Chapter 15 - First Homecoming Part 2
Tarzan and Jane prepared to investigate the intrusion. She reached for her brown jungle outfit top, which was tied to her thong strap, and Tarzan helped her put it on, knowing there might be contact with humans. His fingers 'slipped' past her top and around those parts of her the top covered for a moment, and she savored his caress.
"Oops! I missed," he grinned. She gave him a fake nasty look.
She finished putting the top on and rolled her eyes at him, "Sorry Tarzan – those are for your eyes and the family's only!"
"I got them memorized until they come back again," Tarzan winked.
"You!" she playfully swatted his lingering hands away.
For nearly five months she'd not worn her top for added comfort in the hot jungle, despite how loose and revealing it already was. Her female gorilla friends didn't care what she did or didn't wear, thinking that both Tarzan and Jane were silly for wearing any clothes at all. Going topless made her more closely resemble her gorilla sisters, especially with her deep tan. Tarzan of course loved her that way. Her father had long since stopped worrying about seeing her naturally. He told her that as a soldier in Africa as a young man, he'd seen numerous mostly nude Zulu and Masai women who were very happy when uncovered for comfort in the harsh equatorial conditions, making her very pleased with her decision.
It was a long way to the sounds they were hearing and the smoke they were seeing and smelling, in a part of the jungle they had not been to since the wedding reception vine run. the sounds were coming from across the river, so they took to the vines in the trees to the riverbank, and crossed the river hidden in the shallows and reeds, in case there were observers on the cliffs, and closed the distance quickly. From a hiding place, they saw a chilling sight.
A dozen tractors and all terrain trucks were decimating a trail in the jungle, creating a wide dirt road coming up from the ocean bay shore. Drilling derricks and cranes were being built in the flat grassland field they had once held the antelope, but would never again. The grass had been cut or burned to make room for the equipment. The beautiful grassland was all just dirt and mud now. The area reeked of gasoline and oil smells, and the exhaust from the machinery made breathing difficult for Tarzan and Jane. It was all they could do to keep from coughing and revealing their position. Dozens of workers swarmed over the heavy equipment. Nearly twenty guards kept watch on the activity and on the jungle looking for danger - armed with high power rifles like Clayton had possessed. Across one of the biggest trucks and equipment trailers were written a sign: 'Clayton British Colonial Petroleum Ltd.'
Tarzan had no idea what this meant, but bridled seeing Clayton's name. Jane's eyes narrowed, "Clayton… I might have known. Just another one of his businesses. They are going to defile the land looking for petroleum oil. And dead or not, other people Clayton's in company are still finding ways to exploit us. Unfortunately Naima was right."
"Come on, let's go to the ocean, find their ship, and get some answers from whoever is willing to talk. Or make them talk," urged Tarzan.
Fortunately the ship was moored in a bay far away from the shallow river and from their treehouse. For the moment, all that appeared safe and undiscovered.
Hidden in a coastal tree line, they could see the insignia of the boat. 'HMS Heart of Africa - Clayton Maritime' was emblazoned on the ship. More equipment was being unloaded ashore, and a shoreline camp with a makeshift wharf was been set up. There had to be nearly 200 people involved in this exploration.
Jane was aghast, and terrified at the implications of what was happening, "If they find oil, Tarzan, all is lost. Petroleum oil is needed to run the new invention of automobiles and trucks. It is very valuable. The Americans call it 'black gold'. But it burns a horrible odor which you have experienced, and there it has waste that is toxic to animals and people. There will be thousands more people that will come here. Then businesses and services to sustain them will come. Then unfortunately, crime and unsavory people will come chasing the greed for oil. There will be a city. The jungle will be destroyed, and all the animals will die or will have to flee to other homes. All our family's nesting places and food supplies are at risk here. Including our treehouse."
Tarzan took it all in, and his eyes narrowed with gritted his teeth, "This must stop. All this is because of Clayton."
Having seen enough, they hurried back to the family, and sought Archimedes' counsel. They explained everything they saw. The family was frightened.
"We're powerless against this many men and their guns, Daddy. The family and all of our animal friends are not numerous enough or strong enough to defeat them. Against a few dozen men, we could handle it. But now…" she started to cry. She believed their jungle dream was about to die.
Archimedes interjected with a huge sigh, knowing what he must say, and soothed her hands, "We have much more power than you can even imagine, Jane."
"What are you saying, Daddy?"
"I was praying this would never happen, Jane. I need to show you something, Tarzan. Something I had hoped to never do. It changes everything."
"What is so life-changing that you could not speak of it until now, Professor?"
"You have to find out who you really are, Tarzan."
Together Jane and Tarzan were startled, asking simultaneously, "What?"
"There is a second letter from your parents, Tarzan. This one is from your father. I haven't read it, but I am pretty sure I know what it says."
