The Search Party
When dawn broke upon the little camp of Frenchmen in the
heart of the jungle it found a sad and disheartened group.
As soon as it was light enough to see their surroundings
Lieutenant Charpentier sent men in groups of three in several
directions to locate the trail, and in ten minutes it was found
and the expedition was hurrying back toward the beach.
It was slow work, for they bore the bodies of six dead
men, two more having succumbed during the night, and several
of those who were wounded required support to move
even very slowly.
Charpentier had decided to return to camp for reinforcements,
and then make an attempt to track down the natives
and rescue D'Arnot.
It was late in the afternoon when the exhausted men
reached the clearing by the beach, but for two of them the
return brought so great a happiness that all their suffering
and heartbreaking grief was forgotten on the instant.
As the little party emerged from the jungle the first person
that Professor and Cecil Clayton saw was Jane, standing
by the cabin door.
With a little cry of joy and relief she ran forward to greet
them, throwing her arms about her father's neck and bursting
into tears for the first time since they had been cast upon
this hideous and adventurous shore.
Professor strove manfully to suppress his own emotions,
but the strain upon his nerves and weakened vitality
were too much for him, and at length, burying his old face in
the girl's shoulder, he sobbed quietly like a tired child.
Jane led him toward the cabin, and the Frenchmen turned
toward the beach from which several of their fellows were
advancing to meet them.
Clayton, wishing to leave father and daughter alone, joined the
sailors and remained talking with the officers until their boat
pulled away toward the cruiser whither Lieutenant Charpentier
was bound to report the unhappy outcome of his adventure.
Then Clayton turned back slowly toward the cabin. His heart
was filled with happiness. The woman he loved was safe.
He wondered by what manner of miracle she had been
spared. To see her alive seemed almost unbelievable.
As he approached the cabin he saw Jane coming out.
When she saw him she hurried forward to meet him.
"Jane!" he cried, "God has been good to us, indeed. Tell
me how you escaped--what form Providence took to save
He had never before called her by her given name. Forty-eight
hours before it would have suffused Jane with a soft glow of
pleasure to have heard that name from Clayton's lips--now
it frightened her.
"Mr. Clayton," she said quietly, extending her hand, "first
let me thank you for your chivalrous loyalty to my dear father.
He has told me how noble and self-sacrificing you have
been. How can we repay you!"
Clayton noticed that she did not return his familiar salutation,
but he felt no misgivings on that score. She had been
through so much. This was no time to force his love upon
her, he quickly realized.
"I am already repaid," he said. "Just to see you and Professor
Porter both safe, well, and together again. I do not
think that I could much longer have endured the pathos of
his quiet and uncomplaining grief.
"It was the saddest experience of my life, Miss Porter; and
then, added to it, there was my own grief--the greatest I
have ever known. But his was so hopeless--his was pitiful. It
taught me that no love, not even that of a man for his wife
may be so deep and terrible and self-sacrificing as the love of
a father for his daughter."
The girl bowed her head. There was a question she wanted
to ask, but it seemed almost sacrilegious in the face of the
love of these two men and the terrible suffering they had
endured while she sat laughing and happy beside a godlike
creature of the forest, eating delicious fruits and looking
with eyes of love into answering eyes.
But love is a strange master, and human nature is still
stranger, so she asked her question.
"Where is the forest man who went to rescue you? Why
did he not return?"
"I do not understand," said Clayton. "Whom do you mean?"
"He who has saved each of us--who saved me from the gorilla."
"Oh," cried Clayton, in surprise. "It was he who rescued you?
You have not told me anything of your adventure, you know."
"But the wood man," she urged. "Have you not seen him?
When we heard the shots in the jungle, very faint and far
away, he left me. We had just reached the clearing, and he
hurried off in the direction of the fighting. I know he went
to aid you."
Her tone was almost pleading--her manner tense with suppressed
emotion. Clayton could not but notice it, and he wondered,
vaguely, why she was so deeply moved--so anxious to
know the whereabouts of this strange creature.
