. Philander the old fellow became rather
  • confidential. Said Miss Porter had already postponed the wedding
  • on three different occasions. He confided that it appeared to him
  • that she was not particularly anxious to marry Clayton at all; but
  • this time it seems that it is quite likely to go through.
  • Of course they all asked after you, but I respected your wishes
  • in the matter of your true origin, and only spoke to them of your
  • present affairs.
  • Miss Porter was especially interested in everything I had to say
  • about you, and asked many questions. I am afraid I took a rather
  • unchivalrous delight in picturing your desire and resolve to go back
  • eventually to your native jungle. I was sorry afterward, for it
  • did seem to cause her real anguish to contemplate the awful dangers
  • to which you wished to return. "And yet," she said, "I do not
  • know. There are more unhappy fates than the grim and terrible
  • jungle presents to Monsieur Tarzan. At least his conscience will
  • be free from remorse. And there are moments of quiet and restfulness
  • by day, and vistas of exquisite beauty. You may find it strange
  • that I should say it, who experienced such terrifying experiences
  • in that frightful forest, yet at times I long to return, for I cannot
  • but feel that the happiest moments of my life were spent there."
  • There was an expression of ineffable sadness on her face as
  • she spoke, and I could not but feel that she knew that I knew her
  • secret, and that this was her way of transmitting to you a last
  • tender message from a heart that might still enshrine your memory,
  • though its possessor belonged to another.
  • Clayton appeared nervous and ill at ease while you were the subject
  • of conversation. He wore a worried and harassed expression. Yet
  • he was very kindly in his expressions of interest in you. I wonder
  • if he suspects the truth about you?
  • Tennington came in with Clayton. They are great friends, you know.
  • He is about to set out upon one of his interminable cruises in that
  • yacht of his, and was urging the entire party to accompany him.
  • Tried to inveigle me into it, too. Is thinking of circumnavigating
  • Africa this time. I told him that his precious toy would take him
  • and some of his friends to the bottom of the ocean one of these
  • days if he didn't get it out of his head that she was a liner or
  • a battleship.
  • I returned to Paris day before yesterday, and yesterday I met the
  • Count and Countess de Coude at the races. They inquired after
  • you. De Coude really seems quite fond of you. Doesn't appear to
  • harbor the least ill will. Olga is as beautiful as ever, but a
  • trifle subdued. I imagine that she learned a lesson through her
  • acquaintance with you that will serve her in good stead during the
  • balance of her life. It is fortunate for her, and for De Coude as
  • well, that it was you and not another man more sophisticated.
  • Had you really paid court to Olga's heart I am afraid that there
  • would have been no hope for either of you.
  • She asked me to tell you that Nikolas had left France. She paid him
  • twenty thousand francs to go away, and stay. She is congratulating
  • herself that she got rid of him before he tried to carry out a
  • threat he recently made her that he should kill you at the first
  • opportunity. She said that she should hate to think that her
  • brother's blood was on your hands, for she is very fond of you,
  • and made no bones in saying so before the count. It never for a
  • moment seemed to occur to her that there might be any possibility
  • of any other outcome of a meeting between you and Nikolas. The
  • count quite agreed with her in that. He added that it would take
  • a regiment of Rokoffs to kill you. He has a most healthy respect
  • for your prowess.
  • Have been ordered back to my ship. She sails from Havre in
  • two days under sealed orders. If you will address me in her
  • care, the letters will find me eventually. I shall write you
  • as soon as another opportunity presents.
  • Your sincere friend,
  • PAUL D'ARNOT.
  • "I fear," mused Tarzan, half aloud, "that Olga has thrown away her twent_housand francs."
  • He read over that part of D'Arnot's letter several times in which he ha_uoted from his conversation with Jane Porter. Tarzan derived a rathe_athetic happiness from it, but it was better than no happiness at all.
  • The following three weeks were quite uneventful. On several occasions Tarza_aw the mysterious Arab, and once again he had been exchanging words wit_ieutenant Gernois; but no amount of espionage or shadowing by Tarzan reveale_he Arab's lodgings, the location of which Tarzan was anxious to ascertain.
  • Gernois, never cordial, had kept more than ever aloof from Tarzan since th_pisode in the dining-room of the hotel at Aumale. His attitude on the fe_ccasions that they had been thrown together had been distinctly hostile.
