Chapter 13 - Celebration
The entire family was assembled at the site of the big run to commemorate Tarzan and Jane's wedding day barely six weeks before.
"Shall we?" quizzed Tarzan.
"Yes, let's!" smiled Jane.
They had climbed high into the rain forest canopy at their beginning point. He leaped for a vine to start their run, she reached for his outstretched hand, and he pulled her up toward the first big branch in a great arching turn, flinging Jane high above his head, with her gracefully bent legs and pointed toes elegantly tracing their path in the air - a result of her dance training. They dropped on to the first set of branches and immediately held each other at arm's length, racing down the sloped branches, heavily covered in moss. He held her by the waist and she held him by his shoulders. Their feet effortlessly danced along the complex tangle of roots and branches. She looked at him intently, not looking down, feeling her way along the branches, having memorized every inch of the run. They were both totally in step, smiling confidently at each other, like professional ballroom dancers.
He squinted and grimaced to thrust her forward on her branch, to give her a huge boost in speed for the first major move on the run, and then he released their hand hold. Each took a path on a separate route on parallel branches.
As Jane reached the big arch of the long branch, she crouched and leaped effortlessly into the air, tucking her arms around herself and crossing her legs and ankles together as in their practice, twirling several times effortlessly in full confidence tightly like an ice skater. Her father watched in amazement. She fully spread out her arms and legs to instantly stop her spin, with her loincloth and hair streaming in the wind.
Tarzan swooped in from behind on a vine to grab her waist and guide them both into the next branch, picking up speed in a steep decline, surfing together in the flat 360 degree turn. They raced around the inside circumference of the branch at speeds so high that the pair was literally horizontal from the centripetal forces pinning them to the branch. They circled around a smiling Kala, plucking separate sets of flowers to give to her cheerfully. Kala watched them zoom past her hand-in-hand. Tarzan's ape mother was impressed at their athleticism, with a grace that no gorilla could ever match. Tarzan slid behind his mate, and flung Jane ahead of him. They were in lock step as they branch-surfed even faster, switching positions yet again linked in a tight hand hold, and they leaped into the air for a vine. They rotated around each other in mid-flight. Tarzan grabbed a vine with both of his feet instead of his hands, and Jane dropped herself into his arms, cradled as they swung. They smiled confidently at each other. From beside them, Archimedes swooped into view, doing a vine swing in parallel with them for a short time, and trying his own version of Tarzan's jungle yell. It wasn't half bad, concluded the smiling pair, as they swiftly passed him on the next stage of their continuing journey.
Tarzan kept Jane cradled in his arms, swinging together for their next maneuver, with her hair flying and her beautiful bare legs tucked in against them elegantly, toes pointed like a ballerina. Tarzan let go of the vine, dropping them both in unison on the steep initial slope of the vertical root loop that they took together in complete coordination, rushing fearlessly upside down across the top of the loop.
They pulled out of the loop and proceeded at very high speed down the next long straightaway, shifting back and forth as they straddled the branch in perfect tandem coordination. Terk overtook them on a parallel root system. They smiled at her efforts at surfing with them, but she got overconfident, folding her hands behind her head and relaxed. She closed her eyes, lost her balance, and fell into a thicket of soft ferns. Unlike Jane's terrible fall, they were closer to the ground, so the only thing that was hurt was her pride. Kirok rushed to comfort his pregnant mate.
Tarzan and Jane pressed on further and ducked very low, branch surfing even on their knuckles, and leaped in unison high into the air. This was another hard part, as their intended target was Tantor's open trunk, standing ready to catch them. They'd only practiced this move three times, and he missed them twice, with both of them unceremoniously landing on their bottoms in the soft moss and ferns. Even though they laughed uproariously each time, Tantor did not want to ruin their perfect run so far. Tarzan grabbed her hand on the way down toward Tantor. This time he deftly caught them in mid-air with his trunk, encircling them in it, both of them tucked together side by side, with Jane's legs hanging from his trunk and Tarzan in a full crouch, smiling at his success in catching them. He scrunched his face in total determination, and tossed them far into the air ahead, bellowing loudly as he flung them far forward along the path.
Tarzan grabbed the next vine for the longest vine swing on their way to the cliff side. Jane reached for Tarzan's strong outstretched hand and fit herself into her husband's strong grasp. She smiled demurely at him, with her eyes in half-lidded total adoration for him. Tarzan returned her loving look as the vine took them ever closer to the massive last branch on the precipice. There were only a few spots they could swing through the massive tangle of leaves, branches, and smaller trees. Tarzan had to thread it..
They made it through the thicket perfectly, they slowed to a stop, alighted on the huge branch, and Tarzan gently dropped Jane behind him as he turned toward the valley. She just watched him, smiling lovingly at her amazing mate. They had made the run precisely as planned. It was the perfect celebration of Jane and Tarzan's marriage. She noted in amusement, only for an instant, that no bride and groom in all of England would have ever tried this for their wedding reception.
He turned facing the great valley below and flexed his back muscles. They rippled as he took an enormous lungful of air, braced himself, and unleashed his bloodcurdling yell into the broad river valley of the homeland of his family. His eyes were jammed shut and he had never let loose the yell as determined as he did today in celebration of his life with Jane and conquering the vine maze. He pounded his chest in pride, with Jane poised behind him, her hair wafting in a gentle breeze, in admiration of her mate and husband.
