Chapter 20 Tarzan and the Castaways by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Chand, the Lascar, watched Krause and his three companions start along the beach in the direction of Camp Saigon. "They are going to the other camp," he said to his fellows. "Come, we will go too," and a moment later they were trailing along the beach in the wake of the others.

In Camp Saigon, Tarzan was eating his breakfast alone. He had arisen early, for he had planned a full day's work. Only Lum Kip was astir, going about his work quietly preparing breakfast. Presently Patricia Leigh-Burden came from her hut and joined Tarzan, sitting down beside him.

"You are up early this morning," she said.

"I am always earlier than the others," he replied, "but today I had a special reason; I want to get an early start."

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"I'm going exploring," he replied, "I want to see what is on the other side of the island."

Patricia leaned forward eagerly, placing a hand upon his knee. "Oh, may I go with you?" she asked. "I'd love it."

From the little shelter that had been built especially for her, Itzl Cha watched them. Her black eyes narrowed and snapped, and she clenched her little hands tightly.

"You couldn't make it, Patricia," said Tarzan, "not the way I travel."

"I've hiked through jungles in India," she said.

"No;" he said, quite definitely; "traveling on the ground in there is too dangerous. I suppose you've heard it mentioned that there are wild animals there."

"Then if it's dangerous you shouldn't go," she said, "carrying nothing but a silly bow and some arrows. Let me go along with a rifle; I'm a good shot, and I've hunted tigers in India."

Tarzan rose, and Patricia jumped to her feet, placing her hands on his shoulders. "Please don't go," she begged, "I'm afraid for you," but he only laughed and turned and trotted off toward the jungle.

Patricia watched him until he swung into a tree and disappeared; then she swished around angrily and went to her hut. "I'll show him," she muttered under her breath.

Presently she emerged with a rifle and ammunition. Itzl Cha watched her as she entered the jungle at the same place that Tarzan had, right at the edge of the little stream. The little Mayan girl bit her lips, and the tears came to her eyes—tears of frustration and anger. Lum Kip, working around the cook fire, commenced to hum to himself.

Chal Yip Xiu, the high priest, was still furious about the theft of Itzl Cha from beneath the sacred sacrificial knife. "The temple has been defiled," he growled, "and the gods will be furious."

"Perhaps not," said Cit Coh Xiu, the king; "perhaps after all that was indeed Che, Lord Forest."

Chal Yip Xiu looked at the king, disgustedly. "He was only one of the strangers that Xatl Din saw on the beach. If you would not arouse the anger of the gods, you should send a force of warriors to the camp of the strangers, to bring Itzl Cha back, for that is where she will be found."

"Perhaps you are right," said the king; "at least it will do no harm," and he sent for Xatl Din and ordered him to take a hundred warriors and go to the camp of the strangers and get Itzl Cha. "With a hundred warriors, you should be able to kill many of them and bring back prisoners to Chichen Itza."

Tibbett, with a boatload of sailors, was rowing out to the reef to continue the work of salvaging lumber from the Saigon, as the other members of the party came out for their breakfast. Itzl Cha sat silent and sullen, eating very little, for she had lost her appetite. Janette Laon came and sat beside de Groote, and Penelope Leigh looked at them down her nose.

"Is Patricia up yet, Janette?" asked the Colonel.

Janette looked around the company. "Why, yes," she said, "isn't she here? She was gone when I woke up."

"Where in the world can that girl be?" demanded Penelope Leigh.

"Oh, she must be nearby," said the Colonel, but, as he called her name aloud, it was evident that he was perturbed.

"And that creature is gone too!" exclaimed Mrs. Leigh. "I knew that something terrible like this was going to happen sooner or later, William, if you permitted that man to remain in camp."

"Now, just what has happened, Penelope?" asked the Colonel.

"Why he's abducted her, that's what's happened."

Lum Kip, who was putting a platter of rice on the table, overheard the conversation and volunteered, "Tarzan, she, go that way," pointing toward the northeast; "Plateecie, him go that way," and pointed in the same direction.

