Chapter 12 - Confrontation
In the time that followed, the family inadvertently noticed Jane and Tarzan without their new loincloths fairly often, as after that night, any remaining issues about privacy vanished, and the easy openness continued to grow between Tarzan and Jane. She was always filled with an inner beauty that looked so natural, as a perfect physical match to Tarzan. For awhile, it was still a little disconcerting for Archimedes to see that much of his daughter and son-in-law, but she insisted it was all right, and soon he accepted it as natural as anything else the family experienced.
They had all simply become a gorilla family living ordinary lives in the wild.
Archimedes was a little reluctant to wear his loincloth at first, preferring his 'people clothing', but not because of privacy. He knew that he was out of shape, and didn't want to embarrass the young couple, but both Tarzan and Jane made him feel comfortable about his loincloth, and wearing it did make him feel completely part of the family. Kala and the other apes were very complimentary of how he looked. Ironically, he was actually closer to their size and body type as an elderly man anyway. Everyone treated him with high respect like an elderly silverback gorilla.
Archimedes and Kala spent a lot of time together as the parents of the family's leader and spouse. Each appreciated their respective strengths: he was so smart and she was very caring and knowledgeable about the family. Their friendship grew very strong, which warmed Tarzan's and Jane's hearts. With each's spouse gone forever, their friendship filled an empty spot in their hearts for companionship. They started sleeping next to each other in adjoining nests wherever the family migrated, and Tarzan and Jane thought it was endearing.
Archimedes was fascinated by the vine and mossy branch and root forest across the river that the couple had found and relocated the family nest for awhile. He loved Jane's idea of celebrating their jungle wedding reception here. The view of the gorge was as magnificent as they had described. Tarzan and Jane and their friends practiced almost every day for their official wedding reception celebration run. He was amazed at the choreography of Tarzan's and Jane's 'dance in the trees'. One day he made Jane blush, joking with Tarzan and Kala that all those years of expensive ballet, classic dance, and ice skating lessons had finally paid off.
Tarzan taught Archimedes to swing on the vines. It was exhilarating for the old Professor, and he was getting more fit with the constant exercise.
Every day, Jane continued her communion with nature in her full transformation to life in the jungle, much to Tarzan's admiration. Jane loved her simple and joyful life with Tarzan and everything about it. Her favorite activity was learning to talk with nearly every jungle animal, not just observing them. She became more adventurous with the nutricious but unorthodox food available in the jungle and combined it with more traditional foods, much to Tarzan's satisfaction. Her friendships with the gorillas, especially the females, strengthened, and caring for her friends' offspring occupied much of her free time. The gorillas were eager to try many simple human tasks and habits. Her relation and devotion to Tarzan became ever deeper with each passing day, and he to her.
One early morning it was raining steadily, as it had been all night, and everyone slept through it undisturbed by the downpour. She rose silently, closed her eyes, smiled as she put her face upward into the gentle warm rain and slicked back her long hair. She noticed a small waterfall had formed, pouring down from a fork in one of the trees. Without a second thought, she dropped her simple two piece jungle outfit where she stood in their nest, next to a still-sleeping Tarzan, and quickly walked through the rain into the invigorating stream of water. In the waterfall and splashing mists of the storm, her unclad figure resembled a beautiful Michelangelo marble statue.
She gathered and broke open several soapberry pods from a nearby bush and shampooed her hair and cleansed herself. Tarzan noticed her missing from the nest, and quickly joined her in the same manner and they had a lingering embrace in the rain-induced waterfall, enjoying the rain fall on their bodies. He reveled in her touch as she washed his hair and body, focusing her attention in some places. With the pair smiling lovingly at each other, they leaned against a soft moss-covered tree trunk behind them in the midst of the soothing waterfall and pressed against each other. Jane beamed a smile into her husband's eyes and wrapped herself around Tarzan and he supported her. The rain got harder, obscuring them from view, joined together.
With only a brief pleased glance at them for their happiness as he went on his normal early morning hike to gather food for the family, the old Professor reflected that there were truly no secrets in the family anymore. Both of them were as natural in their behaviors as any of the gorillas and any other jungle animal. This grand experiment of observing the gorillas had been vastly more successful than Archimedes had ever anticipated, but it happened much differently than he or Jane ever expected. Neither Jane nor Archimedes had ever considered actually becoming living, active gorilla family members behaving exactly as they all did. Archimedes chuckled that if they ever reported their results that they'd either get the Nobel Biology Prize or be ridiculed out of the profession by their fellow scientists.
Everything seemed to operate on a rhythm for the family. But one day the jungle was utterly silent. Tarzan and Jane had told the family of the caracal threats weeks ago and why she always carried the bow – a 'stick with a bite' as she had translated for them. The couple was wary as the family travelled, scanning the canopy and deep bush for the fierce predators. They armed themselves. Archimedes was proud of what he had taught her, never expecting that those archery skills at the estate would now be needed for their very survival. He never thought that an adult Jane, having learned to hunt with him as a girl and young teen for relatively harmless foxes and deer, would have to take down a full grown caracal, a cat that made its European lynx cousins look small and tame.
