Forging Bonds of Hate and ----?
It was not until late the following afternoon that Tarzan
saw anything more of the fellow passengers into the midst
of whose affairs his love of fair play had thrust him.
And then he came most unexpectedly upon Rokoff and Paulvitch
at a moment when of all others the two might least
appreciate his company.
They were standing on deck at a point which was temporarily
deserted, and as Tarzan came upon them they were in
heated argument with a woman. Tarzan noted that she was
richly appareled, and that her slender, well-modeled figure
denoted youth; but as she was heavily veiled he could not
discern her features.
The men were standing on either side of her, and the
backs of all were toward Tarzan, so that he was quite close
to them without their being aware of his presence.
He noticed that Rokoff seemed to be threatening, the woman
pleading; but they spoke in a strange tongue, and he could
only guess from appearances that the girl was afraid.
Rokoff's attitude was so distinctly filled with the threat of
physical violence that the ape-man paused for an instant just
behind the trio, instinctively sensing an atmosphere of danger.
Scarcely had he hesitated ere the man seized the woman
roughly by the wrist, twisting it as though to wring a promise
from her through torture. What would have happened next
had Rokoff had his way we may only conjecture, since he
did not have his way at all. Instead, steel fingers gripped his
shoulder, and he was swung unceremoniously around, to meet
the cold gray eyes of the stranger who had thwarted him
on the previous day.
"SAPRISTI!" screamed the infuriated Rokoff. "What do you
mean? Are you a fool that you thus again insult Nikolas Rokoff?"
"This is my answer to your note, Monsieur," said Tarzan,
in a low voice. And then he hurled the fellow from him with
such force that Rokoff lunged sprawling against the rail.
"Name of a name!" shrieked Rokoff. "Pig, but you shall die
for this," and, springing to his feet, he rushed upon Tarzan,
tugging the meanwhile to draw a revolver from his hip
pocket. The girl shrank back in terror.
"Nikolas!" she cried. "Do not--oh, do not do that. Quick,
Monsieur, fly, or he will surely kill you!" But instead of
flying Tarzan advanced to meet the fellow. "Do not make a
fool of yourself, Monsieur," he said.
Rokoff, who was in a perfect frenzy of rage at the humiliation
the stranger had put upon him, had at last succeeded in drawing
the revolver. He had stopped, and now he deliberately raised
it to Tarzan's breast and pulled the trigger. The hammer fell
with a futile click on an empty chamber--the ape-man's hand
shot out like the head of an angry python; there was a quick
wrench, and the revolver sailed far out across the ship's
rail, and dropped into the Atlantic.
For a moment the two men stood there facing one another. Rokoff
had regained his self-possession. He was the first to speak.
"Twice now has Monsieur seen fit to interfere in matters
which do not concern him. Twice he has taken it upon himself
to humiliate Nikolas Rokoff. The first offense was overlooked
on the assumption that Monsieur acted through ignorance,
but this affair shall not be overlooked. If Monsieur
does not know who Nikolas Rokoff is, this last piece of
effrontery will insure that Monsieur later has good reason
to remember him."
"That you are a coward and a scoundrel, Monsieur," replied
Tarzan, "is all that I care to know of you," and he
turned to ask the girl if the man had hurt her, but she had
disappeared. Then, without even a glance toward Rokoff and
his companion, he continued his stroll along the deck.
Tarzan could not but wonder what manner of conspiracy
was on foot, or what the scheme of the two men might be.
There had been something rather familiar about the
appearance of the veiled woman to whose rescue he had just
come, but as he had not seen her face he could not be sure
that he had ever seen her before. The only thing about her
that he had particularly noticed was a ring of peculiar
workmanship upon a finger of the hand that Rokoff had
seized, and he determined to note the fingers of the women
passengers he came upon thereafter, that he might discover
the identity of her whom Rokoff was persecuting, and learn
if the fellow had offered her further annoyance.
Tarzan had sought his deck chair, where he sat speculating
on the numerous instances of human cruelty, selfishness, and
spite that had fallen to his lot to witness since that day in
the jungle four years since that his eyes had first fallen
upon a human being other than himself--the sleek, black
Kulonga, whose swift spear had that day found the vitals of
Kala, the great she-ape, and robbed the youth, Tarzan, of
the only mother he had ever known.
