The Return of Tarzan

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 174

loyalty to an impulsive promise I made you.

"The last few seconds of my life have taught me that it would be
hideous to attempt further to deceive myself and you, or to entertain
for an instant longer the possibility of ever becoming your wife,
should we regain civilization."

"Why, Jane," he cried, "what do you mean? What has our providential
rescue to do with altering your feelings toward me? You are but
unstrung--tomorrow you will be yourself again."

"I am more nearly myself this minute than I have been for over a year,"
she replied. "The thing that has just happened has again forced to my
memory the fact that the bravest man that ever lived honored me with
his love. Until it was too late I did not realize that I returned it,
and so I sent him away. He is dead now, and I shall never marry. I
certainly could not wed another less brave than he without harboring
constantly a feeling of contempt for the relative cowardice of my
husband. Do you understand me?"

"Yes," he answered, with bowed head, his face mantling with the flush
of shame.

And it was the next day that the great calamity befell.

Chapter 22

The Treasure Vaults of Opar

It was quite dark before La, the high priestess, returned to the
Chamber of the Dead with food and drink for Tarzan. She bore no light,
feeling with her hands along the crumbling walls until she gained the
chamber. Through the stone grating above, a tropic moon served dimly
to illuminate the interior.

Tarzan, crouching in the shadows at the far side of the room as the
first sound of approaching footsteps reached him, came forth to meet
the girl as he recognized that it was she.

"They are furious," were her first words. "Never before has a human
sacrifice escaped the altar. Already fifty have gone forth to track
you down. They have searched the temple--all save this single room."

"Why do they fear to come here?" he asked.

"It is the Chamber of the Dead. Here the dead return to worship. See
this ancient altar? It is here that the dead sacrifice the living--if
they find a victim here. That is the reason our people shun this
chamber. Were one to enter he knows that the waiting dead would seize
him for their sacrifice."

"But you?" he asked.

"I am high priestess--I alone am safe from the dead. It is I who at
rare intervals bring them a human sacrifice

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