The Return of Tarzan

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 150

was shortly to be enacted. He took her hand and
raised it to his cracked and swollen lips. For a long time he lay
caressing the emaciated, clawlike thing that had once been the
beautiful, shapely white hand of the young Baltimore belle.

It was quite dark before he knew it, but he was recalled to himself by
a voice out of the night. It was the Russian calling him to his doom.

"I am coming, Monsieur Thuran," he hastened to reply.

Thrice he attempted to turn himself upon his hands and knees, that he
might crawl back to his death, but in the few hours that he had lain
there he had become too weak to return to Thuran's side.

"You will have to come to me, monsieur," he called weakly. "I have not
sufficient strength to gain my hands and knees."

"SAPRISTI!" muttered Monsieur Thuran. "You are attempting to cheat me
out of my winnings."

Clayton heard the man shuffling about in the bottom of the boat.
Finally there was a despairing groan. "I cannot crawl," he heard the
Russian wail. "It is too late. You have tricked me, you dirty English
dog."

"I have not tricked you, monsieur," replied Clayton. "I have done my
best to rise, but I shall try again, and if you will try possibly each
of us can crawl halfway, and then you shall have your 'winnings.'"

Again Clayton exerted his remaining strength to the utmost, and he
heard Thuran apparently doing the same. Nearly an hour later the
Englishman succeeded in raising himself to his hands and knees, but at
the first forward movement he pitched upon his face.

A moment later he heard an exclamation of relief from Monsieur Thuran.

"I am coming," whispered the Russian.

Again Clayton essayed to stagger on to meet his fate, but once more he
pitched headlong to the boat's bottom, nor, try as he would, could he
again rise. His last effort caused him to roll over on his back, and
there he lay looking up at the stars, while behind him, coming ever
nearer and nearer, he could hear the laborious shuffling, and the
stertorous breathing of the Russian.

It seemed that he must have lain thus an hour waiting for the thing to
crawl out of the dark and end his misery. It was quite close now, but
there were longer and longer pauses between its efforts to advance, and
each forward movement seemed to the waiting Englishman to be almost
imperceptible.

Finally he knew that Thuran was quite

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