He recalled the murder of King by the rat-faced Snipes;
the abandonment of Professor Porter and his party by the
mutineers of the ARROW; the cruelty of the black warriors
and women of Mbonga to their captives; the petty jealousies of
the civil and military officers of the West Coast colony that
had afforded him his first introduction to the civilized world.
"MON DIEU!" he soliloquized, "but they are all alike.
Cheating, murdering, lying, fighting, and all for things that
the beasts of the jungle would not deign to possess--money
to purchase the effeminate pleasures of weaklings. And yet
withal bound down by silly customs that make them slaves to
their unhappy lot while firm in the belief that they be the
lords of creation enjoying the only real pleasures of existence.
In the jungle one would scarcely stand supinely aside while
another took his mate. It is a silly world, an idiotic world,
and Tarzan of the Apes was a fool to renounce the freedom and
the happiness of his jungle to come into it."
Presently, as he sat there, the sudden feeling came over
him that eyes were watching from behind, and the old
instinct of the wild beast broke through the thin veneer of
civilization, so that Tarzan wheeled about so quickly that the
eyes of the young woman who had been surreptitiously regarding
him had not even time to drop before the gray eyes
of the ape-man shot an inquiring look straight into them.
Then, as they fell, Tarzan saw a faint wave of crimson creep
swiftly over the now half-averted face.
He smiled to himself at the result of his very uncivilized and
ungallant action, for he had not lowered his own eyes when
they met those of the young woman. She was very young,
and equally good to look upon. Further, there was something
rather familiar about her that set Tarzan to wondering
where he had seen her before. He resumed his former position,
and presently he was aware that she had arisen and was
leaving the deck. As she passed, Tarzan turned to watch her,
in the hope that he might discover a clew to satisfy his mild
curiosity as to her identity.
Nor was he disappointed entirely, for as she walked away
she raised one hand to the black, waving mass at the nape
of her neck--the peculiarly feminine gesture that admits
cognizance of appraising eyes behind her--and Tarzan saw
upon a finger of this hand the ring of strange workmanship
that he had seen upon the finger of the veiled woman a short
So it was this beautiful young woman Rokoff had been
persecuting. Tarzan wondered in a lazy sort of way whom
she might be, and what relations one so lovely could have
with the surly, bearded Russian.
After dinner that evening Tarzan strolled forward, where
he remained until after dark, in conversation with the second
officer, and when that gentleman's duties called him elsewhere
Tarzan lolled lazily by the rail watching the play of
the moonlight upon the gently rolling waters. He was
half hidden by a davit, so that two men who approached
along the deck did not see him, and as they passed Tarzan
caught enough of their conversation to cause him to fall in
behind them, to follow and learn what deviltry they were up
to. He had recognized the voice as that of Rokoff, and had
seen that his companion was Paulvitch.
Tarzan had overheard but a few words: "And if she screams
you may choke her until--" But those had been enough to
arouse the spirit of adventure within him, and so he kept the
two men in sight as they walked, briskly now, along the deck.
To the smoking-room he followed them, but they merely
halted at the doorway long enough, apparently, to assure
themselves that one whose whereabouts they wished to
establish was within.
Then they proceeded directly to the first-class cabins upon
the promenade deck. Here Tarzan found greater difficulty
in escaping detection, but he managed to do so successfully.
As they halted before one of the polished hardwood doors,
Tarzan slipped into the shadow of a passageway not a dozen
feet from them.
To their knock a woman's voice asked in French: "Who is it?"
"It is I, Olga--Nikolas," was the answer, in Rokoff's now
familiar guttural. "May I come in?"
"Why do you not cease persecuting me, Nikolas?" came
the voice of the woman from beyond the thin panel.
"I have never harmed you."
"Come, come, Olga," urged the man, in propitiary tones;
"I but ask a half dozen words with you. I shall not harm you,
nor shall I enter your cabin; but I cannot shout my message
through the door."
Tarzan heard the catch click as it was released from the
inside. He stepped out from his hiding-place far enough to
see what transpired when the door was opened, for he could
not but recall the sinister words he had heard a few moments
before upon the deck, "And if she screams you may choke her."
Rokoff was standing directly in front of the door. Paulvitch
had flattened himself against the paneled wall of the corridor
beyond. The door opened. Rokoff half entered the room, and
stood with his back against the door, speaking in a low whisper
to the woman, whom Tarzan could not see. Then Tarzan heard the
woman's voice, level, but loud enough to distinguish her words.
