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Usually when you think of Tarzan you think of a bronzed, godlike figure in a loincloth, swinging through the trees or engaged in mortal combat with Numa the Lion. But Edgar Rice Burroughs gave him no such limitations, and neither does Hugo-winning writer and editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Burroughs pitted Tarzan against the Germans in World War I, and against the Japanese in World War II. Ms. Rusch takes us back to that earlier conflict in this story.


Tarzan and the Great War

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Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The little man who carried the telegram had no teeth, yet he looked familiar. It had been years since Tarzan had been to Algiers, and then he had not spent a lot of time with the locals. Yet this man seemed to know him.

“Excuse. Tarzan?” the man said in bad English. It was clear he did not know if Tarzan was the person he sought.

“I am Tarzan,” he said. “And I speak French.”

He wondered how the little man had missed that. Tarzan had been speaking French at a nearby table in an outdoor café, under a large canopy against the exceptionally bright sun.

The canopy had not been for him—Tarzan did not need or crave the shade the way that Europeans did—but it had been for his companion, a French expatriate who claimed he knew where Tarzan’s missing wife, Jane, was. For several weeks, Tarzan had thought her dead, but later learned that she had been spared.

He had spent a long time searching for her and had come no closer to her. But he knew he would eventually find her, and the men who took her would pay.

Unfortunately, the Frenchman he had spoken to hadn’t known anything. That became clear after a moment’s conversation, when the Frenchman had not used Jane’s name at all. The Frenchman had tried a gambit: I may know where your missing wife is, apparently something many men in the middle of this Great War needed to know.

The Frenchman had expected payment first, and Tarzan had set a gold piece on the table. The crowd of people, constantly moving through the narrow streets of the Kasbah, didn’t seem to notice the gold piece’s shine, which relieved Tarzan. Still, he kept his forefinger on the gold piece, figuring anyone who would try to steal it would suffer a broken wrist before he knew what happened.

The Frenchman had eyed the gold piece as if he wanted to steal it himself as Tarzan pressed the Frenchman for more details about Jane. Since he had none to give, Tarzan pocketed the gold piece and sent the Frenchman on his way.

Now a native Algerian stood before him, clutching a ratty piece of paper.

“I have for you a telegram,” the Algerian said, his French soft and accented. “You are Jean C. Tarzan, no?”

Tarzan started. He hadn’t used that name for years. He had taken it as his name during his first travels outside of Africa. Then he had known he was Lord Greystoke, but he could not admit it without ruining Jane’s marriage with his cousin, William Cecil Clayton, who had taken on the role of Lord Greystoke when the family believed that Tarzan’s father had left no heirs.

(It was, of course, more complicated than that, but, Tarzan had learned, all things concerning his family were complicated.)

Tarzan hoped his surprise at the old name did not show. “I am Jean C. Tarzan,” he said.

“Ah, monsieur,” the little man said with great relief. “I have been holding this telegram for you for months. I have searched for you all over the city, and could only hope you had already received the news.”

For a moment, worry ran through Tarzan. Could this be bad news of Jane?

Then he realized no news of Jane would come to him through that name. If someone were sending him bad news about her, it would come through proper channels, addressed to John Clayton, Lord Greystoke.

“You read the telegram?” Tarzan asked, knowing that operators prided themselves on translating the dots and dashes, but did their best to forget the messages.

“I did, monsieur, I am sorry,” the little man said. “I memorized it in case something happened to the paper.”

Now Tarzan could not ignore the message. His curiosity was piqued. Who would try to reach Jean C. Tarzan with an important message? Jean C. Tarzan had existed only for a short time in the years before the war, and had vanished after only a few months.

He took the gold piece he had planned to give to the Frenchman and handed it to the little man. The little man looked at it as if it could bite him.

Monsieur, I am well paid at my work. I am doing this for you and for the Allies!”

Then he handed Tarzan the paper, nodded his head, and made his way through the crowd. Quickly he disappeared down a hill leading to the sea and the French section of the city, the blazing sun on the white buildings making it impossible to see anything other than movement.

Not for the first time, Tarzan silently cursed the civilized world. White buildings might remain cool inside, but a man could not see anything in this sea of people and brightness. He wished he could return to the jungle, where everything was clear.

But he needed word of Jane, and that word would come from men, who congregated in cities.

Until then, he would follow whatever leads he could, and find them where he may.

He opened the crumpled paper and read the smeared French. The telegram came from the War Ministry to Jean C. Tarzan.

We are reactivating your status. Contact Aiden Mireau regarding assignment. Do not trust local French officials. Urgent.

