I. Just take my hand, hold it tight.
"I can't do it!"
Her name, the way he says it, is usually so calming. It grounds Jane. It also makes her feel safe, and cheerful, and as if she could just rise up on her toes and fly into the air.
But just now she's got his hand in a white-knuckled grip and her other hand is gripping a vine that Tarzan assures her is sturdy and securely-rooted, and while Jane does feel safe and warm just being this close to him, she is anything but calm.
"Tarzan," says Jane desperately, "what if I fall?"
"You won't—" Tarzan sees the look on her face and sighs, but he's still smiling and Jane manages a shaky smile back. "I will be right next to you," he promises, "and if you do fall, I'll catch you. It's happened before," he reminds Jane.
Jane bites her lip. He's referring to the day he saved her, and he's right of course, and she still thinks this is a Bad Idea but then again, she's always secretly envied the way Tarzan swings effortlessly from tree to tree by the clever use of stout vines, and here she is. If they were staying longer, she'd ask him about tree-surfing as well, but there's only a week left.
Anyways, she nods her assent and Tarzan smiles and squeezes her hand somewhat weakly, which reminds her to loosen her grip a little, and Jane chuckles and relaxes her fingers slightly.
"I'll count to three and then let you go, okay?" asks Tarzan.
"All right," Jane nods. This time, her smile is genuine. She's excited. The more she thinks about it…
…the more she likes the idea of…of…
Oh, god, she can't do this…
"Tar—" But Jane's cry ends on a small shriek as he gives her a slight shove and she has to let go of the vine she was gripping to steady herself on the branch. She does so at the last possible moment, reaching for the vine Tarzan told her to aim for and there's a sickening moment when she's not holding on to anything, and her stomach falls and keeps falling—but she doesn't. Somehow her sweaty palms do catch the vine, and Jane clings for dear life, with her hands and also her legs, eyes squeezed shut because if she opens them she'll probably look down, and if she looks down she might panic, and she doesn't want to think about what will happen if she panics, and then…she is flying.
It's an absolutely exquisite sensation and Jane opens first one eye and then the other. She leans her head back and enjoys the way the muggy air—made cool by the speed of her flight—flows over her face and streamers her hair out behind her. Her feet find convenient stirruplike anomalies in the vine and that gives her enough confidence to let go with one hand, leaning back completely. The movement makes her twist in midair, and Jane's stomach leaps again but she loves the sensation that twirling gives her and she lets momentum carry her in a complete circle.
She's never felt so free as she does in this jungle. And she's never felt as free in this jungle as she does right now.
Tarzan swings by her, smiling, and then he reaches a hand out and effortlessly grabs her vine, further up. This causes her vine to spiral around his, and Jane knows from dancing lessons back in London—reminiscent of the balls Aunt Isabel sponsors her attendance at—that if one doesn't want to get dizzy from spinning (a wise wish when one is fifty feet up in the treetops), the best thing to do is to focus on something every time one does a full rotation.
But it's not as though she'd be able to take her eyes off of Tarzan, anyway.
They stop spinning, and Tarzan's face is mere inches from her own. Jane opens her mouth—to giggle, and tell him how much she enjoyed the entire day, from the parrots in the treetops to her first and possibly only lesson in vine-swinging—but as they swing to a halt, a change comes over Tarzan's face. His smile fades, to be replaced by a look that Jane can't describe and will later fail to draw from memory, a look that makes the words die on her lips, and her entire body goes hot-and-cold, and all she can do is stare back into his eyes, wondering what her own face looks like, and gripping the vine tighter so she doesn't fall after all—that is what the look on his face does to her.
Jane knows exactly why she reacts in such a way to the way Tarzan is looking at her, but it's not something she can encourage—she's not the kind of girl who—it doesn't bear thinking about. All that matters is that she can't let this happen.
So she chuckles, and looks away, and says, "I think I ought to return to camp now." She doesn't look Tarzan full in the face for the brief remainder of the evening, and neither of them speaks as Tarzan escorts her back to the campsite and watches her walk away.
Jane stays up for an hour, trying alternately to sketch that look and to convince herself, in stern mental tones, that she's wallowing, which will only invite unpleasant scenes later on. She spends another two hours burrowing around in frustration under the covers, unable to sleep.