Tarzan of the Apes
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Chapter 2: The Savage Home, continued
About three o’clock in the afternoon, they arrived at a beautiful wooded shore, opposite the mouth of what appeared to be a land-locked harbor. Black Michael sent out a small boat, filled with men, to explore the entrance, in an effort to determine if the Faulkner could be safely guided through the passageway. In about an hour, they returned and reported deep water throughout the conduit, as well as far into the little basin.
Before dark, the pilfered vessel lay peacefully at anchor, upon the bosom of the still, mirror-like surface of the harbor. The surrounding shores were beautiful, with semitropical verdure, while in the distance, the country rose from the ocean, in hill and tableland, almost uniformly clothed by primeval forest.
No signs of habitation were visible, but it appeared that the land might easily support human life, as evidenced by the abundant bird and animal activity, which the watchers on the Faulkner’s deck could occasionally glimpse, as well as by the shimmer of a little river, which emptied into the harbor, insuring fresh water in plenitude.
As darkness settled upon the Earth, Clayton and Lady Alice stood by the ship’s rail in silent contemplation of their future abode. From the dark shadows of the mighty forest came the wild calls of savage beasts, the deep roar of the lion, and, occasionally, the shrill scream of a panther. The woman shrank closer to the man, in terror-stricken anticipation of the horrors lying in wait for them, in the awful blackness of the nights to come, when they should be alone upon that wild and lonely shore.
Later in the evening, Black Michael joined them long enough to instruct them to make their preparations for landing in the morning. They tried to persuade him to take them to some more hospitable coast, near enough to civilization so that they might hope to fall into friendly hands. But neither pleas, threats, nor promises of reward could move him.
“I am the only man aboard who would not rather see ye both safely dead, and, while I know that’s the sensible way to make sure of our own necks, yet Black Michael’s not the man to forget a favor. Ye saved my life once, and in return, I’m goin’ to spare yours, but that’s all that I can do.”
“The men won’t stand for any more, and if we don’t get ye landed pretty quick, they may even change their minds about giving ye that much show. I’ll put all yer stuff ashore with ye, as well as cookin’ utensils, an’ some old sails for tents, an’ enough grub to last ye until ye can find fruit and game.”
“With yer guns for protection, ye ought to be able to live here easy enough until help comes. When I get safely hid away, I’ll see to it that the British gover’ment learns about where ye be; for the life of me, I couldn’t tell ’em exactly where, for I don’t know myself. But they’ll find ye, all right.” After he had left them, the two of them went silently below, each wrapped in gloomy forebodings.
Clayton did not believe that Black Michael had the slightest intention of notifying the British government of their whereabouts, and he even suspected that some treachery was contemplated for the following day, when they should be on shore with the sailors who would have to accompany them with their belongings.
Once out of Black Michael’s sight, any of the crewmen might strike them both down, and thus leave Black Michael’s conscience completely clear. And even should they escape that horrifying fate, they knew that they could be faced with far graver dangers. Alone, Clayton might hope to survive for years; for he was a strong, athletic man. But what of Alice, and that other little life so soon to be launched amidst the hardships and grave dangers of a primeval world?
Early next morning, their numerous chests and boxes were hoisted on deck, and then lowered to waiting small boats, for transportation to the shore. There was a great quantity and variety of stuff, as the Claytons had expected a possible five to eight years’ residence in their new home. Thus, in addition to the many necessities that they had brought, there were also many luxuries.
Black Michael was determined that nothing belonging to the Claytons should be left on board the Faulkner. Whether out of compassion for them, or more likely in furtherance of his own self-interests, it was difficult to say. There was no question that the presence of property of a missing British official, upon a suspicious vessel, would have been a difficult thing to explain in any civilized port in the world. So zealous was Black Michael in his efforts to carry out his intentions, that he even insisted upon the return of Clayton’s revolvers to him, by the sailors who currently possessed them.