He stared at the words, then read them again. He had worked for the War Ministry well before the war, and he had operated out of Algiers, solving many a case and stopping many a problem. But he had disappeared after the Gernois incident.

The date on the telegram was curious: he had not been part of the ministry for so long that he had no idea why they thought he would help them.

Still, he could not ignore this. Contact with Europeans, particularly those who had a stake in the secret underbelly of foreign affairs, might lead him to Jane.

He would find this Aiden Mireau and discover what it was the War Ministry wanted him to do.

It was a ridiculous job, or so Arthur Beaton had thought before he arrived in Africa all those months ago. Since then he had tracked this so-called Lord Greystoke all over the continent, hearing rumors that the man had killed Germans with his bare hands.

Beaton, a loyal Englishman to the core, was quite happy with the German deaths. The war had become ugly and, many believed, unwinnable. He had been unable to serve due to age, but that hadn’t stopped the British government from sending him on this mission—to find the faux Lord Greystoke, strip him of his title, and confiscate the money from the Greystoke estate for England herself.

This last Beaton had learned only because he was a good investigator. The British government had thought it no concern of his what would happen to the funds. But Beaton had thought the timing odd, so he had looked into the rationales behind the orders before taking the case. Had it been peacetime, he might have been more trusting. Or even if the orders had come several years ago, when this faux Lord Greystoke had appeared on the scene.

Then the longtime heir, William Cecil Clayton, would have lodged a complaint. But now the estate would go to some sixteenth cousin twice removed, and Beaton had no idea why the government would interest itself in such matters during wartime. Not until he learned about the vast wealth of the estate did he understand.

Things had become quite desperate after years of war. The government needed men and materiel, but more than that, it needed funds to pay for the men and materiel, funds from defunct estates and potential nonloyalists like this faux Lord Greystoke.

Even after Beaton discovered what the job entailed, he believed in it. He certainly thought that some sixteenth cousin, twice removed, a sixteenth cousin from the merchant classes, speaking with an accent bred in public schools, would be preferable to the faux Lord Greystoke, who had once told friends he had grown up in Africa “among the apes.” Tales of his uncouth behavior had disgusted Beaton, and made him even more willing to take the assignment.

But all of these months tracking down the man who had lost his home and his wife to German soldiers, and who had thwarted some German attacks, seemed a bit much.

By the time Beaton had arrived in Algiers on the heels of faux Greystoke, he felt a begrudging admiration for the man. In Beaton’s personal opinion, England needed such a man on her side.

Still, Beaton had a job to do, and he was not one to give up when success was so close at hand.

He could see the faux Lord Greystoke on the other side of the road. Beaton had taken a spot underneath an archway in one of the old buildings of the Kasbah. His white straw hat never gave him much protection from the harsh sunlight, even if the temperatures here in Algiers weren’t as brutal as they had been deeper inside the continent.

The Mediterranean Sea had a moderating effect, although its salty scent could not penetrate the odors of tobacco, incense, and roasting meat that seemed part of the Kasbah itself.

Beaton had been watching the faux Lord Greystoke all morning, and the man seemed a lot more civilized than Beaton had been prepared for. He clearly spoke several languages, seemed at ease in the crowded streets, and sipped tea while he awaited his companion, a rather shady Frenchman whom Greystoke had dismissed almost as soon as the man arrived.

But it wasn’t the Frenchman who caught Beaton’s eye. It was the rumpled little man who wore the robes of an Algerian, but who had come from the colonial part of the city, who had gotten his attention. That little man had watched Greystoke for nearly an hour before approaching him, and then had spoken to him only briefly, handing him a piece of paper that seemed to have perplexed Greystoke greatly.

Greystoke had read the paper several times before stuffing it into his pocket. Then he had stood near his table as if trying to make a decision.

He was an excessively tall man, with olive-colored skin darkened by the sun, and black hair in need of a trim. If the women around him were any judge, he was stunningly handsome. Certainly not the kind of man who could easily blend in, especially here, where most men were not as tall and not as muscular. Greystoke was, if anything, the epitome of British manhood, and Beacon felt increasingly strange about having to challenge the man’s heritage.

Still, as Greystoke stepped purposefully away from the outdoor café, Beaton followed—at a discreet distance, of course. Following such a man through the streets of the Kasbah should have been difficult, but was not, because the man towered over everyone.

Beaton did have to hurry to keep up. Even here, in the tight confines of the city, Greystoke traveled swiftly, as if the crowds parted before him just because they saw him coming.