"No, Nikolas," she was saying, "it is useless. Threaten as you
will, I shall never accede to your demands. Leave the room,
please; you have no right here. You promised not to enter."
"Very well, Olga, I shall not enter; but before I am done
with you, you shall wish a thousand times that you had
done at once the favor I have asked. In the end I shall win
anyway, so you might as well save trouble and time for me,
and disgrace for yourself and your--"
"Never, Nikolas!" interrupted the woman, and then Tarzan
saw Rokoff turn and nod to Paulvitch, who sprang quickly
toward the doorway of the cabin, rushing in past Rokoff, who
held the door open for him. Then the latter stepped quickly out.
The door closed. Tarzan heard the click of the lock as
Paulvitch turned it from the inside. Rokoff remained standing
before the door, with head bent, as though to catch the words
of the two within. A nasty smile curled his bearded lip.
Tarzan could hear the woman's voice commanding the fellow to
leave her cabin. "I shall send for my husband," she cried.
"He will show you no mercy."
Paulvitch's sneering laugh came through the polished panels.
"The purser will fetch your husband, madame," said the man.
"In fact, that officer has already been notified that you
are entertaining a man other than your husband behind the
locked door of your cabin."
"Bah!" cried the woman. "My husband will know!"
"Most assuredly your husband will know, but the purser
will not; nor will the newspaper men who shall in some
mysterious way hear of it on our landing. But they will
think it a fine story, and so will all your friends when they
read of it at breakfast on--let me see, this is Tuesday--yes,
when they read of it at breakfast next Friday morning.
Nor will it detract from the interest they will all feel when
they learn that the man whom madame entertained is a Russian
servant--her brother's valet, to be quite exact."
"Alexis Paulvitch," came the woman's voice, cold and fearless,
"you are a coward, and when I whisper a certain name
in your ear you will think better of your demands upon me
and your threats against me, and then you will leave my
cabin quickly, nor do I think that ever again will you, at
least, annoy me," and there came a moment's silence in
which Tarzan could imagine the woman leaning toward the
scoundrel and whispering the thing she had hinted at into
his ear. Only a moment of silence, and then a startled oath
from the man--the scuffling of feet--a woman's scream--
But scarcely had the cry ceased before the ape-man had
leaped from his hiding-place. Rokoff started to run, but
Tarzan grasped him by the collar and dragged him back.
Neither spoke, for both felt instinctively that murder was
being done in that room, and Tarzan was confident that Rokoff
had had no intention that his confederate should go that
far--he felt that the man's aims were deeper than that--deeper
and even more sinister than brutal, cold-blooded murder.
Without hesitating to question those within, the ape-man
threw his giant shoulder against the frail panel, and in a
shower of splintered wood he entered the cabin, dragging
Rokoff after him. Before him, on a couch, the woman lay,
and on top of her was Paulvitch, his fingers gripping the
fair throat, while his victim's hands beat futilely at his face,
tearing desperately at the cruel fingers that were forcing the
life from her.
The noise of his entrance brought Paulvitch to his feet,
where he stood glowering menacingly at Tarzan. The girl
rose falteringly to a sitting posture upon the couch.
One hand was at her throat, and her breath came in little gasps.
Although disheveled and very pale, Tarzan recognized her
as the young woman whom he had caught staring at him on
deck earlier in the day.
"What is the meaning of this?" said Tarzan, turning to Rokoff,
whom he intuitively singled out as the instigator of the outrage.
The man remained silent, scowling. "Touch the button, please,"
continued the ape-man; "we will have one of the ship's
officers here--this affair has gone quite far enough."
"No, no," cried the girl, coming suddenly to her feet.
"Please do not do that. I am sure that there was no real
intention to harm me. I angered this person, and he lost
control of himself, that is all. I would not care to have the
matter go further, please, Monsieur," and there was such a
note of pleading in her voice that Tarzan could not press
the matter, though his better judgment warned him that
there was something afoot here of which the proper
authorities should be made cognizant.
"You wish me to do nothing, then, in the matter?" he asked.
"Nothing, please," she replied.
