THE RETURN OF TARZAN, THROUGH THE EYES OF A POET
COLLECTED ESSAYS ORIGINALLY POSTED TO ERB-LIST LISTSERVER.
THE RETURN OF TARZAN has been summarized at the ERB SUMMARY PROJECT>. The following is one reader's view of the themes, characters, and author's writing and is not a summary or synoposis of Edgar Rice Burroughs' sequel to his most famous novel.
John "Bridge" Martin's article is an important piece which not only illustrates the depth of ERB's Tarzan as an enduring literary character, but suggests how new readers might gain greater insight when reading the novel for the first time.
Chapter I, The Affair on the Liner
This story is about what came of Tarzan’s “noble act of self-renunciation,” the promise we are given at the end of “Tarzan of the Apes.”
There is probably not an ERB fan alive who cannot quote the word that opens this epic novel, which begins with one continent left behind and sprawls across two others.
That word is “Magnifique!”, which we soon learn is the verbal reaction that Countess Olga de Coude has upon seeing the majestic figure of Monsieur Jean C. Tarzan striding about the deck of an ocean liner which is steaming from the United States to Europe.
Tarzan, raised in the jungle in a band of great apes, has had his knowledge expanded immensely in the space of several months, and had also fallen in love with Jane, the beautiful young lady whom he rescued from the clutches of the crazed ape Terkoz in the depths of the jungle.
“Tarzan of the Apes” closes with Jane’s unfortunately-timed pledge to wed William Cecil Clayton, the holder of the title of Lord Greystoke. Shortly thereafter, Tarzan receives a telegram informing him that he, in fact, is the legitimate title holder. Yet, to avoid devastating the life of the woman he loves, he keeps the news secret, and heads back to Europe alone.
Sad and lonely is Tarzan, but also, free. And in “The Return of Tarzan” he will meet three more alluring women – Olga de Coude; the dancing girl of Sidi Aissa; and La, high priestess of Opar – any of which could have stolen his heart away and, but for varying circumstances, might actually have done it. However, the fourth woman, Jane herself, is also an ever-present factor in this story, and her path and the ape-man’s are, inevitably, destined to cross again.
With nothing to hold him to civilization, Tarzan, in Chapter 1, is contemplating a return to Africa . Yet, he wonders if that will really bring fulfillment in his life: “He tried to look forward with pleasurable sensations to his return to the jungle of his birth, and boyhood: the cruel, fierce jungle in which he had spent twenty of his twenty-two years.”
Yet, Tarzan has also learned to like some things about civilization and, above all, has a desire to have real friends, such as D’Arnot. And so, heading back to a world where all men and animals would be his enemies is not quite the pleasing prospect it might seem. “And so it was that Tarzan looked with little relish upon the future he had mapped out for himself.”
And indeed, it is the desire for friends that swings Tarzan in the direction of staying in civilization, at least for awhile. Because, by Chapter III, he does not appear to be in a hurry to go back to Africa but, instead, seeks D’Arnot’s aid in helping him to find a job.
Friendship itself is another theme of “Return.” Having learned the value of friendship, Tarzan makes friends with the desert people of the Sahara and, later, with the mighty Waziri tribe in Africa . It is also a book of enemies. Tarzan makes two enemies in this book, and one of them will continue to dog him and his family for one more book, and the other will stick around for two!! And, for the first time, Tarzan encounters Arab raiders, who will reappear time and again in the Tarzan series, as adversaries of the ape-man and his family.
When ERB says that Tarzan spent “twenty of his twenty two years” in the jungle, it raises a question. Has Tarzan really been in civilization for two whole years?
It took two months for he and D’Arnot to hike to a civilized outpost in “Apes,” and another month before they could charter an adequate ship to go back for the buried treasure. After retrieving the treasure, they sailed for three weeks before reaching Lyons , France . Figure another week for the initial journey to get the treasure, and you’ve got another month, for four months total so far.
After only a few days in Lyons , they went to Paris , and there is no indication how long they were there. But one can figure, not long, since Tarzan was anxious to find his way to America to locate Jane.
They were in Paris long enough, however, for Tarzan to sample some of the culture. Because, in Chapter I of “Return,” Tarzan for the first time notices the two men who will become his bitter enemies, and, in appearance, “They reminded Tarzan of melodramatic villains he had seen at the theaters in Paris .”
One could guess the initial stay in Paris lasted no more than one week. Because, in chapter 26 of “Apes,” we are told that “one of the first things which D’Arnot accomplished after their arrival” was to introduce Tarzan to a high official of the police department so that Tarzan’s finger prints could be checked to see if he was really the Greystoke heir. At the end of their visit with the police official, D’Arnot said, “Monsieur Tarzan sails for America to-morrow.”
So, perhaps Tarzan spent two weeks in all in France , counting time at Lyons and Paris , and time enough to eat at a few French restaurants and enjoy a melodrama or two.
Then Tarzan spent time sailing to America . How long was the voyage? Tarzan probably made this voyage in about 1910. Just two years later, the Titanic sank trying while trying to cross the Atlantic in a record six days. So, answer: Not very long!
How long did it take Tarzan to get to Baltimore from wherever his ship landed and then, finding out Jane was in Wisconsin , travel there? Although we see him driving a car, he may not have driven to Wisconsin , but may have taken the train (there was a railway station near the Porter’s Wisconsin home) and picked up the car when he got there.
How long did it take Tarzan to get back to New York to book a ship to Europe, and how much time did he spend in the U.S. before he boarded that ship?
We don’t know the answer to these question, but it would appear that Tarzan could not have spent more than a few months – less than one year – doing all these things.
Therefore, ERB’s statement that Tarzan spent 20 of his 22 years in the jungle is a bit of a mystery, as far as the two years goes, although "literary license" would allow us to count Tarzan's indefinite string of months as a "year."
One could “gain” another year by imagining that the 20 years in the “fierce” jungle did not include Tarzan’s first year of life in the “friendlier jungle,” when he had the protection of his parents and the little cabin by the harbor. That would make Tarzan 21 when he came out of the jungle, instead of 20.
Perhaps an ERB scholar somewhere has a better answer!
Though Olga admired Tarzan in Chapter 1, it was from afar, and he had no idea who she was and no idea who her husband was. Thus, when Tarzan stepped into the ship’s lounge to smoke a cigarette and contemplate the future, he did not yet know the identify of a certain man playing cards at a table. Yet, in a few moments, he would rise to the defense of that man who was, in fact, the Count de Coude, Olga’s husband.
Nikolas Rokoff and Alexis Paulvitch, the two melodramatic-looking villains from a few pages before, hatched a plot to accuse the count of cheating at cards, but a watchful Tarzan had witnessed the set-up and stepped in to set things right, thus earning the gratitude of Count de Coude.
At this point in the story, it is a bit of a mystery as to why Rokoff should want to destroy the count’s reputation, and why Olga begs her husband not to report Rokoff to the authorities. But that mystery will be cleared up in subsequent chapters.
One thing that serves Tarzan well in civilization is that he is an excellent judge of character. In the previous book, he instantly sized up Robert Canler. In this chapter, he forms an initial, accurate impression of the two villains and also deems that the card-playing stranger is someone worthy of defending against the two plotters.
If civilization had done nothing else for Tarzan of the Apes, it had to some extent taught him to crave the society of his own kind, and to feel with genuine pleasure the congenial warmth of companionship. And to the same ratio had it made any other life distasteful to him. It was difficult to imagine a world without a friend – without a living thing who spoke the new tongues which tarzan had learned to love so well.
Chapter II, Forging Bonds of Hate and ---?
The reader of Tarzan of the Apes who embarks on this, the second book in the series, will soon become aware of one thing that is sure to get under the ape-man's skin: A scalawag grabbing part of a woman's anatomy with the intent of forcing her in a direction she does not wish to go.
In the last chapter of "Apes," it is Robert Canler who is soon dangling a foot or two above the floor, in the iron grip of Tarzan, after he dares such a thing with the woman Tarzan loves. We read:
...taking Jane Porter by the arm, he started to lead her toward the waiting minister.
But scarcely had he taken a single step ere a heavy hand closed upon his arm with a grip of steel.
In "Return," it is a woman whom Tarzan does not yet know, the Countess Olga de Coude. Her brutish handling by Nikolas Rokoff evokes a similar response in the ape-man: "...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."
In addition to manhandling the villain, Tarzan takes the opportunity to reply to a note he had received from Rokoff. After spoiling Rokoff's plan to brand Count de Coude as a card cheater, Rokoff writes Tarzan a note, offering to forget the whole matter if Tarzan would apologize to him.
Here, Tarzan says: "This is my answer to your note, monsieur," and then hurls Rokoff against the ship's rail.
It's probably just as well. It was uncharacteristic of Rokoff to write such a conciliatory note in the first place, and he probably was not even sincere about it. So, Tarzan's response was perfectly fitting.
Later, Tarzan hears Rokoff and Paulvitch plotting some more mischief and, following them, sees Rokoff trick the woman into opening her cabin door, so that Paulvitch can enter and assault her. The plan is to spread a rumor aboard the ship that the countess has been entertaining a man in her room, thus causing a scandal for the high-born pair.
Tarzan breaks down the door to the room. Paulvitch, enraged by something Olga said, is attempting to strangle her. Paulvitch backs off when Tarzan bursts in. Olga begs Tarzan not to call the ship's authorities and so the ape-man dispenses justice, jungle style, by shoving the two cads down the passageway, "giving each an added impetus down the corridor with the toe of his boot."
At this point, Tarzan still does not know Olga's name, but begins to wonder that both she and the Count de Coude (Chapter 1) should be harrassed by these men and both should be undesirous of the matters being reported to the authorities.
A couple of days later, though, Tarzan has a chance encounter with Olga on board ship, and she thanks him again and also introduces herself. So, finally, Tarzan realizes he has aided both her and her husband.
The ship docks in Paris. Will he ever see the Count and Countess again; is he done with Rokoff and Paulvitch?
"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."
Chapter III, What Happened in the Rue Maule
Tarzan’s ship docks and the ape-man goes to visit his friend, Paul D’Arnot, in Paris . D’Arnot remonstrates with Tarzan over his spur-of-the-moment decision to renounce his title, but Tarzan shrugs it off, saying that “As for my birthright – it is in good hands. Clayton is not guilty of robbing me of it.”
At the same time, Tarzan seeks D’Arnot’s assistance in finding suitable employment for him, as Tarzan’s starting bankroll of 10,000 francs (earned by winning a bet near the end of “Apes") is no doubt running low. D’Arnot reminds the ape-man that he has plenty of money and will be happy to share with Tarzan, but the ape-man insists: “I must live, and so I must have it; but I shall be more contented with something to do.”
Tarzan embarks on a crash course in civilization, visiting the cultural spots in Paris during the day, and testing the night life with D’Arnot each evening.
One evening, however, when alone, Tarzan strolls home through the Rue Maule, a dangerous section of Paris . But Rokoff skulks in the background and has arranged an ambush to wreak vengeance on Tarzan. A woman’s scream draws the ape-man into a building with rescue in mind, but it is a trap, and 10 thugs, called apaches, surround and beset the lone gentleman of the evening.
What ensues is Tarzan action as we like it. “He was in a dozen places at once…Now a wrist-bone snapped in his iron grip, now a shoulder was wrenched from its socket…With shrieks of pain the men escaped….”
When the police arrive on the scene, the woman Tarzan thought needed rescuing turns into his accuser, claiming the men were trying to save her from Tarzan’s evil advances. Tarzan is dumbounded! But he is not off-guard: As the police surround him, we read: “With the smell of blood the last vestige of civilization had deserted Tarzan, and now he stood at bay, like a lion surrounded by hunters, awaiting the next overt act, and crouching to charge its author.”
In previous instances in the first two Tarzan books, we have seen that Tarzan reacts with primal force when some scoundrel dares to lay a hand upon a helpless woman. Here, we see that Tarzan is also rather put off (shall we say, old chap?) by someone grabbing his own body!! As an officer advances “to lay his hand upon Tarzan’s shoulder,” we read: “An instant later he lay crumpled in a corner of the room.” Following a brief fight with the rest of the officers, Tarzan springs to the sill of an open window and leaps, panther-like, onto the pole across the wall. He avoids the police by leaping from rooftop to rooftop, as he used to leap from tree to tree in the jungle.
Eventually able to take to the street again, Tarzan happens to see the Countess Olga de Coude go by in a limousine, and she gives him a friendly wave.
“Rokoff and the Countess de Coude both in the same evening,” he soliloquized. “Paris is not so large, after all.”
“You know that I am but half civilized even now. Let me see red in anger but for a moment, and all the instincts of the savage beast that I really am, submerge what little I possess of the milder ways of culture and refinement.”
Further reading on “apaches of Paris”:
Chapter IV, The Countess Explains
The Countess Olga de Coude isn't the only one who proffers an explanation in this chapter. After the incident in the Rue Maule, Tarzan of the Apes also has some explaining to do...to the police.
