Text - "The Return of Tarzan" Edgar Rice Burroughs

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But general staffs are jealous of their secrets, and
treason so serious a thing that even a hint of it may not be safely
neglected. And so it was that Tarzan had come to Algeria in the guise
of an American hunter and traveler to keep a close eye upon Lieutenant

He had looked forward with keen delight to again seeing his beloved
Africa, but this northern aspect of it was so different from his
tropical jungle home that he might as well have been back in Paris for
all the heart thrills of homecoming that he experienced. At Oran he
spent a day wandering through the narrow, crooked alleys of the Arab
quarter enjoying the strange, new sights. The next day found him at
Sidi-bel-Abbes, where he presented his letters of introduction to both
civil and military authorities-letters which gave no clew to the real
significance of his mission.

Tarzan possessed a sufficient command of English to enable him to pass
among Arabs and Frenchmen as an American, and that was all that was
required of it. When he met an Englishman he spoke French in order
that he might not betray himself, but occasionally talked in English to
foreigners who understood that tongue, but could not note the slight
imperfections of accent and pronunciation that were his.

Here he became acquainted with many of the French officers, and soon
became a favorite among them. He met Gernois, whom he found to be a
taciturn, dyspeptic-looking man of about forty, having little or no
social intercourse with his fellows.

For a month nothing of moment occurred. Gernois apparently had no
visitors, nor did he on his occasional visits to the town hold
communication with any who might even by the wildest flight of
imagination be construed into secret agents of a foreign power. Tarzan
was beginning to hope that, after all, the rumor might have been false,
when suddenly Gernois was ordered to Bou Saada in the Petit Sahara far
to the south.

A company of spahis and three officers were to relieve another company
already stationed there. Fortunately one of the officers, Captain
Gerard, had become an excellent friend of Tarzan's, and so when the
ape-man suggested that he should embrace the opportunity of
accompanying him to Bou Saada, where he expected to find hunting, it
caused not the slightest suspicion.

At Bouira the detachment detrained, and the balance of the journey was
made in the saddle. As Tarzan was dickering at Bouira for a mount he
caught a brief glimpse of a man in European clothes eying him from the
doorway of a native coffeehouse, but as Tarzan looked the man turned
and entered the little, low-ceilinged mud hut, and but for a haunting
impression that there had been something familiar about the face or
figure of the fellow, Tarzan gave the matter no further thought.

The march to Aumale was fatiguing to Tarzan, whose equestrian
experiences hitherto had been confined to a course of riding lessons in
a Parisian academy, and so it was that he quickly sought the comforts
of a bed in the Hotel Grossat, while the officers and troops took up
their quarters at the military post.

Although Tarzan was called early the following morning, the company of
spahis was on the march before he had finished his breakfast. He was
hurrying through his meal that the soldiers might not get too far in
advance of him when he glanced through the door connecting the dining
room with the bar.

To his surprise, he saw Gernois standing there in conversation with the
very stranger he had seen in the coffee-house at Bouira the day
previous. He could not be mistaken, for there was the same strangely
familiar attitude and figure, though the man's back was toward him.

As his eyes lingered on the two, Gernois looked up and caught the
intent expression on Tarzan's face. The stranger was talking in a low
whisper at the time, but the French officer immediately interrupted
him, and the two at once turned away and passed out of the range of
Tarzan's vision.

This was the first suspicious occurrence that Tarzan had ever witnessed
in connection with Gernois' actions, but he was positive that the men
had left the barroom solely because Gernois had caught Tarzan's eyes
upon them; then there was the persistent impression of familiarity
about the stranger to further augment the ape-man's belief that here at
length was something which would bear watching.

A moment later Tarzan entered the barroom, but the men had left, nor
did he see aught of them in the street beyond, though he found a
pretext to ride to various shops before he set out after the column
which had now considerable start of him. He did not overtake them
until he reached Sidi Aissa shortly after noon, where the soldiers had
halted for an hour's rest. Here he found Gernois with the column, but
there was no sign of the stranger.

It was market day at Sidi Aissa, and the numberless caravans of camels
coming in from the desert, and the crowds of bickering Arabs in the
market place, filled Tarzan with a consuming desire to remain for a day
that he might see more of these sons of the desert. Thus it was that
the company of spahis marched on that afternoon toward Bou Saada
without him. He spent the hours until dark wandering about the market
in company with a youthful Arab, one Abdul, who had been recommended to
him by the innkeeper as a trustworthy servant and interpreter.

Here Tarzan purchased a better mount than the one he had selected at
Bouira, and, entering into conversation with the stately Arab to whom
the animal had belonged, learned that the seller was Kadour ben Saden,
sheik of a desert tribe far south of Djelfa. Through Abdul, Tarzan
invited his new acquaintance to dine with him. As the three were
making their way through the crowds of marketers, camels, donkeys, and
horses that filled the market place with a confusing babel of sounds,
Abdul plucked at Tarzan's sleeve.

"Look, master, behind us," and he turned, pointing at a figure which
disappeared behind a camel as Tarzan turned. "He has been following us
about all afternoon," continued Abdul.

"I caught only a glimpse of an Arab in a dark-blue burnoose and white
turban," replied Tarzan. "Is it he you mean?"

"Yes. I suspected him because he seems a stranger here, without other
business than following us, which is not the way of the Arab who is
honest, and also because he keeps the lower part of his face hidden,
only his eyes showing. He must be a bad man, or he would have honest
business of his own to occupy his time."

"He is on the wrong scent then, Abdul," replied Tarzan, "for no one
here can have any grievance against me. This is my first visit to your
country, and none knows me. He will soon discover his error, and cease
to follow us."

"Unless he be bent on robbery," returned Abdul.

"Then all we can do is wait until he is ready to try his hand upon us,"
laughed Tarzan, "and I warrant that he will get his bellyful of robbing
now that we are prepared for him," and so he dismissed the subject from
his mind, though he was destined to recall it before many hours through
a most unlooked-for occurrence.

Kadour ben Saden, having dined well, prepared to take leave of his
host. With dignified protestations of friendship, he invited Tarzan to
visit him in his wild domain, where the antelope, the stag, the boar,
the panther, and the lion might still be found in sufficient numbers to
tempt an ardent huntsman.