Yet a feeling of apprehension of some impending sorrow
haunted him, and in his breast, unknown to himself, was
implanted the first germ of jealousy and suspicion of the
ape-man, to whom he owed his life.
"We did not see him," he replied quietly. "He did not join
us." And then after a moment of thoughtful pause: "Possibly
he joined his own tribe--the men who attacked us." He did
not know why he had said it, for he did not believe it.
The girl looked at him wide eyed for a moment.
"No!" she exclaimed vehemently, much too vehemently he
thought. "It could not be. They were savages."
Clayton looked puzzled.
"He is a strange, half-savage creature of the jungle, Miss
Porter. We know nothing of him. He neither speaks nor
understands any European tongue--and his ornaments and
weapons are those of the West Coast savages."
Clayton was speaking rapidly.
"There are no other human beings than savages within
hundreds of miles, Miss Porter. He must belong to the tribes
which attacked us, or to some other equally savage--he may
even be a cannibal."
"I will not believe it," she half whispered. "It is not true.
You shall see," she said, addressing Clayton, "that he will
come back and that he will prove that you are wrong. You
do not know him as I do. I tell you that he is a gentleman."
Clayton was a generous and chivalrous man, but something
in the girl's breathless defense of the forest man stirred him
to unreasoning jealousy, so that for the instant he forgot all
that they owed to this wild demi-god, and he answered her
with a half sneer upon his lip.
"Possibly you are right, Miss Porter," he said, "but I do
not think that any of us need worry about our carrion-eating
acquaintance. The chances are that he is some half-demented
castaway who will forget us more quickly, but no more
surely, than we shall forget him. He is only a beast of
the jungle, Miss Porter."
The girl did not answer, but she felt her heart shrivel
She knew that Clayton spoke merely what he thought, and
for the first time she began to analyze the structure which
supported her newfound love, and to subject its object to a
Slowly she turned and walked back to the cabin. She tried
to imagine her wood-god by her side in the saloon of an
ocean liner. She saw him eating with his hands, tearing his
food like a beast of prey, and wiping his greasy fingers upon
his thighs. She shuddered.
She saw him as she introduced him to her friends--uncouth,
illiterate--a boor; and the girl winced.
She had reached her room now, and as she sat upon the
edge of her bed of ferns and grasses, with one hand resting
upon her rising and falling bosom, she felt the hard outlines
of the man's locket.
She drew it out, holding it in the palm of her hand for a
moment with tear-blurred eyes bent upon it. Then she raised
it to her lips, and crushing it there buried her face in
the soft ferns, sobbing.
"Beast?" she murmured. "Then God make me a beast; for,
man or beast, I am yours."
She did not see Clayton again that day. Esmeralda brought
her supper to her, and she sent word to her father that she
was suffering from the reaction following her adventure.
The next morning Clayton left early with the relief expedition
in search of Lieutenant D'Arnot. There were two hundred
armed men this time, with ten officers and two surgeons,
and provisions for a week.
They carried bedding and hammocks, the latter for transporting
their sick and wounded.
It was a determined and angry company--a punitive expedition
as well as one of relief. They reached the sight of the
skirmish of the previous expedition shortly after noon, for
they were now traveling a known trail and no time was lost
From there on the elephant-track led straight to Mbonga's
village. It was but two o'clock when the head of the column
halted upon the edge of the clearing.
Lieutenant Charpentier, who was in command, immediately
sent a portion of his force through the jungle to the opposite
side of the village. Another detachment was dispatched
to a point before the village gate, while he remained with the
balance upon the south side of the clearing.
It was arranged that the party which was to take its position
to the north, and which would be the last to gain its station
should commence the assault, and that their opening volley
should be the signal for a concerted rush from all sides in an
attempt to carry the village by storm at the first charge.
For half an hour the men with Lieutenant Charpentier
crouched in the dense foliage of the jungle, waiting the
signal. To them it seemed like hours. They could see natives in
the fields, and others moving in and out of the village gate.