Aiden Mireau was easy enough to find. He had an office in the Grand Post Office, one of the last buildings built in Algiers before the war. Tarzan remembered when it was new and controversial, at least among the Algerians. The French thought it lovely and perfect, the white sides and the Moorish arches a tribute to the African peoples. The people of Algiers just saw it as another reminder of the Europeans who had captured and held their country for so long.

Tarzan had learned the hard way that these small battles among peoples that, to him, had more in common than not, were extremely important. They could rupture into worldwide war, sucking in every corner of the globe and leading to the destruction of families like his own.

Before, when he had acted as Jean C. Tarzan, he had thought such things minor blips in a lifetime. Now he knew they could destroy a way of life. He kept telling himself that once he had Jane back, he would rebuild the plantation and retreat to his mountainside, never to leave her alone again.

He told himself this, but part of him thought it would not come true.

Tarzan stepped inside the large building. Despite the number of people inside, the central hall was cool. Arches created both a sense of division and of openness. The windows, with the arch pattern in their shape and in the glass, let in just enough of the bright sunlight to add to the illumination provided by the gigantic chandelier that hung from the very high ceiling.

He slipped around the crowd, going to the directory near the grand staircase. Aiden Mireau’s office was listed alphabetically, like all the office holders here. But unlike most of them, nothing identified Mireau as a representative of the French government.

Tarzan found that curious in and of itself.

He took the steps two at a time as he headed to Mireau’s office, not realizing that three different men watched him from the floor below.

The first man always watched the stairs. He kept track of the Europeans who were coming and going. He had never seen the tall broad-shouldered athletic man before. That man looked formidable.

The first man hoped his compatriots on the upper levels kept track of where the athletic man was going.

The second man had tailed the athletic man from the Kasbah, careful to keep his distance. No one looked out of place in the Grand Post Office, but it was more common to see men in European dress than Algerian garb. And the second man wore robes. He blended in, but he didn’t believe he would if he went to the official floors.

Still, he knew that Mireau had an office here and was involved in things that might change Algiers forever. The second man watched warily, wondering what the athletic man would do, and if he would be useful.

The third man who watched the athletic man go up the stairs was Beaton. Beaton watched faux Greystoke read the directory, so Beaton knew Greystoke was meeting someone. Only the French had offices here, and that made Beaton uneasy. Greystoke had odd allegiances for an English lord, and that alone made this worth pursuing.

Although Beaton didn’t know quite how to do so.

He would bide his time, watch, and take all actions under consideration. That was all he could reasonably do.

Aiden Mireau did not have a secretary. Nor did he have an impressive office. He had a room on the top floor, tucked behind the edge of the arches. The floor was hot, and Mireau’s office hotter still. It smelled faintly of sweat and whiskey. It had one window that clearly did not open, and a narrow battered desk that might have been new when someone tried to squeeze it through the door.

The man behind the desk was small, balding, and completely forgettable. Adrian Mireau looked like a bureaucrat. His clothing was cheap and ill-fitting. He had draped his suit coat over a nearby chair, and his wrinkled linen shirt was dotted with sweat.

He smoked a cigarette as he shifted papers back and forth. He did not look up as Tarzan entered the room, but waited for Tarzan to introduce himself.

Tarzan did so in French, using the name Jean C. Tarzan.

“Close the door,” Mireau said without looking up.

Tarzan looked down the hall before he closed the door. He saw movement near the stairs. Men on each floor kept track of comings and goings. He knew that he had become part of today’s list. Usually such things did not bother him, but too many strange things had happened on this day. He made note.

He turned toward Mireau to find that man looking at him.

Mireau’s face was as rumpled as his clothing. He looked gray and tired, a man who had long exceeded the end of his rope.

“Jean C. Tarzan,” he said. “I was beginning to believe you were a phantom.”

“I received this just today,” Tarzan said and handed him the crumpled telegram.

Mireau glanced at it, then sighed. He handed the paper back. “What have you been doing during the war?”

Tarzan decided he would tell only part of the truth. This man did not need to know everything.

“I retired from the War Office and married. My wife and I settled on some land in rural Africa, where we stayed until Germans destroyed our home.”

“And your wife?” Mireau asked.

Tarzan shook his head, unable to lie about this. But Mireau clearly took that gesture to mean that Jane had not survived.

“My condolences,” Mireau said. “So you returned to Algiers to resume your work?”

“I do what I can to stop the Germans,” Tarzan said.

“But you did not contact the War Office,” Mireau said.

It took Tarzan a minute to realize that Mireau was not repeating what he understood; Mireau was making certain that Tarzan had spoken to no one in the French government.