Tarzan tells D'Arnot of his adventures in the Rue Maule, when the scream of a woman lured him into a tenement, where he was beset upon by Parisian ruffians, known as apaches. It was all a trick, cooked up by Rokoff to avenge himself on the ape-man. And when the police were summoned, the enraged ape-man had turned upon them, as well.
D'Arnot realizes that Tarzan must face the police and make an explanation. So, he arranges for Tarzan to see a police official, and tells the man Tarzan's incredible story. The officer summons the policemen who were bested by Tarzan, and they are told the story as well. The tension is finally ended when Tarzan himself walks toward the officiers with outstretched hand and says, "I am sorry for the mistake I made. Let us be friends."
And so, Tarzan learns something more of civilization, and of the role of policemen. Though he had earlier said, "They will never lock Tarzan of the Apes behind iron bars," he now understands that, though he could lick a dozen of them, he must follow the rules made by men, for men, and, as D'Arnot impressed upon him: "...hereafter you must obey the law. If its represenatives say 'Come,' you must come; if they say 'Go,' you must go."
The incident over, D'Arnot receives a letter from William Cecil Clayton, letting him know that he and the lovely Jane Porter are to be wed in two months.
A night at the opera wasn't enough to distract Tarzan from thoughts of Jane. Ah, but there was something that could district the ape-man. Countess Olga was also in attendance at the performance that evening and, in a brief aside, she invited the ape-man to visit the following evening so she could explain some of the events of the past few days.
Unfortunately, Nikolas Rokoff seemed to skulk behind every curtain, and he is privy to their brief conversation. He shows up at the De Coude home early, bribes a servant, and finds a hiding place in Olga's room.
When Tarzan arrives, Olga explains to him that her husband is a government official privy to official secrets and that Rokoff and Paulvitch are Russian agents, seeking to obtain information from him through blackmail or some other means.
She further reveals that Rokoff is actually her brother, and that he has information about an indiscretion in her past which, though, minor, could cause embarrassment for her husband.
At Tarzan's encouragement, she vows to tell her husband all. But, when the ape-man departs, Rokoff emerges and, with glee, informs his sister that he now has something new to use against her—the visit of Tarzan. Says Rokoff, "I have this affair now, and with the help of one of your servants whom I may trust it will lack nothing in the telling when the time comes...."
Tarzan, in his simplicity, did not seem to realize that Olga may have been interested in more than just giving him an explanation, but Rokoff charged: "Had he one-tenth the knowledge of women that I have you would be in his arms this minute. He is a stupid fool, Olga. Why, your every word and act was an open invitation to him, and he had not the sense to see it."
Rokoff, though a cad, probably knew his sister well enough to speak accurately. As she pondered the events of the evening, her vague fear was transferred to a very tangible one. "It may be, too, that conscience helped to enlarge it out of all proportion."
Tarzan ponders the mysterious ways of women in this chapter.
First, there is the woman whose false cries of alarm lured Tarzan into the tenement. And, the ape-man was dumbounded when the police arrived and she accused Tarzan of being the one who attacked her. To the relatively innocent ape-man, unwise in the ways of the world, this was totally incomprehensible: "I did not realize, I could not realize for a long time afterward, that any woman could sink to such moral depravity as that one must have to call a would-be rescuer to death."
Then there was the hard-to-figure Jane. "...he saw only the lovely vision of a beautiful American girl, and heard naught but a sad, sweet voice acknowledging that his love was returned. And she was to marry another!"
Then there was Olga, who had been brought up to fear all men, especially husbands! "I learned early to fear men. First my father, then Nikolas, then the fathers in the convent. Nearly all my friends fear their husbands—why should I not fear mine?"
But Tarzan has another philosophy: "...I cannot understand why civilized women should fear men, the beings that are created to protect them. I should hate to think that any woman feared me."
"Well," said D'Arnot, "among other things, it has taught you what I have been unable to impress upon you—that the Rue Maule is a good place to avoid after dark."
"On the contrary," replied Tarzan, with a smile, "it has convinced me that it is the one worth-while street in all Paris. Never again shall I miss an opportuniyt to traverse it, for it has given me the first real entertainment I have had since I left Africa."
Chapter V, The Plot That Failed
"The Plot That Failed" could have been the title for Chapter I, when Tarzan foiled Rokoff's plot to brand Count de Coude as a card cheat. It could have been the title for Chapter II, when Tarzan foiled Rokoff's plot to put the Countess in a compromising position with Paulvitch. It could have been the title for Chapter III, in which Tarzan spoils Rokoff's plot to have the ape-man murdered.
In fact, it could have been the title for several chapters in "Return" and "Beasts" as, again and again, Rokoff's education and cunning is no match for Tarzan's jungle-honed senses, skills and strengths.
One might compare Rokoff to Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman in "Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein." Again and again, these demonic creatures, who wreaked havoc and mayhem in other movies, are thwarted by the simplest moves of the comedy pair. Tarzan, of course, is much more competent than Bud and Lou, but Rokoff, for all his presumed smarts, is the poster child for incompetent villainry.
This time, the intricately engineered plot is to have Tarzan lured into the boudoir of the countess at a moment when she is negligee-clad, and to arrange for her husband to burst on the scene just a few minutes later. Instant scandal! And, a tool Rokoff can use, at once, for revenge on Tarzan and, potenially, enough blackmail material to force the Count into giving up sensitive government secrets.
(By the way, "boudoir" is a great word for you fiction writers to keep in mind. It's not as suggestive and blunt as "bedroom" but conveys the same possibilities with an aura of elegance, sophistication and forbidden love.)
The plot seems to work pretty well, to a certain point, with Tarzan and Olga, indeed, ending up an spontaneous embrace just before the suspicion-primed count bursts on the scene. But, from there, Tarzan does what Rokoff, with all his wiles, did not anticipate. Tarzan goes to Rokoff's apartments and, in his simple, ape-man way, threatens to kill him if he dares to speak of the matter to the French newspapers, as he had planned.
Yes, when diplomacy falls short, resort to simple brute force -- a skill well suited to and expertly employed by Tarzan, and another reason we all enjoy his adventures so much.
In fact, when Tarzan says "neither of you will be alive when I pass through that doorway," unless Rokoff does his bidding, it isn't really a "pardon" for Rokoff, but rather a "stay of execution." For, in the last sentence of the chapter, the ape-man predicts: "...sooner or later I shall find an excuse to kill you...."
The Incredible Hulk
Fans can't seem to stop speculating about where ERB got his ideas. But how many have gotten their ideas from ERB? I wonder if the creator of the character, The Incredible Hulk, had ever read this passage:
...the ape-man turned just in time to ward with his arm a terrific blow that De Coude had aimed at his head. Once, twice, three times the heavy stick fell with lightning rapidity, and each blow aided in the transition of the ape-man back to the primordial.
With the low, guttural snarl of the bull ape he sprang for the Frenchman. The great stick was torn from his grasp and broken in two as though it had been matchwood, to be flung aside as the now infuriated beast charged for his adversary's throat....choking the life from him -- shaking him as a terrier might shake a rat....Tarzan was deaf with rage.
Then, after the fight:
Slowly the red mist faded from before Tarzan's eyes. Things began to take form -- he was regaining the perspective of civilized man.
Odd Way To Write
I thought ERB used a rather odd technique early in the chapter when Rokoff was setting up the plot. Rokoff telephoned D'Arnots apartment to give Tarzan the false message that would send him hurrying to Olga's quarters. The phone call dialogue appears to have been written for a movie scene. In a movie, when only one side of a telephone call is shown, we hear the caller speaking, then listening, then speaking again, and so forth. We figure out what the other person has said by listening to the one side of the conversation we can hear.
But, in a book, most authors report both sides of the conversation. Yet, here, Burroughs reports only Rokoff's words. It's an unusual enough writing style that it stands out to the reader (as it did to me).
In startled guilt they looked suddenly into each other's eyes, and where Olga de Coude should have been strong, she was weak, for she crept closer into the man's arms, and clasped her own about his neck. And Tarzan of the Apes? He took the panting figure into his mighty arms, and covered the hot lips with kisses.
Chapter VI, A Duel
After Tarzan smothers Olga de Coude with kisses and then beats up her interfering husband (Gee...that sounds bad, doesn't it?) he tells all to D'Arnot.
"What a fool I have been," he concluded. "De Coude and his wife were both my friends. How have I returned their friendship? Barely did I escape murdering the count. I have cast a stigma on the name of a good woman. It is very probable that I have broken up a happy home."
Tarzan feels the best thing is just to leave Paris and go back to live out his life in the jungle he knows and loves. But before he can take steps to do so, a messenger is sent on behalf of the count to arrange a settlement of this matter of honor. In other words, Tarzan has been challenged to a duel.
"Now to my sins I must add murder, or else myself be killed," said Tarzan. "I am progressing rapidly in the ways of my civilized brothers."
Tarzan muses about fighting the duel with poisoned arrows or spears, but his practical choices are swords or pistols. Despite the fact that De Coude is an expert marksman, Tarzan chooses pistols. He does not seem concerned about the prospect of death. "I must die some day," he said.
Tarzan gets a good night's sleep before the duel at dawn. When the moment itself arrives, and the two men, back to back, march 10 paces and then turn, Tarzan surprises all by refusing to raise his weapon, instead allowing De Coude to fire all three of his rounds at him. Two of the bullets give Tarzan flesh wounds and the third misses, as the count is somewhat shaken by Tarzan's passive stance. When De Coude's gun is empty, Tarzan walks toward him and attempts to hand De Coude his own pistol, butt first, so that the count can continue firing.
"...I deserve to die. It is the only way in which I may atone for the wrong I have done a very good woman," Tarzan explained.
Tarzan then takes all responsibility for the brief encounter, and produces the note that Rokoff wrote, luring him to the countess's quarters in the first place.
Suddenly, it all becomes clear to De Coude and, instantly, all is forgiven and, friends once again, they ride back in the same car together.
Tarzan's wounds are treated although he dismisses them as minor, recalling his much more serious wounds at the claws of Bolgani and his far more primitive care at the loving hands of Kala.
When De Coude learns that Tarzan is seeking gainful employment, he secures for the ape-man a position which will make him a government agent, traveling to various parts of the world, with first stops in Marseilles and Oran. (And, one might add, far away from Paris and Olga!)
After the duel, when all are friends again, ERB writes: "He threw his arms about Tarzan and embraced him. Monsier Flaubert embraced D'Arnot. There was no one to embrace the doctor. So possibly it was pique which prompted him to interfere, and demand that he be permitted to dress Tarzan's wounds."
Justification for lying:
Under what circumstances may one be excused for a lie? After Tarzan takes all responsibility for the brief passionate encounter with Olga, ERB writes:
"It is true that the latter had assumed much more of the fault than was rightly his, but if he lied a little he may be excused, for he lied in the service of a woman, and he lied like a gentleman."
In Chapter 4, Tarzan had said, "They will never lock Tarzan of the Apes behind iron bars."
But he found Paris itself to be somewhat confining, with the freedom of his jungle days seriously limited: "Paris is no place for me. I will but continue to stumble into more and more serious pitfalls. The manmade restrictions are irksome. I feel always that I am a prisoner."
The friendship sub-theme of The Return of Tarzan is referenced again in this chapter. First, he laments the loss of his friendship with Raoul and Olga De Coude. Then, ERB comments on the relationship between Tarzan and D'Arnot: "The great friendship which had sprung up between these two men whose lives and training had been widely different had but been strengthened by association, for they were both men to whom the same high ideals of manhood, of personal courage, and of honor appealed with equal force. They could understand one another, and each could be proud of the friendship of the other."
Tarzan receives two bullet wounds in this chapter. In Tarzan of the Apes, he received one. How many more bullet wounds will Tarzan receive in the rest of the canon? Some, or none? We will keep a count as we go along.
The singing ape-man:
In the movie Greystoke, D'Arnot hums a tune in the jungle and is astonished to hear Tarzan mimic him. This makes him realize that he may be able to teach Tarzan to speak. In the books, this chapter contains a reference to Tarzan making music. Before he heads to bed, D'Arnot "...heard him humming a music-hall ditty."
Question, just for fun:
The night before the duel, Tarzan writes "several letters" before bed. "After sealing and addressing them he placed them all in an envelope address (sic) to D'Arnot." I don't recall if these letters are mentioned again, but I'll find out as I read through the novel. In the meantime, who do you think these "several" letters were addressed to, and what would their content have been?
"...my civilization is not even skin deep -- it does not go deeper than my clothes." -- Tarzan of the Apes
Chapter VII, The Dancing Girl of Sidi Aissa
Tarzan begins his short-lived career as a secret agent for the French government, the job he landed with the help of Count De Coude. Although De Coude was a great friend of Tarzan, he was probably a bit relieved to see the ape man leave Paris, since Tarzan was also a great friend of the count's gorgeous wife, Olga.