"Maybe Pat abducted him," suggested Algy.

"Don't be ridiculous, Algernon," snapped Mrs. Leigh. "It is quite obvious what happened—the creature enticed her into the jungle."

"They talked long," said Itzl Cha, sullenly. "They go different times; they meet in jungle."

"How can you sit there, William, and permit that Indian girl to intimate that your niece arranged an assignation in the jungle with that impossible creature."

"Well," said the Colonel, "if Pat's in the jungle, I pray to high heaven that Tarzan is with her."

Pat followed a stream that ran for a short distance in a northeasterly direction, and when it turned southeast, she continued to follow it, not knowing that Tarzan had taken to the trees and was swinging rapidly through them almost due east toward the other side of the island. The ground rose rapidly now, and the little stream tumbled excitedly down toward the ocean. Pat realized that she was being a stubborn fool, but, being stubborn, she decided to climb the mountain a short distance to get a view of the island. It was a hard climb, and the trees constantly shut out any view, but the girl kept on until she came to a level ledge which ran around a shoulder of the mountain. As she was pretty well winded by this time, she sat down to rest.

"I should think some of you men would go out and look for Patricia," said Mrs. Leigh.

"I'll go," said Algy, "but I don't know where to look for the old girl."

"Who's that coming along the beach?" said Dr. Crouch.

"Why, it's Krause and Schmidt," said Bolton. "Yes, and Oubanovitch and the Arab are with him." Almost automatically the men loosened their pistols in their holsters and waited in silence as the four approached.

The men about the breakfast table had all risen and were waiting expectantly. Krause came to the point immediately. "We've come to ask you to let us come back and camp near you," he said. "We have no firearms and no protection where we are. Two of our men have gone into the jungle and never returned, and two have been taken right out of camp by lions at night. You certainly must have a heart, Colonel; you certainly won't subject fellow men to such dangers needlessly. If you will take us back, we promise to obey you and not cause any trouble."

"I'm afraid it will cause a lot of trouble when Tarzan returns and finds you here," said the Colonel.

"You should let them remain, William," said Mrs. Leigh. "You are in command here, not that Tarzan creature."

"I really think it would be inhuman to send them away," said Dr. Crouch.

"They were inhuman to us," said Janette Laon bitterly.

"Young woman," exploded Penelope, "you should be taught your place; you have nothing to say about this. The Colonel will decide."

Janette Laon shook her head hopelessly and winked at de Groote. Penelope saw the wink and exploded again. "You are an insolent baggage," she said; "you and the Indian girl and that Tarzan creature should never have been permitted in the same camp with gentlefolk."

"If you will permit me, Penelope," said the Colonel stiffly, "I think that I can handle this matter without assistance or at least without recrimination."

"Well, all that I have to say," said Penelope, "is that you must let them remain."

"Suppose," suggested Crouch, "that we let them remain anyway until Tarzan returns; then we can discuss the matter with him—they are more his enemies than ours."

"They are enemies to all of us," said Janette.

"You may remain, Krause," said the Colonel, "at least, until Tarzan returns; and see that you behave yourselves."

"We certainly shall, Colonel," replied Krause, "and thank you for letting us stay."

Patricia got a view of the ocean from the ledge where she was sitting, but she could see nothing of the island; and so, after resting, she went on a little farther. It was far more open here and very beautiful, orchids clung in gorgeous sprays to many a tree, and ginger and hibiscus grew in profusion; birds with yellow plumage and birds with scarlet winged from tree to tree. It was an idyllic, peaceful scene which soothed her nerves and obliterated the last vestige of her anger.

She was glad that she had found this quiet spot and was congratulating herself, and planning that she would come to it often, when a great tiger walked out of the underbrush and faced her. The tip of his tail was twitching nervously, and his snarling muscles had drawn his lips back from his great yellow fangs.

Patricia Leigh-Burden breathed a silent prayer as she threw her rifle to her shoulder and fired twice in rapid succession.

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