The Return of Tarzan

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 165

of our
people who mate with apes, and so in time we shall descend to the very
beasts from which ages ago our progenitors may have sprung."

"But why are you more human than the others?" asked the man.

"For some reason the women have not reverted to savagery so rapidly as
the men. It may be because only the lower types of men remained here
at the time of the great catastrophe, while the temples were filled
with the noblest daughters of the race. My strain has remained clearer
than the rest because for countless ages my foremothers were high
priestesses--the sacred office descends from mother to daughter. Our
husbands are chosen for us from the noblest in the land. The most
perfect man, mentally and physically, is selected to be the husband of
the high priestess."

"From what I saw of the gentlemen above," said Tarzan, with a grin,
"there should be little trouble in choosing from among them."

The girl looked at him quizzically for a moment.

"Do not be sacrilegious," she said. "They are very holy men--they are

"Then there are others who are better to look upon?" he asked.

"The others are all more ugly than the priests," she replied.

Tarzan shuddered at her fate, for even in the dim light of the vault he
was impressed by her beauty.

"But how about myself?" he asked suddenly. "Are you going to lead me
to liberty?"

"You have been chosen by The Flaming God as his own," she answered
solemnly. "Not even I have the power to save you--should they find you
again. But I do not intend that they shall find you. You risked your
life to save mine. I may do no less for you. It will be no easy
matter--it may require days; but in the end I think that I can lead you
beyond the walls. Come, they will look here for me presently, and if
they find us together we shall both be lost--they would kill me did
they think that I had proved false to my god."

"You must not take the risk, then," he said quickly. "I will return to
the temple, and if I can fight my way to freedom there will be no
suspicion thrown upon you."

But she would not have it so, and finally persuaded him to follow her,
saying that they had already remained in the vault too long to prevent
suspicion from falling upon her even if they returned to the temple.

"I will hide you, and

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