Into the small boats were also loaded salt meats and biscuits, with a small supply of potatoes, beans, matches, and cooking vessels; along with a chest of tools, and the old sails which Black Michael had promised them. As though himself fearing the very thing which Clayton had suspected, Black Michael actually accompanied them to shore, and he was the last to leave them when the small boats, having filled the ship’s casks with fresh water, were pushed out toward the waiting Faulkner.
As the boats moved slowly over the smooth waters of the bay, Clayton and his wife stood silently, watching their departure, in the breasts of both a feeling of impending disaster, and in utter hopelessness. And behind them, over the edge of a low ridge, other eyes watched; close set, wicked eyes, gleaming beneath shaggy brows.
As the Faulkner passed through the narrow entrance to the harbor, and then out of sight behind a projecting point, Lady Alice threw her arms about Clayton’s neck and burst into uncontrolled sobs. Bravely, she had faced the dangers of the mutiny. With heroic fortitude, she had looked into their terrible future. But now that the horror of absolute solitude was upon them, her overwrought nerves gave way, and the natural emotional reaction finally came.
Greystoke did not attempt to stop her tears. It was better that nature have its way in relieving these long pent-up emotions, and it was many minutes before the girl, little more than the child who she was, could again gain mastery of herself. “Oh, John,” she cried at last, “The horror of it. What are we to do? What are we to do?”
“There is but one thing to do, Alice,” and he spoke as quietly as though they were sitting in their snug living room at home, “and that is work. Work must be our salvation. We must not give ourselves time to think, for in that direction lies madness. We must work, and wait. I am sure that relief will come, and come quickly, when once it is apparent that the Faulkner has been lost, even though Black Michael does not keep his word to us.”
“But John, if it were only you and I,” she sobbed, “we could endure it, I know; but—”
“Yes, dear,” he answered, gently, “I have been thinking of that, also; but we must face it, as we must face whatever comes, bravely, and with the utmost confidence in our ability to cope with circumstances, whatever they may be. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, our ancestors of the dim and distant past faced the same problems which we must face, possibly in these same primeval forests. That we are here today evidences their victory.”
“What they did, may we not also do? And do it even better, for are we not armed with ages of superior knowledge, and have we not the means of protection, defense, and sustenance, which science has given us, but of which they were totally ignorant? What they accomplished, Alice, with instruments and weapons of stone and bone, surely that may we accomplish, also.”
“Ah, John, I wish that I might be a man, with a man’s philosophy, but I am but a woman, seeing with my heart, rather than with my head, and all that I can see is too horrible, too unthinkable, to put into words. I only hope that you are right, John. I will do my best to be a brave primeval woman, a fit mate for the primeval man.”
1. How did Clayton and his wife feel about being put ashore?
a) excited at the new adventure
b) a little nervous, but otherwise pretty good
2. One of the reasons that the crew gave Clayton and his wife all of their belongings from the boat was:
a) they wanted to be helpful
b) they were afraid there would be questions if the belongings of people who had ‘disappeared’ were found on their boat
c) the crew decided that the boat should have some new furniture.
3) What did Black Michael promise them?
a) he would tell the British government where they were so they could be rescued
b) that he would come back to get them someday
c) that he would leave crew members to help them.
4. Why didn’t he kill Clayton and his wife?
a) He did not like bloodshed
b) The rest of the crew told him not to kill them
c) Since John Clayton had saved Michael’s life, he would spare John and Lady Alice
5. Why was Michael the last to leave for the ship after all the other crew members had gone back?
a) He thought it might be a really nice place to live
b) he was afraid the crew members would kill John and his wife
c) he changed his mind and decided to kill John and his wife after everyone else left.
6. What hint in the story tells us that John and Lady Alice are expecting a baby?
a) they expected to live in Africa for five to eight years
b) ‘work must be our salvation’
c) He was worried about ‘Alice and that other little life so soon to be launched’
7. Who or what was watching Alice and John from the edge of a low ridge?
a) Michael and his crew?
b) the British army
c) close set wicked eyes beneath shaggy brows
8. What does John think their salvation will be?
a) swimming in the ocean
c) making a big fire on the beach so British ships can find them
Chapter Two continues in Episode Seven. Go to Next Episode