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|Tarzan of the Apes||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
The Height of Civilization
|Page 6 of 7||
"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 It is very doubtful if any single fingerprint will ever be exactly duplicated by any finger other than the one which originally made it."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 impressions are distinct."
D'Arnot drew a little black book from his pocket and commenced turning the pages.
Tarzan looked at the book in surprise. How did D'Arnot come to have his book?
Presently D'Arnot stopped at a page on which were five tiny little smudges.
He handed the open book to the policeman.
"Are these imprints similar to mine or Monsieur Tarzan's or can you say that they are identical with either?" The officer drew a powerful glass from his desk and examined all three specimens carefully, making notations meanwhile upon a pad of paper.
Tarzan realized now what was the meaning of their visit to the police officer.
The answer to his life's riddle lay in these tiny marks.
With tense nerves he sat leaning forward in his chair, but suddenly he relaxed and dropped back, smiling.
D'Arnot looked at him in surprise.
"You forget that for twenty years the dead body of the child who made those fingerprints lay in the cabin of his father, and that all my life I have seen it lying there," said Tarzan bitterly.
The policeman looked up in astonishment.
"Go ahead, captain, with your examination," said D'Arnot, "we will tell you the story later--provided Monsieur Tarzan is agreeable."
Tarzan nodded his head.
"But you are mad, my dear D'Arnot," he insisted. "Those little fingers are buried on the west coast of Africa."
"I do not know as to that, Tarzan," replied D'Arnot. "It is possible, but if you are not the son of John Clayton then how in heaven's name did you come into that God forsaken jungle where no white man other than John Clayton had ever set foot?"
"You forget--Kala," said Tarzan.
"I do not even consider her," replied D'Arnot.
The friends had walked to the broad window overlooking the boulevard as they talked. For some time they stood there gazing out upon the busy throng beneath, each wrapped in his own thoughts.
"It takes some time to compare finger prints," thought D'Arnot, turning to look at the police officer.
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|Tarzan of the Apes
Edgar Rice Burroughs
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