Chapter 1 - Day One
She obviously said it correctly, based on the tremendous reception she got in being welcomed into this wonderful group of jungle creatures. Never before had explorers like Jane and her father witnessed the collective harmony between gorillas, elephants, monkeys, birds, and many other creatures, much less be able to communicate with them all, which had been Clayton's mistake. It had to be because of Tarzan. Not only did he lead his own family group, but every animal in this forest had his respect. Even the birds she was surrounded by in spectacular beauty in the treetop canopy responded to his chirps and tweets. Jane had concluded Tarzan was actually more the 'King of the Jungle' than just the new leader of his gorilla family group. And more importantly, she was in 'head-over-heels' in love with the King of the Jungle, and he was in love with her, though neither had used those 'three little words' yet.
He mounted Tantor, reached for Jane with a smile, and hoisted her behind him in her soaking wet dress. She had to ride side saddle due to the bulk and inflexibility of the dress, but she put her arms firmly around him. It was exhilarating for both of them.
They waited for her father, who was coming too. Now she wouldn't worry about who would care for him, who was alone now in life except for her. Tarzan never even questioned his coming with them. The gorillas took care of all their family members across the generations - even the oldest and most infirm were treated with respect and honor until their life spirit left them. Humans could learn much from them.
She could see that her father was standing in the water behind the transom of the dinghy, talking to the Captain, but could not hear them.
The Captain was adamant, "Professor Porter, this is highly irregular to leave English citizens stranded in the wild. You know I am not coming back. I can't take responsibility for what happens to you both if I leave you."
Archimedes was firm, "I do realize that sir. This is our choice. I absolve you of further responsibility for us when we stay, but Captain, I need some things brought ashore if we are to survive to the best of our ability."
The Captain sighed, knowing that convincing the eccentric Professor was futile, "I will do my best, but I have a schedule to meet. I have to be in Gibraltar in a month."
Archimedes reached deep into his pockets, and pulled out bag containing a dozen gold guineas, "I will make it worth your while for your services, Captain. I don't need it all, but I need the following things. And then you may be gone."
"After what happened with the mutiny, you trust still me not to just take this and leave?"
"I do sir. You are a man of integrity - an Englishman and a member of the Queen's Merchant Marine."
Counting the gold pieces that were worth more than the entire cargo he would carry home from and of the ports along the way, the Captain noted, "It would be my pleasure, Professor. Tell me what you want."
Jane shouted impatiently from shore, "Daddy? We need to go. It will be getting dark soon."
"Coming, Jane dear," the Professor said cheerfully, having concluded the deal with the Captain.
He finished wading ashore and sat behind Jane and Tarzan on Tantor.
Tantor kidded Tarzan in his own language, "She had us all fooled there Tarzan. I thought they'd leave. I lost a whole bunch of bananas to Terk on that bet."
Tarzan admitted, "I was very sad, but now she'll never leave us."
"Must be your boyish good looks, dude," joked Terk, and punched her cousin's arm playfully.
Continuing their kidding with Tarzan, Tantor added, "I think she just felt sorry for you, Tarzan. Where are you gonna a get a human girl friend here?"
Tarzan just rolled his eyes at his friends, but felt the secure arm hold around him that was 'his Jane', and touched her interlaced fingers encircling his waist for just a moment.
Feeling his touch on her hands, she pressed into his back acknowledging that touch with a joyful snuggle, and noted with amusement Tarzan's unintelligible but animated conversation with his buddies. Not wanting to interrupt, she asked her father, "Whatever was that about with the Captain, Daddy?"
The Professor explained, "You don't think we can exist here in the jungle without our expeditionary equipment, do you Jane?"
Jane stiffed and confessed, "Yes, Daddy, I do intend to. This is our home now. It's time we leave the conveniences of our England behind. We only planned to study the gorillas. Now we're their family, too."
Tarzan just listened, and was very pleased. She turned and gazed at her handsome Tarzan, and squeezed him again around his waist, as Tantor took off into the woods with the gorilla family blazing a trail back their nesting place in the coastal highlands.
Archimedes Porter thought to himself, admiring his confident daughter, "Yes, Jane I suppose you do want to live as they do. And I will do my best to keep up with you. You are as headstrong as your mother. I wish she'd have lived to see this."
Along the trail, Archimedes asked Tarzan, "A word Tarzan, if I may. Tomorrow can we come back here to the beach? The ship's Captain is going to leave us a few things to get by for awhile."
"What are those things?" he asked somewhat cautiously.
"Things I know you like – the books, the magic lantern, all the slides, and the telescope. No more guns, Tarzan. I assure you. We will take our chances with you."
"That is good, Professor."
Jane was very pleased, "Oh Daddy, that's wonderful. I can keep teaching him!"
In the back of her mind, she knew they'd continue to teach each other.
A few hours later they made it back to the foothills of the mountains. While it was cooler at altitude, the humidity and heat were still oppressive. Her yellow dress and layers of petticoats were still wet and heavy on her. Behind a huge tree, Jane stripped to her sleeveless white bodice and put on her red slitted skirt, removing her hot stockings and confining shoes as well. It was Tarzan's favorite outfit on her, as her shapely bare legs and feet would peek through the slit as she moved and climbed, and the lightweight bodice emphasized her thin waist and… he imagined…what gorilla females had too, but not as much as she did. He didn't have the English word for how beautiful she looked. She turned around and saw that Tarzan was staring at her get out of her heavy, wet garments to the lighter clothes. There was very little left to Tarzan's imagination, and he saw her barely covered shape.
