Chapter 5 - Traditions
"Congratulations! I am so happy for you both. Your ring is so lovely, Jane," he smiled, and with a hug, kissed his daughter on the cheek. He could see that she was radiantly happy.
But then, he looked away, a bit embarrassed, "I am sorry, dear, but I actually already knew. Last night I overheard almost everything."
"It's fine, Daddy. There really are no secrets here. We have to get used to that. I know you didn't mean to intrude. I am glad that you know everything."
"I am so happy for you and Tarzan, dear. He's such a fine young man. Things are so different now, in a good way. You both handled it all so well. Your mother would have been very proud of you."
"Thank you Daddy," she whispered.
Archimedes held her hand, "Jane, dear. I have to ask. This is not your childhood dream of a big wedding in the cathedral. Are you disappointed?"
"Maybe a little, but now I wouldn't have had it any other way. I couldn't have had Tarzan if I did it differently," she observed, as she stared off into the distance dreamily, seeing him return from the jungle.
Tarzan came up alongside them, carrying some succulent fruits, wondering what the conversation had been about. The Professor welcomed him back to the nest, pumping his hand more than enthusiastically, "Ah! Tarzan. There you are, my boy! I do say - perfect timing. I am so proud of both of you two getting married last night!"
"Thank you Professor. I love Jane. Thank you for staying so we could be married. You could have gone back to England."
"Precisely why we couldn't go back to England, Tarzan. Because of you and her, my dear boy."
Tarzan smiled at Archimedes, a man he greatly respected and admired. As much he loved Kala and Kerchak, it would have been nice to know his natural father as Jane knew hers.
Archimedes couldn't wait to tell them what was next, and chuckled excitedly about his own surprise to them, clapping his hands, "You both need to hear this. I wouldn't be a good father to the bride if I didn't have a proper wedding present for you both."
Jane clasped her hands together and gave him a gleeful 'little girl' look, "Oh Daddy. I can't wait. A secret wedding present! How lovely. What do you have for us?"
"I'm not telling you. This is another game of 'secrets' to play, like when you were a little girl."
"That always was one of my favorite childhood games with you," remembering only a few days before, a much more serious game of secrets changed her heart completely.
"Well, Jane, this time I have a grown-up secret. Come down to the treehouse after noon. But not a minute before!"
"Oh, Daddy, you are such a tease," she giggled. Jane was almost giddy. Tarzan was clueless but he played along. If Jane was happy and excited, he knew things were good.
Then the Professor spoke to Kala in her own tongue, "Please come with me, Kala. I have something special we both need to do for our children now that they are mates."
"I will glad to, Porter. Anything that involves our children, I want to help you with," she smiled at Porter, and then the young couple. She grasped Jane's and Tarzan's hands affectionately for a moment, and then departed. The pair could hear the happy banter of the Professor and Kala far down the trail, and were pleased their parents got along so well as friends themselves. At least until they heard their parents exchanging embarrassing stories of them both as children and laughing uproariously. The pair blushed at each other.
Kala was very impressed at how fast the Professor and Jane had learned their language. Humans were very smart, and she guessed these two were especially smart as 'scientists' in their society. For Archimedes, it was such a delight to actually directly communicate with these gentle creatures. Teaching Kala to say 'Archimedes' or 'Professor' would have been difficult, so he just taught her his last name.
The waiting for the present became an eternity for Jane and Tarzan, as he shared her anticipation. The entire family awakened to learn they were now mates, and they were inundated with congratulations while they were waiting to leave for the treehouse.
Terk was especially happy for them and teased them, "Congratulations, you two! Soooo, how are the two lovebirds this morning? All 'happy' in their little nest Jane made?"
Jane faked a scowl and crossed her arms in front of her, tapping her foot impatiently at Terk, "You broke your promise, gorilla girl. You peeked!"
Terk for once was the one completely flustered, "Umm, Jane… Tarzan… uh… it was like this... you humans do such different… uh, 'stuff'… It was so interesting, I couldn't stop looking… especially when you… uhh… you know. I'm really sorry…"
Terk looked genuinely upset, so Jane hugged her friend, kissed her on the cheek like a twin sister, and laughed, "Not to worry, Terk. It's all just fine. It's kind of hard to have privacy when there aren't any drapes on the nests. Hehe. Thank you so much for being such a good friend, Terk!"
But then she added in a whisper, with a hearty snicker and a raised eyebrow, "Perhaps Terk, we just may have taught you and Kirok something new last night!"