Olga is the first of four lovely ladies Tarzan encounters in "Return," and the dancing girl of Sidi Aissa, the Ouled-Nai*, will be the second.
Tarzan is assigned to go to Algeria to keep an eye on a Lt. Gernois, who, it is suspected, may be bartering with a foreign government to give out classified information.
Tarzan makes friends with several members of Gernois' outfit, including its leader, Captain Gerard, so Tarzan is pretty much able to come and go among the French soldiers.
Several times in this chapter Tarzan sees a familiar figure, not familiar enough to actually recognize, but familiar enough in stance, mannerisms, and varioius intangibles that Tarzan senses a momentary interest. Then, the moment passes, and Tarzan goes on to other things.
At last, he sees Gernois himself talking with this mysterious figure, and the suspicisions begin to gel.
Tarzan makes friends with Kadour Ben Saden, an Arab horse trader, and also finds a friendly guide, named Abdul.
Tarzan and the latter are in an Arab cafes maures watching a dancing girl. He tosses her a franc when she drags her silken handkerchief across his shoulder. In a later performance, she does the same, but this time when she retrieves the franc she is able to whisper a warning that some "very bad men" are plotting against him.
Soon, a troublemaker comes into the cafe and begins insulting Tarzan. A fight follows. Tarzan and Abdul slug their way outside and find the Ouled-Nail, who urges them to take refuge in her room. Soon the angry mob is assaulting that sanctuary as well, but Tarzan moves the girl out the window and to the roof and gives Abdul a hand to the same place just in time.
Tarzan getting soft?
Perhaps the refinements of civilization are taking their toll upon the ape man. With somewhat of a raised eyebrow we read: "The march to Aumale was fatiguing to Tarzan, whose equestrian experiences hitherto had been confined to a course of riding lessons in a Parisian academy, and so it was that he quickly sought the comforts of a bed in the Hotel Grossat, while the officers and troops took up their quarters at the military post. Although Tarzan was called early the following morning, the company of spahis was on the march before he had finished his breakfast."
Can this be Tarzan?
Can he who rode Tantor be fatigued by a horse? Will I read anyplace else in the canon of Tarzan seeking "the comforts of a bed"? Tarzan sleeping in late, or at least later than the other macho men? Well, this we know: Tarzan will soon be back to being his old self!
Abdul to Tarzan when the Arab comes in the cafe and starts insulting the ape-man: "He says that 'the dog of a Christian' insulted the Ouled-Nail, who belongs to him. He means trouble, m'sieur."
Tarzan did not like being laughed at, neither did he relish the terms applied to him by the Arab, but he showed no sign of anger as he arose from his seat upon the bench. A half smile played about his lips, but of a sudden a mighty fist shot into the face of the scowling Arab, and back of it were the terrible muscles of the ape-man.
Chapter VIII, The Fight in the Desert
When last we saw Tarzan, he was sitting on a rooftop in Sidi Aissa, along with his friend Abdul and the dancing girl, while an angry mob sought them, below.
The roof proved to be a good hiding place, and the crowd soon dispersed.
The dancing girl, whose name we never learn because she is known only by the name of her occupation, Ouled-Nail, tells Tarzan her story. She is a virtual prisoner, or slave, and longs to return to her family. She respects Tarzan because he gave her two coins in the tavern in a way that was not an insult.
Turning back to the previous chapter, we find no real description of just how Tarzan gave her those coins. Both times, while she was dancing, she "threw her silken handkerchief upon his shoulders" and was "rewarded" with a franc.
So, it must be left to one's imagination how Tarzan would have made such a gift in a non-insulting way, as compared to the degrading ways the usual Arabic clientele would have given her coins.
When she tells Tarzan the name of her father, the ape-man learns it is none other than his new Arab friend, Kadour ben Sader, who is in the city at that very time. Tarzan is able to reunite the Ouled-Nail with her father, and the group sets out for his Bou Saada home the following morning.
Soon, they notice they are being trailed. Eventually, as they near Bou Saada, Tarzan and Abdul drop back in order to take the others on in a fair fight, which is Tarzan and one helper versus six gunmen. Tarzan and Abdul do just fine against the enemy, but Kadour ben Sader notices they are no longer with his group and turns back to give them a helping hand anyway!!
Tarzan spends a couple of days in Bou Saada, learning a bit of the language from the Ouled-Nail, who is described as "the brown-eyed girl." But, duty calls, and the ape-man must return to his secret agent mission. However, he considers that, when it is over, he will return and live out his life among the Arabs.
Back in Sidi Aissa, he spots his quarry, Lt. Gernois, in a tavern, and notices that he is talking to an Arab whose arm is in a sling, thus planting the suspicion that the injured Arab is one who escaped the fight in the desert.
No Arab Chatterboxes?
"Tarzan but nodded his head. He was a man of few words, and possibly it was for this reason as much as any that Kadour ben Saden had taken to him, for if there be one thing that an Arab despises it is a talkative man."
Civilization Has Not Diminished Tarzan's Abilities:
"But one came too close, for Tarzan was accustomed to using his eyes in the darkness of the jungle night, than which there is no more utter darkness this side the grave, and with a cry of pain a saddle was emptied."
Here were people after his own heart! Their wild, rough lives, filled with danger and hardship, appealed to this half-savage man as nothing had appealed to him in the midst of the effeminate civilization of the great cities he had visited. Here was a life that excelled even that of the jungle, for here he might have the society of men -- real men whom he could honor and respect, and yet be near to the wild nature that he loved. In his head revolved an idea that when he had completed his mission he would resign and return to live for the remainder of his life with the tribe of Kadour ben Saden.
(Thanks to Tavia for her editing assistance!)
Chapter IX, Numa "El Adrea"
This chapter begins with Tarzan reading a letter from D'Arnot. It's a letter that is important to the advancement of the plot, bringing the reader up to date on several threads which will be woven into the rest of the story.
One of the first revelations in the letter is that Samuel T. Philander, colleague of Professor Porter, is an "old friend" of Tarzan. D'Arnot describes him as such. We don't know much about this friendship; nor when it had time to develop. It's always possible that D'Arnot could have meant it in a flippant sense, but I haven't found much flippancy of that nature in this book.
The letter also reveals that not only is Jane still unmarried, but she has put off her wedding to Clayton several times. This gives the reader hope that Tarzan and Jane may eventually get together after all.
We learn what an excellent memory D'Arnot has, as he is able to quote a five-sentence, 86-word excerpt from Jane's spoken words to him. And, yes, while ERB wasn't flippant in this book, I am flippant in this summary!!
Then, we learn that the current title holder of "Lord Greystoke" has died, and William Cecil Clayton will assume that position. We know, of course, that Tarzan has the true rights to that title.
We learn of one Lord Tennington and his plans to sail his yacht around Africa.
We are also satisfied to learn that Count and Olga de Coude are a happy couple and that Olga has paid her evil brother, Rokoff, 20,000 frances to leave France. In her mind, she is protecting Tarzan from further attempted attacks by Rokoff, and is protecting Rokoff from suffering death at the hands of Tarzan!
Tarzan reads the letter over several times, then gets back to the work of espionage. He tries trailing an Arab-looking fellow who has repeatedly met with the suspicious Lt. Gernois, but "...no amount of espionage or shadowing by Tarzan revealed the Arab's lodgings, the location of which Tarzan was anxious to ascertain." For one who could trail someone by a scent, or follow them on silent feet, it might seem hard to believe that Tarzan could not figure out where this Arab lived. Perhaps the odors of civilization played havoc with his nostrils.
Tarzan's spy "cover" is that he is in Northern Africa to hunt. He is pleased when he is invited, by Capt. Gerard, to accompany the detachment on a mission, as it gives him an opportunity to stay close to Gernois. Some Arab horsemen are following the soldiers at a distance, and Tarzan is suspicious. "He had long been convinced that there were hired assassins on his trail, nor was he in great doubt but that Rokoff was at the bottom of the plot." Tarzan had already mused, earlier in the chapter, that Olga de Coude had probably thrown away her 20,000 francs!
At a certain point, the detachment splits up, with Gerard taking some men and going one way, and Tarzan accepting Gernois's invitation to accompany the latter's group.
However, Gernois's invitation is not given for the purpose of enjoying the ape-man's company, but rather to abandon him at a certain place and set him up for hired killers. Using his authority as a military commander over a civilian, Gernois orders Tarzan to stay behind in a small canyon, while the men make patrols elsewhere. Tarzan soon figures out that this is some kind of trick, and puts his rifle at the ready. However, later he falls asleep, only to be awakened by the frightened whinnying of his horse at the approach of a lion, which the Arabs call "El Adrea."
Numa el Adrea
There has been speculation regarding the origin of "numa el adrea". "Numa" is mangani for lion. How the Arabs know that term is the real question! As for "adrea" that is Latin for "of the Adriatic" or "dark". The "el" is properly Spanish and not Arabic and is best explained as contact with the Spanish Moors, who spread from the Iberian Pennisula to northern Africa over a number of centuries. Thus Numa el Adrea is the black lion.
Some will say that lions are not black. This is correct to a point. "Black lions" have black or very dark manes and tend to occupy the northern part of Africa. The lions of the Veldt and southern savannahs tend to have tawny or light colored manes of shorter length, thus are not "black lions".
Tarzan wished he had his bow and arrow handy, but is stuck with dispatching Numa with his high-powered rifle instead. Even though this is not the hand-to-mane combat that Tarzan is accustomed to, he is still exhilarated enough by the kill to give voice to the victory cry of his people.
Tarzan figures he has waited long enough for soldiers to return to where they left him, and starts off on foot (his horse having bolted) to find Gerard's camp. However, he is being followed by a party of assassins.
Will the assassins succeed in their mission to kill Tarzan? Will the next chapter be the last chapter, with all the rest of the pages blank? We will have to read on to find out!
In reading the book in order and taking notes, one will more easily notice contradictions. Perhaps ERB was experiencing the pangs of a bit of social conscience as he continued to develop Tarzan's character, and decided that he wanted the noble savage to be just a bit more noble. For he wrote: In fact, Tarzan had never killed for "pleasure," nor to him was there pleasure in killing. It was the joy of righteous battle that he loved -- the ecstasy of victory, and the keen and successful hunt for food in which he pitted his skill and craftiness against the skill and craftiness of another....
This contradicts a statement from Tarzan of the Apes, Chapter 10, that says Tarzan ...joyed in killing, and that he killed with a joyous laugh upon his handsome lips betokened no innate cruelty. He killed for food most often, but, being a man, he sometimes killed for pleasure, a thing which no other animal does; for it has remained for man alone among all creatures to kill senselessly and wantonly for the mere pleasure of inflicting suffering and death.
But now Numa was crouching for the spring. Very slowly Tarzan raised his gun to his shoulder. He had never killed a large animal with a gun in all his life -- 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 arrows and his knife - he would have felt surer with them.
Chapter X, Through the Valley of the Shadow
Having departed the little valley where Lt. Gernois deserted him, Tarzan makes his way toward Capt. Gerard's camp, but begins to hear soft noises which he soon identifies as the sound of human feet. He realizes these feet belonged to assassins.
Tarzan turns and faces the followers, challenging them and, in the process, making himself a sitting duck. Immediately, an Arab fires, the bullet grazing Tarzan's temple hard enough to knock him unconscious.
One of the Arabs has enough sense to put a gun to Tarzan's head and is about to pull the trigger when another Arab intervenes, pointing out that they will get more money if they bring him back alive. And thus, as in many a story, and many a movie, the hero is spared a certain death!
The Arabs are no better than the cannibals of Tarzan's jungle; he is beset upon by insults and hand-held, improvised missiles of the Arab families when he is brought to their quarters. The head Arab, identified only as "old shiek," stops the harassment. Because Tarzan has killed a lion, he will be treated as a brave man. However, the old shiek will still turn him over to those who will probably kill him.
Soon, we learn what we have suspected all along. Nikolas Rokoff is behind it all. Dressed as an Arab, he comes into the goat-skin tent where Tarzan is tied and begins insulting and kicking the ape-man. Once again, the old shiek intervenes, and Rokoff backs off, but vows he will torture and kill Tarzan on the morrow.
As Tarzan spends the night locked in tortuous bonds, awaiting his fate, "Far up in the mountains he heard a lion roar. How much safer one was, he soliloquized, in the haunts of wild beasts than in the haunts of men. Never in all his jungle life had he been more relentlessly tracked down than in the past few months of his experience among civilized men. Never had he been any nearer death."
The roar of the lion comes closer, and then Tarzan hears stealthy feet approaching the tent. Although he was able to interpret the sound of human feet in the Valley of the Shadow, his senses are dulled here and he interprets the soft padding as that of the approaching lion. Instead, it's the Ouled-Nail, who learned of his capture from other Arabs and made the dangerous journey to free him. She sneaks into the tent, cuts his bonds, and they slip out of the camp.
