Chapter 3 - Turning Point
While Tarzan's role as leader of the family took precedence during the day, the gorillas knew that the night was their special 'alone time' together. Their excitement of being together daily and Jane's path of discovery of the wonders and dangers of the jungle fueled their late night discussions. When at last the lamp oil finally ran out weeks later, and the pair was anxious they would lose those 'special times', the Professor discovered plant saps and oils that would burn, so that they would always have their human moments amidst the gorilla family that they were now part of.
They were voracious readers and discussed topics constantly, and as a result, Tarzan's English language skills got very good. In turn, Jane tried more and more to use his family's language, so her gorilla language dramatically improved. In addition, she acquired a basic comprehension of elephant speech from Tantor, and the monkey language too, thanks to her little friend, although it did cost her a couple more portraits of him and his parents to get those lessons. Even the birds started to respond to her attempts at some simple chirps and warbles.
Tarzan and Jane kept returning to the treehouse to read more and more books, to store her numerous drawings, and to watch and rewatch the slides on their frequent excursions there. Jane was not surprised that Tarzan concentrated on the slides about the activities of couples and married people.
Jane kept learning every day too. She and Tarzan groomed each other in the apes' fashion, with the added benefit of getting to be close and touch each other more, and she learned to move as they did.
In conversation with Terk and Kala, and by observation, she was astonished to discover that gorilla females had a monthly 'cycle' like women experienced, only it was three to four days longer. She was grateful that she didn't have to explain that inconvenience to Tarzan. One day, several of the young females gathered to help Jane when she was trying unsuccessfully to take care of herself, having exhausted the supplies of what she brought with her from England. Terk and the others offered her some dried sponge fruit, and showed her how to prepare the unique plant to use for her hygiene.
Normally funny and feisty Terk was very supportive with her new friend, "This is what we use, Jane. It will help a lot."
"Thank you," Jane said, embarrassed, but very thankful.
Continuing to be sympathetic, Terk tried to kid her about the situation, "Jane, we all know how hard this is. I call these days my 'grumpy times'."
Tantor and his girlfriend were grazing nearby and overheard.
"When are you not grumpy, Terk?" he teased. It was poor timing on his part.
Terk threw a dirt clod at her friend, and growled, "Butt out, Tantor, this is a private girl talk!"
Tantor's girl friend rolled her eyes and noted quietly, "l'll get him out of your way, ladies."
Tantor didn't know when to quit, as usual, and bellowed, "You're all in cahoots together. It's a vast female conspiracy!"
His girlfriend narrowed her eyes and muttered at him, "Sometimes, Tantor… you embarrass me."
But she curled her trunk affectionately around his, and gently led him off into the jungle for something more savory to eat.
All the female gorillas and Jane guffawed, especially Terk, having been on the receiving end of that very line from Tantor only a couple of months ago. Jane was very content with being considered 'one of the girls' of the family, and smiled happily at her friend. Terk had made no distinction between human and gorilla, and Jane was always included in conversations about 'girl things'. Jane was very amused that the gorilla females hated 'their time of the month' as much as she did.
She laughed, and admitted, "My mother and father always thought I was very hard to deal with at these times too. But Tarzan is particularly supportive of me right now. How does he understand these things? English men don't bother themselves with all that. It's 'women's work' to them."
Terk explained, "Are you kidding, Jane? With all the females in this family, how can he not know? You're a girl. This happens to all of us. When you don't feel good, he's going to everything he can to help you. Like any of the other guys. Our males are different than your English."
"I would say so…," she reflected.
She glanced at Tarzan and smiled slightly, who was watching her and the other females chatting from the other end of the family nest, while guarding the entire colony. He held up a split coconut and offered her a drink of its tasty milk, sprinkled with cinnamon. While she doubted the medicinal qualities of that combination, it was refreshing, and knew it did sort of ease her cramps, especially eating the coconut meat. Or maybe it was just being next to him that did that.
"Oh goodness," her heart raced seeing him and his kind offer, "Umm… Ladies, I… I need to go to him now… and thanks for all the help."
As Jane rushed off with a spring in her step that Terk always noticed was there for him, Terk quipped, "Don't you just love it when they make all 'goo-goo eyes' for each other? They're so cute together."
Her buddies giggled, but they all smiled, admiring Jane and Tarzan getting closer with each day, and speculated happily when the family's leader and his chosen one would formalize their bond.
One of Terk's oldest friends asked the obvious question, "Terk, you know humans best. Tarzan and Jane groom and kiss all the time, yet they hold back. What's with that? They should be mates already."