  • That he might keep up the appearance of the character he was playing, Tarza_pent considerable time hunting in the vicinity of Bou Saada. He would spen_ntire days in the foothills, ostensibly searching for gazelle, but on the fe_ccasions that he came close enough to any of the beautiful little animals t_arm them he invariably allowed them to escape without so much as taking hi_ifle from its boot. The ape-man could see no sport in slaughtering the mos_armless and defenseless of God's creatures for the mere pleasure of killing.
  • In fact, Tarzan had never killed for "pleasure," nor to him was there pleasur_n killing. It was the joy of righteous battle that he loved—the ecstasy o_ictory. And the keen and successful hunt for food in which he pitted hi_kill and craftiness against the skill and craftiness of another; but to com_ut of a town filled with food to shoot down a soft-eyed, pretty gazelle—ah, that was crueller than the deliberate and cold-blooded murder of a fellow man.
  • Tarzan would have none of it, and so he hunted alone that none might discove_he sham that he was practicing.
  • And once, probably because of the fact that he rode alone, he was like to hav_ost his life. He was riding slowly through a little ravine when a sho_ounded close behind him, and a bullet passed through the cork helmet he wore.
  • Although he turned at once and galloped rapidly to the top of the ravine, there was no sign of any enemy, nor did he see aught of another human bein_ntil he reached Bou Saada.
  • "Yes," he soliloquized, in recalling the occurrence, "Olga has indeed throw_way her twenty thousand francs."
  • That night he was Captain Gerard's guest at a little dinner.
  • "Your hunting has not been very fortunate?" questioned the officer.
  • "No," replied Tarzan; "the game hereabout is timid, nor do I care particularl_bout hunting game birds or antelope. I think I shall move on farther south, and have a try at some of your Algerian lions."
  • "Good!" exclaimed the captain. "We are marching toward Djelfa on the morrow.
  • You shall have company that far at least. Lieutenant Gernois and I, with _undred men, are ordered south to patrol a district in which the marauders ar_iving considerable trouble. Possibly we may have the pleasure of hunting th_ion together—what say you?"
  • Tarzan was more than pleased, nor did he hesitate to say so; but the captai_ould have been astonished had he known the real reason of Tarzan's pleasure.
  • Gernois was sitting opposite the ape-man. He did not seem so pleased with hi_aptain's invitation.
  • "You will find lion hunting more exciting than gazelle shooting," remarke_aptain Gerard, "and more dangerous."
  • "Even gazelle shooting has its dangers," replied Tarzan. "Especially when on_oes alone. I found it so today. I also found that while the gazelle is th_ost timid of animals, it is not the most cowardly."
  • He let his glance rest only casually upon Gernois after he had spoken, for h_id not wish the man to know that he was under suspicion, or surveillance, n_atter what he might think. The effect of his remark upon him, however, migh_end to prove his connection with, or knowledge of, certain recent happenings.
  • Tarzan saw a dull red creep up from beneath Gernois' collar. He was satisfied, and quickly changed the subject.
  • When the column rode south from Bou Saada the next morning there were half _ozen Arabs bringing up the rear.
  • "They are not attached to the command," replied Gerard in response to Tarzan'_uery. "They merely accompany us on the road for companionship."
  • Tarzan had learned enough about Arab character since he had been in Algeria t_now that this was no real motive, for the Arab is never overfond of th_ompanionship of strangers, and especially of French soldiers. So hi_uspicions were aroused, and he decided to keep a sharp eye on the littl_arty that trailed behind the column at a distance of about a quarter of _ile. But they did not come close enough even during the halts to enable hi_o obtain a close scrutiny of them.
  • He had long been convinced that there were hired assassins on his trail, no_as he in great doubt but that Rokoff was at the bottom of the plot. Whethe_t was to be revenge for the several occasions in the past that Tarzan ha_efeated the Russian's purposes and humiliated him, or was in some wa_onnected with his mission in the Gernois affair, he could not determine. I_he latter, and it seemed probable since the evidence he had had that Gernoi_uspected him, then he had two rather powerful enemies to contend with, fo_here would be many opportunities in the wilds of Algeria, for which they wer_ound, to dispatch a suspected enemy quietly and without attracting suspicion.
  • After camping at Djelfa for two days the column moved to the southwest, fro_hence word had come that the marauders were operating against the tribe_hose DOUARS were situated at the foot of the mountains.
  • The little band of Arabs who had accompanied them from Bou Saada ha_isappeared suddenly the very night that orders had been given to prepare fo_he morrow's march from Djelfa. Tarzan made casual inquiries among the men, but none could tell him why they had left, or in what direction they had gone.
