Tarzan of the Apes

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 94

no
alternative open but to accompany his captor, and thus they traveled
slowly through the jungle while the sable mantle of the impenetrable
forest night fell about them, and the stealthy footfalls of padded paws
mingled with the breaking of twigs and the wild calls of the savage
life that Clayton felt closing in upon him.

Suddenly Clayton heard the faint report of a firearm--a single shot,
and then silence.

In the cabin by the beach two thoroughly terrified women clung to each
other as they crouched upon the low bench in the gathering darkness.

The Negress sobbed hysterically, bemoaning the evil day that had
witnessed her departure from her dear Maryland, while the white girl,
dry eyed and outwardly calm, was torn by inward fears and forebodings.
She feared not more for herself than for the three men whom she knew to
be wandering in the abysmal depths of the savage jungle, from which she
now heard issuing the almost incessant shrieks and roars, barkings and
growlings of its terrifying and fearsome denizens as they sought their
prey.

And now there came the sound of a heavy body brushing against the side
of the cabin. She could hear the great padded paws upon the ground
outside. For an instant, all was silence; even the bedlam of the
forest died to a faint murmur. Then she distinctly heard the beast
outside sniffing at the door, not two feet from where she crouched.
Instinctively the girl shuddered, and shrank closer to the black woman.

"Hush!" she whispered. "Hush, Esmeralda," for the woman's sobs and
groans seemed to have attracted the thing that stalked there just
beyond the thin wall.

A gentle scratching sound was heard on the door. The brute tried to
force an entrance; but presently this ceased, and again she heard the
great pads creeping stealthily around the cabin. Again they
stopped--beneath the window on which the terrified eyes of the girl now
glued themselves.

"God!" she murmured, for now, silhouetted against the moonlit sky
beyond, she saw framed in the tiny square of the latticed window the
head of a huge lioness. The gleaming eyes were fixed upon her in
intent ferocity.

"Look, Esmeralda!" she whispered. "For God's sake, what shall we do?
Look! Quick! The window!"

Esmeralda, cowering still closer to her mistress, took one frightened
glance toward the little square of moonlight, just as the lioness
emitted a low, savage snarl.

The sight that met the poor woman's eyes was too much for the already
overstrung nerves.

"Oh, Gaberelle!" she shrieked, and slid to the floor an inert and
senseless

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