At length the signal came--a sharp rattle of musketry, and
like one man, an answering volley tore from the jungle to the
west and to the south.
The natives in the field dropped their implements and
broke madly for the palisade. The French bullets mowed
them down, and the French sailors bounded over their
prostrate bodies straight for the village gate.
So sudden and unexpected the assault had been that the
whites reached the gates before the frightened natives could
bar them, and in another minute the village street was filled
with armed men fighting hand to hand in an inextricable tangle.
For a few moments the blacks held their ground within the
entrance to the street, but the revolvers, rifles and cutlasses
of the Frenchmen crumpled the native spearmen and struck
down the black archers with their bows halfdrawn.
Soon the battle turned to a wild rout, and then to a grim
massacre; for the French sailors had seen bits of D'Arnot's
uniform upon several of the black warriors who opposed them.
They spared the children and those of the women whom
they were not forced to kill in self-defense, but when at
length they stopped, parting, blood covered and sweating, it
was because there lived to oppose them no single warrior of
all the savage village of Mbonga.
Carefully they ransacked every hut and corner of the village,
but no sign of D'Arnot could they find. They questioned
the prisoners by signs, and finally one of the sailors who had
served in the French Congo found that he could make them
understand the bastard tongue that passes for language between
the whites and the more degraded tribes of the coast,
but even then they could learn nothing definite regarding the
fate of D'Arnot.
Only excited gestures and expressions of fear could they
obtain in response to their inquiries concerning their fellow;
and at last they became convinced that these were but evidences
of the guilt of these demons who had slaughtered and
eaten their comrade two nights before.
At length all hope left them, and they prepared to camp
for the night within the village. The prisoners were herded
into three huts where they were heavily guarded. Sentries
were posted at the barred gates, and finally the village was
wrapped in the silence of slumber, except for the wailing of
the native women for their dead.
The next morning they set out upon the return march.
Their original intention had been to burn the village, but
this idea was abandoned and the prisoners were left behind,
weeping and moaning, but with roofs to cover them and a
palisade for refuge from the beasts of the jungle.
Slowly the expedition retraced its steps of the preceding
day. Ten loaded hammocks retarded its pace. In eight of
them lay the more seriously wounded, while two swung beneath
the weight of the dead.
Clayton and Lieutenant Charpentier brought up the rear of
the column; the Englishman silent in respect for the other's
grief, for D'Arnot and Charpentier had been inseparable
friends since boyhood.
Clayton could not but realize that the Frenchman felt his
grief the more keenly because D'Arnot's sacrifice had been so
futile, since Jane had been rescued before D'Arnot had fallen
into the hands of the savages, and again because the service
in which he had lost his life had been outside his duty and
for strangers and aliens; but when he spoke of it to Lieutenant
Charpentier, the latter shook his head.
"No, Monsieur," he said, "D'Arnot would have chosen to
die thus. I only grieve that I could not have died for him, or
at least with him. I wish that you could have known him better,
Monsieur. He was indeed an officer and a gentleman--a
title conferred on many, but deserved by so few.
"He did not die futilely, for his death in the cause of a
strange American girl will make us, his comrades, face our
ends the more bravely, however they may come to us."
Clayton did not reply, but within him rose a new respect
for Frenchmen which remained undimmed ever after.
It was quite late when they reached the cabin by the beach.
A single shot before they emerged from the jungle had announced
to those in camp as well as on the ship that the expedition
had been too late--for it had been prearranged that
when they came within a mile or two of camp one shot was
to be fired to denote failure, or three for success, while two
would have indicated that they had found no sign of either
D'Arnot or his black captors.
So it was a solemn party that awaited their coming, and few
words were spoken as the dead and wounded men were tenderly
placed in boats and rowed silently toward the cruiser.
Clayton, exhausted from his five days of laborious marching
through the jungle and from the effects of his two battles
with the blacks, turned toward the cabin to seek a mouthful
of food and then the comparative ease of his bed of grasses
after two nights in the jungle.
