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Chapter 6 Tarzan and the Castaways by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The bullet that had dropped Tarzan had merely grazed his head, inflicting a superficial flesh wound and stunning him for a few minutes; but he had soon recovered and now he and Janette Laon watched the prisoners as they came over the side of the Saigon.

"Schmidt has turned pirate," remarked the girl. "I wonder what he is going to do with all those people! There must be fifteen of them."

She did not have long to wait for an answer to her inquiry. Schmidt sent the eight crew members forward when they agreed to help man the Saigon; then he had two more iron cages hoisted to the deck and lined up with the two already there. "Now," he said, "I know I shouldn't do it, but I am going to let you choose your own cage mates."

"I say!" cried Algernon Wright-Smith; "you're not going to put the ladies in one of those things!"

"What's good enough for an English pig is good enough for an English sow," growled Schmidt; "hurry up and decide what you want to do."

An elderly man with a white walrus mustache, harrumphed angrily, his red face becoming purple. "You damned bounder!" he snorted; "you can't do a thing like that to English women."

"Don't excite yourself, Uncle," said the girl; "We'll have to do as the fellow says."

"I shall not step a foot into one of those things, William," said the second woman in the party, a lady who carried her fifty odd years rather heavily around her waist. "Nor shall Patricia," she added.

"Come, come," expostulated the girl; "we're absolutely helpless, you know," and with that she entered the smaller of the two cages; and presently her uncle and her aunt, finally realizing the futility of resistance, joined her. Captain Bolton, Tibbet, the second mate of the yacht, Dr. Crouch, and Algy, were herded into the second cage.

Schmidt walked up and down in front of the cages, gloating. "A fine menagerie I am getting," he said; "A French girl, a German traitor, a Dutch dog, and seven English pigs: with my apes, monkeys, lions, tigers, and elephants we shall be a sensation in Berlin."

The cage in which the Leigh's and their niece were confined was next to that occupied by Tarzan and Janette Laon; and beyond the Leigh's cage was that in which the other four Englishmen were imprisoned.

Penelope Leigh eyed Tarzan askance and with aversion. "Shocking!" she whispered to her niece, Patricia; "the fellow is practically naked."

"He's rather nice looking, Aunty," suggested Patricia Leigh-Burden.

"Don't look at him," snapped Penelope Leigh; "and that woman—do you suppose that is his wife?"

"She doesn't look like a wild woman," said Patricia.

"Then what is she doing alone in that cage with that man?" demanded Mrs. Leigh.

"Perhaps she was put there just the way we were put here."

"Well!" snorted Penelope Leigh; "she looks like a loose woman to me."

"Now," shouted Schmidt, "we are about the feed the animals; everyone who is not on duty may come and watch."

Lascars, and Chinese, and several of the yacht's crew, gathered in front of the cages as food and water were brought; the former an unpalatable, nondescript mess, the contents of which it would have been difficult to determine, either by sight or taste. Tarzan was given a hunk of raw meat.

"Disgusting," snorting Penelope Leigh, as she pushed the unsavory mess from her. A moment later her attention was attracted by growls coming from the adjoining cage; and when she looked, she gasped, horror-stricken. "Look!" she whispered in a trembling voice; "that creature is growling, and he is eating his meat raw; how horrible!"

"I find him fascinating," said Patricia.

"Hurrumph!" growled Colonel William Cecil Hugh Percival Leigh; "filthy blighter."

"Canaille!" snapped Mrs. Leigh.

Tarzan looked up at Janette Laon, that shadowy smile just touching his lips, and winked.

"You understand English too?" she asked. Tarzan nodded. "Do you mind if I have some fun with them?" she continued.

"No," replied Tarzan; "go as far as you wish." They had both spoken in French and in whispers.

"Do you find the captain palatable," she asked in English loudly enough to be heard in the adjoining cage.

"He is not as good as the Swede they gave me last week," replied Tarzan.

Mrs. Leigh paled and became violently nauseated; she sat down suddenly and heavily. The colonel, inclined to be a little pop-eyed, was even more so as he gazed incredulously into the adjoining cage. His niece came close to him and whispered, "I think they are spoofing us, Uncle; I saw him wink at that girl."

"My smelling salts!" gasped Mrs. Leigh.

"What's the matter, colonel?" asked Algernon Wright-Smith, from the adjoining cage.

"That devil is eating the captain," replied the colonel in a whisper that could have been heard half a block away. De Groote grinned.

"My word!" exclaimed Algy. Janette Laon turned her head away to hide her laughter, and Tarzan continued to tear at the meat with his strong, white teeth.

"I tell you they are making fools of us," said Patricia Leigh-Burden. "You can't make me believe that civilized human beings would permit that man to eat human flesh, even if he wished to, which I doubt. When that girl turned away, I could see her shoulders shaking—she was laughing."

"What's that, William?" cried Mrs. Leigh, as the roar of a lion rose from the hold.

The animals had been unnaturally quiet for some time; but now they were getting hungry, and the complaint of the lion started them off, with the result that in a few moments of blood-curdling diapason of savagery billowed up from below: the rumbling roars of lions, the coughing growls of tigers, the hideous laughter of hyenas, the trumpeting of elephants mingled with the medley of sounds from the lesser beasts.

"Oh-h-h!" screamed Mrs. Leigh. "How hideous! Make them stop that noise at once, William."

"Harrumph!" said the colonel, but without his usual vigor. Presently, however, as the Chinese and Indian keepers fed the animals, the noise subsided and quiet was again restored.

As night approached, the sky became overcast and the wind increased, and with the rolling of the ship the animals again became restless. A Lascar came and passed buckets of water into all of the cages except that in which Tarzan was confined. To do this, he had to unlock the cage doors and raise them sufficiently to pass the pails through; then he passed in a broom, with which the inmates were supposed to clean their cages. Although he was accompanied by two other sailors armed with rifles, he did not unlock the door of Tarzan's cage, for Schmidt was afraid to take a chance on the wild man's escaping.

Tarzan had watched this procedure which had occurred daily ever since he had been brought aboard the Saigon. He knew that the same Lascar always brought the water and that he came again at about four bells of the first night watch to make a final inspection of the captives. On this tour of duty he came alone, as he did not have to unlock the cages; but Schmidt, in order to be on the safe side, had armed him with a pistol.

This afternoon, as he was passing the water into the cage occupied by the Leighs, the colonel questioned him. "Steward," he said, "fetch us four steamer chairs and rugs," and he handed the Lascar a five pound note.

The sailor took the note, looked at it, and stuffed it into his dirty loin cloth. "No chairs; no rugs," he said and started on toward the next cage.

"Hi, fellow!" shouted the colonel; "come back here! Who is captain of this ship? I want to see the captain."

"Sahib Schmidt captain now," replied the Lascar. "Captain Larsen sick; no see three, four days; maybe dead;" then he moved on and the colonel made no effort to detain him.

Mrs. Leigh shuddered. "It was the captain," she breathed in a horrified whisper, her terrified gaze riveted on a bone in Tarzan's cage.

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