The Return of Tarzan

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 160

she let her eyes rest for the first time
upon Tarzan. With every indication of considerable curiosity she
examined him from head to foot. Then she addressed him, and when she
had finished stood waiting, as though she expected a reply.

"I do not understand your language," said Tarzan. "Possibly we may
speak together in another tongue?" But she could not understand him,
though he tried French, English, Arab, Waziri, and, as a last resort,
the mongrel tongue of the West Coast.

She shook her head, and it seemed that there was a note of weariness in
her voice as she motioned to the priests to continue with the rites.
These now circled in a repetition of their idiotic dance, which was
terminated finally at a command from the priestess, who had stood
throughout, still looking intently upon Tarzan.

At her signal the priests rushed upon the ape-man, and, lifting him
bodily, laid him upon his back across the altar, his head hanging over
one edge, his legs over the opposite. Then they and the priestesses
formed in two lines, with their little golden cups in readiness to
capture a share of the victim's lifeblood after the sacrificial knife
had accomplished its work.

In the line of priests an altercation arose as to who should have first
place. A burly brute with all the refined intelligence of a gorilla
stamped upon his bestial face was attempting to push a smaller man to
second place, but the smaller one appealed to the high priestess, who
in a cold peremptory voice sent the larger to the extreme end of the
line. Tarzan could hear him growling and rumbling as he went slowly to
the inferior station.

Then the priestess, standing above him, began reciting what Tarzan took
to be an invocation, the while she slowly raised her thin, sharp knife
aloft. It seemed ages to the ape-man before her arm ceased its upward
progress and the knife halted high above his unprotected breast.

Then it started downward, slowly at first, but as the incantation
increased in rapidity, with greater speed. At the end of the line
Tarzan could still hear the grumbling of the disgruntled priest. The
man's voice rose louder and louder. A priestess near him spoke in
sharp tones of rebuke. The knife was quite near to Tarzan's breast
now, but it halted for an instant as the high priestess raised her eyes
to shoot her swift displeasure at the instigator of this sacrilegious
interruption.

There was a sudden commotion in the direction of the disputants, and
Tarzan

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