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|Tarzan of the Apes||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
The Height of Civilization
|Page 3 of 7||
Tarzan glanced toward D'Arnot and nodded his head.
"Make it ten thousand," said D'Arnot.
"Done," replied the other.
"I shall have to leave my clothes at the edge of the settlement, so that if I do not return before daylight I shall have something to wear through the streets."
"You are not going now," exclaimed the wagerer--"at night?"
"Why not?" asked Tarzan. "Numa walks abroad at night --it will be easier to find him."
"No," said the other, "I do not want your blood upon my hands. It will be foolhardy enough if you go forth by day."
"I shall go now," replied Tarzan, and went to his room for his knife and rope.
The men accompanied him to the edge of the jungle, where he left his clothes in a small storehouse.
But when he would have entered the blackness of the undergrowth they tried to dissuade him; and the wagerer was most insistent of all that he abandon his foolhardy venture.
"I will accede that you have won," he said, "and the ten thousand francs are yours if you will but give up this foolish attempt, which can only end in your death."
Tarzan laughed, and in another moment the jungle had swallowed him.
The men stood silent for some moments and then slowly turned and walked back to the hotel veranda.
Tarzan had no sooner entered the jungle than he took to the trees, and it was with a feeling of exultant freedom that he swung once more through the forest branches.
This was life! Ah, how he loved it! Civilization held nothing like this in its narrow and circumscribed sphere, hemmed in by restrictions and conventionalities. Even clothes were a hindrance and a nuisance.
At last he was free. He had not realized what a prisoner he had been.
How easy it would be to circle back to the coast, and then make toward the south and his own jungle and cabin.
Now he caught the scent of Numa, for he was traveling up wind. Presently his quick ears detected the familiar sound of padded feet and the brushing of a huge, fur-clad body through the undergrowth.
Tarzan came quietly above the unsuspecting beast and silently stalked him until he came into a little patch of moonlight.
Then the quick noose settled and tightened about the tawny throat, and, as he had done it a hundred times in the past, Tarzan made fast the end to a strong branch and, while the beast fought and clawed for freedom, dropped to the ground behind him, and leaping upon the great back, plunged his long thin blade a dozen times into the fierce heart.
Then with his foot upon the carcass of Numa, he raised his voice in the awesome victory cry of his savage tribe.
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|Tarzan of the Apes
Edgar Rice Burroughs
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