"You are content that these two scoundrels should continue
She did not seem to know what answer to make, and
looked very troubled and unhappy. Tarzan saw a malicious
grin of triumph curl Rokoff's lip. The girl evidently was in
fear of these two--she dared not express her real desires
"Then," said Tarzan, "I shall act on my own responsibility.
To you," he continued, turning to Rokoff, "and this includes
your accomplice, I may say that from now on to the end of
the voyage I shall take it upon myself to keep an eye on
you, and should there chance to come to my notice any
act of either one of you that might even remotely annoy this
young woman you shall be called to account for it directly
to me, nor shall the calling or the accounting be pleasant
experiences for either of you.
"Now get out of here," and he grabbed Rokoff and
Paulvitch each by the scruff of the neck and thrust them
forcibly through the doorway, giving each an added impetus
down the corridor with the toe of his boot. Then he turned
back to the stateroom and the girl. She was looking at him
in wide-eyed astonishment.
"And you, madame, will confer a great favor upon me if you
will but let me know if either of those rascals troubles
"Ah, Monsieur," she answered, "I hope that you will not
suffer for the kind deed you attempted. You have made a
very wicked and resourceful enemy, who will stop at nothing
to satisfy his hatred. You must be very careful indeed,
"Pardon me, madame, my name is Tarzan."
"Monsieur Tarzan. And because I would not consent to
notify the officers, do not think that I am not sincerely
grateful to you for the brave and chivalrous protection you
rendered me. Good night, Monsieur Tarzan. I shall never
forget the debt I owe you," and, with a most winsome smile
that displayed a row of perfect teeth, the girl curtsied to
Tarzan, who bade her good night and made his way on deck.
It puzzled the man considerably that there should be two
on board--this girl and Count de Coude--who suffered
indignities at the hands of Rokoff and his companion, and yet
would not permit the offenders to be brought to justice.
Before he turned in that night his thoughts reverted many
times to the beautiful young woman into the evidently tangled
web of whose life fate had so strangely introduced him.
It occurred to him that he had not learned her name.
That she was married had been evidenced by the narrow gold
band that encircled the third finger of her left hand.
Involuntarily he wondered who the lucky man might be.
Tarzan saw nothing further of any of the actors in the
little drama that he had caught a fleeting glimpse of until
late in the afternoon of the last day of the voyage. Then he
came suddenly face to face with the young woman as the
two approached their deck chairs from opposite directions.
She greeted him with a pleasant smile, speaking almost
immediately of the affair he had witnessed in her cabin two
nights before. It was as though she had been perturbed by a
conviction that he might have construed her acquaintance
with such men as Rokoff and Paulvitch as a personal
reflection upon herself.
"I trust Monsieur has not judged me," she said, "by the
unfortunate occurrence of Tuesday evening. I have suffered
much on account of it--this is the first time that I
have ventured from my cabin since; I have been ashamed,"
she concluded simply.
"One does not judge the gazelle by the lions that attack
it," replied Tarzan. "I had seen those two work before--in
the smoking-room the day prior to their attack on you, if I
recollect it correctly, and so, knowing their methods, I am
convinced that their enmity is a sufficient guarantee of the
integrity of its object. men such as they must cleave only
to the vile, hating all that is noblest and best."
"It is very kind of you to put it that way," she replied,
smiling. "I have already heard of the matter of the card
game. My husband told me the entire story. He spoke
especially of the strength and bravery of Monsieur Tarzan,
to whom he feels that he owes an immense debt of gratitude."
"Your husband?" repeated Tarzan questioningly.
"Yes. I am the Countess de Coude."
"I am already amply repaid, madame, in knowing that I
have rendered a service to the wife of the Count de Coude."
"Alas, Monsieur, I already am so greatly indebted to you
that I may never hope to settle my own account, so pray
do not add further to my obligations," and she smiled so
sweetly upon him that Tarzan felt that a man might easily
attempt much greater things than he had accomplished, solely
for the pleasure of receiving the benediction of that smile.
He did not see her again that day, and in the rush of
landing on the following morning he missed her entirely,
but there had been something in the expression of her eyes
as they parted on deck the previous day that haunted him.
It had been almost wistful as they had spoken of the
strangeness of the swift friendships of an ocean crossing,
and of the equal ease with which they are broken forever.
Tarzan wondered if he should ever see her again.
Return of Tarzan Chapter 1
... Return of Tarzan Chapter 3