As they travel on foot across the desert, "It was now a beautiful, moonlit night. The air was crisp and invigorating. Behind them lay the interminable vista of the desert, dotted here and there with an occasional oasis. The date palms of the little fertile spot they had just left, and the circle of goatskin tents, stood out in sharp relief against the yellow sand --a phantom paradise upon a phantom sea. Before them rose the grim and silent mountains. Tarzan's blood leaped in his veins. This was life! He looked down upon the girl beside him--a daughter of the desert walking across the face of a dead world with a son of the jungle. He smiled at the thought. He wished that he had had a sister, and that she had been like this girl. What a bully chum she would have been!"
Ah, poor Ouled-Nail. She was probably harboring thoughts of romance with the tall stranger, and would probably have been flabbergasted if she had only known that Tarzan was thinking of her in terms of sisterhood! But even though Jane is not mentioned in this chapter, and even though Tarzan has come to accept that she is going to marry another, he just isn't thinking in terms of giving his love to another woman.
In fact, if not a sister, then he muses that he could be great friends with her if only she were a man! "He longed for a friend who loved the same wild life that he loved. He had learned to crave companionship, but it was his misfortune that most of the men he knew preferred immaculate linen and their clubs to nakedness and the jungle. It was, of course, difficult to understand, yet it was very evident that they did."
Before they can make it safely back to the camp of the Ouled-Nail's father, Sheik Kabour ben Saden, there is one more trial to face. A lion stands in their path. Tarzan has already dispatched one Northern African lion with a rifle. How will he stand up against this beast with a blade? He borrows the Ouled-Nail's knife and bids her move to a place of safety.
Then, The ape-man stood, half crouching, the long Arab knife glistening in the moonlight. Behind him the tense figure of the girl, motionless as a carven statue. She leaned slightly forward, her lips parted, her eyes wide. Her only conscious thought was wonder at the bravery of the man who dared face with a puny knife the lord with the large head. A man of her own blood would have knelt in prayer and gone down beneath those awful fangs without resistance. In either case the result would be the same--it was inevitable; but she could not repress a thrill of admiration as her eyes rested upon the heroic figure before her. Not a tremor in the whole giant frame--his attitude as menacing and defiant as that of El Adrea himself.
As Tarzan walked down the wild canon beneath the brilliant African moon the call of the jungle was strong upon him. The solitude and the savage freedom filled his heart with life and buoyancy. Again he was Tarzan of the Apes--every sense alert against the chance of surprise by some jungle enemy--yet treading lightly and with head erect, in proud consciousness of his might.
Chapter XI, John Caldwell, London
As Chapter 10 closes, Tarzan and the Ouled-Nail, while escaping from Tarzan's captors, are met by Numa, El Adrea. Tarzan borrows the Ouled-Nail's knife and prepares to face the huge lion.
As Chapter 11 begins, the lion attacks, but Tarzan simply sidesteps the beast and attacks it from the side, while the Ouled-Nail thinks: Oh Allah!
Tarzan has lion-killing down to a science. He "grasped him by the mane. The lion reared upon his hind legs like a horse... Tarzan had known that he would do this, and he was ready. A giant arm encircled the black-maned throat, and once, twice, a dozen times a sharp blade darted in and out of the bay-black side behind the left shoulder."
Question: Where's the hunting knife of his long-dead sire?
Since Tarzan had to borrow a knife from the Ouled-Nail, one wonders at the location of the hunting knife of his long dead sire. Perhaps he had left it in the safe-keeping of D'Arnot while adventuring in Africa. In Chapter 8, when he had been stranded by Gernois and encountered a lion, he was without his knife. We read:
Very slowly Tarzan raised his gun to his shoulder. He had never killed a large animal with a gun in all his life--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 arrows and his knife--he would have felt surer with them.
So, the ape-man did not have his knife, even then. One wonders: Where is the knife that we are to read about in future Tarzan adventure after adventure? Where had he put it for safekeeping? Why was it not with him on his dangerous spy mission? It certainly would have fit his "cover" as a hunter, since hunters traditionally carry hunting knives for gutting and skinning their kills and other utility purposes.
It will be interesting, as we read on in the saga, to see when and where and how "the hunting knife of his long-dead sire" resurfaces!
Hearing his frightful victory cry, the girl thinks the encounter has driven Tarzan insane, but his smile quickly reassures her.
Tarzan and the girl come upon their horses, which had been frightened off by El Adrea while the girl was sneaking into the enemy shiek's encampment to help Tarzan escape.
Shiek Kadour ben Saden was tickled to death that Tarzan was back, and urged him to accept adoption into the tribe. Tarzan thought about it, and might have done it had the Ouled-Nail been a man, because "it would have meant a friend after his own heart, with whom he could ride and hunt at will." Tarzan thinks highly of the Ouled-Nail, but he has no romantic interest in her, and realizes that a friendship with an Arab woman would be awkward, at the very least!
When Tarzan finally leaves, the girl -- whom we still know only by her occupation and not by her name -- tells Tarzan that she had prayed that he would remain with them "and now I shall pray that you will return." Tarzan was touched by the pathetic droop at the corners of her mouth and the expression of wistfulness in her beautiful eyes. Then, he rode off into the sunset.
ERB doesn't say so, but adoption into an Arab tribe would probably also have meant that Tarzan would have had to become a worshipper of Allah. Somehow, I can't picture Tarzan facing east five times a day while getting on his hands and knees to pray to the god of Islam.
When Tarzan returns to Bou Saada, he collects his mail at the hotel and finds a letter from the French authorities, directing him to drop his present assignment and to travel to Cape Town for further instructions.
Tarzan next looks up Capt. Gerard, who is pleasantly surprised to see him, having heard a false story from Lt. Gernois about how Tarzan "had chosen to remain" behind and had gone missing.
Tarzan doesn't bother to tell Gerard his suspicions about Gernois. Instead, he follows a lead that Kadour ben Saden had given him that puts him on the trail of Rokoff. The intelligence leads Tarzan to an obscure dwelling in the city, where he listens at the window as Rokoff and Gernois discuss enemy secrets. Gernois is feeding Rokoff classified information because the latter is blackmailing the former.
After Gernois leaves, Tarzan bursts into the room and gets Rokoff by the throat, a position in which Rokoff has long deserved to be.
"You do not dare kill me," says Rokoff.
"I dare kill you, Rokoff," replies Tarzan.
With Tarzan's fingers about his throat "...the great coward squealed like a stuck pig, until Tarzan had shut off his wind."
However, Tarzan elects not to kill the Russian spy in cold blood, primarily for the sake of the scoundrel's sister, the Countess Olga de Coude. He warns Rokoff, however, that this is a one-time reprieve. The next time, it will be death.
Tarzan leaves Rokoff gasping for breath as he takes the stolen government papers and departs.
As Tarzan leaves Bou Saada astride a horse, he happens to see Gernois on the hotel veranda. Gernois goes white as chalk at seeing Tarzan and mechanically returns the ape-man's salute. Later that morning, Gernois shoots himself.
While awaiting a ship to Cape Town in Algiers , Tarzan sends his employers a written report on the successful completion of his first mission, but retains the secret documents as he does not wish to trust them to the mail.
Tarzan boards the ship under the name of John Caldwell, London . Also aboard the ship are two other characters. The reader assumes, from their behavior, that they are Rokoff and his lieutenant, Paulvitch. Civilization must have dulled Tarzan's sense of smell, as he walks right past the two without recognizing them by their scent. But, maybe they had laid the Arab spices and perfume on thick!!
Though traveling incognito, Tarzan somehow rates a place at the captain's dinner table, where he is introduced to a young woman named Hazel Strong. He recognizes the name as the one whom Jane Porter had written to in the letter that Tarzan had read at the little cabin in Tarzan of the Apes. Tarzan assumes that this is that very same Hazel Strong, and he is correct.
Special passage: "I dare kill you, Rokoff," replied Tarzan, "for no one knows that you are here or that I am here, and Paulvitch would tell them that it was Gernois. I heard you tell Gernois so. But that would not influence me, Rokoff. I would not care who knew that I had killed you; the pleasure of killing you would more than compensate for any punishment they might inflict upon me. You are the most despicable cur of a coward, Rokoff, I have ever heard of. You should be killed. I should love to kill you," and Tarzan approached closer to the man.
Chapter XII, Ships That Pass
Burroughs begins this chapter by harkening back to a scene from the previous book, Tarzan of the Apes. These opening paragraphs serve two purposes. For the reader who is familiar with the first book, it is a refresher, and adds some hitherto unknown but important details. For the reader who has not read "Apes," it serves as a way of bringing the reader up to date on this aspect of the story.
"Apes" ended with Tarzan, Clayton and Professor Porter's party in a railway station in Wisconsin, awaiting the train to take them back to Baltimore. At that point, Tarzan had received the telegram from D'Arnot, revealing that fingerprint evidence showed that he was the rightful heir to the estate and title of Lord Greystoke. In a noble act of self-renunciation, Tarzan simply discarded the telegram without revealing its contents. He did this because the love of his life, Jane Porter, had already pledged herself to William Cecil Clayton, and Tarzan wanted her to at least have the advantage of the Greystoke estate, which would be going to William Cecil.
What "Return" reveals is that, as the train approached, Clayton stepped from the platform back into the station to retrieve his luggage. At that moment, he saw the discarded telegram on the floor and picked it up and read it. At once he knew the true situation and, in a noble moment, decided to reveal it to the others once they were on the train.
However, it was not until the train was under way that he realized Tarzan had not accompanied the group on the railroad journey.
He reasoned the matter out to himself and the rationalization process began. He decided that the discarded telegram meant that Tarzan never intended to claim his birthright. "If this were so, what right had he, William Cecil Clayton, to thwart the wishes, to balk the self-sacrifice of this strange man? If Tarzan of the Apes could do this thing to save Jane Porter from unhappiness, why should he, to whose care she was intrusting her whole future, do aught to jeopardize her interests?"
One might regard Clayton's thinking as sensible. However, ERB shows his distaste for it, writing: "And so he reasoned until the first generous impulse to proclaim the truth and relinquish his titles and his estates to their rightful owner was forgotten beneath the mass of sophistries which self-interest had advanced."
Thus, ERB tells us Clayton's true character.
Jane, committed to a loveless marriage, keeps postponing the wedding. Eventually, Clayton has to return to England but soon persuades Professor Porter and family to come for a visit, figuring it will be easier to coax Jane to the altar there. However, she continues to put it off until finally Lord Tennington invites the group on a yacht trip around Africa. The trip will take a year, and Jane says she'll marry Clayton after the trip is over.
We have probably all been around a person we wished would keep his mouth shut, so we can probably all relate to Clayton when he "...mentally anathematized Tennington for ever suggesting such a ridiculous trip!"
However, the reader is happy, knowing that a lot can happen in a year and maybe, just maybe, in that time things might change enough for Jane and Tarzan to get back together!
As the yacht sails through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea, we come to the point where this chapter gets its name -- Ships That Pass. As Tennington's yacht, the Lady Alice, sails east, toward the Red Sea, Tarzan (alias John Caldwell) is on a ship heading out into the Atlantic for a business trip to the south of Africa, through the Atlantic.
He is on deck, visiting with Hazel Strong, who he believes to be the same Hazel Strong to whom Jane wrote a letter when she and her party were marooned in the little cabin Tarzan's parents built near the small African harbor.
Tarzan confirms his suspicions by mentioning that he likes Americans, and refers to the Porter family specifically. Hazel happily reveals that she and Jane are lifelong friends.
Then, Hazel, not knowing who John Caldwell really is, reveals her own sentiments about Jane's determination to go through with a loveless marriage.
Through Hazel's comments, we are assured that Jane is every bit as honorable a person as is Tarzan of the Apes himself. She says: "...Jane Porter is peculiarly positive. She has convinced herself that she is doing the only honorable thing that she can do, and nothing in the world will ever prevent her from marrying Lord Greystoke except Greystoke himself, or death."
This comment also serves to put the reader on notice: William Cecil Clayton, Lord Greystoke, is either going to have to call off the wedding himself, or die somewhere in the story. As to the "which" and the "how" and the "when," the reader must wait!
Hazel then begins talking about the jungle man whom Jane really loves. Many people love hearing others talk about them in a positive light, but not Tarzan. "...but when he was the subject of the conversation he was bored and embarrassed."
Later, Tarzan sees Hazel Strong talking to a man whom she introduces as Monsier Thuran. Tarzan knows he has seen the man before and soon figures out that it is none other than Rokoff. He corners the Russian spy privately and tells him to stay away from Hazel Strong. "If you don't, I shall pitch you overboard," continued Tarzan. "Do not forget that I am just waiting for some excuse."
Well, Tarzan wasn't the only one thinking about pitching someone overboard. Rokoff's confederate, Alexis Paulvitch, sneaks into Tarzan's stateroom and steals back the secret documents that Tarzan had taken from Rokoff earlier, and then the two sneak up on Tarzan as he gazes over the ship's railing, their approach muffled by the sound of the waves and the throb of the engine, and -- each grabbing a leg -- loft the surprised ape man into the drink.