Terk could not believe her ears, and guffawed at Jane, "Whoa! You are one hot Jungle Woman, Jane!"
Tarzan and Kirok just rolled their eyes at each other and sighed, both with the same thought, "Females…"
The rest of the family continued to greet Tarzan and Jane with well wishes for being newly bonded mates. The pair invited Terk and Kirok to join them for the special surprise at noon, but Kirok declined and said they should stay back and keep an eye on things while Tarzan and Jane were gone.
In a private moment out of earshot of Tarzan and Jane, Terk looked at her mate knowingly. Kirok followed Archimedes' instructions exactly. Terk whispered, "Tonight lover, as your reward, we'll try things the way people do!" Kirok just smiled, not really understanding what Terk meant. But he later that night he would, much to his and Terk's delight.
All the way along the trail to the treehouse, the newlyweds were excited, and chatted constantly in Tarzan's language as she explained the 'secrets' game and talked about what couples get for wedding presents in her world. She wondered what her father could possibly have in store for them. They got there at the appointed time, but the professor wasn't done yet, so he stopped them short of the treehouse entrance.
He paced around in frustration and waived his arms at them to make them stop, "No, no, no! Don't come in yet. I'm not done with the surprise. Join hands, close your eyes, and don't open them until I say so," he scolded in gorilla speech.
Tarzan and Jane gladly held hands, not having to be told twice. They could hear a lot of banging, hammering, creaking, and other odd noises. The Professor was in a last minute frenzy of working on the surprise, until they heard a satisfied exhale.
Archimedes and Kala took them by their free hands and led them into the treehouse. Kala was enjoying this human game that was making Jane and Tarzan so excited. Porter was the way all humans should be, she decided.
"OK, open them now," he continued in Kala's language so she could play along.
And then they saw it.
Her elegant portable canopy bed had been erected and it filled much of the living space. The room was brimming with beautiful flowers, and it was clear that Kala had arranged them. The fragrance was incredible.
She hugged and kissed her father and Kala, "Oh Daddy, it's so wonderful. You built my bed! Kala, thank you for making this place look and smell so special."
Tarzan investigated the bed, looking at the pillows, and under the sheets, which fascinated him when he first saw it in her tent when she started to teach him how to read children's schoolbooks. He knew that a bed was softer than a nest could ever be. He guessed that Archimedes had intended a special night alone for his daughter and him, "Professor, we don't know how to thank you."
Jane squeezed his arm. Tarzan said 'we'.
"You are quite welcome, my boy. You two deserve something special."
"Jane? We will sleep here tonight?" he turned and asked with those piercing eyes.
Jane looked away for just a moment. Newly married, and even having been with him once already, she was still a bit shy to talk about their relations. It was one thing to joke around with Terk, but quite another matter to look at her husband's eyes and remain unaffected.
"Hehe, Umm, yes, Tarzan. Right here… in my… our… bed," she nervously confirmed, but looked at him happily.
Tarzan thought she was cute when she got flustered. Archimedes tried to work past Tarzan's candid observations, "Ex… exactly, my boy. My present for you is a traditional English wedding night and a honeymoon."
Archimedes explained it as delicately as he could, "A time when a new husband and wife get private time together away from everyone else they love for a few days alone to have fun and get… acquainted."
"Acquainted?" Tarzan puzzled.
The old Professor could not figure out a way to explain this subtly. He had his own Victorian reticence at delicate subjects.
But Jane took Tarzan's hand in hers and her eyes sparkled at him, trying to be bravely candid about the subject, "It means: we get to make love to each other as many times as we want to with no one to bother us or watch."
The Professor and Tarzan both raised their eyebrows at her forthrightness.
Tarzan was very pleased, but swiftly realized he better change the subject, "Who will lead the family while we are gone?"
"Well that's the other surprise, Tarzan. Kala and I worked with Terk and Kirok, and for a few days, Kirok will make sure everyone is safe."
"I trust Kirok with my life. He will lead well. I like your 'secrets game' Professor. I like this 'honeymoon'."
Jane blushed but increased her grip on his hand.
Tarzan hugged Kala, "And Mother, I like how you planned this human game of secrets with the Professor."
"My pleasure dear. This was fun working with Porter to make you both happy," Kala said.
The Professor continued, "I have another surprise for both of you for your marriage. Something from your birth parents, Tarzan. This even surprised me. Forgive me, but I looked through their clothes chests."
"There is no apology needed, Professor."
