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|Tarzan of the Apes||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
The Giant Again
|Page 8 of 9||
"If your father had not lost the treasure you would not feel forced to keep your promise to this man Canler?"
"I could ask him to release me."
"And if he refused?"
"I have given my promise."
He was silent for a moment. The car was plunging along the uneven road at a reckless pace, for the fire showed threateningly at their right, and another change of the wind might sweep it on with raging fury across this one avenue of escape.
Finally they passed the danger point, and Tarzan reduced their speed.
"Suppose I should ask him?" ventured Tarzan.
"He would scarcely accede to the demand of a stranger," said the girl. "Especially one who wanted me himself."
"Terkoz did," said Tarzan, grimly.
Jane shuddered and looked fearfully up at the giant figure beside her, for she knew that he meant the great anthropoid he had killed in her defense.
"This is not the African jungle," she said. "You are no longer a savage beast. You are a gentleman, and gentlemen do not kill in cold blood."
"I am still a wild beast at heart," he said, in a low voice, as though to himself.
Again they were silent for a time.
"Jane," said the man, at length, "if you were free, would you marry me?"
She did not reply at once, but he waited patiently.
The girl was trying to collect her thoughts.
What did she know of this strange creature at her side? What did he know of himself? Who was he? Who, his parents?
Why, his very name echoed his mysterious origin and his savage life.
He had no name. Could she be happy with this jungle waif? Could she find anything in common with a husband whose life had been spent in the tree tops of an African wilderness, frolicking and fighting with fierce anthropoids; tearing his food from the quivering flank of fresh-killed prey, sinking his strong teeth into raw flesh, and tearing away his portion while his mates growled and fought about him for their share?
Could he ever rise to her social sphere? Could she bear to think of sinking to his? Would either be happy in such a horrible misalliance?
"You do not answer," he said. "Do you shrink from wounding me?"
"I do not know what answer to make," said Jane sadly. "I do not know my own mind."
"You do not love me, then?" he asked, in a level tone.
"Do not ask me. You will be happier without me. You were never meant for the formal restrictions and conventionalities of society--civilization would become irksome to you, and in a little while you would long for the freedom of your old life--a life to which I am as totally unfitted as you to mine."
"I think I understand you," he replied quietly. "I shall not urge you, for I would rather see you happy than to be happy myself. I see now that you could not be happy with--an ape."
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|Tarzan of the Apes
Edgar Rice Burroughs
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