Hazel Strong, on a lower deck, sees something the size of a human body flash by. But, hearing no outcry, assumes it was the crew dumping the garbage.
And so ends the life of Tarzan of the Apes.
But wait! No! There are several chapters to go! Maybe Tarzan will somehow survive this catastrophe, marry Jane, and deal with Rokoff and Paulvitch. We'll have to read on to see!
Tarzan, the Lost Adventure:
This chapter tells us of a "lost adventure" of Tarzan. We know the ape man traveled to Wisconsin to find Jane, and he probably didn't have any time for sightseeing on his trip west.
But, when the little party boarded the train in Wisconsin, Tarzan told them he planned to drive back to New York in his automobile and see the country. Just how long it took him, and what interesting things he did along the way, is a story Burroughs doesn't tell here. And it was probably nothing like the movie, "Tarzan's New York Adventure"!
However, we can assume that he had many pleasant experiences meeting and talking with U.S. citizens while driving cross-country, because of the statement that is chosen as this chapter's...
I like America very much, and that means, of course, that I like Americans, for a country is only what its people make it. I met some very delightful people while I was there. -- Tarzan of the Apes
Chapter XIII, The Wreck of the Lady Alice
Villain Nikolas Rokoff is bad enough when he is at odds with Tarzan, but he is absolutely intolerable when we must suffer his oily solicitation of the unwary and beautiful Hazel Strong.
Having disposed of Tarzan the chapter before, when he and henchman Alexis Paulvitch sneaked up on the ape-man and upended him overboard, he begins playing up to the young Miss Strong, filling the void in her life that has been created by the sudden absence of "Mr. Caldwell."
The girl could not help but feel grateful to him for his kind and encouraging words. He was with her often--almost constantly for the remainder of the voyage--and she grew to like him very much indeed. Monsieur Thuran [as Rokoff called himself] had learned that the beautiful Miss Strong, of Baltimore, was an American heiress--a very wealthy girl in her own right, and with future prospects that quite took his breath away when he contemplated them, and since he spent most of his time in that delectable pastime it is a wonder that he breathed at all.
When "Thuran" learns that Hazel and her mother plan to stay several months in Cape Town, he suddenly finds a reason to stay there also. It was important to Russia that he return there with the stolen government secrets he lifted from Tarzan, but it is more important for Rokoff's greed that he dog Hazel to Cape Town.
Hazel's mom, with a mother's instinct, is suspicious of Thuran, but no one else is. "I do not know why I should distrust him," she said to Hazel one day as they were discussing him. "He seems a perfect gentleman in every respect, but sometimes there is something about his eyes--a fleeting expression which I cannot describe, but which when I see it gives me a very uncanny feeling."
He makes a mistake by proposing to Hazel too early in their relationship, but it doesn't seem to do him that much harm. Hazel says she hasn't thought of him "that way" and needs time to consider.
By chance, Hazel runs into Jane Porter in Cape Town . Obviously, half of her party's yacht voyage around Africa is over!
Rokoff gets the idea that Lord Tennington, owner of the Lady Alice, might invite the Strongs to sail with him, and, to ensure himself a place aboard the yacht, Rokoff lies to Tennington, telling him that he and Hazel are engaged but that it is a secret until they reach England .
Aboard the yacht, Hazel shows Jane some photos, including one of the ill-fated Mr. Caldwell, whom Jane recognizes as Tarzan.
"And he is dead! Oh! Hazel, it is horrible! He died all alone in this terrible ocean! It is unbelievable that that brave heart should have ceased to beat--that those mighty muscles are quiet and cold forever! That he who was the personification of life and health and manly strength should be the prey of slimy, crawling things, that--" But she could go no further, and with a little moan she buried her head in her arms, and sank sobbing to the floor.
Jane becomes a forlorn figure aboard the yacht, but that is just the start of troubles. An engine goes out, a squall tosses the tiny craft, crewmen start fighting each other, and the first mate falls overboard and drowns. Finally, the craft strikes a floating derelict and is damaged so badly it starts sinking.
Those on the yacht load provisions and themselves into four lifeboats. Jane ends up in a boat with her finace, William Cecil Clayton, Thuran/Rokoff, and three crew members. After a night on the ocean, she wakes to the startling realization that their boat has become separated from the other three during the night.
Some questions (not all of which have verifiable answers)
An insult to Hazel: Times have changed. Aboard the passenger liner, Rokoff attempts to console Hazel Strong for not realizing that the object she saw fall from the ship was actually John Caldwell. In consoling her, he actually insults her, but she doesn't seem to notice the way a more modern woman would. What is the insult? Here is the passage:
"You must not reproach yourself, my dear Miss Strong," urged Monsieur Thuran. "It was in no way your fault. Another would have done as you did. Who would think that because something fell into the sea from a ship that it must necessarily be a man? Nor would the outcome have been different had you given an alarm. For a while they would have doubted your story, thinking it but the nervous hallucination of a woman--had you insisted it would have been too late to have rescued him by the time the ship could have been brought to a stop, and the boats lowered and rowed back miles in search of the unknown spot where the tragedy had occurred. No, you must not censure yourself. You have done more than any other of us for poor Mr. Caldwell--you were the only one to miss him. It was you who instituted the search."
The girl could not help but feel grateful to him for his kind and encouraging words
What do St. Petersburg and the Black Sea have in common, as far as this chapter is concerned?
Who was Mr. Brentley?
Why didn't Thuran/Rokoff arrange to get himself in the same lifeboat with Hazel?
As of this chapter, there was, in existence, at least one photograph of Tarzan of the Apes. What happened to it? Did Hazel keep it with the items she took into the lifeboat, or was it lost forever with the wreck of the Lady Alice?
Paulvitch was with Rokoff in the previous chapter. He is not mentioned at all in this chapter. What happened to him?
By the time mutual explanations had been made Hazel knew that Lord Tennington's yacht had put in at Cape Town for at least a week's stay, and at the end of that time was to continue on her voyage--this time up the West Coast--and so back to England . "Where," concluded Jane, "I am to be married."
"Then you are not married yet?" asked Hazel.
"Not yet," replied Jane, and then, quite irrelevantly, "I wish England were a million miles from here.
Chapter XIV, Back to the Primitive
This is one of the greatest chapters in the Tarzan saga so far. Here we have Tarzan at his best, Tarzan as he is supposed to be...on his own, self-sufficient, roaming his jungle at will, taking what he wants, doing what he wants, and all at his own pace, unhindered by man's artificial deadlines and civilization's constraints. "Back to the Primitive" -- a great title for such a chapter. It says it all.
And, it's the chapter we have been waiting for; the chapter we have been longing for.
Enough of Tarzan racing through the burning Wisconsin forest!
Enough of Tarzan driving an automobile!
Enough of Tarzan cruising around on passenger ships and interacting with passengers both friend and foe!
Enough of Tarzan sampling all that Paris has to offer -- from the operas and plays attended by the elite, to the bare-knuckle gang fights in the back alleys and tenements!
Enough of Tarzan playing secret agent in the Sahara!
Enough of Tarzan killing a lion with a rifle, for Pete's sake!
It's time to get back to the Tarzan we know and love, the one who is Lord of the Jungle, King of the Apes, the Master of all he surveys!
And what a refreshing thing it is to come upon this chapter After just having endured a whole chapter of the machinations of Monsieur Thuran, it's time for a breath of fresh air. It's time for Tarzan!
We waited awhile for this. Tarzan was taken by surprise at the end of Chapter 12 and pitched headlong off the ocean liner and into the water by Nikolas Rokoff (aka Monsieur Thuran) and his co-thug Alexis Paulvitch.
Then, we had to wade through Chapter 13 while "Thuran" wormed his way into the lives of Hazel Strong and her mother and, later, into the party of Lord Tennington and Jane Porter herself!
Now, we go back slightly in time to see what happened to Tarzan once he was pitched from that ship's deck.
We find that, when Tarzan landed in the water, his first instinct was one of self-preservation, swimming clear of the ship's propellers and then treading water while contemplating his situation. This brings us to one of my favorite passages in the whole Tarzan series, one that I have thought of often over the years:
He lay thus for some time, watching the receding and rapidly diminishing lights of the steamer without it ever once occurring to him to call for help. He never had called for help in his life, and so it is not strange that he did not think of it now. Always had he depended upon his own prowess and resourcefulness, nor had there ever been since the days of Kala any to answer an appeal for succor. When it did occur to him it was too late.
This is a passage that well describes the persona of Tarzan, and no doubt it is one of the reasons we enjoy reading about him so much: He's confident, leaning on no one else, dependent upon no other, accountable to no one other than himself. He is Tarzan, the Ape-Man, and that is enough.
Aided by some knowledge of the stars he gained during his time in civilization, Tarzan swims in what he believes to be the direction of shore, casting off his impeding garments as he goes.
He probably could have swam all the way to shore, but he has the good fortune of coming across a derelict and discovers a small boat among the wreckage. In that, with a makeshift paddle, he completes his journey to shore and discovers that fate has brought him to the very landlocked harbor and the cabin in which he was born.
Tarzan of the Apes had come into his own again, and that all the world might know it he threw back his young head, and gave voice to the fierce, wild challenge of his tribe. For a moment silence reigned upon the jungle, and then, low and weird, came an answering challenge--it was the deep roar of Numa, the lion; and from a great distance, faintly, the fearsome answering bellow of a bull ape.
Tarzan first quenched his thirst, then entered his old cabin. He knew he would need to eat soon. One of his old grass ropes hung on the wall and he grabbed it and headed off into the jungle. Tarzan wished he had a knife but he knew the rope was his first key to getting food, and later a blade and other weapons.
Tarzan lies in wait in a tree until Horta the Boar ventures by, and Tarzan lassoes and drags the startled animal into the tree just in time to win it from an attacking lion. Here is great jungle fun, as Tarzan strangles the boar and then sinks his teeth into the flesh while the enraged lion roars in anger and frustration below.
As Tarzan wipes his bloody hands on some leaves, we are told of the more genteel scene at dinner aboard the Lady Alice which, at this time, is in the Indian Ocean. And so, timewise, Chapter 14 is a flashback, or "catchup" chapter, as the events of Chapter 13 had not yet happened at this time.
The Ape-Man spends a peaceful night, sleeping on the mildewed grass of his bed in his parents' old cabin, and there was probably seldom as restful a night for the one who had come home to sleep in his own bed.
The next day, Tarzan seeks out the old cannibal village to steal a knife and weapons, but finds it long abandoned. So, he begins moving through the jungle to find another dwelling place of African man.
As he traveled he hunted as he had hunted with his ape people in the past, as Kala had taught him to hunt, turning over rotted logs to find some toothsome vermin, running high into the trees to rob a bird's nest, or pouncing upon a tiny rodent with the quickness of a cat. There were other things that he ate, too, but the less detailed the account of an ape's diet, the better--and Tarzan was again an ape, the same fierce, brutal anthropoid that Kala had taught him to be, and that he had been for the first twenty years of his life.
Tarzan eventually finds a native and follows him to kill him and get his weapons. But, he begins having second thoughts, borne of the refining influences of civilization. The more he thinks, the more that this type of killing becomes repugnant to him. Then, he notices that Numa the lion is also stalking the man, and jumps down to help the man as the lion attacks.
Tarzan teams up with the native and, when the beast is dead, Tarzan does not give the victory cry of the bull ape. Instead:
...Tarzan arose, and the black man and the white looked into each other's eyes across the body of their kill--and the black made the sign of peace and friendship, and Tarzan of the Apes answered in kind.
What thrills the chapter has for us! We see the jungle superman survive certain death in the ocean, then see him return to his primitive roots and then...a new element. Yes, Tarzan has returned to the jungle, and he is at home there as ever, but something new has been added to the mix: Friendship with a native who might just as easily have become his enemy. What will this new friendship mean? What direction will the story take with this new relationship? The reader must keep turning pages to find the answers!
Thus easily did Monsieur Jean C. Tarzan slough the thin skin of his artificial civilization, and sink happy and contented into the deep sleep of the wild beast that has fed to repletion. Yet a woman's "yes" would have bound him to that other life forever, and made the thought of this savage existence repulsive.
Chapter XV, From Ape to Savage
I labeled the previous chapter as "one of the greatest" so far because it is pure "Tarzan in the jungle," living the way we often think of him, when he isn't having specific adventures of one sort or another.
The title of Chapter 15 might evoke a question: Is the transition from "ape" to "savage" a step up, or a step back? It's both.
After saving Busuli's life, Tarzan is welcomed as a member of the Waziri tribe. Tarzan muses that, compared to his life in Paris, where D'Arnot made his best effort to civilize the ape man, it's a step back. But from the lowliness of being a mere ape, it's a step up. As he contrasted thoughts of Paris with those of his new membership in the tribe, we read: "'How quickly have I fallen!'....but in his heart he did not consider it a fall -- rather he pitied the poor creatures of Paris, penned up like prisoners in their silly clothes, and watched by policemen all their poor lives, that they might do nothing that was not entirely artificial and tiresome."