He walked over to a trunk that they had not noticed before, and opened it. Inside on top were a white dress and a suit. It was his human mother's wedding dress and his father's formal tuxedo.
"Apparently your parents were on a journey from England to stay somewhere a very long time, so they took a lot with them."
He handed Tarzan a yellowed letter, with a wax seal, and an inscription that said 'Our Son', "Tarzan, this was inside the dress. You should probably read it."
With Jane's help he opened the old letter and they read it together.
"Our beloved son,
I hope that you are alive and well to read this in person. Things are very difficult right now for us, having been shipwrecked on the coast, after a pirate attack. Your father worked so hard the past six months to provide us a safe home here in the trees. We fear for our safety and yours, and so we wrote this letter for you, in case we can never talk again. That is a shame, because it is otherwise a beautiful world here, and we have come to love this adopted home, knowing we have little hope of ever going back to England.
We are hoping that someone has come to rescue you and save you from the many dangers of this untamed land, and raised you as their own, loving you as much as we do. You are too young to die alone, because of the crimes others committed in causing us to be marooned here.
Everything we have is yours son, even if we are no longer alive to tell you this in person. We hope that you will have a wonderful, happy, and productive life, that you are loved by others, and that you will someday marry and have children of your own to love.
I hope that you have found and chosen a beautiful woman to marry and live her life with you, and love you as we do. I brought my wedding dress with me so that I could have it with me at our new home in Bombay with your dear sweet father and always remember our fondest, first day of happiness together as husband and wife. Clearly, we never got there. If I am not here to meet her, tell her I love her too. I offer, as my bridal gift to her, my dress, if she doesn't have one of her own, to stand with you on the first day of your lives together.
Please remember we loved you first. You may have a different name now, but we called you Jonathan.
Mother and Father"
Tarzan, for the first time Jane had ever witnessed, was crying, and he knelt and held his hands to his face. He was comforted by Jane, Kala, and Archimedes, who themselves cried at Tarzan's mother's poignant first and last letter to her only child.
Jane whispered, "Jonathan… that is such a fine, masculine name. But you are and always will be 'my Tarzan'."
He got up and stood tall, as he recovered from his grief, "Thank you Jane. It is like Clayton's name, right?"
"Somewhat. He was just 'John'. May I call you 'Jonathan' sometimes, Tarzan?" she asked affectionately.
"Yes Jane. It will be a special 'secret game' just for us."
"Yes, Jonathan. On days like this one," her eyes gleamed at him, and he agreed.
"Jane… I have something to ask you," Tarzan said tentatively.
"Anything for you, Jonathan," she assured him. Tarzan liked the sound of his human name coming from her sweet voice.
"Will you wear my mother's dress today, please?"
"Yes of course. I would love to, it is so beautiful. I am certain it will fit me."
"Professor, Jane said last night there were special words for married people in the Bible book."
"Yes, yes, Tarzan, there are a great many," he responded, respecting Tarzan's desire for his English name to only be shared between Jane and him.
"Would you read them to us? As long as it takes. I want to hear them all."
"Yes, dear boy, of course."
He reached for his father's suit next to his mother's gown and held it up before her.
He looked lovingly into her eyes, "Yesterday, Jane, we married our way. Today, we marry the English way."
Her eyes moistened, "Oh, Jonathan, that is so sweet."
Kala and Archimedes stood outside while Jane and Tarzan helped each other change from their everyday clothing into their wedding attire. For a few special moments, they were very quiet and shared a tender hug and kiss after they shed all of their regular clothes in preparation for donning their wedding attire, savoring the memory of their first time together last night. But they knew the right time would come later that day for being closer, and didn't want to keep their parents waiting long. Soon, Kala and Archimedes could hear the couple laugh and tease each other with all the trouble they were having with the buttons, lacings, zippers, bows, snaps and hooks, socks and hose, and shoes that were part of their wedding ensemble.
"How do people wear all of these clothes, Jane? Especially women? You all have layers and layers," Tarzan joked, feeling really confined in the formalwear. It was stiffer than the outfit he wore to join Jane on the ship that ill-fated day months ago.
Jane explained with amusement, "It's a lot colder in England, people don't grow fur, and not everyone is as handsome as you. We use clothes to hide a lot of faults."
"You, Jane, are beautiful no matter what you wear," Tarzan said, admiring her in the elegant, slightly yellowed, but otherwise well-preserved wedding dress. She gave him a shy but very pleased look.
Tarzan added through a private whisper, "Or don't wear," which caused her to blush happily. He was enjoying his new ability to tease her about very personal matters, something that came with the familiarity of being married. The young pair admired themselves in their finery, holding each other.
