With apologies to the shade of ERB.
John Clayton II, Viscount Greystoke, stubbed out his cigarette on the railing of the veranda overlooking the Patapsco. The smell of gunpowder mingled with the aroma of tobacco, wreaths of smoke coiled and drifted over the long green lawn that descended toward the bank of the river. Greystoke wandered toward the other end of the veranda to take his turn with the double-barreled shotgun.
Professor Archimedes Q. Porter knelt over the clay pigeon thrower, absorbed in the motions of a beetle exploring one leg of the contraption, utterly unaware that his tie was caught in the mechanism. Samuel T. Philander fussed nearby, tut-tutting as he attempted to extract the neckwear. William Cecil Clayton clacked open the action of the shotgun, ejecting two spent shells.
“John,” Clayton said, handing over the gun, “one for two. I’m clearly in need of more practice.”
Greystoke slipped two shells in with unconcious grace while Clayton assisted Philander to extricate Professor Porter from his predicament.
“Pull,” Greystoke commanded, once the machinery was cleared for action. He powdered two clay discs in rapid succession, ejected the shells and snatched them both from the air before they struck the whitewashed boards of the veranda.
He was about to hand off the gun to Clayton when a cry of despair arrested his attention.
“Oh, Lawd!” ejaculated Esmerelda. “The bird, she ruined, miss.”
The voice, though coming from within the sprawling Victorian manse of the Porters, was clearly audible to the men.
A moment later, Jane Porter emerged onto the veranda, the look of concern on her face rendering her only more endearing to Greystoke. Esmerelda followed, wringing her hands within the folds of her voluminous apron.
“Oh, Tarzan,” Jane said. “I am so sorry. I’m afraid the dogs got to the turkey. We cannot salvage it. And on this, your first Thanksgiving.”
“Never fret,” Greystoke said. “A turkey, you say? I’m not personally familiar with the beast, as it did not occupy my jungle home. But I have read about it.”
His heart ached to see Jane Porter aggrieved. Was a turkey all that stood between her and happiness?
He sprang to the railing, balancing like a young ape. He cocked an ear, listening with a hearing honed by an upbringing in the savage wilderness. A faint gobbling reached his keen senses.
“Set out the rest of the viands,” Tarzan said. “I shall return.”
Tarzan leapt from the railing. He stripped off his civilized attire as he ran around the side of the house. Then he made for the woods still lingering to the rear of the Porter estate, fighting a losing rearguard action against the encroachment of Baltimore.
Minutes later he was perched on the branch of a spreading oak, peering down at a flock of fat, gabbling fowl. He picked out the largest.
“KREEGAH!” The battle cry of Tarzan echoed through the woods as he sprang toward the turkey, the euphoria of combat enveloping him.
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