Terk made a 'head exploding' gesture as she joked, "With those 'big brains' of theirs, humans just think too hard about everything and never do anything about it!"
Everyone laughed, knowing how true that was.
Another friend admitted, "By the way, that kissing stuff they do is great. My mate kissed me the other day. You all should try it."
She got a lot of teasing and snickering about that news. Because of Tarzan and Jane, kissing was spreading across the family. There were a lot more pregnancies as well.
Discovering the females had a cycle like human women was an important discovery to Jane and Archimedes as explorers and naturalists, but It was an absolute revelation to scientific observation of the time that gorillas mated whenever they felt like it, and infants were born year round, not in a single season like most animals and birds.
Jane was very fascinated by the gorilla pregnancies and births. The mothers and fathers took care of each other and their new infants through it all, without doctors or midwives. Jane often watched, but didn't intrude too closely or disturb the new gorilla families. Her favorite part was to cradle and play with the little gorillas when their mothers would let her, which was quite often.
She was a 'natural' with infants and young gorillas, and all the new mothers loved her for the breaks Jane gave them from their constant feeding and care. Singing old English lullabies that her mother sang to her, in her sweet soprano voice, would cause even the fussiest gorilla infants to fall asleep in an instant. With the older juveniles, she played a lot of simple human games that the young gorillas enjoyed. All this was not lost on Tarzan, who admired her care. Jane vowed she could do all this too with Tarzan… someday. But they never talked about it.
One day she was very busy with three infants, and it was challenging. They were climbing all over her and pulling on her hair and blouse. Her father chanced by after a scientific observation, and chuckled at her babysitting efforts, "My goodness, Jane. It looks like you have your hands full today."
"They're no problem at all, Daddy," she smiled broadly, tickling one's nose, and peeling another off the top of her head, while keeping the third one from escaping her grasp.
The third one gave a really wet belch, and she shrugged off with a wry grin, and wiped up the mess on her sleeves with a big leaf, and giggled, "Oh my. Except when they are a problem! Their mothers really needed a rest and I wasn't busy. So here I am: 'Jane Porter's Gorilla Nanny Service'."
The Professor and his daughter chuckled heartily, "Good one, Jane, I must say. Goodness. Someone needs you to draw you doing this. Interspecies care-giving. Jane, it's unheard of."
She blushed but was privately proud, "Oh Daddy, you do go on…"
He got more serious, and held her one free hand for a moment, "Jane dear. You have no idea how proud I am of what you are doing here. All these magnificent creatures love you and trust you so much. When I… I see you with all their young ones…every day… I know you'll make a wonderful mother, when it's your time."
Jane knew he didn't mean to pressure her, understood his sincere compliment, so she smiled, blushed, and gave him the answer quietly that he needed to hear, "Thank you Daddy. I certainly hope so. There are so many here to help me be a good one," she observed as she struggled mightily with all three very active baby gorillas at once, "Hehe. Oh dear, unless I have triplets with him."
They hugged and she ran off chasing one little gorilla who got loose. Archimedes knew it would only be a short time now, but he recalled that it was only a few days before she came to him completely devastated.
…Three days before – outside the gorilla family nesting place…
Jane ran to her father in private, completely in tears, "Daddy!"
"What's wrong, Jane? Did you two quarrel?" asked Archimedes with a worried tone.
"No Daddy, not at all. What is wrong, you ask? I'm wrong. Tarzan wanted a new kind of tender moment and I just pushed him away. I am so sorry and ashamed. It was so sweet and loving… Daddy, I'm so frightened. I need him in every way my heart says to love him. Not just the daily companionship and friendship that is already so right and perfect. Oh, my goodness, Daddy, I can't believe I'm telling you this. I need him just as much in the ways no one ever wants women to talk about. Every night I want him to hold me in his arms the way he and I know we need to and want to. Yet I'm so afraid that our society says that it is all somehow wrong to think and act that way. My heart aches for him, knowing he thinks he's doing something wrong. Even the females wonder 'what's wrong with Jane?'"
She buried her head on his shoulders and sobbed.
Archimedes did his best to console and calm her, by saying, "Jane, you know that you have my blessings, no matter how you and Tarzan work things out. You'll be married as far as I am concerned, and I am your father. That's all that matters now. The strict rules of our society don't apply anymore, Jane. It's what's in your heart that counts."
"I know Daddy. But… I can't," she pined sadly, her eyes looking dreadfully sad and bloodshot.
"I'll tell you why you can, Jane. Let me tell you a secret," her father offered.