"Are you ready for this, Jonathan?"
He beheld his bride, in white from head to toe, "Yes Jane. You are very pretty."
Jane blushed and called outside, "Kala and Daddy, we're ready. Come see us! We're beautiful!"
Kala and Archimedes were awed by the wedding dress, complete with a veil. It had an empire waist, accentuating her bustline. Tarzan looked very handsome in his father's formal tux. They stood hand in hand, and were anxious for the Professor to perform the special ceremony to complete their vows in the human way. Kala touched the soft fabrics carefully, and smiled at Jane.
She kidded her human daughter-in-law, "That's pretty fancy 'fur' you have, Jane, dear!"
Jane smiled her mother-in-law, spun around once in her dress for all to see her, and dared to call her by her new 'title', "I am glad you like it, Mother Kala."
"Just 'Mother', please, Jane."
Jane's eyes moistened happily, and hugged Tarzan's gorilla mother. Tarzan was very pleased, as was Archimedes. Like any normal human family, Tarzan and Jane created a new family joined together from two.
Kala and Archimedes exchanged pleasant looks and were moved with the elegance of the young couple. Tarzan and Jane stood holding hands while the old Professor read all the traditional verses. Kala positioned herself slightly off to the side, fascinated by the ceremony. Archimedes actually found, in the back of the Church of England Bible of Tarzan's parents, a set of ceremonies, including traditional wedding vows, which made it even more special. Acting as the preacher, the Professor's old Victorian conservative customs were satisfied, knowing they were truly married in the old ways, even though he fully accepted what happened in their private marriage commitments to each other last night. He couldn't help but remember fondly his own very simple ceremony much like this one so long ago with her mother and the priest.
Their 'kiss the bride' moment pleased everyone, and congratulations were exchanged. Kala and Archimedes were about to leave the young people alone, but Tarzan insisted they stay for a moment.
"We have a special place to go now," Tarzan requested, took Jane by the hand, and led everyone outside.
They all climbed down and crossed over the rope bridge, and the young couple knelt at the graves of his mother and father where thousands of wildflowers were blooming, covered with multi-colored butterflies.
He knelt, gently touched the ground on which they were buried, and spoke softly in English, "Mother and Father. This is Jane. She is my wife and my mate. I hope you are proud of her. This is Professor Archimedes Porter, Jane's father, and Kala, my gorilla mother, who raised and loved me as you did, Mother. Thank you for the rings, and the dress. Thank you for this special place that was your home, as it is ours too. Thank you most for your love that brought me into this world."
Jane cried hard as she hugged Tarzan.
The foursome stood and said their goodbyes back at the treehouse after an early light dinner together.
The Professor advised them, "Children, we've done all we have the ability to do for you here. Now it is time to get to know each other as husband and wife, away from all of us for a few days. Come back when it 'feels right'. You do in fact have all the time in the world."
They hugged and said goodbye. Kala had a thousand questions of the Professor on the way back about human marriage ceremonies, the rings, and the special clothes. The Professor was delighted to explain, getting a lot of practice with the gorilla language through Kala. Never in his entire academic career did Archimedes dream about actually holding conversations with members of the species he had sought for so many years to study, much less become friends with the adopted ape mother of his son-in-law. This would turn anthropology, primatology, and zoology upside down if he ever was able to report his findings.
Jane and Tarzan remained in their wedding finery, taking in the events of the day in quietly. Oddly, both got a sad look, and they spoke to each other simultaneously.
They both laughed nervously.
Tarzan offered, "I'll go first. Jane… are you happy? I mean, really happy?"
She answered and tilted her head slightly to emphasize, "Of course, Tarzan. This is our wedding day, the most important day of our lives, so how can I not be happy?"
That wasn't enough for Tarzan, "Well that's it. I know from the slides what weddings are supposed to look like for the English. There's a big party in an even bigger building with lots of food, music and dancing, and many people and presents. Then I'm supposed to take you to a huge mansion to live in and be happy forever."
He looked down, ashamed, and sighed deeply, "I have nothing for you, Jane. Nothing. All I own is my loincloth and a knife. And these few borrowed things from my parents. Even our rings. Here we are in a party for only two."
He was despondent. She reached and raised his chin with her delicate white-gloved hand.
"Oh Tarzan," she said sympathetically, with her worried, sad, half-open eyes trying to sooth her husband's feelings of inadequacy.