“I had not given the War Office any thought until I got this telegram an hour ago.”

“It is several months old.”

“I am aware of that. The man who delivered it worked hard to find me.”

Mireau’s eyes narrowed. Then he nodded at a nearby chair. “Would you like a drink?”

Not in the middle of the afternoon. Tarzan had never gotten used to that custom. He declined, and then peered at the chair. It was too small for him. He knew without trying that he could not sit in it.

So he remained standing.

“I am to talk with you,” Tarzan said, wondering if he should have come. Mireau had not volunteered anything when Tarzan mentioned the Germans.

“Yes,” Mireau said. “I would like to see your papers.”

“I don’t carry papers,” Tarzan said. At least not in the name of Jean C. Tarzan. But he didn’t add that.

Mireau stubbed out his cigarette. “I would normally ask you to leave if you did not have papers, but I have read your files, Mr. Tarzan, and those of your superiors, and I know what an unusual man you are. I doubt there are two men who look like you in all the world.”

Tarzan smiled thinly. “The portraits of my ancestors show that my looks are not that unusual.”

“Around here they are, monsieur,” Mireau said. “And on that basis, I will ask you this: would you be willing to take an assignment off the books for the War Office? We have need of someone with no ties to officialdom.”

“I am not sure whom you are, sir, nor do I know who you represent,” Tarzan said.

Mireau smiled thinly. “There are official diplomats and charges d’affaires in each major city. Then there are men like me, who handle the—shall we say—darker side of diplomacy.”

Tarzan had met such men before. They had fewer scruples, but they seemed to be loyal to their countries. Tarzan had no such loyalty to France, nor to England, but he did feel such loyalty to the jungles here in Africa. So, for that reason, and because he hoped to ask in a roundabout way about news of Jane, he asked, “What do you need me for?”

“You know the war is going badly for the Allies,” Mireau said.

Tarzan waited.

“We believe that a small group of our own people is selling information to the Germans.”

Tarzan shrugged. “Arrest them.”

“It is not that easy,” Mireau said. “A network of spies work Algiers, and the head of that network is making a small fortune by ruining the war effort. Track the money, perhaps get involved in the network, and we will—”

“I am not a subtle man,” Tarzan said. “And I do not plan to stay in Algiers long enough to infiltrate any group.”

Mireau tilted his head back and stared at the ceiling for a long moment. Then he sighed and sat up. “You are our only hope.”

“I’m sorry,” Tarzan said. “I’m not the man for you. Perhaps someone else will be able to help you.”

He turned and as he grabbed the door knob, Mireau said, “Perhaps there is a different way to do this. You are looking for news of the Germans in Africa. These men would have that news.”

Tarzan turned around slowly. “You do not want me to find these men so that you can arrest them.”

“We are at war, Monsieur Tarzan,” Mireau said. “Finesse belongs to peacetime.”

“I am not an assassin,” Tarzan said, and left.

Tarzan stepped into the hallway, noting that it was just a bit cooler out here. That office had felt stuffy and uncomfortable, and not just because of what Mireau had asked him. It was an unhealthy place to be, the opposite of the life Tarzan preferred.

He scanned the hallway and saw no one, nothing that caused that movement he had seen when he closed the door. Of course, the door was a thin one, and someone might have heard his voice as he got closer to it.

He didn’t like the feeling he had, as if he were being watched. Better to get out of here and find out information on Jane on his own.

He hurried down the stairs, wanting out of the Grand Post Office. Even the bright streets were better than this place.

He was halfway down when he heard a gunshot. It had come from behind him.

He pivoted, knowing the shot had something to do with him. He ran back up, keeping his eyes peeled for any more movement, knowing that someone could be staring down the sight of a gun at him even now.

No one ran past him, but the hallway smelled of gun powder. The door to Mireau’s office was open, even though Tarzan had closed it behind him.

Mireau sat back in his chair, a bullet hole in the center of his forehead, blood against the back wall. He still clutched the whiskey he had poured before Tarzan had left.

Tarzan cursed. He heard footsteps on the stairs as others hurried up, but no one had come from this floor.

He told himself that Mireau’s death had nothing to do with him, that the man had worked—in his words—on the “darker side of diplomacy” for a long time, and someone could have killed him for that.

But still, the timing was suspicious. Tarzan did not go inside the office—he knew better because the footsteps on the stairs were getting closer. Someone could arrest him for the murder, even though he did not hold a gun.

Instead, he walked through the hallway, looking for the cause of that movement earlier.

