The Forest God
When Clayton heard the report of the firearm he fell into
an agony of fear and apprehension. He knew that one of
the sailors might be the author of it; but the fact that he
had left the revolver with Jane, together with the overwrought
condition of his nerves, made him morbidly positive
that she was threatened with some great danger. Perhaps
even now she was attempting to defend herself against some
savage man or beast.
What were the thoughts of his strange captor or guide
Clayton could only vaguely conjecture; but that he had heard
the shot, and was in some manner affected by it was quite
evident, for he quickened his pace so appreciably that Clayton,
stumbling blindly in his wake, was down a dozen times
in as many minutes in a vain effort to keep pace with him,
and soon was left hopelessly behind.
Fearing that he would again be irretrievably lost, he called
aloud to the wild man ahead of him, and in a moment had the
satisfaction of seeing him drop lightly to his side from the
For a moment Tarzan looked at the young man closely, as
though undecided as to just what was best to do; then,
stooping down before Clayton, he motioned him to grasp him
about the neck, and, with the white man upon his back,
Tarzan took to the trees.
The next few minutes the young Englishman never forgot.
High into bending and swaying branches he was borne with
what seemed to him incredible swiftness, while Tarzan chafed
at the slowness of his progress.
From one lofty branch the agile creature swung with Clayton
through a dizzy arc to a neighboring tree; then for a hundred
yards maybe the sure feet threaded a maze of interwoven limbs,
balancing like a tightrope walker high above the black depths
of verdure beneath.
From the first sensation of chilling fear Clayton passed to
one of keen admiration and envy of those giant muscles and
that wondrous instinct or knowledge which guided this forest
god through the inky blackness of the night as easily and safely
as Clayton would have strolled a London street at high noon.
Occasionally they would enter a spot where the foliage
above was less dense, and the bright rays of the moon lit up
before Clayton's wondering eyes the strange path they were
At such times the man fairly caught his breath at sight of
the horrid depths below them, for Tarzan took the easiest
way, which often led over a hundred feet above the earth.
And yet with all his seeming speed, Tarzan was in reality
feeling his way with comparative slowness, searching
constantly for limbs of adequate strength for the maintenance
of this double weight.
Presently they came to the clearing before the beach.
Tarzan's quick ears had heard the strange sounds of Sabor's
efforts to force her way through the lattice, and it seemed to
Clayton that they dropped a straight hundred feet to earth, so
quickly did Tarzan descend. Yet when they struck the ground
it was with scarce a jar; and as Clayton released his hold on
the ape-man he saw him dart like a squirrel for the opposite
side of the cabin.
The Englishman sprang quickly after him just in time to
see the hind quarters of some huge animal about to disappear
through the window of the cabin.
As Jane opened her eyes to a realization of the imminent
peril which threatened her, her brave young heart gave up at
last its final vestige of hope. But then to her surprise she saw
the huge animal being slowly drawn back through the window,
and in the moonlight beyond she saw the heads and
shoulders of two men.
As Clayton rounded the corner of the cabin to behold the
animal disappearing within, it was also to see the ape-man
seize the long tail in both hands, and, bracing himself with
his feet against the side of the cabin, throw all his mighty
strength into the effort to draw the beast out of the interior.
Clayton was quick to lend a hand, but the ape-man jabbered
to him in a commanding and peremptory tone something
which Clayton knew to be orders, though he could not
At last, under their combined efforts, the great body was
slowly dragged farther and farther outside the window, and
then there came to Clayton's mind a dawning conception of
the rash bravery of his companion's act.
For a naked man to drag a shrieking, clawing man-eater
forth from a window by the tail to save a strange white girl,
was indeed the last word in heroism.
Insofar as Clayton was concerned it was a very different
matter, since the girl was not only of his own kind and race,
but was the one woman in all the world whom he loved.
Though he knew that the lioness would make short work
of both of them, he pulled with a will to keep it from Jane
Porter. And then he recalled the battle between this man and
the great, black-maned lion which he had witnessed a short
time before, and he commenced to feel more assurance.
Tarzan was still issuing orders which Clayton could not understand.
He was trying to tell the stupid white man to plunge his
poisoned arrows into Sabor's back and sides, and to reach the
savage heart with the long, thin hunting knife that hung at
Tarzan's hip; but the man would not understand, and Tarzan
did not dare release his hold to do the things himself, for he
knew that the puny white man never could hold mighty
Sabor alone, for an instant.
Slowly the lioness was emerging from the window. At last
her shoulders were out.
And then Clayton saw an incredible thing. Tarzan, racking
his brains for some means to cope single-handed with the
infuriated beast, had suddenly recalled his battle with Terkoz;
and as the great shoulders came clear of the window, so that
the lioness hung upon the sill only by her forepaws, Tarzan
suddenly released his hold upon the brute.
With the quickness of a striking rattler he launched himself
full upon Sabor's back, his strong young arms seeking and
gaining a full-Nelson upon the beast, as he had learned it that
other day during his bloody, wrestling victory over Terkoz.
With a roar the lioness turned completely over upon her
back, falling full upon her enemy; but the black-haired giant
only closed tighter his hold.
Pawing and tearing at earth and air, Sabor rolled and
threw herself this way and that in an effort to dislodge this
strange antagonist; but ever tighter and tighter drew the iron
bands that were forcing her head lower and lower upon her
Higher crept the steel forearms of the ape-man about the back
of Sabor's neck. Weaker and weaker became the lioness's efforts.
At last Clayton saw the immense muscles of Tarzan's
shoulders and biceps leap into corded knots beneath the silver
moonlight. There was a long sustained and supreme effort on
the ape-man's part--and the vertebrae of Sabor's neck parted
with a sharp snap.
In an instant Tarzan was upon his feet, and for the second
time that day Clayton heard the bull ape's savage roar of
victory. Then he heard Jane's agonized cry:
"Cecil--Mr. Clayton! Oh, what is it? What is it?"
Running quickly to the cabin door, Clayton called out that all
was right, and shouted to her to open the door. As quickly as
she could she raised the great bar and fairly dragged Clayton within.
"What was that awful noise?" she whispered, shrinking
close to him.
"It was the cry of the kill from the throat of the man who
has just saved your life, Miss Porter. Wait, I will fetch
him so you may thank him."
The frightened girl would not be left alone, so she
accompanied Clayton to the side of the cabin where lay
the dead body of the lioness.
Tarzan of the Apes was gone.
Clayton called several times, but there was no reply, and so
the two returned to the greater safety of the interior.
"What a frightful sound!" cried Jane, "I shudder at the
mere thought of it. Do not tell me that a human throat
voiced that hideous and fearsome shriek."
"But it did, Miss Porter," replied Clayton; "or at least if
not a human throat that of a forest god."
And then he told her of his experiences with this strange
creature--of how twice the wild man had saved his life--of
the wondrous strength, and agility, and bravery--of the
brown skin and the handsome face.
"I cannot make it out at all," he concluded. "At first I
thought he might be Tarzan of the Apes; but he neither
speaks nor understands English, so that theory is untenable."
"Well, whatever he may be," cried the girl, "we owe him
our lives, and may God bless him and keep him in safety in
his wild and savage jungle!"
"Amen," said Clayton, fervently.
"For the good Lord's sake, ain't I dead?"
The two turned to see Esmeralda sitting upright upon the
floor, her great eyes rolling from side to side as though she
could not believe their testimony as to her whereabouts.
And now, for Jane Porter, the reaction came, and she threw
herself upon the bench, sobbing with hysterical laughter.
Tarzan of the Apes Chapter 14
... Tarzan of the Apes Chapter 16