  • He did not like the looks of it, especially in view of the fact that he ha_een Gernois in conversation with one of them some half hour after Captai_erard had issued his instructions relative to the new move. Only Gernois an_arzan knew the direction of the proposed march. All the soldiers knew wa_hat they were to be prepared to break camp early the next morning. Tarza_ondered if Gernois could have revealed their destination to the Arabs.
  • Late that afternoon they went into camp at a little oasis in which was th_OUAR of a sheik whose flocks were being stolen, and whose herdsmen were bein_illed. The Arabs came out of their goatskin tents, and surrounded th_oldiers, asking many questions in the native tongue, for the soldiers wer_hemselves natives. Tarzan, who, by this time, with the assistance of Abdul, had picked up quite a smattering of Arab, questioned one of the younger me_ho had accompanied the sheik while the latter paid his respects to Captai_erard.
  • No, he had seen no party of six horsemen riding from the direction of Djelfa.
  • There were other oases scattered about—possibly they had been journeying t_ne of these. Then there were the marauders in the mountains above—they ofte_ode north to Bou Saada in small parties, and even as far as Aumale an_ouira. It might indeed have been a few marauders returning to the band from _leasure trip to one of these cities.
  • Early the next morning Captain Gerard split his command in two, givin_ieutenant Gernois command of one party, while he headed the other. They wer_o scour the mountains upon opposite sides of the plain.
  • "And with which detachment will Monsieur Tarzan ride?" asked the captain. "O_aybe it is that monsieur does not care to hunt marauders?"
  • "Oh, I shall be delighted to go," Tarzan hastened to explain. He was wonderin_hat excuse he could make to accompany Gernois. His embarrassment was short- lived, and was relieved from a most unexpected source. It was Gernois himsel_ho spoke.
  • "If my captain will forego the pleasure of Monsieur Tarzan's company for thi_nce, I shall esteem it an honor indeed to have monsieur ride with me today,"
  • he said, nor was his tone lacking in cordiality. In fact, Tarzan imagined tha_e had overdone it a trifle, but, even so, he was both astounded and pleased, hastening to express his delight at the arrangement.
  • And so it was that Lieutenant Gernois and Tarzan rode off side by side at th_ead of the little detachment of SPAHIS. Gernois' cordiality was short-lived.
  • No sooner had they ridden out of sight of Captain Gerard and his men than h_apsed once more into his accustomed taciturnity. As they advanced the groun_ecame rougher. Steadily it ascended toward the mountains, into which the_iled through a narrow canon close to noon. By the side of a little rivule_ernois called the midday halt. Here the men prepared and ate their fruga_eal, and refilled their canteens.
  • After an hour's rest they advanced again along the canon, until they presentl_ame to a little valley, from which several rocky gorges diverged. Here the_alted, while Gernois minutely examined the surrounding heights from th_enter of the depression.
  • "We shall separate here," he said, "several riding into each of these gorges,"
  • and then he commenced to detail his various squads and issue instructions t_he non-commissioned officers who were to command them. When he had done h_urned to Tarzan. "Monsieur will be so good as to remain here until w_eturn."
  • Tarzan demurred, but the officer cut him short. "There may be fighting for on_f these sections," he said, "and troops cannot be embarrassed by civilia_oncombatants during action."
  • "But, my dear lieutenant," expostulated Tarzan, "I am most ready and willin_o place myself under command of yourself or any of your sergeants o_orporals, and to fight in the ranks as they direct. It is what I came for."
  • "I should be glad to think so," retorted Gernois, with a sneer he made n_ttempt to disguise. Then shortly: "You are under my orders, and they are tha_ou remain here until we return. Let that end the matter," and he turned an_purred away at the head of his men. A moment later Tarzan found himself alon_n the midst of a desolate mountain fastness.
  • The sun was hot, so he sought the shelter of a nearby tree, where he tethere_is horse, and sat down upon the ground to smoke. Inwardly he swore at Gernoi_or the trick he had played upon him. A mean little revenge, thought Tarzan, and then suddenly it occurred to him that the man would not be such a fool a_o antagonize him through a trivial annoyance of so petty a description. Ther_ust be something deeper than this behind it. With the thought he arose an_emoved his rifle from its boot. He looked to its loads and saw that th_agazine was full. Then he inspected his revolver. After this preliminar_recaution he scanned the surrounding heights and the mouths of the severa_orges—he was determined that he should not be caught napping.
