The Son of Tarzan

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 180

instant that his finger tightened upon
the trigger--an accident to which Meriem owed her life--the
providential presence of a water-logged tree trunk, one end of which
was embedded in the mud of the river bottom and the other end of which
floated just beneath the surface where the prow of Malbihn's canoe ran
upon it as he fired. The slight deviation of the boat's direction was
sufficient to throw the muzzle of the rifle out of aim. The bullet
whizzed harmlessly by Meriem's head and an instant later she had
disappeared into the foliage of the tree.

There was a smile on her lips as she dropped to the ground to cross a
little clearing where once had stood a native village surrounded by its
fields. The ruined huts still stood in crumbling decay. The rank
vegetation of the jungle overgrew the cultivated ground. Small trees
already had sprung up in what had been the village street; but
desolation and loneliness hung like a pall above the scene. To Meriem,
however, it presented but a place denuded of large trees which she must
cross quickly to regain the jungle upon the opposite side before
Malbihn should have landed.

The deserted huts were, to her, all the better because they were
deserted--she did not see the keen eyes watching her from a dozen
points, from tumbling doorways, from behind tottering granaries. In
utter unconsciousness of impending danger she started up the village
street because it offered the clearest pathway to the jungle.

A mile away toward the east, fighting his way through the jungle along
the trail taken by Malbihn when he had brought Meriem to his camp, a
man in torn khaki--filthy, haggard, unkempt--came to a sudden stop as
the report of Malbihn's rifle resounded faintly through the tangled
forest. The black man just ahead of him stopped, too.

"We are almost there, Bwana," he said. There was awe and respect in
his tone and manner.

The white man nodded and motioned his ebon guide forward once more. It
was the Hon. Morison Baynes--the fastidious--the exquisite. His face
and hands were scratched and smeared with dried blood from the wounds
he had come by in thorn and thicket. His clothes were tatters. But
through the blood and the dirt and the rags a new Baynes shone forth--a
handsomer Baynes than the dandy and the fop of yore.

In the heart and soul of every son of woman lies the germ of manhood
and honor. Remorse for a scurvy act, and an honorable desire

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