Toward the back, the hallway was covered with dust, caused by construction that clearly continued. There were no footsteps in that dust, nor was there any indication that someone had leaned against the wall. But closer to the stairs, he saw one sandal print, and a stubbed-out cigarette butt. The sandal print was smaller than Tarzan’s shoe print—not that such a thing was unusual—but it was small enough that it seemed unusual.

The footsteps on the stairs grew closer—the sound of stomping, really, and labored breathing. Only one person was coming the entire way up the stairs, and Tarzan thought that unusual too.

If he went down now, he would be the only suspect in this murder, which he suspected he was meant to be. If he waited, he could shadow the other man down, and perhaps no one would notice him.

Or maybe he could find another way out of this building—after the other man had left.

Tarzan stepped into the shadows and waited for the man to finish his climb up the stairs.

Arthur Beaton was too old to run up a flight of stairs, let alone several flights. Halfway up, his breath came in short bursts, and he got lightheaded. Still, he didn’t want to stop.

No one else seemed alarmed that a gunshot resounded through the Grand Post Office. He would have thought it his imagination if it hadn’t been for the fact that two men near him peeled away from the walls and headed calmly outside.

Several others walked out as well, not like men who had finished whatever task they had to do in a post office, but like guards at the end of a long shift.

For one second, he debated following them, and then he remembered where he was.

He was in Algiers. The local law had its own agenda and the French colonial government only cared if one of its own died. Beaton wasn’t certain if the French would consider faux Greystoke one of their own, but he didn’t want to risk it.

If Greystoke were dead, Beaton wanted to see it for himself, so that he could report back to the English government.

He knew that the body could be moved or tampered with immediately after the killing. He also knew he was running toward trouble, not away from it, so he pulled out his own gun.

Although he was beginning to question the wisdom of that move as he got closer to the top, and his breath was getting even harder to catch. Soon he would double over wheezing, and he didn’t want to do that.

But the heat up here wasn’t helping. Neither was the fact that the last time he had run might have been in the previous century.

Finally he reached the top of the stairs and forced himself to breathe properly—not that he really achieved it. He was wheezing. He just hadn’t doubled over.

He kept his gun extended, noting the scent of cordite. He was about to follow that smell when someone pulled him into the darkness.

Tarzan gripped the man’s gun arm, keeping the weapon pointed away from him. But he did not let the sweaty European’s gun go down, just in case someone else came up the stairs.

Tarzan used the man as both a shield and a weapon. He couldn’t do much else, considering how hard the man was breathing. Tarzan had seen men this red-faced and short of breath before, often before they fell down in a fit of apoplexy.

Tarzan didn’t want the man to die, but he also didn’t want the man to turn on him, either.

No one came up the stairs. The man stopped wheezing, but he was still breathing hard.

Tarzan turned him around and took the gun. He emptied it of bullets.

The man looked familiar. Tarzan had seen him on the street for the past twenty-four hours. Even though Algiers was a French colonial city, Europeans did not go to the Kasbah in large numbers and almost never alone. This man had been near Tarzan’s hotel, near the cafés where he dined, and now here, in the Grand Post Office on the top floor, right after Mireau had been shot.

It was clear, however, from the man’s breathing that he had not been anywhere near Mireau when Mireau died.

“Who are you?” Tarzan asked in French.

Sweat dripped off the man’s bright red face. Still, he managed to straighten just a little. “Arthur Beaton.”

“Do I know you, Arthur Beaton?” Tarzan asked.

“I really prefer talking in English,” Beaton said in that same language.

“As you wish,” Tarzan said, still looking around the floor, trying to see if anyone else joined them. “The question remains. Do I know you?”

“Er, can that wait?” Beaton asked. “I heard a gunshot.”

“You did,” Tarzan said. “Someone shot Aiden Mireau. He’s dead.”

“Aiden Mireau?” Beaton asked. “Surely, you jest.”

Tarzan hated that phrase. He’d heard it ever since he had contact with the British, and it was always used in cases like this.

“Surely, I do not,” he said.

“Oh, good heavens.” Beaton actually looked distressed. “Why would you kill him?”

“Me?” Tarzan asked. “If I killed a man, I would not do so with such an unreliable toy.”

He shook the empty gun at Beaton, who cringed, even though he had watched Tarzan empty the chamber.

“If there’s a killer up here, I would like my unreliable toy back,” Beaton said.

Tarzan did not let go of the gun. “You’ve been following me.”

Beaton licked his lips. “It’s—um—not relevant at the moment.”

“It is to me,” Tarzan said.

“It’s complicated,” Beaton said. “May I see Mireau?”