By the cabin door stood Jane.
"The poor lieutenant?" she asked. "Did you find no trace
"We were too late, Miss Porter," he replied sadly.
"Tell me. What had happened?" she asked.
"I cannot, Miss Porter, it is too horrible."
"You do not mean that they had tortured him?" she whispered.
"We do not know what they did to him BEFORE they killed
him," he answered, his face drawn with fatigue and the sorrow
he felt for poor D'Arnot and he emphasized the word before.
"BEFORE they killed him! What do you mean? They are
not--? They are not--?"
She was thinking of what Clayton had said of the forest
man's probable relationship to this tribe and she could not
frame the awful word.
"Yes, Miss Porter, they were--cannibals," he said, almost
bitterly, for to him too had suddenly come the thought of the
forest man, and the strange, unaccountable jealousy he had
felt two days before swept over him once more.
And then in sudden brutality that was as unlike Clayton as
courteous consideration is unlike an ape, he blurted out:
"When your forest god left you he was doubtless hurrying
to the feast."
He was sorry ere the words were spoken though he did not
know how cruelly they had cut the girl. His regret was for his
baseless disloyalty to one who had saved the lives of every
member of his party, and offered harm to none.
The girl's head went high.
"There could be but one suitable reply to your assertion,
Mr. Clayton," she said icily, "and I regret that I am not a
man, that I might make it." She turned quickly and entered
Clayton was an Englishman, so the girl had passed quite out
of sight before he deduced what reply a man would have made.
"Upon my word," he said ruefully, "she called me a liar.
And I fancy I jolly well deserved it," he added thoughtfully.
"Clayton, my boy, I know you are tired out and unstrung,
but that's no reason why you should make an ass of yourself.
You'd better go to bed."
But before he did so he called gently to Jane upon the opposite
side of the sailcloth partition, for he wished to apologize,
but he might as well have addressed the Sphinx. Then he wrote
upon a piece of paper and shoved it beneath the partition.
Jane saw the little note and ignored it, for she was very
angry and hurt and mortified, but--she was a woman, and so
eventually she picked it up and read it.
MY DEAR MISS Porter:
I had no reason to insinuate what I did. My only excuse is
that my nerves must be unstrung--which is no excuse at all.
Please try and think that I did not say it. I am very sorry. I
would not have hurt YOU, above all others in the world. Say
that you forgive me.
WM. CECIL Clayton.
"He did think it or he never would have said it," reasoned
the girl, "but it cannot be true--oh, I know it is not true!"
One sentence in the letter frightened her: "I would not
have hurt YOU above all others in the world."
A week ago that sentence would have filled her with delight,
now it depressed her.
She wished she had never met Clayton. She was sorry that
she had ever seen the forest god. No, she was glad. And there
was that other note she had found in the grass before the
cabin the day after her return from the jungle, the love note
signed by Tarzan of the Apes.
Who could be this new suitor? If he were another of the
wild denizens of this terrible forest what might he not do to
"Esmeralda! Wake up," she cried.
"You make me so irritable, sleeping there peacefully when
you know perfectly well that the world is filled with sorrow."
"Gaberelle!" screamed Esmeralda, sitting up. "What is it
now? A hipponocerous? Where is he, Miss Jane?"
"Nonsense, Esmeralda, there is nothing. Go back to sleep.
You are bad enough asleep, but you are infinitely worse awake."
"Yes honey, but what's the matter with you, precious? You
acts sort of disgranulated this evening."
"Oh, Esmeralda, I'm just plain ugly to-night," said the girl.
"Don't pay any attention to me--that's a dear."
"Yes, honey; now you go right to sleep. Your nerves are
all on edge. What with all these ripotamuses and man eating
geniuses that Mister Philander been telling about--Lord, it
ain't no wonder we all get nervous prosecution."
Jane crossed the little room, laughing, and kissing the
faithful woman, bid Esmeralda good night.
Tarzan of the Apes Chapter 21
... Tarzan of the Apes Chapter 23