"Oh Daddy, it's not the right time for that old game," she whimpered.
"Yes, dear, it is. It is exactly the right time for that old game. Hear my secret: I fell in love with your wonderful mother very early in life when were only children, when things like that weren't proper. We were secretly affectionate for years, which wasn't proper either. We waited anxiously for the 'right' time to marry, as our parents wished. I proposed just as I was just starting on my Doctoral studies, when I got called to go to war in South Africa to fight the Zulus. Many able-bodied Englishmen were conscripted at every level of society. It upset her and my whole family terribly. By the way, I was quite a 'specimen' in my youth, according to your mother."
Jane composed herself long enough to giggle.
"We made a decision and we acted on it. We got married the day before I shipped out. We were married in the Magistrate's office. Not by a priest. Not in a big church. Not with any presents or a reception or a huge social gathering. My parents were very angry we didn't do the 'proper' thing by doing as the commoners did. But I didn't care, Jane. I knew I wanted her to inherit everything I had - if anything should happen to me in that dreadful war. We only had one night before I left, and we gave each other every bit of love we had for each other, knowing that might just have to last a lifetime."
"Oh, goodness, Daddy. I never knew."
"Two years later I got back, we had every intention of a fancy wedding, but with my studies and all, and her parents' illnesses, and just living life in general, we never got around to it. We only renewed our vows with an abbot at a tiny chapel. Look at everything good that happened to us after that. It wasn't long before we had you, Jane."
She really giggled at that.
"Nothing our family ever did was 'proper' in the eyes of society, Jane dear. You don't have to either. What I am saying is, and forgive my repeating myself here - you have my complete blessing for whatever manner you think you want to be married to each other. Forgive me for being blunt as I was in the back of that boat, but you both want to be married, dear. And should be. No matter what the rules say. No matter what your mother and I taught you."
"All right Daddy. I will try."
She wiped her tears, hugged her father, and trotted off much happier, looking for Tarzan. It seemed to the Professor like the weight of the world lifted off Jane's shoulders.
And that gave him an idea.
At the same time, also in private, down by the pond, Tarzan was frustrated with himself and needed to talk to Terk and Tantor, "Guys. What am I doing wrong? We're friends but she doesn't seem to want to be my mate. I don't know how or what to do to be a proper English gentlemen."
Terk tried to snap him out of his self-doubt, "Don't be a dope, Tarzan. Believe me, you're a lot more than friends, ape-man. Of course she wants to be your mate, and she sure doesn't want you to become a proper English gentlemen. Why do you think she stayed here, Tarzan? So that she could train you?"
Tantor snickered, but Tarzan was still very upset, "I suppose not. Well what else can I do? Should I be more aggressive? More assertive?"
Terk scolded and advised Tarzan, "No! That's the last thing you need to do. Clayton did that, and she disliked him completely. Just listen to me, my friend. Jane is struggling with herself. Things have really changed for her. If you were in England, trying to figure out all their strange new ways, would you want to be her mate right away, if you didn't know how to behave there?"
"Well, no, Terk. Certainly not."
"It's the same for her here. Tarzan, every day you need to keep making sure she feels comfortable in the jungle here with us. She belongs here. And she wants to be here with us. With you. When she feels comfortable enough, you will know, and you'll be mates."
"You just keep being yourself," Tantor added.
…back to their present day…
On numerous nights while Tarzan and Jane read and talked, the males and females would mate. It was hard for both Tarzan and Jane not to notice the family members' open affection. Whenever their friends mated, he'd look at her invitingly without saying anything, but Jane would look away and blush, and they'd leave it at that, both too shy to discuss it further. One night Terk and her long time boyfriend Kirok were together, who'd decided that day to become lifetime mates. Jane and Terk were very good friends now, so when Terk was coupled with Kirok, she stared right at Jane and winked. That was a powerful unsaid message.
She kissed Tarzan good night, and rolled into his protective grasp for another night of comforting sleep with him. She wondered how she could have ever slept alone, after months of sleeping in his arms. But her mind was racing, having seen Terk, and remembering her still-fresh conversation with her father. She'd come here to 'be with Tarzan' because she loved him. It had been nearly four months. It was time to 'be' with Tarzan - not leave him stranded indefinitely somewhere in between friend and mate. Her father was right. The Victorian era was irrelevant in jungle, and despite her fears, she had to get over it.
"I didn't come here for simply a long holiday with Tarzan and his family," she scolded herself, "I came to commit my life to him. It's time that I actually did that."