Tarzan had no idea why this little man would want to see Mireau, unless he had something to do with the crime. “As you wish,” Tarzan said, and led Beaton to the door. He kept his hand on the Englishman, figuring if someone came up the stairs ready to make an arrest, Tarzan would give them Beaton along with the gun. It would take them a while to figure out that Beaton hadn’t fired his gun at all.

Beaton had to struggle to keep up with Tarzan, even though Tarzan kept his gait short. They reached the door. Beaton took one glance at Mireau, and then closed his eyes for a brief moment.

“Was he like this when you found him?” Beaton asked.

Tarzan could answer the question two ways. He had found Mireau twice this day, first when he had initially come up here, and then when he came back after the gunshot.

Tarzan chose to answer it a third way. “What does it matter to you?”

Beaton let out a small breath of air. “If Mireau was alive when you first came up the stairs, then perhaps someone overheard your conversation and killed him.”

“Or perhaps the killer had waited until I left before doing this,” Tarzan said.

“The killer could still be up here,” Beaton said.

“I have not found anyone,” Tarzan said.

Beaton gave him a curious glance. “You looked?”

“Why did you think I wouldn’t?” Tarzan asked. “No one passed me on the stairs.”

“They wouldn’t,” Beaton said. “Places like this have many hidden rooms. Someone could be listening to us even now.”

Tarzan thought for a moment. How important was it for him to find Mireau’s killer? He wasn’t even sure he could answer that for himself. The man had wanted him to murder men he had never met, for a reason he wasn’t sure he believed in.

But then, perhaps someone was trying to frame him for this murder.

“I think I saw his compatriots leave,” Beaton said. “I could—”

Tarzan raised one finger, silencing Beaton. Then he shook his head. If someone was listening in, then Tarzan didn’t want Beaton to admit he knew what the killer’s companions looked like.

“I’m sure they wanted me to take the blame for this,” Tarzan said. He glanced at the closed window in Mireau’s office. Tarzan could leave by the roof.

“I wouldn’t consider it,” Beaton said. “The French invented the art of the fingerprint, and theoretically yours are on file.”

The “theoretically” caught Tarzan. That was an odd word to use.

“If we walk down together, they might think nothing of it,” Beaton said.

Tarzan wasn’t sure he could trust this man, but he did want to know why he was being followed. And he also wanted to know why he was being used.

“Good idea,” Tarzan said. “But we will do it my way.”

They went down the stairs. Tarzan let go of Beaton’s arm on the second landing.

“Go the rest of the way without me,” Tarzan said.

“But I thought—”

“I know,” Tarzan said, unwilling to explain that if someone had set him up, he would be arrested whether he came down with Beaton or not. Tarzan was extremely recognizable, as this day had already proven. “I will meet you at the hotel.”

Beaton nodded, inadvertently confirming his identity as the man in the straw hat near the hotel. “I would like my gun,” he said.

Tarzan smiled. “I’m sure you would.”

Beaton was shaking as he made his way down the stairs. Something awful had happened here, and Greystoke believed it was because of him, that they wanted to blame him.

Beaton was shocked that the dead man was Aiden Mireau. Beaton had known Mireau’s name for years. Mireau was one of those men one contacted if one got in trouble near French Algeria. Mireau could get any European out of Africa on a moment’s notice. He knew everyone and everything, and used his knowledge to help the Allied cause.

Beaton had never met Mireau, but he had always believed that he could contact Mireau as a last resort. Now that option was gone.

The run up the stairs, the encounter with Greystoke, and the sight of Mireau had left Beaton feeling spent. He wasn’t used to the heat or the exertion, and it had been years since he had seen a dead body.

Plus, Greystoke seemed both civilized and uncivilized at the same time. His English and his French were flawless, but there was something in his eyes that suggested a wildness. Besides, he had easily disarmed Beaton and could have shot him, or tossed him down the stairs had he wished. The man was freakishly strong.

Not many men made Beaton wary, but Greystoke did.

Beaton was so shaken it wasn’t until he reached the main floor of the Grand Post Office that he realized he had given himself away. Greystoke clearly knew Beaton had been following him, because Greystoke had not specified which hotel, yet Beaton had nodded.

Now the choice was his: How did he play this next part? Or did he “play” it at all?

Tarzan went down the hall on the next floor. There were cupolas on the roof, and there was no obvious way to get to them from the upper floor, which meant that the route was either hidden or the access was one floor down. He doubted, with such an obvious design feature, that the access would be hidden.

