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Chapter 5 Tarzan and the Castaways by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Tarzan sat with his eyes fixed on Schmidt. He had understood nothing that the man had said; but from his facial expressions, his gestures, his actions, and by all that had occurred, he had judged the man correctly; another score was chalked up against Herr Schmidt; another nail had been driven into his coffin.

The next morning the two captives in the big iron cage were very happy. Janette was happy because she found herself safe and unharmed after a night spent with a creature who ate his meat raw and growled while he ate, a wild man who had killed three African warriors with his bare hands before they could overpower him, and whom Abdullah accused of being a cannibal. She was so happy that she sang a snatch of a French song that had been popular when she left Paris. And Tarzan was happy because he understood the words; while he had slept his affliction had left him as suddenly as it had struck.

"Good morning," he said in French, the first human language he had ever learned, taught to him by the French lieutenant he had saved from death on a far gone day.

The girl looked at him in surprise. "I—good morning!" she stammered. "I—I—they told me you could not speak."

"I suffered an accident," he explained; "I am all right now."

"I am glad," she said; "I—" she hesitated.

"I know," interrupted Tarzan; "you were afraid of me. You need not be."

"They said terrible things about you; but you must have I heard them."

"I not only could not speak," Tarzan explained, "but I could not understand. What did they say?"

"They said that you were very ferocious and that you—you—ate people."

Again one of Tarzan's rare smiles. "And so they put you in here hoping that I would eat you? Who did that?"

"Schmidt, the man who led the mutiny and took over the ship."

"The man who spit on me," said Tarzan, and the girl thought that she detected the shadow of a growl in his voice. Abdullah had been right; the man did remind one of a lion. But now she was not afraid.

"You disappointed Schmidt," she said. "He was furious when you handed me the harpoon and went to the other end of the cage and sat down. In no spoken language could one have assured him of my safety more definitely."

"Why does he hate you?"

"I don't know that he does hate me; he is a sadistic maniac. You must have seen what he did to poor Lum Kip and how he kicks and strikes others of the Chinese sailors."

"I wish you would tell me what has gone on aboard the ship that I have not been able to understand and just what they intend doing with me, if you know."

"Krause was taking you to America to exhibit as a wild man along with his other—I mean along with his wild animals."

Again Tarzan smiled. "Krause is the man in the cage with the 1st mate?"


"Now tell me about the mutiny and what you know of Schmidt's plans."

When she had finished, Tarzan had every principal in the drama of the Saigon definitely placed; and it seemed to him that only the girl, de Groote, and the Chinese sailors were worthy of any consideration—they and the caged beasts.

De Groote awoke, and the first thing that he did was to call to Janette from his cage. "You are all right?" he asked. "He didn't offer to harm you?"

"Not in any way," she assured him.

"I'm going to have a talk with Schmidt today and see if I can't persuade him to take you out of that cage. I think that if Krause and I agree never to prefer charges against him, if he lets you out, he may do it."

"This is the safest place on the ship for me; I don't want to get out as long as Schmidt is in control."

De Groote looked at her in astonishment. "But that fellow is half beast," he exclaimed. "He may not have harmed you yet; but you never can tell what he might do, especially if Schmidt starves him as he has threatened."

Janette laughed. "You'd better be careful what you say about him if you think he is such a ferocious wild man; he might get out of this cage some time."

"Oh, he can't understand me," said de Groote; "and he can't get out of the cage."

Krause had been awakened by the conversation, and now he came and stood beside de Groote. "I'll say he can't get out of that cage," he said, "and Schmidt will see that he never gets the chance; Schmidt knows what he would get, and you needn't worry about his understanding anything we say; he's as dumb as they make 'em."

Janette turned to look at Tarzan to note the effect of de Groote's and Krause's words, wondering if he would let them know that he did understand and was thoroughly enjoying the situation. To her surprise she saw that the man had lain down close to the bars and was apparently asleep; then she saw Schmidt approaching and curbed her desire to acquaint de Groote and Krause with the fact that their wild man could have understood everything they said, if he had heard them.

Schmidt came up to the cage. "So you are still alive," he said. "I hope you enjoyed your night with the monkey man. If you will teach him some tricks, I'll exhibit you as his trainer." He moved close to the cage and looked down at Tarzan. "Is he asleep, or did you have to kill him?"

