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Chapter 8 Tarzan and the Castaways by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Asoka, the Lascar, swaggered on past the cage of the Leigh's, and when he was opposite that in which the four Englishmen were confined, steel-thewed fingers closed upon his throat from behind, and his gun was snatched from its holster.

Janette Laon had watched with amazement the seeming ease with which those Herculean muscles had separated the bars. She had seen Tarzan overtake the Lascar and disarm him; and now she stepped through the opening after him, carrying the pistols they had taken from Schmidt and Jabu Singh.

Asoka struggled and tried to cry out until a grim voice whispered in his ear, "Quiet, or I kill;" then he subsided.

Tarzan glanced back and saw Janette Laon behind him. Then he took the key to the cages which hung about Asoka's neck on a piece of cord and handed it to the girl. "Come with me and unlock them," he said, and passed around the end of the last cage to the doors, which were on the opposite side.

"You men will come with me," said Tarzan in a whisper; "the Colonel and the women will remain here."

As Tarzan came opposite the cage of the Leigh's, Mrs. Leigh, who had been dozing during the lull in the storm, awoke and saw him. She voiced a little scream and cried, "The wild man has escaped!"

"Shut up, Penelope," growled the Colonel; "he is going to let us out of this damn cage."

"Don't you dare curse me, William Cecil Hugh Percival Leigh," cried Penelope.

"Quiet," growled Tarzan, and Penelope Leigh subsided into terrified silence.

"You may come out," said Tarzan, "but remain close to the cages until we return." Then he followed Janette to the cage in which de Groote and Krause were imprisoned and waited until she had removed the padlock.

"De Groote may come out," he said; "Krause will remain. Asoka, you get in there." He turned to Janette. "Lock them in," he said. "Give me one of the pistols and keep the other yourself; if either of these two tries to raise an alarm, shoot him. Do you think you could do that?"

"I shot Jabu Singh," she reminded him.

Tarzan nodded and then turned to the men behind him; he handed Asoka's pistol to de Groote. He had appraised the other men since they had come aboard, and now he told Janette to give her second pistol to Tibbet, the second mate of the Naiad.

"What is your name?" he asked.

"Tibbet," replied the mate.

"You will come with me. We will take over on the bridge. De Groote knows the ship. He and the others will look for arms. In the meantime, pick up anything you can to fight with, for there may be fighting."

The ship had passed beyond the center of the storm, and the wind was howling with renewed violence. The Saigon was pitching and rolling violently as Tarzan and Tibbet ascended the ladder to the bridge, where the Lascar, Chand, was at the wheel and Schmidt on watch. By chance, Schmidt happened to turn just as Tarzan entered, and seeing him, reached for his gun, at the same time shouting a warning to Chand. Tarzan sprang forward, swift as Ara, the lightning, and struck up Schmidt's hand just as he squeezed the trigger. The bullet lodged in the ceiling, and an instant later, Schmidt was disarmed. In the meantime, Tibbet had covered Chand and disarmed him.

"Take the wheel," said Tarzan, "and give me the other gun. Keep a look-out behind you and shoot anyone who tries to take over. You two get down to the cages," he said to Schmidt and Chand. He followed them down the ladder to the deck and herded them to the cage where Krause and Asoka were confined.

"Open that up, Janette," he said; "I have two more animals for our menagerie."

"This is mutiny," blustered Schmidt, "and when I get you to Berlin, you'll be beheaded for it."

"Get in there," said Tarzan, and pushed Schmidt so violently, that when he collided with Krause, both men went down.

Above the din of the storm they heard a shot from below, and Tarzan hurried in the direction from which the sound had come. As he descended the ladder, he heard two more shots and the voices of men cursing and screams of pain.

As he came upon the scene of the fight, he saw that his men had been taken from the rear by armed Lascars, but there seemed to have been more noise than damage. One of the Lascars had been wounded. It was he who was screaming. But aside from the single casualty, no damage seemed to have been done on either side. Three of the four Lascars remained on their feet, and they were firing wildly and indiscriminately, as Tarzan came up behind them carrying a gun in each hand.

"Drop your pistols," he said, "or I kill."

The three men swung around then, almost simultaneously. Looking into the muzzles of Tarzan's two pistols, two of the Lascars dropped theirs, but the third took deliberate aim and fired. Tarzan fired at the same instant, and the Lascar clutched at his chest and lurched forward upon his face.

The rest was easy. De Groote found the pistols, rifles, and ammunition taken from the Naiad in Schmidt's cabin, and with all the rest of the party disarmed, Oubanovitch and the remaining Lascars put up no resistance. The Chinese and the impressed members of the Naiad's crew had never offered any, being more than glad to be relieved of service under a madman.

The ship safely in his hands, Tarzan gathered his party into the ship's little saloon. Penelope Leigh still regarded him with disgust not unmixed with terror; to her he was still a wild man, a cannibal who had eaten the Captain and the Swede and would doubtless, sooner or later, eat all of them. The others, however, were appreciative of the strength and courage and intelligence which had released them from a dangerous situation.

"Bolton," said Tarzan to the captain of the Naiad, "you will take command of the ship; de Groote will be your first mate, Tibbet your second. De Groote tells me there are only two cabins on the Saigon. Colonel and Mrs. Leigh will take the Captain's cabin, the two girls will take that which was occupied by the mates."

"He is actually giving orders to us," Penelope Leigh whispered to her husband; "you should do something about it, William; you should be in command."

"Don't be silly, Auntie," snapped Patricia Leigh-Burden, in a whisper; "we owe everything to this man. He was magnificent. If you had seen him spread those bars as though they were made of lead!"

"I can't help it," said Mrs. Leigh; "I am not accustomed to being ordered about by naked wild men; why doesn't somebody loan him some trousers?"

"Come, come, Penelope," said the Colonel, "if you feel that way about it I'll loan him mine—haw!!—then I won't have any—haw! haw!"

"Don't be vulgar, William," snapped Mrs. Leigh.

Tarzan went to the bridge and explained to de Groote the arrangements that he had made. "I'm glad you didn't put me in command," said the Dutchman; "I haven't had enough experience. Bolton should be a good man. He used to be in the Royal Navy. How about Oubanovitch?"

"I have sent for him," replied Tarzan, "he should be here in a moment."

"He's against everybody," said de Groote, "a died-in-the-wool Communist. Here he comes now."

Oubanovitch slouched in, sullen and suspicious. "What are you two doing up here?" he demanded; "where's Schmidt?"

"He is where you are going if you don't want to carry on with us," replied Tarzan.

"Where's that?" asked Oubanovitch.

"In a cage with Krause and a couple of Lascars," replied the ape-man. "I don't know whether you had anything to do with the mutiny or not, Oubanovitch, but if you care to continue on as engineer, nobody is going to ask any questions."

The scowling Russian nodded. "All right," he said; "you can't be no worse than that crazy Schmidt."

"Captain Bolton is in command. Report to him and tell him that you are the engineer. Do you know what has become of the Arab? I haven't seen him for several days."

"He's always in the engine room keeping warm."

"Tell him to report to me here on the bridge and ask Captain Bolton to send us a couple of men."

The two men strained their eyes out into the darkness ahead. They saw the ship's nose plow into a great sea from which she staggered sluggishly. "It's getting worse," remarked de Groote.

"Can she weather much more?" asked Tarzan.

"I think so," said de Groote, "as long as I can keep it on her quarter, we can keep enough speed to give her steerageway."

A shot sounded from behind them, and the glass in the window in front of them shattered. Both men wheeled about to see Abdullah Abu Nejm standing at the top of the ladder with a smoking pistol in his hand.

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