Chapter 2 - Home Away from Home
They awoke with the dawn. She was face to face with Tarzan, and momentarily was surprised to awake in his arms. But she reoriented quickly, and was happy. He and the others were still asleep, and so she silently admired his every feature. Being this close was wonderful now, not disarming. She knew this was the right decision, even knowing that there were many hardships ahead of them, and that much danger still was out there in the jungle. She admitted that she was afraid of some things in taking the next steps with him. But the choice of being here facing life with Tarzan was so much better than being on a ship, never knowing or seeing him again, and facing an uncertain future - that would have her marry someone unknown - to satisfy some kind of business or political deal her father would have to make. Her heart would have broken for certain. Any man she would ever meet after Tarzan would only be second best.
She could not help running her hands through his hair. He awoke, and leaned forward to kiss her.
"Good morning, Tarzan," she chirped.
"Good morning, Jane."
She played with his nose with her index finger, "This is how people… who are together… greet each other when they awake from their sleep."
"I will greet you like this every morning."
"Oh, my, Tarzan. That would be wonderful," she gushed and kissed him back.
Kissing was still very new to him, and every little touch of her lips on his was thrilling. Gorillas only showed affection by hugging, nuzzling, and rubbing a knuckle under another's chin. Kissing gave him deeper physical feelings he could not yet fully comprehend.
Later that morning they were all back on the beach. They saw that the steamer ship had departed, but a number of crates were left behind. The huge load they had originally brought originally was down to a few essentials. The Captain also left some extra camping supplies – lanterns and lamp oil, rope, shovels and hammers, a tent or two, several cots, and cooking utensils. Everything they needed for an extended stay was here, but not nearly as lavish as before, and only enough for the three humans. Their clothes were in trunks, and there was something special in a sealed box that Archimedes had specifically asked for.
The Captain also left a set of knives for them for defense. The Professor had forbidden guns from being left. Tarzan tested the razor-sharp blade of one of the more intimidating knives, put it back its sheath, and strapped it to his loincloth. He vowed that no predator would touch any of his family ever again. Especially Jane. He gave her an intense look of determination, and she smiled at him.
It wasn't much to survive on, but it was a bigger load than the Professor thought. Archimedes scratched his head in dismay and fretted, "Oh, dear. Whatever will we do with all this? We'll never store this all at the nests. The gorillas migrate all the time. We can't carry this all with us everywhere we'll go."
Tarzan pleasantly suggested, "Professor. I know where your 'people things' can go where they will be safe."
"Where are we going Tarzan?"
He pointed to the treehouse of his birth parents.
Jane and her father looked at each other in amazement. It was of unmistakable English design. It was hidden in plain sight.
"Let's get their things to the treehouse, guys," asked Tarzan of his friends.
"All in a day's work," mused Tantor.
"When have you worked a day in your life?" smirked Terk.
"You are living on the edge, gorilla-girl," warned Tantor with a fake angry stare at Terk.
Not knowing they were really just teasing each other, Jane came between them, and rubbed Tantor's trunk and put her arm on Terk's shoulder, "Easy everyone."
They indicated to her through body language that everything was fine, and so Jane walked back to be next to Tarzan.
"I like her, Tarzan. She understands us even if we can't say a word to each other yet," Tantor observed.
"That'll change soon. This one is special. Tarzan got lucky," Terk noted.
"Remind me not to bring you guys next time," scoffed Tarzan, but was very happy his lifetime friends approved of Jane.
Jane felt a little left out, and interjected, "What are you saying to them?"
"We're teasing each other."
"About me?" she fretted.
"Yes. They like you, Jane. A lot. They only tease their friends."
She smiled, but looked them all in the eye with a pretend icy cold stare, and wagged her finger at them, "Someday soon, I am going to tease you all right back."
Terk grinned, "She's feisty, Tarzan. This world needs more girls to keep you guys in check. She's going to be fun!"
Terk was delighted at this turn of events, hearing Jane's snarky tone and seeing her body language even if her words weren't understandable. Terk smiled at Jane and patted her affectionately, which totally thrilled the young English woman. They were making a very good connection.
Seeing this bonding, Tarzan laughed, "My Jane: Jungle Woman."