(This description of a policeman's duties are from an author who once served as a railroad policeman in Salt Lake City.)
Tarzan actually took his own road to being a law-abiding citizen, thanks in part to a lion in the previous chapter. The ape-man had been stalking Busuli with the plan of killing him for his weapons when he began questioning his intentions, due to his exposure to civilization. When a lion attacked Busuli, that settled the matter and Tarzan joined his intended victim in dispatching the beast.
This was Tarzan's ticket to a welcome among Busuli's tribe, and during the evening celebration, we read: "How much easier this was, thought Tarzan, than murder and robbery to supply his wants. How close he had been to killing this man whom he never had seen before, and who now was manifesting by every primitive means at his command friendship and affection for his would-be slayer. Tarzan of the Apes was ashamed. Hereafter he would at least wait until he knew men deserved it before he thought of killing them."
Some readers have wondered if Tarzan was, in fact, a murderer the time he stalked and killed the slayer of his mother, Kala. This passage shows that Tarzan, for one, applied the term to his own intentions on at least this particular occasion.
The ape-man is both at home, and not at home, with his Waziri friends. In what might be seen as a racist statement (another subject which genders debate among ERB fans), the author writes of Tarzan's favorable impression of the Waziri: "Tarzan was again impressed by the symmetry of their figures and the regularity of their features -- the flat noses and thick lips of the typical West Coast savages was entirely missing. In repose the faces of the men were intelligent and dignified, those of the women ofttimes prepossessing." And Tarzan feels a sense of belonging with these people: "Except for color he was one of them. His ornaments and weapons were the same as theirs -- he spoke their language -- he laughed and joked with them, and leaped and shouted in the brief wild dance that preceded their departure from the village, to all intent and purpose a savage among savages."
Though impressed with their looks and behavior and happy with his identification with them, Tarzan was not "at home" with the thought of spending a night in one of their huts, preferring the open air comfort of a swaying tree to the likelihood of rodent infestation near any sleeping mat upon which he might lie.
Tarzan learns the history of the Waziri: They were once more in number but their ranks were riddled by slave traders and they moved many miles into the jungle to avoid them. Tarzan also sees that some of the natives wear golden baubles, and he learns how these were obtained from the bodies of strange men who attacked the Waziri near a faraway lost city. This is the first mention of a place the reader will come to know as Opar, the most famous lost city in the canon and one which will receive repeat visits from the ape-man over the years.
This is also the chapter with the great elephant hunt, which has mystified some readers who know that Tarzan, otherwise, has been a great friend of Tantor. Tarzan indeed goes on the hunt with the Waziri and helps them find their prey, but his only reported elephant kill is to save Busuli's life.
The chapter ends with the sound of faraway rifle shots from the direction of the Waziri village, and the warriors know the slave traders have returned.
ERB's words: There were two words I looked up. ERB called the faces of the women "prepossessing." That's one of those words I've heard a few times over the years and knew it meant something fairly benign, but never had occasion to know the exact definition until now: It is an adjective that means "impresses favorably; engaging or attractive."
The other word was "temerarious," describing Tarzan's challenge to the charging bull elephant. It means "reckless, rash."
Who was Chowambi?
Really Tarzan of the Apes was but a child, or a primeval man, which is the same thing in a way.
Chapter XVI, The Ivory Raiders
While most of the Waziri men are off on an elephant hunt, Arabs and their Manyeuma cohorts attack the Waziri village and murder wantonly. They are after the Waziri ivory.
The elephant hunt is only five miles away, so Tarzan and the Waziri hear the gunshots and, as they head to the village, soon encounter fleeing escapees.
The Waziri are all for charging the village, but Tarzan asks them to wait while he reconnoiters. When he returns, Waziri, chief of the Waziri, has worked himself into a lather because he has learned -- from an escapee -- how his wife was tortured and killed. Recklessly, the chief leads an assault on the village and rifle fire kills him and some others.
Tarzan then points out they will all be slaughtered by the guns of the invaders. He tells them to scatter and re-gather later. Meanwhile, Tarzan doubles back through the upper terraces and, as the invaders leave the village virtually deserted in order to chase the scattering Waziri, Tarzan goes inside the palisade and rescues 50 tribe members who are chained together.
That evening, all are reunited and the Waziri agree to follow Tarzan's plan.
The best marksmen sneak into trees around the village and begin silently firing an arrow here and an arrow there into exposed raiders, stirring up the fear of an unseen enemy.
"It does not take a great deal of this manner of warfare to get upon the nerves of white men, and so it is little to be wondered at that the Manyueme were soon panic-stricken," ERB writes.
Bouyed by their success, the Waziri once again want to charge the village and finish the job, and Tarzan has to remind them again how much better his tactic has been working. "You are crazy!" he said. "I have shown you the only way to fight these people. Already you have killed twenty of them without the loss of a single warrior, whereas, yesterday, following your own tactics, which you would now renew, you lost at least a dozen, and killed not a single Arab or Manyueme. You will fight just as I tell you to fight, or I shall leave you and go back to my own country."
No one wants Tarzan to leave, and so they agree to follow his plan. That night, Tarzan goes back to the village alone for a little more psychological warfare. He drops into the village and sneaks up on a lone sentry, knife in hand. When but two paces from the sentry, a sixth sense warns the fellow and he turns and faces the ape-man.
Manyeuma is used in this book to describe the co-conspirators of the Arabs. The word is defined by its context. This is a tribe, or group of tribes, who practice cannibalism and who have no qualms about helping white slave traders capture black slaves from other tribes.
And when Tarzan of the Apes elected to adopt stealth, no creature in all the jungle could move so silently or so completely efface himself from the sight of an enemy.
Chapter XVII, The White Chief of the Waziri
If the opening of this chapter was a comic book during the code days, it might not have been approved. If it were a modern movie, it might be rated R for violence. Here, in grisly, gruesome detail, ERB describes what it's like for the victim to die at the bare hands of Tarzan.
At the end of the last chapter, Tarzan was sneaking up on the lone sentry to dispatch him with his knife. It would have been quick and relatively painless. Unfortunately, the sentry turned at the last moment and faced Tarzan. Unfortunately for the sentry, that is.
As this chapter opens, Tarzan takes the matter in hand. Both hands. And as Tarzan chokes the life out of his hapless enemy, we read every excruciatingly gory detail: "His eyes bulged, his tongue protruded, his face turned to a ghastly purplish hue -- there was a convulsive tremor of the stiffening muscles, and the Manyuema sentry lay quite still."
Ah, blessed stillness. A welcome relief from the horrors of dying in the grip of the ape-man.
After reading of Tarzan's killing prowess, we are next treated to a display of his incredible skill in the aboreal heights. Tarzan carries the body to the top of a tree that overhangs the palisade, parks it temporarily, and -- carrying the sentry's rifle -- "...walked far out upon a limb, from the end of which he could obtain a better view of the huts."
When you think about it, this is an amazing feat. The end of any limb is bound to be flimsy, and yet there is Tarzan, not crouching, not wrapping his arms and legs around the limb for dear life, but actually walking on it!!
It gets better. Next, he takes the dead sentry's rifle and fires a bullet into one of the huts, and doesn't even seem to be phased, let alone knocked off his flimsy perch, by the recoil!
He does this twice.
He also, at one point, while still on the limb, "...stood swinging the dead body of the sentry gently to and fro, suddenly shot the corpse far out above their heads."
How could anyone hope to stand up against a fellow who can do all this?
The chapter starts with Tarzan's breathtaking feats of strength and balance, and then continues with his mastery of mental warfare.
The Arabs and the Manyuema, who have killed many of the Waziri tribe to steal their ivory, prepare to set out for home the next morning, with the Arab's Manyuema underlings carrying the ivory.
They decide to burn the village before they leave, but Tarzan calls out from the bushes, telling them not to. Naturally, one bold Arab decides to do it anyway, and Tarzan stands erect on a swaying branch 100 feet above the ground and fells the Arab with a rifle shot. The Arabs think better of burning the village, and depart with the ivory, ignoring another warning from Tarzan to leave it behind.
Then, the real fun begins as the party of about 250 starts a trek back to Arab country.
Tarzan directs the Waziri fighters to simply hide themselves along the trail and kill -- with arrow or spear -- any time they have a good, safe shot. The math works out to about 72 killed over a three-day stretch, at the average of about one per hour, taking a psychological as well as physical toll on the expedition members, who never know where the next missile will come from, when it will come, or whose body it will penetrate.
Finally, they're down to 30 Arabs and 150 blacks.
Tarzan speaks from the jungle, pointing out to the blacks that they outnumber the Arabs and suggesting they kill them before any more of the blacks die. The Manyeuma see the logic of this and turn on their Arab masters, shooting them to death.
Tarzan makes good on his promise to feed the Manyeuma and release them, in return for them packing the ivory back to the Waziri village.
That night, Busuli formally nominates Tarzan as the new chief of the Waziri tribe, and the men "vote" by joining, one by one, in a dance of victory.
"And so," ERB writes, "Tarzan of the Apes came into a real kingship among men -- slowly but surely was he following the evolution of his ancestors, for had he not started at the very bottom?"
Tarzan is nominated for chief with Busuli's chant of: "Waziri, king of the Waziri." Then ERB explains: "In the center of the circle sat Tarzan of the Apes -- Waziri, king of the Waziri, for, like his predecessor, he was to take the name of his tribe as his own." But we read a couple of chapters ago that a previous chief of the Waziri, before Tarzan's predecessor took over, was named Chowambi. Was the tribe, back then, known as the Chowambi Tribe? If it was, then why don't the Waziri change the name of their tribe to "Tarzan" when the ape-man becomes chief? If it wasn't, why is Chowambi called Chowambi instead of Waziri?
As the excitement waxed, the ape-man sprang to his feet and joined in the wild ceremony. In the center of the circle of glittering black bodies he leaped and roared and shook his heavy spear in the same mad abandon that enthralled his fellow savages. The last remnant of his civilization was forgotten -- he was primitive man to the fullest now, reveling in the freedom of the fierce, wild life he loved, gloating in his kingship among these wild blacks.
Chapter XVIII, The Lottery of Death
We left Jane, Clayton and Rokoff (alias Monsieur Thuran) in a lifeboat at the end of Chapter XIII, "The Wreck of the Lady Alice." It's been so enjoyable to have four straight chapters of Tarzan triumphing in his element that the life boaters would have been almost forgotten had not ERB made a couple of brief references to them along the way.
But now, it's back to their predicament, and a grim chapter it turns out to be.
When daylight comes, they find their lifeboat has been separated from the others.
Next, they start bickering and soon the six are divided into two camps -- the three sailors (Wilson, Spider and Tompkins) and Thuran, Clayton and Jane. They divide up the cans of provisions, which turn out to be coal oil and gunpowder.
Jane starts noticing the true colors of "Thuran," who she had thought was a "gentleman." First, he remarks that all sailors are stupid, and then has the gall to ask one of them to "Pass one of those tins aft, my good man." Later, of course, he shows himself capable of cannibalism.
The sailors are hungry enough to eat the leather from their clothes, but after a few days, Tompkins dies. Wilson makes the first suggestion of cannibalism, saying "We may need him before tomorrow." However, the three other men manage to shove the body overboard.
Wilson then starts going nuts and eventually tries to sneak up on a sleeping Clayton and bite his throat. Others stop him and he jumps overboard in a crazed frenzy.
Thuran then proposes a "lottery of death" which, unbeknownst to the other two remaining men, he will win, due to a bit of trickery.
Spider is the first loser but he, too, jumps overboard in fear.
In modern times, this scenario is known as the "Never beam down in a red shirt" syndrome. Just as, in the Tarzan movies, it is the blacks, bad guys and bit players who do most of the dying, so it is in the books as ERB eliminates the three bit-playing sailors.
Thuran proposes another lottery between he and Clayton and, through trickery, Thuran wins. Clayton asks him to wait until dark so Jane won't witness his death. When night falls, both men are so weak from hunger that Thuran can't readily get to Clayton to dispatch him with his pocket knife, but both men start crawling toward each other. The chapter ends: "Finally he knew that Thuran was quite close beside him. He heard a cackling laugh, something touched his face, and he lost consciousness."
Jane: This chapter probably relates the worst experience in Jane's life, even worse than being captured by Terkoz in Apes and probably worse than nearly being killed by the Oparians in a future chapter of RT. Here she must endure days of despair, hopelessness and hunger, witness in-fighting, see the degrading behavior of a man she thought was a gentleman and witness the pitiful performance of her fiance, who she thought would be a strong leader. Twice in this chapter she is said to be, literally, dying. The last picture we have of her is horrifying, as Clayton, awaiting his expected fate at nightfall, spends some time with Jane: "He took her hand and raised it to his cracked and swollen lips. For a long time he lay caressing the emaciated, clawlike thing that had once been the beautiful, shapely white hand of the young Baltimore belle."