  • The sun sank lower and lower, yet there was no sign of returning SPAHIS. A_ast the valley was submerged in shadow Tarzan was too proud to go back t_amp until he had given the detachment ample time to return to the valley, which he thought was to have been their rendezvous. With the closing in o_ight he felt safer from attack, for he was at home in the dark. He knew tha_one might approach him so cautiously as to elude those alert and sensitiv_ars of his; then there were his eyes, too, for he could see well at night; and his nose, if they came toward him from up-wind, would apprise him of th_pproach of an enemy while they were still a great way off.
  • So he felt that he was in little danger, and thus lulled to a sense o_ecurity he fell asleep, with his back against the tree.
  • He must have slept for several hours, for when he was suddenly awakened by th_rightened snorting and plunging of his horse the moon was shining full upo_he little valley, and there, not ten paces before him, stood the grim caus_f the terror of his mount.
  • Superb, majestic, his graceful tail extended and quivering, and his two eye_f fire riveted full upon his prey, stood Numa EL ADREA, the black lion. _ittle thrill of joy tingled through Tarzan's nerves. It was like meeting a_ld friend after years of separation. For a moment he sat rigid to enjoy th_agnificent spectacle of this lord of the wilderness.
  • But now Numa was crouching for the spring. Very slowly Tarzan raised his gu_o his shoulder. He had never killed a large animal with a gun in all hi_ife—heretofore he had depended upon his spear, his poisoned arrows, his rope, his knife, or his bare hands. Instinctively he wished that he had his arrow_nd his knife—he would have felt surer with them.
  • Numa was lying quite flat upon the ground now, presenting only his head.
  • Tarzan would have preferred to fire a little from one side, for he knew wha_errific damage the lion could do if he lived two minutes, or even a minut_fter he was hit. The horse stood trembling in terror at Tarzan's back. Th_pe-man took a cautious step to one side—Numa but followed him with his eyes.
  • Another step he took, and then another. Numa had not moved. Now he could ai_t a point between the eye and the ear.
  • His finger tightened upon the trigger, and as he fired Numa sprang. At th_ame instant the terrified horse made a last frantic effort to escape—th_ether parted, and he went careening down the canon toward the desert.
  • No ordinary man could have escaped those frightful claws when Numa sprang fro_o short a distance, but Tarzan was no ordinary man. From earliest childhoo_is muscles had been trained by the fierce exigencies of his existence to ac_ith the rapidity of thought. As quick as was EL ADREA, Tarzan of the Apes wa_uicker, and so the great beast crashed against a tree where he had expecte_o feel the soft flesh of man, while Tarzan, a couple of paces to the right, pumped another bullet into him that brought him clawing and roaring to hi_ide.
  • Twice more Tarzan fired in quick succession, and then EL ADREA lay still an_oared no more. It was no longer Monsieur Jean Tarzan; it was Tarzan of th_pes that put a savage foot upon the body of his savage kill, and, raising hi_ace to the full moon, lifted his mighty voice in the weird and terribl_hallenge of his kind—a bull ape had made his kill. And the wild things in th_ild mountains stopped in their hunting, and trembled at this new and awfu_oice, while down in the desert the children of the wilderness came out o_heir goatskin tents and looked toward the mountains, wondering what new an_avage scourge had come to devastate their flocks.
  • A half mile from the valley in which Tarzan stood, a score of white-robe_igures, bearing long, wicked-looking guns, halted at the sound, and looked a_ne another with questioning eyes. But presently, as it was not repeated, the_ook up their silent, stealthy way toward the valley.
  • Tarzan was now confident that Gernois had no intention of returning for him, but he could not fathom the object that had prompted the officer to deser_im, yet leave him free to return to camp. His horse gone, he decided that i_ould be foolish to remain longer in the mountains, so he set out toward th_esert.
  • He had scarcely entered the confines of the canon when the first of the white- robed figures emerged into the valley upon the opposite side. For a momen_hey scanned the little depression from behind sheltering bowlders, but whe_hey had satisfied themselves that it was empty they advanced across it.
  • Beneath the tree at one side they came upon the body of EL ADREA. Wit_uttered exclamations they crowded about it. Then, a moment later, the_urried down the canon which Tarzan was threading a brief distance in advanc_f them. They moved cautiously and in silence, taking advantage of shelter, a_en do who are stalking man.