She explained, "Please don't be unhappy, my dear, wonderful husband. Those things are all just… things. It's not what's important. The food all gets spoiled and the champagne goes flat, the flowers all wilt, and all the glitter and gold is soon forgotten."
He looked her and smiled weakly, with the cheerful glint returning to his eyes.
"Look at me, Tarzan," she held both of his hands urgently and locked eyes with him very seriously, "The bride is supposed to provide all of that. I've done none of that for you. In my society's rules, it's you who should be very upset with me. Tarzan…dearest Jonathan… I have everything…. everything in life that you can possibly give me. I love my ring from you. I will never ever take it off. I don't need anything else. I will be happy with you forever."
His infectious smile returned to his face.
She kept talking, "Besides, I don't like big crowds of people I don't really know. I love our 'party for two', Tarzan. I am happier here with you today and last night then I could ever be in a big fancy mansion in England. And more than that, we live in the biggest mansion of all, Tarzan!" she gestured all around her, "with a million rooms that we can visit every day, each with the best view!"
"Each one with outdoor plumbing," he dared to joke.
That got her to laugh again the way he loved, "Yes, Tarzan, that too."
Their first domestic disagreement was over. They hugged tightly for a very long time, just drinking in the feel, the touch, and the heartbeat of the other. They looked at each other and kissed. They realized with great joy that they were really, truly, finally, and irrevocably married.
"Are you all right now, Tarzan?"
"I'm more than all right Jane. I have you as my wife," Tarzan said romantically, causing her to blush.
Jane's eyes flashed as she got an idea, quickly grabbing her paper tablet and ordering him, "Quick, Tarzan, stand up. I do have a wedding gift for you."
Whenever she got that tone in her voice, Tarzan knew he better do what she said and 'right now'. She got that look of determination in her eyes as she positioned Tarzan in a particular pose, gathered her tablet and pencils, and concentrated on her art, grimacing and biting her lip, even sticking her tongue out a bit. Tarzan tried to lean over to get a glimpse of her work in progress. She scolded him, wagging her finger at him, and gave him a cross glance, "No looking!" and shooed him back into his pose.
Finally she was done, she grinned, and explained, "Tarzan, there is one tradition we can do. It's the 'wedding portrait'."
She turned her pad around, and Tarzan's eyes grew very wide. It was the two of them standing side by side in their wedding attire. It was so realistic that it looked like a photograph. She had perfectly captured her pretty smile and twinkle in her eyes and Tarzan's penetrating gaze that he inherited from his mother. The detailed artwork of their wedding attire was incredibly accurate. What impressed him even more was that behind his image was a depiction of their nest in the mountains, and behind her portrait was her canopy bed.
Tarzan was astonished, "Jane, I could never get a better present from you. This needs a special place in our home."
She gasped at those words, knowing no matter where they would roam with their gorilla family, the treehouse would always be their 'special place.' He looked around the room and saw the one other picture hanging on the wall, a floral still life. He slipped their wedding portrait into the picture frame in front of the painting, and remounted the new portrait right next to the portrait of his mother and father and him as an infant. In his excitement, he completely missed the fact that the still life he covered had his birth mother's signature at the bottom of the painting.
He stood and admired the adjoining portraits of the generations, pointed proudly at both portraits, and said enthusiastically to Jane, "Family."
That sent her into happy tears again, and she smiled at her thoughtful husband. The rest of the day they spent quietly together, hardly separating, doing the things they enjoyed most at the treehouse, reading and watching slides. They ate the nice meal that Kala had gathered for them. They focused that night on viewing the slides she'd held back, in her long period of hesitancy, showing married couples doing fun things together. They danced slowly when they got to that slide, and she tried to hum and sing some of her favorite music while they danced with her sweet, melodious soprano voice. When it got dark, she erected the telescope on the porch that faced the ocean, to watch the heavens from the perfect vantage point.
"Jane, I like this honeymoon, and being alone with you. These are good traditions for married people."
"they are good because I get to spend all this with you Tarzan. I love you so."
"And I love you too, Jane."
She led him over to their bed, pulling her wedding dress sleeves off her shoulders, smiled dreamily and asked, "Help me with this, Tarzan."
Nestled together, they pulled the canopy bed curtain closed, sealing them inside their 'human nest'. The sheets were cool and soft for them, and felt comfortable as they snuggled underneath them, but not nearly as good as they felt entwined together, completely alone. As wonderful as their first night together was, this was better. The nearby jungle echoed with the sounds of their happiness together.