William Clayton: Though showing himself to have no leadership skills, he does, at least, remain a gentleman. He still sticks up for Jane in his weakened condition and is willing to sacrifice himself to buy time for Jane, even to the point of deliberately attempting to crawl toward Thuran and death as the chapter closes.
As Thuran edged toward Clayton to kill him, his breathing is described as "stertorous." The definition is to breathe with a snoring sound.
When the girl realized that they had become separated from the other boats she was filled with alarm. The sense of utter loneliness and helplessness which the vast expanse of deserted ocean aroused in her was so depressing that, from the first, contemplation of the future held not the slightest ray of promise for her. She was confident that they were lost -- lost beyond possibility of succor.
Chapter XIX, The City of Gold
The second book of the Tarzan series is as important as the first book in laying the foundation for all of the Tarzan stories that would come later. After we have read Apes, and discover how such a remarkable person as Tarzan of the Apes could come to be, we then have Return, which (1) exposes him to the best and worst of civilization in Paris, (2) sets up a series of confrontations with his worst enemies, Rokoff and Paulvitch, (3) places the power of guns in his hands for the first time in both the Sahara and the jungle, (4) establishes his leadership role in the Waziri tribe, (5) introduces him to La and the gold of Opar, and (6) seals his relationship with Jane.
Having heard from his predecessor of the city of gold, Tarzan wastes no time exercising his authority as the new chief of the Waziri, heading out to find the lost city with a complement of 50 warriors.
Meanwhile, ERB reminds us that -- 200 miles away upon the ocean -- Jane, "thin and emaciated," is said to be in the coma that precedes death.
Unaware of this, Tarzan has his eyes on the gold of the lost city. He knows from his exposure to civilization that gold can bring power, but he has not yet given any thought to what he would do with such power in the middle of the jungle.
After a trek of several days, they come at last to the valley where the city lies. As they approach, they see that it is a city in ruins and yet, Tarzan "...discerned things moving..." and felt "...the sensation of unseen eyes upon him."
As they camp outside the city overnight, the Waziri are frightened out of their wits by "...a shrill scream from beyond the great wall. It was very high at first, descending gradually until it ended in a series of dismal moans."
The Waziri in "Return" are brave at times and frightened at others. Once before, Tarzan had to threaten them in order to get them to follow his orders. Now, as they balk about entering the city, Tarzan threatens to go in by himself. Either out of loyalty to their new chief and deliverer, or out of embarrassment for their own lack of boldness, they follow.
As they make their way deep into the city, they often sense "...dim, shadowy shapes..." moving about, "...many eyes upon them...", and "...rustling in the shadows...."
"They are watching us, O king," whispered Busuli. "They are waiting until they have led us into the innermost recesses of their stronghold, and then they will fall upon us and tear us to pieces with their teeth. That is the way with spirits."
Tarzan, at last, gives the Waziri permission to leave. Some seem eager to do so but others consider staying with Tarzan. About that time, another moaning scream decides the matter, and the Waziri flee in fright.
Then we see Tarzan, standing alone in a Tarzan moment, "...where they had left him, a grim smile upon his lips -- waiting for the enemy he fully expected was about to pounce upon him."
But no enemy comes. Tarzan continues and finds a barred door. Many warning shrieks tell him he should not enter that room which, of course, only convince him to do so. He batters down the door and goes in to a Stygian darkness. But that is where the enemy lies in wait. And though the ape man is incredibly strong, he is soon overcome by the "...mere weight of their numbers" and bound.
ERB gives us a detailed description of the men of the city: "The thick, matted hair upon their heads grew low over their receding brows, and hung about their shoulders and their backs. Their crooked legs were short and heavy, their arms long and muscular. About their loins they wore the skins of leopards and of lions, and great necklaces of the claws of those same animals depended upon their breasts. Massive circlets of virgin gold adorned their arms and legs. For weapons they carried heavy, knotted bludgeons, and in the belts that confined their single garments each had a long, wicked-looking knife."
They are described as white men with "...receding foreheads, wicked little close-set eyes, and yellow fangs...."
They mumble to one another in a language unknown to the ape-man. He is left, bound, alone in a ceiling court area for several hours. Tarzan tests his bonds and determines he can probably break them when the opportune time arrives.
As the sun climbs to a point where its rays start shooting through an aperture in the ceiling, the court's upper parapets begin to fill with the ugly men and then several with clubs come in and perform a weird dance around the ape-man. Suddenly, they rush upon him with their clubs but, at the same time, a "female figure" with a club of gold runs in and begins beating them back.
And on the far side of the valley lay what appeared to be a mighty city, its great walls, its lofty spires, its turrets, minarets, and domes showing red and yellow in the sunlight.
Chapter XX, La
The young woman who briefly appeared to be Tarzan's saviourette is anything but. By the ease with which she beats back the gorilla-like Opar males, Tarzan realizes this is all part of a time-worn ritual.
The girl does cut Tarzan's bonds, though, but only the ones on his legs, so he can be led to another chamber. As they enter this devlish version of a "holy of holies," Tarzan sees the opening above from whence the noonday sun is starting to beam through, and he correctly discerns he is among worshippers of Old Sol.
As Tarzan stands by the reddish-brown-stained altar, a procession of females -- shapely in contrast to the beastly men -- parade in, each with two cups. The men take one from each of the women's hands and Tarzan figures they will use them to catch and drink his blood.
At last another woman enters and from her ornaments and bearing Tarzan figures her to be the high priestess of this unchurchly gang. She is who we will come to know in this and other Tarzan adventures as La, High Priestess of the Temple of the Sun.
La tries unsuccessfully to communicate with Tarzan in several languages, to no avail. Then, La recites a long, boring prayer and the beast-men put Tarzan on the altar.
There is trouble in the ranks, as one of the males starts getting testy with another. La admonishes him and begins lowering her knife toward Tarzan's chest in an excruciatingly slow manner.
What would have happened next is impossible to say. In the previous chapter, Tarzan had tested his bonds and believed he could break them if need be. However, he was sure taking his time about doing it!!
Just then, however, the troublesome male goes mad and begins clubbing and killing his fellow Oparians. Tarzan rolls off the altar and breaks his bonds at last. The riot quickly empties the room but Tarzan hears a scream from the High Priestess and rushes to the aid of she who had been about to kill him.
Tarzan whips the Oparian male in a fair jungle fight and then he and she discover they can communicate -- in the language of the great apes. La formally introduces herself and there follows an exchange in which she tells Tarzan the history of her people, how they started coming to this place 10,000 years earlier to search for gold and how the ships from the faraway mother country eventually stopped coming. An investigative ship determined that the mother country had sank into the sea, thus spurring the reader to conclude that it was ancient Atlantis. Cut off from their lost countrymen, their African cities fell one by one to savage African tribes until the last survivors took refuge in the mountain fortress we now know as Opar.
They lived together with great apes (whom they call the "first men"), thus learning their langauge. The men regressed over the century to look more like apes, since the men who had originally been left to guard Opar were of a lower order to start with. The women, meanwhile, remained as fairly gorgeous babes, since they came from the pretty girls who had been left behind as priestesses. Over centuries, though, La felt the women would regress to look more like the men, and since some Oparians had actually mated with apes (a crime for which the punishment was banishment) she believed the human side of the Oparians would eventually disappear and all would be like the apes.
Tarzan seeks La's aid in escaping from the maze of rooms and hallway in the fortress. La says she wants to help, but is fearful of being caught and killed, so she hides Tarzan in a room called the Chamber of the Dead until she can figure a way to help him escape.
"You are a very wonderful man," she said. "You are such a man as I have seen in my daydreams ever since I was a little girl. You are such a man as I imagine the forbears of my people must have been -- the great race of people who built this mighty city in the heart of a savage world that they might wrest from the bowels of the earth the fabulous wealth for which they had sacrificed their far-distant civilization."
Chapter XXI, The Castaways
Clayton, Jane and the insidious Rokoff, alias "Monsier Thuran," cling to life in the tiny lifeboat somewhere off the coast of Africa. Thuran, fortunately for Clayton, had passed out from exhaustion before being able to carry out his plan of slitting Clayton's throat and eating him.
Clayton, awakened by raindrops, crawls out from under Thuran's unconscious body and makes his way to Jane, where he squeezes out a rain-soaked rag to drop fresh water into "the swollen lips of the hideous thing" that was his fiance.
Jane recovers slightly, and as she and Clayton discuss the advisability of attempting to revive the murderous Thuran, the debate is resolved by the sighting of land.
Clayton manages to pull the boat to shore and tie it fast and makes his way into the jungle to pick fruit that he learned, through his earlier experience in the jungle with Tarzan, was safe to eat.
At last all three are out of the boat, refreshed with fruit, and sleeping off the ordeal.
By the end of the month, they had constructed a small shelter in a tree, with an area partitioned off for Jane. Although Thuran ought to show some gratitude, he continues in true character: selfishness, boorishness, arrogance, cowardice, and lust. Clayton seldom leaves him alone a moment with Jane.
When Jane happens to mention how lucky Thuran is that Monsier Tarzan is not there to deal with him, Thuran realizes for the first time that she knows his arch-enemy and he seizes the opportunity to slur Tarzan's reputation. "You knew the pig?" he sneers, and it goes downhill from there.
The reader is informed that just five miles north of their location, through impenetrable jungle, is the tiny cabin in which Tarzan of the Apes was born and, further north by a few miles are the other 18 survivors of the wreck of the Lady Alice. Among them, Professor Porter is up to his usual absent-mindedness and, in the quest for scientific discovery, makes an unsuccessful attempt to row a boat to New York to pick up a scientific pamphlet. With great trouble, Mr. Samuel T. Philander manages to get him back to the group.
After the second month of being castaways, a starving lion nearly ends it all for Clayton and Jane, but the incident proves providential to Jane in determining her personal future.
Jane spots the stalking lion behind Clayton and both know they are too far from their shelter to make it to safety in time. Jane is horrified when Clayton closes his eyes in fear and waits for the lion's charge, instead of turning to battle it like a man with the stick he has in his hands, even if such battle is futile.
Jane then drops to her knees and awaits the sure end by praying.
But after long moments of nothing, she opens her eyes to see the lion dead, transfixed by a huge war spear. Clayton, relieved, attempts to kiss Jane but the whole incident has served to remind her of how Tarzan, the man she now realizes she truly loves, would have behaved, and she can no longer promise to marry Clayton, and tells him so.
The chapter ends with a warning that another calamity is nigh, but we will have to wait a chapter to find out what that calamity is. The chapter also ends without any mention of who threw that spear that killed the lion.
Jane is free to love and marry whomever she wishes, but was it really fair of her to call Clayton a coward to his face when she, too, had closed her eyes and placidly awaited her fate from the lion?
"The thing that has just happened has again forced to my memory the fact that the bravest man that ever lived honored me with his love. Until it was too late I did not realize that I returned it, and so I sent him away. He is dead now, and I shall never marry. I certainly could not wed another less brave than he without harboring constantly a feeling of contempt for the relative cowardice of my husband. Do you understand me?"
Chapter XXII, The Treasure Vaults of Opar
Tarzan waits in the Chamber of the Dead until at last La returns, bearing food and drink. She credits him with being the first one in history (but, as we know, not the last!) to escape from being sacrificed, and 50 Opar men are out on a jungle trek even now, hoping to capture him.
The reason they haven't looked for him in the Chamber of the Dead is because the spirits of the dead would sieze any living being and sacrifice them...except La, of course, because the dead won't harm the high priestess, and Tarzan, of course, because he doesn't believe in all this and, in fact, neither does La, she reveals.
In the darkness of nightime Opar, La leads Tarzan to another chamber and locks him in, telling him he will be safe until morning.
In the darkness, Tarzan discovers the presence of a draft of air and tests the part of the wall from whence it comes, discovering that the bricks are loose. He removes as many as necessary to explore the passage beyond, and continues until he comes to an abyss. Moonlight from an opening above reveals the abyss is a deep well, 15 feet across. Beyond it, the passage continues, and so the agile ape man leaps the abyss and continues on, until he passes a creaky door and encounters a stash of ingots. They were heavy enough to be gold but the ape-man couldn't tell for sure in the dark, so he brought one along as he continued to negotiate various passageways and stairs until at last he comes out into the starry sky to see Opar a mile away. And, the ingot he holds in his hand is virgin gold!
Tarzan soon locates a wisp of campfire smoke and investigates. It is his 50 Waziri warriors, inside a boma. He calls: "Arise, my children, and greet thy king!" and drops from a tree into their midst.
The Waziri report that, ashamed of their earlier cowardice, they were on their way back to Opar to either rescue Tarzan or avenge his death. They report having seen the 50 men of Opar, but the Oparian men had not seen the woodcraft-skilled Waziri.