When he reached the end of the hall, he saw that he was right. A narrow door with a sign above it reading “staircase” and “private” in French stood directly beneath the part of the roof where the cupola stood.

He tried the door; it was locked. So he slammed his shoulder against it, easily breaking the flimsy lock. The resounding bang should have brought people out of their offices, but no one so much as looked.

There was a lot of ignoring going on in this building. He did not know if that was normal or if it was because of Mireau’s death.

At the moment, Tarzan didn’t care. He closed the door and walked silently up the stairs, noting another entrance one flight up. That entrance hadn’t been obvious from the top floor. Beaton’s statement about hidden rooms, then, was absolutely correct.

Had someone stood in one of those rooms, heard Tarzan turn down Mireau, and then killed Mireau? It seemed likely.

Tarzan went up one more flight into the cupola itself. It was two stories high, and the second story had narrow windows, almost like gun turrets. The French thought of everything.

Including a door onto the roof. Tarzan opened it and stepped into the blazing sunlight.

He blinked once, waiting for his eyes to adjust, when he sensed a movement to his left. He feinted right as a man tried to knock him aside. Tarzan shoved him, using the man’s own momentum, and the man stumbled sideways, tripped, and fell, screaming as he tumbled off the roof.

Tarzan turned and found himself face to face with another man, holding a gun.

This man wore European garb. He was nearly as tall as Tarzan. Tarzan had not ever seen him before.

“It seems, Mr. Tarzan,” he said in French, “you have become quite the maniac, going on a killing spree that has resulted in the death of several agents. I’m sure the authorities will be up here shortly because you tossed my man off the roof. I will be a hero for killing you.”

“You killed Mireau,” Tarzan said. He did not look at the gun. Guns did not frighten him.

“He got too close,” the man said. “You gave me an alibi. Thank you.”

“Tell me the names of the men you work with, and I’ll spare you,” Tarzan said.

“I believe you told our friend Mireau that you are not an assassin,” the European said.

“I defend myself,” Tarzan said.

“Not against a gun,” the man said and fired.

Tarzan leapt to the left a half second before the shot. Talkers always telegraphed their next move. Before the man could shoot again, Tarzan tackled him, and knocked the gun aside. It skittered across the roof.

Tarzan dragged the man to the edge, then held his torso over it. The man kicked ineffectually.

“Tell me who you work with,” Tarzan said.

The man looked down. His compatriot remained on the dirt street below, his legs at an odd angle, his back clearly broken. From this height, Tarzan couldn’t tell if he survived the fall or not. It didn’t matter, though. He would clearly never be the same.

The man looked at Tarzan, eyes wild.

“Tell me,” Tarzan said.

“No one,” the man said.

The man’s hand gripped the side of the building. Tarzan leaned on his fingers until he heard a snap.

The man screamed.

“Now,” Tarzan said. “The names.”

The man gave him a rapid list of French names. Tarzan nodded once. “And what of the Germans? Do you know one named Obergatz?”

“No,” the man said. Tarzan leaned on his wrist. “No! No!

The man’s eyes told the truth. He did not know, which meant he had no idea what happened to Jane.

“Who do you work with among the Germans?” Tarzan asked.

“Whoever pays the most,” the man said.

“And who would that be?”

“It’s never the same,” the man said. Then he listed several more names.

Tarzan memorized all of them.

“Please! Please! Do not kill me!” the man said.

“You didn’t give Mireau the opportunity to beg for his life,” Tarzan said.

The man’s mouth opened in fear. Tarzan gripped him strongly, then swung him forward as if throwing him off the roof.

The coward fainted.

Tarzan brought him onto the roof proper, then ripped pieces of the man’s shirt, and tied him in place. He removed the remaining bullets from the gun, pocketed them, and placed the gun just out of the man’s reach.

The authorities would find him soon, and they would decide what to do with him. If they did not arrest him, Tarzan would make sure the man paid for Mireau’s death.

First, he had some business to finish. He went to the far end of the roof. Three buildings stood nearby, but were not attached. He missed trees, vines, branches, easy ways to travel from one high place to another. But heights did not bother him, and neither did taking a running jump—which he did.

He landed on the next roof down, then jumped onto one more, before using an interior staircase. When he reached the bottom, he walked but not to the Kasbah where his hotel was.

Instead, he went to the telegraph office.

The little man sat at his desk. He had a light jacket draped over the back of his chair, apparently in deference to the French government that he worked for. He reached for the jacket when Tarzan entered, then saw who was there, and grinned his toothless grin.

“Can you send three messages for me?” Tarzan asked. “I need them to remain confidential.”