"Oh my goodness," exclaimed a surprised Jane.
They made their way to the treehouse in haste and in nervous silence. Archimedes went to one of Tarzan's father's chests, and removed a thick, sealed letter from a secret compartment in the chest. He also pulled out a small box.
Tarzan confessed, "Professor, I… I am… very worried about what this letter will tell me. Jane and I already made a decision to stay here. I don't want to change that decision."
"I know, my boy. But you must know. Then make your choice."
The letter read:
My dearest only son Jonathan,
If you are reading this letter not in my presence, then I am lost to you. I am sorry. But in that loss there is strength, my son. 'Let not your heart be troubled', as the Good Book says to us.
There is much honor and tradition in our family, despite what you may know or have encountered already from extended family members. I pray you have prevailed, and this letter has not fallen into others' hands.
Your name is Jonathan Robert Clayton III, Count of Greystoke. You are an English nobleman, and heir to a vast fortune, power, and influence that must be used wisely. It is your heritage.
Beware. My younger brother Edward and members of our extended family covet the power of the Peerage of Greystoke. In my absence and disappearance, they may try to exploit it if they have become Executors of my estate, which they will undoubtedly seek when I am gone, with them being the only family remaining. I believe there was a conspiracy against me to take power. Our shipwreck here seemed overly coincidental to be just a pirate attack. There is something undiscovered in this part of Africa, apparently with great value that they seek to own to increase their wealth, and they needed our family out of the way to use our money to get it. You will need to acquire and control it yourself.
Be especially wary of my brother's son. His given name is William Cecil John Clayton, your cousin, but is known as 'John-John' in a deliberate attempt by my brother to confuse his part of the family with ours. I had discussions with my father, when he was alive, and brother to no avail to stop that confusion. John-John was twelve when you were born, and is an incorrigible boy, unkind, rude to adults, and is a bully to other children and servants. He has little respect for animal life, and is a hunter of ruthless talent. You may encounter him as an adult. His jaw line and nose are unmistakable. Beware of him, as he is a willing instrument of my brother's thirst for power.
I am sorry to have to tell you all this. You must go back to England and claim your birthright. And then you will have the means to assure this precious land and everything in it remains yours if you choose to do so. Buy the land from those who own it and make it yours, let nothing ever be built upon it, and preserve it.
My seal is affixed to this letter. Any magistrate will honor its words, but seek out the relative of your mother, Judge Preston O'Donnell, who will confirm your peerage as Count. If you marry, your wife will become Countess with you. With his letter is an ink imprint of your infant footprint, certified by my hand and seal. You were born in St. Paul's Hospital. It will match what they have on record as an infant, to prove who you say you are. Do not be afraid to give them a footprint of you as you are now. I assure you they will match.
Wear my ring. It is has been symbol of Clan Greystoke for centuries. It will be honored everywhere in England and Scotland. That is the one thing my brother and his son wanted the most, but my father, knowing my brother's ill-conceived ways, left the peerage only to me and my children, with no right of succession. Magistrate O'Donnell will know. Attached my Last Will and Testament to which I have also affixed my seal. Show it to Preston. He will have the matching version of it, which I left for his safekeeping.
In the final page, for your eyes only and those you love, are instructions of how to gain access to your home Castle Greystoke's deepest secrets. Everything you find there is yours.
I am sure you will be a kind and wonderful man. I would like to think that is a strength of our family. You were such a happy, well-mannered baby. I know I would have been very proud of the man I am sure you will become. I am sorry I could protect you no longer. Please forgive me. The jungle is harsh, and I pray you will live by some miracle to read this. I will always love you and your mother.
Jonathan Robert Clayton II
Count of Greystoke
Tarzan sat tearfully, and needing the comfort of Jane's tenderness for some time. For the second time the deep love of his parents for him reached out beyond the years and the grave and touched his heart. But then a terrible anger welled within him.
"I… I am a… a Clayton? How can that possibly be? I do not want my heritage if I am related to John Clayton," snarled Tarzan. He was shattered at these revelations.
Jane was in true shock with him, "John – obviously 'John-John' - Clayton was a horrible person, Daddy, How can my sweet, dear Tarzan be part of that family?"
Archimedes sighed, and explained, "Clan Greystoke is a family of great esteem, and I knew of his father by reputation as a truly honorable man. He was a benefactor to the University and many other humanitarian efforts. His businesses were always reputable. But, children, every family has a 'black sheep'. The Clayton we knew was a terrible person. His damage extends beyond the grave, I fear."
Regaining his composure, Tarzan wiped his eyes, and asked Archimedes quietly, "Thank you for your reassurance, Professor. That helps me greatly. Did you know?"
"Accidentally, yes. I didn't know everything until now. That was not my letter to read, I assure you, Tarzan," admitted Archimedes
"Why didn't you tell us?" Jane asked her father with palpable annoyance.