Tarzan leads the Waziri back to the secret entrance to Opar, and each man is laden with two forty-pound ingots. He leads the Waziri near to a spot known to him as a Great Ape Dum-Dum site and, after the 50 leave, he carries the ingots, one at a time, to the Dum-Dum amphitheatre and buries them. Conveniently, he had stashed there the same shovel he had used to bury, for safekeeping, the chest of Professor Porter back in Tarzan of the Apes.
The next morning, Tarzan made his way to the cabin of his long-dead parents and then traveled south to hunt. Soon, he caught the scent of man and Numa, and hastened his pace. He came upon the scene of Jane and Clayton, both with eyes closed, awaiting death from the tawny yet scrawny lion. Not recognizing either but motivated to help, Tarzan hefted his spear and brought the beast down.
When Jane opened her eyes and raised her head, Tarzan recognized her but, before he could make himself known, he saw Clayton take her in his arms to kiss her. The beast in Tarzan awoke, his scar burned scarlet, and he drew a poisoned arrow in his bow, aimed at his rival's back.
Then, the fury passed. Tarzan "with bowed head, turned sadly into the jungle toward the village of the Waziri."
Lessons in Greek:
This chapter contains a few lessons in Greek mythology. As defined in varous sites on the web:
-- "When Tarzan stood it was dark as Erebus." Erebus, meaning "deep blackness, darkness or shadow," was the son of Chaos and represented the personification of darkness and shadow, which filled in all the corners and crannies of the world.
-- "He had advanced some hundred feet when he came to a flight of steps leading downward into Stygian gloom." Of or pertaining to the river Styx, the principal river of the underworld in Greek mythology; hence, hellish; infernal. Dark and dismal.
-- "Finally the feat was accomplished by dint of herculean efforts upon the part of the ape-man." Requiring the great strength of a Hercules; very hard to perform.
"Opar," he mused, "Opar, the enchanted city of a dead and forgotten past. The city of the beauties and the beasts. City of horrors and death; but - city of fabulous riches."
Chapter XXIII, The Fifty Frightful Men
Jane and Clayton wonder who threw the spear that saved them from the lion. Clayton calls out a "thank you" but there is no response, and Jane comments that the "mysterious jungle...renders even the manifestation of friendship terrifying."
Jane feels a bit sorry for the way she spoke to Clayton, and assures him he is a brave man, although she still meant what she said as far as not wanting to enter into marriage with him.
Clayton, armed with the spear from the lion's body, goes in search of food while Jane sits at the foot of the shelter and Thuran, delirious with fever, moans above.
The jungle fronds part and the wild, matted-hair faces of some of the Oparian men peer out. Suddenly, they rush forward and grab Jane, clapping a hand over her mouth, and drag her off into the jungle. For a march of days she is cuffed, kicked and otherwise mistreated until her clothes rip, exposing her skin to further torture from thorns and brambles. At last, she can move no more and the Opar men have to carry her on the last two days of their trek to Opar.
For a brief moment in Opar, Jane has some hope when she sees the more civilized-looking women of Opar, but that hope is soon dashed, as these women seem to be of no help to her.
Jane is tossed into a dark cell and fed and watered daily, the Oparians, unknown to her, getting her in shape for her date on the altar of the Temple of the Sun.
Tarzan, meanwhile, decides he has had enough of the company of other men, even the Waziri, and roams on his own, ending up at the Dum-Dum amphitheatre, where he sleeps for a few nights until he detects the approach of a band of mangani.
When they arrive, Tarzan discovers it is the same tribe he grew up with and, when he introduces himself, some actually remember him from two years before, although the memory of apes is not the best. They accept Tarzan among them again except for one young bull, who tries to establish his place in the tribal pecking order above the ape-man. Tarzan beats the young bull in combat without killing him, further establishing his credentials as an ape. When the apes realize Tarzan is able to help them find better food sources than they had before, they soon accept him as their new leader.
Tarzan was, at first, content to be an ape again, but soon he began to feel guilt about Jane, with only Clayton to protect her, and determined to go back and watch over her. Before he did, however, a young bull reported having seen the 50 frightful men with a female captive. Tarzan quizzed the bull and, determining it was most likely Jane they had in their power, he left immediately once again for the lost city.
Clayton pulled the spear from the body of the lion to go hunting. Why didn't they just start in eating the freshly killed lion? They'd already eaten worse!
He had seen the woman he craved -- his woman -- his mate -- in the arms of another. There had been but one course open to him, according to the fierce jungle code that guided him in this other existence; but just before it had become too late the softer sentiments of his inherent chivalry had risen above the flaming fires of his passion and saved him. A thousand times he gave thanks that they had triumphed before his fingers had released that polished arrow.
Chapter XXIV, How Tarzan Came Again to Opar
Just about everybody shows up in this chapter. First, it's Clayton and Thuran (aka Rokoff). Clayton, discovering Jane is missing, conducts a brief search and then begins tending to the recovering Thuran. Although he had earlier wished that Thuran would simply die, the gentleman in him motivated him to bring food and water to the suffering scoundrel. However, when the situation was reversed, and Clayton became sick while Thuran got better, Thuran helped Clayton not at all, and even mocked the Englishman's helpless condition.
Eventually, Thuran recovered sufficiently to attempt a trek north, and left Clayton to die.
Meanwhile, up north, in Lord Tennington's camp, Professor Porter provides some comic relief. Then, Tennington, in a conversation with Hazel Strong, inadvertently discovers that Hazel and Thuran are not "an item," as Thuran had led him to believe. Tennington then, rather awkwardly, manages to convey to Hazel that he has feelings for her, and about that time a bedraggled Thuran himself shows up, with his own version of the tragedy that befell the others.
Jane, meanwhile, gains strength in the Opar dungeon and, at last, the women of Opar come to dress her in finery and lead her out. Jane thinks they are treating her kindly because of their religion, and she is partially right. But when she sees the dark-brown stained altar, she realizes what kind of religion they have, and gives up all hope as she is bound, placed on the altar, and the knife begins to descend.
Then, the scene shifts to Tarzan, racing through the jungle for a day and a night, racing "along the middle terrace high above the tangled obstacles that impede progress upon the ground."
Tarzan enters the city the same way he escaped from it, retracing his way through the dark tunnels and leaping over the chasmic well and then tearing out the loose bricks from the wall and into the chamber beyond, only to find the door securely locked. Sounds from beyond convince him that the Oparian sacrificial ceremony is under way, and that he may -- after all his efforts -- simply be a moment too late to save Jane.
Retrace his steps he must, but as he goes back it occurs to him that he might tie a large stone to his rope and toss it through the moonlit opening over the well, and perhaps then scale the rope to get out of the tunnel and gain quicker access to the Temple of the Sun.
He does so and clings on the rope above the chasm. But the rope begins to slip.
"Like a cat he scaled the precipitous sides of the frowning granite kopje." This word, which has sent many a reader scurrying to dictionaries, appears in italics in the text. It is a South African noun that means "a small hill rising up from the African veld."
Until dark the Englishman searched the nearby jungle for a trace of the missing one or a sign of the trail of her abductor. But though the spoor left by the fifty frightful men, unversed in woodcraft as they were, would have been as plain to the densest denizen of the jungle as a city street to the Englishman, yet he crossed and recrossed it twenty times without observing the slightest indication that many men had passed that way but a few short hours since.
Chapter XXV, Through the Primeval
The last chapter ended with Tarzan hanging by a slipping rope over an abysmal well. But the reader needed to look only at the next page to find out the ape-man was not in trouble for long. The rope soon lodged firmly and Tarzan hoisted himself up and then raced across Opar to rescue his love, Jane.
Bursting into the ceremonial room where La is slowly lowering the sacrificial knife toward the unconscious Jane, Tarzan goes mad with rage, grabbing a cudgel and flailing about among the Oparians with much more unbridled passion and power than even the most insane Oparian male.
In the brief seconds before Tarzan makes his way to La, the reader is treated to the rapid-fire private thoughts of the High Priestess. She had never intended to help Tarzan escape from Opar, but had concocted a cockeyed plan that she thought would actually persuade the ape-man to stay there with her as her kept man!
If Tarzan would have known that, he probably would have been even angrier. But, as it was, he was plenty angry at the sight of La about to end Jane's life.
"One side, La," he ordered. "You saved me once, and so I would not harm you; but do not interfere or attempt to follow, or I shall have to kill you also."
And we can believe that Tarzan would have done just that.
La, still ignorant of the identity of her intended victim, asks Tarzan who she is. And, in words that bring a satisfied sigh to readers who have worried through two Tarzan books, the ape-man at last settles the matter with the simple declaration: "She is mine!"
Then, Tarzan scoops Jane up in his arms and begins his mad dash escape, soon followed by the howling Oparians who have recovered from the shock of Tarzan's mad rampage. Fleet of foot is Tarzan, though, even with his beautiful burden, and before long the Oparians give up the chase and Tarzan and Jane are safe in the forest.
It takes a little ministration from Tarzan to awaken Jane, and even then she at first believes she is dreaming. For one thing, she thought Tarzan was dead from his ocean liner plunge into the ocean, yet here he is alive!
Romantic words are exchanged as Jane calls the ape-man "My Tarzan" and "my man." Soon, they bring each other up to date on everything, even including Tarzan's missteps with the beautiful Olga de Coude.
They make their way back to the coast, picking up a detachment of Waziri along the way, and end up at the beach shelter in time to briefly revive the dying Clayton. This encounter gives Clayton the opportunity to produce the telegram Tarzan dropped on the floor of the Wisconsin railway station, in which D'Arnot informed the ape-man that he was the rightful heir to the title and fortune of Lord Greystoke. The visit with Clayton also gives them an opportunity to learn of the most recent perfidy of Monsier Thuran.
Why did William Clayton hang onto that telegram and bring it with him on this trip? Even after all he had been through, his clothing in shreds and replaced by crudely stitched together garments of small animal skins, he still had that piece of paper. He didn't even use it to get a campfire started!
La's hand was descending slowly toward the bosom of the frail, quiet figure that lay stretched upon the hard stone. Tarzan gave a gasp that was almost a sob as he recognized the features of the girl he loved. And then the scar upon his forehead turned to a flaming band of scarlet, a red mist floated before his eyes, and, with the awful road of the bull ape gone mad, he sprang like a huge lion into the midst of the votaries.
Chapter XXVI, The Passing of the Ape-Man
Tarzan, Jane and the Waziri make their way north with the body of Clayton, to bury it beside the ape-man's dead parents next to his little cabin.
On the way, they run into Professor Porter, who has wandered off again, and it is a joyous reunion between father and daughter. They learn that all of the other survivors of the Lady Alice shipwreck are now at Tarzan's old cabin, and when they get there they find another surprise -- Tarzan's friend Lt. Paul D'Arnot has anchored in the harbor with a French ship.
Tarzan is most anxious to renew his acquaintance with the despicable Rokoff, who no longer needs to be referred to as Monsier Thuran. Rokoff and Lord Tennington were out hunting when Tarzan and Jane reached the cabin, and Jane comments on how surprised he will be to see the ape-man again, since Jane now knows it was Rokoff's hands that pushed the off-guard Tarzan from the ocean liner.
"His surprise will be short-lived," said Tarzan.
But Jane admonished: "In the heart of the jungle, dear, with no other form of right or justice to appeal to other than your own mighty muscles, you would be warranted in executing upon this man the sentence he deserves; but with the strong arm of a civilized government at your disposal it would be murder to kill him now...."
Tarzan sees the wisdom of her argument, but Rokoff has no such sense of civility or even common sense. When he returns and sees Tarzan, a "Sapristi" escapes from his lips and he raises his rifle to nail the ape-man, despite the presence of a couple dozen witnesses.
Tennington pushes the rifle aside as the shot is fired and Rokoff is soon clapped in irons aboard the cruiser. But first, Tarzan pats Rokoff down and finds on him the government papers that he had stolen much earlier. Professor Porter, who carries the title of ordained minister, among his other credentials, conducts the burial service for Clayton.
The next day, Tarzan and the Waziri leave to fetch Tarzan's "belongings," which turn out to be his 50 ingots of gold.
Then, it is suggested that Professor Porter perform one more ceremony before they depart, the wedding of Tarzan and Jane. Lord Tennington thinks it a splendid idea if he and Hazel Strong also exchange vows to make it a double wedding.
Aboard the ship, Tarzan and Jane watch the receding coast line. And this might have been the end of the Tarzan saga. Yet, there was a hint it might continue when Tarzan said to Jane: "I should hate to think that I am looking upon the jungle for the last time, dear...."
Just as Clayton carried the Greystoke telegram with him across three continents and held onto it when all his other possessions were rotted rags, so Rokoff held onto his stolen papers with tenacity. This ability was probably the only thing the two men had in common.
The next day they sailed, and as the cruiser steamed slowly out to sea a tall man, immaculate in white flannel, and a graceful girl leaned against the rail to watch the receding shore line upon which danced twenty naked, black warriors of the Waziri, waving their war spears above their savage heads, and shouting farewells to their departing king.
More thoughts: The Incompetent Villain.