Jane wasn't letting that go unchallenged as she laughed, "Oh? You're picking on me too, ape-man? You just watch yourself. I have a whole monkey army on my side."
He couldn't help but laugh back at her infectious giggle, and she was right. She loved his term 'My Jane'. She ran up to him and kissed him full on the mouth. He nearly dropped the crate he carried. Terk, Tantor and the others suppressed open laughter at her distracting kiss, having now seen it for the second time and its effect on their friend.
Terk whispered, "I'm not exactly sure what she does to him yet, but it sure does keep 'our boy' under her spell."
"Humans are weird, Terk. I bet she does all sorts of crazy things."
Archimedes just smiled at the pair as he lugged his scientific equipment. Tarzan reminded him of himself at that age. The Professor was so smitten with his wife, too.
Tantor and several of the gorillas continued lugging the equipment up the steep oceanside cliffs. Tarzan was explicit to them that everything was fragile. Everyone carried something, and it was a tough haul, but there was no damage. At the top of the cliff, they beheld the structure Tarzan's birth father created in the gigantic tree. While overgrown by roots and vines, it was still largely structurally solid. The wood was well preserved with varnish, creosote, and other chemicals of the era, as it was for ship construction, and was both waterproof and poisonous to termites and other borers.
They walked across the rope and plank bridge. It was still sound, but some ropes needed replacement - an easy task for the Professor, as a veteran soldier in his youth. They explored everything inside with awe. Tarzan's human father had done a remarkable job of recreating an English Tudor home from the ship wreckage inserted into the vast tree. Some things were notably broken – windows and furniture mostly. The Professor began to see what happened - there clearly had been an attack of a predator. Tarzan's parents fought back, but lost when he ran out of gun shells. The gun itself was a rusted hulk in a corner of the floor.
Jane shrieked. She covered her mouth in horror and pointed, "Oh dear, Tarzan. I found them!"
"Who?" said Tarzan in a calming voice.
"Your parents. What was left of them," Tarzan put his arm around her, and felt her shake.
"It's all right Jane. Their spirits have left them."
"I'm so sorry,Tarzan."
He could only still express himself simply in English, "No Jane. Don't be sorry. Their ship sunk. They tried to live here. The jungle took them. Kala and Kerchak raised me. And now here I am with you."
Jane had only seen the terrible starkness of death with the premature loss of her mother, and suddenly had it thrust upon her again multiple times by Kerchak and Clayton. And now by this. She was still shaking, "But their… ulp… bones are still here. In my culture we bury peoples' bodies to give them… respect."
Tarzan strengthened his grip around her to calm her shaking, and asked softly, "Show me, Jane. Show me how to give them 'respect'."
Beside two graves, Tarzan, Jane, and Archimedes stood with their heads bowed. The professor had found the family's Bible and was reading the traditional passages for mourning. The gorillas did not understand but were quiet.
As the Professor closed the book and finished a prayer, Tarzan responded, moved by the passages, "Those are good words, Professor. What book is that?"
"What is the Bible about?"
The Professor tried to put it in simple terms, "It is full of advice about how to live life in a good way. It was written by very wise men full of… spirit…"
"Are there words in there that tell how men and women should live together in a good way?" inquired Tarzan.
Jane perked at Tarzan's words, "Yes there are. Many fine ones."
"I want to know them all," Tarzan looked in earnest at Jane, and she blushed.
She knew Tarzan was very serious about her, but he didn't know what to say or do yet, and while she felt the same way, part of the chaste little Victorian girl still within her was terrified of taking the next steps right away.
"I will teach you, Tarzan, but first we clean this place up!" announced Jane, and transformed into a woman on a mission.
She set about clearing and cleaning the treehouse of debris and years of neglect, and ordered Tarzan and her father to do a multitude of chores to put all the crates and their contents in precisely the right place. Jane was a like a whirlwind hitting the treehouse from the inside. While most of the gorillas went back, Terk and Tantor stood by and watched the spectacle, enjoying Tarzan try to follow all of Jane's laborious orders simultaneously and not keep up.
Terk observed with satisfaction, "Well, how about that. Tarzan may be the 'King of the Jungle', but he sure is taking orders from the 'Queen of the Treehouse!'"
Tantor guffawed, "I think we know who's gonna be running this family soon!"