As Tarzan and Jane stepped carefully along the trail looking for some kind of warning signs, a roaring beige blur leaped out of the bush and upended Tarzan, biting and clawing at him. It was everything Tarzan could do to keep from being gutted or bitten. The gorillas screamed, scattered, and hid, with Kirok guarding their escape.
"Tarzan?" Kirok yelled to his friend.
"Go to safety now. Disappear. Protect the family," Tarzan shouted while he wrestled with the fierce cat.
Even in the midst of his wrestling with the male caracal, desperate to get the powerful animal off him and go protect Jane from the female caracal, he momentarily flashed back, hearing himself uttering his father Kerchak's traditional warnings.
That left Jane alone on the trail, worried about Tarzan and his struggle with the male caracal. But it was a diversion. She knew she couldn't break her alert to help him, just as Tarzan had ordered her, as it would be at that instant the female would attack her. She had already set her bow, nocked an arrow, and it was fully drawn, ready for an attack. She was turning in place randomly, rapidly, and constantly, and scanning the tree canopy above. Most English hunters would never think of the third dimension. The cats could be anywhere, even above in the trees. Tarzan had taught her well to adapt what her father had taught her about stalking deer, but her heart pounded. She tried to tell herself that this was no less dangerous than facing an angry ten-point buck, pacing for a charge.
The female caracal emerged on the trail within ten feet of Jane. Naima was angry that Jane had been moving too fast, and too erratically, for her to leap on top of the human as she planned. She cursed Tarzan for teaching his mate those evasion skills.
Naima prepared her attack and snarled in the gorilla language, "I told you Tarzan couldn't protect you all the time. It is time we end this, woman."
"My name is Jane, Naima. Why do you wish me dead, great cat?" Jane asked, buying time.
They circled each other as they spoke. The gorilla family watched the standoff from afar in the trees. Archimedes could barely look at his daughter being face to face with death, with only her loincloths and a bow between them. He was astonished that Jane was talking to the cat.
Naima explained her twisted logic that justified the vendetta against the human, "You exist, Jane. And you are female. You alone can make kits with him. You will dominate the jungle if you do. I know your kind especially, outlander. Soon you will cause others to come. Many more than the last time. You will take over the jungle. Your kind will destroy the jungle as your kind always does. My kin and I have travelled far and we have seen your cities and villages. We will be killed by your kind or be put in cages. I cannot allow that."
"I am not that kind of human. I respect you and your kind," Jane emphasized.
"I do not believe you, Jane. I have seen no mercy from mankind. Even now you stand with a weapon in your hand."
"Every animal in the jungle has the right to defend itself, Naima."
It was a complete stalemate, but was coming to a deadly climax. Jane aimed the bow threateningly, but it didn't bother Naima. The big cat had never seen a bow and arrow, nor how it worked, and so she scoffed,"Your tiny metal claw will barely scratch me. I know you do not have Tarzan's strength to drive that into my heart, and your strength is only a fraction of mine. Don't fight back; your end will be less painful."
Naima was poised to leap at Jane's throat. Just before she leaped, Jane shouted suddenly to throw the cat off her timing. Naima was shocked. Jane spoke in the caracal's language, exactly as Tarzan taught her, "I promise you Naima, I can kill you if you strike me! And I will, though I do not want to. I told you before that I honor you."
But Jane's interruption did more than than stop Naima's attack. The tone, intensity, and determination of Jane's voice speaking in the cat's own language gave Naima cause to worry. The caracal could not smell any fear in the woman. There was only Jane's resolve. Naima swallowed hard and changed tactics.
"Convince me, outlander," Naima snarled in confusion and delay.
Both Tarzan and Naima's mate blinked. Caracals never hesitated in their final attack.
With the thought, "If I can fell a running fox in its heart at a full gallop, I can do this," Jane responded to Naima's challenge.
Instantly, Jane shifted a tiny bit, let loose the arrow, and it flew toward the cat. Naima could not react fast enough. The arrow did not embed itself in Jane's original target: Naima's brain. It whizzed by the cat's powerful shoulder muscles. The cat turned and followed the arrow's flight, having never seen one before. It was far too fast to follow, and with a hearty thwack, the arrow penetrated a foot thick stump immediately behind Naima, vibrating from its impact. The arrowhead was on one side of the stump, and the fletching on the other. The sight was not lost on Naima.
A sharp pain came from Naima's shoulder. A six-inch long slice oozed blood from her shoulder, soiling her otherwise clean fur. The arrow had only grazed her, to prove a point. Naima fully understood what Jane could have done to her if she had wanted to. But chose not to.
"You have no authority to challenge my right to exist in the jungle with my mate Tarzan. Do I make myself clear, Naima?" emphasized Jane again in Naima's language, this time through clenched and bared teeth in the expression of a predator.
When Naima turned her head back around to face Jane, she was face to face with the human female staring furiously down the shaft of another arrow aimed straight into the cat's eyes. Jane had moved silently to point-blank range - carefully staying just outside a paw swipe - with the viciously sharp arrow nocked and fully drawn, aimed at the center of the caracal's forehead.