As soon as the echoes died from Tarzan's thunderous signature jungle yell, the pair heard the totally unexpected reply. All across the vast land, from the banks of the river, to deep in the jungle, to the skies above, and to the uppermost reaches of the mountains above, they heard the combined cries, shrieks, grunts, roars, barks, howls, chirps, buzzes, hisses, and tweets of all the animals of the jungle of every kind. All were acknowledging Tarzan of the Apes as King of the Jungle. Tarzan was overwhelmed and humbled by the response of the animal kingdom to him, and Jane gave him such a proud look. Tarzan glanced lovingly at her and he said, "Your turn, Jane."
She startled, clutched her bosom in surprise, with her adorable stammer Tarzan loved so much when she was totally flustered, "Tarzan, oh my. Oh my goodness, I… I…. I can't possibly do that. Oh, dear… That's your call to this world."
She gave him her nervous giggle, got her worried look, and wrung her hands. For a moment, Tarzan's beautiful, natural, brave life mate was 'shy Jane' once again.
"You can sing. I've heard your voice," he smiled.
"Well yes. Yes… But, Tarzan, this isn't really singing…"
He wasn't going to let her finagle her out of this. He moved back from the end of the giant branch, and motioned for her to take his place. He gave her that look of confidence. She moved forward. Mere months ago, she would have screamed in terror, being exposed and unsupported on a giant tree with a two hundred foot sheer drop to the gorge below.
He could see the commitment well up in her, "OK. Hehe. Well. Maybe just this once. Besides… no one will hear me. I just don't want to embarrass you, Tarzan."
"You won't. I can feel it in you," he grinned and crossed his arms on his chest, further boosting her confidence.
She cleared her throat, and practiced a couple of times at low volume. She tried to match his tone and key. It didn't work.
"It's too low, Tarzan. I… I really can't…"
"Yes you can. I know you can do this. Put your whole body into it," he urged.
She was still shaky, "Hold my hand, Tarzan. It's the only way I will get through this."
She practiced at low volume again, but a full octave higher than his yell. It felt good this time. She smiled at him, still a bit nervous. She leaned forward and held her arms behind her like her man did for his yell, still holding him by one of her hands. She took a huge deep breath, and cut loose an ear-splitting soprano version of his signature call of the wild. She sustained the final note a very long time. Tarzan was extremely impressed. She flushed flocks of birds across the valley, and antelope, rhinos, and oxen stampeded. She turned around, clasped her hands in Tarzan's and beamed a big smile at him.
"I told you so," he winked, and they hugged.
But as the echoes of her voice died off in the valley and distant peaks, there arose a true cacophony of excited animal sounds far and wide in response, just as loud as for Tarzan's incredible yell. The pleasant shock for both of them was that the response back to her from the jungle was clearly the higher-pitched female voices of each species, and then they were joined by the males. Tears gathered in her eyes in her total surprise, "Oh, Tarzan…"
"They all love you, Jane."
"Not all of them together half as much as I love you, Tarzan," and she kissed him long and deep, the way he loved it best.
They broke their clutch for a moment, "They know that because of you, Jane, there is a future for Tarzan. For both of us, Jane."
She cried with the tender thoughts of their lives together, and was about to say something, but the pair heard cheering sounds behind them. They turned around and beheld all their excited friends and family rushing to congratulate them on their magnificent run.
Late into the evening, exhausted from the events of the long day, they lay closely in their latest nest built by Jane, and Tarzan asked frankly, "Jane, since Terk brought it up, what do you think of children?"
Without hesitating she answered, "I would love them, Tarzan. It's just a matter of the right time when we think we are ready."
"Are you ready now?" he asked with an encouraging grin.
She smiled, only a bit shy. She wanted to be a mother and without a pause she answered, "I could. Unless you wanted some more time to just be 'us'. My parents wanted a few years together by themselves before they had me."
"That would be fun to just be a couple awhile longer, Jane. But I can go either way. A playmate for Terk and Kirok's new offspring is very tempting. Look at me - that's how I was raised."
"It would be nice. Best friends having children who are also best friends," she said cheerfully.
"'Precisely Jane dear!' as your father would say," he joked.
"Well, if you want children, Jonathan, tonight would be a really good time. If not, we better just kiss and say goodnight."
He gave her a look of disbelief, "You can tell when?"
She grinned proudly, "As a matter of fact, yes, I can. Some women are very well attuned to their cycles. Most animals can. So what do you want to do, Tarzan?"
"Let's take our chances tonight, and see what happens, Jane. You know I never can resist your charms."
"My secret power over you, dear. Either way it will be fun!"
Tarzan snuggled closely with Jane, she smiled at him lovingly, and the pair got lost in each other's intimate embrace once again.
Overhearing Jane and Tarzan's happy pillow talk, their new life plans, and their hushed lovemaking laughter, Archimedes was having a difficult internal struggle. His daughter and son and law lived a beautiful, simple, and love-filled life together. He could not sleep, asking himself over and over again, if he should he give - or not give - Tarzan the 'other' sealed letter – the one that his father wrote that would tell Tarzan of his heritage that Archimedes had hidden in the treehouse for another day. Their wedding day was not the right time.
Archimedes struggled terribly, because he inadvertently found out who Tarzan was, and it would change everything.
Unknown to Archimedes, something so ominous loomed on the horizon that it would force the old Professor to decide.