Tarzan yelled back at them in his tongue, "I heard that guys! Knock it off! Go home if you aren't helping!"
"We just want to supervise, Tarzan," noted Terk, as she leaned back against a mossy tree, crossing her arms behind her head.
Tarzan rolled his eyes and went back to work.
"Something wrong, Tarzan, dear?" Jane asked with a lilt, humming as she worked like she would in her former English home.
"My friends are being no help at all…" he lamented.
"Oh really? Well, we'll fix that right now," Jane stood up and gave her animal friends a determined look, putting her clenched fists on her hips. They knew that sign was trouble in any language.
Soon she had Tantor and Terk attached to some very heavy ropes, removing several huge broken limbs that threatened to crush part of the treehouse, and then they lifted the entire porch which was sagging, while Archimedes and Tarzan reinforced it with posts, heavy nails, and screws.
Tantor scowled at Terk, "You just had to hang around and watch our boy get ordered around. So much for supervising, Terk."
"Tell me about it," Terk rolled her eyes she hauled on a heavy rope and grunted.
But at the end of the day, it all looked great, and everyone was proud to have a hand in the reconstruction and cleaning.
Jane stood at the door, with her hands on her hips, "Almost as good as new, Tarzan. Wait… I missed something. What is this?"
She handled it with great care. It was the portrait of Tarzan and his parents, upside down on the floor in a far corner.
She admired the portrait, "Awww. Weren't you the cutest little baby? And your parents. Such a handsome couple. You're a good combination of them both. You have your mother's eyes! And definitely your father's nose and jaw."
Archimedes scrutinized the photo and rubbed his own jaw, "I know them…from… somewhere," but he strained and couldn't place it.
She hung the portrait properly on the wall, inserting a piece of glass she found to protect it better.
When everything was cleaned, restored, and set to her satisfaction, she announced, "It's time to go, now, Daddy."
"Before we leave, Jane dear, I have something special for you," announced her father.
He handed her a package. She opened it and her eyes grew wide. She danced with excitement. It was her drawing set, in a waterproof leather pouch that would go over her shoulder, so she would have it handy to draw at any time.
"Oh Daddy! This is marvelous. I can keep drawing everything, and nothing will get ruined. You know how much I love to draw."
"There is more paper and pencils in the crate when you need it. Perhaps someday you'll be able to exhibit all your discoveries at the Museum of Natural History," Archimedes suggested.
She got a sad look, "But Daddy, these drawings are just for me and Tarzan and you. You know how much I want to be lost in the woods forever with him now. I'm not going back. Ever."
The Professor observed a bit sadly, "It's a pretty small world now, Jane. That world might knock on our door again someday. Whether we want it to or not."
"I hope it's a very long time, Daddy, but thank you," she kissed him on the forehead, and hugged the elderly man. Tarzan gave her and her father a very happy look, knowing how well she drew. Her art seemed to come alive on every page.
She saw one other thing out of place, "What's in that big crate, Daddy?"
Archimedes got all flustered and waved his arms all around as he paced nervously, "Oh… just never mind about all that right now. It's a surprise. I'll show you another time."
There were times when Jane knew not to argue with her father. This was one of them. As they left, they secured the doors and windows as best they could to keep the weather and all but the smallest animals out. The family Bible and other books were stored and protected in a sturdy crate with hers, and Jane asked, "Tarzan, I know I am here to live with you and your family, but can we visit this place again? I… I think I need a little piece of England once and awhile. And when we come back each time, I can teach you. The books and magic lantern are safe here."
Tarzan appeared a little melancholy, "Yes, Jane. This was my 'home' too. If only for a little while. We can come here whenever you want to."
She kissed the sadness out of his eyes and got ready to go back to the highlands. A gentle jungle rain cooled them from their labors most of the way back. He'd seen her use umbrellas before in the frequent rains. But she'd given that up, knowing it wasn't the way the gorilla family would handle it. Besides the rain was very soothing. Tarzan liked how the rain soaked her pretty hair, and how her skirt and bodice clung to her beautiful shape, leaving no doubt what was underneath. She put her arm around Tarzan's waist and he reciprocated, and she concluded that no walk in the rain had ever been as nice back in England, especially when the person she loved was walking beside her