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|Tarzan of the Apes||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
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When the expedition returned, following their fruitless endeavor to succor D'Arnot, Captain Dufranne was anxious to steam away as quickly as possible, and all save Jane had acquiesced.
"No," she said, determinedly, "I shall not go, nor should you, for there are two friends in that jungle who will come out of it some day expecting to find us awaiting them.
"Your officer, Captain Dufranne, is one of them, and the forest man who has saved the lives of every member of my father's party is the other.
"He left me at the edge of the jungle two days ago to hasten to the aid of my father and Mr. Clayton, as he thought, and he has stayed to rescue Lieutenant D'Arnot; of that you may be sure.
"Had he been too late to be of service to the lieutenant he would have been back before now--the fact that he is not back is sufficient proof to me that he is delayed because Lieutenant D'Arnot is wounded, or he has had to follow his captors further than the village which your sailors attacked."
"But poor D'Arnot's uniform and all his belongings were found in that village, Miss Porter," argued the captain, "and the natives showed great excitement when questioned as to the white man's fate."
"Yes, Captain, but they did not admit that he was dead and as for his clothes and accouterments being in their possession--why more civilized peoples than these poor savage negroes strip their prisoners of every article of value whether they intend killing them or not.
"Even the soldiers of my own dear South looted not only the living but the dead. It is strong circumstantial evidence, I will admit, but it is not positive proof."
"Possibly your forest man, himself was captured or killed by the savages," suggested Captain Dufranne.
The girl laughed.
"You do not know him," she replied, a little thrill of pride setting her nerves a-tingle at the thought that she spoke of her own.
"I admit that he would be worth waiting for, this superman of yours," laughed the captain. "I most certainly should like to see him."
"Then wait for him, my dear captain," urged the girl, "for I intend doing so."
The Frenchman would have been a very much surprised man could he have interpreted the true meaning of the girl's words.
They had been walking from the beach toward the cabin as they talked, and now they joined a little group sitting on camp stools in the shade of a great tree beside the cabin.
Professor Porter was there, and Mr. Philander and Clayton, with Lieutenant Charpentier and two of his brother officers, while Esmeralda hovered in the background, ever and anon venturing opinions and comments with the freedom of an old and much-indulged family servant.
The officers arose and saluted as their superior approached, and Clayton surrendered his camp stool to Jane.
"We were just discussing poor Paul's fate," said Captain Dufranne. "Miss Porter insists that we have no absolute proof of his death--nor have we. And on the other hand she maintains that the continued absence of your omnipotent jungle friend indicates that D'Arnot is still in need of his services, either because he is wounded, or still is a prisoner in a more distant native village."
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|Tarzan of the Apes
Edgar Rice Burroughs
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