Tarzan of the Apes

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 180

an individual change only in size, except
as injuries alter the loops and whorls. But if imprints have been
taken of the thumb and four fingers of both hands one must needs lose
all entirely to escape identification."

"It is marvelous," exclaimed D'Arnot. "I wonder what the lines upon my
own fingers may resemble."

"We can soon see," replied the police officer, and ringing a bell he
summoned an assistant to whom he issued a few directions.

The man left the room, but presently returned with a little hardwood
box which he placed on his superior's desk.

"Now," said the officer, "you shall have your fingerprints in a second."

He drew from the little case a square of plate glass, a little tube of
thick ink, a rubber roller, and a few snowy white cards.

Squeezing a drop of ink onto the glass, he spread it back and forth
with the rubber roller until the entire surface of the glass was
covered to his satisfaction with a very thin and uniform layer of ink.

"Place the four fingers of your right hand upon the glass, thus," he
said to D'Arnot. "Now the thumb. That is right. Now place them in
just the same position upon this card, here, no--a little to the right.
We must leave room for the thumb and the fingers of the left hand.
There, that's it. Now the same with the left."

"Come, Tarzan," cried D'Arnot, "let's see what your whorls look like."

Tarzan complied readily, asking many questions of the officer during
the operation.

"Do fingerprints show racial characteristics?" he asked. "Could you
determine, for example, solely from fingerprints whether the subject
was Negro or Caucasian?"

"I think not," replied the officer.

"Could the finger prints of an ape be detected from those of a man?"

"Probably, because the ape's would be far simpler than those of the
higher organism."

"But a cross between an ape and a man might show the characteristics of
either progenitor?" continued Tarzan.

"Yes, I should think likely," responded the official; "but the science
has not progressed sufficiently to render it exact enough in such
matters. I should hate to trust its findings further than to
differentiate between individuals. There it is absolute. No two
people born into the world probably have ever had identical lines upon
all their digits. It is very doubtful if any single fingerprint will
ever be exactly duplicated by any finger other than the one which
originally made it."

"Does the comparison require much time or labor?" asked D'Arnot.

"Ordinarily but a few moments, if the

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