Suddenly Tarzan's hand shot between the bars and seized one of Schmidt's ankles; then the ape man jerked the leg into the cage its full length, throwing Schmidt upon his back. Schmidt screamed, and Tarzan's other hand shot and plucked the man's pistol from its holster.

"Help!" screamed Schmidt. "Abdullah! Jabu Singh! Chand! Help!"

Tarzan twisted the leg until the man screamed again from pain. Abdullah, Jabu Singh, and Chand came running in answer to Schmidt's cries; but when they saw that the wild man was pointing a pistol in their direction, they stopped.

"Have food and water brought, or I'll twist your leg off," said Tarzan.

"The dog of an English speaks!" muttered Abdullah. De Groote and Krause looked in amazement.

"If he speaks, he must have understood us," said Krause. "Maybe he has understood all along," Krause tried to recall what he might have said that some day he might regret, for he knew that the man could not be kept in a cage forever—unless. But the fellow had a gun now; it would not be so easy to kill him. He would speak to Schmidt about it; it was as much to Schmidt's interests as his now to have the man put out of the way.

Schmidt was screaming for food and water. Suddenly de Groote cried, "Look out, man! Look out! Behind you!" But it was too late; a pistol spoke, and Tarzan collapsed upon the floor of the cage, Jabu Singh had crept up behind the cage, unnoticed until the thing had been done.

Schmidt scrambled out of the way, but Janette recovered the pistol; and, turning, shot Jabu Singh as he was about to fire another shot into the prostrate man. Her shot struck the Lascar in the right arm, causing him to drop his weapon; then, keeping him covered, the girl crossed the cage, reached through the bars, and retrieved Jabu Singh's pistol. Now, she crossed back to Tarzan, knelt above him, and placed her ear over his heart.

As Schmidt stood trembling and cursing in impotent fury, a ship was sighted from the bridge; and he limped away to have a look at it. The Saigon was running without colors, ready to assume any nationality that Schmidt might choose when an emergency arose.

The stranger proved to be an English yacht; so Schmidt ran up the English flag; then he radioed, asking if they had a doctor on board, as he had two men suffering from injuries, which was quite true; at least Jabu Singh was suffering, with vocal accompaniment; Tarzan still lay where he had fallen.

The yacht had a doctor aboard, and Schmidt said that he would send a boat for him. He, himself, went with the boat, which was filled with Lascars armed with whatever they could find, a weird assortment of pistols, rifles, boat hooks, knives, and animal prods, all well hidden from sight.

Coming alongside the yacht, they swarmed up the Jacob's ladder and onto the deck before the astonished yachtsmen realized that they were being boarded with sinister intent. At the same time, the Saigon struck the English flag and ran up the German.

Twenty-five or thirty men and a girl on the deck of the yacht looked with amazement on the savage, piratical-appearing company confronting them with armed force.

"What is the meaning of this?" demanded the yacht's captain.

Schmidt pointed at the German flag flying above the Saigon. "It means that I am seizing you in the name of the German Government," replied Schmidt; "I am taking you over as a prize, and shall put a prize crew aboard. Your engineer and navigating officer will remain aboard. My first mate, Jabu Singh, will be in command. He has suffered a slight accident; your doctor will dress the wound, and the rest of you will return to my ship with me. You are to consider yourselves prisoners of war, and conduct yourselves accordingly."

"But, man," expostulated the Captain, "this vessel is not armed, it is not a warship, it is not even a merchant vessel; it is a private yacht on a scientific expedition. You, a merchantman, can't possibly contemplate taking us over."

"But I say, old thing!" said a tall young man in flannels; "you can't—"

"Shut up!" snapped Schmidt. "You are English, and that is enough reason for taking you over. Come now! Where's that doctor? Get busy."

While the doctor was dressing Jabu Singh's wound, Schmidt had his men search the ship for arms and ammunition. They found several pistols and sporting rifles; and, the doctor having finished with Jabu Singh, Schmidt detailed some of his men and left a few of the yacht's sailors to man the craft; then he herded the remainder into the Saigon's boat and returned with them to the steamer.

"I say," exclaimed the young man in white flannels, "this is a beastly outrage."

"It might have been worse, Algy," said the girl; "maybe you won't have to marry me now."

"Oh, I say, old thing," expostulated the young man; "this might even be worse."

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