“I am trustworthy, monsieur,” the little man said.

“I know that,” Tarzan said. “You have already proven it.”

But still, he worried that someone else might not be.

He sent the cables back to the office that had initially contacted him. He signed all three missives, Jean C. Tarzan.

In the first message, he said he regretted to tell them of Mireau’s death. Then he said that he would provide the information they sought and nothing more.

In the second message, he simply listed the French names that the man on the roof had given him.

And in the third message, he wrote, These Germans have paid for the services we discussed.

He figured the Allies could take care of everything—or not.

The fates of nations were not his concern. He had to continue his search for Jane, and then he would retire to his jungle.

He paid the little man five times the cost of the cables.

The little man scowled at him. “I do not take tips, monsieur.”

“I am not giving you a tip,” Tarzan said. “I am paying you for your service in the war effort.”

The little man smiled. The smile, even without the teeth, was infectious. “My pleasure, monsieur,” he said. “My pleasure.”

Tarzan did not have to return to the hotel. He had left clothes there, but clothes were easily replaced. He now knew that Algiers did not have the information he so desperately wanted.

He didn’t have to see Beaton, but he was curious why the Englishman had been following him. So he walked back. Along the way, he heard discussion of the deaths at the Grand Post Office, and relief that the man who had caused them had already been caught.

Algiers did not like even a hint of the war at its doorstep.

The hotel he had chosen was shabby and nondescript. It had a café that wasn’t very good.

Beaton sat at a table near the hotel’s main door, nursing a glass of tea. He looked relieved when he saw Tarzan.

“Milord,” he said as he stood.

So this man did not confuse Tarzan with his old identity, Jean C. Tarzan.

“Everything’s taken care of at the Grand Post Office,” Tarzan said.

“And they do not blame you for Mireau?” Beaton asked.

“They have their killer,” Tarzan said.

“Will you tell me what that was about?” Beaton asked.

“Government business,” Tarzan said. “Now, tell me why you’re following me.”

He hovered, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. But Beaton waved at the only waiter and ordered another glass of tea.

“Sit,” he said. “This will take a little while.”

Beaton had sat in the heat of the day, waiting for Greystoke to arrive. After two hours, he believed that Greystoke had left, and then Beaton had to decide if he would try to find the man again.

Then Greystoke showed up, looking a bit dusty, but no worse for wear.

By then, Beaton had made his decision.

“The British government would like your fortune to fund the war effort,” Beaton said.

Greystoke frowned. “What does that mean?”

“It means that they had an expert who would claim there was no way that the baby handprint in your father’s diary could have been your father’s son. They decided that they would declare the fingerprint void. And then they would confiscate your lands and holdings. I was to notify you of all this and figure out what your holdings were here in Africa.”

Greystoke’s face reddened. “They thought I would submit to this?”

“There are rumors in London that you are a savage, milord.”

Greystoke’s eyes narrowed. “Do you believe the fingerprints valid?”

“I did not at first,” Beaton said. “I did think, however, that someone in your family would have protested long before now. Still, I needed the work. I decided to decide when I saw you.”

“You called me ‘milord,’” Greystoke said.

“I did indeed,” Beaton said. “You have conducted yourself extremely well, even in extremis. I think the British aristocracy should be proud to have you in its ranks.”

“They can still pursue this,” Greystoke said.

“They can,” Beaton said. “But they won’t. First, I can guarantee that it will take me many months more to find you. And when I do, you will tell me that you would take this matter to the courts. And by the way, if it does come to that, go to the French for your fingerprint analysis. As I said earlier, they invented the science. They know it best.”

Greystoke studied Beaton. “Is there a reason you’re doing me this favor?”

Beaton smiled. “I realized when I heard that gunshot in the Grand Post Office that you could have been killed. And honestly, my reaction surprised me, milord. I was saddened. I believe we need you. You are no savage, sir.”

Greystoke smiled in return. The smile was warm, but it sent a shudder through Beaton all the same.

“Apparently, you met me on a good day,” Greystoke said.

Then he drank his tea in one gulp and walked away.

Beaton did not follow him. Beaton did not watch which direction Greystoke took.

The war would continue, and Greystoke would continue to fight Germans as he searched for his wife. Greystoke had not enlisted, he was not fighting in trenches in France.

He was much more effective here, in Africa, destroying Germans in his hunt for information.

And if anyone pressed Beaton later on why he had made this decision, he would say simply he knew no one else who could face the enemy single-handedly and triumph.

He would say honestly that he had never met another man quite like John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, the man whom they called Tarzan.

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