She blushed and scolded him, "Oh my, Tarzan. Girls need their privacy."
"Privacy?" Tarzan puzzled.
"The ability to change clothes or bathe without anyone watching."
"I am sorry Jane. I did not know. But Jane is very… beautiful… this way. I like seeing Jane. You are the prettiest animal in the jungle."
He was so sweet. It was the first time he had used the words. She knew he had admired silently her all the time, with his penetrating eyes. Part of her was glad he saw her in her foundations. She wanted to kiss him so badly that first time he taught her to swing on a vine together, but was too shy, not even being able to meet his gaze, which she knew perplexed him at the time.
Her little nervous laugh gave her away, "Hehe, yes, Tarzan, why thank you. You are very handsome."
"Yes, it means that a man is 'very nice looking'."
"Thank you, Jane."
Archimedes was endeared by their banter, as he could see their transition to a couple before his eyes, and remembered the sweet courting days with his dear wife. Yes, his daughter was beautiful, and Tarzan was indeed handsome. He knew the inevitability of what was going to happen, intrigued to how it would all play out, and couldn't help but think about how attractive his future grandchildren would be. And that he would be here, by God's grace, to see them.
Immediately upon returning to their nesting place, the family started to gather food. The rumble in Jane's very empty stomach was audible. Jane and her father had always dined on the food they brought with them or the prey that Clayton had killed and prepared for them. This morning, she had been so distraught at leaving Tarzan she hadn't eaten a morsel.
Tarzan extended his hand to her, "Come Jane. I will show you how to get food. Everyone helps feed the others. It is our way."
She followed him with rapt attention as he showed her what and what not to pick. In his excitement to be helpful, her father almost picked some toxic roots that resembled potatoes and inedible fruit that looked like blackberries by mistake.
"Not those", Tarzan gently warned, "They are poison to us."
"Daddy, watch him. He knows. This is his world."
"Yes dear," Archimedes thought it was endearing how trusting she was of Tarzan.
The entire family all laid their gatherings on a big bed of broad-leafed palms. Each took a portion. It was intriguing to Jane and Archimedes as scientists. They all behaved like a human family. A couple of the little ones took too much, and had their paws swatted by their mothers. It made her smile. She noticed Kala, Tarzan's ape mother, watching her intently and pleasantly. Jane smiled back, and gave Kala a little of her portion. But Jane's stomach betrayed her with a growl. Tarzan grinned at her.
"Fruit and berries and nuts are not enough. Jane needs more," offered Tarzan.
He reached for a big, half-rotten log he'd gathered, and smashed his fist into it. He pulled out a handful of squirming white objects.
Jane's face screwed up in disgust and drew back her hands, but tried to work up the courage to eat them, "Oh my, oh dear. Hehe. Termites. And big ones, too, Tarzan. Impressive. Not like the tiny ones in England. A lot more meat on these. Hehe."
He knew she was trying hard not to be repulsed, and so was very patient with her, "I'm sorry Jane. This is not like your food. But it is ours."
She took his hand, and reached for one. It wiggled, she shivered, and she bit her lip, with her face completely contorted.
But she bravely said, "I will try. Your world is my world now, Tarzan. You learned about mine. I have to learn about yours."
She swallowed one reluctantly, and chewed. She shuddered when it popped, but her frown turned to a smile, "It's delicious, Tarzan."
"Tastes like chicken, dear?" joked the Professor.
"Shush, Daddy. No, actually. More like garlic-seasoned sea bass."
"Oh really?" Archimedes mused, knowing he was next.
"It will keep you strong," encouraged Tarzan.
She asked enthusiastically, "May I have more?"
She took a hand full this time and they were gone in an instant. She watched her father close his eyes and force one down, and his look of pleasant surprise. They both turned a corner. Tarzan watched them closely and couldn't be happier.
Sated by their first jungle dinner, it started to get dark. The gorillas followed the sun in their activities. They encircled for the night protectively, with the youngest and oldest – the most vulnerable - in the center. They motioned Archimedes to sleep in the center. They sensed his age.
"Daddy? Are you OK?"
"I'll be fine dear. I rather like this. This is a lot like my years as a conscript in the Zulu Wars. All the troops slept together for protection when we couldn't pitch tents."
She was learning a lot about Tarzan and the gorillas and was realizing she was learning a lot about her father that she never knew either. She had always been so 'busy' with the social affairs of a young woman of gentry.
Tarzan took her by the hand and led her to the outer perimeter of their family circle where he was the first line of defense against predators as their leader. She gave her father a worried look. She loved Tarzan but she still lived by Victorian age principles.
"You'll be fine, dear. Do what he says," Archimedes encouraged.
Tarzan led her to his place in the outer edge of the colony. She saw that he had expanded his nest for the two of them. She touched it, and it was delightfully spongy and soft. It was softer than any feather mattress she'd ever slept in. She smiled at him. There were those infinite deep green eyes of his again. Only now they didn't scare her. She loved them.
Jane realized she had never ever slept outside without a tent or a mansion over her head. And she had never slept with a man in her bed. Tarzan could see how worried she was. He invited her to lay down first, and then he wrapped his arms around her from behind. She had never felt so safe, feeling him nearly completely surround her, and knew he only wanted to go to sleep with her. His embrace was warm and protective. The nest smelled wonderful and fresh, and with its softness, and she fell asleep instantly after the very long day. Tarzan could not believe his good fortune to actually have 'his Jane' in his arms all night long. The fragrance of her hair smelled like nothing he had ever experienced.