"It was your wedding day when I found the two letters, dearest. Would you have liked to known all this then, on your happiest of all days?"
"No Daddy, you were right to keep this confidential," she apologized.
Tarzan also rationalized the reasons for the Professor's dark secret and said sincerely, "I do understand what you had to do, Professor. That would not have been the right time. Thank you for sparing us that knowledge then."
"Were you ever going to tell us, Daddy?" Jane continued to press.
"Probably not, dear. You are so happy here, things were going so well, and we all committed our lives to this," answered Archimedes honestly.
Tarzan agreed, "That is what I would have done too, Professor. You honored our decision. Our place, our home, our hearts are here. But with this threat, our very lives and existence are threatened, due to my family. We must set it right if we ever have hope of getting it back."
"Precisely my dear boy. Your father would have been very proud of you."
They were ready to leave and to tell the family, but Jane had to know more, "But Daddy, how did you find out about my Jonathan's human family?"
Tarzan thrilled at the endearment 'my Jonathan', and they kissed.
"When Kala and I were setting up the wedding day for you, I saw his mother's still life," noted the professor, who walked to the wall and pulled up Jane's sketch of them in their wedding finery. It revealed his mother's painting. They didn't know it was her work.
"Look carefully, children, at the tiny signature on the painting: 'Lady Alice Clayton, Countess of Greystoke.' When I saw this, and found the letter in your father's trunk with the Greystoke seal while getting your tuxedo ready, Tarzan, then and only then did I know."
"Professor, you carried an enormous burden for us. Thank you," Tarzan noted, and he put his arm affectionately on the old man's shoulder.
"That is what fathers do for their children, Tarzan - shoulder the unbearable burdens for them," he said quietly. Tarzan noted that, desiring to be a father himself.
Jane instinctively bowed to Tarzan, "Daddy is only a baron and I am a baron's daughter, Jonathan. You are a Count. You are a very powerful man in England."
Tarzan got an upset expression and pulled her to her feet, "Get up Jane, you will never bow to me again, understand? I do not care for the rules and games of English nobility. Besides, as my wife, you, Jane, are a Countess."
Jane realized the truth of that, but offered a sobering thought, "But Tarzan, you have to learn to play those games if we are to survive and secure what is rightfully yours to end this madness."
Tarzan acknowledged the advice, "I will rely on both of you to tell me how to survive the challenges of English society. In many ways it seems more deadly than any jungle predator."
Jane observed, "In many ways it is, Tarzan. Because in England you never see the hidden predator until it bites your neck."
Tarzan realized how true that was, having experienced the treachery of John Clayton first hand. After the complete shock of his real identity was assimilated, he was ready to act, "The only way to solve this is as my father says. We have to go to England. We have to get home on that ship somehow."
Archimedes gave him the small box from the chest, "This may help. Here, Tarzan. This is your father's ring. Until we get the papers signed, this is your proof to the world of your Peerage as Count of Greystoke. Anyone of importance on that ship and in England will know the ring of your father."
"But Daddy, the ring will also make him a target for those who still wish him ill."
"We must take the risk, Jane, if it saves our jungle and our family," Tarzan interjected.
"Of course, Jonathan. Anything for you, dear," she said in dedication to her husband.
He placed his father's Clan Greystoke ring on his right hand. It was a perfect fit. His eyes glistened in remembrance of the father he really never knew. In the filtered day light, the brilliant green opal gleamed, matched only by Jane's supportive blue eyes as they hugged.
"I'm going to need my bow and arrow, my love."
Tarzan and Jane quickly secured their treehouse home, and rushed to their family nesting place.
Author's Notes: In this chapter we set the stage for a trip by Tarzan and Jane to early 20th century England, and we had to straighten out the differences between Disney's Tarzan and Burroughs' Tarzan canon. Unfortunately Disney chose the name 'John Clayton' to be Tarzan's antagonist, when in fact, John Clayton is Tarzan's English name in Burroughs' classics. That is why, early on, I made the distinction for Tarzan to be Jonathan and for Tarzan's real cousin's name – William Cecil Clayton – to have my addition of a second middle name of John (John-John as a child) to mess up the family succession plans as Tarzan's father's letter explains. Tarzan's human mother is indeed called Alice, and I deliberately give her Irish roots based on her red hair and green eyes in the movie. I also promoted Tarzan and his father in English nobility to be a Count vs Burroughs' Viscount title, though in some other canon/offshoot works he is an Earl or a Duke. My story, if you haven't discovered already, has become a historical fiction (I was very careful not to repeat any of Tarzan's canon adventures). There was evidence of oil exploration in the early 1900s in Nigeria, which is approximately where and when they are. In the next chapter they make their plans to go to England by boarding the freighter, and get another surprise. Enjoy!
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