Cats do not sweat, but Naima would have.
Naima broke her gaze with the Englishwoman, lowered her head to the ground, and sheathed her claws. Jane drew the bow tighter, anticipating the lunge for her.
The caracal said in supplication to Jane in her language, most of which Jane understood, "I yield, Jane, mate of Tarzan. You are like no outlander I have ever encountered or heard of. Outlanders always kill us cats. You honor us. I indeed have no right to challenge your right to live in the jungle, because you are truly of the jungle, now."
Jane glanced at Tarzan, with Naima's mate still subdued at his knifepoint, but gave Jane a nod that the cat's word could be trusted.
"I accept your apology, great Naima," Jane said with confidence, and relaxed the draw on the bow carefully, in case it was a trick.
"Please also accept my respect, Jane," Naima said pleasantly, but started to lick her throbbing deep cut.
"I do accept that, also. Thank you. No, not that way, Naima. Wait."
Naima sat on her haunches and gave Jane a puzzled look. She made no move to strike. Jane put down her bow in trust, grabbed some medicinal leaves and herbs nearby, spit on them and created a poultice.
"This will make you feel better, Naima," Jane smiled holding the poultice, "but you have to let me touch you."
Naima acknowledged the approach, and Jane gently applied the poultice on the wound, and while it stung a bit, it also instantly felt better. With Jane's other free hand she touched the great cat's temple, and started to rub the top and side of Naima's head all the way up to the base of her ear. Naima closed her eyes, leaned into the massage, and started to purr.
"Uh, Jane, a little more to the left," Naima suggested.
"Like this?" Jane grinned.
"Ahhh, that feels wonderful," the cat said contentedly.
Jane could not help but smile. Never in her entire life had she ever expected cats to tell her where to scratch them, much less tell her how much they appreciated the attention. If only her mother could see this now. Not far away, her father shook his head and grinned, and told himself that if he ever did present all this to the scientific world, they'd laugh him off the lecture hall podium. And yet here it was, really happening. "You can't make this up," he chuckled to himself.
"Jane, maybe we could be friends," Naima said, reveling in good feeling of the head and ear scratch and the healing poultice.
"I would like that very much, Naima."
"You did this with your little house cats back home?" The caracal said pleasantly while increasing the volume of her very deep-toned purr.
"All the time, Naima."
"No wonder they liked you."
Tarzan rolled his eyes, smiled at his constantly surprising wife, and released the totally shocked male caracal. The male asked with almost a whimper, "How come you never gave us a head scratch like that Tarzan?"
Tarzan shrugged his shoulders and teased the male, "Probably because you never asked."
Tarzan sheathed his knife, and the humans and caracals stood next to each other.
The gorilla family and the Professor could not believe what they were witnessing, and were amazed that the foursome were talking in the caracals' language.
"So now what?" Jane had nearly exhausted what she knew of Naima's language from Tarzan.
"We say goodbye, and we welcome you to your new home, Jane. And that we will be there for you both if you need us, friends. May you have many kits together, Tarzan and Jane of the Apes," Naima said with utmost honor.
In an instant the cats disappeared into the bush. Jane and Tarzan fell into each other's arms in relief, but blushed at the cat's final good will wish for them for children.
"'Tarzan and Jane of the Apes'," she sighed, with catch in her voice and happy teary eyes, "Now that has a nice ring to it, don't you think, Jonathan?"
"My brave, wonderful wife," he praised her and ruffled her hair as he kissed her.
From all around them the gorilla family came out of hiding with raucous cheering for Jane.
Terk was astonished, and hugged Jane, "I saw what you did, my friend. You were so… so amazing! You and Tarzan both saved the family. You are awesome, Jane!"
"Thank you Terk," said Jane nervously, still shaking and tearful from the standoff.
Archimedes hugged his daughter, soothing her, "Jane dear, I was so afraid for you. But it looks like I didn't need to be. I am very proud of both of you."
"Thank you Daddy."
Above and around the gorilla family, witnessing the encounter between Jane and Tarzan and the caracals, many jungle animals took note of the respect and honor done for the great cats by Jane, and that the human pair did not kill the cats when faced with the threat of death. Word spread fast throughout all the land about Tarzan's outland mate Jane, and how she had truly become one of the children of the jungle, with her true respect for the cycle of life that matched Tarzan's. There was a new peace in the wild. There would be no more challenges to Jane's right to thrive in the Jungle.
After it was over, the family life quietly returned to normal. Until a new wrinkle got thrown in to the mix.
Terk came up to Jane one day and noted, "I think Kirok and I are gonna name our first-born after you, Jane, if we have a girl."
With a very pleasantly surprised look, Jane stuttered, "Terk? Hehe. Um… You're…"
"Yep," patting her slightly larger than normal belly proudly and smiling smugly.
"And the little guy or girl is gonna need a playmate," she winked at both Tarzan and Jane.
"We'll see Terk, we'll see," Tarzan laughed as he put his arm around Jane, who blushed all the way through her deep tan from head to toe.
"Time to talk about that some other time," Jane said to change the sensitive subject, "Right now I think it's time to celebrate!"