“The entire affair is shrouded in mystery,” said D’Arnot. “I have iton the best of authority that neither the police nor the special agentsof the general staff have the faintest conception of how it wasaccomplished. All they know, all that anyone knows, is that NikolasRokoff has escaped.”
John Clayton, Lord Greystoke — he who had been “Tarzan of the Apes” — satin silence in the apartments of his friend, Lieutenant Paul D’Arnot, inParis, gazing meditatively at the toe of his immaculate boot.
His mind revolved many memories, recalled by the escape of hisarch-enemy from the French military prison to which he had beensentenced for life upon the testimony of the ape-man.
He thought of the lengths to which Rokoff had once gone to compass hisdeath, and he realized that what the man had already done woulddoubtless be as nothing by comparison with what he would wish and plotto do now that he was again free.
Tarzan had recently brought his wife and infant son to London to escapethe discomforts and dangers of the rainy season upon their vast estatein Uziri — the land of the savage Waziri warriors whose broad Africandomains the ape-man had once ruled.
He had run across the Channel for a brief visit with his old friend,but the news of the Russian’s escape had already cast a shadow upon hisouting, so that though he had but just arrived he was alreadycontemplating an immediate return to London.
“It is not that I fear for myself, Paul,” he said at last. “Manytimes in the past have I thwarted Rokoff’s designs upon my life; butnow there are others to consider. Unless I misjudge the man, he wouldmore quickly strike at me through my wife or son than directly at me,for he doubtless realizes that in no other way could he inflict greateranguish upon me. I must go back to them at once, and remain with themuntil Rokoff is recaptured — or dead.”
As these two talked in Paris, two other men were talking together in alittle cottage upon the outskirts of London. Both were dark,sinister-looking men.
One was bearded, but the other, whose face wore the pallor of longconfinement within doors, had but a few days’ growth of black beardupon his face. It was he who was speaking.
“You must needs shave off that beard of yours, Alexis,” he said to hiscompanion. “With it he would recognize you on the instant. We mustseparate here in the hour, and when we meet again upon the deck of theKincaid, let us hope that we shall have with us two honoured guests wholittle anticipate the pleasant voyage we have planned for them.
“In two hours I should be upon my way to Dover with one of them, and bytomorrow night, if you follow my instructions carefully, you shouldarrive with the other, provided, of course, that he returns to Londonas quickly as I presume he will.
“There should be both profit and pleasure as well as other good thingsto reward our efforts, my dear Alexis. Thanks to the stupidity of theFrench, they have gone to such lengths to conceal the fact of my escapefor these many days that I have had ample opportunity to work out everydetail of our little adventure so carefully that there is little chanceof the slightest hitch occurring to mar our prospects. And nowgood-bye, and good luck!”
Three hours later a messenger mounted the steps to the apartment ofLieutenant D’Arnot.
“A telegram for Lord Greystoke,” he said to the servant who answeredhis summons. “Is he here?”