Tarzan of the Apes
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Chapter 2: The Savage Home, continued, to chapter completion
Clayton’s initial thought was to arrange a sleeping shelter for the night, something that might protect them from prowling beasts of prey. His first act was to open the box containing his rifles and ammunition, so that they would be armed against a possible attack while they were at work. Then, together, they sought a good location for their first night’s sleeping place.
A hundred yards from the beach was a little level spot, fairly free of trees. It was there that they decided they would eventually build a permanent house. But for the time being, they both thought it best to construct a little platform in the trees, out of reach of the larger of the savage beasts who might stalk them.
To do this, Clayton selected four trees that formed a rectangle about eight feet square. He then cut long branches from other trees, and he constructed a framework around them, about ten feet from the ground. He finally fastened the ends of the branches, securely to the trees, with rope that Black Michael had furnished to him from the hold of the Faulkner.
Across this framework, Clayton placed other smaller branches quite close together. He paved this platform with the huge fronds of elephant’s ear, which grew in profusion about them. And over the fronds, he laid a large sail, folded into several thicknesses. Seven feet higher, he constructed a similar, though lighter platform, to serve as a roof. From the sides of this, he suspended the balance of his sailcloth for walls. When completed, he had a rather snug little nest, to which he carried their blankets, and some of the lighter luggage.
It was now late in the afternoon, and the remainder of the daylight hours were devoted to the construction of a rude ladder that Lady Alice could climb, to enter her new home. All during the day, the forest surrounding them had been filled with excited birds of brilliant plumage, and dancing, chattering monkeys, who watched these new arrivals, and their wonderful nest-building operations, with keen interest and fascination.
Even though both Clayton and his wife kept a sharp lookout, they didn’t spy any larger animals, though on two occasions they had seen their little simian neighbors come screaming and chattering from the nearby ridge. The monkeys casted frightened glances back over their little shoulders, and they evinced, as plainly as if they were talking, that they were fleeing something terrible which lay concealed there.
Just before dusk, Clayton finally finished the ladder, and after filling a great basin with water from the nearby stream, the two of them climbed up to the comparative safety of their new aerial chamber. Since it was quite warm, Clayton had left the side curtains thrown back over the roof, and as they sat like Turks upon their blankets, Lady Alice, straining her eyes into the darkening shadows of the wood, suddenly reached out and grasped Clayton’s arms. “John,” she whispered, “Look! What is that out there, a man?”
As Clayton turned his eyes toward the direction that she indicated, he saw, silhouetted dimly against the shadows beyond, a great figure standing upright upon the ridge. For a moment, it stood as though listening, and then it turned slowly and melted into the shadows of the jungle. “What could it be, John?”
“I don’t know, Alice,” he answered gravely. “It’s too dark to see that far, but let’s hope that it was just a shadow cast by the rising moon.”
“No, John, it was some kind of living creature. And if it was not a man, it was some huge and grotesque mockery of man. Oh, I am so afraid.” Clayton gathered her in his arms, whispering words of courage and love into her ears. Soon after, he lowered the curtain walls, tying them securely to the trees so that, except for a little opening toward the beach, they were entirely enclosed.
As it was now pitch dark within their tiny aerie, they lay down on their blankets to try to gain, through sleep, a brief respite of forgetfulness. Clayton lay facing the opening at the front, with a rifle and a brace of revolvers within easy reach.
They had barely closed their eyes, when the terrifying cry of a panther rang out from the jungle behind them. Closer and closer it came, until they could hear the great beast directly beneath them. For an hour or more, they heard it sniffing and clawing at the trees which supported their platform. But at last, it roamed away across the beach, where Clayton could see it clearly in the brilliant moonlight. It was a great, handsome beast, the largest he had ever seen.
During the long hours of darkness, they enjoyed only fitful snatches of sleep, as the night noises of the great jungle, teeming with its myriad animal lives, kept their overwrought nerves on edge. It must have been at least a hundred times that they were awakened, startled by piercing screams, or by the stealthy movements of great bodies beneath them.
1. The first thing that Clayton did was:
a) find a good sleeping place
b) build a house
c) open the box that held rifles and ammunition
2. The house they built was:
a) on the beach, safely back from the water
b) a treehouse that was safely off the ground
c) on the bank of a stream deep in the jungle
3. How did Lady Alice get to the house?
a) she walked
b) Clayton carried her
c) Clayton built a ladder for her.
4. The author compares their work building the house to:
b) having a picnic
c) a walk in the park
5. At dusk, Lady Alice thought she saw a very strange looking man. What did she probably see?
a) a panther
b) a gorilla
c) just shadows cast by the rising moon.
6. Why didn’t Clayton and Lady Alice sleep well that night?
a) they were too excited about their new home to sleep
b) they had slept a lot on the boat coming to the island
c) they were nervous and scared by all the jungle night noises around them