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|Tarzan of the Apes||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
The Search Party
|Page 6 of 7||
"BEFORE they killed him! What do you mean? They are not--? They are not--?"
She was thinking of what Clayton had said of the forest man's probable relationship to this tribe and she could not frame the awful word.
"Yes, Miss Porter, they were--cannibals," he said, almost bitterly, for to him too had suddenly come the thought of the forest man, and the strange, unaccountable jealousy he had felt two days before swept over him once more.
And then in sudden brutality that was as unlike Clayton as courteous consideration is unlike an ape, he blurted out:
"When your forest god left you he was doubtless hurrying to the feast."
He was sorry ere the words were spoken though he did not know how cruelly they had cut the girl. His regret was for his baseless disloyalty to one who had saved the lives of every member of his party, and offered harm to none.
The girl's head went high.
"There could be but one suitable reply to your assertion, Mr. Clayton," she said icily, "and I regret that I am not a man, that I might make it." She turned quickly and entered the cabin.
Clayton was an Englishman, so the girl had passed quite out of sight before he deduced what reply a man would have made.
"Upon my word," he said ruefully, "she called me a liar. And I fancy I jolly well deserved it," he added thoughtfully. "Clayton, my boy, I know you are tired out and unstrung, but that's no reason why you should make an ass of yourself. You'd better go to bed."
But before he did so he called gently to Jane upon the opposite side of the sailcloth partition, for he wished to apologize, but he might as well have addressed the Sphinx. Then he wrote upon a piece of paper and shoved it beneath the partition.
Jane saw the little note and ignored it, for she was very angry and hurt and mortified, but--she was a woman, and so eventually she picked it up and read it.
MY DEAR MISS PORTER:
I had no reason to insinuate what I did. My only excuse is that my nerves must be unstrung--which is no excuse at all.
Please try and think that I did not say it. I am very sorry. I would not have hurt YOU, above all others in the world. Say that you forgive me. WM. CECIL CLAYTON.
"He did think it or he never would have said it," reasoned the girl, "but it cannot be true--oh, I know it is not true!"
One sentence in the letter frightened her: "I would not have hurt YOU above all others in the world."
A week ago that sentence would have filled her with delight, now it depressed her.
She wished she had never met Clayton. She was sorry that she had ever seen the forest god. No, she was glad. And there was that other note she had found in the grass before the cabin the day after her return from the jungle, the love note signed by Tarzan of the Apes.
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|Tarzan of the Apes
Edgar Rice Burroughs
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