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Chapter 2 Tarzan and the Castaways by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The following morning was fair, with a brisk wind, as the Saigon steamed northeastward across the Indian Ocean. The animals on deck were quiet. A wooden cage, entirely covered with matting, was lashed down amidships. No sound came from it, either.

Janette Laon followed Krause on deck; her black hair was blowing in the wind, which pressed her light dress against her, revealing a figure of exceptional allure. Wilhelm Schmidt, the 2nd mate of the Saigon, leaning with his back against the rail, watched her through half-closed eyes.

"Now may I see your wild man, Fritz?" asked the girl.

"I hope he's still alive," said the man; "he must have got an awful beating when we hauled him aboard last night."

"Haven't you tried to find out?" she demanded.

"Couldn't have done anything for him, anyway," replied Krause. "From what Abdullah told me, he'd be a mean customer to handle. Come on; we'll have a look at him. Hey, you!" he called to a Lascar sailor; "take the matting off that cage."

As they watched the man at work, Schmidt came over and joined them. "What you got in there, Mr. Krause?" he asked.

"A wild man; ever see one?"

"I saw a Frenchie once, whose wife had run off with the chauffeur," said Schmidt; "he sure was a wild man."

The sailor had removed the lashings, and now he dragged away the matting. Inside the cage, a giant figure squatted on his haunches, appraising them with level gaze.

"Why, he's a white man!" exclaimed the girl.

"So he is," said Krause.

"You going to keep a man penned up in a cage like a beast?" asked Schmidt.

"He's only white on the outside," said Krause—"he's an Englishman."

Schmidt spat into the cage. The girl stamped her foot angrily. "Don't ever do that again," she said.

"What's he to you?" demanded Krause. "Didn't you hear me say he's nothing but a dirty English pig."

"He's a human being and a white man," replied the girl.

"He's a dummy," retorted Krause; "can't speak a word nor understand one. It's an honor for him to be spit on by a German."

"Nevertheless, don't let Schmidt do it again."

The ship's bell sounded, and Schmidt went to relieve the 1st mate on the bridge.

"He's the pig," said the girl, looking after Schmidt.

The two stood looking at the wild man as Hans de Groote came down from the bridge and joined them. The Dutchman was a good looking young fellow in his early twenties; he had been signed on as 1st mate at Batavia on the trip out, after his predecessor had mysteriously "fallen overboard." Schmidt, who thought that he should have had the assignment, hated him and made no effort to conceal the fact. That there was bad blood between them was nothing to cause comment aboard the Saigon, for bad blood was the rule rather than the exception.

Larsen, the captain, who was now confined to his cabin with a bad attack of fever, was not on speaking terms with Krause, who had chartered the ship; while the crew, made up principally of Lascars and Chinese, were always on the verge of knifing one another. On the whole, the captive beasts were the most admirable creatures aboard.

De Groote stood looking at the man in the cage for several seconds before he spoke. His reaction was almost identical with that of the girl and Schmidt. "He's a white man!" he exclaimed. "You're certainly not going to keep him in a cage like a wild beast!"

"That's exactly what I'm going to do," snapped Krause, "and it's none of your damned business, nor anyone else's," and he shot a scowling glance at the girl.

"He's your wild man," said de Groote, "but at least free his hands; it's unnecessary cruelty to keep him tied up like that."

"I'm going to free his hands," said Krause, grudgingly, "as soon as I can get an iron cage up from below; it would be too much of a job feeding him this way."

"He's had nothing to eat or drink since yesterday," said the girl. "I don't care what he is, Fritz; I wouldn't treat a dog the way you're treating this poor man."

"Neither would I," retorted Krause.

"He is less than a dog," said a voice behind them. It was the voice of Abdullah Abu Nejm. He came close to the cage and spat on the man within, and the girl slapped Abdullah Abu Nejm across the face with all her strength. The Arab's hand flew to his dagger, but de Groote stepped between the two and seized the man's wrist.

"You shouldn't have done that, Janette," said Krause.

The girl's eyes were flashing fire, and the blood had left her face. "I'll not stand by and see him insult that man," she said; "and that goes for the rest of you, too," and she looked straight into Krause's eyes.

"And I'll back her up," said de Groote. "Maybe it's none of my business if you keep him in a cage, but I'll make it some of my business if you don't treat him decently. Have you ordered the iron cage up yet?"

"I'll treat him as I please," said Krause; "and what are you going to do about it?"

"I'll beat hell out of you," replied de Groote, "and then turn you in to the authorities at the first port of call."

"Here comes the iron cage now," said Janette. "Get him into it and take those cords off his wrists."

Krause was frightened at de Groote's threat to notify the authorities; that made him squirm. "Oh, come," he said in mollifying tones, "I'm going to treat him all right. I got a lot of money tied up in him and I expect to make a lot out of him; I'd be a fool not to treat him well."

"See that you do," said de Groote.

A big iron cage was swung up from below and placed close to the wooden cage, the two doors close together. Krause drew a revolver; then both doors were raised. The man in the wooden cage did not move.

"Get in there, you dumb idiot!" yelled Krause, pointing the revolver at the man. He did not even look at Krause. "Get a capstan bar, one of you men," directed Krause, "and poke him from behind."

"Wait," said the girl; "let me try." She walked to the opposite side of the iron cage and beckoned to the captive. He just looked at her. "Come here a minute," she said to de Groote; "let me take your knife; now place your wrists together, as though they were bound; yes, that's it." She took the knife and pretended to sever imaginary cords about de Groote's wrists; then she beckoned again to the man in the wooden cage. He arose, but still stooped, as he could not stand erect in the small wooden cage, and walked into the larger cage.

The girl was standing close to the bars, the knife in her hand; a sailor dropped the door of the iron cage; the captive approached the girl and, turning his back toward her, pressed his wrists against the bars.

"You said he was stupid," Janette said to Krause; "he's not stupid; I could tell that by just looking at him." She cut the bonds from his wrists, which were discolored and swollen. The man turned and looked at her. He said nothing, but his eyes seemed to thank her.

De Groote was standing beside Janette. "He's a fine-looking specimen, isn't he?" he said.

"And handsome," said the girl. She turned to Krause. "Have some water and food brought," she directed.

"You going to be his nurse maid?" inquired Krause with a sneer.

"I'm going to see that he's treated decently," she replied. "What does he eat?"

"I don't know," replied Krause. "What does he eat, Abdullah?"

"The dog has not eaten for two days," replied the Arab; "so I guess he will eat almost anything. In the jungle he eats raw meat from his kills, like a beast."

"We'll try him on some," said Krause; "it will be a good way of getting rid of any of the animals that die." He sent a sailor to the galley for meat and water.

The man in the iron cage looked long at Abdullah Abu Nejm; so long that the Arab spat on the deck and turned away.

"I wouldn't want to be in your shoes if he ever got out of that cage," said Krause.

"You should not have freed his hands," said Abdullah; "he is more dangerous than the lion."

When the sailor returned with the meat and water, Janette took them from him and passed them in to the wild man. He took a small swallow of water; then he went into a far corner of his cage, squatted on his haunches, and tore at the meat with his strong, white teeth; and as he ate, he growled.

The girl shuddered, and the men moved about uneasily. "El adrea of the broad head eats thus," said Abdullah.

"He sounds like a lion," said Krause. "By what name do the natives know him, Abdullah?"

"He is called Tarzan of the Apes," replied the Arab.

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